Little more than seven weeks have passed since we rose for the summer vacation, but this short period has completely changed the face of the war in Europe. When we separated, the Anglo-American Armies were still penned in the narrow bridgehead and strip of coast from the base of the Cherbourg Peninsula to the approaches to Caen, which they had wrested from the enemy several weeks before. The Brest Peninsula was untaken, the German Army in the West was still hopeful of preventing us from striking out into the fields of France, the Battle of Normandy, which had been raging bloodily from the date of the landing, had not reached any decisive conclusion. What a transformation now meets our eyes! Not only Paris, but practically the whole of France, has been liberated as if by enchantment. Belgium has been rescued, part of Holland is already free, and the foul enemy, who for four years inflicted his cruelties and oppression upon these countries, has fled, losing perhaps 400,000 in killed and wounded and leaving in our hands nearly half a million prisoners. Besides this, there may well be 200,000 cut off in the coastal fortresses or in Holland whose destruction or capture may now be deemed highly probable. The Allied Armies have reached and in some places crossed the German frontier and the Siegfried Line.
All these operations have been conducted under the supreme command of General Eisenhower, and were the fruit of the world-famous battle of Normandy, the greatest and most decisive single battle of the entire war. Never has the exploitation of victory been carried to a higher perfection. The chaos and destruction wrought by the Allied Air Forces behind the battle front have been indescribable in narrative and a factor of the utmost potency in the actual struggle. They have far surpassed, and reduce to petty dimensions all that our Army had to suffer from the German Air Force in 1940. Nevertheless, when we reflect upon the tremendous fire power of modern weapons and the opportunity which they give for defensive and delaying action, we must feel astounded at the extraordinary speed with which the Allied Armies have advanced. The vast and brilliant encircling movement of the American Armies will ever be a model of military art, and an example of the propriety of running risks not only in the fighting—because most of the armies are ready to do that—but even more on the Q. side, or, as the Americans put it, the logistical side. It was with great pleasure that all of us saw the British and Canadian Armies, who had so long fought against heavy resistance by the enemy along the hinge of the Allied movement, show themselves also capable of lightning advances which have certainly not been surpassed anywhere.
Finally, by the largest airborne operation ever conceived or executed, a further all-important forward bound in the North has been achieved. Here I must pay a tribute, which the House will consider due, to the superb feat of arms performed by our First Airborne Division. Full and deeply moving accounts have already been given to the country and to the world of this glorious and fruitful operation, which will take a lasting place in our military annals and will, in succeeding generations, inspire our youth with the highest ideals of duty and of daring. The cost has been heavy; the casualties in a single division have been grievous; but for those who mourn there is at least the consolation that the sacrifice was not needlessly demanded nor given without results. The delay caused to the enemy's advance upon Nijmegen enabled their British and American comrades in the other two airborne divisions, and the British Second Army, to secure intact the vitally important bridges and to form a strong bridgehead over the main stream of the Rhine at Nijmegen. "Not in vain" may be the pride of those who have survived and the epitaph of those who fell. To return to the main theme, Brest, Havre, Dieppe, Boulogne and Antwerp are already in our hands. All the Atlantic and Channel ports, from the Spanish frontier to the Hook of Holland, will presently be in our possession, yielding fine harbours and substantial masses of prisoners of war. All this has been accomplished by the joint exertions of the British and American Armies, assisted by the vehement and widespread uprising and fighting efforts of the French Maquis. While this great operation has been taking its course, an American and French landing on the Riviera coast, actively assisted by a British airborne brigade, a British Air Force and the Royal Navy, has led with inconceivable rapidity to the capture of Toulon and Marseilles, to the freeing of the great strip of the Riviera coast and to the successful advance of General Patch's Army up the Rhone Valley. This Army, after taking over 80,000 prisoners, joined hands with General Eisenhower, and has passed under his command. When I had the opportunity on 15th August of watching—alas, from afar—the landing at San Tropez, it would have seemed audacious to hope for such swift and important results. They have, however, under the spell of the victories in the North, already been gained in superabundance and in less than half the time prescribed and expected in the plans which were prepared beforehand. So much for the fighting in France.
Simultaneously with that, very hard and successful fighting on a major scale has also proceeded on the Italian front. General Alexander, who commands the Armies in Italy with complete operational discretion, has under him the Fifth and Eighth Armies. The Fifth Army, half American and half British, with whom are serving the fine Brazilian Division, some of whose troops I had the opportunity of seeing—a magnificent band of men—is commanded by the United States General Clark, an officer of the highest quality and bearing, with a proud record of achievements behind him and his troops. The Eighth Army, under General Oliver Leese, whose qualities are also of the highest order, comprises the Polish Corps which fought so gallantly under General Anders, and a Greek Brigade which in happier surroundings has already distinguished itself in the forefront of the battle. There are also fighting on this front a strong force of Italians, who are ardent to free their country from the German grip and taint. This force will very soon be more than double in strength, The Lieutenant of the Realm is often with these troops.
The largest mass of all the troops on the Italian front come, of course from the United Kingdom. Not far short of half the divisions on the whole front are from this Island. Joined with them are New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Indian Divisions, or perhaps I should say British-Indian Divisions, because, as is sometimes forgotten, one-third of them are British. The British Army in Italy includes also Palestinian units; and here I would mention the announcement, which hon. Members may have read, and which I think will be appreciated and approved, that the Government have decided to accede to the request of the Jewish Agency for Palestine that a Jewish Brigade group should be formed to take part in active operations. I know there are vast numbers of Jews serving with our Forces and the American Forces throughout all the Armies, but it seems to me indeed appropriate that a special Jewish unit, a special unit of that race which has suffered indescribable torments from the Nazis, should be represented as a distinct formation amongst the forces gathered for their final overthrow, and I have no doubt they will not only take part in the struggle but also in the occupation which will follow.
A very hard task lies before the Army in Italy. It has already pierced at several points the strong Gothic line by which Kesselring has sought to defend the passage of the Apennines. I had an opportunity of watching and following the advance of the Eighth Army across the Metauro River, which began on 26th August. The extraordinary defensive strength of the ground held by the enemy was obvious. The mountain ridges rise one behind the other in a seemingly endless succession, like the waves of the sea, and each had to be conquered or turned by superior force and superior weapons. The process was bound to be lengthy and costly, but it is being completed, has, in fact, been practically completed. At the same time, General Clark's Fifth Army, advancing from the Florence area, has pierced deep into the mountain ranges, and, having broken the enemy's centre, now stands on the Northern slopes of the Apennines at no great distance from Bologna, a place of definite strategic importance. General Alexander has now definitely broken into the basin of the Po, but here we exchange the barriers of mountain ridges for the perpetual interruption of the ground by streams and canals. Nevertheless, conditions henceforward will be more favourable for the destruction or rout of Kesselring's Army, and this is the objective to which all British and Allied Forces will be unceasingly bent. Further than that, it is not desirable to peer at the present moment.
I am now going to give a few facts and figures about the operations in Europe. These have been very carefully chosen to give as much information as possible to the House and to the public, while not telling the enemy anything he does not already know, or only telling him too late for it to be of any service to him. The speed with which the mighty British and American Armies in France were built up is almost incredible. In the first 24 hours a quarter of a million men were landed, in the teeth of fortified and violent opposition. By the 20th day 1,000,000 men were ashore. There are now between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 men in France. [An HON. MEMBER: "Good old War Office."]Certainly the progress in the power of moving troops and landing troops has vastly increased since the early days, when we had to plunge into the war with no previous experience. But the actual number of soldiers was only part of the problem of transportation. These Armies were equipped with the most perfect modern weapons and every imaginable contrivance of modern war, and an immense artillery supported all their operations. Enormous masses of armour of the highest quality and character gave them extrordinary offensive power and mobility. Many hundreds of thousands of vehicles sustained their movements, many millions of tons of stores have already been landed—the great bulk of everything over open beaches or through the synthetic harbours which I described when last I spoke to the House.
All this constitutes a feat of organisation and efficiency which should excite the wonder and deserve the admiration of all military students, as well as the applause of the British and American nations and their Allies. I must pay my tribute to the United States Army, not only in their valiant and ruthless battle-worthy qualities, but also in the skill of their commanders and the excellence of their supply arrangements. When one remembers that the United States four or five years ago was a peace-loving Power, without any great body of troops or munitions, and with only a very small regular Army to draw their commanders from, the American achievement is truly amazing. After the intense training they have received for nearly three years, or more than three years in some cases, their divisions are now composed of regular professional soldiers whose military quality is out of all comparison to hurriedly raised war-time levies. These soldiers, like our own from Great Britain who have been even longer under arms, are capable of being placed immediately on landing in the battle line, and have proved themselves more than a match for the so-called veteran troops of Germany who, though fighting desperately, are showing themselves decidedly the worse for wear. When I think of the measureless output of ships, munitions and supplies of all kinds with which the United States has equipped herself and has sustained all the fighting Allies in generous measure, and of the mighty war she is conducting, with troops of our Australian and New Zealand Dominions, over the spaces of the Pacific Ocean, this House may indeed salute our sister nation as being at the highest pinnacle of her power and fame.
I am very glad to say that we also have been able to make a worthy contribution. Some time ago, a statement was made by a Senator to the effect that the American public would be shocked to learn that they would have to provide 80 per cent. of the Forces to invade the Continent. I then said that at the outset of the invasion of France the British and American Forces would be practically equal, but that thereafter the American build-up would give them steadily the lead. I am glad to say that after 120 days of fighting we still bear, in the cross-Channel troops, a proportion of two to three in personnel and of four to five-and-a-half in fighting divisions in France. Casualties have followed very closely the proportions of the numbers. In fact, these troops fight so level that the casualties almost exactly follow the numbers engaged. We have, I regret to say, lost upwards of 90,000 men, killed, wounded and missing, and the United States, including General Patch's Army, over 145,000. Such is the price in blood paid by the English-speaking democracies for the actual liberation of the soil of France.
When this view is extended to cover the entire European scene and the campaigns both in France and Italy, it will be a source of satisfaction to the House to know that after more than five years of war, we still maintain almost exactly the same number of divisions, taking both theatres together, in full action against the enemy as the United States have, by all the shipping resources which can be employed, yet been able to send to Europe. Considering that the population of the Empire—of British race—is only 70,000,000, and that we have sustained many losses in the early years of the war, it certainly is a remarkable effort and one which was most fully and cordially recognised by our American colleagues, the Chiefs of Staff and others at the recent Conference at Quebec.
In thus trying to do justice to the British and American achievements, we must never forget, as I reminded the House before we separated, the measureless services which Russia has rendered to the common cause, through long years of suffering, by tearing out the life of the German military monster. The terms in which Marshal Stalin recently, in conversation, has referred to our efforts in the West have been of such a generous and admiring character that I feel, in my turn, bound to point out that Russia is holding and beating far larger hostile forces than those which face the Allies in the West, and has through long years, at enormous loss, borne the brunt of the struggle on land. There is honour for all. It is a matter of rejoicing that we, for our part and in our turn, have struck resounding blows, and it is right that they should be recorded among the other feats of arms so loyally performed throughout the Grand Alliance.
I must again refer to the subject of the campaign in Burma on which I touched in my last statement to the House. I was somewhat concerned to observe from my reading of the American Press, in which I indulged during my stay on the other side, that widespread misconception exists in the public mind, so far as that is reflected by the newspapers, about the scale of our effort in Burma and the results to date of Admiral Mountbatten's campaign. Many important organs of United States' opinion seem to give the impression that the British campaign in Burma of 1944 had been a failure, or at least a stalemate, that nothing much had ben done, and that the campaign was redeemed by the brilliant capture of Myitkyina—which I may say is spelt "Myitkyina" but pronounced "Michynaw"—by General Stilwell at the head of an American Regiment of very high class commando troops and with the assistance of the Chinese. That is the picture, but I must, therefore, set matters in their true light, It is well known that the United States has been increasingly engaged in establishing an air route to China capable of carrying immense supplies, and, by astounding efforts and at vast cost, they are now sending over the terrible Himalayas, or the Hump as it is called in the Army, I will not say how many times as much as the Burma Road has ever carried in its palmiest days, or will carry for several years to come; an incredible feat of transportation—over mountains 20,000 or 22,000 feet high in the air, over ground where an engine failure means certain death to the pilot—has been performed by a main effort which the United States made in their passionate desire to aid the resistance of China. Certainly no more prodigious example of strength, science and organisation in this class of work has ever been seen or dreamed of.
Along the Eastern frontier of India stands the 14th British Imperial Army comprising the main war effort of India, including some of the most famous Indian Divisions from the Middle East and a substantial proportion of United Kingdom troops and Divisions, together with some excellent Divisions from Africa—native Divisions from Africa, West Africa principally. This Army under Admiral Mountbatten—amounting to between 250,000 and 300,000 men, apart from rearward services which, in that theatre of extraordinary long and precarious communications, are very great—has by its aggressive operation guarded the base of the American air line to China and protected India against the horrors of a Japanese invasion. Once again, India and her vast population have reposed serenely among the tumults and hurricanes of the world behind the Imperial shield. The fact should sometimes be noted that under British rule in the last 80 years incomparably fewer people have perished by steel or firearms in India than in any similar area or community on the globe.
As the population has increased by 50,000,000 in the last 10 years it is evident that the famine, which was caused by military conditions last year affecting transport, is by no means representative of the administration under which the broad peninsula and triangle of India has met an increase in population exceeding the speed of any increase in any other country throughout the whole world. I think it a very remarkable fact that India has received this shelter and has been this vast harbour of peace, protected by the arms and policy of Great Britain, protected also by the care and attention of this House. In this the brave fighting races of India have at all times borne a most honourable and memorable part.
I regret to say the fighting on the Burma front throughout the year has been most severe and continuous, and there were times when the issue in particular localities appeared to hang in doubt. However, the 10 Japanese Divisions which were launched against us with the object of invading, India and cutting the air line have been repulsed and largely shattered as the result of a bloody and very costly campaign which is still being continued in spite of the monsoon conditions. How costly this campaign has been in disease may be judged from the fact that in the first six months only of this present year the 14th British Imperial Army sustained no fewer than 237,000 cases of sickness which had to be evacuated to the rear over the long, difficult communications and tended in hospital. More than go per cent. of these cases returned within six months, but the ceaseless drain upon the Army and the much larger numbers required to maintain a fighting strength, in spite of this drain, in the neighbourhod of a quarter of a million may well be imagined. When you have a loss and drain like that going on, much larger numbers are needed to maintain your limited fighting strength. In addition, there were over 40,000 battle casualties in the first six months, that is to say, to the end of June, and the number has certainly increased by now
I think these facts ought to be known; I think they ought to be given wide publicity, as I am sure they will now that I have stated them, because the campaign of Admiral Mountbatten on the Burma frontier constitutes—and this is a startling fact—the largest and most important ground fighting that has yet taken place against the armies of Japan. Far from being an insignificant or disappointing stalemate, it constitutes the greatest collision which has yet taken place on land with Japan, and has resulted in the slaughter of between 50,000 and 60,000 Japanese and the capture of several hundred prisoners. The Japanese Army has recoiled before our troops in deep depression and heavily mauled. We have often, too, found circles of their corpses in the jungle where each one had committed suicide in succession, the officer, who had supervised the proceedings, blowing out his own brains last of all. We did not ask them to come there, and it is entirely their own choice that they find themselves in this difficult position.
We must expect, however, a renewal of the Japanese offensive as soon as the monsoon is over, and every preparation iS being made to meet it with the utmost vigour. Nelson said, "If in doubt, a captain cannot do wrong if he places his ship alongside one of the enemy." The engagement of the Japanese on the largest possible scale on land—and certainly not less in the air—is part of the official wearing down process which marks the present phase of the war against Japan, and this function our 14th Army has certainly discharged with the utmost fidelity and success in spite of the inordinately heavy toll of disease. I trust that this toll will be markedly reduced in future operations. We have discovered many preventives of tropical disease, and, above all, against the onslaught of insects of all kinds, from lice to mosquitoes and back again.
The excellent D.D.T. powder, which has been fully experimented with and found to yield astonishing results, will henceforward be used on a great scale by the British Forces in Burma and by American and Australian Forces in the Pacific and, indeed, in all theatres, to- gether with other remedies constantly improving, and these will make their effect continually manifest. The Japanese, I may mention, also suffer from jungle diseases and malaria which are an offset against the very heavy losses which are suffered by our Indian and white and African troops. These remedies will be a help to all the Allies; indeed, they have been a help. The eradication of lice in Naples by the strict hygienic measures taken may be held to have averted a very grievous typhus epidemic in that city and neighbourhood when we occupied it. I can assure the House that the war against the Japanese and other diseases of the jungle will be pressed forward with the utmost energy.
I must here note with keen regret that in spite of the lavish American help that has been poured into China, that great country, worn by more than seven years of war, has suffered from severe military reverses involving the loss of valuable airfields upon which the American squadrons of General Chennault were counting. This, of course, is disappointing and vexatious. When we survey the present state of the European and Asiatic wars as a whole, the House will, I am sure, wholeheartedly acclaim the skill and enterprise of the generals and the tireless courage and fighting qualities of the troops, and they may even feel disposed to view without any special mark of disapprobation the management, combination and design which it reveals on the part of the Allied staffs, and even on the part of the Governments concerned.
But we must not forget that we owe a great debt to the blunders—the extraordinary blunders—of the Germans. I always hate to compare Napoleon with Hitler, as it seems an insult to the great Emperor and warrior to connect him in any way with a squalid caucus boss and butcher. But there is one respect in which I must draw a parallel. Both these men were temperamentally unable to give up the tiniest scrap of any territory to which the high watermark of their hectic fortunes had carried them. Thus, after Leipzig in 1813, Napoleon left all his garrisons on the Rhine, 40,000 men in Hamburg. He refused to withdraw many other vitally important elements of his armies, and he had to begin the campaign of 1814 with raw levies and a few seasoned troops brought in a hurry from Spain. Similarly, Hitler has successfully scattered the German armies all over Europe, and by obstinating at every point from Stalingrad and Tunis down to the present moment, he has stripped himself of the power to concentrate in main strength for the final struggle.
He has lost, or will lose when the tally is complete, nearly 1,000,000 men in France and the Low Countries. Other large armies may well be cut off in the Baltic States, in Finland and in Norway. Less than a year ago, when the relative weakness of Germany was already becoming apparent, he was ordering further aggressive action in the Aegean and the re-occupation of the islands which the Italians had surrendered, or wished to surrender. He has scattered and squandered a very large army in the Balkan Peninsula, whose escape will be very difficult; 27 divisions, many of them battered, are fighting General Alexander in Northern Italy. Many of these will not be able to re-cross the Alps to defend the German Fatherland. Such a vast frittering away and dispersal of forces has never been seen, and is, of course, a prime cause of the impending ruin of Germany.
When Herr Hitler escaped his bomb on 20th July he described his survival as providential; I think that from a purely military point of view we can all agree with him, for certainly it would be most unfortunate if the Allies were to be deprived, in the closing phases of the struggle, of that form of warlike genius by which Corporal Schickelgruber has so notably contributed to our victory. There is a great deal more mopping up to be done in the Low Countries and in some of the French Atlantic ports, and the harbours have to be cleared and developed on the greatest scale possible before the winter gales. Problems of supply have to be resolved on the morrow of the prodigious British and American advances, and I deprecate very much people being carried away into premature expectations of an immediate cessation of the fighting. It is very hard not to be, when, each day, the papers are filled—rightly filled—with the news of the captures of important places and of advances of the Armies; but there is still a great deal to be done in the military sense.
Hitherto, as I have said, during the first four critical months in Europe, we have managed to be an equal, or almost equal, partner with the United States, but now, of course, the great flow of their well-trained divisions from across the Atlantic will, step by step, carry them decisively into the leading position, and, unless organised German resistance collapses in the near future, enormous additional United States Forces will be brought to bear in the final struggle. I shall certainly not hazard a guess—it could be no more—as to when the end will come. Many persons of the highest technical attainments, knowledge and responsibility have good hopes that all will be over by the end of 1944. On the other hand, no one, and certainly not I, can guarantee that several months of 1945 may not be required.
There is also a possibility that after the organised resistance of the German army and State is completely broken, fierce warfare may be maintained in the forests and mountains of Germany by numbers of desperate men, conscious of their own guilt and impending doom. These, of course, would, at a certain stage, deserve the treatment which the Germans have so ruthlessly meted out to guerilla movements in other countries. It may be necessary for the Allies to declare at a certain date that the actual warfare against the German State has come to an end and that a period of mopping up of bandits and war criminals has begun. No one can foresee exactly what form the death agony of Nazidom will take. For us, the important decision will be to choose the moment when substantial Forces can be withdrawn from Europe to intensify the war against Japan. We certainly do not consider that the declared date of the ending of the war against Germany must necessarily be postponed until the last desperado has been tracked down in his last lair.
There is no doubt that surpassing victories gained in common make a very agreeable foundation for inter-Allied Conferences like that which has just finished. It is really very much better and very much more pleasing to share victories than it is to share disasters. We have shared both, and I can tell the House that the former is in every way a more exhilarating process. I took occasion to associate Canadian, Australian and New Zealand representatives with our work. I have also, with our Chiefs of the Staff, attended a meeting of the Dominion of Canada Cabinet and have received both from Mr. Mackenzie King and Mr. Curtin the most cordial expressions of satisfaction at the manner in which our affairs were conducted and of agreement in the decisions taken. I have also been in very full correspondence, as I often am, with Field-Marshal Smuts and also with Mr. Fraser. Certainly when the President and I with our respective staffs met at Quebec, we had behind us a record of successful war which justified feelings of solemn satisfaction, and warmed the glow of our brotherhood in arms.
It is now two years almost to a day since Rommel's final offensive against Cairo was repulsed by the newly appointed Generals Alexander and Montgomery, a month before their decisive victory at Alamein, and since that time our affairs all over the world, and the affairs of our mighty Ally Russia, have proceeded without a single reverse of any kind, except only the loss of Leros and Cos in the Aegean, and even those will ultimately turn out to be a loss to Hitler rather than to the Allies. Such a long and mounting tide of victory is unexampled in history. The principal Governments of the Allies have every right to claim the confidence of the United Nations in the new efforts that will be required from all of us and in the further designs which have been conceived and shaped and have still to be unfolded in action. Complete agreement on every point was reached at Quebec by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The President and I have both pursued a policy of making no changes other than those enforced by death, as in the lamented loss of Admiral Pound, in the Chiefs of the Staff charge: with the conduct of the war.
In this country there have been none of those differences between the professional and the political elements such as were evident in a large measure in the former war. We have worked together in perfect harmony. Our confidence in the Chiefs of Staff—British confidence and the confidence of the War Cabinet—has steadily grown. In consequence of the fact that there have been no changes, the men who met together at Quebec knew each other well, were united in bonds of comprehension and friendship, and had the whole picture and sequences of the war ingrained in their minds and in their very being. When you have lived through all these things you do not have to turn up musty files to remember what happened on particular occasions. Men's minds are shaped from day to day by what they live through; and the discussion on that level between these high officers is very very quick and swift.
Obviously, our discussions were concerned with the successful winding up of the war in Europe by bringing about the unconditional surrender of Germany at the earliest moment, and also with the new phase of the war against Japan which will dominate all minds and command all resources from the moment when the German war is ended. On behalf of His Majesty's Government, nearly two years ago, I assured the President that Great Britain would pursue the war against Japan with all her strength and resources to the very end. As I explained to Congress when I last addressed them, we have losses to repair and injuries to repay on the Japanese account at least equal to, if not indeed greater than, those suffered by the United States. We owe it to Australia and New Zealand to help them to remove for ever the Japanese menace to their homelands; and as they have helped us on every front in the fight against Germany, we will certainly not be behindhand in giving them effective aid.
Our perseverance in this quarrel is not to be doubted. I offered some time ago to embody this undertaking in a definite treaty, but the President made the courteous reply that the British word was enough. That word we shall certainly make good. Accordingly, we offered to the United States the fine, modern British Fleet, and we asked that it should be employed in the major operations against Japan. This offer was at once cordially accepted. A large portion of this fleet is already gathered in the Indian Ocean. For a year past, our modern battleships have been undergoing a further measure of modernisation and tropicalisation to meet the rapid war-time changes in technical apparatus. We have already, nine months ago, begun the creation of an immense Fleet train, comprising many vessels, large and medium, specially fitted as repair ships, recreation ships for personnel, provision and munition ships and many modern variants, in order that our Fleet may have a degree of mobility which for several months together will make them largely independent of main shore bases. A substantial portion of the vessels which we shall use for this purpose have been building in Canada, for it is found better and more economical to adapt new merchant ships while they are building to the exact purpose they have to fulfil than to convert existing vessels, although that process has also been carried very far. Thus we hope to place in the Pacific a fleet capable in itself of fighting a general action with the Japanese Navy and which, added to the far greater United States naval power, should give a naval command in all these vast ocean spaces and seas of the most complete and decisive character.
One must certainly contemplate that a phase in the war against Japan will be the severe, intense, prolonged and ever-increasing air bombardment to which the Japanese mainland installations and munitions centres will be subjected. In this also we shall bear our part to the utmost limit which the bases will allow. As for the land or amphibious operations which the British Empire will conduct, these must rightly be veiled in mystery. Suffice it to say that the scale of our effort will be limited only by the available shipping. In this however we may presently receive a magnificent addition. The end of the U-boat war, when it comes, will allow us to go out of convoy in the Western hemisphere, thus adding at a bound at least 25 per cent. to the efficient carrying capacity of our Mercantile Marine, and a larger percentage to the carrying capacity of tankers.
I must, however, add a word of caution about taking too optimistic views of the speed at which this great transference of forces can be made from one side of the world to the other. Not only will the Allied shipping, vast as it is and far greater as it is than at the beginning of the war, be a limiting factor, but the development of bases, the accumulation of stores and supplies and the construction and protection of airfields all impose restraints upon those vivid, imaginative strategists who carry fleets and armies across the globe as easily as they would help themselves to a plate of soup. The huge distances, the tropical conditions and other physical facts, added to the desperate resistance of the enemy, make the war against Japan an enterprise of the first magnitude, and it will be necessary to use to the full the resources of machinery and science to enable our Armies to do their work under the most favourable conditions and with the least sacrifice of Allied life. When all these aspects are considered the House may rest assured that the entire brain and technical power of Great Britain and the United States will be ceaselessly employed, and having regard to the results already obtained in so many directions, one may feel good confidence that it will not be employed in vain.
