Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Orders of the Day — War and International Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th September 1944.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West 12:00 am, 29th September 1944

I am all against that. We ought to go as Members of Parliament. I believe it would be a helpful gesture if we went in our official capacity, and we might better understand some of the problems facing the French. I want to see France take her rightful place in the Councils of the nations. She should not be treated as a second-class Power, not only in her own interest, but because it will be well for civilisation if France is able to take part in the discussion of the future of Europe and the rehabilitation of the world. Her culture and way of life will have a part to play for many generations to come, and it is right that she should be given her proper status. I firmly believe that she should be allowed to take her place and become the fifth of the five great Powers. It is not merely a question of numbers or geography, or of her large interests overseas, but of her history and culture, which make her entitled to that position.

I shall not say anything about Poland, because I endorse the wise attitude of the Prime Minister. We have a special obligation for the Polish people. They were the first to be overrun and to suffer, but we are not going to be Poland's true friends, if we do not insist that she must come to an understanding with her great and powerful neighbour. If the Foreign Secretary can tear himself away from the Leadership of the House and visit Moscow and help to smooth out the difficulty I hope he will do so, with his charming personality and recognised tact. The Prime Minister asked us for caution in discussing the new world peace organisation and the proceedings at Dumbarton Oaks. I am all for caution and care in what we say, because we are not the only parties involved in creating this new machinery. The good will of the United States is involved, and secondly, the support which the organisation will get from Russia. We do not want the matter to be a one-sided affair backed merely by Great Britain and the Western European States. If it is to be the power we want it to be, it must be created with general consent. But I do not accept the suggestion that we must not discuss in this House the kind of machinery. On the contrary.

After the last war, these matters were left largely to the experts, and what a mess they made of it. Discussion is all to the good. If we are to set up machinery to secure the peace that we have worked for and desired so long, we must not be merely working on the official plane and the matter must not be left merely to Ministers. The nations concerned, whether America, Great Britain or Russia, should be thinking now of the kind of organisation that is required. It must be one that is likely to work and be acceptable to all concerned. Two conditions—and this is all I am going to say about the organisation—are essential to success. The first is that the nations must be prepared to sacrifice some of their sovereignty. That is a fundamental principle. The second is that there must be power to enforce decisions. I do hope that on an appropriate occasion, we shall have a full and frank discussion in this House of post-war international relations, and particularly of the machinery to bring about world peace.