Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [27th February]:
That this House approves the declaration of joint policy agreed to by the three great Powers at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, welcomes their determination to maintain unity of action not only in achieving the final defeat of the common enemy but, thereafter, in peace as in war.
It may be for the convenience of the House if I state that I propose to call on the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Hull (Sir A. Lambert Ward) to conclude his speech, and then to call the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick). I hope that it will be possible to conclude the Debate on the Amendment by four o'clock.
I really think that, taking into account the fact that we are still conducting the war, and all the other burdens that there are, the allowance of three days is fully sufficient.
As I was saying, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, when the Debate was interrupted, it would be an impertinence on my part to venture to attempt to congratulate the Prime Minister on the magnificent speech to which we listened with such interest during the early hours of yesterday afternoon. It is a speech that will be welcomed not only in this House and in the country but throughout Europe and the world, because it gives for the first time some indication of what the post-war policy of the Allies will be. We now know, for example, that the League of Nations is to be reconstituted, but it is to be a different League of Nations, clothed with power to enforce its decisions; and, further, the enforcement of those decisions will not be dependent upon unanimity among some 64 nations, some of them quite insignificant in character. It will be the duty of what one may call the Big Three to see that the decisions are duly implemented. I cannot help feeling that some definite announcement of a post-war policy for the Allies has been too long delayed, and that has already had serious consequences in many ways. For example, I feel that the trouble we experienced in Greece would not have occurred had the Allies made known their policy before the liberation actually took place. Had they said plainly: "It is the intention of the Allies to maintain order in the country until a popularly elected government can be brought in after a democratic election," I think the trouble with E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. would never have taken place.
But the trouble in Greece is just nothing to the trouble that is looming up in Syria and the Lebanon unless we make known exactly what are our intentions there. It is within the recollection of everybody in the House that after the defeat of the Vichy forces in Syria we pledged ourselves to the future independence of Syria and the Lebanon, but since then a leader of one of the many French political parties—and I believe he is a man of some account—has made a statement that nothing would satisfy France but a return to the status quo both in Syria and the Lebanon, and, what is more, that they had both the men and the money to enforce it. In these circumstances I cannot help feeling that the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday was rather pusillanimous. It was to the effect that we did not intend to defend the independence of Syria and the Lebanon by force. After all, it is rather inconsistent to grant independence to a country and at the same time to decline to take any steps to see that that independence is respected by other nations.
Also, it seems to me that the time is more than ripe for a declaration of policy in regard to Italy. What terms of peace are we going to impose on that country? All the Prime Minister said was that it was hoped to be able to mitigate the severity of the occupation of Italy. Surely, the best way to mitigate the severity of the occupation is to cease from occupying, but that we cannot do unless we know for sure that the Fascist dream of a Mediterranean empire will never be revived, unless we know that the Mare Nostrum nonsense which was talked so freely immediately after the Italians had stabbed France in the back has been settled once and for all. Furthermore, no declaration has yet been made with regard to the future of the two islands in the Sicilian Channel, Lampedusa and Pantelleria. Are we going to maintain them under the British flag, are they to be handed over under a joint agreement amongst the Allies, or are they to be handed back to the Italian State to form in the future a possible bomb alley threatening the passage of our ships from this country to Egypt and the East?
Again, what is the policy of the Government with regard to Libya and North-East Africa? I have long maintained that the ideal thing would be to make a second Palestine in that strip of country. Palestine is only a very small place, very little larger than the Principality of Wales, and it cannot possibly accommodate a population of much more than 1,000,000, and yet at the present time there are hundreds of thousands of refugee Jews awaiting some home to which they can go. It may be said that the countries from which they came will soon be open to them for their return, but many of them will not wish to return to countries in which they will have poignant memories of their ill-treatment in the past. Palestine is not large enough to accommodate them and to extend Palestine, as has been suggested, over Transjordania would mean an infinity of trouble with the Arab and Mohammedan populations. In such circumstances what would be better than to supply them with territory on the North coast of Africa? It is true that much of the 1,200 miles of coastline of North Africa is desert, but, on the other hand, there are several extremely fertile places, such as Cyrenaica and the hinterland of Tripoli. Both have a climate and a soil similar in most respects to that of Palestine, and to place the Jews there and let it be recognised as a second home for world Jewry would, I think, be a satisfactory solution of a problem which is agitating many kindly thinking people in this country.
Again, the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday gave us no indication of the position in the Adriatic at the present moment. As everybody is aware, the West coast of the Adriatic is entirely Italian and the East coast is normally Yugoslavian, but we have had no information of the present position there. As far as I can make out, the only island along the Dalmatian coast which is not in the hands of the enemy is Lissa. All the rest are occupied by the Axis forces. Of course the time will come, and soon, we hope, when that position will be altered, and those islands will naturally revert to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but how about the port and harbour of Zara, which is Italian?. Is that to remain Italian or is it to be handed over to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia? It has always seemed to me that the position of Zara was a complete anachronism, to say the least. It was only placed under Italian rule by the Peace Treaty of 1919 because there were in Zara a considerable number of Italian merchants; but the trade of Zara has practically ceased to exist, and the only ships which visit Zara to-day are tourist ships running between Venice and Zara, and there is no reason now why that small port, with its excellent deep water harbour, completely sheltered from all winds, should not be restored to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The same remarks will apply to other islands on the Dalmatian coast.
I should like to say a few words on the position of the town and harbour of Fiume. As a great many people will remember, during the discussions that preceded the signing of the Treaty of St. Germain a certain number of extreme Fascists, under the leadership of d'Annunzio, captured the town and refused to yield it up, creating a situation of very consider- able difficulty which was only settled by agreeing that although Fiume was to be a free port the administration of it was to be in Italian hands. That arrangement has been a complete failure, and ever since Fiume has been a dying place. It has a good harbour, with shipbuilding yards and repair works, and it is somewhat of a tragedy that it should be allowed to remain in the moribund condition it is at present. It is obvious that it, too, should be returned to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It is true that they have constructed an ersatz harbour at Sushar, but it has not anything like the facilities which Fiume has, and if we want peace and good feeling in that part of the Adriatic and of the Central Mediterranean it is obvious that something on those lines must be done. I suggest that Fiume and the hinterland, which is approximately 15 miles in length and three miles in depth, should be handed over to Yugoslavia as a line running through the Gulf to the North to the small town of Lovrana.
With regard to the Istrian Peninsula and the port and harbour of Trieste, there is a problem which can only be solved in conjunction with the future of the State of Austria. I have always maintained that the Nazi influence in Austria is not in any way on the same plane as the Nazi influence in Germany. Some 12 or 14 years ago the political parties in Austria were divided approximately into three equal parts—the Socialists, the Nazis and the Heimwehr. The Heimwehr were the dominant party, largely because they were armed and because they supported poor little Dolfuss the Chancellor, who was so burtally murdered by the Nazis about ten years ago. Unfortunately the Heimwehr saw fit to disarm themselves and dissolve their organisation, with the result that the Nazi influence increased enormously. The young people of Austria looked upon the old Heimwehr as decadent and senile, and joined up with the Nazis and with the Nazi party, with the result that when Austria was invaded the German invaders met a good deal of support and very little opposition. It is most important for the peace and prosperity of Central Europe that Austria should be a going concern. Since the last war Austria has never been an economic unit. It is impossible that it should be, with the great city of Vienna holding something like one-third of the entire population of the country and with only a hopelessly small proportion of agricultural land. To make Austria into an economic unit additional agricultural areas must be provided.
When the former Peace Treaty was being discussed, the question of a possible Anschluss, or union between Bavaria and Austria was discussed but nothing was done, I think largely owing to the opposition of Yugoslavia and the French. I am going to suggest that to make Austria into an economic unit an Anschluss or union should be made with Bavaria and, if possible, the two former Grand Duchies of Wurtemburg and Baden should also be included. That would form an economic union of approximately 20,000,000 people, almost ideally divided between agriculture and industry. By giving that newly formed country access to the sea at Trieste, we should provide them with a means of conducting legitimate business throughout the Mediterranean. It would not mean any great alteration of existing frontiers. A sort of corridor would have to be formed with the Eastern boundary somewhere in the neighbourhood of the present Italian town of Udino.
That would give a railway communication between Austria and Trieste. It would also provide an excellent road right up from Trieste to the Austrian frontier to Tarvis. In those circumstances we should have a union in Austria which would act as a counterpart to the Nazi influence. There is no reason why Austria, Bavaria and the other two Grand Duchies should not get on admirably together. They are both predominantly Roman Catholic and their views and general outlook on life are very similar. It would do something to settle the difficulties with which one is definitely confronted in Southern Europe. Whatever we do, and whatever policy is adopted, I cannot help thinking it advisable that that policy should be adumbrated without delay. Of course, it will be criticised and people will find fault with it, but it is surely better to have that criticism now than to have that criticism descend like a thunderstorm upon the peace conference when it is sitting.
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:
but, remembering that Great Britain took up arms in a war of which the immediate cause was the defence of Poland against Ger-
man aggression and in which the overriding motive was the prevention of the domination by a strong nation of its weaker neighbours, regrets the decision to transfer to another power the territory of an ally contrary to treaty and to Article 2 of the Atlantic Charter and furthermore regrets the failure to ensure to those nations which have been liberated from German oppression the full right to choose their own government free from the influence of any other power.
In moving the Amendment which stands in my name and to which the names of a number of my hon. Friends are also attached—and to which other hon. Members have added their names since it was put on the Paper—I hope that the House will sympathise with me in the very difficult task that I have set myself to-day. The Amendment is the result of no idle putsch. Nor has it been hastily conceived. Those hon. Friends of mine who feel very deeply on this matter have had long and various consultations. We have considered every possible course of action, but we have come to the very reluctant conclusion that we must put upon the Order Paper of the House of Commons an Amendment which would express our views. I hope that the moderation of the words that I propose to use to-day, will be taken for what in fact, it is, an understatement, and that hon. Members will not think that, because of that moderation, my hon. Friends and I do not feel most deeply and sincerely in this matter. That may sound pompous for a back-bencher, but, after all, even the humblest back-bencher in these days never knows how far his words may carry, probably well outside this country, or whether some unfortunate remark may not be taken down abroad and used against his own country.
Not only during but before the war, whenever international conferences were proposed, my heart always started to jump a beat, because I had an uncomfortable feeling that at every conference there was to be an agreement, and that the agreement had to be reached generally through compromise, very often an unfortunate compromise. It seems to me that this aspect of foreign politics should contain one very great attribute, and that is the art of knowing when to say "No." I remember two occasions when British statesmen went abroad and came back without an agreement. One was the case of the late Lord Snowden and another was recent, the case of Lord Swinton, who allowed a conference, partially at any rate, to break down, rather than make a concession which he believed would damage this country.
I venture upon another point before coming to the main part of my Amendment and I hope it will not be out of Order. I believe the country is rather anxious. It sees the Prime Minister constantly going from conference to conference and risking his life, which is of inestimable value to this country. As the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) asked yesterday, I also would ask whether it is not time that we had a conference here. It may be a slight exaggeration, but I think there is a feeling in the country that there is too much going-about, with the savour of the cap in hand, to other countries. We know perfectly well the old saying that if the mountain will not go to Mahomet, Mahomet must go to the mountain, but there is no reason why Mahomet should go to a whole range of mountains.
The Amendment contains a direct criticism of the policy of the Government, and the decisions which were arrived at, as a result of the Yalta Conference. It contains, therefore, a criticism of the Prime Minister as head of His Majesty's Government. It seems to me that one of the great forces of this country lies in our Parliamentary system, which has sustained us through this war for the great reason that, even in war time, a strong, virile democracy, not fearing to criticise even the highest in the land, may, even in the darkest days, get things done and errors rectified. That can never happen under a dictatorship régime, because everybody is in a conspiracy of silence to shield those in high positions. The Prime Minister—and never let it be thought that I am attempting to curry favour in this matter—is a great man of war. He is a well-found, stout battle-cruiser. [An HON. MEMBER: "A Dreadnought".] Let it not be thought that those who have put their names to this Amendment are not conscious of the immense service that the Prime Minister has done for this country, but nobody is a superman. Everybody makes mistakes. If any back-bench Member of Parliament feels that he is justified in criticising even the Prime Minister, then he should not in any way hesitate to do so. The late Lord Grey said that a politician must always be examining his motives. Our motives in moving the Amendment are absolutely sincere, and we do not expect any political reward as a result.
It would be wholly out of Order to discuss the whole of the Yalta Agreement in the course of considering this Amendment, but we are not criticising all the decisions reached. I, personally, believe, although some of my hon. Friends may not share the view, that the decisions reached with regard to Germany are completely sound and represent a policy which we should like to see followed towards Germany after the war. On certain other parts of the Yalta Agreement I would reserve judgment. The great matter on which we disagree, and which has caused us to put down the Amendment is the case of Poland. Let it not be thought that those of us who take this view very strongly are more Polish than the Poles. We have immense sympathy for that very valorous, brave Ally, who have fought the Boche for five years inside and outside their own country, a country which has always maintained its national consciousness through four partitions.
We are looking at this matter through British eyes. We know that the Poles feel their national entity strongly and that is partly why we sympathise with them so much in this case. We have also strong views in the matter from a British point of view. We feel that we are British, through and through and out the other side, and it is particularly for that reason that we regret anything which might be done, or is done, which will have the effect of casting British honour into doubt. The only difference between the cases of Esthonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in this matter is that Poland was the country for which Great Britain took up arms in 1939. It was a casus belli, as we know. There was the greater over-riding motives of preventing the domination of Europe by sheer force of arms. I certainly should not wish to repeat everything that I and others said in presenting the case on 15th December, but I would say that as a result of this Yalta Agreement, if it goes through, Poland is to lose nearly half her territory, a third of her population, 85 per cent. of her oil and natural gas, half her timber and peat, half her chemical industry, nearly half her grain, hemp and flax, and nearly 40 per cent. of her water power, potassium mines and phosphates and the ancient Lion City of Lvov which stood up for centuries against attacks from North and South and from the East.
Poland is not all Pripet marshes. It has stood for countless generations against invader after invader, coming from different parts of Europe and the East. I have told the House what is happening; can all that be made good by a postdated cheque, by the cession of territory now belonging to Germany and containing we know not what? That is all in complete defiance of four treaties, particularly those entered into between Poland and Russia. It is contrary to the Atlantic Charter, about which I should like to have something to say before I sit down. It is also contrary to the Anglo-Polish Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1919. I referred to the Treaty and the secret Protocol attached to it on 15th December. This is what was said in Sub-section (3), Article 6 of the Treaty:
Any new undertaking which the Contracting Parties may enter into in future shall neither limit their obligations under the present Agreement nor indirectly create new obligations between the Contracting Party not participating in these undertakings and the third State concerned.
As I understand it, that means that if Great Britain and Poland both made a new agreement with another country, that new agreement should not prejudice either partner to the Treaty.
This is what the secret Protocol says. In Clause 3, the relevant part reads:
The undertakings mentioned in Article 6 of the Agreement, should they be entered into by one of the Contracting Parties with a third State, would of necessity be so framed that their execution should at no time prejudice either the sovereignty or territorial inviolability of the other Contracting Party.
I do not over-estimate the importance of that secret Protocol because it seems to me that the passages in that Treaty have a direct connection with my next question—how about the Atlantic Charter. In the Yalta Agreement, the Atlantic Charter is, I think, rather ingenuously and certainly unctuously mentioned on more than one occasion. I have always felt and I am sure it is right that when our country is engaged in war, it is in the highest degree unwise at any time to mention war aims or peace aims of any kind whatever, no matter how innocuous they may appear to be. It is all the more dangerous, if anything specific is laid down, because it is bound to come back
like a haunting ghost out of the past, rattling its chains at us.
This Atlantic Charter was brought out with all the pontifical "bally-hoo" of the Thirty-nine Articles, the Ten Commandments, President Wilson's Fourteen Points and the Beveridge Report, rolled into one. I should say perhaps the Berwick Report. Article 2 of the Atlantic Charter was the one which worried me most at the time because I feared that it applied to Germany, and I did not wish to apply Article 2 to Germany. What has happened since? About two years later, the Prime Minister was obliged to say—and I was most grateful to him—that Article 2 did not in fact apply to that country. But I did at least think that it applied to our Allies. What does it apply to now? It is only a guide and no longer a rule. I suppose the Atlantic Charter, with that Clause in it, applies only to those countries who are so strong as to be able to protect themselves or so remote as to be out of danger.
I have heard it said that the Poles are a difficult people. Perhaps they are. So should we be, if half our country were to be given away to somebody else. The Poles have no monopoly of being difficult in the world to-day. But the Poles have not been conquered. They are still fighting. They are fighting with us and they are fighting in the underground movement. This is not a case of vae victis. We know perfectly well that when a country has been defeated, she must bear the consequences. She may have to bear the most dreadful horrible consequences but that is because she lost the war. In this case Poland has not lost the war, she is our Ally, she is our continuing Ally and she is still fighting by our side.
May I now come to the terrible situation with which we are now faced as a result of Yalta? This is the fifth partition of Poland, although it is only the first in which this country has taken part. In the last 200 years this is the fifth time in which Poland has been cut up by adjoining Powers. Hon. Members have said in the course of this Departe that they look upon the second part of our Amendment, which refers to the question of a free and independent Poland, as being paramount, and that the question of territory does not matter so much. I do believe very strongly in a free and independent Poland, and I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman who is to second the Motion will deal more particularly with this. But do not let us think that this question of territory does not matter at all. You can argue perfectly well about the ethnological lay-out on the east of the Curzon line. We have been given some figures which show that there are two-fifths Poles, two-fifths Ukrainians and one-fifth Ruthenians and Jews. That is not the point. The point at issue, it seems to me, is not a question of the rearrangement of boundaries. I think it was Pitt who said "Roll up the map of Europe." The map of Europe has been rolled and unrolled a good many times since then—but in this case this territory of Poland was guaranteed by treaty, freely entered into between Russia and Poland and three times re-affirmed by implication and by the whole tenor of succeeding treaties. So much for the question of boundaries. I believe you will get no peace in Europe, unless the sanctity of treaties which confirm boundaries as a result of discussions freely entered into, is recognised and honoured. There will be no peace in Europe for 100 years unless we return once more to that principle.
I would like to say a little now about the question of Lublin Government, and the Provisional Government which is proposed at a result of Yalta. It is to be chosen, we understand, by three eminent men—a brace of Ambassadors and a Foreign Secretary. I wonder if we should like that very much and if we would show much confidence in a Government so chosen for us. Would any country in the whole wide world accept such a Government? Surely one of the principles of the Atlantic Charter is the right of every people to choose its own form of Government. But this Government is being chosen for the Poles. There is one more point I should like to make on this. There are in part of the Yalta communiquè dealing with Poland, some sinister references to the suggestion or the fact that only anti-Nazis will be allowed to vote and take part in these elections. What does that mean? Does it mean that anybody who is declared by the Provisional Government—or it may be by the Lublin Government for all I know—to be a Nazi is not to be allowed to vote? If this is the case, there can be no possible free elections in Poland, because it has only to be declared that a man is a Nazi—and he nay be the leader of the Socialist Party for all we know—and he will not be entitled to vote. I would ask the Foreign Secretary when he replies to deal with that point, and to tell us why that peculiar expression "anti-Nazi" was put in that document. I suggest it is clearly dragged in for this reason. There are no Nazis in Poland and there never have been—they have no Lavals, no Darlans, no Quislings, no collaborationists. Why then was this expression' introduced into that part of the document? I am sure the House would be glad to know.
I am now coming rapidly to my conclusion. I do believe most fervently not only that we should continue to work with Russia but that we can continue to work with Russia. But co-operation is not a one-way street. There must be give-and-take in all these matters. We have not heard Russia's case at all. The Prime Minister yesterday did not deal with Russia. We have been waiting for the Russian case to be stated in this Debate, but we have not yet heard it. There must be a case, because it must be strong enough to over-ride four treaties and the Atlantic Charter, all of which the Russian Government have signed. Let us then hear from the Foreign Secretary what Russia's real case is.
The Prime Minister referred yesterday to Sir Eyre Crowe and Lord Curzon who, in considering the Curzon Line, said that it was a fair agreement at the time. Neither of them however is here to give evidence, nor so far as I know does that evidence appear in any of the documents or the telegrams of the time. What did appear was the fact, the perfectly plain and established fact, that the Curzon Line was an armistice line, on which both armies, then contending, were invited to stand and there was a specific reference back to the decision of the Allied Supreme Council, made in Paris, I think in 1919, which laid down the territory in which the Polish Government would be formed, but specifically reserved the question of the frontiers of Poland which were then classed as purely provisional.
