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Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [16th August],
That an bumble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[Major Freeman.]
Whatever controversy or heat or indiscretion may arise on any other part of the Debate in connection with the King's Speech, I am sure that in this case, having regard to the fact that every word one utters affects not only our own country but other countries, and further, having regard to the fluidity of the world situation and its great complexities, restraint will be exercised in this part of the Debate.
In the first place, I would like to express my appreciation of the many good wishes that have been conveyed to me from all parties in the House who are aware of the enormous task that has to be undertaken to rebuild a peaceful world. I am not unmindful of the heavy responsibility that rests upon my shoulders. In conducting the foreign policy of this country I shall always be actuated by the desire that it should be worthy of the immense sacrifices that have been made during the war.
One very important thing has occurred during this great struggle. A close union has been forged, hammered on the anvil of necessity, between the Chiefs of Staff of the Armies, Air Forces and Navies of the great allies who have had to fight this war. This has, indeed, represented a tremendous comradeship. It should always be remembered, however, that though they represent tie Forces of the country these people never really want war, but they have done their duty, and achieved this close co-operation in order to bring about final victory. They and the ordinary people of the world, will be watching us to see that we do not throw away the unity that has been established, or fail to build a peaceful world on their magnificent achievements. On the other hand, it would be as well for the House to appreciate the kind of material with which we have to work in order to endeavour to make a peace that will be worth while. The Allies themselves have suffered gigantic losses. The losses of Russia in man-power have been terrifically heavy. Happily, in man-power, our losses have been less than in the last war, but the methods we adopted to win this struggle have left us extremely poor, and the work of reconstruction that has to be done in order to enable us to take our proper place in assisting others will be a very heavy task indeed. The enormous resources of the United States have also been thrown into this titanic struggle, while the long years of fighting in China have almost disorganised that great land. The smaller allies are faced with the task of completely rebuilding their economic life and making good the gap that the war has created.
Possibly the worst situation of all has arisen in the occupied countries which have now been liberated. Here you have two great difficulties. One is that all people in these countries have been taught to disobey and to oppose the authority of the occupying authorities. Resistance has been the watchword. The result of this has been lawlessness, and now that these countries are liberated it is extremely difficult to bring back a general acceptance of law and order as a natural thing. Secondly, there have been constant appeals to the people to produce as little as they could in order to hamper the work of the occupying forces, and now suddenly they are asked, once again, to acquire the habits of work and energy and discipline. This transition from one state of affairs to another will need tolerance, patience and determination.
Yet another problem is presented by the movement of millions of people from their homes as forced and slave labour. Thousands of these people, now known as displaced persons, have, since the liberation, become almost nomads, wandering about, thieving for their food, committing murder and rape, and indulging in all kinds of practices of an anti-social character. In addition to that, in Central Europe, there are millions of displaced Germans, wandering, or endeavouring to wander, from one zone to another, their homes gone; and the resettlement of this vast population, running into millions, will tax all the genius and ability of those operating the Control Commission.
Perhaps I may foe allowed to give a very slight picture from Field-Marshal Montgomery's report which came to hand on Saturday, showing what our officers and administrators are doing with amazing ability. He says that so far nearly 1,100,000 displaced persons have been evacuated from the British zone. Over 300,000 of these were westbound. Over600,000 Russians have been transported from our zone to the East, and the movement of 200,000 Italians to the South has begun. One and a quarter million displaced persons are still housed in camps in our zone, and perhaps another 500,000 are still at large. By the Autumn, it is hoped that only 645,000 will be left, of whom 500,000 will be Poles. These figures give some idea of the vastness of the problem which has faced our military Government in this sphere.
In addition, the invading Armies have stripped many of these countries of cattle and food and the machinery of production, and this has left them in a state of almost complete disorganisation. The need to restore civilised life, and to get production into working order again, presents us with a task which will take a considerable time and much endeavour, and yet I am sure we shall not be able to make orderly and proper arrangements in the political sphere until it has been accomplished. Added to this great problem is the problem of millions of prisoners of war scattered over vast territories, both in the Far East and in Europe itself. These prisoners of war have to be dealt with under two heads. First there are those who can be sent back with safety and security to start again their normal vocations, and according to the figure given me by Field-Marshal Montgomery, in our zone over 800,000 have gone back to agriculture already. Secondly, there are those who have been imbued with the diabolical ideas of Nazism and who represent a very disturbing element in the occupied territories.
I mention these things because I must ask the House and the country to show their understanding and sympathy for the Control Commission, particularly for Field-Marshal Montgomery and his staff in the British zone in Germany, and for those who are undertaking similar duties in Austria, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria. One only has to take a view of this terrifying scene to realise what a happy hunting-ground it is for men who are seeking to obtain political power in these countries, and how difficult it will be to create settled and orderly Governments with obedience to the law and acceptance of its normal rules together with the habits of useful labour.