I have now reached the close of the military aspect of what I have to say, and it might be convenient for the House, it certainly would be an indulgence to, I must not say the speaker, but the orator, if we could have an interlude for lunch, and I would respectfully ask, I will not say the Leader of the Opposition but my right hon. Friend opposite, whether he would be in accord with such proceedings?
When we were last assembled here I had completed a review of the military situation which, although not by any means complete or exhaustive, yet, I trust, gave the general outline of our position at the present time from the point of view of one who has special opportunities of seeing things in their broad perspective. The foreign situation has responded to military events. Never was the alliance against Germany of the three great Powers more close or more effective. Divergencies of view and interest there must necessarily be, but at no time have these been allowed to affect in any way the majestic march of events in accordance with the decisions and agreements at Teheran. One by one, in rapid succession, the satellite States have writhed or torn themselves free from the Nazi tyranny, and, as is usual in such cases, the process has not been one from alliance with Germany to neutrality, but from alliance with Germany to war. This has taken place in Roumania and Bulgaria. Already there is fighting between the Finns and the Germans. The Germans, in acordance with their usual practice and character, are leaving a trail of burnt and blackened villages behind them, even in the land of their unhappy Finnish dupes.
Hungary is still in the Nazi grip, but when, as will happen, that grip is broken by the steel hammer blows of war, or when it relaxes by reason of the internal lesions and injuries of the tyrant, the Hungarian people will turn their weapons, with all their remaining strength, against those who have led them through so much suffering to their present ruin and defeat. The armistice terms agreed upon for Finland and Roumania bear, naturally, the imprint of the Soviet will—and here I must draw attention to the restraint which has characterised the Soviet treatment of these two countries, both of which marched blithely behind Hitler in his attempted destruction of Russia, and both of which added their quota of injuries to the immense volume of suffering which the Russian people have endured, have survived, and have triumphantly surmounted.
The Bulgarian armistice terms have not yet been signed. The Soviet intervention in this theatre was at once startling and effective. Their sudden declaration of war against Bulgaria was sufficient to induce Bulgaria to turn her catiff armies against the German intruders. Britain and the United States have long been at war with Bulgaria and have now joined with the Soviets in framing suitable armistice conditions. The Bulgarian people have been plunged by their leaders in the last 35 years into three wrongful, forlorn and disastrous wars, and in this last war we cannot forget the many acts of cruelty and wickedness for which they have been responsible both to Greece and Yugoslavia. They have suffered nothing themselves. No foot has been set upon their soil. Apart from some air bombardment, they have suffered nothing. Some of the worst war criminals are Bulgarians. The conduct of their troops in harrying and trying to hold down, at Hitler's orders, their two sorely-pressed small neighbours, Greece and Yugoslavia, is a shameful page for which full atonement must be exacted. They may want to be treated as co-belligerents. So far as Great Britain is concerned, they must work their passage for a long time and in no uncertain fashion before we can accord them any special status, in view of the injuries that our Allies Greece and Yugoslavia have sustained at their hands. In the meantime, let them march and destroy all the Germans they can find in enemy lands. We do not want them in those of our Allies. This is the only path which will serve them and their interests. The more vigour with which they fall upon the Germans, the more they will be likely to draw the attention of the victorious nations in arms from their previous misdeeds.
It would be affectation to pretend that the attitude of the British and, I believe, the United States Governments towards Poland is identical with that of the Soviet Union. Every allowance must be. made for the different conditions of history and geography which govern the relationship of the Western democracies on the one hand and of the Soviet Government on the other with the Polish nation. Marshal Stalin has repeatedly declared himself in favour of a strong friendly Poland, sovereign and independent. In this our great Eastern Ally is in the fullest accord with His Majesty's, Government and also, judging from American public statements, in the fullest accord with the United States. We in this Island and throughout our Empire who drew the sword against mighty Germany, we who are the only great unconquered nation which declared war on Germany on account of her aggression against Poland, have sentiments and duties towards Poland which deeply stir the British race. Everything in our power has been and will be done to achieve, both in the letter and in the spirit, the declared purposes towards Poland of the three great Allies.
Territorial changes on the frontiers of Poland there will have to be. Russia has a right to our support in this matter, because it is the Russian Armies which alone can deliver Poland from the German talons; and after all the Russian people have suffered at the hands of Germany they are entitled to safe frontiers and to have a friendly neighbour on their Western flank. All the more do I trust that the Soviet Government will make it possible for us to act unitedly with them in the solution of the Polish problem, and that we shall not witness the unhappy spectacle of rival Governments in Poland, one recognised by the Soviet Union and the other firmly adhered to by the Western Powers. I have fervent hopes that M. Mikolajczyk, the worthy successor of General Sikorski, a man firmly desirous of friendly understanding and settlement with Russia, and his colleagues may shortly resume those important conversations at Moscow which were interrupted some months ago.
It is my duty to impress upon the House the embarrassment to our affairs and the possible injury to Polish fortunes which might be caused by intemperate language about Polish and Russian relations in the course of this Debate. It is my firm hope, and also my belief, that a good arrangement will be achieved and that a united Polish Government will be brought into being, which will command the confidence of the three great Powers concerned and will assure for Poland those conditions of strength, sovereignty and independence which we have all three proclaimed as our aim and our resolve. Nothing is easier than to create by violent words a prospect far less hopeful than that which now opens before us. Hon. Members will take upon themsleves a very grave responsibility if they embroil themselves precipitately in these controversies and thus mar the hopes we cherish of an honourable and satisfactory solution and settlement. We recognise our special responsibilities towards Poland, and I am confident that I can trust the House not to engage in language which would make our task harder.
We must never lose sight of our prime and overwhelming duty, namely, to bring about the speediest possible destruction of the Nazi power. We owe this to the soldiers, who are shedding their blood and giving their lives in the cause at this moment. They are shedding their blood in the effort to bring this fearful struggle in Europe to a close; and that must be our paramount task. Every problem—and there are many; they are as legion; they crop up in vast array—which now faces the nations of the world will present itself in a far easier and more adaptable form once the cannons have ceased to thunder in Europe and once the victorious Allies gather round the table of armistice or peace. I have every hope that wise and harmonious settlements will be made, in confidence and amity, between the great Powers, thus affording the foundations upon which to raise a lasting structure of European and world peace. I say these words on the Polish situation; and I am sure that our friends on both sides will realise how long and anxious has been the study which the Cabinet have given to this matter, how constantly we see representatives of the Poles, how frequent and intimate our correspondence is with Russia on this subject.
I cannot conceive that it is not possible to make a good solution whereby Russia gets the security which she is entitled to have, and which I have resolved that we shall do our utmost to secure for her, on her Western frontier, and, at the same time, the Polish nation have restored to them that national sovereignty and independence, for which, across centuries of oppression and struggle, they have never ceased to strive.
Turning to another difficult and tangled problem, the House will already have read the joint statement by the President and myself which we drafted together, embodying a very definite and distinct improvement and mitigation in our relationships with the Italian Government. During my visit to Italy, I had an opportunity of seeing the leaders of all parties, from the extreme Right to the extreme Communist. All the six parties represented in the Italian Government came to the British Embassy, and I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of all the different Ministers who are working together, as well as they can, in conditions necessarily difficult and depressing. I had conversations with the Prime Minister, Signor Bonomi, and also talked with him and Marshal Badoglio together. They are friends. The Marshal has very faithfully observed the conditions imposed by the armistice a year ago. He has done his best to send all Italian forces, particularly naval forces, into the struggle against Germany, and he has worked steadfastly for the improvement of relations between Italy and Britain and between Italy and the Allies. His behaviour on leaving office, in giving cordial support to his successor, is also creditable. Finally, I had the advantage of an interview with the Lieutenant of the Realm, whose sincerity and ardour in the Allied cause and whose growing stature in Italian eyes are equally apparent. [Interruption.] I give my opinion, and I dare say it will weigh as much as a mocking giggle.
What impressed and touched me most in my journey through Italy was the extraordinary good will to the British and American troops everywhere displayed by the Italian people. As I drove through the small towns and villages behind the line of the Armies day after day, the friendliness and even enthusiasm of the peasants, workmen and shopkeepers, indeed, of all classes, were spontaneous and convincing. I cannot feel—I make my confession—any sentiments of hostility towards the mass of the misled or coerced Italian people. Obviously, no final settlement can be made with them or with their Government until the North of Italy and its great cities have been liberated and the basis on which the present Government stand has been broadened and strengthened. There are good hopes that this will be achieved, I might say soon, but it would be safer to say in due course. Indeed, it would be a miserable disaster if the Italian people, after all their maltreatment by their former Allies and by the Fascist remnants still gathered round Mussolini, were to emerge from the European struggle. only to fall into violent internal feuds. It was for that reason, on leaving Rome, that I tried to set before the Italian nation some of those broad, simple, Liberal safeguards and conceptions which are the breath of our nostrils in this country—so much so that we scarcely notice them—and which sustain the rights and freedoms of the individual against all forms of tyranny, no matter what liveries they wear or what slogans they mouth.
We were, all of us, shocked by the horrible lynching outrage which occurred in the streets of Rome a week or so ago. Every measure of precaution and authority must be taken to prevent outbreaks of mob vengeance, however great the provocation may have been, and, for this, responsibility rests, not only with the Italian Government, but ultimately with the Allied military power. Punishment for criminals who have committed most cruel, barbarous acts under the orders of the Germans, of men who have made themselves the agents of the betrayal of the 300 or 400 hostages shot en masse in the catacombs of Rome—punishment for them there must certainly be, but it must be the punishment of courts of justice, with the strictest adherence to the forms and principles of justice. This shameful incident has been a baffling factor in the Italian scene. Nevertheless, it has not deterred us from issuing the joint statement to which I have already referred, and which, so far as Great Britain is concerned, was, of course, approved by the War Cabinet before I gave my agreement to it.
I turn from the Italian scene. Nothing has given the British nation and the King's Dominions all over the world more true joy than the wonderful spectacle of the rescue of France by the British and American arms, of the rescue of France from the horrible oppression of the Hun under which she has writhed or languished for four hideous years. It is now nearly 40 years since I first became convinced that the fortunes of Great Britain and France were interwoven, and that their military resources must be combined in the most effective manner, by alliance and agreement and plan, and I think I can claim to have pursued this object through all the changing scenes we have witnessed, not only before and during the last war, but in the uneasy interval between the two wars, and not only in years of success, but during the period of blackest disaster, and also during periods when there was friction on other grounds between the two countries.
Bearing in mind some mistakes in our own policy between the wars; bearing in mind also the failure of the League of Nations, in consequence, largely, of the falling out of America, and other weaknesses for which other Powers are responsible, to give general security to the world; bearing in mind the withdrawal of the United States from the Anglo-American guarantee against German aggression promised by President Wilson, on the strength of which France relinquished her claims on the Rhine frontier; bearing in mind, above everything, the loss of nearly 2,000,000 men which France, with her small and declining population, sustained in bearing the brunt, as she bore it, of the last war, and the terrible effect of this unexampled blood-letting upon the whole heartbeat, the life heartbeat, of France; bearing all this, and much else, in mind, I have always felt the liveliest sympathy for the French in the years when we watched, supinely, the dreadful and awe-inspiring growth of the German power.
It will be remembered that we told the French Government that we would not reproach them for making a separate peace in the fearful circumstances of June, 1940, provided they sent their Fleet out of the reach and power of the Germans. The terms of the Cabinet offer to France in this tragical hour are also on record. I, therefore, have never felt anything but compassion for the French people as a whole who found themselves deprived of all power of resistance and could nit share the good fortune of those who, from our shores or in the French Empire, had the honour and opportunity to continue the armed struggle. What could a humble, ordinary man do? He might be on the watch for opportunity, but he might be rendered almost powerless. The Maquis have shown one way in which, at the end, and after much suffering, and having overcome all the difficulties of getting weapons, free men may strike a blow for the honour and life of their country; but that is given to the few, to the young and active, those who can obtain weapons.
For my part, I have always felt that the heart of the French nation was sound and true, and that they would rise again in greatness and power, and that we should be proud to have taken a part in aiding them to recover their place in the van of the nations and at the summit of the cultural life of the world. Long have we looked forward to the day when British and American troops would enter again the fields of France, and, regardless of loss and sacrifice, drive the foe before them from towns and cities famous in history, and often sacred to us for the memories of the last war and of the dear ones, whose memories abide with us and who rest in French soil. Often have we longed to receive, and dreamed of receiving, the gratitude and blessings of the French people as our delivering Armies advanced. This has been given to us in unstinted measure, and it has been, indeed, a glorious experience to witness and a glorious experience for the Armies to enjoy this marvellous trans- formation of scene, and for us to feel that we have acted up to our duties as a faithful Ally to the utmost limit of our strength.
I have repeatedly stated that it is the aim, policy and interest of His Majesty's Government, of this country of Great Britain, and of the Commonwealth and Empire to see erected once more, at the earliest moment, a strong, independent and friendly France. I have every hope that this will soon be achieved. The French people, working together as they must do for their lives and future, in unity of purpose, with sincerity and courage, have a great chance of building a new and undivided France who will take her rightful place among the leading nations of the world.
In my last statement to the House, I spoke of the importance of including representatives of France in all the discussions affecting the Rhine frontier and a general settlement of West Germany. Hitherto, by force of circumstances, the French Algiers Committee could not be a body representative of France as a whole. Now, however, progress has been made. Naturally, that body has new elements, especially amongst those who formed the Maquis and resistance movements and among those who raised the glorious revolt in Paris, which reminded us of the famous days of the Revolution, when France and Paris struck a blow that opened the path broadly for all the nations of the world. Naturally, we, and, I believe, the United States and the Soviet Union, are most anxious to see emerge an entity which can truly be said to speak in the name of the people of France—the whole people of France. It would now seem possible to put into force the decree of the Algiers Committee whereby, as an interim stage, the Legislative Assembly would be transformed into an elected body, reinforced by the addition of new elements drawn from inside France. To this body, the French Committee of National Liberation would be responsible. Such a step, once taken, when seen to have the approval of the French people, would greatly strengthen the position of France and would render possible that recognition of the Provisional Government of France, and those consequences thereof, which we all desire to bring about at the earliest moment. I close no doors upon a situation which is in constant flux and development. The matter is urgent, however, for those, of whom I am one, who desire to see France take her place at the earliest moment in the high councils of the Allies. We are now engaged in discussing these matters both with the French and with other Allied Governments, and I am hopeful that, in the near future, a happy settlement will be reached to the satisfaction of all concerned.
I should like to take this opportunity to express our gratification and pride at the part played by British troops in the liberation of Belgium. The House will have read of the tumultuous welcome with which our troops were everywhere greeted by the Belgian people. This also I regard as a happy augury for the maintenance and strengthening of the ties of friendship between our two countries. Many hundreds of thousands of our dead sleep on Belgian soil, and the independence of that country has always been a matter sacred to us as well as enjoined by our policy. I should like to acknowledge in this House the many agreeable things that were said about this country in the Belgian Parliament when it re-assembled last week. I trust that the day is not far distant when our Forces will also have completed their task of liberating the territory of our staunch and sorely tried friends and Allies in Holland—Allies in the war of the Spanish Succession and in all the struggles for the establishment of freedom in Europe. They are also very near to us in thought and sympathy and their interests at home, and also abroad, command British support and are largely interwoven with our own fortunes.
I have had to deal with these countries one by one. I now come to the broader aspect, as far as I can touch upon it today, which can only be in a very tentative and partial manner. Since 21st August conversations between representatives of this country, the United States and the Soviet Union have been taking place at Dumbarton Oaks, in the United States, on the future organisation of the world for preventing war. It is expected that similar conversations will follow between the United Kingdom and the American delegations with the representatives of China. These conversations have been on the official level only and do not in any way bind the Governments represented. There has, however, been assembled a body of principles and the outline of the kind of structure which in one form or another it is the prime purpose of the Allies to erect after the unconditional surrender and total disarmament of Germany have been accomplished. His Majesty's Government could have had no abler official representative than Sir Alexander Cadogan, and there is no doubt that a most valuable task has been discharged. The whole scene has been explored and many difficulties have been not merely discovered, but adjusted. There are, however, still some important questions outstanding. and we ought not to be hurried into decisions upon which united opinion by the various Governments responsible is not at present ripe. It would not be prudent to press in a hurry for momentous decisions governing the whole future of the world. The House must realise—and I am sure it does realise, I can see by the whole attitude of the House to-day that it fully realises—that it is one thing for us here to form and express our own opinions on these matters and another to have them accepted by other Powers as great as we are.
There is another warning which I would venture to give to the House, and that is, not to be startled or carried away by sensational reports and stories which emanate from the other side of the Atlantic. There is an election on, and very vivid accounts of all kinds of matters are given by people who cannot possibly have any knowledge of what has taken place at secret conferences. The United States is a land of free speech; nowhere is speech freer, not even here where we sedulously cultivate it even in its most repulsive form. But when I see some of the accounts given of conversations that I am supposed to have had with the President of the United States, I can only recall a Balfourian phrase at which I laughed many years ago, when he said that the accounts which were given bore no more relation to the actual facts than the wildest tales of the Arabian Nights do to the ordinary incidents of domestic life in the East. I may say that everything depends on the agreement of the three leading European and world Powers, I do not think satisfactory agreement will be reached—and unless there is agreement nothing can be satisfactory—until there has been a further meeting of the three heads of Government assisted as may be necessary by their Foreign Secretaries. I must say that I think it is well to suspend judgment and not to try to form or express opinions on what can only be partial and incomplete accounts. I earnestly hope it may be possible to bring about such a meeting before the end of the year. There are great difficulties but I hope they may be overcome. The fact that the President and I have been so closely brought together at the Quebec Conference and have been able to discuss so many matters bearing upon the course of the war and on the measures to be taken after the Germans surrender and also for the broad future, makes it all the more necessary that our third partner, Marshal Stalin, who has, of course, been kept informed, should join with us in a tripartite conference as soon as the military situation renders this possible. The future of the whole world, and certainly the future of Europe, perhaps for several generations, depends upon the cordial, trustful and comprehending association of the British Empire, the United States and Soviet Russia, and no pains must be spared and no patience grudged which are necessary to bring that supreme hope to fruition.
I may say at once, however, that it will not, in my opinion, be possible for the great Powers to do more, in the first instance, than act as trustees for the other States, great or small, during the period of transition. Whatever may be settled in the near future must be regarded as a preliminary, and only as a preliminary, to the actual establishment in its final form of the future world organisation. Those who try in any country to force the pace unduly will run the risk of overlooking many aspects of the highest importance, and also by imprudence they can bring about a serious deadlock. I have never been one of those who believe that all the problems of the immediate future can be solved while we are actually engaged in a life and death struggle with the German and Nazi power and when the course of military operations and the development of the war against Japan must increasingly claim the first place in the minds of those in Britain and the United States upon whom the chief responsibility rests.
To shorten the war by a year, if that call be done, would in itself be a boon greater than many important acts of legislation. To shorten this war, to bring it to an end, to bring the soldiers home, to give them a roof over their heads, to reestablish the free life of our country, to enable the wheels of commerce to revolve, to get the nations out of their terrible frenzy of hate, to build up something like a human world and a humane world—it is that that makes it so indispensable for us to struggle to shorten, be it even by a day, the course of this terrible war.
It is right to make surveys and preparations beforehand and many have been made and are being made, but the great decisions cannot be taken finally, even for the transition period, without far closer, calmer, and more searching discussions than can be held amid the clash of arms. Moreover, we cannot be blind to the fact that there are many factors, at present unknowable, which will make themselves manifest on the morrow of the destruction of the Nazi regime. I am sure this is no time for taking hard and fast momentous decisions on incomplete data and at breakneck speed. Hasty work and premature decisions may lead to penalties out of all proportion to the issues immediately involved. That is my counsel to the House, which I hope they will consider. I hope that the House will notice that, in making my statement to-day, I have spoken with exceptional caution about foreign affairs, and, I hope, without any undue regard for popular applause. I have sedulously avoided the appearance of any one country trying to lay down the law to its powerful Allies or to the many other States involved. I hope, however, that I have given the House some impression of the heavy and critical work that is going forward and will lie before us even after the downfall of our principal enemy has been effected. I trust that; what I have said may be weighed with care and good will not only in this House and in this country but also in the far wider circles involved.
The House has listened, as is always the case on these occasions, with the deepest interest to the Prime Minister, and we have had to-day as on earlier occasions a comprehensive and very masterly analysis and survey of the whole of the military situation. As my right hon. Friend has reminded us, we are listening now under circumstances entirely different from those which prevailed when my right hon. Friend made his last statement in the House, and I think in all quarters of the House we may express our justifiable pride in the wonderful prowess displayed by our Forces over the water during recent weeks, and express our deep admiration for the great sacrifices so gladly borne by those airborne troops who, as my right hon. Friend says, have not died in vain.
I was glad also that my right hon. Friend paid a tribute to the Maquis, whose very existence proves there was a living spirit of freedom in France. I speak with no little interest and knowledge of the Maquis, because so many of them were part and parcel of movements with which I am associated, and I am glad that my right hon. Friend has recognised that as we march through to liberation of peoples we gain new Allies who, by their depth of feeling, their hostility to the German yoke, their rediscovery of the value of freedom, are valuable Allies whom we should cherish. In France, as in other countries liberated, we have had this magnificent spectacle of new reinforcements whose strength we did not gauge but whose aid we ought to be proud to enjoy.
I am glad also that the Prime Minister referred to Britain's worthy contribution. I have felt on occasions that we were suffering from an excess of modesty. I have thought occasionally that whilst we were being generous about the part played by our Allies, we were not doing justice to the people in the Forces in our own ranks. And Britain, as my right hon. Friend has proved to the world to-day, need not be ashamed of the contribution it has made to this war. It must never be forgotten that at least we declared war. As my right hon. Friend has said, we are the only unconquered nation in the world now which declared war and that act in itself was an act which was worthy of the best traditions of a freedom-loving people.
The Prime Minister paid a very generous and well-merited tribute to the part played by the Russian people. They have suffered grievously, they have fought magnificently, they have rescued their soil from the tyrant, and they are marching into enemy territory. May their campaigns prosper and prosper quickly.
I was glad that my right hon. Friend made the reference he did to the Japanese war. It would be sad if it went out from this House abroad to our Dominions or to our other Allies that we are not part and parcel of this titanic world struggle. This is our war as much as it is the United States' war and, so long as that struggle continues, so long, as my right hon. Friend said, must we throw into it all that is required to give early and confident victory.
The Prime Minister this afternoon turned to the more political aspect of the war situation. With what he said about Hungary I am in hearty agreement. Hungary, since the last Great War, has not been a worthy member of the comity of nations on the European mainland. I would myself unhesitatingly follow the advice of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to Poland. There are differences of opinion, as he has admitted, between the Powers great or small. There may be action taken which some of us may regard as unfortunate. We, my right hon. Friend pointed out, are bound by special ties to Poland. When her territory was invaded there was little delay before Britain declared her willingness to stand by her side. We are forever indebted to the great part played by the Soviet Union in this struggle. We are aware of the part that she must play in the future, and if this country can in any way heal any breaches there may be, any differences of opinion that may have arisen, any misunderstandings that may have occurred, I think it is our duty to do so, and I am quite satisfied myself that in recent weeks Britain has played a great part in working for the salvation of the Polish capital.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend went to Italy. I remember that when we had liberated Sicily there was some political difference of opinion in this House as to how we should handle these problems. But let this be said: the Allies have, as time has marched on, come to take a rather more reasonable and elastic view of the situation in liberated territories, and I am glad that they have done so in Italy. I am very glad that the Prime Minister referred to the changes in the Government of that country that will have to take place after the industrial cities of the North are free, if it is to he regarded by us as really representative of the liberated people. For it is entirely true that the great strength and power of democracy in Italy are in the North and not in the South, and as we get nearer those large cities, you may rely upon it that an Italian Maquis will be quite as vigorous and quite as determined as the people of France have been during the process of liberation, and I hope that the Italian people at the end of this struggle will get the kind of Government they desire and as good a Government as they undoubtedly deserve.
Then the Prime Minister referred to France. I think we all felt very deeply a sense of spiritual gratification as we saw British and American troops liberating France from the terrors of the last four years. A new France is being born to-day; it is being born out of the sufferings of the last four years. There is steel in its soul now which did not exist in many quarters in France, I fear, in the years before the war. A new France is being born, and I hope that the British and other Allied Governments will do all that is in their power to give it sustenance and to give it strength. I quite appreciate what the Prime Minister has said about the present situation in France but it is desirable, in my view, as soon as possible that there should be a Government in France responsible to France, trusted by France, and honoured and recognised by the British Government and the Allies.
Of Belgium my right hon. Friend spoke in terms of great affection. We are glad that the country is being liberated, and I am especially glad that so soon after liberation the normal processes of government are beginning to function. This gets rid of any idea of requiring A.M.G.O.T. in any democratic part of Europe. The same is true of Holland. Holland, we hope, will soon be released, and we know that she will rapidly restore all the democratic institutions of which she has been so rightly proud.
Now the Prime Minister, in referring to the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, expressed a view which I hold myself for two reasons: first, that for some, period after the war, security in the world rests in the hands of the three great Powers; secondly, that it would be a great mistake to hurry too quickly in coming to final decisions. I believe that Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union must agree sooner or later, and my right hon. Friend in an earlier dis- cussion said that ideological differences were ceasing to matter—
I did not put it quite that way. I said the world was becoming less ideological, but I did not say that ideological differences did not matter. They matter a great deal, and I hope they are being adjusted in the ranks of the Allies.
It really supports the point made by the Prime Minister, which I am trying to make myself, that adjustments of these different conceptions and outlooks of life do take time. But if we can gain the good will and the assurance that for some period after the war, if aggression raises its head again, these three great Powers will take over the moral and military leadership of the world, then we shall have accomplished something, although we shall not think in terms of an elaborate League of Nations for the next five years but of those three great Powers. At the same time I do hope we shall carry with us the smaller Powers. I do not think we ought to settle this, so to speak, behind their backs. I say that because, taking all the Allies on the Continent of Europe, they are looking to this country for moral leadership. They believe in us now in a way they have never believed in us before, and it would be an act of grace at least to carry the smaller Powers with us in any military proposals that are made by the great Powers.