If I may put a perfectly friendly point to the hon. Member, I would point out that this was accepted by this House. I think this has some bearing on the subject which is being discussed at the moment, and I would emphasise that the Curzon Line was accepted by this House.
It was accepted as an armistice line. I had hoped to have the approval of the Noble Lord in this matter in full and flowing tide, but all I can descry is a backward eddy.
I am afraid the Russian case is a sad one in this matter. If the Prime Minister had come back to the House and said, "Well, I have done my best to argue with them. I cannot admit that they are right, and all I can admit is that they are in occupation in the country. They are our strong Allies on whom we are going to depend for the future. Therefore I have done my best." If he had said that I should not now feel so critical. But what the Prime Minister did say was something different. He regarded it as a fair and just settlement. In spite of this, as I think, shocking decision, I do not believe that all that has happened in this war has been lost, and that the lives which have been given up in many different territories and climes have been surrendered in vain. One great thing at least will come out of this war, and that is the complete and utter crushing of Germany as a military Power. Then we are asking what comes after that? Is there to be another Power acting in similar fashion growing up in the world? I refuse to believe it. I believe that if Russia can be persuaded that her interest lies in dealing with her neighbours on fair, just and honourable terms, there is real hope of peace, and lasting peace in Europe, and all the efforts of His Majesty's Government should be devoted—if I may respectfully point that out, as they seem sometimes not to be—firmly, honestly and determinedly, to show to the Russians where their own self-interest lies. [An HON. MEMBER: "They know."] I am sorry to hear that interruption from my hon. Friend. I had hoped that the Russians might think once again in this matter, because, after all, countries do things in the heat and excitement of war, and in the flush of victory, which they regret afterwards.
I believe that when some of us tried to state the case on 15th December in this House, we stated what was true. Speaker after speaker said that they believed—and we had an idea this was going to happen—that the proposed treatment of Poland was wrong. Speaker after speaker got up and, shrugging their shoulders, accepted it, as it were, as a fait accompli. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and the Prime Minister, who are such very good judges of the temper of this House, must have known, in the course of that Debate, that the House was profoundly uneasy and anxious. For all the good it did, so far as the Yalta Conference which succeeded it was concerned, we might as well have done absolutely nothing and spent the day in bed, because the views of the Commons House of Parliament were completely and utterly ignored.
We did not want this Vote of Confidence. We did everything we could to avoid it being made a Vote of Confidence. We tried as hard as we could, by conversations and every other means we could reasonably think of, to have it put down and discussed on an ordinary Motion which would not entail a Motion of Confidence. We felt ourselves obliged to put down this Amendment, which, broadly speaking, expresses our views. We did so with sorrow but with no misgiving at all, because this is no small moment in history. The Yalta Conference, it seems to me, is a curtain-raiser to the Peace Treaties that are to come, and on those Peace Treaties will depend the whole future of Europe and the world. Is this curtain-raiser to be a grim, grisly Grand Guignol piece. followed perhaps by a happier and a more joyous cavalcade, or is it to be the forerunner of another grim and hideous tragedy? We have put down this Amendment, confident in the righteousness of the motives which caused us to do so, and in the knowledge that divisions do not destroy decency, nor do Votes of Confidence over-ride justice.
I beg to second the Amendment.
My hon. Friend moved it with a charm and with a skill which I cannot hope to emulate, and I rise with very much the same feelings as those which I experienced on the day when I first had the honour to address this House. I do not mind confessing that this is, for me, the most difficult speech I have ever made, or probably shall ever make. It seems to me that so momentous are the issues involved by the Yalta Agreement, that where an hon. Member is dissatisfied or apprehensive he must, before casting a vote or abstaining from voting tomorrow, either speak in the Debate, if that is possible, in order to justify his actions, or alternatively, put his name to some Amendment on the Order Paper, which would indicate the point of view he holds. That is why my name is on this Amendment. I do not have to remind the House that this Debate is, perhaps, the most important which has occurred in our time. We must, of course, answer to our contemporaries for what we say and what we do during these three days, but it is at the bar of history that we shall really come up for judgment, and not at any election held amidst the confusion inseparable from war conditions and the propaganda which is part of them. Surely, in a matter so far-reaching as this, Parliament should have been permitted to express its views free from the suggestion of coercion which is inherent in a three-line Whip and a Vote of Confidence. As it is, to-day we are, in fact, expressing our views under threat.
Outside this House people are confused by the flood of propaganda with which they are continuously assailed. They are asking, "Where is all this leading to? To what are we being committed? How will it affect our children?" But is it any wonder they are perplexed? They saw this war begin as a fight between dictatorship and democracy or, I should say, the democratic ideals of free men. They have seen it develop, in one aspect at least, into a clash between two rival forms of dictatorship, Communism and Nazism, in neither of which way of thought is there any room for democratic freedom as we know it. They find democracy in alliance with Communism in order to accomplish the overthrow of Nazism, and they fear and suspect—not without cause—the sacrifice of those democratic principles upon which alone man's freedom can be rooted and secured. I have studied the Report of the Crimea Conference with care, and it is not so much what is in the White Paper which justifies apprehension, as what remains undisclosed, even after the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
If I am critical, I must not be taken as criticising this great man or that great man, and certainly not that very great man, Marshal Stalin, whose courage, vision and genius have led the Russian people through their darkest hours to victory. I respect him all the more because he never deviates for one moment from his course. His first consideration is always the advantage of his own people. Indeed, I sometimes wish the same could be said of our own Government. Criticism of the Yalta Agreement then is not an attack upon Russia; it is an expression of a British point of view. I fully recognise that Russian aims, methods and outlook may quite rightly differ from ours, but although they may be right and suitable for that great country, they are not necessarily right or desirable for us. I hold that it is absurd to suggest that there are only two courses open to us, one to accede to everything that Russia desires, and the other to oppose Russia so violently that war becomes inevitable. Surely, we can put our point of view to our Ally, Russia, as plainly and as forcibly, and I hope as courteously, as to any other nation with whom we are dealing. But if it is argued that so great is the strength of Russia in Europe that she must inevitably in the end obtain what she wants by force, then although we might not be able to influence that fact, there can be no reason why we should now deliberately underwrite any action which we believe to be morally wrong. To be pro-British is not to be anti-Russian, but even if it were, we, as the representatives of the British people, can neither evade nor ignore our plain duty or our responsibilities.
The Yalta Agreement is the basis upon which the whole post-war set-up is to be erected. If we acquiesce in all that is now proposed, it will be too late afterwards for us to make any effective protest. Most people, I think, would find themselves in accord with what the Yalta Agreement has to say in respect of Germany. If there is one universal determination above all others, it is that never again shall it be possible for German lust for world domination to engulf mankind in war. But while we are anxious to exact from the Germans reparation and compensation for the destruction they have wrought, it behoves us to proceed with caution. Is it intended, for example, that Germans shall be taken to other countries and employed on forced labour? If so, nothing is more likely to sow the seeds of further wars than the transference of unwilling populations. Further, what happened after the last war should be a warning to us to tread warily in the matter of the receipt of goods in reparations. In the words of the Agreement, we all want to meet
the political and economic problems of liberated Europe in accordance with democratic principles.
and those great men who signed the Report declare their intention of enabling the liberated peoples of Europe
to create democratic institutions of their own choice,
to build in co-operation with other peace-loving nations a world order under law, dedicated to peace, security, freedom and the general well being of all mankind.
But one is bound to ask, Is that the case regarding Poland? For make no mistake about it, our treatment of Poland is the touchstone by which our post-war relationships will be measured. It is a tragic fact that the only place where the voice of free Poland and the Baltic Republics can be heard to-day is in this House of Commons. Why is it that in the Yalta Report there is not one single word regarding the Baltic Republics? Are they not to be given the unfettered right to choose their own Government? Further, what is to be the state of Syria and the Lebanon? Will they enjoy the independence they have been promised or is the Yalta Agreement the writing on the wall for them—a writing which will be read to our disadvantage throughout the Arab world? I am bound to say that although I listened carefully to what the Prime Minister said yesterday, my anxiety regarding the future of these two countries remains. It is significant that a few days ago a Swiss newspaper said this:
When we tremble for the future of the small States, we tremble for the world as a whole,
and it went on to say:
We cannot but take note of the marked tendency of the 'Big Three' to ignore the smaller States.
I have, on past occasions, tried to plead the just cause of Poland and the Baltic States. I have no desire to go over old ground, but I cannot see, either in the contents of the White Paper or in what the Prime Minister has said, anything which shakes my belief that no solution of the Polish problem has yet been reached to which my assent could honourably be given. Incidentally, it is significant that nowhere in those portions of the White Paper dealing with liberated Europe and Poland do the words "justice" or "honour" occur.
I want to ask the Foreign Secretary—I am sorry he is not on the Front Bench at the moment—if, when he replies, he will be good enough to answer specifically two questions which I now wish to put. Mr. Neville Chamberlain, the late Prime Minister, has been bitterly criticised because he failed to come to an agreement with Russia in 1939—the suggestion being that had he done so this war would not have taken place. Is it or is it not a fact that we could have had a treaty with Russia in 1939 had we been prepared to agree to a demand by Russia that she should have Eastern Poland up to the so-called Curzon Line, the three Baltic Republics, and certain bases in Finnish territory, and that because we, to the lasting honour of the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain, refused an agreement based on such an arrangement, Russia then entered into the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement with Germany, by which she did in fact secure just those things?
From that arises my second question. When in 1941 we concluded our Treaty with Russia did we or did we not make it clear that we could not agree to what I suggest we had refused to agree to in 1939? Did we stipulate that the integrity of our Ally Poland and of the neutral Baltic Republics should be preserved? If we did, is there any secret annexe to that Treaty, observing what has now taken place and the fact that part of the 5th Article of that Treaty reads as follows:
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.
Perhaps it is as well to recall again Article 3 of our Agreement with Poland, of 1939, as follows:
Should a European power attempt to undermine the independence of one of the contracting parties by process of economic penetration or any other way, the contracting parties will support each other in resistance to such attempts.
It is quite obvious that in order to safeguard her lines of communication while occupying Germany, Russia must continue to occupy part of Poland. No one will deny that. But the information from Poland to-day makes it clear that under the Lublin Government the internal economy of Poland is now being irrevocably organised on Communist lines. In
addition, officers and men of the Polish Army and underground forces are being confined in concentrations camps.
A good many other hon. Members want to speak, and I do not want to take up too much time. [Interruption.] I mean, on the lines which would be accepted by the Communist Government of Russia: the expropriation of the owners of businesses and small farms and so on, and the destruction of the sort of economic system which we enjoy. The Foreign Secretary will not, I think, deny that in September, 1944, he was officially acquainted with the fact that since the occupation of part of Poland by Russia, from one district alone near Lublin 21,000 officers and men of the home Army had been placed under arrest. It is clear that there must be safeguards much more definite than anything which appears in the White Paper, if Poland is to be able to hold really free and unfettered elections in order to choose her own Government. Apart from the fact that the legal Government of Poland is here in London, how can a Polish Provisional Government, as envisaged in the White Paper, be in fact established when the entire Press in Poland is under the control of the Moscow-sponsored Lublin Government, when people have no means of listening to free and independent broadcasts, and when no Pole in Poland is free to express a view except in one direction?
The White Paper says that only democratic and anti-Nazi parties may take part in the election, and put forward candidates. What is the exact meaning of a qualification like that when, for example, General Bor and members of the Polish underground forces, whose heroic struggle against the Germans in Warsaw will live for all time, are now accused of being pro-Nazi for no other reason than that they do not share the political views of those Poles and others who constitute the Lublin Government? I appreciate the grave complexity of the Polish problem, but I suggest that, instead of setting up a Provisional Government of National Unity as envisaged in the White Paper, it would be far better that both the legitimate Government here in London and the Lublin Government in Poland should surrender all their functions and authority to an international Commission which should govern Poland until and during the elections, by which the Polish people would choose a Government for themselves. This would constitute a definite guarantee that the elections would be free and unfettered.
But whether that course is followed or whether our Government insist upon the exceedingly doubtful procedure outlined in the White Paper, other Members of this House besides myself believe that the following seven requirements are essential if Poland is to receive from the Allies the just treatment which is her right. Firstly, that all deportations from the whole territory of Poland should now cease, that all Polish subjects who have either been deported from or who have left any part of Poland should be entitled to return as soon as possible, and that those who are in concentration camps should be released. Secondly, that any decree or such like which could prevent the free exercise of political rights should be rescinded, and that as a token of good faith there should be no exercise of influence by either Russian troops or civilians, and that the N.K.V.D. should be withdrawn. Thirdly, that if the elections are to mean anything, then, subject, of course, to the military censorship necessary to preserve security until Germany is defeated, freedom of speech and of the Press and the right to hold meetings and to broadcast on the wireless should be restored at once. Fourthly, that only persons of Polish nationality—that is to say, people who were Polish subjects before September, 1939, or those who would have been entitled to political rights had the war not taken place—should he entitled to be candidates or to vote. Fifthly, that it is essential that the elections should be conducted under the supervision of a neutral, or alternatively, an inter-Allied, Commission, which should be established at once, and that from the time of such establishment order should be maintained by mixed garrisons of inter-Allied troops. Sixthly, that all the members of the Armed Forces of the Polish Republic serving outside Poland should be entitled to vote in the same way as our own British Forces will be entitled to vote in our own elections, either directly if that is possible or alternatively by postal ballot. Lastly, that foreign Press correspondents should be admitted into Poland without delay, and without the imposition of any political restrictions. Those, I believe, are the minimum requirements if the Polish elections as envisaged in the Crimea Report are not to be a mockery.
In conclusion, I want to tell the House of an incident which is not without significance. Last week, a discussion took place in a certain British officers' mess. At the end of it a young and exceedingly brilliant officer said this: "Of course, it is perfectly obvious that we have fought the war in vain; every principle for which we started the war has been sacrificed." I believe that what he said expresses the opinion of a growing number of the British people. It is an opinion which the Government would do well to heed. If the mistakes of the past are to be forgiven and undone, and if a happy and peaceful world is to arise—not just a short period of peace, followed by another yet more terrible war—we dare not depart from the principles, whatever the temptation may be and no matter whence it comes. With much of the Yalta Agreement I am in accord, but if our foreign policy is to be based upon expediency and not upon principles then it is bound to fail, and I cannot in honour express my confidence in it, no matter what the consequences of my decision may be to me personally. I hold that there is a greater loyalty than that which we owe to any one man, Government or party—the loyalty to those fundamental ideals of justice, liberty and honour to uphold which we have twice in our lifetime seen the British sword drawn.
This Amendment seems to me to be a singularly unfortunate one, and, while I understand that the Mover and the Seconder were labouring under strong emotion, I have to regret some of the observations that fell from their lips, as being not calculated to do this country any good in the eyes of the world. The Mover of the Amendment said that statesmen going into a conference should know when to say "No." Does he mean to imply by that that the Prime Minister at the Yalta Conference should have been ready to wreck the whole proceedings, as he would have done, by saying that we could not agree to the proposals with regard to Poland? If the hon. Member does not mean that, I suggest that he does not mean anything at all. It seems to me most unfortunate to suggest, as was suggested, that the Prime Minister acted under some kind of duress. The Mover of the Amendment also talked about a sinister statement in the Report of the Crimea Conference, that pro-Nazi parties were not to be allowed to vote. It was said by the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment that there were no Nazi parties or parties affiliated to the Nazi party in Poland. That was a bold statement. When I passed through Poland in 1936 it was certainly not my opinion; and it was not the opinion of many people in the country at the time. They thought that Poland then had a very strong Nazi tendency. It is very unfortunate that statements of that kind should be made and I do not think that they strengthen the case that might have been made.
Both the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment made many apologies. The Mover said that he had not criticised the Prime Minister in the past, and so on. It is on record that I have, on occasions, made severe criticisms of the Prime Minister. On this occasion, I find myself wholeheartedly and entirely behind the right hon. Gentleman. He has helped to produce a statesmanlike solution of an extremely difficult and intricate problem, and I believe it is one which will redound to the credit of this country and be of the greatest assistance to the world. It is quite clear that both the speakers to whom I have referred are, if not full of prejudice against the Soviet Union, at least very much afraid of it. I am very sorry that it should be so, because they really have no reason to be afraid. The last speaker asked whether we could have had a treaty in 1939 with the Soviet Union. The answer to that question is not my affair and was addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but I will tell the hon. Gentleman and the House that we could have had a treaty for the purpose of setting up a world organisation on the lines of the Crimea Conference in 1936, if our Government had been willing to approach the Soviet Government. I had that from a very high authority on whose opinion and influence with the Soviet Government I can entirely rely. That could have been done if our Government in those days had not gone so colossally and stupidly wrong in an anti-Soviet direction. I hope that the moving of this Amendment is not an indication that we are to have a revival of anti-Soviet feeling in this country, although I feel that that was the sense of the speeches of the Mover and Seconder.
This Amendment seems to be singularly unfortunate. I think it is worth while, in order that the unfortunate nature of this Amendment may be understood, to underline what is the object of the Motion, which I support. Its object is to support the recommendations of the Report-of the Crimea Conference. The object of those recommendations is to approve the declaration of policy signed by the representatives of the United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R. and the United States, which is not only the outline of a policy to be adopted on the defeat of Germany, but the outline of a policy to be adopted by a United Nations Conference to be called at San Francisco on 25th April of this year. This is to prepare a charter for the world organisation, to establish world security and to establish an international organisation to carry it out on the basis of the conclusions arrived at at Dumbarton Oaks. I regard these proposals of the Crimea Conference as a triumph of statesmanship, not of British statesmanship alone, but of world statesmanship. I regard the proposals which are embodied in the conversations which took place at Dumbarton Oaks, and which is is now proposed should be embodied in a charter of the United Nations, to be ratified by a meeting of the United Nations at San Francisco on 25th April, as a step forward in world statesmanship which generations in the future will look back upon as the beginning of a new and better era in the international relations of mankind.
To the Motion on the Paper we now have put forward an Amendment which delves into the muddle and obscurity of anti-Soviet prejudice and its foolishness and shows almost abysmal ignorance of international affairs. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment did not seem to be aware of the fact that an international organisation was proposed. He very carefully guarded himself, at any rate, against any possibility of accepting that wholesale by saying that there were things in this document on which he would reserve judgment. All he did agree with was the agreement come to at Yalta with regard to the treatment of Germany. I wonder how far the hon. Member's agreement does go? Is he in favour or not of setting up a world organisation? Is he in favour of the attempt to set up a world organisation that will guarantee mankind against the disasters of war from which we are now suffering, or is he not? Are those who support and have put their names to this most unfortunate statement of policy in favour of, and believers in, the possibility of these things to which the greatest minds in the world have set their hands, and to which three of the greatest men in the world have set their names, in the signature of the Report of the Crimea Conference? One would like to know how they stand in relation to this. I will not examine in greater detail their speeches, and some of the very unfortunate things which I think were said in those speeches, reflecting on the Soviet Union. It is quite unnecessary, because I think that even to examine them afresh would add further damage to the cause of Anglo-Soviet unity, on which the peace of the world in future very largely depends.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the passing of this Amendment—if it is conceivable that it could be passed, which I do not believe—would undermine the confidence not only of the people in this country but of wide masses of people on the Continent of Europe and all over the world in the integrity and common sense of Great Britain. For they will think that this proposal has been put down to hamper the establishment of the Dumbarton Oaks plan, because it has necessitated a day being devoted to a Debate on a very small part of the world picture instead of being devoted to those greater and more spacious causes which we ought to have been examining. Do the hon. Members and the hon. Lady who have put their names down to this Amendment know what the purpose of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference was?
This matter is not really within the scope of the Debate, and I do not think that we should go into a discussion, fully or in any detail, if at all, of the Dumbarton Oaks scheme. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but we should try to keep the discussion on this Amendment to the Polish question, even though the Amendment may seem rather wide.
I will endeavour to do that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I think I may at least be justified in referring to proposals which the Motion approves, because the Amendment is a criticism of them, though only in that sense. I bow to your Ruling and will keep myself on the narrow and straight path so far as it is possible. I must ask the supporters of the Amendment whether they really are trying to delay the coming into existence of the proposals set forth in the Report of the Crimea Conference? Do they not consider that a very much better body to consider the matters they have brought forward would be the whole body of the United Nations which is to meet at San Francisco on 25th April? Or do they think that all this, about which I have been speaking and which is set out in the document on Dumbarton Oaks and in the Report of the Crimea Conference, is just a cynical pretence? Do they accuse the Prime Minister of giving way to force? One hon. Gentleman very nearly did that. Do they really think that the Prime Minister, whom I have criticised more severely than the two hon. Gentlemen opposite, is a man to give way to a threat of force? I may criticise the Prime Minister on a number of things, but I would never say that he would give way to force. I am sure he never would.