I would urge the House not to measure elections in these countries as if they were a General Election in Great Britain. It may be that at the beginning it will be impossible to ensure completely that Governments are elected in accordance with the desires of free peoples. There will be much that will go on in the period which lies ahead of us which we shall not like, but one thing at which we must aim resolutely, even at the beginning, is to prevent the substitution of one form of totalitarianism for another. The Fascists and Nazis are so detested by everybody that there is a tendency, at the moment, to extend these names to groups of people and parties who are neither Nazi nor Fascist, but simply people who want to be represented, and are disliked by the majority party but who see the possibility of winning power, and therefore would like to deny these parties the opportunity to express their views in the elections.
I will endeavour to show in specific cases how we are endeavouring to deal with these situations as they arise in different countries; but before I review the different countries I think I should make it clear to the House that in a world stunned and only just beginning to awaken from the stupifying effect of war, the great thing is to direct our attention to economic reconstruction and to work hard to get people resettled and earning their own living. U.N.R.R.A., which we support as long as we can afford to do so, can only be at the moment a kind of a dole, but it is one which ought to be used to stimulate the efforts of these nations, and we can only afford to assist this benevolent work so long as our economy is supported, and we are given a chance to pull through the transition period safely.
At the same time we cannot allow the idea to develop that the liberated countries can, as it were, lie down and rely on the Allied countries for continuous support. There is a limitation to what U.N.R.R.A. can do, both in amount and time, and I would say to all these countries, "Use U.N.R.R.A. as a help to get on your own feet, but proceed at once to strive to work out your own salvation. "The basis of our policy is in keeping with that worked out by the Coalition Government, in which I worked in close collaboration with the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). It rests in the main on agreement and co-operation between the great Powers that have emerged from this war, but though they are great Powers in a military sense, I have already said that they have impoverished themselves in achieving military success. Our own needs are great, if we are to maintain our standard of living in this country. Their main duty will be to act as the guardians of the peace, not dominating others, but accepting it as their obligation and duty to create conditions under which other countries of whatever size can, once more, contribute not only to their own well-being, but add to the common pool for the good of humanity.
No foreign policy can ever be good unless it is constructive, and the constructive aspect of our foreign policy is the most important. Between the wars we became accustomed to the vicious circle whereby trade could not flourish because of lack of security, while security was endangered through lack of trade. Now, at last, we have found our way to what is, for the time being, security. Therefore, this is the moment to break the vicious circle. We must strive to fight successfully against social injustice and against hardship and want, so that the security we have won militarily may lead to still greater security, and that greater security to still greater economic expansion. It is with this in mind that His Majesty's Government regard the economic reconstruction of the world as a primary object of their foreign policy. We are indeed fortunate that the war has ended but, if I may say so, it only just ended in time. We were on the eve of a great world crisis in food. We shall not be able to stop the decline this winter, but there is a chance that with all people working with energy the harvest next year will at least check that decline and bring relief to the miseries that people have suffered; but, I repeat, that is if all nations return to work. Never was there a time when economic reconstruction was so vital to foreign policy and international co-operation as now.
In this respect I would say that one of our basic needs is coal. If every miner in this country gives us the output asked for by my right hon. Friend, the Minister of Fuel and Power, and if the mines in Europe can be brought nearer to normal output, it will be a Godsend for this winter. The miners in this country are international in outlook. The Gracious Speech proposes to give them what they have asked for for years. I ask them therefore to help us, not for profit, not for the capitalists, but in the task of building peace, and bringing succour, help and warmth to millions of their fellow workers at home and abroad. I ask our miners in this country to set the example, and give these extra millions of tons. I know of nothing at this moment that could help me in the Foreign Office more than that.
The world's needs are in short supply—clothing, cotton and all domestic goods. If His Majesty's Government are to play their part in leading the world back to security and well-being we shall need everybody's help. If the women who intend to leave industry would agree to stay on for six months, if the men released are absorbed rapidly into civilian industry, and if the necessary commodities can be produced, it would not only improve our own life in this country but help us to help others in the liberated countries. We could shorten the stagnation caused by this war by years, and it would also assist our export trade. This next year is vital. I know what the men and women in this country have done in six years of war, and it may be hard to call on them now for more, but is not peace with understanding, with Britain playing her proper role as leader in the social and economic field, a prize worth winning by our people?
Now may I turn to some of the points which have been mentioned in speeches on which the House will be anxious to have the views of the Government? I think the Potsdam Conference has been fully covered by the communiqué that was issued when the Conference ended. In that document is set down our line of approach to the resettlement of Europe, and while I shall refer later to some of the points with which it deals, I do not propose to take up the time of the House by repeating what has already been published. His Majesty's Government have accepted the Potsdam decisions as the basis upon which the Council of Foreign Ministers and our general work must proceed. The only thing I would say about it is that when the Foreign Ministers meet we must not be obsessed merely by a desire to punish or revenge but in everything we do, ask ourselves whether such or such a course will make for future peace or plant the seeds of future war. In Europe there is bound to be conflict between security and right economic development. Looking at Europe as a whole, with all the differences of races, I believe that if we could only succeed in eliminating the war mind from Germany, I see a chance of unity in Europe where no such conflict need exist.