My right hon. Friend referred to the importance of shortening the war, and explained that many decisions cannot be taken now. I think that is true but, on the other hand, the nearer we get to the end of the war the more insistent will many vital problems become—international economic problems, policies which are vital if we are to achieve the objectives which we have placed before ourselves, and which have been accepted by the vast majority of mankind. Full employment still remains a phrase. We have had a document about it but unless now we begin to increase the tempo of discussions and arrive at decisions on these great inter- national economic issues which affect all countries large or small, I am afraid that we may land ourselves in a very difficult time when the war is over.
I would myself say that one way to help to shorten the war is by giving those who are engaged in it increasing hope and greater faith in the future than they possess at the present time. There could be no better way of improving the morale, not only of our own troops but troops everywhere, than the knowledge that when they came back the real things for which they had fought were to be granted unto them. That would be so in connection with questions concerning the home front. We have been suffering from something like a tornado of White Papers recently—I think we have had three in about a week—but it is becoming increasingly important that there should be more action now on decisions with regard to the home front. We have these documents before us; I am aware of the enormous amount of time which must have been spent on them and the great amount of discussion that must lie behind the written word. That I fully appreciate. I can also appreciate the difficulty of translating the White Paper on Social Security into a Bill of five Clauses. I sympathise with whoever has to handle that particular job, but the problem may become urgent and, just as we have speeded up war production in the last two or three years, so, now, we must speed up the preparation of machinery to deal with the problems that we have to face after the war.
I am very apprehensive myself about the housing situation and its future in the next five years. I am also very apprehensive about the operation of plans for the transfer of plants from war to peace production. Something may have been worked out, but we know little about it. Once we begin altering the nature of production in this country we are entitled to know what are the steps to be taken to ensure full employment for all. I put these considerations forward because they are bound up with the stage of the war we have now reached. People who talked about the future two or three years ago were voices crying in the wilderness but it is now conceded that victory is ours, even although we cannot put the date on it, and it would be a sad misfortune, a tragedy and a crime, if, the war having been won, the subsequent peace were lost.
I am sure all of us feel bound to express the highest sense of gratitude to the Prime Minister for having carried out that supreme direction of the war in a manner which has brought us to the very threshold of victory, and also to the heroic efforts of our own brave troops, and those of all the United Nations, without whose achievements we could have had no hope and no future. The forces of evil, embattled in war, have been already completely defeated. They can never in warlike might raise themselves to be a real menace again, but it does seem that we have to be on our guard against similar forces of evil raising their heads in peacetime. It is against those that it will be even harder to achieve permanent peace. In the settlement of Europe that will follow our victory it is essential that we should see that in the future might does not prevail over right, and that the prosperity of a nation should not cause its neighbours jealousy, or fear of aggression. In other words, it is essential that we should develop in Europe a community spirit among the nations of Europe. I fear it will be generations before either in Germany or in Bulgaria it will be possible for any such sense of a European community spirit to arise, but if only we give a firm lead in that direction to the rest of Europe I think we can have far greater confidence that there we may see it flourish.
It is in that spirit that we should approach the Russian-Polish problem. Both these heroic nations are Allies of ours, and both of them are publicly pledged, as we are, to recognition of the rights of small nations to independence and genuine self-government. But it all depends on us British. We cannot abdicate from our position as defenders of European civilisation; it depends on us to see that it is in that spirit of the European community that the Russian-Polish problem should be solved, since there can be no possible future peace for Europe if genuine Polish independence were to be crushed, directly or indirectly, by Russia. Russia's best security against any future aggression from Germany or the West is a friendly and independent Poland. Marshal Stalin himself has declared that he wishes for such a Poland, and it is devoutly to be trusted that those who carry out his policy will carry that into effect. Such a friendly Poland Russia can have for the asking if only she will abstain from interfering in internal Polish politics, and if she will not override the national feeling of all true Poles by imposing upon them the authority of, and lending Russian power to, the completely unrepresentative Council of National Liberation sitting in Lublin. Surely the martyred, heroic citizens of Warsaw have earned the gratitude and respect of all their Allies for their epic struggle in the last few months against the Germans. Have not such heroes earned the right, above all men, to be masters of their own destiny? What would the world think of Russia if, after the entry of Russian troops into Warsaw, such heroes as the defenders of that city were placed in concentration camps or deported to Kaluga or Siberia?
Russia now has the greatest chance she has ever had of solving this Polish question and of assuring herself for all time of Polish friendship by helping the Poles to rid themselves of their only real enemies—the Germans—and also by themselves abstaining from interference in Polishinternal politics. Ninety-nine per cent. of the Poles in this country and in Poland know that Russian friendship is indispensable to their own security, and the Poles are prepared to work for that end. But in return Russia must leave the Poles free to manage their own future. While His Majesty's Government deserve the thanks of the whole world for their unremitting efforts to try and resolve this problem I think we all must be on our guard against offending the Polish nation in Poland by appearing to pick and choose one Polish politician rather than another. If fate says that Poland is to dig her political grave let her by all means dig it herself, but let it never be said that we put our arm behind the spade. Let her also show her own capacity of achieving agreement with Russia. We cannot, however, escape our duty, as a Western Christian nation, of standing up resolutely for the ideals for which we have fought. Among those ideals is the right of a small nation to continue her own existence, just as in a democracy we stand for the rights of every individual, however humble or however small.
Finally, I would say with what eagerness we watch for the recovery of the strength of France. The future settlement of Europe needs both the experience and intellectual light of France, and we sincerely hope that she will be given her just share in deciding its future and especially in shaping the future of the Rhine frontier. But here again, as in Italy, it is not so much political aim or political direction as rather economic restoration which is so necessary. It is poverty and hunger which breed revolution and dictatorships. Sound politics and true liberty can only come out of settled economic conditions. It is, therefore, to the economic restoration rather than the intimate political direction of Europe to which, in my view, our best efforts should. be concentrated.
I cannot help thinking that the Prime Minister gave some very wise advice to the House as to the spirit in which Members should approach some of the difficult questions facing us at the present time. First, I would like to say a word or two about Poland. I am convinced that the Government are doing everything they possibly can to resolve this difficult problem and bring the three great Allies into greater unity. The situation has undoubtedly improved, and there seems to be a real prospect, on the lines the Prime Minister suggested, that agreement may be reached. I think the wisest course, so far as Poland is concerned, is to trust in the wise, patient, far-seeing and statesmanlike attitude of the Polish Prime Minister, M. Mikolajczyk, to trust his cooperation with the three great Allies to bring to fruition the efforts that are being made to solve the Polish problem.
It is not disputed that unconditional surrender is the policy we desire to see imposed on our enemies, but I think there is a feeling that the moment might come when it would be desirable to make a declaration to our enemies in order to counteract Goebbels' propaganda, and to give some indication as to what the situation might be after the unconditional surrender. It should be made clear that it does not mean massacre or sterilisation, or anything of that kind, and I hope the Government, when the right moment comes, will not fail to take the opportunity of reassuring the German people and counteracting some of the extreme propaganda that is being put forward on that subject.
May I say this word about Italy and ask whoever is going to reply to deal with the point? I rather regretted that the declaration made the other day by Great Britain and the United States was not shared in by the Russian Government. Could we have some explanation as to why that was the case? Obviously it is desirable on every occasion when important statements of policy are made that the three great Powers should share in them and I think it was a regrettable fact that Russia was omitted on this occasion. I hope that any policy that is decided about Italy will not mean that we shall go back on our pledge to deprive her of her overseas possessions. A pledge has been given to that effect and I think it should be adhered to. I hope one of the results of adjustments which may be made in Italy will be that Ethiopia will have free access to the sea.
It was given me on two occasions in reply to questions.
The Prime Minister dealt in a general way with the policy of Dumbarton Oaks. I think the kind of structure that it will be attempted to set up is quite clear. It follows a well known model, though greatly strengthened and improved, and we hope that, while the trusteeship must rest with the three great Powers for some period to come, France may be brought in at the earliest practical moment and that the smaller Powers may be given an opportunity in due course of playing their role alongside the great Powers who, possessing massive strength, must act as the policemen of the world for operative purposes. I know that there have been discussions as to what may be the most effective method of enabling the three great Powers to co-operate but I feel that no technical arrangement, no formula, can be of any value in making the three Powers co-operate unless there is the spirit of good will and determination amongst them to do so. The whole future of the world depends on that co-operation. If it fails, we shall have a third world war. That is the fundamental fact of the whole position of foreign affairs. We have to arrange in future that right shall be robed with might and that the policemen of the United Nations shall have ready in their hands, to use at any moment, a suitable weapon to deal with any aggressor. I am somewhat disturbed to notice that a society in this country—I have in mind one particular peace society—which is getting up a petition on the subject of foreign affairs makes no reference whatever to the use of force. If we are going to approach our post-war problems on the basis of leaving out any reference to force, we are building on a very unsound foundation. I hope that all who have influence with bodies of this kind will see that their policy is more realistic and is brought into line with the necessities of the world. The question is raised as to whether there shall be a hard or a soft peace. We ought to have a firm peace. I think that is the word to use. The German nation cannot escape their responsibility for what has been going on for the last five years. It is said that there are good Germans. I daresay there are, but where are they? They never seem to be in evidence. They never seem to do anything about it. They never seem to be willing to co-operate with the good people in other countries.
How long does the hon. Member think would be the life of a German who under present conditions got up and protested and showed himself a good German?
I think the best answer I can give to that is what I was going to say, that the real difference between German and British is shown by this test. If you asked a British soldier to carry out some of the tasks that the Germans have willingly carried out, such as torture or murdering women and children, they would mutiny rather than do it. The Germans are perfectly willing to do these dastardly deeds. That is the difference between the German and the British soldier. We have to take care that in future Germany does not possess "the means to do ill deeds." I would lay it down—I hope this is the Government policy—that there shall never again be a German Army, a German Navy or a German Air Force. No doubt in due course their citizens may find their place in an international force which may be set up for the purpose of world security. That is their outlet in that direction. They should have no national forces. You may have an international force directly recruited, or perhaps a more immediate step is that each nation should set apart from its national forces certain elements which are earmarked to be used in co-operation for world purposes. German scientific research must be very strictly controlled and there should never be permitted again independent civil aviation in Germany. Of course, there must be civil aviation in Germany, but it should play its part to my mind in a generalised form in something covering Europe as a whole. If we were to allow them to build up a civil aviation of their own, they would certainly use it for the preparation of further attacks on their neighbours.
I read with some alarm in the Press suggestions about fraternisation between the Allies as they go into Germany and the German people. It is a very natural thing. The Germans are very well versed in methods of that kind. They know how kindly and sympathetic the British people are, how they very readily forget and forgive, and there are great dangers that, if we are not careful, great harm may be done in the way of building up in Germany the potentiality for a further war in the future. The situation is much worse than in 1918. You have this generation, 13 years of Hitler youth built up, educated to believe that the worst things in the world are the best, and it is going to take a very long time to get rid of that. That is the obvious danger, but there are other Germans who will come along with their smiles saying in a friendly spirit, "After all, we are relations. Let us be good friends." They tried that before the war with some success with Members of this House who were taken in and with others who were not. We remember the Link and the Anglo-German fellowship, which was nothing but a weapon of German propaganda and has now been exposed to the world. If they are given the opportunity they will do exactly the same kind of thing again.
The leader of the Liberal Party is the Secretary of State for Air. I believe Germany has a great contribution to make to the future of the world but tier talents are wrongly directed at present. That is the trouble. She must receive the order to change direction and be reeducated. In the process of evolution great changes have taken place. We have advanced from the amoeba to man and in the course of evolution it may well be that we can make Germany a civilised nation. It may be thought that I am expressing to some extent harsh sentiments towards Germany but I am Thinking of the victims who have lived through five years of torture, torn from their homes and ill-treated in every possible way. They are the people who, we want to make sure, shall have a chance of breathing the air of freedom till in the course of time that shall be the lot of men and women the wide world over.
The Prime Minister had a very broad canvas to-day and on it was able to paint a picture which met with the general approval of the House. I want to pay to the Prime Minister, and through him to those behind him, a tribute for the gradual unfolding of the major plan of the strategy of the war. Very naturally we, as a nation of sea-going people, specialise in the Navy. We have had the lead in the air for years and at the end of the last war we possessed the most formidable Air Force in the world. The research work connected with the mastery of the air was, fortunately, continued and at the outbreak of this war there were two features of the Air Force which were very importantgthe immense development in fighter strategy and the decision to build the large bomber. The Army had never been intended to fight on a large scale in a Continental war. It had been intended very largely as a garrison force for outlying portions of the Empire with a necessary home element for defence and with a cadre which could be enlarged rapidly in the event of trouble. At no time has Great Britain, either by word or by treaty, promised so to enlarge her military Forces that she could be a Continental land Power.
At the outbreak of the war Great Britain, supreme in her Navy, with a fair defence Air Force and with a small highly trained Army, found herself physically incapable at any point of reaching the anatomy of the enemy. When war was declared as the result of Hitler's army invading Poland it was found physically impossible for the Navy, separated by the Kiel Canal, to reach Poland, it was found impossible for the fighter or bomber Air Force to reach Poland, and there was obviously no method by which a land Army could come directly to Poland's aid. The difficulty was geographical; it was the difficulty of a physical contact with the anatomy of the enemy at any point of the compass. The way in which the situation from September, 1939, to September, 1944, has altered is so dramatic that we now find Germany a beleaguered nation, with the Allies at or over her frontier at many parts, both East and West; we find her air completely dominated by the Allied Air Forces; and we find the Navy able to watch her ports and coasts. In other words, the Allies can bring their military power to bear upon the anatomy of the enemy at almost every point of the compass.
What I am at pains to call to the attention of the House is that that swing over from the impossibility of attacking Germany at any point to the possibility of attacking Germany at every point is not an accident, but is part and parcel of a general military strategic plan. I think it is time that tribute was paid in this House and by this House to the leaders of the countries and to those, named and unnamed, who are responsible for that master strategic plan. It was quite natural that, knowing the superiority of Britain in the Navy, Germany's No. 1 arm should in their opinion be the U-boat, a method of paralysing, neutralising and attacking the Navy. I think it will always be impossible adequately to state in narrative form, to use the Prime Minister's words, what the world owes to the combination of brain, mind, hand and body that has brought about the defeat of the U-boat, for it was said in the olden days that he who controls the seas can force his enemies to battle where he likes. It is literally true to say that the mastery of the seas was responsible, under the working out of a master plan, for the communication of the tanks via the Cape of Good Hape to the ports in Egypt, which resulted in the defence at El Alamein and the attack from El Alamein. It was mastery of the seas and the working out of a strategic plan which determined the landing in North Africa and the securing of at least one side of the Mediterranean, thus preserving Malta and preserving Egypt and making a jumping-off ground to the whole of the under-belly of the Axis. It was a combination of the sea power and the working out of a master plan.
Then, when we came to D Day it was quite obviously the mastery of the seas which enabled the 250,000 men to be landed within the first 24 hours and the 1,000,000 men within the first 20 days, to which remarkable achievements the Prime Minister has called attention to-day. I understand from those who took part in the landing that on the day following. D plus 1, merely by the hazards of the sea, there was a greater loss in landing craft in one period of a few hours through the rigours of the weather than ever was brought about by shelling from the enemy. I think it is pretty clear to all who take the trouble to read that if we had not been a nation of sea-going folk, D Day would have been impossible even with the mastery of the sea which the surface vessels of the Navy had already secured. I want to point out that the gradual unfolding of a plan, whereby the immense advantage of the mastery of the seas was secured and turned to offensive account, has developed; that the way in which the Air Force has been cumulatively strengthened so that it has been able to secure bases nearer and nearer to enemy territory, and by greater and greater engines and lifting power been enabled more extensively to overcome distance and bring its fighting power to bear upon the enemy; and that the way in which, through mastery of the seas and through mastery of the air, the landing Forces of the Allies have been successively landed, are all part and parcel, as I can see it, of a master strategic plan.
I go so far as to say that it would have been a mistake for that plan to have been hurried, and I say that its gradual unfolding and its gradual development have possessed enormous plus advantages for the Allies that were not always apparent to those of us who were waiting for the opening of some other front to counterbalance the Russian front. I think it will be found as time goes on and we look into the matter that the increased training of the American Forces, the battle experience gained in the Pacific, in their training camps and in their long period of training in our own country, culminated in the force that landed in France on D Day being immensely more powerful than a force that might have been landed in the autumn or summer of the year before.
I venture to say in simple words that I think thanks are due to those who conceived the master plan involving El Alamein, involving the North of Africa, involving the sustenance to Russia via the North Cape, and ultimately culminating in the experiment at Dieppe and the real thing on D Day—thanks to those who conceived it and to the Prime Minister and his personal friendship with the President of the United States and Marshal Stalin of Russia for the way in which all these plans were able to be worked out. A special word of thanks should be given to those people who managed to maintain complete secrecy as these plans developed. I think it will be found later on to be little short of miraculous that these plans for D Day—worked out, if plans ever were, down to the last gaiter button—were maintained in and surrounded by all the necessary attributes of secrecy in such a way as to have been a complete surprise so far as the enemy was concerned.
The House will have heard with tremendous interest of the capture of the intercepted telephone messages between the commanders of the German garrison behind the Normandy beaches and Hitler, Rommel and other German officers at some distance away. As an old intelligence officer of the last war who had something to do with intercepting messages and turning them to the advantage of the Allied account, I know the jam that every intelligence staff officer considered it to be if he got a really good intercept. I can appreciate the feelings of those fellows who captured headquarters and found from the headquarters tele-writer messages what the local commanders had been saying to the men behind Calais and Boulogne—"Send us reinforcements to Cherbourg," and the answer, "We cannot as the Allies are about to land in Calais and Boulogne." That shows that the secrecy in regard to the landing at Cherbourg had been completely maintained and that the Germans were led to think that the landing would be at various points, so that the defence was maintained at Calais and Boulogne too long to be of the slightest service to the men in real danger behind the Normandy beaches. Surely a word of thanks is due to those who maintained secrecy so that that immense potential of a landing on Normandy soil—a real Norman conquest if ever there was one—could be brought about. So I say, on behalf of myself and my hon. Friends who sit with me, or sometimes sit with me, on these Benches, thanks to the Prime Minister and, through him, to those behind who conceived this master plan of strategy, who gradually unfolded it, and, by their success in keeping their secrets, brought about the entire change to which I have called attention, of making the anatomy of the enemy vulnerable at every point of the 360 degrees.
Having said "Thank you" for the unfolding of the major strategic plan, I want to say a word about the consequences that follow liberation. We learned at bitter cost how not to begin after the liberation of Italy. There is undoubtedly a feeling that military government was not maintained long enough after the liberation of part of Italy. Too soon was handing over made to the Italian regime that was not able to hold the reins and keep order. Immense losses, immense bloodshed and immense trouble were sown for ourselves by the fact that we gave up government before there was any substitution for military government. In France we adopted the other extreme. We carried on military government in collaboration with General de Gaulle and his officers until it appeared clear from reports from surrounding districts that there was somebody effective, efficient and powerful enough to whom local administration could be handed over.
I am one of those who hope that Paris will shortly be free from being a military zone. I hope it will not always be necessary to secure permission from S.H.A.E.F. before visits to Paris on matters affecting post-war relations between France and Great Britain can be made. I hope that, inasmuch as civil administration is handed over to a French authority, to a French Government and to a French Parliament, so will it be possible for the control of visits to France, the control of commercial travellers and the control of those concerned with cultural relations between England and France, to pass back to our own passport office and Foreign Office and be removed from the military considerations which applied when S.H.A.E.F. was in command and Paris was a military zone. I express the hope that the measure in which local administration succeeds will be the measure in which we feel we can adopt ordinary external relations between this country and France, and no longer be obliged, cap in hand, to ask for military permission for any of our own nationals to visit that country.
What applies to Italy, and then to France, applies to Belgium, to Luxemburg and progressively to Holland, and will eventually, no doubt, apply to Norway, to Denmark, to Czechoslovakia and to the various Balkan countries as the effort succeeds. I hope that due attention is being given to the way in which the Allied Civil Government is confronting its tasks at Kornelimunster in Germany.
We must regard with interest the occasion of holding of the first Allied court on German soil to deal with infractions by German civilians of the Regulations laid down by the local commanding authorities. I hope that the people selected to take part in the conduct of Allied justice and administration in German territory will be wisely and carefully chosen. I hope some attention will be paid to a knowledge of the local language and local customs. I cannot conceive of anything which will be treated as the litmus paper of the sincerity of the Allied intentions more than the way in which their courts of administration act in the first days, weeks and months of the occupation of German soil. I beg the Government to take the greatest care in the selection of the officers in what is known as the Civil Affairs Section, to deal with the administration and order of essential services in those parts of Germany that are progressively liberated.
I have no wish to detain the House further, when large numbers of Members wish to speak. I desire to place on record that in my belief the changes in fortunes of the Allied arms are not due to any sudden, favourable turn of the wheel but are the gradual unfolding of a master-plan of strategy, carefully-thought-out and brought to bear, I believe brought to bear successively in the right quarter, and to be a matter upon which this House would tender congratulations.
Like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Luton (Mr. Burgin) I was thrilled as the Prime Minister unfolded the tale of the prodigious feats of British arms, and like him I felt a sense of gratitude to those who had planned the higher strategy. Clearly, that has been masterly, and although it has been an international achievement I believe that to the War Cabinet here is due a great deal of the credit, and in particular to the Prime Minister, although, in his modesty, he did not claim it. If I might, by understatement, pay my tribute to him, I would say that as I listened to him I could not help feeling that he managed to combine the offices of Prime Minister and Minister of Defence quite well.
In the realm of foreign affairs there are, too, considerable successes to record. We have achieved the closest relationship with America. France has survived five terrible years and there seems a fair prospect that we shall be able to renew our friendship with her. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that, when we look to our own security in the future, a closely integrated defence policy with America and with France will be an absolutely essential element for the security of these islands. Perhaps I might follow the right hon. Member for Luton in his conception of bringing force to bear upon the anatomy of the enemy by saying that to this nucleus formed by America and France there should be added definite defence arrangements with the countries surrounding the North Sea. If there is that complete system, we shall be literally sitting on the top of a resurgent Germany and can bring the maximum of power to bear before she can do once again what she has done to us twice.
It is not with these matters that I mainly want to deal. In all this fair prospect there is one very black spot, and that is the political relationship between Russia and Poland. The Prime Minister made a particular appeal to back benchers to exercise restraint, and of course I shall try to respond; but I have had considerable experience of the Prime Minister as a back bencher. When he felt strongly upon matters he tried to exercise restraint and responsibility, and that must be my aim this afternoon. This matter between Poland and Russia cannot be left to be settled between the two countries without any intervention from ourselves. Not only from the wide point of view of the organisation of world peace has this matter to be looked at, for clearly it will be a test case of the relationship between a great Power and a weaker neighbour. Not only because we are the Allies of each of them, but also because, under Treaty, we have accepted not only definite legal, and moral, commitments to Poland. It is our habit to honour our treaties.
I remember very well the day when the guarantee was given to Poland by Mr. Chamberlain's Government. At that time the British Government and the Polish Government were thinking in terms of the frontiers which held the field in the summer of 1939. At that time they were unchallenged by any other Power except Germany. I was glad to hear the Prime Minister mention this point because we owe it to ourselves to make it clear that if it had not been for Russia's decision to partake in the partition of Poland this country would have fulfilled that Treaty in the spirit and in the letter; but equally we owe it to the Poles to recognise the situation as it is to-day. That situation is fundamentally changed. No one in 1939 could have foreseen those changes. No one could have foreseen that Russia, from being a potential enemy would become our Ally, nor the stupendous Russian military effort without which, I think it is admitted—so strong was Germany's strength in the field revealed to be—that Poland might never have been freed. No one could have foreseen that Russia, after her prodigious feat of arms, would determine to annex Polish territory in order to put the best possible strategic frontier between herself and the German people. Those things were not seen at that time. The question for this House, which has a real responsibility in the matter, is: Can we, in these new circumstances, fulfil our guarantee to Poland?
We must be absolutely frank and state the position as we see it to-day. To the Poles, I take it we should have to say that we cannot hope to restore the old Poland, and that our aim now must be to restore a Poland independent and free, and as nearly equivalent as possible in territory, economic resources and in international status to the Poland of 1939. If that is our intention and aim, the question inevitably follows whether in view of the Russian attitude, we can make that independence and that freedom into a reality. If, after the defeat of Germany, this gallant but unhappy people are still left in bondage, and if this country has failed to do anything that we ought to have done or might have done, then our national conscience will be uneasy for generations.
I believe we can succeed in this matter, but that success will elude us unless we realise two things. The first is that Russia operates under a code of ethics which is by no means the same as our own. For that I am not blaming the Russians. They are at a different point on the historical road. Let me give examples. When the British Government say, "We will promise to restore an independent and free Poland," they mean it in the unqualified sense of the words; but when Marshal Stalin says, "We will restore your independence and freedom," he says, in the name of the Russian Government, to Poland, "Yes, you may have your independence but Russia will dictate your frontiers, and you may have your freedom but Russia will choose your Government and, by implication, will control your policy." Those are two different interpretations and we must face them. Unless we face the fact that, at the present moment, this country and Russia operate under two different sets of standards, there will stretch before us a long vista of political difficulties, misunderstandings and disillusion.
The second thing which I think we have to realise in our political negotiations with. Russia is that we must not shirk plain speaking. To that and that alone will the Russians respond. If a criticism lies against His Majesty's Government—and I do not know that it does—I believe it is that they have used a sense of delicacy in negotiation which simply is not understood by a people whose diplomatic methods are, by comparison, crude and direct. May I give an illustration or two? I am afraid that while attempting to use restraint I shall have to pose a dilemma to the Foreign Secretary. I hope we shall get an answer from him tomorrow, although the matter is of some difficulty. Let me take the House back to Teheran. Months before the Prime Minister, President Roosevelt and Stalin met at Teheran, Russo-Polish relations had been in a state of acute tension. An expectant world, after the Conference, received an impression of harmony. "We are friends," said the communiqué, "in fact, in spirit and in purpose," and the reaction of the world to those words was not that this was an effervescent friendship such as naturally follows after good wine and good dinners, but was something more permanent.