I think it was suggested in one of the speeches made, and it was a most unfortunate suggestion. Do the hon. Members suggest that Poland has been unfairly treated, and is not given the right to choose its own Government? Hon. Members have said that. Are not the facts given by the Prime Minister yesterday that the utmost efforts were made to get Poland to choose some kind of Government which would really be responsible, and the fact that when M. Mikolajczyk went to Moscow, he came back with the terms of an agreement which would have enabled a compromise Government to be set up in Poland embodying people representing those inside Poland as well as those outside, and that the possibility of that agreement, which would have meant that the Lublin Committee would never have been formed, as the Prime Minister himself said—is it not the fact that the London Polish Government killed that agreement? They did not want to discuss anything with any- body else. They wanted to have it entirely and only their own way, and in this world it is not possible for any nation to have entirely it own way. It must cooperate with others if it is to get on in this world.
It is essential, in the interests of all nations, and not least in the interests of Poland itself, that a settlement should be arrived at, and I believe that the settlement set out in the Report is wise and fair and will establish a strong, free and independent Poland on a firm foundation. I see no reason whatever for this talk about Poland east of the Curzon Line, and how it depends on certain treaties, and I would remind the House of the fact that this territory was taken from the Soviet Union when Poland was attacking the U.S.S.R. and it was established as Polish by military conquest, and, subsequently, owing to the weakness of the Soviet Union, was embodied in a treaty. This conquest is thought to be sacrosanct, and that nothing that comes afterwards can be regarded as having any justification. I do think that that is a rather nonsensical position for the supporters of the Amendment to take up, because what they propose is that we should go back on this agreement arrived at in the Crimea, and should move the reference back to a further meeting of the Big Three. Do they really think that, in the sixth year of the war, we can endure that delay and set up another conference which would then bring forward its conclusions, which, no doubt would be equally unacceptable to the hon. Members and those who put their names to this Amendment? It seems to me that no more dangerous mistake could be made. I do not think it is realised sufficiently that we cannot afford to delay the setting up of this world organisation. I was never more glad of any statement on public policy than I was of the statement made that the Conference of the United Nations is to be called on 25th April at San Francisco. We need that. This Amendment, if carried, would postpone that, disrupt it and put a spoke in the wheel. It would throw sand into the machinery. It would put despair into the hearts of agonised Europe.
I have just come back from a visit to Europe. I visited France, Belgium, a portion of Holland and a little bit of Germany. I saw the agony which people are suffering there and the urgency of the actual economic and social problems waiting to be solved. I saw the intensity of economic struggle and the extreme difficulties of organisation under present circumstances. Now when a new proposal comes forward for straightening out the general outline of world organisation, which involves straightening out the general outline of European organisation, and getting Europe and the world to work again, it is regrettable that there should be this niggling and miserable amendment designed to bring forward anti-Soviet prejudice of the worst possible kind, and brought forward as the contribution of hon. Members of the party opposite. They will come to regret the day they ever put their names to this Amendment, which can only be regarded as a spoke in the wheels of international organisation. It does not seem that it could by any possibility help on the rehabilitation of Europe or help Poland itself.
Poland needs help. Poland needed help after the last war. I was one of those who went into Poland—and I know something of the country—to help to give that relief and I saw the disorganisation then. I daresay that disorganisation is now as bad, but the first need of Poland certainly is to get these major problems settled in such a way that they are settled, finally and once and for all as in the proposals of the Crimea Conference, and then to get on with the work of rebuilding and rehabilitation. Anyone who knows Poland—and I wish to say nothing against Poland—knows that that certainly is her chiefest need. I believe that the Agreement which the Members who have moved and seconded this Amendment are so anxious to discredit and who would be, I daresay, delighted if it could be sent back for revision is a document of first-class political importance. It incorporates the great traditions of 1,000 years of the British Empire, the traditions of Soviet civilisation and the traditions of the United States, that great free republic of America. I believe that on the basis of this settlement which some hon. Members wish to undervalue, minimise and decry, there can be built a great and lasting structure of world organisation which will help Poland as much as any other country in the world. It is a great and outstanding achievement of world statesmanship. We should salute it. Mankind now can lift its head above the fog and miasma of the present conflict, into the purer air of world politics, planning, through a world assembly of nations the ways of future peace, progress and prosperity.
We have listened this morning to the speech of the Mover of this Amendment which, he will allow me to say, was a most noble and moving utterance, and we have listened to the equally sincere speech of the Seconder, to which I pay the same tribute. But I want to say at once that I am going to oppose them. I propose to do it on grounds manifestly different from those which have been advanced by the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest). If there were any truth at all in his charge of anti-Soviet propaganda or feeling behind the speeches which have been delivered from the benches opposite, I could only say that those hon. Members would be justified in retorting that there was nothing but pro-Soviet propaganda in the speech which the hon. Member has just delivered. The problem of Poland is not merely a political problem, but a problem of conscience for this country. And so far from regretting that this Amendment appears on the Order Paper, I welcome its presence. Whenever any serious body of opinion in Britain is sincerely moved in its conscience by a given issue, that issue ought to come here and be threshed out. Therefore, as I say, I do not regret that this Amendment is on the Paper or that we are having this Debate.
I would ask the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment to believe that, if I oppose them, as I now want to do, I do not do it because I am either a Communist or a disciple of Stalin. I regard the economic case of Communism as not yet proven, and as regards the political aspect of Communism, I hate totalitarianism whether of the Left or the Right. I deplore the tendency to totalitarianism that I sometimes see on the opposite side, and I equally deplore the tendency to totalitarianism that I sometimes see on this side of the House. And I shall continue to rebuke both sides, with magnificent impartiality, as long as I see those tendencies. Roughly, my view may be put in a sentence. When I consider every vile report of wrong and outrage wherewith the earth is filled, my general conclusion is that civilisation ends at the cliffs of Dover. I am not animated either by anti-Soviet emotions or by pro-Soviet emotions, but I am looking at the problem as I think we must do. The main criticism I would make of the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment is that they were complaining of two things. First, that history does not stand still, and, secondly, that you cannot make international agreements in a political vacuum.
I speak as a trade union official, who in the course of his somewhat disturbed life has made some hundreds of agreements. The test that I would apply to the making of an agreement by myself, must be the test that I ought to apply to the making of an agreement by the Prime Minister. What is the test? It is this. If any particular agreement extracts from a given political situation the maximum advantage that that situation can be made to yield, then, whether the yield be large or small, that agreement is a good one. Conversely, if an agreement fails to extract from a given situation the maximum that that situation will yield then, even if the yield appears to be substantial, that agreement is a bad agreement. That is the test that I would apply to any agreement that I made in a trade union capacity and that is the one I must apply to this particular agreement. We must have regard to the Prime Minister's position at Yalta. He had, I was going to say, two alternatives, but I do not think they were really open to him. But there were two or three alternative theoretical possibilities. One was not to have tried to reach an agreement. That was theoretically a possible approach. The second was to defer an agreement. And the third was to make an agreement. I cannot see any other possibility than those three.
Was the Prime Minister right in trying to make any agreement? I cannot but answer that question in the affirmative. I do not believe that either the concluding stages of this war, or the problems of the setting up of a world organisation to safeguard peace in the future, or the problems arising out of resettlement in Europe, could have been effectively handled by agreement between this country, America and Russia, if the Prime Minister had sought to dodge the Polish problem. I hold that he was right. He would have been wrong in trying not to reach some kind of settlement. Would he have been justified in delaying a settlement until a further international conference? In my opinion, No. The Russians have a point of view on this which is entitled to respect. There is, unhappily, a long record of bad relations between this country and Russia which, unless its psychological effects can be removed, will poison relations for an indefinite period of years. I believe that every suspicion between Russia and this country would have been intensified if we had sought further delay on this question. I conclude, therefore, that the Prime Minister was right in trying to reach an agreement at this conference.
Then the only question which remains is, Does he bring back to us, in that Agreement, the maximum that the situation could be expected to yield? That is the acid test. I want to be quite blunt about this. The Prime Minister has brought back in that document a great deal more than I expected him to bring—a great deal more. We do not make agreement in a political vacuum. And looking at either the military or the political setup in which the Yalta Conference had to take place, can one fail to realise that most of the cards were in Stalin's hands, and not in the hands of our Prime Minister? It was not the British Army that liberated Warsaw. It was not the American Army that liberated Poland. It was the Russian Army. Suppose that the Prime Minister, because he feared that Stalin had too many cards, had come away with no agreement at all. I wonder what the effect of that would have been in Poland. I imagine that the effect of no agreement there would have been infinitely worse than the worst that could happen under this document, and the two hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment to-day would before long have been making this House ring with what was happening in Poland, because there was no agreement of any kind.
I should regard that as being blasphemy of the worst order. I should do my best to denounce it and undo it. But I submit that there is no analogy between the two cases. If it is agreed, first, that something had to be done about Poland, secondly, that it should be done by agreement between the Powers, and thirdly, that there had to be some sort of Polish Government to work out the further stages of this document, I cannot see any escape whatever from what the Prime Minister did at Yalta. We have had a complaint to-day that the London Government were not consulted, which we are told is the only legal Government of the Poles. But I would point out that history has unpleasant habits. One of its unpleasant habits is that it does not stop short at constitutional legal points. It is a dynamic process, and not a static one. Is not the real difficulty about consulting the London Poles that whereas they regard themselves as representatives of the Polish people, very large sections of the Polish people do not? If the Lublin Committee regard themselves as representative, there are many Poles who do not.
In those circumstances, what better practical line of approach could have been advanced than that of trying somehow to bring those two elements together, and to get some sort of Government of national unity? I am not a passionate advocate of Coalitions. I regard Coalitions, generally speaking, as possessing the vices of both parties—with knobs on. But Poland has to have a Government and a representative one. With the seven things that the seconder of this Amendment wants done—the ending of deportations, the return of deportees, the removal of restrictions on the exercise of political rights, the freedom of the Press, the elimination of the veto on holding meetings, and so on, I agree. But I do not know of a word in the White Paper which makes any one of them impossible. Hon. Members are entitled to say that the White Paper does not aver positively that they shall do this, but I am entitled to say that there is not a single word in the White Paper which prevents any one of those issues being raised by the Polish Government. Supposing one wanted to argue those issues now, who is to argue? Is it the Lublin Government, or the Government in London? Either or both? If it is either, one would not get a settlement; if it is both one would get chaos. But there is nothing whatever to prevent the proposed provisional Government raising every one of those seven point and possibly getting some satisfaction on them.
The Prime Minister is entitled to have from me the same judgment as I would pass on myself. I give this judgment, an honest judgment, the best that I can give. It is that the Yalta document, having regard to the historical, political and military realities of the situation, represents the maximum that could be expected. That being so, I must, as an honest man, support the Prime Minister on that particular issue.
The last thing I want to say is this. I would beg the House to recognise that Poland is not the only issue that was involved at Yalta. There seemed to be a disposition in the speeches of the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment to suppose that our Prime Minister should have gone to Yalta with an open mind, a blank cheque, a pen and an unspoiled piece of paper, and have written on it exactly what he liked. If that were so, then, believe me, I should not be accepting this document, nor would the House. The House would be ranged entirely behind the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment. We have to look at the concrete situation at Yalta, and, above all, at issues other than Poland. I shall not pursue this, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, because under your earlier Ruling it would be out of Order for me to do so, but you will, I feel pretty sure, regard as not out of Order what I am now about to say. I do not know what hope there is for the establishment of permanent peace in the world, but I do know that unless those three Powers can be kept together, there is no hope at all.
Even supposing the Prime Minister had given way more than he should have done, which I do not agree, in my opinion his supreme purpose at that Conference had to be to keep the Allies together, to prepare the way for the establishment of the world order, to ensure that there was not a break up of the alliance at the time when its responsibilities reach their maximum. There were other issues besides Poland, and even more important ones, and though I have not been without my share of criticism of the Government I must say, as an honest man, that I thought the way in which the overriding issues have been combined with other important but lesser issues was masterly. I thought that the line of solution proposed was a practical one, and whatever criticisms I have of other aspects of the Prime Minister or his policy, I must say that I think this document enormously increases the debt which this country and the world owes to him—enormously increases what was already a very vast debt indeed. In those circumstances, much as I respect the sincerity of the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment I must take my responsibilities on my shoulders. And I wish to say that if there is a Division on this matter, I shall go into the Government lobby. I shall do that because we here cannot dodge our responsibilities either.
What would be the consequences of passing this Amendment? One would be the defeat of the Government. I shall not waste tears about that—it is time I superseded it—but I doubt whether this is the right time to do it, on the eve of the final battles of the Western Front. I doubt if this is the time to change horses—if we want to change horses. Secondly, we have to consider that the passing of such an Amendment as we have here to-day would enormously increase the political difficulty of the President of the United States in handling his problem there—
The mover and the seconder of the Amendment to-day did not put their case on a numerical basis but on the moral basis. As I say, its second effect would be to increase enormously the difficulty of the President in handling his political problems. Thirdly, and most important of all, if this Amendment were carried every bit of suspicion and distrust between Russia and this country—which the Prime Minister's superb political handling of Russia has had some effect, I hope great effect, in allaying and dispelling—would be revived and intensified one hundred-fold, and any hope of an agreed approach between the three Great Powers, without whom there can he no peace, would be effectively and probably permanently destroyed. In all those circumstances, I propose to go into the Government Lobby to-day if this matter is forced to a Division.
I am among those who have the honour, of which I am proud, of sponsoring this Amendment. I believe that those of us who have signed that Amendment and have the opportunity of speaking on it to-day, represent an enormous number of ordinary folks in this country who are deeply disquieted at the particular references in the Yalta Agreement to Poland. In spite of a spate of propaganda, which I suppose has never been exceeded in our history, and in spite of our diplomatic correspondents and special correspondents, who seem to have been able to get very much the same hand-out from the Public Relations Officers of the Departments concerned, they cannot concur with that portion of the agreement which refers to Poland. I look upon the intentions of the Yalta Agreement as downright annexation of a large portion of Poland's territory without the consent of her Government and, in fact, without the consent of her people. I believe myself that it is a very definite breach of the Anglo-Russian Treaty, the wording of which has been referred to already in this Debate. I believe that it is a very definite moral breach of the Anglo-Polish Treaty, and I am quite certain that we have once and for all departed, with our eyes wide open, from even the guidance of the Atlantic Charter, which has now been whittled down to a mere meaningless symbol. I believe that, whatever our contemporaries may say, and whatever the result of this vote is to-day or tomorrow, history and our descendants will say that those of us who speak for, and have signed, this Amendment were in fact right. It is on that basis, because I believe that history will say that we are right, that I am so glad to have the opportunity of saying what I am trying to say to-day.
I see no reason whatever why the subject of the boundaries of Eastern Poland could not have been left over until the peace treaty. I would like to be allowed the privilege of reading to the House a statement I discovered the other day which was issued by the Ministry of Information on 17th September, 1939, the day after the Russian Armies took that portion of Poland which is now on the East side of the Curzon Line. This is what the British Government, through its Prime Minister, unanimously authorised the Ministry of Information to issue to the world:
The British Government have considered the situation created by the attack upon
Poland. … This attack made upon Great Britain's ally at a moment when she is prostrate in face of overwhelming forces brought against her by Germany cannot in the view of His Majesty's Government be justified … the full implication of these events is not yet apparent"—
and I would ask the House to listen to this solemn statement issued by His Majesty's Government to the world—
but His Majesty's Government take the opportunity of stating that nothing that has occurred can make any difference to the determination of His Majesty's Government, with the full support of the country, to fulfil their obligations to Poland and to prosecute the war with all energy until their objectives have been achieved.
There is a solemn pledge to the nation and to the world which is to-day being deliberately broken and ignored. There is not any shadow of doubt about the truth of that.
Now I want to come to the question of the supersession—for it is supersession—of the legal Government of Poland, which we have recognised all these long years, by a prefabricated Government to be hand-picked by three estimable gentlemen. It is in future to be recognised by all the three Great Powers concerned, and will supersede the legitimate Government of Poland which commands the Armed Forces of the Polish Republic. They have done splendidly throughout the war and, I firmly believe, still retain the overwhelming loyalty of the majority of the Polish people. This prefabricated, Lublinised Government is to be the future Government of Poland. I leave it at that. It is adding insult to injury not only to break our pledges to Poland but to compel the Polish people to accept a prefabricated Government of this type.
I come to the all-important question of free elections. I agree with everything that has been said. Although I feel strongly on the boundary question, although I think it is unjustified and unwarrantable, something of which we should in fact be ashamed, something that is contrary to all our obligations and treaties, I still realise that it is of no importance really compared with the fundamental issue of whether Poland is to be truly free, truly democratic, and truly independent. So this matter of free elections is vital. Are they to be held, as one presumes they will be, with the Red Army in occupation? What is far more important, are they to be held when the whole of every village and town in Poland is completely under the control and in the iron grip of the secret police? If they are, they can never be free.
After all, who are the people who are to be classified, apparently, as "Anti-Nazis" and ruled out? The Lublin Government, and those who think with them, appear to be willing and anxious to do their best to extirpate them. The House may not have heard a radio appeal—if I can call it that—put out by the Prime Minister of the Government of Lublin the other day in which he said that it was necessary to extirpate the traitors, bandits, incorrigible malefactors and brawlers of that home Army, and also all the followers of the London Government. No doubt those who so heroically defended Warsaw, and the followers of the London Government—and they number hundreds of thousands, including more than 90 per cent. of the Polish Armed Forces—will be called malefactors and brawlers, and treated accordingly. Unfortunately, there is all too good reason to believe that many of these unfortunate people have already suffered greatly and gravely, and that some, indeed, have lost their lives.
The whole question resolves itself into whether it is the obvious intention to impose upon Poland a policy that can be checked by this new prefabricated Government. If it was possible for me to believe that this artificially appointed Government would overrule the intense desire of the secret police to communise Poland, and the intense desire of the Lublin Government to communise Poland, I would not feel so strongly as I do to-day. But one must be sceptical. I would like to read to the House a statement made on the subject of Communism by an important British statesman, which I came across the other day. One must to some extent weigh up for oneself whether one can have confidence in the good and good intentions of a Government which is to be formed in Poland in the way it is. This great British statesman wrote:
Communism is not only a creed; it is a plan of campaign: A Communist is not only the holder of certain opinions, he is the pledged adept of a well-thought out means of enforcing them. The anatomy of discontent and revolution has been studied in every phase and aspect, and a veritable drill book prepared in a scientific spirit for subverting all existing institutions. The method of enforcement is as much a part of the Communist faith as the
doctrine itself. At first, the time-honoured principles of Liberalism and Democracy are invoked to shelter the infant organism. Free speech, the right of public meeting, every form of local political agitation and constitutional right are paraded and asserted. Alliance is sought with every popular movement towards the Left. The creation of a mild Liberal or Socialist régime in some period of convulsion is the first milestone. But no sooner has this been created than it is to be overthrown. Woes and scarcity resulting from confusion must be exploited. Collisions, if possible attended with bloodshed, are to be arranged between the agents of the new Government and the working people. Martyrs are to be manufactured. An apologetic attitude in the rulers should be turned to profit. Pacific Propaganda may be made the mask of hatreds never before manifested among men. No faith need be, indeed may be, kept with non-Communists. Every act of good will, of tolerance, of consolation, of mercy, of magnanimity on the part of Governments or statesmen is to be utilised for their ruin. Then, when the time is ripe and the movement opportune, every form of lethal violence, from mob revolt to private assassination, must be used without stint or compunction. The citadel will be stormed under the banners of Liberty and Democracy; and once the apparatus of power is in the hands of the Brotherhood, all opposition, all contrary opinions, must be extinguished by death. Democracy is but a tool to be used and afterwards broken; Liberty but a sentimental folly unworthy of the magician. The absolute rule of a self-chosen priesthood according to the dogmas it has learned by rote is to be imposed upon mankind without mitigation progressively for ever. All this, set out in text books, written also in blood in the history of several powerful nations, is the Communist's faith and purpose. To be forwarned should be to be forearmed.