What was Marshal Stalin's reaction? He went home, and within a few weeks there followed an ultimatum to Poland demanding territory, and declaring that this could not be, except for a few details, a matter of negotiation. It seems to me that this action is capable of only two interpretations; either Russia's reading of the Atlantic Charter is fundamentally different from our own, or Russia feels herself strong enough, when it suits her own purpose, to go her own way. [Interruption.] I am putting those two possible interpretations and I cannot see any other. Did the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary tell Marshal Stalin at Teheran that this question of the method of conduct of relationships between Russia and Poland would be looked upon as a test case in this country, or did they not? If they did not, then the mistake can be rectified. If they did, and in spite of it Marshal Stalin went his own way, it is time that this House knew about it in order that we might assess the implication.
I will deal with those matters. Russia had a Treaty with Poland, which recognised the status quo as it was in 1939, but apart from that, I was arguing, not on the grounds of this or that frontier between Russia and Poland, but on the ground of the Atlantic Charter, which postulates the principle that questions of frontier should be settled by negotiation and not by force. One other illustration—and I shall cut these short because it is touchy ground. Many months ago, in the winter of last year, notice was given in the Moscow State-controlled Press, of the formation of a Union of Polish Patriots, a Committee of Poles to look after Polish interests, and it was perfectly clear at that time to anyone who understood the Russian technique that this was the first move towards undermining the authority of the Polish Government in London. Many weeks passed before the Foreign Secretary in this House perfectly rightly reiterated our support of the Polish Government. From that time on the Soviet Government have known that both ourselves and the Americans recognise the Polish Government in London but have refused to listen to our representations. Somewhere the machinery of co-operation has gone wrong.
Let me take this latest case. I am thinking of the support given to the Poles in Warsaw. We do not know the facts, but I think it is worth noting that very little account was taken by the Russian Government of the representations made in private, and it was only when public clamour reached such a stage in this country and America that it could not be stifled, that the Russians began to take notice and send in supplies. This is the dilemma which seems to me, all through this series of events, to face us. Either these incidents are a series of rebuffs from one great Ally to another, or there is genuine misunderstanding. I am willing to believe that, but if that is so it indicates something wrong with the machinery of co-operation which must be put right at once.
So that there will no longer be any doubt, I have a suggestion to make that we should make an immediate and definite approach to the Russian Government on this question of Anglo-Polish-Russian relations, and do it in this way: We should declare to the Russian Government that Great Britain has legal and moral commitments to post-war Poland, to secure for her independence and freedom, and that we expect Russian co-operation to make them a reality. Secondly, that we justify this expectation by invoking the three Agreements to which Great Britain and the Soviet Union have jointly put their signatures. First. the Atlantic Charter, the first three points of which cover exactly just such a case as this, and which upholds the principle of negotiation as against the principle of force. Secondly, there is the Moscow Agreement, by which the Soviet Government and ourselves both agreed to co-operate and consult at every stage in just this sort of political dispute. And,
lastly, and more particularly, I would invoke the 20 years' Treaty of Agreement between the Soviet Government and ourselves which was signed in 1942. In the preamble of that Agreement, the principles of the Atlantic Charter are repeated. But may I read to the House some operative words of Article 5? After the first paragraph, in which the two Powers agree to work closely together, it reads as follows:
They (that is, the High Contracting Parties) will take into account the interests of the United Nations in these objects, and they will act in accordance with the two principles of not seeking territorial aggrandisement for themselves and of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.
That is a definite Clause in a definite Treaty, a Treaty by which we in this country set great store. We hope to make it the foundation of permanently good Anglo-Russian relations, but we shall never make it into a permanent instrument of good relations if either side connives at what it considers to be a breach by another. It is much better for us to call the attention of the Russian Government to this, and say where we think they are going wrong. Only on the basis of that kind of plain speaking can we possibly achieve these good relations.
In this country there is a great store of good will towards Russia, but I think we serve our friendship best by a plain warning now, that in her attitude towards her smaller neighbours she is doing much to forfeit and sacrifice the good will which her heroism has won. For myself, I have never looked upon the Anglo-American-Soviet association as a kind of moral rearmament society. It is a military alliance, and as such it is highly successful, but if these three great Powers wish to go further than that, if they wish to offer themselves to humanity as the founder Powers of a wider world organisation for peace, if, in addition to their undoubted ability to dispense power, they also seek to dispense justice, then there is an obligation upon each and upon all to agree, at least, upon a common interpretation of independence and freedom.
I desire to congratulate the Noble Lord on the speech he has made and for having stated sincerely and logically what he thinks should be done in present circumstances. I do not intend to pursue the arguments he has used in relation to this problem. All I would say is that I agree with him that Russia has a tremendous amount of good feeling in this country, which is just in the balance at this moment, and it will depend largely upon her attitude to her small neighbouring States whether that good feeling is to be "cashed in on" by the Soviet in an amiable form, or turned to hatred of a great Power's effort against smaller countries. In relation to Poland, we must remember that while it is fair to say, as the Noble Lord did, that Poland might never have been freed if it had not been for the military effort of Russia, it is also true to a large extent, that if it had not been for Russia and her pact with Germany, the whole Continent might never have been placed completely under the heel of Germany, and France might not have collapsed as she did in the military field. Therefore, without any recriminations, I should say that from the lessons to be learned from this war and the benefits to be obtained for humanity, Russia could build up in this world a tremendous amount of good will if she would restrain herself in her attitude towards those Powers on her own frontiers.
While I have appeared from time to time as being very antagonistic to the Soviet Union, I say that I am not antagonistic to the Soviet Union, to the Russian people, but I am antagonistic to the methods that are being thrown up by the bureaucracy of Russia. I wish it were otherwise. I would never attempt to dictate to Russia the line she should take in her own country, but I do say she must allow the rest of the world to determine, according to public feeling, education and reason, the developments they aspire to in their own logical manner. Therefore, I trust that this problem is capable of solution, although I have all the doubts in the world in relation to it, not from a superficial knowledge of Stalin but from a lifetime of experience. I would like to see it possible but just because of the methods in the working class movement of this country of those who espouse the cause of Russia I find they have a similar type of mind to that shown by the development going on in Russia to-day. Therefore, it is with regret, because I cannot see unity of pur pose in the working class movement with those forces which have a common objective, that I cannot see those forces pursuing different tactics as between Russia and this country. That was the cause of the estrangement between Lenin and Trotsky in the old days. Trotsky believed that if any change were effected in any country by force, the revolution must come from the bottom, and must be the desire of the people for social change. That, later, under the government of Stalin, was changed for government in accordance with the wishes of the top, and with blood baths. Freedom had to be exterminated with the physical extermination of those who opposed the regime. Seeing that, although I have no desire to dictate what line Russia should pursue in her own country, I thank God that I was born and live in Britain, rather than that I should have to live under conditions of that kind in any other country.
I turn now to the speech made by the hon. Member of the Liberal Party who represents Wolverhampton East (Mr. Mander). I think he is absent now. I congratulate him on having one day with the boys now and again, in opposition to the Government. He must have a hard time trying to convince Wolverhampton that, while he is pursuing the path of unity with the Government on the front, or behind the front, of the Governmental Benches, he returns to the Opposition Bench now and again and gives us the benefit of his advice and criticism. I noticed that to-day all the points he raised, he already knew about both from the Prime Minister's speech and from the general line in the Press. They were all in hearty agreement with Governmental policy. Therefore, he could express his opinions safely. He knew he need not cross swords in any way with his chief, the Secretary of State for Air, who is the Liberal representative in this great wide Coalition we have at the present time.
We have had thoughts and opinions from him which I think were shocking coming from any Member of this House. He went almost to the length of telling us that there was no such thing in Germany as a decent German. That is heard often. I want to ask Members of this House if they sincerely believe that. The Prime Minister told us to-day of the difficulties minorities have in arming them- selves, or opposing a Government, and he spoke of all the difficulties, even in France, which had never known under its own authority the terror and brutality imposed by the Gestapo and the Nazis. He spoke of the Maquis in the final onslaught, raising themselves from the underground and taking part in the open struggle. Therefore, I ask Members of this House whether they agree there are no good Germans. I know of at least one person whom I can claim to be a good example. Prince Bernhard, the husband of Princess Juliana of Holland, must be a good German [An HON. MEMBER: "He is a Dutchman"]. He is not a Dutchman. He has not been nationalised but naturalised. He is a German by origin and has moved about as a German through the world.
There are many groups, races, and classes of people in Germany. There are something like 23,000,000 Catholics in Germany. [Interruption.] It was put to me that officially there were only 16,000,000 recognised as being adherents, and that 10,000,000 had gone out by the backdoor, or the sidedoor. Does anybody say that among those 16,000,000 or 23,000,000 Catholics there are no good Germans? I met two of Pastor Niemoller's clergymen when I was in Berlin, and discussed things with them. Does anybody say that there are no good Protestants in Germany? Does anybody say that there are no good Communists in Germany? Do the Labour Party say that there are no good trade unionists and good Socialists, who are still compelled to hide their colours because of the Gestapo? Does anybody say that there are no good Jews in Germany? I met a considerable number of them, and I went to where they were actually practising colonisation, in the hope that they would get something from this country. It is a libel to say that there are no good Germans.
I said once that time would prove that all the theories of the Germans not being behind Hitler were quite wrong, and that there were 13,500,000 of the youth of Germany who were the real backbone of the Nazi movement; and I said, on the other hand, that there was a great contempt in Italy for Mussolini, and a crying demand behind the scenes in Italy from a large class of people of liberal professions, to have a Liberal democracy, of the type we had in this country. Time has proven both those theories to be correct. I said that large numbers of the Hitler Youth Movement were behind Hitler, but, against that, large numbers of people of mature age were looking upon the advance of war as a dreadful prospect and that they shuddered at what would be the result. Just as there are good Italians in Italy today, who loathe the thought of Mussolini, with all his amorous conquests in Italy, and who loathe the character of the man, so also was there an enthusiastic Hitler Youth Movement in Germany, because The other dictator had a personal character that was always cited as being good. History and time have proven that this country and America are prepared to accept every single State that has gone out of the war, and that they have found a section of the community whom they are prepared to entrust with either the administration or the running of the State. But the amazing thing is that the people who have been selected have always been those most closely identified with the Nazi and Fascist regimes in the past. Therefore we have little confidence in these people and their future purposes.
I also said, in a speech that I made in December, 1940, in moving an Amendment to the King's Speech, that, although I was opposed to the war, when you went into the war you should fight not only with the military weapon but with the psychological weapon. In my estimation, the psychological weapon has always been completely absent in this war. There has never been an appeal to the German people to get rid of their Nazi taskmasters, and they have never been told that after that you would be prepared to deal with the German people, to help them to set their house in order and to live decently with the rest of the world. You have gone along this road declaring that nothing but unconditional surrender and almost the persecution of the whole of the German people must occur as the result of the surrender that must take place at the end of the war. Remember the state of mind in this country at the period of Dunkirk. Even opponents of the war, like myself, would never have suggested at that stage that you should have met and discussed terms with Hitler, because it would have been only on the basis of complete surrender. You had no real power to bargain with at that moment. Therefore, I can conceive almost of Ger- mans in the German concentration camps volunteering for service to-day because of the attitude of this country and America. If we were faced with the prospect of prolonged overlordship of the German leaders in this country, every individual in this country would be roused to fury and would be prepared to fight to the last drop of blood to maintain his existence. Therefore I charge the Governments of the United States and of this country with being responsible, by their talk of unconditional surrender, for the prolongation of this war and for causing unnecessary suffering and blood-spilling. The policy should be reversed at the earliest possible moment in relation to the great mass of the German people. Not only that, but it gives Hitler ammunition at a period when he is in dire distress. I was shocked at the publication of that Morgenthau document in the United States and at the speeches that were made in another place by Lord Vansittart.
In withdrawing that, may I call attention to speeches made by Lord Vansittart in this country, and published in pamphlet form, and may I say that people like him are simply a menace to the people of this country and of the United States? I think it is diabolical that such speeches should be made in the pursuance of—
I gathered that the hon. Member was using rather strong language, which might be thought to ascribe unworthy motives to a noble Lord. The hon. Member has come very near to breaking the Rule.
May we have a Ruling on this? I frankly confess, Sir, that I do not understand your Ruling. I have understood always that it was against the Rule to refer to or criticise speeches made in another place. The hon. Member has done that, and you said that he came rather near to breaking that Rule. He has just described a speech as diabolical. Is that or is it not a reflection on the Noble Lord?
Is it not the right interpretation of the Ruling, that one must not refer to the speech of a Noble Lord is another place, but that it is in Order to refer to any of a Peer's statements made in the country? Peers are no more exempt from criticism than Private Members of this House, or even Ministers.
The word "diabolical" may have many meanings, according to the context. I thought that the expression as used by the hon. Member was rather strong, and probably un-Parliamentary.
It is fantastic for anybody to suggest that I was imputing some unworthy motive to a Noble Lord. I say that the propaganda, not the individual, is unworthy, and that it is not contributing to a proper solution of the world's difficulties. The propaganda that is taking place in this country is, in my estimation, all wrong. I am staggered at the fact that the Prime Minister and the Government, if they can swallow Umberto, if they can swallow Badoglio, if they can swallow Darlan, and if they can swallow Franco, should see any difference between those people and some of the others in Germany. I am told that we must never talk with or have any association with the Germans; but I wonder with whom we are going to negotiate in Germany? Is there to be anybody left? Is it intended that there should be a complete occupation of Germany, with all local and national life of the population set aside, because that policy would not be endorsed by the people of this country or America? There must be some element in Germany with which this country intends to have discussion, some element which will try, in the pursuance of their ordinary duties, to maintain civil administration. Therefore it is wrong to go on talking in terms of there being no one inside Germany, with whom we can talk, and that we shall have to re-educate the German people. There are millions of people in this country who themselves want to be re-educated. I have never attempted to suggest that we should take on that task. I think that time and environment will play their part in making an effective foundation.
I see that a military man has been saying that, after the last war the settlement which we imposed on Germany produced mass unemployment, and the mass unemployment produced Hitler, and Hitler produced the conditions to bring about the rehabilitation of Germany and war. He says, "Are we going to produce the same process again?" Then we are told that we have to see that Germany has no means of making war and that she is to have no flying fields, unless under supervision, no army, no navy—[Interruption]. To say that there should be no company promoters would be going too far and the war would not be worth carrying on. Therefore, there is to be no force. I ask the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, East (Mr. Mander) if that means that there will be no industries either. It has been definitely suggested in the Morgenthau plan that we should take control of the mines and give them to France, and take all the heavy industries out of the country.
I commend to hon. Members Low's cartoon in the "Evening Standard" today, showing the parting of the ways and the two roads—war on the Nazis, and war on the German people—the soldier standing there, with his rifle, wondering which road to travel and whether it is a war on the Nazis, or a war on the German people. We are now arriving at the stage where the stiffening attitude in defence of the German people will bring about a tremendous loss of life and bloodshed in the struggle into Germany, if we intend to put into effect those declarations and demands that it is intended to break up Germany and her industry, break the will of her people and put them completely under the heel of the occupation army.
I think this country had enough lessons of armies of occupation in Ireland, India, Egypt, Africa and elsewhere, to know that that policy is not a peace policy. It is not an intelligent policy, and I say here that, as we make war on want and drive want out of the world, so we shall drive war out of the world. We shall drive antagonism out of the world, because it is based, in Germany and in other countries, on the fanatical belief of individuals that the road they are pursuing and contesting with other great Powers is the road that will ensure the elimination of want in their territory. They are fanatically behind their rulers in the belief that want is being eliminated and that the older capitalist bureaucracies are standing in the way and preventing that from taking place.
I see some grave dangers at this moment. One of them is that Russia may pursue a policy of her own that will produce another vast armed camp between America and Britain, that will engage in war against the Soviet Union. But, if the Soviet Union intends to play ball, and co-operate with Britain and America in exploiting and holding down the rest of the Continent, the Balkans, the Baltic and Central Europe, I can see a tremendous risk of underground armies arising in these territories, resentful of the methods employed to hold them down. From a Socialist point of view, I say, further, to the Members of the Labour Party, that I want to know what an army of occupation in Germany means. Does it mean that the ordinary people in Germany are not going to be allowed to throw up a Socialist Administration if they have learned their lesson and their Nazi taskmasters and brutal overlords have been disposed of? I say as a Socialist that I object to an army of occupation. I object to the masses of the German people being saddled with this liability, in the rebuilding of Europe, for the crimes of the Nazis, who have armed themselves in the most efficient manner, with S.S. guards, Gestapo and secret service and every means of holding the mass of the people in subjection.
Everybody knows the danger that the ordinary individual runs in Germany in declaring himself against the Nazi power. Therefore, I say that if Germany is defeated militarily and disarmed, if the Nazi gangsters are put to death or dealt with in a proper manner by courts of justice throughout the land, we are entitled to say to the German people, "There are the evil men who have misled you; we are prepared to give you an opportunity of retracing your steps back to decent society." If we were prepared to proclaim that to the world now, we could have a large mass of the German people with us instead of against us, we could shorten the war, bring the tragedies of this war to an end, liberate humanity throughout the world from want and oppression and bring justice and security for all human beings. By that means we could eliminate want and war at the same time.
With some of my colleagues, I have been absent from this House and the home atmosphere for some months, so I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but rather address myself to certain aspects of the war situation as seen from the other side of the world. Two days after our arrival in Sydney, the news of the invasion aroused great excitement and a surge of patriotism which it was pleasant to witness. The cinemas were filled with pictures of soldiers; unfortunately, there were no British or Canadian soldiers. They were all Americans, and for the next four days, not one single British or Canadian soldier appeared on any screen in Australia. It would seem that the Ministry of Information made some arrangements for pooling the beam service, which temporarily broke down, and meanwhile, the American Army news service transmitted pictures with their own apparatus to their headquarters in Australia, and these were flown to every city in the country and so they "scooped the pool." Like many other of their military organisations, the American military news service is highly efficient and has been conceived on an immense scale. Like a powerful broadcasting station, it blankets out its weaker neighbours. It does seem highly desirable that our news service, whether it be under the Ministry of Information or the War Office, should be strengthened and, furnished with every sort of apparatus and brought continually up to date. I say that in no spirit of petty rivalry, but in order that a truer perspective may be achieved in the presentation of events, and this seems particularly important and urgent in view of the impending general assault upon Japan when the campaign in the West has been concluded.
Speaking of news in the reverse direction, I do not know how many hon Members appreciate the great part played by Australian Forces in the land fighting in New Guinea. Maybe the news service has been better since I left and more has been available, but, certainly, it was a surprise to me when I learnt that in this bush fighting, perhaps the most arduous and exacting of any form of warfare, the proportion of Australian Forces engaged was no less than six to one. The jungles in New Guinea have to be seen to be be- lieved. Great forest trees growing close together are interlaced with vines and creepers, while even open country is swampy and covered with kunai grass which grows man-high, has a sharp edge, and is infested with every kind of insect, including the dreaded typhus mite. The hot and enervating climate makes conditions more forbidding than ever. This is the type of country in which they have been fighting a crafty foe endowed with fanatical courage. In spite of all and often sustaining heavy casualties, they have outstayed and out-fought the Japs again and again.
To-day, our minds are fixed on great events. Greater developments loom ahead. Yet this seems to me to be the time and place to pay tribute to the achievements, courage and endurance of these gallant men. For wherever we went in Australia our kind hosts spoke of this House in the warmest terms of affection and regard. We found the three Services in New Guinea in great heart. Their morale was magnificent and everyone seemed convinced that he had got the best billet in the whole of New Guinea, even though they were putting out pots and pans to catch the water falling from the bomb-splintered roof. Even in the hospital tents, with their open sides, the men were remarkably cheerful, though in some cases suffering from painful skin affections. One sensed a friendly informality as between doctors, nurses and patients which must have been very soothing to a sick man. I do believe we have got something to learn there. On the other hand, medical discipline and precautions were strictly enforced and loyally observed. It is very irksome in that hot climate to wear long trousers and gaiters, to button the wristbands of one's shirt sleeves, to take regular doses of atebrine, which turns you yellow as a Jap in a very short time. But the results have been remarkable. Even in fighting conditions, the incidence of malaria has been reduced from 100 per 1,000 per week to two per 1,000.
There has been very close liaison between the Forces in New Guinea and the Forces in Burma, with exchange of officers and information, and the technique of jungle fighting has been intensively studied and developed. Tanks have been used with very good effect for blasting the Japs out of their jungle fox- holes. We were told that a slow-moving tank with the weight as widely dispersed as possible was the most suitable, When we come to turn our full attention to the Japanese, I have no doubt that once more the Churchill tank will came to the fore and that this modern pachyderm will be seen roaming in its ancestral jungle haunts. My colleagues who visited the Australian Forces on the mainland were very much impressed by their standard of discipline and training. These men find the inaction very galling. They are straining at the leash, but the campaign in the Pacific is going so well that I have no doubt they will soon get their opportunity, and I am sure they will make the most of it.
Time did not permit us to include in our programme a visit to the American Forces, but we were able to see something of the astonishing feats of construction which they have achieved in New Guinea. In a little over three months they built at Nadzab a vast aerodrome, with permanent runways, and connected it with the base at Lae, cutting through a swampy jungle a macadamised road 33 miles long as wide as Piccadilly, with bomb bays on either side. Two years ago Milne Bay was a fishing village inhabited by 20 whites and 1,500 natives. In the month of June last it dealt with shipping tonnage only equalled by New York and one other port in the U.S.A. When the centre of gravity shifted to Finchhaven there grew up almost by magic long lines of docks and quays and miles of storage sheds. The scale of everything was breath taking. When each base has served its purpose, it is scrapped. No time is wasted in salvage unless it is going to help General McArthur's Forces to drive ahead. One cannot but compare this with one's experience in a frontier campaign many years ago when an ingenious quartermaster, in order to placate the audit department, would cut a new tent in half, and enter it in his ledger as "Tents 2, unserviceable."
In Brisbane the delegation had the privilege of meeting General MacArthur, by whose courtesy and that of the acting Prime Minister and the Minister of War in Australia our visit to New Guinea was possible. I would not presume to comment on this distinguished personality except to say that he is a wonderful speaker. He gave us a most interesting description of the past, and anticipation of the future course of events, and everyone in military circles swears by him. Every operation carried out under his orders has been completed, not only up to, but well ahead of, schedule. Since the Japanese have been thrust on to the defensive, the New Guinea campaign has resolved itself into a series of battles for ports and airfields. The Allied Forces attack in enormous strength. They leave nothing to chance. They seize a port, throw a perimeter around it and construct the necessary air strips, and with command of sea and air, they leave the Japanese to starve and die in the jungle, with no source of supply other than an occasional furtive visit by a submarine.
Fortunately, from the military point of view, prophylactic measures are almost entirely omitted from the Japanese medical programme while they themselves are less resistant to tropical diseases such as malaria, dysentery and so forth than men of the white races. Scores of thousands of them have perished miserably in the jungle in New Guinea and in other Pacific islands, and many thousands more will suffer the same fate as the campaign proceeds. We were told, on the highest authority, that since the beginning of hostilities in that area, apart from the sick, wounded and shell shocked, not a Japanese officer or man has surrendered, and, in a nation of 90,000,000 people, that offers a very formidable prospect. It does not look as if that campaign is one that could be concluded in a matter of months. Furthermore, one heard the view expressed out there that a straightforward invasion of the Japanese mainland might involve a million casualties—a terrible prospect for civilised people, with a proper idea of the value of human life. It seems that when we have cut off the tentacles of the octopus and drawn a ring round the body, we shall have to undertake a prolonged process of bombing and blockading before the final assault is launched.
We spent three weeks in the United States on our way out, and in Australia and New Guinea heard the view widely expressed by our Allies that there is no room in the kind of world for which we are fighting for a nation like the Japanese imbued through the centuries with a religion and philosophy of domination and conquest. They are determined that they shall be utterly destroyed, and I am sure that our kinsmen in Australia and New Zealand share the same view.
I would like to make a brief reference to a visit paid on our way home to the New Zealand Division in Italy, occupying a sector in the front line to the West of Florence. I was delighted to hear of the spontaneous manner in which the Italian peasantry had welcomed my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but I cannot help recalling the experience which a distinguished officer in Italy related to me. He was travelling in a jeep with a German officer as a prisoner. As they passed through a village they received a great welcome from the villagers who threw flowers into the car and he said to the German officer, "I suppose they did the same for you." He replied "Yes, Sir, and what is more, they did it in this village, yesterday!" I had the very pleasant task of handing over to the Maori warriors a number of letters given to me by their wives and sweethearts in Rotorua scarcely ten days before, and their pleasure was only equalled by that of their gallant commander, General Freyberg. It confirmed me in my impression that, if you want to please a New Zealander, the very best thing you can do is to pay a compliment or render a service to a Maori, such is the wonderful relationship existing in that little country between the two races. There is a strong desire, with which the Maoris associate themselves whole-heartedly, that on the conclusion of hostilities the New Zealand Division should be allowed to come "home to England"—that is how they put it—for at least a month before returning to New Zealand. This magnificent Division is highly mechanised and extremely mobile and it has the reputation of being second to none in exploiting a situation. Here is another situation they are ready to exploit. I have the assurance of General Freyberg himself that he is prepared to move the whole outfit, including the nurses, under their own power from Northern Italy to Calais in four days.
This war, unlike the last, has offered very few opportunities for contacts between our kinsmen in Australia and New Zealand and the people in the Mother Country. Here is an opportunity in part to repair the omission and I hope that it will be favourably considered by the Governments concerned. But there is another means of repairing this omission. When the mountain could not, or would not, come to Mahomet, Mahomet went to the mountain, and ever since I arrived in Sydney I have been waiting and longing to hear the news that British Divisions are going to be seen in Australia and New Zealand en route for the Pacific area. If training be needed, the Atherton tableland offers superb locations for training in jungle warfare under healthy conditions. And what a welcome our boys would get in the great cities, and indeed wherever they went. It would be necessary to take precautions to ensure that they were not killed by kindness before ever they reached the front. My colleagues and I tried to convey to our opposite numbers, and indeed to everyone whom we met, a message of good will, but in democracies such as ours nothing can replace large scale contacts between our peoples, for it is the people who rule. The British soldier has been rightly described as Britain's best ambassador, and over there I am sure he could accomplish something which nobody else could do. Apart from military considerations I believe the presence of our splendid men down under would help us of this Empire and Commonwealth to come to the peace table and to face the tasks and problems of the future more united than ever before.
The House will have welcomed back very warmly the hon. Members who have visited the other end of the world and I am sure we are all grateful to have had this early account of their doings. We have followed their activities and have been apprised that they were doing a good work of ambassadorship, and it has been very interesting indeed to have this firsthand account from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Wickham). Although there will be many discussions before the plans now being formed at Dumbarton Oaks can take final shape, it is clear that what will emerge from these discussions must be a Concert of the great Powers set in the framework of a revived League of Nations, no doubt under some other name and with some modifications. It would already appear that something of that sort is inevitable. I do not think that we need complain about that or attack anyone for it. In present circumstances, any attempt to get the United States or the Soviet Union to abrogate their sovereignty in any sweeping measure is sure to fail and would probably do more harm than good.
Although the objective which may be obtained from Dumbarton Oaks is extremely limited, it is the most that can be obtained in the general organisation of the peace of the world at this time. I have confidence myself in the delegation we sent out there and in the ability and desire of the Government to do all they can for the general organisation of peace. It would, however, be a great mistake if we rested content with that general organisation for peace. It can achieve much. Anyone with a knowledge of history will know how much was achieved by, the Concert of Europe, and we all know—the Prime Minister has himself borne witness—what could have been done by the League of Nations if only it had been supported; but we must go further.
The particular point I would like to make is that, in addition to the general organisation for world peace, the great Powers ought to take the lead in getting closer integration within specific local areas. The United States has already taken the lead in good neighbourliness over the whole American Continent; the Soviet Union clearly intends to give a lead in integrating the whole of Eastern Europe; China will certainly give a lead to the Continent of Asia when the Japanese have been overthrown and when she has recovered her strength. It is for us, in Great Britain, to give a similar lead in bringing to an end the Balkanisation of Western Europe; for in this world of super-States we can no longer regard such countries as Belgium, Portugal, Holland, or even ourselves in this Island, as having the potentialities and capacities of a great Power. Western Europe, which the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) has called "an amazing power-house of thought and action and invention"— this corner of the world which has given so much to every other country, can be regarded to-day only as a congeries of small States, and it is for Great Britain to give the lead in bringing about some closer degree of integration in this wonderful part of our globe. It is my view that Europe is hungering for this unity; she has been hungering for it for a very long time. It has become perfectly clear that she will not accept unity from France—that was tried, and failed, under Napoleon. It has become abundantly clear, as a result of two world wars, that Europe will not accept unity from Germany. It should be abundantly clear that she will not accept it from the Soviet Union, for although the Soviet economy and form of society are looked upon with enthusiasm by millions throughout the West of Europe, any attempt to imitate it could only produce civil war. The fact has to be recognised. If unity is to come to Europe, that unity which Europe so abundantly desires, it can, in my submission, only come from and through Great Britain because Great Britain is the only Power baying the resources to achieve it, and having the moral position to bring it about; she is the only Power that is sufficiently disinterested and has shown herself sufficiently disinterested over the centuries. I appeal particularly to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to-day to use all the influence that he has, in this great hour in the world's history, to bring about this measure of integration in Western Europe.
The noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) hinted that his own mind was travelling in the same direction when he spoke of the need for having close military agreements between this country, France and the United States, and I would like to pursue that line of thought. For it is clear that any closer integration in the world, if it is to succeed, cannot be based on mere sentimental considerations; it will not last if it is. It must be solidly based on a community of interest. Now have we between Great Britain and the nations in the West of Europe a sufficient community of interest to make us one society? I believe we have, and I will give several reasons for so thinking.
There is, in the first place, a sound military reason. We all have a common interest in seeing that Germany is never allowed again to become a danger to the peace of our Continent and, indeed, of the whole world, and that ought to make us get together. We all remember, I feel certain, the hesitations of the years before 1939, when, owing to the lack of any firm military commitments between ourselves and the nations of Western Europe, one country after another dithered in the hope of neutrality. Belgium is the outstanding example, but it was the same uncertainty about British military action that weakened the will of many in France. This uncertainty about our respective military commitments paralysed the action of Western Europe in those years. I hope we shall now see an end of it, and that after this war, we shall enter into the closest military arrangements with the nations of Western Europe, as a result of this common interest we have in seeing that Germany is never again a threat to us. We should enter into such close relationships with them that it would become clear to the whole world that an attack upon one is an attack upon all; in fact, that is bound to be the case. Surely, by now, we ought to have learned from two world wars that any military attack upon. these Powers is bound to bring us in sooner or later. Let us recognise that fact and, if we do so, we may be able to avert such happenings again.
There, then, is one good reason for thinking that we have a community of interest sufficient to make us one society. Again, we have a community of interest between this country and the West of Europe because, when Japan is defeated, we shall be practically the only Colonial Powers in the world, and this community of Colonial interests is another of the binding ties between us. If we can get such a closer integration as I desire, then we shall in fact have achieved what so many have asked for, an international pool of the Colonies, because we shall have achieved a pool of the countries that rule the Colonies. There is a great difference between countries having a Colonial policy and those that do not. We understand these problems in a way that other countries cannot, and it is bound to give us the necessary community of interests with such nations as Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal. I would remark in passing—for it links up with my previous point—that it would be quite impossible for Belgium or Portugal or Holland to hold their Colonies for a single year if it were not for the protecting shield of the British Navy. We are bound up already, therefore, in a close community of interest.
Third among the points that give us a community of interest, I would place the fact that we all have a common seaboard. That is not merely sentimental, although I would not wish to under-estimate the strength of the sentimental ties that come from the sea; they certainly are very real. The sea gives us a community of interests, to put it quite bluntly, because the carriage of goods by sea is so much cheaper than the carriage of goods by land, and countries having the sea as their frontier are bound to have a community of interests with each other; it is that community which has made us such close friends in the past with countries so diverse as Portugal and Norway, and can be a solid foundation again for common action in the future.
May I ask my hon. Friend a question? Had we not all these three interests between the years 1920 and 1939? We had the interest of keeping Germany down—that was something on which the League of Nations was run; we had the Colonies ourselves, and also the other community of interests which the hon. Member has just mentioned. Why should it be assumed that anything better is to happen from 1945 onwards than what happened before 1939?
I am asking only that we should now recognise that community of interests and carry out its logical implications. Of course all these existed before, but it has needed a second world war to bring them home to a large number of people in this country. I am sufficiently old not to think that any startling new development is likely to take place in mankind at this late date. All the factors have been there, but we have simply not acted upon them, and I am asking now that we should do so and bring about that closer integration of the West of Europe with ourselves that is so very necessary.
I am not asking that we should all become one State—I think that would be unnecessary and it would frighten the more timid brethren. What I am asking is that we should have one foreign policy, one common defence plan, and one common plan for the major economic matters. I think that would give us the sufficiently close integration that we desire. I would like to point out, however, that we have in our own country achieved a much closer fusion than I suggest out of much more intractable matter. There is, in fact, a very close racial affinity between the people of England and the people of Holland, Denmark and Norway; in fact we very often pay them the compliment of thinking that they are ourselves. There is much less difference between a Norwegian and an Englishman than there is between an Englishman and a Welshman or an Englishman and a Scotsman. Yet, somehow in this country we have achieved the miracle of getting Englishmen and Welshmen and Scotsmen into a single community. What is the reason?
No, it is much subtler than that. The English have discovered a thing or two in the art of government, and when they conquered the Welsh they were wise enough to allow a Welshman to rule over them, and eventually permitted a Scotsman to rule over them. So I do not think it is simply a case of the Welsh and Scots being absorbed into England—the Scots at least could make out a strong claim to have provided more of the governing class of England than the English themselves. There is indeed a real integration in this country between the most diverse elements. How is it achieved? It is achieved by permitting in England, Wales and Scotland the fullest development of their local culture and religion. We get all sorts of diversities. For example, in Monmouthshire you cannot get a drink on Sunday; across the river in Gloucestershire you can. We get all sorts of those local varieties but we do not permit any varieties in the great matters of foreign policy, defence, and the major economic matters. I think a Scottish cheque for g is only worth 19s. 6d. in England, but these are only minor matters. The great desiderata are a common foreign policy, a common defence policy, and a common economic policy in all the major matters.
A great opportunity lies before us. There are certain occasions in the history of man that have to be seized or they will never recur, and I believe that this is one. The West of Europe is looking towards us. Those of us who have been privileged to see at close quarters their Governments in this country know that to be the case. For the Netherlands, M. Van Kleffens has made a public statement on this subject, and the other countries of Western Europe would like it also. It is to their interest we should do it, and it is to our interest that we should do it, and we can do it. Our prestige in Europe has never stood higher than it is at present. We alone, as is well realised in Europe, are the only country that entered the war in 1939 that has not been defeated, and they admire the way in which London and the other towns of this country have stood up to German bombing, never acknowledging defeat. Our prestige now is greater than ever before, and the personal prestige of the Prime Minister on the Continent, I would dare to add, is probably greater than that of any Englishman since Chatham. We have an opportunity now that will never recur, and I would earnestly beg the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to seize this opportunity. Europe is looking to them to give it something for which it has been yearning for centuries; they have it in their power to confer a gift on Europe greater than it has ever enjoyed for 2,000 years.
The House to-day has listened to a comprehensive and most interesting statement from the Prime Minister on the progress of the war, and I think it is only right that the House should have an opportunity of hearing and appreciating the tremendous change that has taken place in the war situation since we parted for the Recess. I think there is every reason for us to express our congratulations to the leaders of the Allied Nations who have borne the responsibility, and who are entitled to all that we can say by way of appreciation of the events of the last few weeks. Our thanks should certainly also be conveyed to, not only our Government but the Governments of the United States and Russia, for the great achievements of past weeks and for the improvement in the war situation which has taken place.
The Prime Minister made more than one appeal to-day to Members to be cautious in what they said about the foreign situation. I think we all appreciate that matters are very delicate and that it is desirable to be extremely careful in what one says. L appreciated what my right hon. Friend said in this connection about the Russian-Polish situation. I think it would be wise, although it may be against the feelings of some of us, to refrain from going into details, but I think that one matter which requires to be made public, or at least get more publicity than it has secured in the last few weeks is the tremendous effort which has been made by this country to try and carry out our obligations to Poland and to relieve Warsaw. In particular, I refer to the work of the Royal Air Force; I do not think it is known even in this country how desperate were the attempts we made and the losses we unfortunately suffered in trying to do our best for the beleagured people of Warsaw.
I do not want to go into the reasons which led the Russian Government to take up the attitude which they first adopted in this matter and, therefore, I will pass on to the wider aspect of affairs, to which the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) has just referred, namely, the results likely to arise from the deliberations at Dumbarton Oaks. There is a great deal in what the hon. Member opposite said with which I agree, but perhaps he will not mind if I say that I think he is a little too optimistic. I think there is a danger in too much optimism in these matters. It is very easy for any of us to say now how mistaken was the policy of isolation which we, and others, pursued previous to the war; it is easy for Members of this House to throw across the Chamber charges against past Governments, past statesmanship, charges that Governments should have been better prepared or that Oppositions should not have refused supplies and so on, but the real fact is that there was no nation in Europe that believed that war was likely to come about, excluding, of course, Germany. Certainly, we did not believe it. When I heard the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) speaking today I really wondered whether we had learned anything at all, whether we were not going to make the same mistakes all over again. People forget; their memories are very short indeed, especially in the tremendous events of these days.
I have had the experience, as no doubt have other Members, of talking to people. in London recently and I am amazed to find how quickly they have forgotten the early blitzes of the war. Of course, I am not referring to the people who have definitely suffered the destruction of their houses or have personally suffered in other ways, but the flying bomb has almost eliminated from their minds the effects of the earlier blitzes. When the flying bomb menace is finally removed, I have no doubt that a few months later a large number of people will remember it only vaguely. The same sort of danger will exist in all nations after this war. The hon. Member for Shettleston said that he objected to any occupation of Germany, and that if Germany was disarmed the evil men in that country would be dealt with by the Germans themselves. But if Germany is disarmed, how does he think she will be kept disarmed if there is no occupation? What does he think will be the condition of Germany? Nobody is so stupid as to say that there are no decent people in Germany. Of course there are, but the idea that you can trust the German people at the present time or in the near future is only laying up trouble for the future, and will mean that the same mistakes will be made again. The strongest course will have to be followed in Germany after this war. Although I do not want to-day to enter into details of what should be done—it is a matter which will require the attention of all the Allied Powers—it is clear that the main hope for the future peace of Western Europe, the first and main hope, is that the Powers of Western Europe should be agreed as to their treatment of Germany. If that is agreed, then we shall have made one step towards getting peace in the future. I said just now that it was easy to-day to say how mistaken our policy and the policy of the Western European nations was, but it was not only in Europe—
When I said "Western European nations," I was taking the words from the hon. Member for Keighley. He went through them in detail, and I do not think it is necessary to go through them again. I want to emphasise the point that it is futile to believe that at one step you can achieve unanimity of ideals among the nations of the world or even in a small area like Western Europe. Nationalism is extremely strongly entrenched. It is difficult for nations, and especially those speaking dif ferent languages, thoroughly to understand each other in peace-time, let alone in war. We could not have a better example of that than the difficulty which the United States of America has to-day in understanding our problem in India, and, there, there is no language barrier. It has been a most difficult thing for the Government of this country to make clear to the people of the United States, who mean us well and are anxious to understand us, what are the real problems that we face there. That is an example of what is in front of us in the future. If we try to go too fast we shall make mistakes. If we try to start to talk about a union now, even of the Western European nations, I think we shall go too fast. If we can agree on fundamental matters, such as keeping certain national forces, not international forces—I do not believe we shall get that yet, although I hope we shall some day—to prevent further wars of aggression, and generally lay down the line on which we hope a future League of Nations can work then we shall have achieved something. I hope the hon. Member for Keighley will not think that I am disagreeing with him, but I fear that he is rather too optimistic in this matter.
I think we were all moved by the Prime Minister's references to France. We all want a sound, strong and self-reliant France. I cannot forget however—and I want to speak as plainly as other Members have done—what we have suffered as a result of France's defection in the early days of this war. That came about by political conditions in France which prevented unity, a strong and stable Government and a united people. That is why I want to see a strong Government now; I want to see something set up in France which will enable her to play her real part in the future settlement of the world and in that agreement between the Western European nations which we all desire to see established. Finally, I want national agreement at home, sa far as it is possible to get it, after this war. I do not believe that at this stage of the world's history a precise international setup of a lasting character to which we can put our signature can be achieved. It might be that even this country if we had to sign now might not be able to carry out her obligations when the time came for them to be fulfilled. In this matter let us go slowly, let us get agree- ment wherever we can and on that build something which, in the days to come, will give us that world-wide international understanding which wilt prevent wars in the future.
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne) now in what he has said, but later in my speech I propose to deal with one of the points he has raised because it is part of my case. First, I would like to refer to the speech made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Lieut.-Colonel Wickham). I think the House fully appreciated the statement he has given us about his visit to Australia. I appreciated it especially, because I know something of what is happening out there. I have a married sister in Australia who has three sons fighting in the Japanese war, and she has described to me, in her letters, the terrible things going on in the Pacific war, especially in New Guinea. I would like to support what the hon. and gallant Member said about the possibility of allowing an Australian or New Zealand regiment to pay a visit to this country when the war is over. Such a visit would enable us to show our full appreciation of what we thought about them. I had several letters from Canadians and Americans, who have expressed the wish that when the war is over they would like to come to this country again and thank us for the treatment which they have received here. Such visits would strengthen the bonds of friendship which we have made during this war.
I would like heartily to endorse the Prime Minister's statement that we shall continue with our Allies until Japan is finally beaten. I am glad he has made this public in such an important speech, because it will have an effect on the world, on America and especially Japan. When Japan knows that there is to be no let-up in our determination to carry on the war until the very end, it might bring her to her senses more quickly. The Prime Minister outlined what is likely to happen after the war, and when talking about the Dumbarton Oaks Conference said he did not want us to say too much about what we felt. I think now is the time to express our feelings on what we think ought to be done. It is no good waiting until what we call our leaders come to some understanding, and their pledged word has been given to some other people, and then they expect the House of Commons to follow them because they can rightly say, "We had no indication what you had in your mind, therefore we have given our word to the Allies and we do not like to depart from it." When they make that statement, one can understand the position, because those on a negotiating body make certain concessions to the other side in the hope that those for whom they speak will agree. Therefore, it is as well that the negotiating body should know what is in our mind.
It all bears on Article VI of the Atlantic Charter, which definitely states that we are bound together for two specific purposes—to free the world from want and to free the world from fear. A report has been issued from the Hot Springs Conference which says that, if the world is organised on a proper basis, there is no need of any fear for the future in regard to want. There is sufficient food in the world to give us a much higher standard of life than we are enjoying now. But if the fear of want is removed, and the fear of aggression remains, what good is it? The fear of want is always there. How is the fear of aggression going to be tackled? My views may startle some. When we have beaten Germany, I should put into that country a force sufficient to keep the Germans subjected until such time as we are satisfied that there is no fear of their rising in arms again. That force would be contributed by the United States, the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Soviet Russia. It would be of very great strength under one supreme commander, it might be Eisenhower or Montgomery—a great man with full power to act. When we have settled with Germany it would not take long to let them know their position, and put them in their proper place. I would then withdraw the force from Germany to some neutral place, and invite all peace-loving nations to join in this international body. I would ask them to contribute in equal proportions to this international police force. It would be set up for the sole purpose of dealing with any attempt at aggression from whatever country it might come.
For instance, imagine a difference between Russia and Poland. The United Powers might say to Poland, "You have to have this," though they might feel that Poland was badly treated, and Russia would go her way, as has happened in the past. Every big nation in the past has said, "This is what I intend to do and it is right, because I have might." The aggrieved nation has gathered around her a lot of other nations, who say, "That ought not to happen," and war inevitably follows. I would say to Russia, or to any other nation, "If you have a grievance and satisfaction is not arrived at, submit your case to the international body, which will say who is right." This international force will have full power to act and to determine what should be done. Britain in the past has always regarded herself as above everyone else, but other nations may not have had the same view. We should have to submit our case to the international body and take its decision. If we believe in peace at all, there can be no objection to that.
During this war America, Russia and Britain have made common sacrifices. If we trust each other, as we are doing now, why cannot we trust each other when the war is over, for the future of peace and for the good of the world? Unless we are prepared to do that, and join the common pool, and set up an international police force on the lines I have indicated, then as sure as night follows day, there will be another war—perhaps in the next generation. If we get away from this war for 12 months, without setting up something on these lines, there are the seeds of a future war. We have been told that London is already forgetting about the flying bomb and the blitz. We forget the horrors of war and we are getting ready for another. We should remember what this war has meant. Our National Debt has gone up from £8,000,000,000 to £20,000,000,000. If we get away from this war, we shall be setting up a defence force again to be ready for any sign of aggression. I believe that, unless we are prepared to make a common sacrifice now and put our trust in the other nations, that is the Allies, and set up an international force, war is inevitable. Now is the time to tackle the question, and that is why I have put my views forward in the hope that they will be examined, to see if something can be done on those lines.
It behoves everyone who holds even the humblest public position to tread delicately when discussing foreign affairs, but that does not mean that, if a man's conscience impels him to speak, he should refuse to obey its dictates and remain silent. I believe it was Montaigne who said:
A man must not alwaies say all he knowes for that were follie, but what a man speakes ought to be agreeing to his thoughts, otherwise it is impiety.
Not unnaturally, while our fate was hanging in the balance, military considerations were apt to monopolise our attention, but now that our final victory is, we hope and believe, secure, it is not only desirable but imperative that we should give proper consideration to our foreign policy, since what we do now will influence not only the future of other nations but affect for all time the reputation of the British people for honour and justice. That being so, it is of paramount importance that the nations of Europe should believe implicitly in the integrity of this country. There is, in this House, too often a tendency to postpone the consideration of important matters on the ground that for one reason or another the time is not opportune or that the situation is so delicate that public discussion might do harm. But an open Debate in this House is less likely to cause international misunderstanding than widespread and general discussion on the part of members of the public, who may well be either insufficiently or wrongly informed. Events inexorably force us to bend our minds to consideration of the future of Europe. This is no time for diplomatic casuistry. This is a time for plain and honest speaking between leaders and between nations and, above all, it is a time for adherence to the fundamental principles of justice and honour, no matter what such adherence may cost.
I intend to confine myself in the main to the consideration of the affairs of Poland and of the three Baltic republics, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, so far as they concern us, because I believe our policy in respect of those States must colour the whole of our outlook as regards foreign affairs. It cannot be denied that not only Members of this House, but the general public outside, are seriously perturbed regarding the existing relationships between our two Allies, Russia and Poland, and between them and ourselves. It would, I think, be fair to assume three things. Firstly, that the British people consider that we went to war in the first instance to defend the independence of Poland; secondly, that Russia now desires to acquire by negotiation if possible but otherwise by force majeure, certain portions of Poland which she wants to add to Soviet territory; and thirdly, that it has been generally thought that we were, in some way, letting Poland down. I believe that both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are—
If the noble Lord will go to his own constituents, he will get a pretty good answer. I believe that both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are deserving of the utmost praise for their untiring efforts to find a solution of the Soviet-Polish difficulty, more particularly during the past few weeks and I shall try to heed the advice given by the Prime Minister in his speech to-day, but justice demands that although speech should be restrained it should also be plain. Everyone in the House, including the noble Lord, is entitled to have his own views.
It is always a marvel to me that after the 44—or is it 54?—years that the noble Lord has sat in the House, his courtesy should remain so little as it is. I pay a heartfelt tribute to our Russian Ally, for her magnificent achievements in the field which have in conjunction with the efforts made by ourselves and the United States ensured the final defeat of Nazi tyranny. It would, however, be both wrong and unwise, for those who guide the destinies of the Soviet Union, to imagine that the fate of Poland and the Baltic
Republics and the demarcation of their boundaries are no concern of ours or that the British people do not feel that their honour is involved. May I remind the House that after the Russo-Polish war of 1920 it was we who suggested to the Poles that they should retire behind what is now called the Curzon line, but that it was the Soviet Government who refused to accept the mediation of the great Powers and insisted upon negotiating direct with Poland alone? As a result of those negotiations- the treaty of Riga was signed in March, 1921. Article 3 of that treaty said:
Russia and the Ukraine abandoned all rights and claims to the West of the frontier.
On 15th March, 1923, a representative conference of ambassadors passed a resolution recognising the Eastern boundaries of Poland as set out in the treaty of Riga, and that resolution was assented to by the United States of America on 25th April, 1923. In May, 1939, the Polish Foreign Minister received from the Soviet Vice-Commissar for Foreign Affairs an assurance that in the event of war between Poland and Germany Russia would adopt an attitude of benevolence towards the Poles. That event took place, and on 17th September, 1939, Russian troops invaded Poland. Eleven days later what is called the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement was published under which each of the signatories took approximately half Poland. Anyone who reads "The Times," as most people do, and observes the way in which the Polish case is played down, must marvel at the change which seems to have come over that paper's point of view. This is what "The Times" said on 30th September, 1939, when writing of the Nazi-Soviet pact announced two days before:
The Allied pledge to Poland stood irrefragable, fortified, if that be possible, by the valour and self sacrifice of the Poles themselves.
It went on to speak of
freedom and independence for the Polish nation within frontiers as unchallengeable as that which Germany violated on 1st September.
It was not long before Germany turned on Russia, as the result of which the Soviet Government on 30th July, 1941, renounced the Ribbentrop Molotov agreement. Nothing could have been more categorical than the admission of the Soviet Government that the terms
of the agreement with Germany regarding territorial changes in Poland had lost their force. On the same day our Foreign Secretary declared specifically that we did not recognise any territorial changes made in Poland since 1939. The following day a similar declaration was made by Mr. Sumner Welles on behalf of the United States Government. In January, 1943, it became clear that the Soviet Government intended to insist upon a Russo-Polish frontier, in effect the one laid down in the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement which the Soviet had themselves renounced on 30th July, 1941. These are historical facts.
Russia's desire for a rectification of her frontier is quite understandable, but that rectification must take place by agreement and not by force. We could agree to the so-called Curzon Line only if the Polish Government and the Palish people agreed to it of their own free will and not under coercion.
Dare anyone deny that the Poles have scrupulously discharged all their obligations in the war against Germany? By sea, land and air Poles have fought alongside our own men with incomparable valour. Never for one moment has their spirit or their heroism faltered, Until the war is over and it is possible for the Polish people, unfettered and uncoerced, to express their views as to how they shall be governed and by whom, the Polish President in London, the Polish Prime Minister in London, and the Polish Government in London are the rightful rulers and leaders of Poland. Meanwhile, the present situation and, maybe, post-war harmony among the Allies are being imperilled by the activities of the organisation called the Polish Committee of National Liberation. Let us face facts. It is, in effect, a Government set up in Moscow in opposition to the lawfully constituted Government of Poland whose Ministers are here in London. Weeks ago the Polish Prime Minister put forward a memorandum which it was hoped would form the basis for an agreement between the Soviet and Polish Governments. In spite of that, the Polish Committee of National Liberation has taken upon itself to sign agreements with the Government of the Ukraine Soviet Republic and the White Russian Republic concerning the transfer of Polish and Soviet populations, which is surely a matter for the proper Polish Government.
Answering questions in the House on 26th January this year, the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed the statement which was made by the Prime Minister on 5th September, 1940, namely, that we should not recognise any territorial changes which had taken place during the war unless they took place with the free consent and good will of the parties concerned. He also reaffirmed the categorical note which he had addressed to the late General Sikorski after the signature of the Russo-Polish agreement in 1941. The Prime Minister is constantly faced with situations of great complexity which would daunt a lesser man than he. I realise how difficult must be many of the decisions which he has to take, but I cannot believe that I was the only person in the House on 22nd February this year who felt some disquiet when I heard him say:
I cannot feel that the Russian demand for a reassurance about her Western frontiers goes beyond the limits of what is reasonable and just."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1944; Vol. 397, c. 698.]
The Russo-Polish frontier which the Soviet Government now seek to establish is the same frontier established by force in 1939. The British Government in September, 1939, said regarding Poland:
This attack made upon an Ally at a moment when she is prostrate in the face of the overwhelming forces brought against her by Germany cannot in the view of His Majesty's Government be justified by the arguments put forward by the Soviet Government.
That was endorsed two days later by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), speaking for the party opposite, who said:
There can be do doubt that the justification of it was a justification which reasonable people who had seen, as we have seen, previous acts of aggression, could not accept for one moment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th September, 1937; Vol. 351, c. 984.]