I did not say that: it was written by the present Prime Minister of this country. We have no need to prolong indefinitely the arguments that could be brought forward in favour of this Amendment. One of the reasons that influences me is this: I believe that we are the trustees of Poland, of this weak country which has done so much to help us in this war. We are her trustees, and we dare not let her down. We are about to let her down, and that is an act of which I shall always be ashamed and in which I will not participate to-day. We are asked to underwrite something which I for one look upon as shameful. No underwriter at Lloyd's would take such a risk, and no member of the Lloyd family, certainly not this one, will take part in it
I rise to support the Government in resisting this Amendment, and I hope the argu- ments I put forward will not be too embarrassing to the Government. I believe that the decisions which were arrived at at the Crimea Conference and, in particular, the decision relating to Poland, were wise decisions which were taken in circumstances of very considerable difficulty. As my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) has said—and, if I may say so, I think few of us have ever heard him make a better speech—although the Amendment refers to Poland this is not a Polish issue. The fact is that at the Crimea Conference three men, each of them the head of a great State, were laying down the future road we were to follow in our foreign affairs—
I do not want to enter into constitutional niceties with my hon. Friend, but, as I have said, each of these heads of States was laying down the future path we were likely to follow in our foreign affairs, and on the choice of that road hangs the issue as to whether, in another 20 years, we shall have another war or peace. We have had to face issues of this kind before. They are horribly familiar.
Twenty-five years ago, towards the end of another war, we were also discussing the rights of small Powers, and the future organisation of peace, and I have no doubt that on that occasion we made many mistakes. At any rate, it is certain that in the unhappy years which followed we made mistakes, and none of us wants to reiterate the sad story of the path which led a Germany not totally disarmed to the reoccupation of the Rhineland, through Munich and Berchtesgarden, and eventually to war. It seems to me, looking at that past history, that the mistakes we made were not so much on detailed decisions of British statesmen trying to stave off disaster, as in the failure to face the real issues in foreign policy at an early enough date.
Let me say at once to those Members who support this Amendment that although I disagree with them in their conclusions, I respect them because their motives are entirely honourable and proper—and in saying that I do not want to appear to be pompous. They are not actuated, as the hon. Member for North Islington (Dr. Guest) suggested, by some hatred of Russia, or anything of that kind. Their desire is that these issues of foreign policy should be faced, and faced now. In that they represent a very widespread feeling in this country, and I share their view. If we are to enter into another period in which the facts of a certain situation in foreign affairs are to be tortured to fit into some international document to which we have affixed our signature we shall enter upon a course which must eventualy lead us to another war, a war in which we shall have very few friends, and a process which will be detrimental to British honour.
As I have said, I differ from my hon. Friends in their conclusions. I do not believe that this Crimea Conference is the first milestone in the downward path. I do not believe that this Polish settlement is a betrayal of Poland or of British honour. Polish and British interests are to a large extent the same. We each have an interest to see that no one Power should dominate the whole of Europe. But the first British interest that we have is to finish this war at the earliest possible date. It is common ground that the German people have, or had, until recently, only one hope, and that was that the Allies would fall out among themselves. If the decisions taken at the Crimea Conference are supported by this House then that hope will be finally dispelled, and I am sure my hon. Friends who have put their names to this Amendment would think carefully before any action of theirs could be interpreted as restoring that hope to the German people.
There is one other aspect of the war side I want to refer to, and this is a matter which could not be mentioned from the Front Bench but which can be mentioned from the back benches. It is that the German war is not the only war in which we are engaged. We are faced with a long, arduous and probably costly campaign against the Japanese. We cannot compel the Russians to share the burden of that campaign, but if cooperation means anything the greatest act of co-operation we could ask for would be for Russian co-operation in that war. It would save thousands of British lives and misery in thousands of homes, and we ought to watch that no words of ours will discourage the Russians in that matter. If our first interest is to conclude this war, the second is to see that another war does not happen, and to make sure that the territorial agreements we come to are honoured in future.
I do not want to elaborate on the international organisation, because I think that that would be out of Order now, but I think that when it is said that Poland can rely upon an international organisation to see that this settlement is kept she is entitled to ask what that international organisation will amount to. If there is one lesson we have learned from the history of the last quarter of a century it is that an international organisation, unless backed up by military power, is both valueless and dangerous. Under the Yalta Agreement, we are committed to the provision of an occupation Army on German soil. We are committed to a number of agreements which, if not world wide, will be very wide indeed. I presume that the Government have gone into the logistics of this matter. I presume that they have estimated what Forces will be required in order to carry out these commitments. The next step which is required is not so much a decision on voting rights at San Francisco as a forthright statement from this Government, a National Government, to the British people as to what sacrifices will be involved. What is required is a statement as to the Forces we shall have to raise in order to carry out what we shall have to do, and a clear statement as to whether compulsory military service will be necessary, as I think it will be.
Sympathy with Poland extends far beyond those who happen to call themselves friends of Poland, or even members of the Scottish Catholic Hierarchy. Sympathy with that country is based on the recognition of one gallant people for another. We have both made sacrifices in this war; we have common interests. I believe the settlement we have reached with regard to Poland is the best settlement we could have got. It is worth while remembering that in statesmanship and politics what counts is not the art of getting what is best, but the art of getting what is possible. I concede at once—and this may be embarrassing for the Government—that I do not regard the Polish settlement as an act of justice. It may be right or wrong, it may be wise or foolish, but at any rate it is not justice as I under- stand the term. It is not the sort of situation in which you get two parties to a dispute putting their case forward in front of a disinterested body and in which the strength and power of one of the parties is never allowed to weigh in the balance. The sooner we recognise that we are a long way from that sort of thing happening the better.
The Government had two choices only. They could have postponed this issue. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen) suggested that that was the course that they ought to have taken. They could have said, "No, we want this submitted to arbitration. We cannot do anything without the consent of the London Polish Government." No one knows what would happen in those circumstances, but one can safely say that it is unlikely that there would in any circumstances be a free, independent and democratic Poland. The Red Army is in occupation of that country and the Lublin Committee is in control. The policy which was advocated by the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington and others to-day is a policy of inactivity and no more. The Poles could get nothing from it. For these reasons, I believe the Government were right in rejecting that course.
The second course that they could adopt was to make the best settlement they could and impose it deliberately on the Poles. They have done that. They have bargained the Eastern frontier for the chance of a free Government of Poland within the new frontier. I could not quite follow my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth when he criticised the appointment of a provisional Government by the Council of the three Ambassadors. It seems to me that some provisional Government is essential. Europe is not in a situation where it can hold free democratic elections. Europe is on the brink of revolution. You will have to have some provisional Government in order lo attain the very points outlined by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby). It seems to me that our policy in the past was mistaken. Up to date what we have done is this. We have encouraged the London Polish Government to negotiate, and have criticised them because they did not negotiate very well. We have told them they must make concessions, and then we have blamed them because they did not make concessions. I do not regard that as a sensible or an honourable course. I do not believe you can ask a Pole to decide to hand over a half of his country. I do not think it is a fair thing to ask any Pole to do. If they agreed to do that, they would divide Poland for a generation, perhaps for all time, into those who thought they were patriots and those who thought they were traitors. That is to perpetuate civil war. Nor could you ask the Poles as an act of policy to take a large slice of their powerful neighbouring State, It is a big decision to take from Germany the whole of East Prussia or the land up to the Oder. It is like taking Wales from England. That is a decision which must be taken by more powerful States. I do not believe that you save your honour in this matter by imposing on others the obligation of making a decision which you ought to make yourself.
I believe the real difficulty in which my hon. Friends find themselves is not so much Poland at all. I believe it is in the apparent conflict between documents like the Atlantic Charter, and the facts of the European situation. We talk to two different people in two different languages. In the East we are talking to the Russians. The Russians are nothing if not realists. I believe Marshal Stalin's motives are entirely honourable. I believe that the Russian Foreign Office is perhaps more in tune with the advice which would be given to the Tsars than to the potentates of the twentieth century. In such circumstances we talk in language not far removed from power politics. In the West we are faced by the Americans. They are nothing if not idealists. To them we talk in the polite language of the Atlantic Charter. Somehow or other we have to marry those two schools of thought. If I could persuade the Americans, particularly in the Middle West, to have something of the Russian realism in international relations, and persuade the Russians to have the idealism that exists on the East coast of America, we might get somewhere, but let us face the fact that the process will be a long and painful one. You do not move suddenly from a world in which there are international rivalries, into a world where there is international co-operation. It is the world that we are in that the Prime Minister has to deal with. We could not come back from Yalta with a blue-print for a new Utopia. The fundamental error into which my hon. Friends have fallen is this. The rights of small nations are not safeguarded by signing documents like the Atlantic Charter, and quarrelling with anyone who does not agree with your interpretation, of them. The rights of small nations are safeguarded by a mixture of diplomacy and military power and, in using those things, you are liable to come into conflict with your friends.
In the last two months we have had two cases. In the case of Greece one body in the country was seeking, with arms in its hands, to take power. Our Government took action in that matter which, as I believe, safeguarded it and gave Greece the opportunity for a free and democratic existence. On that occasion, the Government were criticised by a small number of Members of the party opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not a small number."] A small number voted and the rest could not make up their minds. To-day it is Poland. The Government are trying to obtain a free, independent and democratic Poland, when the country is occupied by a foreign, though a friendly, Army belonging to a country which has not quite the same interpretation of what is free, independent and democratic as ourselves. In those circumstances—and they are difficult circumstances—the Government are attacked by a small group of Members of my own party. There is nothing in common between Members who attack the Government to-day and those who attacked it over Greece.
But throughout this process the Government have pursued a consistent course. They have sought by every means in their power to obtain from the wreck of Europe two independent and free States. To the Poles I would say that I believe this settlement gives them an opportunity of playing a part in the future of their country which they can never do from London. They should take that opportunity. To the Russians I would say that this is regarded as a test case. The proof of this pudding is in the eating. Russia has many friends in this country. On the decision and action that she takes in the coming weeks with regard to Poland will depend not only whether she keeps those friends but the whole future of co- operation between our two countries. As regards ourselves, I would say that this document provides what may be the basis of future peace. It will only be that, if we are prepared to face up to the sacrifices and the efforts which it involves and to recognise that those sacrifices and efforts are, indeed, worth while.
We have just listened to a very eloquent and convincing speech. On the whole, I prefer the doctrine of the young Tory, to the more ancient brand. But I should like to congratulate the Mover of the Amendment on a well-reasoned and fair statement of his case. I have no fault to find with the form and character of his speech. He made a great point that there was a Motion before the House, and suggested that he would have preferred the Debate to take place on an Adjournment Motion. I do not agree with him. It is far more satisfactory that the House of Commons should have an opportunity to express its view of the important Agreement put forward by the Government. As a matter of fact, in this case we are largely making history. There is only one precedent for a Motion of this kind, and it goes back to the palmy days of the Government of Earl Lloyd George in 1922, when a Motion of this character was moved endorsing the Genoa Conference. I hope that this precedent will be followed, I did press for the submission of the Atlantic Charter to the approval of this House. Now this precedent has been established, it will straighten the claims of Parliament to control the Government in the commitments they make. I think it is right that Parliament should keep control of foreign affairs and that we should have the right and the chance, to approve or to negative, important international agreements.
I have no quarrel with the hon. Member for moving his Amendment—it is right that he should move it if it expresses his sentiments—and I hope the House will have an opportunity to vote on it. In his eloquent plea for the Polish people, I am satisfied that he has the whole House behind him. I cannot forget the tragic month of September when Poland was invaded, in spite of our protests and all the efforts of our Government to prevent the war. We pledged ourselves to go to war if Poland was invaded, and Poland has been subject to untold suffering. The Prime Minister referred to the massacre of 3,500,000 Jews. The Polish Jews have been wiped out. There is no Jewish question in Poland: they have been simply liquidated. It was cold-blooded murder of the most appalling kind. But millions of Poles also have been persecuted, and subjected to every kind of cruelty. We know the story of the underground movement, unrivalled by any underground movement in any part of Europe. As far as I know, no Quisling has been found in the whole of that country. But let us be frank with ourselves. Poland owes its liberation to Russia. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Russia brought her freedom. We must be realists.
I have already paid tribute to the valiant efforts of the Polish people in throwing off their chains, but their direct liberation—let us be blunt about it—is due to Russian arms. Poland would still be in the hands of the Germans if it were not for the valiant work of the Russian soldiers. Let us be quite clear that Poland has a claim for freedom and self-government, and that this country has a special obligation to see that they are ensured. The suggestion is made that the Prime Minister and the President of the United States have been out-manoeuvred, and that they were innocent lambs bullied by the Russian bear. That is a new kind of role for our Prime Minister to assume. This Amendment raises the question of the capacity not only of the Prime Minister, but also of the President, and it amounts to a censure, because, if it were carried, there would be no alternative but for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to resign. The Prime Minister divided this problem into frontiers and freedom. I think that he made his case for the frontiers and that it does not need to be further argued. The Curzon Line was not only approved by the Government of the day, but it was adequately discussed for two days in this House. It was the subject of the closest examination at the time when there were very few friends of Russia in this country. Lord Curzon could not be suspected of being pro-Russian. Apart from the difficult problem of race, the fact that this line was arrived at by an impartial tribunal gives it great moral authority.
On the question of giving complete self-government and freedom to Poland, I submit that all that the Crimea Agreement does is to set up machinery. It lays down two principles with which we can all agree—first, that a strong, free, independent and democratic Poland should be set up; and, second, that the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity should command recognition from the three Powers. The commission, I understand, is to be composed of M. Molotov, the Russian Foreign Secretary; Mr. Harriman, the American representative; and Sir A. Clark Kerr, the British representative. I think it is reasonable to assume that they will see that Poland gets reasonable treatment and that the Polish Government in this country will be allowed to state its case. If, in due course, this House is not satisfied that the results of the work of the commission are fair, we shall be justified in examining the results again. Obviously, the Government which will be set up will only be provisional. The same kind of thing is happening in Greece. The British Government are pledged to have free elections on the basis of universal suffrage and a secret ballot. That is not the simple thing it sounds. When we were discussing the same provisions for Greece I pointed out what a complex thing it was to provide electoral machinery. It has been known that Ministers of the Interior have made elections.
There is a strong case for some form of international control to see that the Polish people have a fair deal. There is also an overwhelming case for allowing the deportees to return to Poland. I have heard of vast numbers of Poles being deported to Siberia. We do not know the exact facts and figures, and perhaps they are exaggerated. The commission should demand as proof of the genuineness of the general election that the deportees should be allowed to return before the election, and should be enabled to take an active part in it. There is, too, a strong case for the Servicemen. We have spent many days discussing the right of our Servicemen to vote. Would it be unreasonable for the Government to demand that the quarter of a million men, who have fought so magnificently in the war on our side and proved themselves such splendid fighters, should have the same opportunity to vote in the election which is to take place in Poland as our Servicemen are to have in our election? I recognise that Poland has not the same political traditions as we have in this country, but that is not an unreasonable thing to try and achieve. I suggest, therefore, that when the commission is set up and arrangements are made for the election, which we are assured is to be a genuine one, not only are the deportees allowed to return but Servicemen shall have some say in the future form of Government to which they are to be subjected. I attach great importance to that.
Right through the Yalta Agreement there is much use of the word "democracy." "Democracy" is often used to cover a great multitude of sins, and it is interpreted in very different ways. The American conception of democracy is very different from ours, and the Russian conception of democracy is also very different from ours. The average Russian would claim to be quite as good a democrat as the British democrat, if not better, but the Russia idea of democracy is entirely different. We think of it as government of the people, by the people, for the people, and with that ideal goes all the paraphernalia of propaganda, speech-making, a free Press and controversy. The Russians attach more importance to economic equality and the absence of privilege and class. It may be that we will be able to educate them to our view, and I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and his associates will do their best to educate us to the Russian conception of democracy.
Is it not about time we stopped talking about democracy in Russia? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is only one party in Russia and that it represents only 2 per cent. of the people?
I have been saying that their conception of democracy is very different from ours. Let us make it clear that we demand for Poland the kind of democracy that we have in this country, and that there shall be genuine free elections, freedom of the Press and freedom of propaganda. If we get that we can have a feeling that we have given Poland a fair deal. The White Paper which contains the agreement not only mentions democracy a good deal, but there is constant reiteration of the phrase "joint action." Joint action, as I understand it, means that unilateral intervention in the liberated countries should cease. I regretted that Greece was subject to that unilateral action. I would have liked to see Russia and America associated with the liberation of that country. We have a right to claim that not only in Poland, but in all the liberated countries, neither ourselves nor the United States nor Russia should have the sole responsibility, but that there should be a real joint association and joint policy of all three Powers. I hope the Foreign Secretary will say that we are not merely paying lip service to joint action, but that there will be genuine association in the formation of the new Government in Poland, at any rate, of the three great Powers. I do not claim that for Great Britain alone, but I particularly ask the United States to be intimately associated with both the organisation of the election and the selection of the new Government.
I do not take the question of Poland as an isolated matter. We ought to look at the Yalta Agreement as a whole, and the Polish policy must be judged as part and parcel of the proposed new international organisation. The machinery of Dumbarton Oaks is to be completed at San Francisco. Is it unreasonable to ask that the final fate of Poland, not only its Government, but also the drawing up of its frontiers, should be entrusted to this new international organisation which is to see the light of day in a few months and which is to be responsible for the future peace of the world?
It is with some diffidence that I intervene in this Debate as I am only too conscious of the fact that I cannot claim to speak with any very great knowledge or authority on foreign affairs. I have, however, during the past five years, been associated with men who fought, suffered and, alas, died for their country, and whose views, for that reason alone, although no better informed than my own, are entitled to a hearing here to-day.
When I saw the report of the Yalta Conference I did have a feeling of having been let down. I can only speak for myself personally, of course, but I cannot help feeling many who were with me in the Army might have the same feeling. Perhaps I may attempt to give my reasons. On instructions from the War Office it was our habit, as many hon. Members know, to hold once a week what became known as A.B.C.A. discussions. One of the most popular, and indeed, the most frequent of those discussions was the question of what we are fighting for. I was known to be connected with what was—possibly rather impolitely—called "the political ramp," and it often fell to my lot to reply to those discussions and explain to the men the full implications of the Atlantic Charter and how it was hoped that the somewhat elaborate international machinery envisaged at Dumbarton Oaks could be worked in the chaotic conditions of Europe that we saw all around us. I had also to explain the meaning of "freedom" and "democracy." The fault may be mine, but although I did my best to follow the instructions in the colourful A.B.C.A. handbook and tried not to impress, too forcibly, my own views, I am afraid that the result, at the end of many of those discussions, was that those who attended were a bit shaky as to what constituted democracy and democratic government. They were a bit uncertain what measure of individual freedom had to be enjoyed by the people of any country, to claim that it was a free country. Some thought it meant that you could get a glass of beer whenever you liked, and then one had to explain that ours was a free country although we could get a glass of beer only at the times the Government thought was good for us, and that America was the land of the free, although at one period of her history people could not get a glass of beer there at all. That example may show some of the difficulties that we encountered. We were rather divided on whether some of the principles of democracy and the machinery envisaged at Dumbarton Oaks, could hope to work in the chaotic conditions of post-war Europe.
We very soon realised that when you told the men they were fighting for freedom and democracy, it meant something rather different to each one of them. I am afraid I have to admit that, to the more cynical and less political-minded amongst us, it meant precisely nothing at all. But there was one thing about which we were all quite clear and all agreed, which was that we were fighting for Poland. When I say "Poland," I do not mean, and we did not mean, Poland as decreed by Soviet Russia or underwritten to-day by the British Government, or Poland as imagined by the late Lord Curzon, but a Poland with similar frontiers to those we guaranteed, and over which we went to war at such very great cost in life and suffering—frontiers extended possibly at the expense of a defeated Germany. I cannot help regretting that I shall be asked soon to approve of an agreement whereby the boundaries of Poland are to be radically altered from those which we pledged ourselves to preserve, an agreement embodying a settlement which we know is distasteful to those many heroic and gallant fellows who have fought for us on land, on sea and in the air during the past five years.
I must admit that I was very much relieved to hear the Prime Minister say that he was ready to see whether it was possible to have those Poles who fought for us, admitted into the British Empire. I would ask whoever is to reply to the Debate to give us a more definite assurance. We should make a gesture at this moment, and without any question of duty, offer safe asylum, either within our shores or within the British Empire, to those Poles who do not wish to go back to a dismembered and, to my mind, Sovietised Poland. I am reminded of a remark made by a Canadian soldier in France. During an engagement, one of the first tanks to go forward was hit by an 88mm. gun, and then the next was hit. Eventually the officer came along and asked this fellow what he was doing and why he was hanging back. The Canadian replied: "There doesn't seem to be much future in it to me." I cannot help feeling that if many of these Poles who declared themselves, quite openly, in my presence, and that of many other people, as being more anti-Russia than anti-German, might have a better future within the British Empire than within this new Free State that we are now setting up.