Recent events in Warsaw have served to stimulate public interest in Polish affairs. On 1st August the heroic Poles rose against their German oppressors. It has been most unfairly suggested in some quarters that the rising was premature and unauthorised, but the fact is that the local commanders acted in accordance with general instructions, which had been submitted both to President Roosevelt and to the Prime Minister, and the Polish Prime Minister has stated that on 31st July this year he also informed M. Molo-
tov, the Russian Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Quite apart from that, for months past from both the Soviet-sponsored wireless station, Kosciuszko, and in the broadcasts by the Union of Polish Patriots, appeals were being made for an armed revolt against the Germans in Poland, and attacks were being made on General Bor, who commands the Polish Army in Warsaw, on the ground of his alleged inactivity. In June the Moscow radio said that it was generally believed that the time to strike had come. On 29th July, a direct appeal was made by wireless to the Patriot Forces to the effect that direct armed action in the streets of Warsaw would hasten the time of final liberation. On 30th July another appeal went out by wireless. It said:
Warsaw shakes from the roar of guns. The Soviet armies are pushing forward and are nearing Praga. The Germans when pushed out of Praga will attempt to hold Warsaw and will try to destroy everything. People of Warsaw to arms! Attack the Germans! Assist the Red Army in crossing the Vistula.
Two days later General Bor and his men went into action. Nobody could deny that the rising benefited the advancing Red Army, because it delayed the passage of German reinforcements on their way to the front. Unfortunately, the Russian advance was held up by very heavy German resistance from at least three panzer divisions. Surely one would have imagined that every effort would then have been made to assist the Poles in Warsaw. What they needed was arms, ammunition and food, and yet in spite of frantic appeals from General Bor and from the Polish Prime Minister and Government in London they were left to their own resources. It was not until 15th or r6th August that bombers, manned by British, Polish and South African crows, who had to fly a round trip of 1,750 miles, and who lost 21 out of 100 bombers, brought some succour to our hard-pressed Allies in Warsaw. Since then, thank God, assistance has gone to Warsaw from us, the Russians and the Americans.
Two questions demand an answer. First, we have been told repeatedly that Russia has virtual command of the air on the Eastern front. Why, then, should General Bor have had to write on 5th August that German bombers were active and were operating with no interference from the Russian Air Force? Why were Russian machines not dropping the arms and ammunition that Warsaw needed? It may well be that other military considerations were of so urgent a nature that no Soviet machines could be spared, but if that be true then the second question arises. Why did our machines have to fly this immensely long flight instead of being allowed to use Russian airfields which must have been in reasonably close proximity to Warsaw? They were denied the right to land on Russian aerodromes until fairly recently.
I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend does not wish to put the case wrong and add to a difficult situation. There was never a question of our asking for facilities on Russian airfields. Ow flights were done from Italy direct.
I gather that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is anxious to help Poland, as we all are. Is he not aware that one of the main troubles, as far as we can judge, is the Russian fear that Poland is being supported by people who are anti-Russian? Is not the tenour of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech such as to suggest that he is a friend of Poland and anti-Russian, and, instead of helping the situation between Poland and Russia, he is actually contributing to the misunderstandings that are causing the trouble?
I pay my tribute, as I always have done, to what has been done by the Soviet Armies. I believe that the future of the world lies in an understanding between the Soviet Government, ourselves and the United States, but I believe with all my heart and soul that you will never get on with the Soviet Government unless there is plain speaking between them and us, and that no useful purpose is served by denying justice to Poland because you wish to put down the soft pedal with the Soviet Government. I am being scrupulously careful in what I have been saying and am anxious not to be led away by interruptions. On 29th August the R.A.F. did a 2,000-mile flight in bad weather in order to assist the Russian Army by bombing the Baltic ports of Stettin and Koenigsberg, and the operation cost us 41 aircraft. If we could do this to help our Russian Ally, surely they could have found some machines to fly the infinitely shorter distance which would have brought help to Warsaw. I have tried to state the Polish case moderately and fairly. It deserves in justice to be stated. What we do as regards Poland will colour the opinion of the whole of Europe so far as Britain is concerned when the war is over.
I wish now to say a few words regarding the Baltic Republics. War reports have deliberately used such phrases as "The Latvian Soviet Republic," and similar references have been made in B.B.C. announcements. It is being insidiously suggested that these three independent Republics desire to become part of the Soviet Union. There is no justification for any such assumption. and we owe it to our national honour that the true facts should be clearly stated and the British people, whom we represent in this House, should be made aware of them. These three Republics have at this time proper legally accredited representative Ministers in this country. I want to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has or has not received from those Ministers formal declarations to the effect that the Republics desire to maintain their independence and not to become part of the Soviet Union.
It is frequently said of enemy-occupied States that their Governments, or their Ministers resident in London, are not representative of the true feelings of their nationals at home, and that where National Committees of Liberation have been set up their views are the only ones which should be accepted. I wish to be as brief as possible, so I will take the case of only one of these Republics, namely, Lithuania.
The Red Army occupied Lithuania on 15th June, 1940. The lawful Government of Lithuania was replaced by a Government which, under the direct control of Soviet officials, held an election at which all existing political parties were proscribed, and only candidates of the newly-created Working People's Union, approved by the Soviet Legation in Lithuania, were allowed to stand for elec- tion. This so-called Parliament met on 21st July, 1940, and was forced to vote for the incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union. On 3rd August, 1940, the Soviet Government declared Lithuania to be the 14th Soviet Lithuanian Republic of the U.S.S.R. Both the British and United States Ministers in Lithuania were resident in Lithuania at that time and can bear witness to what exactly took place.
Let the British people note that the Government of the United States of America publicly condemned the action of the Soviet. Mr. Sumner Welles, the acting Secretary of State in Washington, made a public statement on 23rd July, 1940, in which he said:
During the past few days, the devious processes whereunder the political independence and territorial integrity of the three small Baltic Republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, were to be deliberately annihilated by one of their more powerful neighbours, have been rapidly drawing to their conclusion. The people of the United States have watched the admirable progress of these Baltic Republics with sympathy and interest and are opposed to predatory acts, no matter whether they are carried out by the use of force or by the threat of force. They are likewise opposed to any form of intervention on the part of one State, however powerful, in the domestic concerns of any other sovereign State, however weak.
On 15th October, 1940, the President of the United States, in the course of replying to an address which had been submitted to him by a delegation of Americans of Lithuanian origin, said this:
It is stated here that Lithuania has lost her 'independence. It is a mistake to say so. Lithuania did not lose her independence. Lithuania's independence was only temporarily put aside.
He went on to say:
Even the smallest nation has the same right to enjoy independence as the largest nation.
After Germany had attacked Russia, and when the Red Army had left Lithuania, the former members of the People's Parliament met, on 30th August, 1942, and passed a Resolution which said that the People's Diet. which was that Parliament. could not and did not express the will of the Lithuanian nation because the structure of the People's Diet had been decided upon in advance by the Communist Party in accordance with orders received from Moscow's representatives in Lithuania, and because the actual voting for incorporation into the Soviet Union was irre-
gular, only 16 to 18 per cent. of the voting cards being valid.
I apologise to the House, but it is necessary to give this story in full. On 14th October, 1943, a joint declaration was drawn up by members of various Lithuanian political parties and combat organisations. It was signed by the Lithuanian National Union, the Peasant Populist Union of Lithuania, the Union of Combatants for the Liberty of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Nationalist Party, the Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party and the Lithuanian Front. Could anything be more representative, coming from an occupied country, than that? This declaration begins by saying that the Lithuanian nation desires the true voice of the Lithuanian people to be heard by the outside world, and goes on to point out that, in the Treaty between Russia and Lithuania on 12th July, 1920,
Russia, without any reservation, recognises Lithuania as a separate and independent State with all the juridical consequences ensuing from such a recognition, and voluntarily renounces for all time the rights of sovereignty which it has exercised over the Lithuanian people and their territory.
It also records that, on 12th October, 1939, speaking of treaties with the Baltic States, the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs said:
We stand for the conscientious and exact observation of the treaties concluded, on the principle of entire reciprocity, and declare the idle talk about the Sovietisation of the Baltic States to be profitable only to our common enemies, and to all kinds of anti-Soviet provocateurs.
This joint declaration must be accepted as coming from the Lithuanian people, who make this definite statement:
"From the very beginning, the Lithuanian nation has held the Sovietisation of Lithuania and her incorporation into the Soviet Union to be null and void."
I ask the House to bear with me, while I quote from one other document. On 16th February this year, the Supreme Committee for Liberation of Lithuania addressed an appeal to the Lithuanian people. It is an appeal to all shades of political opinion in Lithuania, and it declares that the independence of Lithuania is an indispensable condition for the nation's existence and well-being. Let the House note that the three documents from which I have quoted, are not the state-
ments of any one Minister, but of representative organisations of the Lithuanian people, which makes it clear, beyond all shadow of doubt, that the suggestion that Lithuania desires to become part of Soviet Russia is utterly false. I assume that all these documents are in the possession of our Foreign Office. If I am wrong, perhaps my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will correct me. The same overwhelming case could be made out for both Latvia and Estonia. I should like to conclude this part of my speech by quoting what Lord Halifax said in the House of Lords on 24th August, 1939:
In failing to uphold the liberty of others, we run the great risk of betraying the principle of liberty itself and with it our own freedom and independence.
I hope the House, which has been very patient, more patient than I dared to hope, will bear with me, for one moment longer. There are just two things further that I want to say. The first is that I find every reason for disquiet regarding our attitude towards Italy. I read in the Press of 19th September that the Italian Government, under Signor Bonomi, has agreed with the big three—meaning the British Empire, the United States and Russia—to make a formal declaration renouncing all territorial claims made since Mussolini came to power. I think we are entitled to have a clear and unequivocal statement on this subject. Does this mean that Italy is still to retain Libya and Tripoli? If so, what becomes of the statement of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs made in answer to a Question in this House on 28th July, when he was asked whether it was the intention of His Majesty's Government and of Allied Governments to restore to Italy, following her honourable capitulation, all her former possessions in North Africa, and when he replied, "No, Sir."
Knowing my right hon. Friend as well as I do, I feel sure that that is so, but it is just as well to reinforce it. When the Prime Minister was speaking on the war situation, on 21st September, 1943, referring to the Italian people, he said:
Their Empire has been lost, irretrievably lost."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st September, 1943; Vol. 392, c. 87.]
In making that statement, he had the vast majority of the British people solidly behind him. We nearly lost this war because of our inability to dominate the Mediterranean by sea and by air. The heroism of the Air Force and of the Navy and above all the unspeakable heroism of Malta saved us. It was Malta that stood alone between us and defeat in the Mediterranean. We now control bases in ex-Italian territory in North Africa which would guarantee our security in the Mediterranean for all time. Surely we are not going tamely to surrender them, and, let them go back to Italy.
The other thing I want to say is: Let us set our faces against any return to that sloppy-minded internationalism which is a dangerous substitute for a just and honourable British foreign policy, based on principle. The British Empire is neither for sale nor will its people consent to any portion of it, however small, being run under any form of international trusteeship.
My hon. and gallant Friend who has just spoken will, I hope, forgive me if I do not follow him in his historical dissertation. There are three reasons. The first is that there is no part of the globe which so teaches us how little objective a study history can be as Eastern Europe. Another reason is that I do not want to complicate the already heartbreakingly difficult task in front of the Foreign Secretary. The third reason is that I have as great a respect for the Poles as any person in this House and I have as great a sympathy with the citizens of Warsaw as any one. In fact, only a few weeks ago, because I expressed my feelings rather pointedly, I was called "Fascist scum" by one of the principal Soviet papers. Nevertheless, I do not think these discussions can help the Poles at the present time, when we are all waiting to hear what is going to happen to General Sosnkowski and to the proposals put up by this Polish Government to the Soviet Government in Moscow. For those reasons I do not follow my hon. and gallant Friend's line to-day.
There is one other reason, which is that the Prime Minister covered such an enormous field that I would not like to take up the time of the House by trying to develop an argument on any more than one point that the Prime Minister made. Some years ago I was present at an international conference of agricultural experts in Paris. One of the German delegates had never visited Paris before, and the French went very much out of their way to make a good impression upon him. They took him and his fellow delegates not only all round the agricultural areas of France, but to Montmartre and Montparnasse, gave him the best champagne and the best Burgundy, took him to the best shows and all the rest of it. When they took him to the station to see him off and say goodbye, they asked him what had impressed him most in France. He hesitated, and would not express an opinion. One of them said: "Surely something about France must have impressed you." Finally, he said: "Yes, I was impressed by the small size of your pigs." When I take up one small point, therefore, considering the size of the available field of argument, I may seem to put myself very much in the same position as this German. I would have liked to follow the example of my hon. Friend above the Gangway (Mr. Tinker) who always speaks with such burning sincerity. I believe with him that however great the difficulties between Governments may be of reaching international agreement about the post-war settlement, it is important that we should have as much discussion inside this country as possible about the kind of post-war settlement we want, so that our delegates will not go to the conferences and pledge this country to agreements for which public opinion is not prepared.
That leads me to the one point I want to make to-day. In view of what the Prime Minister said about the difficulties of reaching agreement internationally, it surely is vitally important that we should re-establish, as soon as we can, the maximum facilities for the interchange of views and ideas. Europe is emerging from four years of black-out, and it is emerging, as far as we can make out, not with the timidity shown by us who live in London, who still look upon even a very faint light as though it were a moral crime; they are emerging from this black-out with an almost revolutionary enthusiasm. It seems that the people of Europe have never, in the whole course of their history, been more receptive of new ideas, more anxious to know what has been happening to the people in this country in these four years of separation. We have a wonderful opportunity for preparing for this international agreement about which the Prime Minister spoke to-day.
The Prime Minister mentioned the change of policy towards Italy. I gather from some of the speeches and some comments I have heard in the country that this change of policy has come to people as rather a shock, and especially to our Allies, the Greeks and Yugoslavs and the French, who have suffered from the Italians. It is not so long ago that things were said in this House about the Italians which would make it almost as logical to say, because we now say that the Italians were not responsible for Mussolini, that the German people were not responsible for Hitler. Nevertheless I personally believe this change is a wise one. I think the economic position of Italy is tragic and disastrous, and gives the German Government an excellent opportunity of really good propaganda against us by persuading the German people that surrender would be worse than to continue a war in which defeat is so inevitable.
If it has come as a shock to people it is because so little is done to re-establish this exchange of news and ideas. It is just four months ago that Rome was liberated. Even to-day no British correspondent can go to Rome to write about conditions there unless he disguises himself as a war correspondent. It is surely ridiculous that if I want to go to Rome to carry on my job as a journalist, I have to dress myself up in a uniform. [Interruption.] My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg)—honourable and gallant Member, since he has the honorary rank of officer—has been more successful than I have in working his way overseas. I congratulate him. As a matter of fact I have not tried to get abroad yet, but I do think it is scandalous that, four months after the liberation of Rome, no British correspondent can go there unless he goes as a war correspondent.
I would pay the warmest tribute to war correspondents. I think the job they have done in this war has been magnificent, but after all by the nature of their job and training they are not the best possible people to comment on social, economic or political developments in a country. I think if we are going to have newspapers at all—I am very glad that we have—there are some of us who to the best of our small ability have tried to follow the course of international politics and I should say we are probably fairly well entitled to comment on them. Also there are other people, economists and so on, who should be sent as soon as possible to France and to other countries which are being liberated to find out what the situation is in those countries.
If that had been done we should not have had, for example, those devastatingly dangerous reports from Normandy in the early days when one or two correspondents found there were masses of cheeses and so on in Normandy and did not realise that that was a sign of poverty because Normandy was the part of the country from which food was sent to France. It meant that no commerce was going on. People read that and concluded that the whole of France was very prosperous indeed. As soon as possible one should reopen lines of communication for ideas. Yet there are scores of journalists and writers and authors of one kind and another who cannot get permits to go to Paris because they are not given permits by S.H.A.E.F. [Interruption.] One cannot, as my hon. Friend has just said, easily get French newspapers in this country. I was shown a batch the other day as a great privilege. I think the Minister of Information is just beginning to get them.
The importance of this seems to me to be that there never has been a time when the French people and the Belgian people have been more curious about developments in this country, and by accounts one hears they have no idea what the people of this country have been through in the way of hardship in these last four years. Is it not vitally important they should be told that as soon as possible? In the only case I know of a distinguished writer who has gone over to France—I do not know if he had the consent of S.H.A.E.F., I rather think not—his account of the welcome he was given by the French people on his arrival in Paris is one of the most moving things I have heard. I urge that the Government shall take up this question as soon as possible. There is it is true the food difficulty but a lot of distinguished writers and historians and other people in this country could go to France for a few days and take army rations with them. I do not therefore think the food objection is a very important one. I would beg the Government to keep in mind that all these misunderstandings in different countries which we must remove will become much more difficult to solve if, in their formative weeks after their liberation, we do not develop the maximum number of contacts with them.
That brings me to a very short second consideration about the dissemination of news. There is a great movement developing in the United States and a growing movement here for a distinction between news and propaganda. We want to get rid of propaganda as soon as we can after the war, and we want to get as much as we can of free exchange of news. Both Houses of Congress in Washington have approved a resolution demanding equality of access to information at the source. In other words, they want an international agreement that news agencies shall be free to sell their services wherever they can in foreign countries. It is vitally important we should not get back to the pre-war situation when there was, for example, the Stefani agency in Rome and Havas in Paris, which filtered all the news which came from outside and only allowed their public to get the news they thought was good for them. Once a government can control the coming in of news and only allow the people to read what it thinks is good for them, it has surely taken a definite step towards Fascism and war. At the present time Reuter's Agency or the Associated Press of American may not distribute their news to the Italian papers. It is done by the Anglo-American Psychological Warfare Department. This is obviously reasonable for a while as a war measure, but the sooner we can get rid of that the better. I hope the British Government will give the fullest possible support to this movement to abolish the system of one government-controlled news agency in any country. I am convinced that every monopoly is a danger, but there is no monopoly more dangerous than a monopoly of ideas, views and news.
We have heard again to-day a very great speech from the Prime Minister, ranging over practically the whole world, and personally I was particularly struck, through my association with that part of the world, with the friendly remarks he made regarding the Dutch, which I am sure will be very much appreciated. ft was very appropriate, too, I thought, that a few days ago, while our troops were invading Holland trying to relieve Holland, His Majesty was pleased to confer the Order of the Garter on Queen Wilhelmina—a very gracious act, one showing respect and friendliness, all of which will be appreciated very much by the Dutch people, who think very highly of this country. I hope that when those of them who are here, as in the case of other countries, return to their own country the friendships they have made and the gestures made by our Ministers to them will be continued.
I was particularly pleased—I understand the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), who is not in his place just now, referred to it—that at Quebec the Prime Minister made such a strong stand and insisted upon the British Empire having their rightful share in the defeat of Japan. It is an extraordinary thing but some people seem to imagine that, as they call it, the affair with Japan is merely secondary, and that as soon as Germany is beaten the thing is practically finished. I would suggest to such people that they forget that Japan, as Germany never did, has actually beaten us in war. She occupies to-day several thousands of miles of British territory, with a population of somewhere around 20,000,000 British subjects, some of them white, some of them black, but nevertheless all good British subjects. I hope the Prime Minister, equally, will see to it that the Dutch, too, have their share in regaining their Colonies and their possessions, a larger territory in fact than the British territory that has been lost, and with a population of not less than 70,000,000. I can assure hon. Members that the Dutch people have been very good to their native population, and the natives will be delighted to get back once again under the Dutch flag, in the same way as I am perfectly sure our natives will be glad to get back once again under the British flag.
These people in Japanese hands are suffering terribly. Only 10 days ago, I read in a newspaper that a cousin of mine, Colonel Sir John Campbell, who had been a great soldier in the last war, and who was in Penang and taken prisoner and was taken over to Sumatra, had died from starvation. I mention one particular person. There are hundreds more, thousands more, suffering equally, and if one is able to point to one person, I daresay other persons are able to point to many others. I would like those people who think this is but a secondary affair, to appreciate our prestige in the Far East, our future in the Far East, the fulfilment of our promise to China to assist her to the best of our ability as soon as possible. Unless there are British Forces capable and ready to hand to beat the Japanese our prestige, our future, our friendship with the natives, our promises to the natives—who naturally feel, as all of us would, that they have been let down—will be imperilled.
We have heard hon. Members in this House say that we have let them down. That is another argument altogether. Personally, I am satisfied that the Government have done all they can in the past, but I want to make sure that. when we are able to take it, we have our right share in the defeat of Japan. I do not think it will be a walk-over, even though we shall be fighting alongside the Americans, the Dutch, and the Chinese. Japan is a series of well-defended islands, the largest as big as France, not a little place like the Isle of Wight, as some people think, or even like the British Isles. The Japanese are just as much foreigners in the jungle as we are. There is not a lot of jungle in Japan. When I was in the jungle and the Japanese came there, I admit that I did not see them, because one did not know whether they were Japanese or some of those gentlemen who fly about in the trees, but they were just as much foreigners in the jungle as we were; nor did they like the mosquitoes or the bugs any more than we did. The only difference is that they do not need the same kind of food as we do; and that is an important proposition.
I might say that the houses in Japan are not made of wood or plaster; they are good, strongly-made houses, shock-proof, so as to withstand earthquakes, and I have no doubt that they will stand up to bombs much better than some of our own houses. The Japanese are, to my mind, only half-civilised, but, nevertheless, they are brave, clever, and fanatical, and are willing to die, as they have already proved, for what they believe to be the country of the gods. Of course, we shall beat them—that is a certainty—but it may be a long tussle. There is one thing that we have never understood, and that is why they did not allow us to send people to see our nationals who are prisoners. I understand that when a Japanese leaves his home to go to the war he is entirely divorced from his family. There is no letter-writing, no parcels, or anything of that sort. If he comes back, a la bonne heure; if he does not, that is that. Our boys abroad appreciate getting letters and parcels, but the Japanese get no such things. It will be difficult for the Allies to find a satisfactory solution of Japan's future, and, in the immortal words of an earlier Mikado, "to make the punishment fit the crime."
I hope that the hon. Member for Bromley (Sir E. Campbell) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail in what he said, but I would like to make this comment, as one who spent two years in that part of the world, at the time of the great Japanese earthquake. What he said about the size of Japan is a fact that should be brought home to the people of this country. But he might take some comfort from the fact that Japan, like ourselves, is extremely dependent on sea communications, and there is no doubt that Japan is getting into increasing difficulty. Therefore, I am more hopeful than the hon. Member seems that once we are able to bring the full force of the American Navy—as to the size of which I think the figures, when they are revealed, will stagger the world—and of our own naval forces, there is some hope that we may fairly quickly isolate the main island of Japan and finish the war.
I would like to go back to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), which I think the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) would describe as being a speech of sloppy internationalism—not that I have ever associated sloppiness with my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh. My hon. Friend, I think, would agree that his speech could be summed up as a "what is in my mind" speech. He thought that the time had arrived when Members could get up and tell the Government what was in their minds on certain matters. While the war was in an uncertain condition there was a natural, commendable, very proper self-restraint put upon themselves by practically all Members of the House, particularly in discussions on foreign affairs. I believe that the House is beginning to feel that the time has come to change from this voluntary mental black-out to a dim-out. We can afford to speak more freely on certain matters.
There is a danger in a prolonged blackout, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) has said; people have become so accustomed to blacking out their houses that they are afraid to relax to some extent. There is some danger of our forgetting that, after all, this House is the place where Members should, speak their minds very freely, although I admit we have not got to the moment when we can be perfectly frank about everything. I would also say that Members should speak their minds, and not read their minds. One of the difficulties when a Member wants to speak on a very delicate question, such as the Polish question—about which I agree with the Prime Minister that at the present moment it is a difficult matter and the less said the better—is that he is so anxious not to drop a brick, that he writes his speech down and reads it all.
Yes, that is even worse. I hope that the House will bear with me while I tell them what is in my mind on one particular point. But I have just remembered that I would like to support what my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater said about visits abroad, and to add this footnote. Members of Congress are permitted to move quite freely in France, and I think, it is important that British Members of Parliament should be allowed to go to France. Now for my main point. It has been the case for the last 500 years that world peace has been dependent on European peace. That will be true for the next 50 years at least. Europe is the critical spot of the world. We have a dual task. We have the short-range task of ensuring that the German nation cannot again disturb the peace of this critical area called Europe. That is the immediate and short-term task, but the long-range task, which we must not forget about, is of taking measures or preparing plans ultimately leading to a state of affairs in which no nation will be able, or, indeed, will wish, to disturb the peace of Europe. Therefore, I say that the task confronting our Government at the present day is to devise a policy which will satisfy these two requirements—that will satisfy the short-term requirements and yet will not be unsuitable for the longterm one. I think it is very important that it should be plainly stated that, when we are thinking of what we want to do for the short-term policy, we should not do anything which will become an obstacle to the long-term policy. To use an analogy, we must be careful not to put up a Portal house on a site which we shall want for a permanent residence, because we could not do anything while the Portal house is there.
I suggest that the long-term objective is not going to be solved very easily. Simple-minded people get the idea that once we have got the German State held down, that has solved the general peace problem. It is too easy to say that that is the reason for the existence of this phenomenon—of war—in human relationships. Let the House consider what would, in fact, happen if, by some fortunate miracle, Germans could be lifted out of this world and their country was left in the middle of Europe. It would he a highly. fruitful cause of international friction, as to who was to go into the area from which the Germans had disappeared.
We must beware of the temptation of sliding away from our difficulties by saying that, by solving the German short-term problem, we have solved the whole thing. German Nazism, Italian Fascism and Japanese militarism are all symptoms of a defect inherent in the present state of civilisation, and this defect is the ideological strength of national sovereignty in men's minds when it is applied to political and economic questions. The nationalistic spirit is quite admirable in cultural matters and cannot be too strongly encouraged. The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Ivor Thomas) has pointed out one of the ways by which we have attained our present nationalisms in this island and yet manage to combine together in big questions, and that is that we have given free rein and freedom to all things of the spirit and the cultural attributes of three different races. I submit that, from a long-term point of view, this nationalistic spirit, in the field of politics and economics, must be rationalised and internationalised if civilisation is to survive. Bearing that in mind, I submit to the House that we must get peace in Europe as our first main objective, and you will not succeed in doing that unless you bring about, as a longterm objective, some form of European Federation, Union or Commonwealth. The House will not expect me to go into details. What I do wish to impress upon the House is that we must not pretend that that is impossible. It is ridiculous for any citizen at present a member of the British Commonwealth to say that it is impossible. It is ridiculous because we, in this Commonwealth, have given that freedom in unity to men of very different races, creeds and languages in all parts of the world. We are actually doing this thing and have been doing it in a remarkably successful manner, yet, when it is applied to Europe, certain faint-hearted people say it is impossible.