I frankly admit that I am violently prejudiced on this question. I happen to have lived and trained during the past five years with the Polish Army. I have had Polish officers attached to my regiment, and I have often fought alongside the Polish Armoured Division. I can assure the House that a more friendly, charming and co-operative body of men one could not find anywhere, or a more determined and courageous body among whom to fight. I have seen and heard only one side of the case. I realise as well as anyone the immense difficulties and the vital considerations which have had to be taken into account by the Prime Minister when arriving at the Agreement, and I am prepared to bow to the superior wisdom of my elders and betters. But I do find it hard, indeed impossible, to wed this Agreement with the Atlantic Charter. Painstakingly, though possibly erroneously, I have tried to explain the matter to the men who were under my command. I tried to show earlier in my speech that the words "freedom" and "democracy" mean something slightly different to almost everyone. We know that the Prime Minister said in his speech yesterday that diversity of view between this side and that side of the House on this question existed, as applied to economic or political science, but I doubt whether any two Members in this House would give exactly the same definition of those words. I am afraid it is obvious that those two words have a very different meaning in Eastern Europe to what they have in Western Europe. The word "democracy" either as adjective or as noun appears more frequently than any other word in this part of the Conference Report, in so far as it deals with liberated Europe and Poland. It talks of:
democratic principles … democratic means … democratic elements … broader democratic basis … free and unfettered elections,
and so on. It would be disappointing, and to my mind disastrous, after the long journeys which the Prime Minister undertook to get to the Crimea and all the hard work that was done, if we found that
he, the President of the United States and Marshal Stalin were not all speaking exactly the same language. In fact, a slightly different definition was given to this word by all three of them. I am sure many of us would be grateful if the Foreign Secretary, in his reply, would give us his definition, and an assurance that it was not only understood but accepted by the President and Marshal Stalin.
I do not want to detain the House any longer. I realise as well as anyone that the future peace and prosperity, not only of our own country, but of Europe and the world, depend upon the co-operation between what are known as the "Big Three." But to my mind we cannot hope for true and lasting co-operation unless it is based on a real understanding and not on a sham, and to my mind to attempt to marry up this solution of the Polish problem, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Stafford (Captain Thorneycroft) tried to do, and much else that has happened in Eastern Europe, and is still happening to-day in Eastern Europe, with the Atlantic Charter, is really nothing more than a sham. As such, I do not think it is likely to prove a lasting settlement for peace, or contribute a sound and lasting basis for that true co-operation between the three Great Powers on which so much depends. Several hon. Members whom I have heard speak in opposition to this Amendment struck me as being possibly with us in spirit, but not prepared to come out openly on our side. It seemed that they felt that, although we might have made a point, bigger issues were involved. Dumbarton Oaks was mentioned, and the conference which is to take place at San Francisco.
I seem to find to-day, after an absence of some five or six years, that the roles are rather reversed in this House. Before I left, on many occasions both my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary—in the latter case he saw fit to resign—spoke up in this House, when they thought questions of British honour were involved, and that the signatories of various treaties were being treated in rather an off-hand manner. In view of that I am certain that however much we may hope for out of the conference at San Francisco, however much faith we place in the machinery envisaged at Dumbarton Oaks, none of these will be any good unless there is a certain sanctity in treaties, and unless people honour their word. I hope that I am wrong in my interpretation of events, but I am certain the House will not think any the worse of those of us who feel that way for expressing our views, and I am quite certain my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will understand the motives for which we have spoken here to-day.
I am quite certain that there were those in this House and in the country who hoped that when the Crimea Conference took place there would be a breakdown. It was a breakdown on which Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels placed their hopes. Their desire was to see what this Amendment proposes—disagreement between the representatives of the three Great Powers. The Members who have put forward this Amendment fail to understand the significance of the unity expressed at that Crimea meeting—a unity that presents a great hope, not only for the people of this country, but for the people of Europe and the world. We have not only the closer unity expressed in the Crimea Agreement; we have tasks set before us in the White Paper that are completely ignored by the supporters of the Amendment. We have the tremendous task set before us of building up a world organisation to maintain peace and—of the greatest significance—"to remove the political, economic and social causes of war." Never from any international conference in the history of the world has there come such a document, with the expression of such sentiments and such tasks. I regret all the more, therefore, that the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party did not utilise this opportunity to give an inspiring call to the people of this country for the carrying out of these tasks.
In the first place, I will deal with the promoters of the Amendment. I agree with much of what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Captain Thorneycroft), but I did not agree with him when he accepted the sincerity of the promoters of the Amendment. There never was such a hollow sham.
I am going to tell the hon. and gallant Member. I have never listened to so many references to "the fundamental principles of honour, freedom and independence" as were made by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment. Arising out of the Crimea Conference and the White Paper, and the tasks that are set before us, the test for this country is not the relations between Soviet Russia and Poland. The test for this country, and for those who speak here, and who used such grandiloquent language, is the relations between this country and India, and when I hear any one of these Members, in a Debate on India, talk about the fundamental principles of honour, freedom and independence—
I am giving an illustration to make my point that there is nothing genuine in all these protestations about freedom and independence.
I will give another instance. I am not a new convert to the demand for independence and freedom for Poland. Thirty-five years ago I was speaking in this country, at great mass demonstrations, in support of the demand for freedom and independence for Poland. Where were the hon. Members then? [Interruption.] It may be that I am going too far back. All right. Ten years ago I was speaking at mass meetings, supporting the demand for free elections in Poland. Was any of those hon. Members supporting it? Had one of these new converts to the idea of a free and independent Poland a word to say about democratic elections or freedom in Poland, or the right of every party to take part in elections and use the radio before the war? I would not hesitate to join with what has been said in tribute to the Polish soldiers and to the Polish people—a great people, a people with a history of terrible hardship and suffering, who have endured it all, and who deserve, if ever any people deserved, to have freedom and independence. But while I pay that tribute to the Polish soldiers and the Polish people, neither I nor anyone else can pay tribute to the wisdom of the Polish gentry; and it is the Polish gentry who are represented by the other side. What determines the attitude of these Members? Not love for Poland, but hatred for the Soviet Union. These Members have never at any time before been apostles of democracy or freedom. Where were they when the Spanish war was waged?
General Anders issued a statement that "This is the hour of Polish tragedy." He is wrong; it is the hour of Polish rebirth. Out of the fury and fires of devastating war a new Poland is being born. If there is a tragedy it is a personal tragedy for General Anders, not a Polish tragedy—although "tragedy" is too dignified a word to use for General Anders. Everyone understands that the actual operating force for the liberation of Poland was, and could only be, the Red Army. Not that Russia did the job by herself; the British and American Armies, fighting on the various fronts, contributed to this great task. But the actual operation of fighting on the Eastern front and liberating Poland could be done by no other power than the Red Army. General Anders left Russia, with a great Polish Army, because of his hatred of the Soviet Union. He refused to march with the Red Army for the liberation of his own country. Is that not the truth? Did he not withdraw his Army from Russia?
No. I can understand Members on the other side of the House associating themselves with the Polish gentry against the Polish people, but I do not appreciate it on this side. General Anders took the Polish Army out of Russia. If General Anders, instead of being a reactionary obscurantist, had been a man of vision, he would have marched at the head of the Polish Army into liberated Warsaw. He was incapable of that heroic task. That is what is behind this Amendment; that is what is behind all the trouble—hatred of the Soviet Union.
It is said that this country went to war to guarantee the frontiers of Poland. Nobody would ever suggest that we should retain the frontiers of Poland. I have said that here before, and I have asked Members opposite to deal with the point. Keep the frontiers of Poland where they are, and it is impossible for Poland to be free and independent. Before she can be free and independent, she must have a free outlet to the sea; otherwise, she is hemmed in and encircled. The Polish Corridor was no solution. Would any supporter of the Amendment suggest that the frontiers should be retained as they were? The most sensible solution to the question of Polish freedom and independence was made by the Soviet Union. They would do away with the partition in the Ukraine and White Russia. If the Eire Army had come to the assistance of this country, and in the process had wiped out partition in Northern Ireland, would hon. Members suggest that they would have to go back behind the partition line again, before this country would have anything to do with them? The partition from the Ukraine and White Russia has been wiped out, and we do not want them restored, we don't want any more partition. The Soviet Army has wiped out the partition, and the Soviet Government have put forward the proposal that Poland to be free and independent must have an open seaboard and an open outlet to other countries. That is the position we have to face.
We have to face not only the question of Poland, but that of the bigger task that was accomplished at the Crimea Conference and that is presented in this document. If we are to have not only a free and independent Poland, but free and independent countries throughout the world, it is essential that the Yalta Agreement, as presented here in the White Paper, be accepted, understood and applied. There must be world organisation "to remove the political, economic and social causes of war." Often references have been made to the phrase used by Litvinov, that "peace is indivisible." Just as peace is indivisible, so war cannot be isolated. I say to Members of this House, those who are supporting the Government and those who are supporting the Amendment, that this must be understood. The causes responsible for the class war are the causes responsible for general war. As peace is indivisible, so war cannot be isolated. If we are to end war, it must be completely ended. It can be ended completely only "by removing the political, economic, and social causes" that produce it. For that there is needed a great inspiring call to the people of this country. The nation must be united behind these decisions and the implementing of these decisions. It is a great responsibility, but a great opportunity to the Labour movement in this country, to gather together all the great progressive forces, to ensure that Yalta and the Agreement arising out of Yalta open up a new road to peace and progress, for the people of this country and the people of the world.
This is the first occasion on which I have intervened in a Debate on foreign affairs, and I do so with some degree of nervousness. One of the reasons is that it was my misfortune not to have been able to be present yesterday, but I have remedied that to the best of my ability, by reading through the whole of yesterday's HANSARD. I have also been influenced by the fact that my views on this matter differ from those of many of my hon. Friends, whose sincerity I would be the last to question, and whose judgment I completely respect. I confidently believe that, although our views may differ, our objects are entirely the same. I am with them in their admiration of the Polish forces, of the way they have fought for the last five years. I am with them in their sympathy with the Polish people through all they have suffered during that time, and like them I wish to see "a free and independent" Poland, a Poland in which "all men of all lands may live in freedom from fear," in which the "rights of all people to choose the form of government under which they wish to live," are respected. Wherein lies the difference between me and my hon. Friends who moved the Amendment? Having listened to them I think it lies in this: that they regard the Yalta Agreement as putting an end to those hopes for that sort of Poland. I take the contrary view. I believe that the Yalta Agreement is a real step forward towards the attainment of that end. The future will prove which of us is right, and I would not express these views without having thought them over as carefully as I can.
When one looked through HANSARD of yesterday one found no criticism at all of the Declaration in the White Paper on Liberated Europe. That Declaration was agreed to by the three signatories. I do not propose to take up the time of the House reading out, in full, paragraph 5 but it begins:
To foster conditions under which the liberated peoples may exercise their rights.
Those signatories are bound to those obligations. The part about Poland must, in my view, be read in the light of that Declaration; the whole document must be construed together. I do, however, regret as a lawyer—because as a lawyer I do not like anything that is unconstitutional—that the Polish Government in London were not a party to the Agreement. Who could doubt the width of the gulf between that Government and the Government of Russia? Is that position to be allowed to go on? What hope of a new Poland is there if it goes on, with Russia and a puppet Government exercising authority over a Poland behind the Russian lines, and the Polish Government in London only exercising authority over those outside Poland? What hope is there in that? What hope is there that at the Peace Conference you will be able to secure something better for Poland than has been obtained now? I, personally, doubt if that hope is very great. I do not think it is worth while taking a chance of getting more in the Peace Treaty than has been obtained now, bearing in mind that, during the intervening period liberated Poland would be governed by the Lublin Committee. It is now but if the Yalta Agreement is carried out the Lublin Committee will merge into the background.
What about this new Provisional Government? Hard words have been said about it. It has been referred to as a prefabricated Government, and terms of that sort have been applied to it. What is clear from this document, if any importance is to be attached to it at all, is that the Provisional Government is to include democratic leaders from the Poles abroad. We know who these Poles abroad are. If the Provisional Government is to satisfy the terms of the White Paper, it follows that it must contain a number of people whom we know to be democratic leaders of Poland. If that Agreement is to be implemented, that, it seems to me, that must follow. This Government will contain these leaders; it is to act as a Government pledged to free and unfettered elections. If any bar is put in the way of free and unfettered elections, surely the democratic leaders among the Poles now abroad will let us know. Why should we assume the contrary, that there will be no free and unfettered elections? One criticism of the Provisional Government is that it is based upon the Lublin Committee. I, personally, do not like the Lublin Committee at all, but it seems to me that there is something to be said in favour of having the new Government or the organisation which is now seeking to exercise some sort of authority. When the full organisation is set up, the Lublin Committee should disappear into the background; I hope it will.
With regard to the territorial changes I want to say one word. If we are to have a Polish Government over the Poles, and the Russians in Germany, surely we must have some boundary drawn between the Poles and the Russians. If there is to be an independent Polish Government, there must be a frontier—I cannot and I do not feel that I am competent to express an opinion on where it should be—but it seems to me to follow, quite clearly, that there must be agreement on a frontier now.
If the Yalta Agreement is carried out in the letter and in the spirit, can it possibly be said that the Poles will have any real cause for complaint? On the other hand, are not my hon. Friends rather jumping to conclusions? Is not their Amendment really based upon the assumption that the Yalta Agreement will not be carried out? As I said before, the answer to that question lies in the future, but I myself am not prepared to say that the signature of Marshal Stalin is not worth the paper it is written on. I see no satisfactory evidence to justify that conclusion.
One thing that does astonish me is the number of reports that we receive in this country which are accepted, apparently,
without any reservations. I am surprised both by the contents of these reports, and also by the speed with which they appear in this country. I was in Moscow on 2nd February and I was told then of the news of the capture of Lodz, and of the fact that the machinery in the factories in Lodz was undamaged by the Germans when they retreated. I have seen what the Germans did at Stalino, and I know what such destruction means. I was back in this country on 15th February, but the news had already got here, not only of the machinery being recaptured intact, but, apparently, that it was already being taken away by the Russians. It may be true; I do not know, but I am surprised at the swiftness with which this news travels. The reports are all contradictory. I agree that not much importance can be attached to any report of diplomatic or other correspondents which appears in "The Times." On 23rd February I read this in "The Times" from their Moscow correspondent:
I witnessed on more than one occasion the enthusiastic welcome accorded the Red Army in Eastern Poland, and this, from all accounts, was but a shadow of that received in the Western regions.
Frankly, I do not know whether that is true or false. The gentleman said he witnessed it himself, but it may be that it is as inaccurate as reports from Greece. Again, I do not know, but I do suggest that we ought to treat all these contradictory reports with a great deal of reserve. I am sorry that we have not got true information from that area of Poland, and I think that Russia has herself to blame for some of the things that have been said about her hard treatment of Poland. I should like to see observers sent to that country, admitted and allowed by the Russians to travel wherever they like, and not merely conducted tours by foreign correspondents from Moscow. Then we should know whether the fears expressed in some quarters are justified, and, if they are not justified, no harm could flow from the visits of such observers. I hope that will be possible soon, and, indeed, once there is a Provisional Government exercising authority over that area, I do not see why they could not admit such observers to see that the elections are, in fact, free and unfettered.
To conclude, I see no reliable evidence which would justify me in treating the Agreement as of no value whatever. I see nothing to justify treating the signatures to it as valueless. There has been a long history of hostility between Russians and Poles. We must not ignore the fact that there may be some Poles in this country whose hatred of Russia is such that they are prepared to go to any steps in opposition to Russia. I would like to say this: I talked to people of all classes, university students, factory workers, factory directors, soldiers, sailors and others, and I was impressed, wherever I travelled, by the real desire for friendship with this country, by the real desire to have the good regard of this country. It is for those reasons that I believe this Agreement will be honoured. I am not prepared to pass sentence in advance in respect of a crime which has not been committed and which I trust never will be committed. I am prepared, rather, to believe that those who desire our friendship and our regard, and who must realise that, if this Agreement is not implemented in the spirit and in the letter, they will forfeit not only our friendship but our respect, will carry out this Agreement in the way which we desire.
I agree with all that my hon. Friend has just said, and especially when he disagreed with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), who attributed false motives to the Mover and Seconder of this Amendment. I am very glad indeed that the Amendment appears on the Order Paper. It does express a very general regret, felt, I think, in every part of this House, that the circumstances of war and the tremendous alterations that have taken place in the proportions of power have rendered it absolutely impossible that Poland should be restored to the exact geographical and political position which she enjoyed in 1938. That regret is very wide and very deep. I am glad also that the Amendment has led to a Debate which has been characterised by two of the best speeches I have ever heard in this House—those by the Mover of the Amendment and by the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Captain Thorney-croft), who opposed it, I am glad also because it has given an opportunity for hon. Members in all parts of the House not merely to express their sympathy with and admiration for the Polish Army, but also to indicate the shock to British opinion of all classes and complexions who know of the deportations and actual ill-treatment meted out to Poles by the Russian authorities. The Mover of the Amendment raised again this question of the permanence of international agreements, and thereby made it quite clear to the Soviet Government that those concessions which my right hon. Friend made in the Crimea were not such easy concessions to make, and, in making them, they were really paying a considerable price, in terms of feeling in this country, in return for showing how anxious, in every way, we were to establish and maintain close relations with the Soviet Union.
But I would not, for one minute, vote for such an Amendment. As the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) was honest enough to say, it is, in fact, a criticism of what has been done at Yalta, and I regard what has been done at Yalta as, without question, the most important political agreement that we have gained in this war. Far from little having been achieved, it is amazing that so much was done. Let us consider what alternatives there were. I have heard the argument "What else could the Prime Minister have done?" That is an absurd argument: the Prime Minister is not the man to follow the line of least resistance. On the contrary, he has throughout his life sought out the pricks, and kicked them hard. The Foreign Secretary, too, is a man who, I think, often disguises under his charming manner the fact that he is a "tough." He is moreover not a man who is deficient in diplomatic ingenuity. There are three main policies that might have been followed. One was to oppose the Russian conception of the Polish settlement, and to oppose it by force. That was what Lord Castlereagh and Talleyrand did in 1814, by making a secret agreement to declare war. That secret treaty was never called into operation, but imagine what, in fact, would have happened if it had been effected. We should never have had the Battle of Waterloo; Napoleon would have been re-established upon his throne, and England and Europe would have been denied the 100 years of prosperity and repose which the Congress of Vienna gave them. I do not think any sane man could say that we could have defended the Polish Treaty and position by force.
The other line which might have been adopted and one which I regret to see reflected in the Amendment before the House, is the Pontius Pilate line; to send for water to wash our hands; and then to say, "Holier than thou, I will have nothing to do with you." That would be, in truth, unworthy of a great country which in this war has increased its prestige and repute and risen to heights which were never equalled even in the Napoleonic war. To say "I do not like this but I cannot do anything about it"—and that is what is implicit in the Amendment—would be just as disgraceful as if we had said to Russia, "Do what you like to Poland. I disapprove, but I am not going to do anything about it." If that had been done I would not dare to look a Pole in the face again. That would have been contrary to all our tradition. Then there is the third line, namely, an attempt to save something by negotiation. That means giving something up, which means admitting things which, in some ways, are unjust. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford that it is unjust. We have to give up something, but the point is, Did we give up too much?
I was myself a pessimist in considering the future of Poland. I realised that Russia, outraged as she was by the horrible attack made upon her by the Germans—triumphant as she was rendered by her amazing recovery and the onward march of her quite unexpected armies—dazzled as she might have been by the fact that it was she, once again, who had reached the Oder, and conquered the enemy of the world; might be determined, as I thought she would be, that whatever came out of this war, one thing was certain was that Russia would be restored to her old Tsarist frontiers. It would have been a very natural thing for Russia to take a rapacious view. But no, they have not done so. They have agreed in a very important way to modify the Tsarist frontiers. They have agreed at Yalta to make a concession to Poland. I cannot see anyone who has studied at all the continuity of Tsarist and Communist policy, who understands what it means to Russia, to remember the humiliation to which the Bolshevik system was exposed in the early years of its existence—I do not think, unless you realise how sensitive they are on that point, you can understand how great a temptation it must have been for them to say, "We do not care what the Western nations say, we will come out of the war with the whole map of Europe what it was in 1912, with our frontiers stretching where the Tsarist frontiers stretched." That they have not done that is a matter of immense relief. When I read the Yalta communiqué I thought, "How could they have bought that off? This is really splendid!"
The Prime Minister has simplified the matter and clarified our minds very much by dividing the problem into its two main compartments of frontiers and liberty. On the frontiers, I do not wish to repeat what people have said so far about the Curzon Line, or what the Prime Minister has said. I was there at the time, and can remember exactly what we were all thinking when the Curzon Line was drawn up. It was used as an Armistice line, but I do not see that that indicates anything very derogatory. It was a scientific line. The point was there came a stage in Paris when we had fixed the Western frontiers of Poland against Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, and when we felt we simply must know what the Eastern frontiers were to be. As has been said so often in this Debate—but it is very important—that examination was truly objective. It was a scientific medical analysis. If the slightest element of subjectivity came into it, that element would be entirely against the Russians and entirely in favour of the Poles. But actually it was a solid, scientific examination of the question put to the people who did the job. That question was: "What ought the frontier of Poland to be?" They said, after three weeks' very hard study, it ought to be this:—the Curzon Line. I do not want to say one word against Poland at this moment but I must confess that when their arguments were received I felt and we all felt—and you can read it in the history of the Paris Peace Conference—that if Poland should go beyond those frontiers she would be doing something very foolish indeed.
I was coming to that point. We all felt that it was unwise for Poland to go beyond that. We were en- raged and indignant when, later on, Poland took Vilna; and I can remember speaking in this House in terms of severe reprobation of the Polish attitude towards Czechoslovakia, when Czechoslovakia lay bleeding on the ground. They got these areas by force; they must lose them by force. As regards the Lvov area, I agree that I would not like to see Lvov taken from the Poles. I would like to feel that there was some hope that the Soviet Government, realising the sentimental and cultural value that Lvov has in Polish hearts, would make a concession on that point. I am sure that if they did, everybody in this House would realise that this settlement is really a fair settlement, and that as far as it could be rendered fair it was so.
In conclusion, I must say a word about the other aspect of the agreement—the aspect of freedom. What is written in the Yalta communiqué could not be more precise, definite and absolutely compulsory; no written words could better express the obligation to see that the independence, freedom and integrity of Poland of the future are preserved. What we are discussing is therefore a matter of some impertinence; namely, whether you can trust Russia. That is really what we are discussing. We are discussing a perfectly imaginary contingency. But is it so imaginary? In the course of this war, Marshal Stalin has made many promises, public and private, to his Allies: and as far as my knowledge goes every one of those has been kept, not only in their letter and according to time-table and programme, but in their spirit as well. I believe that the House is entitled to consider—and I beg my hon. Friends behind me to consider this—with what loyalty Marshal Stalin behaved to the Prime Minister in the Greek crisis. In that crisis of three weeks, when there were great dangers, was there one word or one whisper from Moscow that would have increased our difficulties? Not one. That is what I call complete loyalty. To say, "Oh, but you cannot trust Marshal Stalin"—when he has demonstrated by his actions ever since the war that he is about the most reliable man in Europe—is to say something which I think is a little pessimistic, to use an understatement.
I say this to hon. Members who cast doubts upon the scheme for a Provisional Government: I do not see what else could have been done. You cannot hold elections without some sort of Government, you cannot hold elections under the London Government or under the Lublin Committee; the obvious thing is to get fusion. It is very painful for everybody concerned, but once you have that fusion, supervised, engineered, and helped on by the Ambassadors' Commission in Moscow, you have the beginnings of a working system whereby you can proceed to elections, and, I hope and pray, release people from internment camps and so on.
What is the test which will convince Members, which would convince myself, that things are really being carried out on the basis of the Yalta Agreement? The test will come much sooner than hon. Members think. It will be the day when I read that Mikolajczyk and Romer have been invited to Moscow. Then I shall know the thing is going through. Once a fusion is made, and the Government of national unity is created then I really think that some of the terrible sufferings and injustices which have been going on will be removed.
Will it be enough for Mikolajczyk and Romer to go to Moscow if they are not assured a reasonable proportion in the new Government for their powers? Last October they were offered one-fourth and the Communist Party were to have three-fourths.
I wish the hon. Lady had not referred to last summer, because if it had not been for the haggling last summer there would not have been so much unhappiness and uncertainty. If the Poles are encouraged to go on haggling, as they did last summer, and to say, "We must have a few seats more" then we shall again get into a mess. In' more direct reply to the hon. Lady's question, I feel that Mikolajczyk and Romer and let us say Sapieha with the help they will certainly get from M. Molotov and the Commission will exercise an immense influence, to put it mildly, on those difficult problems. I look forward to this National United Government being formed, and carrying out elections which will be as good as elections in that part of the world ever are, and creating something which, though not perhaps as powerful, not perhaps as completely free to flirt once with one side and once with another (as my right hon. Friend's friend, Colonel Beck, used to do), will none the less have a certain continuity of foreign policy, and will still be the centre of Polish life, culture, language and history.
I trust that hon. Members will realise that if we vote for this Amendment in any large numbers, or if we abstain in any large numbers, the effect abroad will not be good. I trust also, whatever the voting may be on this Amendment, that tomorrow, when we have a chance of expressing our gratitude—for gratitude is the word—and tremendous admiration for the work accomplished by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary at Yalta, we shall do so by an overwhelming vote.
This has been a day of remarkable speeches from both sides of the House, and all that I can do is to add some observations which explain the general position taken by hon. Members on these benches. Before I do so, however, may I be permitted to express my admiration of the highly commendable speech delivered by the Prime Minister yesterday? There was, in my view, only one blemish—his reference to Greece. It seemed to me that he was chuckling over the discomfiture of his opponents on that issue. Well, the Prime Minister is entitled in all the circumstances to some relaxation, both here and when addressing the populace of Athens, but I would remind him, without any special knowledge of the classics, that many public orators addressed public gatherings in the squares of Athens who came to a bad end; they were subsequently liquidated or, in the more elegant language of my right hon. Friend, extirpated. Let that be a warning to him.
Let me make the position of the party on these benches unmistakably clear. We seek as much as any hon. Member on the other side a free and independent Poland, a Poland not at variance with its neighbours but a Poland that has reached an understanding with them within the policy that was adumbrated at the Yalta Conference, and that implies the early restoration of Europe Moreover, and this is highly important as I see it, it implies the maintenance of unity among the three Great Powers. What is more important from the standpoint of the Polish people? Is there to be a dispute, temporary or permanent, on the subject of frontiers, or as to whether this or that Government should prevail in Poland, or reaching an understanding with her great and powerful neighbour which, in the long run, can provide that security, military and otherwise, without which a free and independent Poland is impossible?
I want to say to hon. Members opposite who have sponsored this Amendment, that if they seek to maintain this agitation, to pretend to the Poles that by continuing these controversies they can in the long run extract from Soviet Russia greater advantage, they are doing an ill-service to the Poles. I do not want in this Debate to exacerbate feelings, but am bound to say that when I looked at the Order Paper, and studied the names of Members who are sponsoring the Amendment, it was reminiscent of the Chamberlain era, of the Anglo-German Fellowship era, and the Friends of Franco era, and many other questionable episodes that have occurred in the past. However, I do not want to impute motives to those who are sponsoring the Amendment; I am willing to accept their professions of sincerity; I am willing to believe that they really believe in their cause; but I must say that having regard to their public record—there is nothing secret about it—it appears to me that they are much more concerned about hostility towards Soviet Russia than they are about promoting the best interests of Poland.
There has been a great deal of talk in this Debate about free elections, democratically conducted, in Poland. First of all, I would observe that the date of those elections is very remote; we may be a long way from them. Even if the war ends in the next few months, even if a provisional Government, satisfactory to all concerned, is established in Poland, there is no reason to assume that immediately afterwards there will be free and democratic elections. It depends on the situation. After all, that provisional Government, when it is created, must consider economic and industrial restoration, and that is a formidable task. But let us assume that free elections take place in Poland, and also assume—and this is an assumption which is not ill-founded—that the people of Poland democratically decide to set up a Government of the Left or, if you like, a Communist Government. Are we to understand that the Members who are sponsoring this Amendment are quite willing to support that Government, and lend it their support?
I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for what he has said. Let it be emphasised, and put on record, that provided there is a democratic election in Poland, and it produces a Government of the Left, ready to distribute the land of Poland among the peasants, ready to nationalise industry and finance and the like, hon. Members opposite will accept it, and render every service.
I am delighted to hear the hon. and gallant Gentleman say so, but why was it that in Spain, when a free and democratic election produced a democratic Government, hon. Members opposite were not so willing to give it their support?
If the hon. Member is in favour of non-intervention, it seems to me that the speech he made to-day was a contradiction of that principle. He certainly had a great deal to say as to how the affairs of the Polish people ought to be conducted. I am all for non-intervention, but it must be non-intervention on both sides, and certainly non-intervention by the people who have not rendered any service to those con- cerned. What is the situation as regards Poland and her relations with Russia? Let me ask hon. Members opposite this question: Suppose there had been a victorious Germany and Poland had been crushed—indeed, she was crushed for a time—defeated overwhelmingly and overrun, and her people put on the rack and tortured—[HON. MEMBERS: "Russia was also overrun."] Let us deal with, one thing at a time; let us not be in too much of a hurry. Suppose Germany had defeated Poland, and was triumphant, and there had been a Conference at Yalta or elsewhere to determine the fate of Poland; what would have been the situation of that unhappy country and people?
If—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] If the hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he has never been a friend of Ribbentrop, and has never been associated with the Anglo-German Fellow ship, or with the Friends of Franco movement—
—because that is certainly a big enough stick with which to belabour the hon. and gallant Gentleman. What is the argument that is advanced by hon. Members opposite in support of Poland? What positive alternatives have they presented? There has not been one. If hon. Members come to the House and criticise the Government—as I sometimes do myself—the responsibility lies heavily on their shoulders to put forward constructive proposals, but to-day there has not been one—
I do not think the hon. Member was here when I made my speech, or he would have observed the constructive points—at any rate, I hope they were—which I put forward, and which I said I hoped would help to make the elections a reality.
I will tell the House what the constructive proposals were, because I took note of them. Let me take the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen), who is the chairman of the Conservative Committee and speaks with authority. This was his constructive proposal, that we should have rejected the Soviet proposals out of hand. Is that a constructive proposal? What would have been its effect? Would it have changed by a single inch the territorial adjustments? Of course not. Would it have led to free elections? Would it have promoted unity amongst the Allies? No. Would it have represented an advance in the direction of a durable peace? The advice of the noble Lord the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) was that we should set up a new Government, neither Lublin nor London. How do you set up a new Government, and who is to set it up? There was a suggestion from the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) that there should be an international Commission which should appoint the Government. That is intervention with a vengeance.
The hon. Member misinterprets me. I did not say anything of the sort. I said there should be an international Commission to govern Poland until and during the free elections.
That is not government at all and, if an international Commission is set up what is to happen in the meantime to the London Government? Are they to be disbanded? Are they no longer to rely on the monetary assistance that they receive from His Majesty's Government, or are they to go out of action? If they receive no Government assistance they will go out of action unless hon. Members opposite come to their assistance. We shall wait and see. What about the Lublin Government? Does anyone suggest that it will go out of action simply because an international Commission is set up?
The hon. Member said he was going to deal with constructive suggestions that have been made. Will he carry out his promise? First of all he has referred to statements which nobody claims were constructive and then he has misquoted the constructive suggestions.
I listened with great care to the suggestions of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Epsom. There was nothing constructive about them—nothing that could be carried out in a practical fashion. Now I come to the matters raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Lanark, who was supported by many others. What arguments did he adduce? Away with expediency. You must settle these matters on the basis of principle and justice. Is that customary? Was there any question of principle or justice in the Spanish affair? Indeed, is there ever any justice in international affairs? We have to be realists and accept practical proposals which are related to the situation that exists at the time. We cannot expect more than that. Therefore, when we speak about principles and justice I beg hon. Members not to be talking in vacuo. If they are seeking to render a service to their Polish friends let them apply themselves in a practical fashion to a solution of the problem.
I want to deal also with the question of the Lublin Government. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said it was no Government at all. Anyway it was a Government that was unsatisfactory, and he made all sorts of allegations about it. One thing can be said about the Lublin Committee. It has made a real attempt to distribute the land within its supervision among the peasants. I can understand Tory landlords objecting to that. It is very natural.
I am not here to defend the Provisional Government any more than I want to condemn the policy of the Government in London. That is not part of our purpose. We seek a solution of the problem—a very vexatious one—and no solution can be brought about by condemning Lublin or London. Surely the proper course is to try to bring both parties together to form this truly Provisional Government, under which to fashion a free election, and a democratic and economic Poland, which offers some hope to the people of that country, instead of adopting this mischievous and misguided device of trying to pretend to the Polish Government in London that by keeping up this agitation there is some hope of better terms being achieved.
There is a further and final point, which seems to me crucial. Hon. Members question the good faith of Russia. We on these Benches, while favourably disposed towards Russia and sympathetic to Soviet ideals, are not wedded to the political dispensations of that country. We never have been. We believe in the British method of approach. We believe in the democratic method, and we do not require to accept the political dispensations of Soviet Russia. Therefore I am not defending Soviet Russia. But, if we question the good faith of the Soviet Government, there is no hope of unity in Europe. What is the good of talking about an alliance with Soviet Russia, and then questioning the good faith of Marshal Stalin, Molotov or the Soviet rulers? There is no hope in that direction. Surely, it is much more important from the standpoint of the people concerned, the Poles, and indeed from our standpoint, because our future in Europe is closely bound up with the future of Soviet Russia and indeed with the economic policy of Soviet Russia, that we should accept the good faith of Marshal Stalin. Test his word, try it out and then, if we discover on some future occasion that we have been let down, let us complain of it, but do not let us complain in advance. Surely that would be a very great blunder, and it would render no service to the people who have now come under the wing of hon. Members who have sponsored this Amendment.
I think this has been a useful Debate. I am glad the Amendment was put down, but I shall be equally glad to see it overwhelmingly defeated. It is of the highest importance that it should be, because unless it is overwhelmingly defeated what sort of message do we convey to the Conference that is to take place at San Francisco? What is the good of going into that Conference unless we are prepared to take something along with us—the good word of Marshal Stalin, the assurance of President Roosevelt and the assurance of His Majesty's Government to protect as far as practicable the people of Poland, to render what assistance we can? Unless we are ready to project into San Francisco those assurances of good faith, what is the use of going on with it? It would be better to abandon the Conference and all hope of international cooperation.
There is one last word I want to say, and I hope it will be a word of realism. There is a great deal of talk about international co-operation. We on this side are all for international co-operation; it has been our ideal for many long years. I am bound to say, however, that there is very little hope of promoting international co-operation, as we understand it, unless we can get unity among the three great Allies. That is the prerequisite of international co-operation. If there is a cleavage, any kind of fissure or generation of suspicion among the three great Allies, what is the use of pretending to the small nations that we can offer them protection and safeguards in the future? I have frequently opposed the Government, and may do so again, but I want to say that the declarations of Yalta are a magnificent advance on anything that has gone before. I believe they have taken the first definite step towards an enduring peace. We ought not, at this early stage, to shatter the hopes of the peoples of the world. We should endeavour to make the best of this Agreement with the necessary safeguards and, in due course, seek to mould it nearer to our heart's desire. I hope that we shall support the Government on this occasion, and defeat the Amendment.
Unlike some hon. Members I propose to impute no dishonest motives to anybody, but I would remind the hon. Member that those who impute dishonest motives to their political opponents seldom have clean hands. It is not easy to make the final speech in support of the Amendment, and if I am anxious about it, it is not because I am alarmed that the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary will dispose of this case; I am nervous lest I do not do full justice to something in which I deeply believe. Having said that, I must return to the first thing which has emerged from this Debate. The Prime Minister, when he called for a Vote of Confidence, made it abundantly plain that he wanted the Vote to show to the world that this House was behind him not simply in what he had done, but in the justice of what he had done. Since then several speeches have been made. The most eloquent speech made on the Government side to-day was made by the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Captain Thorneycroft). He did not base it on justice; with great honesty he said he thought it was an unjust settlement. The hon. Member for West Leicester (Mr. H. Nicolson), in rather gentler language, agreed with him. One thing is certain—however great the Vote may be to-day, it will not be able to go out that all who voted for the Motion voted for it because they believe that the Motion was just. Well may the Prime Minister say, like Canning, "Save, oh save me, from my candid friends."
The real issue on this Amendment is far wider than Poland. It is the issue of the good name of Britain among the nations of the world. Are we, in the attitude we are adopting at the present time, encouraging, as the result of the Yalta Agreement, the nations of Europe to say, as they have often said in the past, that Britain is the friend and hope of the weak? That is the touchstone and test, and on that touchstone I propose to speak. The territorial issue of Poland and the independence of Poland are both matters which are interwoven with British honour. Much has been said upon the territorial boundaries, and I do not propose to deal with the question at any length. The Prime Minister, with a great flourish, assured the House yesterday that, after all, Poland would have been utterly destroyed if it had not been for Russia. I think his tone has been rather that of a man who regards Poland as a defeated country which has to get the best it can after defeat. Did the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, after a Polish guarantee had been given and when in August, 1939, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement had been made, turn to Poland and say "We are sorry, but in view of the fact that Germany and Russia have come together, total destruction is all you can hope for if you stand up to Germany, whatever the democracies may do"? We know quite well that that was not the line and that that was not in their hearts at the time. It was in the heart and mind of every ordinary citizen in 1939–40 that, though Poland might fall, Poland would rise again, and we believed it long before Russia ever came into the picture. It is a rather unjust argument to hurl at Poland now, after the days of 1939, that she would have been completely destroyed by the Germans and that, therefore, she ought to be grateful for what she can get to-day.
I come to the next point where I am rather shaken over Yalta. Whatever may have been the advantage or disadvantage of the territorial settlement, it seems astounding that, having as we had a legitimate Polish Government, in London, precisely recognised by the Foreign Secretary in a speech in December last year, that Government should not have had even one word of consultation, whether its advice were taken or not. I think I am right in saying that after the fall of Mr. Mikolajczyk, whose fall was deplored by the Prime Minister—he made that very plain in December—neither Mr. Arciszewski, the Prime Minister, nor the Foreign Secretary of the new Government has been permitted one word with either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary of England. It seems to me that their treatment was a little ungenerous. It is a little hard that the legitimate Government should, as it were, have been put in cold storage while Yalta settled the fate of the Poles. I do not want to labour that point, but I thought it ought to be made.
So far as frontiers are concerned, say what you will, the Atlantic Charter was finally repudiated at Yalta. It started as a principle; it afterwards became a guide; to-morrow it will leave off becoming a guide and will become what Mr. Ramsay MacDonald would have called a "gesture." We shall want something more than a gesture if a new Europe and a new world are to be built on the basis of civilisation and justice. The Prime Minister said that the Curzon Line was a just line. The hon. Member for West Leicester said it was a just line. Apparantly, however, they were dealing with two different lines. The line at Yalta was
The greatest danger in this new territorial settlement is—not that the old basis was of necessity a perfect settlement, as I think the Polish line did go too far to the East—that the line should have been settled in flat contradiction to treaties which have been made. The Treaty of Riga, in 1921, was reaffirmed in 1932 and I think in 1934, and of course was again reaffirmed in the Sikorsky-Stalin agreement, after Russia had come into the war. I hope the Prime Minister will forgive me if I try to deal with the points in his speech seriatim. I am going to be bold enough, as I have a right to do, to deal with the speech point by point. He said that after 30 years during which British, Russians, Americans and French had struggled against Germany, all the three great Allies had agreed what Poland should receive. If that is to mean throughout the world that any treaty made in Europe between 1914 and 1944 can come to an end because there has been war in between, I tremble for the future of Europe and of the world.
I do not want to go on farther, in regard to the Curzon Line, except to put one point to the Prime Minister which I have longed to put to him for some time. In speech after speech since Teheran, the Prime Minister has said that he regarded the Curzon Line as necessary for Russian security. He has said it with firmness and vigour, and I am sure that he believes it. What did he say yesterday? He said that the new Poland moving further West would have no great fear of danger from Germany, because drastic steps would be taken to prevent any offensive action by Germany for many years to come. If that is so, what have 180,000,000 Russians to fear from 80,000,000 broken and disunited Germans? As regards Poland, it is therefore quite unnecessary for the Russians, except by friendly negotiation, to extend their land and to seek for "Naboth's vineyard" at the expense of a smaller neighbour.