How shall we make a start? We must proclaim that it is our policy. I wish the British Government would say that their long-term policy is to see a united or federated form of Europe, and would work ceaselessly to bring our Allies to this point of view in so far as there are any objections to it. I could bring plenty of evidence to show that acceptance of the United Europe idea was considered possible by France and there is much evidence to show that France considered we were the obstacles to that kind of thing in the years between the wars. But that is not enough; we must take action. I go back to my short-term problem which we have in front of us, and the House will remember that I was trying to find an answer to the short-term problem of Germany which will not handicap us in moving on during many years to a solution of the long-term problem.
Here I come to the proposal to which I hope the Government will give serious consideration. I admit that it will sound rather novel, perhaps startling, but we should not be frightened of considering novel and startling things for peace, when we can achieve startling and novel things for D-Day. No great Power or little Power will voluntarily surrender its economic and political sovereignty. Germany has forfeited her political sove- reignty; she has done so on the battlefield and at the bar of history. She is not politically fitted and educated to use this political and economic sovereignty in a co-operative manner. In 1919, Germany forfeited her sovereignty, and a treaty was imposed on the German Government. I am not going into an argument whether it was possible to carry out that treaty. So far as all the reports published are concerned, there is not going to be a German Government this time There is going to be an Allied Government. It will be an international Government. I should like to say something about that fact and the fact that it does not seem to me to be a co-ordinated Government. The kind of administration to be set up reminds me of the coat of arms of the Isle of Man. But I have no time to develop that.
An Allied Government—that is an International Government—will follow on unconditional surrender. My proposal is this. I want it to be firmly declared that, for political and economic purposes, German citizens have lost German nationality, in the economic and political sense, and have acquired a new form of nationality—a new form of European nationality. Let the International Government of Germany be regarded, not as a temporary measure for five or 10 years, which will hand over to a fully sovereign German Government, but as the starting point which will develop, over a period of many years, into an all-European administrative body. By degrees, no doubt, German citizens will become associated with that international body, and at the same time, by degrees, a local democratic Government will grow up in Germany which will be the equivalent of other local Governments in Europe as federation takes shape. The armies of occupation will, gradually, become the European police force and the separate European Powers will gradually be merged into this all-European body.
I have done no more than point the general idea of the proposal, which I claim, when I ask the House to give it serious consideration, will satisfy all the requirements of the post-war needs of Europe against a renewal of German aggression, and thus will satisfy your short-term programme. But at the same time, it is a scheme which looks forward and leads into the permanent policy, which will provide the cure for the fundamental defect in Western civilization. It will also be using Germany as the laboratory in which to begin this great experiment, which, if it succeeded, would rank in world history in importance with the experiment of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It will give those Germans the opportunity of slowly working their passage back into a collection not of suspicious and possibly aggressive sovereign national States, but of working their way back into a common conception of a peaceful and united Europe, in which the abilities and energies of the German people will be harnessed to constructive elements and not to the destructive activities upon which they have been engaged twice in our lifetime.
The outstanding feature of the Prime Minister's discourse to-day will, I believe, be agreed to have been his references to the Free French Forces—the rising of the French people, not in the wake of the advancing Armies but in advance of the Allied Armies, which has contributed so tremendously to the success of the Allied Armies since this House went into Recess a few weeks ago. It is very striking, in view of the tenour of the Debate to-day, to note that fact and to remember that it is not many years ago that France, in relation to Great Britain, was in the same, or a similar, position to that in which Germany finds herself to-day. That throws a significant light upon the Debate. It is, incidentally, interesting to note that the Prime Minister waxed so enthusiastic about the great revolutionary uprising of the French people in the days of the Commune, which has been revived by the recent experience in Paris. That leads one to recall that on the last occasion when we had a discourse from the Prime Minister on the international situation, the bombshell which was dropped and resounded throughout the whole country was the phrase that:
The war is becoming less and less ideological.
I would remind the House that the uprising of the French Forces of the Interior was accompanied to a considerable degree, I understand, by an uprising of Spanish Republicans who had been recently interned in French concentration camps, and I believe some also got over
the frontier. That action, in relation to the less ideological development of the war, makes one think when one recollects that, on the other hand, we have had a very striking illustration of that ideological situation in the appearance of the Blue Division on the other side of France.
There has also been the very remarkable fact that no less important than the risings of the Free French people, the French partisans and the Forces of the Interior, has been the tremendous struggle that has been put up for many months by the Free Italian Forces in the North of Italy alongside the Allies. It is difficult to appreciate precisely on what grounds it is suggested that the war is becoming less and less ideological unless it is in the appreciation of the war and its implication in certain quarters in Government circles in this country. The Prime Minister made one very useful and very valuable observation in that connection when he drew attention to the fact that during the time of the German occupation of France these Free French Forces of the Interior had largely though not entirely—because we have evidence of their operations—a hypothetical factor. We had tremendous faith in the spirit of the French people but it was not until the opportunity was permitted them that they were able to rise in full strength and drive the invader from their country. The question which most immediately rises in my mind is why if that were the case in France and Italy it should not also be the case in Germany.
I do not want to go over all the ground covered so often in regard to this controversy about whether there are or are not good Germans or, if there are, how many there are and so on. It is highly desirable at this time that this question should be removed from the academic domain and be dealt with as a really urgent practical proposition because of the fact that we are already entering into Germany and have to face the situation on some basis or other. In spite of what the Prime Minister has said and the warning given to us not to be led away by wild rumours from the American Press or other quarters, the fact remains that this issue is being discussed by our Government. This country is being committed, up to a certain point at least, on this particular question. We may be permitted to discuss the question later on but we have already been committed to certain ideas in the discussions which are now coming on. Rumours and more rumours have been brought to our notice. Statements have been made in the Press. Interviews have already taken place between Press representatives and very high representatives of the American Government in this connection and it is very clear to the minds of some people that certain fairly clearly defined propositions have been put forward by important and influential sections in the American Government circles. It behoves the House to make itself as clear as possible on precisely what is going on.
There was an incident which occurred a few days ago when certain photographs appeared in the Press showing American soldiers fraternising with German people in some of the German towns and Members of this House have deplored these pictures. They were withdrawn on the instructions of the American authorities. There have been several expressions in the newspapers deploring this fraternisation but as was indicated by a speaker in the House to-day it is quite a natural thing. The point is that if it is natural for American or British soldiers to fraternise with German people as they enter Germany even in the midst of battle, what is likely to be the position in five or ten years' time? If, as I think is obvious, after the passage of time that tolerance for which the British people are so famous or even that natural impulse already referred to has gained the upper hand, I am wondering what will happen when we have withdrawn our occupation troops from Germany. Having vented our spleen on the German people for the evils that have been imposed on us and the whole world for the last five years, what is going to be the reaction among the less responsible elements in the German nation? That is one of the important factors that people who advocate the prolonged occupation and repression of Germany will have to face very definitely. If this fraternisation, even now or later on, is a natural thing, and therefore an inevitable thing, unless steps are taken to counter it, I am wondering what alternative policy we are going to follow if we pursue this hard peace policy after the war.
If we are to pursue a policy of retribution, reparation, destruction of German industry, German mines and the breaking up of Germany into separate States and so on, we have obviously to counteract this natural tendency amongst the ordinary people to fraternise with the German people. I do not see how we are going to do that unless we deal with our churches, because in our churches Sunday after Sunday we are preaching precisely the opposite doctrine. I am wondering whether the intention is that during this period of occupation, which I understand from responsible statesmen in this country may take two or three generations, we should close down our churches altogether or that we should at the very least ban the teaching of the New Testament and allow only the more bellicose teachings of the Old Testament as a basis of our social philosophy. We have to decide because, whether we like it or not, we are going to deal with the German people. Whether we like it or not, when we occupy any considerable portions of Germany, we are going to co-operate with the German people. We have found it already, inevitably, in the first two or three villages we have occupied in Germany. We must inevitably find that we will have to utilise the services of the German police forces. We shall have to find local Germans who can be regarded as sufficiently reliable to undertake local administration. We shall find it completely impossible to provide thousands of German-speaking teachers capable of running the new educational scheme in Germany when we cannot even run our own educational scheme here.
Will the hon. Gentleman forgive me for interrupting? He seems to forget that we, are only one of a good many united nations, and that the future of Germany is of as much interest to them as to us. After all we have to consult the Russians, the French, the Dutch, the Belgians, and indeed, the Jews on this matter.
Exactly, but whatever may be proposed there is the illustration I have just given of the teachers. I understand we have already had to suspend our own Education Act for 12 months because we cannot find enough teachers for our own schools, and I do not see where we are to get sufficient German-speaking teachers to take over the management of the German schools. If we consult our Allies, however, some of those who pursue
this policy of vindictiveness and retribution are going to have a very sad shock because the Prime Minister himself has to-day paid tribute to the tolerance—I do not think that was his exact expression—but the magnanimity, or some such expression, which has been exhibited by the Russians in the countries they have already occupied. I think it will be accepted that the driving force in the new provisional French Government at the moment is a force of the Left in politics—largely the Socialists, Communists and Left-Catholic elements. I have here a copy of the statement of policy issued by the French Socialist Party in respect of this particular question. It emphasises especially the ideological nature of the present war and will never agree to a peace of revenge being inflicted on the German people who have been oppressed by Hitler and the Nazis. It proceeds to recite a policy for the suppression of the German Junker class, nationalisation of heavy industry and so on, and says:
These reforms…can only be successfully carried out with the close and fraternal collaboration of the German democrats.
That will show my hon. Friend that we are not likely to get very much further in the line which I presume he advocates by relying upon the French or the Russians. But if we are, I submit that we must inevitably find Germans who are reliable and trustworthy as democrats for building the foundations of a democratic German State, and we have to find them pretty quickly. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) waxed very eloquent in asking if there are any good Germans; if there are any reliable democrats in Germany, where are they, what have they been doing, why do not they announce themselves? The answer to that is, where were the French Forces of the Interior before the rising? Where are the Spanish Republicans at the moment? Is the fact that they are not very vociferous or very active to be taken as evidence that the whole of the Spanish people are behind the present regime? Where were the Italian partisans during the last 20 years who are playing such a tremendous part in the fighting in Italy and the resistance in Northern Italy? Where was the Russian Revolution up to 1918?
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting—I hope it is true—that the Germans are working underground for the cause of the United Nations and will step in at the right moment?
I am suggesting that there was a tremendous amount of wisdom and realism in the statement of the Prime Minister that in these conditions under which the German people are living at the moment, the ordinary, simple man is in an impossible position to demonstrate himself in any way, and I am submitting also that the historical fact is that into whatever country you may penetrate you will find forces which will be prepared to support democratic armies for the overthrow of any tyrant that may have arisen in their country. It has been demonstrated throughout history. I do not think for a moment that any hon. Member in his heart really believes that the attributes of democracy, of social decency, of courage and determination to struggle for freedom, are the attributes of any particular race or any particular country or any particular climate. The recital by the Prime Minister of the achievements of the Allied Armies during this war is sufficient evidence that these virtues are not the virtues of the British people particularly; they are to be found in the Indians, in the natives of our darkest Colonies, in the Chinese, in the Italian partisans and the French F.F.I., in Norway, Sweden and elsewhere, in every race, in every country, and in every climate. Any hon. Member who does not understand that is very much lacking in some of the basic requirements of a legislator of a country of this kind.
I want to mention one other point in regard to the report we have had about the American discussions. It is suggested, I believe, that one of the essential steps that must be taken in order to destroy the German capacity for war in the future is the destruction of the German heavy industries. The demand that I saw quoted in one of the responsible newspapers of this country was for the destruction of German heavy industry and the closing of the mines. Does anybody really put that forward as a serious proposition? We are very fond in Parliamentary circles—in Government circles in particular—of using high-sounding phrases about our ideals and about our principles. We go to our U.N.R.R.A. and I.L.O. Conferences, to Bretton Woods and others, and we make declarations in the most high-sounding phrases about our objectives, about our intentions in regard
to this or that. One could quote many of these declarations which would seem to suggest that there is no question at all in any responsible political circles, either in America or in this country, about the inevitability—if we are to build any international peace structure—of collaboration between all nations, the establishment of social security, a high standard of living and full employment in all nations, the abolition of poverty and want in all nations. The I.L.O. Philadelphia Declaration states, and has the signature of our representatives, that poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere. The organisation arising from the Hot Springs Conference, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, says:
As the name implies, it is a union of nations working together to meet the needs of mankind for the products of the soil and the sea for food, clothing, shelter and a decent livelihood.
It goes on to say that these fundamentals:
Make for lasting peace among the nations fully as much as any political arrangements that can be devised…
In the Government's Employment Policy White Paper it is declared that social security can only be Obtained if we can be assured of full employment. That applies to the centre of Europe just as much as it applies here. We are assured again in the strongest terms that peace depends on social security and a decent standard of living for all people.
Do we mean these things, or do we not? If we mean them we must mean that just as the existence of sweated labour or the existence of poverty in any part of the world including our own country may be a menace to international peace so, equally, must the existence of a poverty area in the centre of Europe. I suggest that rather than close the pits and destroy the heavy industries of Germany we must utilise them for the purpose of producing the maximum amount of goods for the consumption of the peoples of the world, and in order that we can raise the general standard of living. The German railways, heavy industries and mines are an invaluable asset towards that tremendous task which will face the United Nations and peoples of the world in rebuilding devastated Europe after this war. To destroy them would be as great a folly as the folly of pre-war days which we have since so often denounced so roundly, namely, the destruction of the food supplies of the world in order to maintain prices and the powers of monopolies.
I would have liked to deal with other questions, but other speakers want to take part in the Debate to-night and I will refer only to a definite and clear statement—which I welcome—made by the Prime Minister, which has been the best answer to the closing observations made by the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), who said he hoped that there would, be no sloppy internationalism mixed up with the future security arrangements of the world. That struck me as a strange contradiction of his previous assurance, that he considered international peace and security in the future would depend upon the closest possible friendship between America, Britain and Russia. A reply was given by the Prime Minister in a letter, published recently, which he wrote to Lord Cecil, when he declared that the League idea would live. The Prime Minister has underlined that statement on several occasions in this House. If that is to be the spirit behind the present discussions at Dumbarton Oaks, and is to be interpreted in the decisions that will follow that Conference, I can assure the House that a very warm welcome will be given to them from every Member on this side. I deplore what has been said on the other side, that while the idea of the League may be good it is not the time now to think in terms of a new League of Nations. It was suggested that we would have to establish some kind of temporary security organisation, but that it was not desirable for a considerable time to get down to the details of any permanent peace structure. I recall now that it was the Prime Minister who said this. I suggest that that is taking the question right out of the sphere of reality. If we are not in a position to build this permanent peace structure now, and work out the details and the whole of the implications and requirements of such a structure, we shall miss the boat. Time, on this issue, is riot on our side.
I would remind the House again that in spite of the final failure of the League of Nations that League, established in 1919, without any precedent or previous experience, and a tremendously bold experiment- open to all kinds of mistakes and errors, was, nevertheless, successful in driving Mussolini's forces from Corfu and was responsible for suppressing war after war on the European Continent. It did have tremendous successes in spite of the difficulties under which it was launched. If, as a result of another war, if, following on the experience of some 25 years of the work of the League of Nations, with all its faults and potentialities, we have not the courage to endeavour to establish a permanent and effective organisation, I suggest that we are never likely again to have such a remarkable opportunity as we have at the present time. I hope the Government will be bolder than the observation of the Prime Minister suggests, and will follow rather the line he took in his letter to Lord Cecil, namely, that the League idea, given the necessary support, encouragement and confidence of the members who will participate in its work, will live. That is the only hope for the maintenance of international peace in the future.
I hope the hon. Member who has just addressed the House will forgive me if I do not follow him in the fluent and exhaustive argument which he has addressed to us. I believe that to some extent, at any rate, he was engaged in demolishing a case in which no serious person really believes. I have the misfortune to differ from some of my hon. Friends on the Conservative side in what they have been saying this afternoon and, having that misfortune, I feel that one or two things ought to be said to put in perspective what the attitude of this country should be towards the Soviet Union. I do not believe I shall be accused of being an advocate for Russia. Nothing in my upbringing or political or religious outlook could lead me to such a course, but I think the eloquent arid sincere speeches to which we have listened to-day—in particular from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) and my Noble Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass)—violated almost every canon of British foreign policy over the last 300 years. I doubt not that my hon. Friends are sincere when they believe that in giving vent to utterances of those kinds they are inspired by impartial, alert and Christian consciences and are not in any way prejudiced by their domestic political views. I should be more at ease on that subject were I able to reflect that their political views had been other than extremely hostile to the Soviet Union over a large number of years.
It is to my mind—and here I can claim that I have been completely consistent in opposition to both Left and Right speakers—utterly a mistake to think that you can govern the foreign policy of this country by reference to political or religious prejudices. We have been reminded that this is an ideological war. There have been ideological wars before but never, so far as I know, have our fathers, in their wisdom, pedantically followed a domestic, political or even religious bias in determining their attitude to foreign Powers. Under the Czarist régime the absolutist character of that monarchy proved no bar to Liberal and Conservative Administrations finding an Ally in the last war, nor should the Communist nature of the present Russian régime prevent all parties from finding an active Ally in this war. Nor does it appear to me that the religious argument will really bear examination. In the days when the Christian Czars sat on the throne of Russia it was the settled foreign policy of this country to support the Mohammedan Sultans against Russian encroachments even on the Christian Balkans. Religious and political prejudice are bad guides. I believe we should be well advised to remember that our fathers, even when they were a Protestant minority fighting against the great Catholic monarchies of Europe, allied themselves consistently with the Catholic Empire and proved themselves constantly at variance with the Protestant Dutch. We must find other tests for British foreign policy than domestic, political or even religious prejudice, and I suggest that we must observe certain canons which have been laid down for a very long time. One of those is that which was recently pronounced by Walter Lipmann, to which he drew the attention of his own compatriots. Power and commitments must be balanced with one another. There are limitations imposed upon British foreign policy alike by our geographical position and by our military resources. To go outside those limitations is not to put forward enlightened, independent, Christian, or moral views. It is to pursue a policy of political, military and moral bankruptcy and that, it seems to me, is the danger into which my hon. Friends are falling. I differ from them entirely and I differ from some hon. Members opposite in the degree to which they seem to me to underestimate the danger of the German problem in the years after the signature of peace. That problem will not be obliterated by the signature of any peace, however moderate or however extreme.
Some hon. Members have been very much afraid that the extremity of our measures might make the Germans bitter. They can reassure themselves on that point. The Germans are bitter. They have been at war with us for five years and the mere process of military defeat and the humiliation of occupation will be sufficient to embitter them to such an extent as to determine them to embark at any opportunity we may afford them on a war of revenge. That is the German problem in our time, and to start ignoring it is, to my mind, to ignore the ultimate factor in British foreign politics. Hon. Members on this side have devised ingenious schemes which they believe will keep the Germans down, schemes of partition, schemes of reparation, schemes of punishment. I agree that there is much to be commended in some of these documents, but it must be remembered that a peace that is dictated as the result of a victorious war will remain in force only so long as the victors remain united to enforce it. That peace will break, whatever its terms, the moment anyone succeeds in driving a wedge between ourselves and Russia.
That brings me to the point at which I differ from my hon. Friend. I do not believe that Members of the House are the judges of all the moral and political issues which divide the world, but I believe that this country would be well advised to pursue, in accordance with its power and with its conscience, a policy which is honourable in itself without necessarily condemning those with whom we are not always in complete agreement and a policy which we can, in fact, enforce by the resources at our command. That brings me to the question of Poland. I hope I shall not be thought to utter a word of criticism of the Poles. Even if I disagreed with them I should regard it as an impertinence in a Member of this House, a. British subject, who has not suffered anything comparable to what the least of these Poles has suffered, to utter a word of criticism of anything that they may have done. On the contrary, we should constantly remember our debt of gratitude to them, how in the hour of calamity they were a constant source of inspiration, their fidelity as Allies, their bravery as soldiers and their loyalty as comrades. We should seek to assert again and again that it is our purpose and our hope to restore a free and independent Poland wihch may one day, we trust, enjoy the prosperity which we so much desire for them and which we believe they so much deserve.
But if the events of the last five years have meant anything they mean that neither we nor any other Power in the world can enable the Poles to afford to antagonise both Germany and Russia at the same time. Nothing can save them if that is the result, however innocent, of their foreign policy. We should not be able to assist them even if it were consistent with our own independence and freedom to do so. To their eternal honour be it said that never during the whole of these difficult times has there been the slightest evidence that their differences with Russia have driven them to the slightest degree of collusion with our common enemy, Germany. But it must be said, surely, that if we were to let them believe that we were able to do that which our geographical position, the political framework in which we have to live and our military resources alike render impossible, we should, in fact, be committing that very dishonourable action of pretending that we were going to achieve for our friends more, in fact, than we were either disposed or able to do.
It is, I think, well to refer for a moment to the rather partial account which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom gave to the House of the events in Warsaw. I have only followed the reports in the Press. He did not mention what appeared to be at any rate relevant and important facts. The Soviet Armies had advanced for upwards of 300 miles. They must have almost entirely outrun their communications; their forward troops must have been in a state of considerable exhaustion. I do not know and I should not attempt to resolve any issues of fact as to whether the Polish insurrection in Warsaw was opened with or without consultation with Russia. That appears to be immaterial. What is certain is that immediately after the insurrection began the Germans staged a counter-attack which, for the time being, drove the Russians back across the Vistula and undoubtedly gave them a military setback. There were malicious people here and people who were carried away by feelings with which one could only sympathise deeply who believed and allowed it to he said that the Russians did not give the Poles assistance because they desired the insurrection to fail. I do not believe that kind of slander. I can remember that for three years we were in the miserable position of not being able to invade the Continent at the very time that we saw the Russian Armies bleeding. I can remember how very strongly I resented the suggestion, from whatsoever source it came, from Russia or from this country, that we were doing this deliberately in order that our gallant Ally might suffer in the East. I think if we owe the Russians nothing else in this war it is to put the most favourable construction we can on anything they may do, and even if it were not a debt of honour by which we are bound by the terms of our Treaty of Alliance with them, I believe it would be the merest policy based upon the political framework to which I have referred.
If Russia and America quarrel there can be no possible bar to the re-emergence of Japan in the Far East as a menace to them both. If Russia and Great Britain quarrel there can be no possible step which will prevent the re-emergence of Germany in Europe as a menace to both Poland and the rest of Europe. That is the rock upon which we must build our foreign policy. It is a very difficult thing for a popular Assembly to carry on this tripartite nuclear alliance to which these considerations inevitably lead us. We shall be accused of truckling to America and bowing the knee to Russia, of appeasement and of doing the things which no honourable man would do. All these criticisms will be made of us if we refrain from what is called plain speaking, which usually consists in public insults and recriminations by people who had much better have remained silent.
There are three great Powers which will emerge from this war. I do not desire to suggest that the smaller Powers ought not to bear their full part in the post-war settlement when it comes, but I speak now of the three great Powers. It would be odious to compare the sacrifices which each has made, but each has made an individual, an incomparable and an inestimable sacrifice for victory. We need not under-estimate our own. We were in it from the first, as we shall be in it even unto the bitter end. But for us neither Stalingrad would have held nor would America after Pearl Harbour have found a single friend to whom she could turn. We need not under-estimate our own sacrifice, nor must we under-estimate theirs. But what makes the sacrifice more poignant is the knowledge which exists in most men in our three great countries that, if we had but known the course events were going to take, the calamity that has come upon us could easily have been avoided. I do not speak at length of the mistakes we have made individually or together, but who can suppose that, if the Americans had known in 1919 that Pearl Harbour was coming when Pearl Harbour came, they would have avoided collaboration with the rest of the world for so long at so great a price? If the Russians had known of the violation of the Russian frontier in 1941, would they have pursued the policy that began at Rapallo in 1923 and went on through a series of pitiful recriminations and mutual distrust for 25 years, until the two countries, ourselves and they, who had said so many hard words to one another, had to pay in blood for the mistakes which each of us had made? Can anyone doubt that we too could have avoided the calamity?
Are we to learn that lesson now, or are we to ignore it? Are we to be told that for one good reason or another the basis of collaboration which exists between us should give place to what is called plain speaking, which will inevitably mean the destruction of the mutual trust that is only with difficulty and stage by stage growing up? Can we not make our representations in private if we disagree? Must we proclaim it on the housetops if we have something to condemn in others? Or can we hope that wisdom and forbearance, those qualities that are the qualities of strength and not the qualities of weakness, will prevail in our councils, and that, although Great Britain will remain, as I pray God she will, the champion of small nations, she will at the same time remain in friendship and collaboration with those great forces in whose power alone it is placed with us to give the future of mankind a prosperous and peaceful life in the coming generations?
I was very glad to hear the very moving and wise speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), in which he insisted upon the very great importance of maintaining the closest and the most friendly relations between ourselves and the Soviet Union. I was going to touch upon that point myself, but I think it is very much better that it should come from his side of the House, in view of the one or two speeches that have been made from those benches this afternoon. The Prime Minister appealed to us to refrain from intemperate language during this Debate, particularly in reference to the question of Poland. I propose to follow that advice myself, bearing in mind that it is not absolutely necessary for an ordinary Member of Parliament to speak as though he were the Prime Minister or the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whose lightest word may convey infinite meanings to all the Chancelleries of Europe. We, speaking as ordinary Members of Parliament, have a little latitude, of which privilege I propose to avail myself as well.
In considering this Polish question, there is one thing we should first remember, and that is the extreme moderation of Soviet policy. The Prime Minister has told us to-day how moderate and correct they have been in their armistice terms to Rumania and the neighbouring States. In spite of what the Vatican or General Franco seem to think, I do not believe that Marshal Stalin has the least desire to impose the Soviet economic system upon the neighbouring States. I do not believe he has the least intention of doing so. I do not believe that Russia desires more than safe frontiers and friendly neighbours. To those she is entitled, as the Prime Minister told us, and in that light the Polish situation must be regarded.