I now turn to the question of independence. I agree that it is of more importance even than boundaries, unless the boundaries are so shrunk that they
hamper independence. I think every one realises that the most significant thing proposed in regard to the future provisional Government of Poland is that they are to have what appears to be an extension of the present Government of Poland, with no reference to the London Government at all. If that means anything, it surely means that the new Government of Poland will be based upon Lublin. That is the view of Lublin. I venture to quote from the Lublin radio of 15th February. After the Yalta proposals had come through, they welcomed them and said that the fact that the provisional Polish Government of national unity was to be based upon the present provisional Polish Government showed confidence in its present authority in Poland, since the London emigré Government had not even been mentioned. That was the reaction of Lublin. What was the reaction of Moscow? The European service of "Red Star"—and, as we know, what any paper says in Moscow is the view of the Moscow Government more than what any paper says in London is the view of our own Government—said, on 16th February, through its commentator:
Roosevelt's personal representative stressed the democratic Government of Warsaw as the only Government of Poland, and on its basis the Provisional Polish Government of national unity will be formed, which will be recognised immediately by the Allied Powers.
We may be told by the Foreign Secretary, as I hope we shall be, that he does not propose to base the new Government upon Lublin, but I venture to suggest that there must have been misunderstanding at Yalta, if the Lublin Press and the Soviet Press have come to an erroneous conclusion that the basis of the new Government of Poland is to be Lublin. The Prime Minister went further. He made one astounding statement. He said that the Poles in London should have been wise and taken the advice of the British Government a year ago, in which case there would have been no Lublin. What does that mean? It means, as the Prime Minister knows and we all know, that Lublin is a fake and nothing more. Yet that fake, so far as we can read from Yalta—although there may be some safeguards—is supposed by both Lublin and Moscow to be the foundation of the new Government.
Let us consider for a few moments one or two further things in regard to the independence of the Poles. First, what sort of Poland will be able, even under the Ambassadors' Conference, to take part in the new Government? We have not been told, of course, what proportion the Lublin or any other Poles will have. The Foreign Secretary denied, in reply to the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), that at Moscow the suggestion was 75 per cent. to Lublin and 25 per cent. to Mikolajczyk. I wonder whether we can, at last, hear to-day what proportion was offered either by Lublin or Moscow to Mikolajczyk, and why we have never been told. One thing we know is that the terms offered now will not be better than the terms which were offered at Moscow in August.
Reference has been made to the decree which was pronounced by M. Bierut on 17th January outlawing the Polish Home Army and denouncing not only the Prime Minister of the Polish Government in London and General Bor-Komorovski as criminal adventurers, but dealing in a very rough-handed manner with M. Mikolajczyk. I should have thought that if at Yalta it was desired to get the support and the friendship of Poles both in this country and serving abroad, if there was one way in which that could have been assisted it would have been by the rescinding of that decree. Are we to hear that perhaps it will be rescinded? I am sure the Foreign Secretary wishes it to be. But why has it not been rescinded? That is not all. Not only have these criticisms been passed in the Russian Press, but even since this Conference M. Mikolajczyk himself has been held up to ridicule. I do not want to give too many quotations, but I think I ought to make one or two. There was a despatch from Lublin on 3rd January this year—this was before Yalta—from Henry Shapiro, a war correspondent. He said that there could be no question of compromise between the two Governments, and that feeling was particularly bitter against ex-Premier Mikolajczyk, to whom the Lublin Poles were so anxious to offer the Premiership only three months ago. He was now considered to be a public enemy in the same class as General Sosnkowski. Premier Mokawski said recent documents proving Mikolajczyk to have been responsible for cases of terror-
ism in liberated areas had been seized by the Lublin Government. Not a very pleasant sort of party to join, even with a safeguard from the British Government to see that you get there. That is not all. At the beginning of this year there was a Soviet communiqué dealing with the so-called Peasants Congress in occupied—Western—Poland. I quote only the final passage:
At the end of the session the Congress demanded the expulsion of the leaders of the emigré Government—Arciszowski, Mikolajczyk and others from Polish citizenship as traitors to the Polish nation.
It seems to me that they will be bold men who, until some safeguards are produced, will be prepared to go out to Poland. They will, indeed, unless certain safeguards are proposed and certain decrees are rescinded, be men who could almost be accused of wishful thinking. But this is no matter for jest.
The reason for this Amendment is that certain hon. Members of this House, of whom I am one, believe profoundly that even though Great Britain might not be able at this stage to do much for Poland, we could do something more than underwrite a charter for Poland which, without proper safeguards, must be the end of Poland. The Prime Minister said in his speech that of course all parties will have free elections, except pro-Nazi and antidemocratic parties. I challenge him now: Can he name one pro-Nazi party in Poland? If there is one country which, under suffering and misery, has kept its soul, it is Poland. We know so well that the Russian, and indeed the Lublin, definitions of "democracy" and "pro-Nazi" are rather different from ours. Everybody with whom you disagree in Russia is a pro-Nazi or an anti-democrat. In view of the fact that the new Polish Government, however it is created, will be formed after consultations between the two Ambassadors and Mr. Molotov at Moscow, and will be formed with the background of this continued abuse of every known Polish leader and every great political party, whether it be the National Party or the Socialist Party, it seems rather unlikely that the old parties, and the supporters of these old parties, who have supported the underground movement, will be recognised as being either anti-Nazi or democratic. We have even had General Bor himself, the hero of Warsaw, described as a capitulating traitor in the pay of Berlin.
I do not think that the Prime Minister, whose greatness I appreciate as much as any man in this House, or any of the other members of the Government, can feel surprised if, under these circumstances, we are inclined to say, "Would it not have been better not to have come to any agreement upon the final Eastern frontiers until the war was over, and the thing could have been settled at the Peace Conference? Would it not have been better, instead of forming a Government which is bound to be formed, as Press cuttings alone show, in an atmosphere of fear and terrorism, to have had some inter-Allied Commission to carry on until the war was over, and the parties themselves could be properly supervised, and given an opportunity of free elections, under inter-Allied control, on the basis of the Saar plebiscite—the only really fair international plebiscite we have seen for many years?"
That is our case. The last time I opposed the Government on what was made a Vote of Confidence, I followed the Prime Minister himself into the Lobby—in 1935. I did it because I believed he was right. Because I differ from him today I do it, not because I am anti- the Prime Minister—I have stood by him in days when he was far less popular than he is to-day—but because I believe that for all his greatness, to-day, insignificant as I am, I speak with the voice of my country.
I think those of us who have listened to this discussion have been conscious that we are discussing an issue on which the House feels deeply. Hon. Members, whatever their point of view on the issue, have fully expressed themselves and that is as it should be, for after all there are very few institutions anywhere in the world which could conduct such a discussion as has been conducted here during the last two days.
I am sure that not one of our critics will deny that we have a right, as a Government, to come to the House and ask for their judgment on the work that we did in the Crimea. Let me correct one thing that my hon. Friend said, at the beginning of his speech. He referred to my right hon. Friend's speech, and to the position of the Prime Minister in this matter. I must make it absolutely clear to the House that at every stage of this anxious Polish business, lasting as it has now done over almost the whole of the war period—and indeed it started from long before that—at any rate, so long as this Government have handled it, all the decisions have been taken by the War Cabinet; and the responsibility is the responsibility of the War Cabinet. We have worked together in all we have done, and my right hon. Friends in the War Cabinet want me to say that we have worked, in the Crimea and other occasions, as a united War Cabinet, and, be our treatment of this subject right or wrong, it is the treatment of a united Government, who took all their decisions with a knowledge of the facts put before them.
My hon. Friend also spoke of our relations with the Polish Government, and asked, Was it true that I have not had direct contacts with the Polish Prime Minister or members of his Government? It is true that we have not had personal contacts with them, but it is also true that I have frequently seen the Ambassador who represents that Government. I have seen him, naturally, since I returned from the Crimea. Perhaps I ought to add, as a matter of historical accuracy, that I had arranged an interview with the Polish Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary just before we went to the Crimea, but an incident occurred, which will be fresh in the mind of the House—that we had a sudden and unexpected Greek Debate; and I, therefore, asked my Permanent Under - Secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan, to see them instead. I think the House will accept it that there has not been any discourtesy on the part of His Majesty's Government. I cannot, however, pretend that we have the same cordial relations with the present Polish Government as we had with the Government which preceded them, and which included, as, unhappily, this Government do not, all the main Polish parties represented in London.
I want to deal with this question, taking two main issues—first, and the more briefly of the two, the question of the frontiers, and, second, the question of whether under the arrangement which we have devised in the Crimea there can be and will be a free and independent Poland. A word about the frontier itself. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) and others, including the mover of the Amendment, who raised this issue, always begin at the Treaty of Riga; but it is really completely unrealistic to begin this discussion at the Treaty of Riga. I admit that it is true—there is no question of it—that the Soviet Government ultimately accepted the Treaty of Riga, but nobody with a knowledge of the history of those parts is going to contend that Russia was content with that solution, or, indeed, that we were content with that solution. As the House knows, and as I have stated before, we more than once urged the Polish Government at the time not to extend their frontiers East beyond the Curzon Line, and for two years after the Treaty of Riga withheld our recognition of that arrangement. In 1923, when the Conference of Ambassadors did eventually recognise the Treaty, that Conference made it plain, on our initiative, that the responsibility for the Line rested with the two Governments concerned, and not with us.
More than that, the Conference made it clear that in their recognition of the Riga frontier, two years after the Treaty had been signed, there was called for—put it this way—the setting-up of an autonomous regime in Eastern Galicia for ethnographical reasons. In point of fact, that autonomous regime was never set up. What happened was that, after fighting between the Poles and Ukrainians, the Polish armies were victorious and obtained control of the country. I hope the House is not going to assume that, on account of that, what happened at that time was accepted by the population as a whole. It was not. Although the area was placed under the Minority Treaty, because of the disputes and the anxieties about it, the provisions of that Minority Treaty were never fully carried out, and disturbances, as the House will see if they look up the records, were unhappily frequent. What happened was this. It is not in any way surprising or a criticism of anybody. As the Eastern Galicia area—which is the one, I think, in most dispute—was an area of mixed population, with Poles in the minority, the Poles sought to increase their own population in that area by bringing other Poles in, with the result that that, in its turn, led to friction. Further, there was the issue which, the House must bear in mind, underlies the whole of this frontier problem: the religious issue between the Roman Catholic elements and the Orthodox Church. The religious difference in that area is far older than the national issue, and it is religion which lies at the root of much of the feeling on this issue.
I have explained before, and I am not going over it again, the basis on which the Curzon Line was delimited, but this at least can be accepted by everybody, whatever else we dispute—that east of the Curzon Line there are no areas where the Poles are in the majority except the two cities of Vilna and Lvov, which, in their turn, are surrounded by large non-Polish areas. On that particular aspect of the question there is no dispute between us at all. I, therefore, say that when the Soviet Government say that they will accept the Curzon Line, with certain adjustments, minor adjustments, but all in favour of Poland—the importance of which I must emphasise, for the Curzon Line, it is true, is not a frontier but a line drawn on the map, and it is of importance to the Polish Government that all adjustments, and there must be many, shall favour them—I cannot stand at this Box and say that I regard that as a gross injustice to Poland. It is the position which successive Governments in this country have consistently taken. I would put this to my hon. Friends. Are they absolutely convinced that the structure of the Polish State is strengthened by the inclusion of large, or considerable, non-Polish elements in it? I wonder.
The assumption in regard to the West is that the populations shall be removed. That is the whole basis. In most cases, I can tell the hon. Gentleman, they have gone already. But let me deal with this matter—I am sorry the hon. Gentleman has put me off my stroke—about the minorities in the Polish State. I should have said that there were two weaknesses in the Polish State, as it existed before the war. One was these very considerable minority elements, who came frequently and made their complaints before the International Tribunal at Geneva, and the other was the Corridor. I am amazed that in the speeches which the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment made neither of them—I listened carefully—made even the slightest reference to the significance to Poland of the fact that this Corridor problem would cease to exist. If my hon. Friend's concern is solely for Poland, surely they must take some account of that?
May I ask them this? Which Poland would be stronger—the Poland with Vilna and with the Corridor as it was, or a Poland without Vilna and without the Corridor? I have not the slightest doubt, nor, I believe, has any student of international affairs the slightest doubt, which Poland would be the stronger. I am going to say a word or two about this Corridor business. I made one reference to it before, but, if the House will allow me, I am going into it a little deeper, because I had to handle this myself yen after year at Geneva, when the unfortunate British representative on the Council was Rapporteur for Danzig. I promise the House that I never chose the job; I inherited it, and it was the most thankless task that ever fell to the lot of man, because, at every single meeting, we were faced with these issues, demands, charges and counter-charges between Poles and Germans. I think the only other person who had this experience to the same extent is the present Lord Chancellor. We were never able to obtain a solution of real value, because no solution was possible as long as the Corridor existed.
I remember one occasion—it will probably be fresh in the minds of many hon. Members—when the German representative had behaved in a particularly insulting manner to the Council. After he had withdrawn, I thought it my duty to say to the Council, in private, of course, the Press having withdrawn, that, in view of his behaviour, we ought to know whether the Polish Government would take action in the event of a German infraction by violence of the Free City, for which we were responsible. I put that question, and the Polish answer was "Yes." I mention that only to show that it would be a cardinal sin on our part to perpetuate that state of affairs. I have been engaged in these last years in this Polish-Russian dispute, and, for what my own judgment is worth, I have come to the decision that there are two alternatives. Either you must deprive Poland of all outlet to the sea, or East Prussia must cease to be German and the Corridor must go. Of these two alternatives, I unhesitatingly command the second to the House; but do not let anybody say that that is not something of importance for the Poland of the future, and do not let people merely say "You are taking half Poland away" without putting into the balance what this means.
I turn to another aspect. It is not only the question of what the elimination of the Corridor means. The House must also put into the balance the position of Oppeln Silesia, which we are all agreed should go to Poland, and which is a territory of great value industrially. Poland tried hard to get it after the last peace settlement, but her claim was rejected. That must be put into the balance, too. I believe that, when a settlement is finally reached—and here let me say again that what we have expressed is our view of what a settlement should be with our Ally, a settlement which we would wish to discuss with the new Polish Government when it is created—I believe it may still be found—and I say this with respect to some of my hon. Friends—that the new Poland when so constituted, will be as strong as, or stronger than, the Poland that existed in 1939. That depends, of course, on how the agreement is carried out.
Therefore, I turn to that, and to the setting up of the new Government. I was asked by my Noble Friend the Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) yesterday, and I have been asked to-day by both the mover and the seconder of the Amendment, why it was that, when we approached this problem in the Crimea, we did not make an end of the Lublin Government, as it were, "de-recognise" the Lublin Government and "de-recognise" the Government here, and start entirely afresh. Of course, that is an attractive suggestion, and it was, in fact, the point from which we started our examination of the matter, but this is the difficulty with which we were faced. The Russians said to us, and it is inescapable, that they must have some authority on their lines of communication through Poland. Whether we like or dislike the Lublin Committee—and personally I say I dislike it—for the moment it is the authority which is functioning there in fulfilling the requirements of the Russian military authorities. What they said to us was "We do not know how long it will take to form a new Polish Government; it may take weeks, it may take months." I do not know, either; it takes quite a long time to form a British Government. Nobody can say. During that time there could not be a vacuum in Poland, and so it is that we agreed, eventually, that pending the creation of the new Government—and I beg the House to note that the phrase "new Government" occurs twice in the Declaration—the Soviet Government will continue to recognise the Lublin Government and we and the United States will continue to recognise the Government here. I hope I have been able to remove the doubts expressed by my hon. Friends to-day.
The right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) yesterday complained that we had taken our decision, or come to our agreement, behind the back, I think his phrase was, of the Polish Government. As I understand his argument, it was that we ought to have summoned the Polish Government to our councils in Yalta when we reached a certain point in our discussions and talked matters over with them. Of course, we thought of it. Let me therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman, Which Polish Government were we to summon? Were we to summon the Lublin Government, for both we and the United States Government hold that that Government is not fully representative of the Polish people? Or were we to summon the Government here in London, which the Soviet Government hold is not representative of the Polish people? Or were we to summon both Governments? Apart from certain physical difficulties, this last arrangement would not have been satisfactory. Moreover ill my belief, probably, those Polish statesmen who have most following in Polond—and all this is a matter of one's o
My right hon. Friend said something about this Commission of the Soviet Foreign Secretary and two Ambassadors, and one of the speakers seemed to in- dicate that he thought that there was a weakness in our position; but let me assure the House that our Ambassador will act under instructions of His Majesty's Government and will not deviate from those instructions. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and Haddington (Captain McEwen), said that our Ambassador had said that the Lublin Government should be recognised. I do not know when he said that. He never said anything of that kind to me, to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, or to any one of our colleagues, and, certainly, he knows well enough what is the attitude of His Majesty's Government in that respect.
Let me now try to answer some of the questions that have been put. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and Haddington, and indeed, the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, really put what was the only alternative course. They said that better than what we have done, would have been to have left it alone. I cannot accept that view. That really is an absolute policy of despair. What would that have meant? It would have meant that the Lublin Government would have continued to operate with the support of the Soviet Government. We do not know what the conditions are there at the present time, and I am not by any means sure that all the information that hon. Friends get about the state of opinion in Poland is accurate. I am not even sure that the politicians who have been five years out of the country know exactly what their country feels. There have been revolutions in thought as well as in spirit in Poland in these last years. There was an account the other day—one has to be very careful from which newspapers one quotes—in the "Manchester Guardian"—whose foreign correspondents I have always found very reliable, so far—which gave an account of some American officers who came out from Poland. They said they saw the first Russian forces drive on, "the Poles, delirious with delight, cheering both the Russians and their Western Allies." I do not know whether it is true or whether it is not. I should think that very likely it was so. Maybe it was only so at the beginning and it may be so now, but one cannot tell, as one cannot be sure. But I beg of hon. Members not to accept every report that comes and is suddenly thrust upon us in the House of Commons by our friends.
That is going a little ahead of what I was going to say. I would like first to answer two questions asked by my Noble Friend yesterday about our desires in connection with this Polish situation. He asked for two specific answers to his questions. First, is it our desire that Poland should be really and truly free? Yes, certainly, most certainly it is. In examining that Government, if and when it is brought together, it will be for us and our Allies to decide whether that Government is really and truly, as far as we can judge, representative of the Polish people. Our recognition must depend upon that, We would not recognise a Government which we did not think representative. The addition of one or two Ministers would not meet our views. It must be, or as far as it can be made, representative of the Polish parties as they are known, and include representative national Polish figures. That is what we mean. There is only one consideration—I do not think we could call it more than that—that we would ask of the new Polish Government; that is that they would enter into a treaty of friendship and alliance with Russia. I do not think that anybody would think that unreasonable because at the same time that Government would have treaties of friendship and alliance with us and the French Government.
The second question was, do we favour the establishment of machine for Allied supervision of elections? That was a question which was also discussed. The Greek Government have asked for such supervision and we have invited, or shall invite when the time comes, our Russian and American Allies to join in it. It may be, if and when this new Polish Government is formed, that they will also ask for international supervision. I hope so. If they do then we shall certainly be prepared to join in it. We could not agree to any inter-Allied supervision to which we were not parties in view of our treaty relations with Poland. I think the House will agree that the final decision on that cannot be taken until the moment comes, if and when this new Polish Government is formed, because that new Government must have a say as to such supervision and, if they desire it, as to its nature and the conditions. But I will make plain our own position, as it is made plain to our Allies, that, if there should be such supervision, we shall be glad to take part in it ourselves. There is one more question which my Noble Friend asked. He said that, in the arrangement for Yugoslavia, we included a provision that the acts of the Yugoslav Committee should be ratified by the new Parliament, and he asked why we did not include a similar provision in the Polish Agreement. But to be honest with my hon. Friend, we did not think of it. We did not think we had got to a stage far enough for that to be operative but I see no reason whatever why that proposal should not be made. In view of the fact that it was at once accepted by our Allies in relation to Yugoslavia, I have no reason to think that it will not be accepted in relation to Poland, and I think it is a good thing that that proposal should be put forward. It would be an additional safeguard.
Let me turn to the question of information from inside Poland. We should certainly like people from this country to have an opportunity of seeing for themselves conditions inside Poland. There have been newspaper correspondents, but apart from them, we would like other opportunities, and I have every reason to believe that our Russian Allies would certainly not object to it. Indeed I am inclined to think from something I have had to-day that they would probably welcome it, but I would rather not go further at the moment than to say that we are in correspondence with our Russian Allies about making arrangements so that people from this country can go to Poland to see what is going on. We shall do all we can to bring these arrangements to early fruition. I feel that nothing would give more reassurance to this House than a sense that there would be an opportunity to see what was going on in Poland.
I come on to the other questions. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and Haddington said, "Why when you were signing the Anglo-Soviet Treaty did not you consider this Polish matter and did not you put special provisions into your agreement about it?" There was a similar question asked in another form by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom. The answer is that at the time the Anglo-Soviet Treaty was made fortunately Soviet Russia and the Polish Government here were in relations. It was one of the few comparatively calm and encouraging periods of Soviet-Polish relations, and they were in relations very largely as the outcome of the efforts of His Majesty's Government to bring about the agreement of 1941. Of course, the Soviet Government are aware of our engagement towards Poland on which I propose to say a word. I must repeat and make plain—I am not sure that it is plain to some hon. Members—exactly the position about recognition. I hold the House out no pledge. No one can be certain how it is going to work out but we hope that the discussions in Moscow will be attended by representative Poles from inside Poland and from outside Poland and that as a result of those conversations a thoroughly representative Polish Government will come into being. If it does and if it is in the words of the communiqué, "properly constituted" then we and our Allies will recognise that Government as the provisional Government of Poland—provisional until the elections take place. If it does not come into being then we remain as we are to-day we and the United States recognising the Government in London and the Soviet Government recognising, I presume, the Government in Lublin. That, may I add, would not be a very happy state of affairs either for Poland or for unity between our Allies.
Now may I say a word or two about the Amendment which we are now discussing? The Amendment suggests that the recommendations which the three Great Powers have made for the solution of the Polish problem are contrary to treaty. That is not so. We have at no time guaranteed Poland's pre-war frontier. Nor, let me add, can I accept that to agree to recommend the line which was worked out at the time as giving as near as might be an ethnographical boundary is to run directly counter to the terms of the Atlantic Charter. As to the last part of my hon. Friend's Amendment. I must say that I am frankly puzzled as to how that can be regarded as a criticism of the policy which we are now advocating. If my hon. Friends will read the wording, it seems to me to be a precise description of what we are seek- ing to do in Poland. We are seeking to ensure to Poland the full right to choose her own Government free from the influence of any other power, or any other powers let me add. So that in that respect I do not understand where we are open to criticism. As I have said, whether we shall succeed or not I cannot pronounce upon now, but I have not the least doubt, and I hope the House has not the least doubt, that it is not only our right but our duty to make this attempt.
I come to a criticism made by my hon. Friend the Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick), who maintained that in the course which we have jointly agreed, we have in some way violated the Anglo-Polish Agreement of 1939, and he referred to a secret Protocol in this connection. I can assure my hon. Friend that his fears are entirely un-founded. There is nothing in the Anglo-Polish Treaty, or in any other document, which guarantees the frontiers of Poland. The Government of 1939 gave the House, of course, full information about the Treaty but, quite rightly, they went further than this and made clear the effect of the secret Protocol from which my hon. Friend quoted. I must read to the House the reply given by my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Education, who was then Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
I will now have to consider that. Naturally I had it in mind as my hon. Friend has raised the question—I do not make any complaint about that. I am now going to read the answer which was given to Parliament at the time. I was not a member of the Government myself. This is what he said in reply to a Parliamentary Question on 19th October, 1939, asking whether the references to aggression by a European Power in the Anglo-Polish Agreement were intended to cover the case of aggression by Powers other than Germany including Russia, and my right hon. Friend replied:
No, Sir. During the negotiations which led up to the signature of the agreement, it
was understood between the Polish Government and His Majesty's Government that the agreement should only cover the case of aggression by Germany, and the Polish Government confirm that this is so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th October, 1939, Vol. 352, C. 1082.]
That is the exact position of the Agreement. There was no question whatever of any engagement having been made about the Eastern frontiers at that time or at any other time.
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman? He is referring only to the main Treaty of mutual assistance. I asked about a Protocol of which I read out an extract and it was perfectly plain. I will do it again if he likes. Clause 3 of the secret Protocol says:
The undertakings mentioned in Article 6 of the agreement, should they be entered into by one of the contracting parties with a third State"—
shall we say Russia or some other State?—
would of necessity be so framed that their execution should at no time prejudice either the sovereignty or territorial inviolability of the other contracting parties.
I do not know that my hon. Friend has got the complete document. In fact I do not know what he has got. I must frankly say, if he has got the complete document, he will see that that refers to an earlier Article, and the earlier Article makes it quite plain—[An HON. MEMBER: "What are these?"] My hon. Friend did not tell me he was going to read out from a secret document but, naturally, as he did so, I have looked it up, and I have seen exactly what the position is. I can assure my hon. Friend, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education will confirm it, that the answer I have just given was precisely intended to cover that secret Protocol. I can assure him there is no catch about the matter at all and that what that Clause refers to, if he will look back, is to Article 3 of the agreement which refers to certain undertakings that might in the future be made—
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon but I have taken the trouble to look up this matter since he raised it. I was not even a member of the Government then, but I consulted those who were and I think my right hon. Friend will bear me out that they spared no pains to tell the House exactly what the position was, and it would have been wrong if the Government had not done so. What they made absolutely plain was that these measures only applied to aggression by Germany, and it does not in the least surprise me, if I may say so. I am now going to look into these documents and lay them on the Table. I do not ask my hon. Friend how he obtained this secret Protocol.
Is it not rather disquieting, during this period when there was so very much interest in foreign affairs, that His Majesty's Government should be making secret commitments with other Powers?
I really do not think so, We must not let a wrong impression go out. I have consulted my legal advisers and in their judgment, and in the judgment of those concerned at the time, the effect of this secret Protocol was to limit—precisely to limit—the obligations put before the House, not to increase them.
I have told the hon. Gentleman I will go into that, but I cannot lay these documents without consulting others—I do not mean other persons in this country but other Governments. There is no mystery about it. I hope the House will not think that. There is no mystery. I have convinced myself in looking into these matters that the Government of the day behaved with absolute correctness in the information they gave the House, and the House was in no way deceived at all.
Further to that point of Order. Surely it is not sufficient to accept the assurance of the Government, which is deeply concerned in this matter, about what is the significance of the document; once the document has been referred to, there is an obligation to lay the documents on the Table so that we may ourselves form our judgment.
Really we need not get heated about this, because the position is quite clear. There is no obligation to lay a document unless you quote from it. I have not quoted from it, I have referred to it. We propose to lay these documents but I must consult others. I am quite confident, or at least I am advised, by those who dealt with the matter at the time, and by my legal advisers, that the effect was to limit the engagement as it was announced to the House in 1939.
That is certainly not a matter for me. Let me now come back to some of the points which have been raised, because I want to carry the House with me in the remaining arguments I have to make. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom asked what were the reasons why we failed to conclude a treaty with Russia in 1939. Here, again, I am dealing with matters which I did not handle, but I think the correct answer is something like this: Russia said at that time that if she was to conclude a treaty, she must have the right to move her troops across Poland, or across the Baltic States, in the event of war with Germany. The Polish Government at that time were consulted on this point, and would not agree to the Russian demand. Although I do not pretend to be a historian, I think that that was, approximately, the main cause of the breakdown of those negotiations.
Do I understand my right hon. Friend to mean that our failure to come to agreement in 1939 was due to Russia's demand for those portions of territory which I mentioned in the question I asked him in my speech?
Perhaps my hon. and gallant Friend will put down a Question about it on the Order Paper; it is a little difficult for me to give a detailed answer at short notice. But I have consulted those who were concerned, and I think the answer I gave was the main cause of the breakdown.
Now I come to the main issue. Some of my hon. Friends have said, with warmth, that the decisions we arrived at at Yalta have become a matter of world anxiety. I really cannot accept that that is true. So far as I know, the deepest anxiety of all was caused to Goebbels. If the House would read some of the stuff put out by Goebbels, after the Yalta Agreement, they would see in that the measure of the success of that Agreement. But not only that. If the House would look at reviews of the American Press and, still more so, of the Swedish Press—Sweden has had a long traditional friendship with Poland—and of the Turkish Press, they would find in them a general and wide endorsement of what we set out to achieve at Yalta. It really is a wild exaggeration to say that the work we did there was a cause of anxiety. I cannot tell how these matters will work out in their later stages. I know how infinitely difficult the problems will be. It may be that we shall not succeed, but I think some of my hon. Friends would have been wiser had they reserved judgment until a later stage. There is no such thing as a perfect solution of this problem, but surely it is a step forward that the three Great Powers have agreed upon a method of handling it.
Since the Polish-Soviet Agreement of 1941 was unhappily broken by an incident which is fresh in the minds of the House, I have been faced with two main
anxieties in dealing with the problem. First, what would be the effect of failing to restore relations of Poland with Russia and, second, what would be the effect on the three great countries joined together in the prosecution of the war? Those are the problems we have to confront. If we are to restore Poland as a true, independent State she will need the help of each one of the three Great Powers to restore her devastated frontier. She cannot do that unless there is agreement between them. Some of my hon. Friends have said that a policy of continuing to recognise the Government here while the Lublin Government is recognised by Russia is of no assistance to Poland, although it may give us a great moral position. I am surprised at my hon. Friends using that argument. My hon. Friend the Member for South-East Essex (Mr. Raikes), who has just spoken, chided me once, I remember, for being an idealist. I am not so sure that he would do that to-day, because he himself once said:
As has been so often proved, those who are prepared for the sake of ideals to disregard the realistic facts of the present situation, may indeed, as has been the case in the past, cause more unnecessary suffering than perhaps any other people.
It seems then that we must be near agreement at last. Let me put the issue broadly. I share the feeling which my right hon. Friend expressed yesterday. It is difficult at times not to be oppressed by the weight of problems which lie upon Europe. They are infinitely greater than they were after the last war. There have been six years of war on an unparalleled scale; there has been the devastation of air bombardment, which there was not last time, and the dislocation caused by the movement of millions of workers to slavery in Germany. If any life is to be restored to Europe, if it is to be saved from anarchy and chaos, it can only be done by the three Powers working together. The right hon. Gentleman opposite spoke yesterday of the difficulties of maintaining unity in peace. Of course, he is right, but after what we have endured there is no duty more encumbent upon statesmanship than to try and strengthen that unity, and to try to find together in good faith a full solution of the problems which confront us all.
In conclusion, I would like to say a word or two to some of my hon. Friends. As I listened to their speeches I felt the sincerity of the feeling which underlay them. Some of them expressed the view that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I did not stand up with sufficient authority for the point of view of His Majesty's Government. I repudiate that, and I would ask my hon. Friends to question themselves a little, if they would. The foreign policy of this country has been based for centuries on the determination that no one country should dominate Europe. We believe in Europe, we are a part of Europe and I myself am convinced that no one country is ever going to dominate Europe. It is too big for any one nation to succeed in doing that. It is because of that instinct of our own that we have a special position in Europe, and that a special measure of confidence is extended to us. It is for that reason that there were the wars with Philip II of Spain, with Louis XIV, with Wilhelm II, and now with Hitler and the Third Reich.
As I listened to some of the speeches I could not help feeling that some of my hon. Friends, in talking about Poland, had not only Poland in mind, but the fear that Russia, flushed with the magnificent triumphs of her Armies, was also dreaming dreams of European domination. This, of course, is the constant theme of German propaganda. It is poured out day by day and night after night and comes to us in all sorts of unexpected forms and guises. It was their theme before the war. It was then the Bolshevik bogy, and how well Hitler used it. How often visitors to Nuremburg were told by the Germans they met, of the fear of Russia. I have had plenty of it chucked at me at interviews with Hitler myself. Can anyone doubt that that theme, before the war, was an element in making it difficult for us to establish an understanding with Soviet Russia? Can anyone doubt that, if we had had, in 1939, the unity between Russia, this country and the United States that we cemented at Yalta, there would not have been the present war? I go further. Can anyone doubt that, so long as we hold that unity, there will not be another war? We do not say that we can establish conditions in which there will never be war again, but I believe if we can hold this unity we can establish peace for 25 years or 50 years or—who can say? But unless we can hold it there will be no peace for anything like that period of time.
Finally may I say this word, again to my hon. Friends? Make no mistake. The moment this fighting ceases, Germany will be out on the old theme of propaganda again. She will again try to play us off against Russia, and Russia against America and ourselves. She will play on all their pity, which she knows so well how to do. The whole orchestra of German self-pity will work up again to fortissimo. Let us be very careful that we do not fall victims to that.
What is my conclusion? I say that, while we must be watchful, active and vigorous and do all in our power to secure the real freedom and independence of our Polish Allies—while that is our right and our duty—do not let us at the same time fall victims too easily to suspicion of another Ally. I think we have to be on our guard. I assure the House that the Government will do all that lies in their power to see that the objectives the Prime Minister and I described are carried out. We are in the midst of this business. We are not through it. We have many difficult
stages to fulfil. Neither my right hon. Friend nor I can give any undertaking what our measure of success may be, but unless hon. Members feel that we should not try—and I cannot believe that they do—I would ask them to give us the encouragement to go forward. I would ask them to give it with a really strong and definite voice, otherwise we are going to confuse the mind of the world and the minds of our Polish friends for, after all, this cannot be solved at all unless the elements which represent Poland can be brought together. I would ask the House to consider again and give us full support for the work we are doing and, in the light of the assurances that I have given to the House, to say that in what we have done we have their confidence, and in what we are going to do we shall have their confidence, provided we fulfil the engagements that we have given. I in turn will tell them that we will report ourselves faithfully to this House.
|Division No. 9]||AYES.||[5.55 p.m.|
|Bewer, Commdr. R. T. (Cleveland)||Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.)||Slourton, Hon. J. J.|
|Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.||Nunn, W.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'd'ton, S.)|
|Graham, Capt. A. C. (Wirral)||Peto, Major B. A. J.||Teeling, Flight-Lieut. W.|
|Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Colonel C. N.|
|Hopkinson, A.||Savory, Professor D. L.||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.)||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croyden, S.)|
|Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Southby, Comdr, Sir A. R. J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Major Lord|
|McGovern, J.||Stephen, C.|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P.||Stokes, R. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—|
|Mr. Petherick and Mr. Keeling.|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Bellenger, F. J.||Bullock, Capt. M.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. Sir G. J.||Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Burden, T. W.|
|Adams, Major S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Benson, G.||Burke, W. A.|
|Adamson, Mrs. Jennie L. (Dartford)||Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham)||Burton, Col. H. W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Bevan, A. (Ebbw Vale)||Butcher, H. W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr'h)||Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh)||Bird, Sir R. E.||Beveridge, Sir W. H.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Blair, Sir R.||Cadogan, Major Sir E.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (So'h Univ.)||Bossom, A. C.||Cape, T.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Carver, Colonel W. H.|
|Astor, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Bowles, F. G.||Cary, R. A.|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Boyce, Sir H. Leslie||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Brabner, Comdr. R. A.||Channon, H.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.||Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Charleton, H. C.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Chorlton, A. E. L.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Christie, J. A.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. (Ep'ing)|
|Beattie, F. (Cathcart)||Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Clarke, Colonel R. S.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Cluss, W. S.|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Cobb, Captain E. C.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'th)||Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Cooks, F. S.|
|Beech, Major F. W.||Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Colegate, W. A.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Colindridge, F.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Bull, B. B.||Colman, N. C. D.|
|Conant, Major R. J. E.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Maitland, Sir A.|
|Cook, Lt.-Col. Sir T.R.A.M. (N'f'k, N.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||Makins, Brig.-Gon. Sir E.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hambro, Capt. A. V.||Mander, Sir G. le M.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hammersley, S. S.||Manning, C. A. G.|
|Cox, Captain H. B. Trevor||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Helmore, Air Commodore W.||Marlowe, Lt.-Col. A.|
|Critchley, A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Martin, J. H.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Mathers, G.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.)||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Cundiff, Major F. W.||Heneage, Lt.-Col. Sir A. P.||Messer, F.|
|Daggar, C.||Hepburn, Major P. G. T. Buchan-||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hepworth, J.||Mitchell, Colonel H. P.|
|Davies, Clement (Montgomery)||Herbert, Petty Officer A. P. (Oxford U.)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||Hewlett, T. H.||Montague, F.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hioks, E. G.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W. (Rochdale)|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Higgs, W. F.||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)|
|De la Bère, R.||Hill, Prof. A. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Denville, Alfred||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Dobbie, W.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Doland, G. F.||Holdsworth, Sir H.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Douglas, F. C. R.||Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)||Mort, D. L.|
|Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Horabin, T. L.||Mott-Radclyfie, Major C. E.|
|Drewe, C.||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Muff, G.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hubbard, T. F.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney, N.)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Hughes, R. Moelwyn||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)|
|Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)||Hulbert, Wing-Commander N. J.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. (Kens'gton, N.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Hunter, Sir T.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Owen, Major Sir G.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Hynd, J. B.||Pearson, A.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Isaacs, G. A.||Peat, C. U.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||James, Wing-Com, A. (Well'borough)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||James, Admiral Sir W. (Ports'th, N.)||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.||Jeffreys, General Sir G. D.||Plugge, Capt. L. F.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jenkins A. (Pontypool)||Poole, Catpain C. C.|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Jennings, R.||Power, Sir J. C.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Jewson, P. W.||Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.|
|Evans, Col. Sir A. (Cardiff, S.)||John, W.||Price, M. P.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Johnstone, Rt. Hon. H. (Mids'bro, W.)||Prior, Comdr. R. M.|
|Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Jones, Sir L. (Swansea, W.)||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Pym, L. R.|
|Findlay, Sir E.||Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Comdr. Hon. L. W.||Quibell, D. J. K.|
|Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Foster, W.||Kendall, W. D.||Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)|
|Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Frankel, D.||Kimball, Major L.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Fraser, Lt.-Col. Sir Ian (Lonsdale)||Kirby, B. V.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Furness, S. N.||Lakin, C. H. A.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Riley, B.|
|Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Callacher, W.||Lancaster, Lieut-Col. C. G.||Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Robinson, Wing-Com. J. R. (Blackp'l)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Lawson, H. M. (Skipton)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Gates, Maj. E. E.||Lawson, J. J. (Chester-le-Street)||Ross Taylor, W.|
|George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Lloyd (P'b'ks)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rothschild, J. A. de|
|Gibbons, Lt.-Col. W. E.||Levy, T.||Rowlands, G.|
|Gibson, Sir C. G.||Lewis, O.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Glanville, J. E.||Liddall, W. S.||Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)|
|Gledhill, G.||Linstead, H. N.||Salt, E. W.|
|Gluckstein, Col. L. H.||Lipson, D. L.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Oxford U.)|
|Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Llewellin, Col. Rt. Hon. J. J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. E. D.|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Ladywood)||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Grant-Ferris, Wing-Commander R.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Granville, E. L.||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Selley, Sir H. R.|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Lyons, Colonel A. M.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)|
|Greenwell, Colonol T. G.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Oliver||Shephard, S.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Gridley, Sir A. B.||McCallum, Major D.||Shinwell, E.|
|Griffiths J. (Llanelly)||McCorquodale Malcolm S.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Macdonald, Captain Peter (I. of W.)||Simmonds, Sir O. E.|
|Grimston, Hon. J. (St. Albans)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.|
|Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)||McEntee, V. la T.||Sloan, A.|
|Groves, T. E.||McGhee, H. G.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.|
|Guest, Lt.-Col. H. (Drake)||Mack, J. D.||Smith, Sir Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.)||McKinlay, A. S.||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Gunston, Major Sir D. W.||Maclay, Hon. J. P. (Paisley)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Guy, W. H.||Magnay, T.||Smith, T. (Normonton)|
|Smithers, Sir W.||Thorneycroft, Maj. G. E. P. (St'ff'd)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)|
|Somerset, Sir T.||Thurtle, E.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.||Tinker, J. J.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Tomlinson, G.||Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. Ellen|
|Spears, Maj.-Gen. Sir E. L.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver||Turton, R. H.||Willink Rt. Hon. H. U.|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Viant, S. P.||Wilmot, John|
|Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring)||Wakefield, Sir W. W.||Windsor, W.|
|Storey, S.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Walker-Smith, Sir J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Strickland, Capt. W. F.||Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Studholme, Major H. G.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Woodburn, A.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Woolley, Major W. E.|
|Suirdale, Colonel Viscount||Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Summers, G. S.||Watkins, F. C.||Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Watson, W. McL.||York, Major C.|
|Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.||Watt, G. S. Harvie (Richmond)||Young, Major A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Tasker, Sir R. I.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Weston, W. Garfield||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.||Mr. James Stuart and|
Question put, and agreed to.