The history of the relations between the Polish Government in London, the Soviet Union and the Polish National Council of Liberation is long and complicated. I have given it some little study, and, as Lord Simon used to say in this House, I think I have some grasp of it, complex though it is. I do not propose, however, to inflict that information upon this House to-night, but I think it is absurd for the hon. and gallant Member for Wirral (Captain Graham) to say, as he did, that the National Council of Poland, sitting in Lublin, or the Committee of Polish Liberation which is associated with it, are completely unrepresentative of the Polish people. If it were so, the Polish Prime Minister in London would not have entered into negotiations with it in Moscow, nor would the Polish Government in London have offered or suggested that members of that National Council should be associated with them in the proposed new Government to be set up in Warsaw after its liberation. They would not make any proposal of that kind to a Government or organisation which was entirely unrepresentative. It is also absurd for the hon. and gallant Member to suggest that General Zymierski, who is commanding a strong Polish Army in the field at the present time, has no support at all from the Poles who live in the liberated areas of Poland. There is no doubt there is a good deal of support for this organisation in the Eastern regions of Poland, whatever they may find in the West. If argument is based on these assumptions that the Polish National Council and Committee are not representative, it would make the resumption of friendly relations between the Polish Government and Soviet Russia and the National Council very difficult, even impossible.
I do not deny there have been faults and mistakes on both sides. But what country in the world can say that during the last 20 or 30 years they have been free from error? The fact must be faced that there are certain elements associated with, or surrounding, the Polish Government in London which are violently hostile to the Soviet Government. There may be historical reasons as well as social reasons for this, but the fact remains that these elements do exist, and they are at the present time centring round the personality of the Commander-in-Chief, General Sosnkowski, whose intemperate utterances recently have created great difficulties in the diplomatic field. The general attitude of General Sosnkowski was shown when the late General Sikorski entered into friendly relations with the Soviet Government. General Sosnkowski resigned from his position at that time as a protest against the action of General Sikorski. The position of the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army is a peculiar one. Under the Constitution of 1935, which was more or less, I would say, of a Fascist nature, the Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army is appointed personally by the President of Poland.
The Cabinet, the Government, have no control whatever over the appointment, and they have no control over his actions. For example, the Commander-in-Chief can send, as he has done, public messages and secret messages to Warsaw without either consulting the Polish Cabinet in London or even without that Cabinet's knowledge. As a result the Polish Government here have asked General Sosnkowski to resign. He has refused to do so. That being the position they, by unanimous resolution last week, asked the President, who is the only person who has the power, to dismiss the Commander-in-Chief. Up to now no action has been taken by the President, who happens to be anyhow his close personal friend. It seems to me there is no chance of any improved relations between the Polish Government in London and the Polish Committee in Lublin or the Soviet Union as long as he remains in that position. General Sosnkowski has got to go. There are many other difficulties which will have to be solved even then, many difficulties and many complexities, but this is the first step which must be taken if better relations are to be established. That is all I intend to say to-night about the Polish situation at the present time.
We all welcome the warm and moving reference of the Prime Minister to the position of France. I feel the time is coming when the Allies ought to grant full recognition to the Provisional Government of France as the actual Government of France, and give her the position to which she would then be entitled upon the European Advisory Commission and other Councils of the Allies. It is said, of course, that the present French Government has never been formally elected by a ballot. But there are Governments which we recognise—the Polish Government, of which I have just been speaking, the Yugoslav Government, and the Greek Government—who have never been elected either. It seems to me slightly absurd that we should give full recognition to those three Governments and yet refrain from giving the same recognition to our great French Ally, whose popularity in France itself cannot be doubted by anybody who has been there.
A French correspondent of mine, who has written to me many times during this war, and who happens to be a great personal friend of M. Herriot, wrote to me the other day, "This Government has not been elected by pieces of paper; it has been elected by the blood of the patriots." Then he used what seemed to me a very striking phrase. "My catechism taught me that one can become a Christian by dying for Christ, even if one has never been baptised." With all deference to the Government of the United States of America, I would say that France is an adult political nation. From the soil of France had sprung a long line of saints and sages, warriors and statesmen, centuries before the creative genius that broods over Lake Michigan ever conceived the notion of spam. I think we can tell Washington that she need not fear that France requires any tuition in democracy. She has the light of liberty in her eyes and freedom in her soul—the soul of France. Let her take her rightful place, as soon as can possibly be arranged, as our equal in the councils of Europe and of the world.
I would like to support strongly the counsel of the Prime Minister that we should not allow ourselves to be hurried into decisions about the world-organisation which is to carry on after the war. Nor do I think there is any great need for hurry. I assume that Germany will be occupied for a considerable period. I assume that the occupation of Germany by the Allies might take as long as five years. I do not know what is in the minds of the Allies, but that is a period that I have always assumed. I assume, therefore, that a considerable time may elapse between the armistice and the drawing-up of the actual peace terms. I think it would be wise to allow a considerable interval. During the period between the armistice and the peace settlement, the lines of the future peace settlement will be drawn up, and the future of Western Europe decided for perhaps half a century. Look at the stupendous work, for example, that will have to be done directly Germany is occupied. There will be 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 men and women, who will have to be sent back to their own countries, where their homes probably will have been destroyed and will have to be replaced. Added to that, there will be 300,000,000 people in Europe, who wilt have to be fed, clothed, and restored to their civil occupations.
It is a gigantic task, but I believe the resources of modern science and industry are so great that the task can be accomplished successfully. I hope that, during this period, when all this is being done, we shall be acting in close co-operation with the popular democratic forces which are emerging now in every country—France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Greece—and I hope it will be realised that, in order to establish again those 300,000,000 people in Western Europe, they will have to be drawn together and sustained on economic lines. I hope these 20 or so absurd tariff walls, which were swept away by Hitler—one of the few good results that can be attributed to his policy—shall not be rebuilt. Industries should be developed on natural instead of national lines, and as far as possible I hope that Western Europe shall be a Europe with one tariff and one postal system, and, I should hope, one banking and currency system. I hope that is not impossible. The most difficult thing is currency, but it could be a most admirable thing. I hope this Europe will have the same system of communications, cutting across frontiers and soaring above them so that the frontiers of Europe in the future should be of the nature of boundaries of administration, like our county boundaries, rather than frontiers bristling with bayonets, dividing one country from another.
I also hope, of course, that Western Europe will be based on a Socialist economy. I believe it will be, but, whether it is or not, we should do our best to develop again in Europe that unity which it once possessed, which was destroyed when the Roman Empire was broken, and which must be created again, in my view, if Western Europe is to attain to her full stature and take her place as a partner in equal strength with Russia, China, the United States and the British Commonwealth in that new world now in process of being born.
It is very difficult, after listening to a speech so comprehensive as the one we heard from the Prime Minister to-day, followed by such an interesting Debate, not to embark on a discussion of the many points that arise on such an occasion. As I do not wish to detain the House for any length of time, I want to limit myself to one subject only. Before coming to that aspect, I would say that there are many other subjects to which I should have liked to refer, and I mention particularly that of Poland and Russia. I do not think we could have had the case regarding Poland and Russia better put than was done by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Quintin Hogg) just now. To embark upon a subject which has been so thoroughly dealt with, as this has been by the hon. Member, is quite unnecessary.
While listening to the Prime Minister, I could not help feeling how very regrettable it was his speech was not broadcast on this occasion. Two years ago, I made the suggestion in this House to the Prime Minister that, occasionally, his speeches in this House should be broadcast. In reply he fully agreed, and a Motion to that effect was, in fact, put on the Order Paper for Debate on the following day. But, in view of pressure brought about by back benchers, the Motion was withdrawn by the Prime Minister himself. I could not help feeling, as I saw the Prime Minister speaking to-day, that he was rather like a soldier—for he is a soldier—but as a soldier deprived of one of the most modern weapons available to similar soldiers of other United Nations in a like position. There was the Prime Minister, speaking with the power of one man and yet, without any cost to ourselves in money, energy, or trouble, 600 broadcasting stations in America would have carried that speech. The speech which he made, instead of being a one manpower speech, would have been something like 100,000 horse-power. It could have been brought to the homes of people all over the world. Recently, in the House during Question time, many questions had been asked about our position in relation to the Americans, the relative value of our effort, and the general ignorance throughout America of that effort. The Prime Minister whilst delivering his speech was deprived by this House of the only method of reaching directly across the world by means of the most up-to-date and far reaching method of dissemination of news. Newspapers are made up to-day, more than half, of material they have heard on the air. This is a new weapon which, in this House and in this case, corresponds to the tank and aeroplane in the campaign. But the Prime Minister was deprived of that powerful weapon by means of which what he said could have been brought to tens of millions of homes. The occupants of those homes could have heard every word that was said, instead of extracts according to the paper available and the whim of editors.
The point I specially want to mention to the House now is the subject of the treatment of Germany after the war. The Prime Minister referred to the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) said, there is no great hurry to take decisions. I am entirely in agreement with him but looking back into the last war—and I spent over a year in Germany on the Disarmament Commission—I would say that the moment Germany is disarmed and we have occupied it, there will be a tendency to withdraw our troops because of the cost of occupation and the non-necessity of English troops being kept away from home. What has been much discussed at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference is the series of old methods comprising an International Air Force, the occupation of territory by various United Nations, dismemberment, abolishment of heavy industry, and a League of Nations in modified form. What I am proposing after the disarmament of Germany and an occupation for a certain number of years, is a method which would be one step ahead of the International Air Force which would have to come into action and punish Germany after the breaking of any clause of a treaty. My suggested method could be thus defined. It is the granting by Germany to the United Nations of the exclusive concession of their means of transport and communications.
If the methods of transport and of communications were granted by Germany as a concession to the United Nations, we would be one step ahead of the International Air Force. My method would mean that, without the control of transport and communications, Germany could do nothing to create a hostile force. The United Nations would know at once what was happening and, therefore, there would be ample warning to take what steps were necessary before even a nucleus could be formed. In the granting of concessions of all means of transport and communications, I include shipping, airways, motorways, waterways, telephones, telegraph, postal services, newspapers, broadcasting stations and the like. There is no reason why these methods of transport and communication should not be operated by nationals, and by operational companies of the United Nations. We are a very tolerant nation and after the occupation of Germany for four or five years we would be so tolerant as to want to withdraw. To occupy and operate these means of transport and communications would not, in any way, be a hardship to Germany. When a man commits murder he does it in, say, half an hour, but it takes many years to pay for his crime. We do not punish Germany in intensity but we punish them in duration, in length of time. My suggestion is that these commercial concessions would be, roughly, for three generations or a century.
I will come to that in a moment. It would, as I said, be no hardship to Germany. May I ask hon. Members why Spain and Rumania have much better telephone systems than we have in this country? Because they have both granted the concession of their telephones to the American Tel and Tel. They enjoy a much better telephone service than anyone else in Europe. That is what we should apply to Germany. There could be no complaint. Take the South American States. They have granted the concession of their airways to the Pan-American Airways of New York. The result is that all South Americans enjoy a very efficient air communication service. There is no hardship here and the U.S.A. derive revenue from the concession.
As I have mentioned, the countries in South America have granted the concession of all their airways to Pan-American Airways—the South American countries all have their airways run by this very efficient company. In the same way, if in Germany these telephones, telegraphs, airways and railways services were run by private companies or by the Governments of the United Nations, Germany would have very good systems and nothing to complain about, and it would be a way of getting a grip on Germany by means of which no other war such as this would ever start again. It would do more. It would also permit us to acquire sufficient money to pay reparations for this war. We often talk about reparations and we do not insist upon them, because we know that you cannot make nations pay during short periods sums large enough to cover the cost and waste of a war such as this because it upsets the economic balance of the world. However, over a lengthy period of time it is possible to be indemnified completely. There is no better payment from one country to another than the grant to them of the exclusive concession of the working of some of their important enterprises.
Parallel to this period of 100 years concessions we should naturally have to enforce some system for educating the youth of Germany. I said three generations, because when I was in Berlin after the last war, I heard the rising generation preach freely that they intended to wage a new war within 20 years. So education could cover this period and, as my hon. Friend who interrupted me, but who has just left said, then will be the time for Germany to reap her benefits of the Atlantic Charter. May I point out that the Atlantic Charter does not have any measure or indication of time; there is no reference in it to the fourth dimension? It is said that everybody will be freed from want and fear, but it does not say when each individual nation will be allowed to reap these benefits. Therefore, it is not necessary to give the Axis countries the liberty of the Atlantic Charter, until they have shown that they are deserving of receiving it. I put this at three generations or one hundred years.
That is the proposition I would like to put to the House as a method by means of which we shall ensure peace for all times. I would like this to be drawn to the attention of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference that, after the occupation of Germany, the first thing should be the granting to the United Nations of the concessions of all the means of transport and communication within the Reich. No German flag need fly the oceans or the skies. Goods can be carried in United Nations ships. In closing I would like to say that this is not an unusual thing because Monte Carlo—which many people think is an independent State—has already granted its concessions for telephones and telegraphs to France, and only French subjects are allowed to be employed in the telegraph and telephone services in Monte Carlo. We could apply that to Germany, and if all their telegraphs, telephones and methods of transport and of communication were operated and run by companies of the United Nations, we would have warning far ahead of anything that might happen and at the same time in addition to the payment of reparations in full be able to provide a very large amount of employment for all our soldiers and sailors and airmen who return victoriously after the successful conclusion of this war.
My excuse for endeavouring to speak to-day is that as recently as last Sunday I was with our troops North of Eindhoven towards the district from which, this morning, came that very poignant and grievous and also splendid message about Arnhem. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) said, I went there in the guise of a war correspondent, a rôle of which I am not in the least ashamed—especially recalling that no less a statesman than the Prime Minister himself, in his earlier days, was a war correspondent also. Like the Prime Minister, I, in my brief and humble visit to our Forces overseas, was impressed above all things by the extraordinary mobility of this war and of the forces engaged in it. The movement, the transport, has been handled with astonishing skill. At one cross-roads in Normandy alone, a check of traffic that passed at that point was taken, and it was found that, in a period of 24 hours, no fewer than 19,000 vehicles went by. That is just one small illustration of the tremendous volume of traffic and movement that is going on all the time. The problem of supplying the front line has been Gargantuan and has been handled, equally, with immense skill—this front line which has swept forward with such astonishing rapidity in such a very short time. Second only to the tremendous admiration with which I have come back for the fighting men themselves—and in particular, perhaps, for the infantry and tank crews of the Guards Armoured Division—is my admiration for the movement and transport people, and for the Royal Engineers who have built with amazing speed the pontoon bridges across those difficult canals which have inevitably, among other factors, made our advance in Holland less rapid than that tremendous sweep up to Brussels.
I was glad to hear what the Prime Minister had to say about Belgium, and about the welcome the Belgian people have given our Forces and the Americans. It was, indeed, stupendous—perhaps even warmer than the welcome we received in France. In one city alone, the city of Liége, in which I spent two or three nights, I think there will always be the strongest links of friendship between the citizens and ourselves: that one city sheltered no fewer than 700 Allied airmen during the German occupation—airmen who had baled out on being shot down. That is a remarkable record for one place. When the full inside story of these operations can be written, I believe that one of the most dramatic and extraordinary chapters in it will be the story of the thousands of Allied airmen who descended, either by parachute on special missions, or because their aircraft were shot down, in enemy-occupied territory in France, Belgium and Holland, and the way in which the ordinary people of those countries helped them and saw them on their way to safety. I met many of these airmen myself. A friend of mine, an air gunner, who was shot down six months ago in Belgium, flew back in the same plane as I did on Monday from Brussels. He had moved around all that time, had been passed on from hand to hand in Belgium and France, had always been fed and looked after decently and warmly received. The most moving thing of all that he told me occurred once when things were getting a bit "sticky" because he had encountered two or three German officers who, fortunately, did not know French much better than he did and he was therefore able to persuade them that he was actually French or Belgian: after that, an elderly Frenchwoman gave him her son's identity card, and he was able to substitute on it his own photograph for that of her son. Her son had been about his age, 22 years old, and had been killed only a few weeks before in an R.A.F. raid. I think it was a fine gesture, that that old Frenchwoman should have handed over her son's identity card to another member of the Royal Air Force. It showed what I found everywhere in Belgium and France—that people did understand quite clearly the necessity for the R.A.F. raids on their countries.
As several hon. Members have remarked, British prestige stands very high indeed, in Belgium particularly, at present. At the same time I should like to endorse very warmly what the hon. Member for Bridgwater said about the necessity of opening up, as urgently as possible, more channels of information, more interchange of ideas and news of what is happening in this country. The people of Belgium admire the British tremendously. They are sincerely grateful for the efforts this country has made, for the sufferings we underwent in the blitz and since; but naturally they only have a sketchy, a skeleton idea of what life has really been like in this country during these years. Some of them, indeed, think we have been living, as regards food for instance, in comparative luxury, while some of them have been nearly starving. It is very difficult to understand what has been happening in another country when there is this great barrier that occupation imposes—even though every one I met had listened regularly to the B.B.C. I think the prestige of the B.B.C. stands pretty well as high in Belgium as that of Britain itself. The most honoured names, second only to that of the Prime Minister, are such names as those of Frank Gillard and the other B.B.C. commentators and speakers. People were constantly asking, with a note of fan-worship in their voices, if one had really met Frank Gillard. They all listened, including many of the Germans billeted on them, because they knew that they would get an absolutely objective, fair account of the day's news, and that the B.B.C. would give the bad news with the good. But, all the same, there is this great lack of real understanding of what life is and has been like in this country, and the more people who can be sent over there as soon as possible to meet and talk with them the better—Members of Parliament, economists, trade union leaders, all sorts of people could go over and meet their friends and comrades in Belgium and France and get international relations working once more at all levels and not only at the official and military level. I think also, if a little aeroplane space can be spared—I know how tremendously heavy the pressure of inevitably high priority stuff is—that it would be as well to send over regular consignments of British newspapers, periodicals, and books. At least half a dozen strangers in Brussels asked me if it were possible to buy a British newspaper anywhere. Of course it was not, but they were anxious to know what was happening in this country.
Besides visiting the front I had the great privilege of attending the reopening of the Belgian Parliament. It was rather a moving and momentous occasion—the first free Parliament to reassemble on liberated territory. I suppose I can describe myself as a general supporter of the British Government, though probably not one of the most devoted supporters they have. None the less, it was an agreeable, almost a thrilling thing to witness the tremendous applause when the Prime Minister's name was mentioned in M. Pierlot's speech, and to realise that that was our colleagues in the Belgian Parliament paying tribute to the people and the Parliament of this country. Incidentally they applaud by clapping their hands and not by "Hear, hear"-ing throatily as we do. They clap their hands and rise up in their places, and the ovations that the names of Churchill, Montgomery and Stalin got were tremendous. I wonder whether it would be presumptuous in me to suggest to you, Sir, through the Leader of the House, that some message of greeting be sent to the Belgian Parliament from this House. I throw out the suggestion and leave it to you or to the Leader of the House to decide in your wisdom.
There are two overwhelmingly important and urgent questions which the authorities in Belgium now have to deal with. The first is the punishment of traitors and collaborators, about which the Belgian Press of several points of view, and not only the Press of the Left, is becoming increasingly restive. The other is the food situation. With regard to the punishment of traitors and collaborators, it is difficult to know exactly what we can do. It is obviously an internal matter for the Belgians themselves to settle; but I feel that our people out there should refrain as far as they can from collaborating in a social way with the collaborators or people who are likely to have been collaborators. I was rather sickened by the sight one saw night after night, in the luxurious black-market restaurants that flourish in Brussels, of young British officers being plied with champagne by people who, without being definable strictly as traitors, have undoubtedly made large quantities of money and lived in ease throughout the occupation by selling the products of their factories to the German invaders. That goes on all the time. There are, of course, many gradations of collaboration, and it is difficult to draw an absolute line and say of those on one side of it, "These are collaborators," and of the other side, "These are innocent." The same problem occurred in the former Vichy territory in France. I think that the line has been drawn in Belgium hitherto rather too loosely, at rather too modest a level, and I am rather afraid that some of our influence has gone towards preserving that.
With regard to the food situation, I took as much trouble as I could to find out what was going on and what had been going on. It is difficult to work it out exactly and to find out the real facts, because the black market in Belgium has been organised on a scale far more widespread than anything we can possibly conceive of in this country, where it is trivial and contemptible and universally regarded as anti-social. In Belgium during the Occupation it was regarded—at any rate, this was the pretext, and I do not know how genuine it was—as a laudable and patriotic thing to buy food or clothes on the black market, because it was supposed to be helping to disorganise the Nazi economy. I am not sure how genuine that was, and I am not sure that the Germans could not have put down the black market drastically if they had wished to. As far as I can make out, the economic level at which buying in the black market began was quite a humble one. It was not only the very wealthy who bought in the black market, but, occasionally at any rate, all the middle class and professional people and right down to the quite modest petitbourgeois level, people would buy from time to time as they could afford to in the black market. So that, indubitably, the one section of the Belgian people who have been hit hardest by the shortage of staple foods throughout the occupation and now, are the industrial working-class in the towns. The poorer workers in the towns have really been hard-hit by the food shortage.
I would not say the same is true of the entire population of Belgium. Certainly, there was nothing that I could find out or see in Belgium that approached the actual starvation conditions which have prevailed in Greece. I was driven to the opinion that probably our Ministry of Economic Warfare had been correct in its refusal to suspend the blockade in favour of the people of Belgium, as it was constantly being asked to do in this House and elsewhere. All the same, the poor, undoubtedly, suffered very badly, and there is still, in Belgium, an acute shortage of staple foods such as bread, butter and meat.
I quite agree. The children, especially the children of the poorer classes again, had undoubtedly suffered. I did not, to be quite frank, inquire at the schools themselves. I asked many dozens of people of all sorts of conditions and professions, and I am trying to sum up, as fairly as I can, the result of my inquiries. Sometimes one's investigations lead one to the conclusion that one would have wished to reach and sometimes they do not, but I think it is only right to say what I could find out, as fairly as possible. Undoubtedly, the lack of staple foods will have had a terrible effect on the children of the poorer people—although, as I say, black-market buying, perhaps not always taken into account in the discussions in London, did go down to a much lower economic level than it would have gone in this country, for instance. The difficulty is that when they have for four and a half years had the habit of buying in the black market it is rather hard to cure people of it. That is one of the points about which the Belgian authorities will have to take pretty drastic steps fairly quickly, because, despite official and public disclaimers, the black market, although restricted and limited in its operations, is still flourishing.
One of the difficulties of the situation—and this is another matter of, so to speak, international public relations—is that our troops, in Brussels for instance, see a very gay city where they can get ice-cream in the shops and other things which Belgians do not believe we are not allowed in this country. The soldiers do not notice the shortage of staple foods so much, and they are apt to write letters home to their people here saying: "There is no shortage of anything over here. The Belgians are living in the lap of luxury," and so on, which is not true. That is the superficial impression that they get. There might be two long-term unfortunate effects of that impression. The first is that Nazi occupation might not be so bad after all, if the people can live as comfortably as the Belgians seem to. The second is that there is no need for us to go on with food-rationing after the war, or to stint ourselves at all to benefit these foreigners who are apparently having such a good time. I say that that is a purely superficial impression, but that is the impression which large numbers of our troops in Belgium are getting and sending home, and I think that something, if possible, should be done to offset it.
According to my information, one of the reasons why both the Belgians and the French were left with so much, was the difficulty of the Germans in getting transport to take it away.
That is quite probably true. I do not want to give the impression that the Belgians have been left with much. That is a superficial appearance, because their cities are very clean and gay and because they are allowed little luxuries such as ice-cream; but they are still short of the main staple foods, such as bread and meat.
Yes, in the towns, and in Brussels in particular. In Normandy, I agree, one was never short of cheese, for example, because of the difficulty of transporting it to Paris or to Germany when our invasion began.
Another impression to which I was forced—rather reluctantly perhaps—in Holland, Belgium and France, the countries that had been occupied, was that there was an almost unanimous feeling of intense bitterness against the German invaders, and a feeling that the peace should be a firm or even a hard one. I simply put that on record. I myself am not what is called a Vansittartite. I think that that doctrine is a misleading over-simplification, but at the same time I do not agree with the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Hynd), who seemed to think that the people of the formerly occupied countries would take a generous or charitable view of Germany. From what I have seen and What I have heard, from what they actually say to one, there is unanimous loathing and detestation of the Germans as such.
No; on Sunday morning I went to Mass at Ste. Gudule. I was rather disappointed by the music. I did not, in fact, talk to many British residents who were there during the occupation. I talked chiefly to Belgians. I do not know whether British residents would confirm this, but I know the Belgians were unanimous in hoping for a rather Carthaginian peace for Germany. I put that on record without saying whether agree with it or not.
The hon. Member for Attercliffe also referred to the alleged American fraternisation in Germany. He said it was a natural process. I agree that it is natural and will inevitably happen, later at any rate; but in the two or three German places that I visited it was not happening. The Americans were behaving in a correct, severe, aloof way and were not fraternising with the Germans. One of these places was Kornelimünster, about which, by a coincidence, there was a Question on the Order Paper this morning. I do not know what the answer was, because the Question was not reached. It was a Question alleging that the Allied Civil Affairs authorities had installed a leading Nazi as Mayor of Kornelimünster. By a coincidence I was in that place last week, and I talked to the American colonel in charge of Civil Affairs. He told me about the difficulty they had had to find an impeccable mayor. He said that they had eventually installed the principal of the high school, whose neighbours assured them that neither he nor any member of his family had ever given the Nazi salute. I was a little sceptical about that. I wondered how he had remained principal of the high school throughout the Nazi régime if he had not done so. But that was what they were assured. They backed up their choice by saying that he was also recommended by the priest.
I do not agree at all with Members who say we ought to "go slow" after the war in trying to put across the League idea, the idea of a community of nations in Europe. I think this is the dynamic moment. "Now is the acceptable time." I think the ordinary peoples of Europe are inspired by the achievements of Tito, the F.F.I., and the partisan movements generally as they are never likely to be inspired again by anything. I think we should go forward, with that kind of inspiration in our minds, to building up the post-war world.
Question put, and agreed to.
Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-nine Minutes after Eight o'Clock.