Coming now to our policy in relation to particular countries, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the position in Greece. His Majesty's Government adhere to the policy which they publicly supported when Greece was liberated. We then stated that our object was the establishment of a stable democratic Government in Greece, drawing its strength from the free expression of the people's will. Those are the words I used at the Labour Party Conference on that occasion. Unfortunately, this process was interrupted by an outbreak of violence. We then supported the policy of restoring law and order. The purpose of restoring order was to create the conditions in which the Greek people could determine the future of their own government and also settle the constitutional question. We supported the policy which instituted the Regency, which by the way was supported by all parties in Greece. The question now to consider is what urgent steps can be taken to give effect to this policy. We have reviewed the situation and, in the first place, we see no good purpose in lending our assistance to the creation of a new Government prior to the election.
It is therefore our view that the Voulgaris Government should carry on pending the decision of the Greek people. Greece will never recover while her leaders spend their time in continuously, week by week, trying to change their Government. They had better take an example from us. Until the election has taken place, no one can know whether any new Government rests on the sure foundations of the consent of the people or not. Therefore, we have urged that the election should take place at the earliest possible moment. The question arises which should take place first, the plebiscite or the election. Under the Varkiza agreement it was decided that the plebiscite should be dealt with first. We are, however, aware that there is a considerable weight of opinion in Greece in favour of modifying the procedure and of changing the order laid down in that agreement. This is, clearly, a matter which must be settled by the Greeks themselves, and I do not wish in any way to prejudge the issue. I repeat that so urgent is it that a settled Government resting on the opinion of the people should be instituted, that I trust that a very early decision will be taken on this question. Our own interest is to ensure that the solution adopted is most likely to be generally acceptable to the Greek people, and to lead to firm results without procrastination.
There is the question of the gendarmerie. A country which has been overrun, and where normal arrangements for enforcing law and order have been almost completely disrupted, must have a new civil police force. To assist in that work it was agreed to lend the services of a police mission, and I have taken every step to speed up that arrangement, both in transport and the necessary equipment, in order that the police might carry out their tasks efficiently and well. The British Government would also welcome, at the earliest possible moment, an amnesty. I realise that this is a difficult problem, because not only violent criminals but also collaborators with the enemy are concerned. Subject to that, we feel that it would assist to restore confidence if amnesties were granted at the earliest possible moment, and the prisons were emptied.
With reference to the conduct of the elections, the United States, France and His Majesty's Government have undertaken to assist in the supervision of the election, and I propose to invite as part of our contingent of observers representatives of the Dominion Governments. It will be remembered that the Australians and New Zealanders in particular fought in Greece, and are well respected there. We regret that Russia did not see her way to take part in the supervision of the elections. I am glad to announce that the Regent has accepted an invitation to pay a visit to this country, in order that we may discuss the problems face to face.
We have also been concerned about the relations between Greece and her Northern neighbours. Serious allegations have been made by the Yugoslav Government about the treatment of the Slav-speaking Greeks in the Northern areas of Greece. These allegations have been investigated, and the reports I have received from British troops stationed in the area do not bear out the Yugoslav charges. It has been proposed, and I have welcomed the suggestion, that a Commission formed of representatives of American, British, Soviet and French Governments should be sent out to investigate the situation on the spot. It is our policy to carry out all the undertakings we have given to Greece, but we look to Greek political leaders to play their part in solving these problems. From the messages I have received from the working people of Greece, I feel certain that nothing would please them better than to have an opportunity to return to work and a normal life under settled political conditions. If the elections and a plebiscite are held, I think we can confidently hope for tranquillity and happy conditions in that area of the world.
I turn now to the situation in Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary. The Governments which have been set up do not, in our view, represent the majority of the people, and the impression we get from recent developments is that one kind of totalitarianism is being replaced by another. This is not what we understand by that very much overworked word "democracy, "which appears to need definition, and the forms of government which have been set up as a result do not impress us as being sufficiently representative to meet the requirements of diplomatic relations. Elections, we understand, are very shortly to take place in Bulgaria. The electoral law in accordance with which the elections will take place is not, in our view, consistent with the principles of liberty. We shall not, therefore, be able to regard as representative any Government resulting from such elections. Our views of what constitutes a free election are well known, but any elections held with all the restrictions and exclusions laid down in the Bulgarian law would run entirely contrary to our conception of a free election.
I turn to Italy. The question of making a peace treaty with Italy will come before the Council of Foreign Ministers when it meets in London next month. It is the desire of His Majesty's Government that that treaty should be made on fair terms, and that the people of Italy should be given a chance of reviving their life on the basis of liberty. We deeply regret and cannot forget the lives of the men from this country and the Empire and our Allies which were lost in the battle against Italy, but the time came when the Italians themselves turned against Fascism and the dictatorship, and joined us in the struggle against the Nazis, to whose defeat they made a material contribution. We then said that Italy must work her passage.
I do not think it wise to pursue a policy of revenge. The Italian people were oppressed by more than 20 years of Fascism, and it was perfectly obvious that a very large number of Italians were sent into this war against their will. The policy which Fascist Italy followed of trying to become a great Empire at a cost which she could not afford, a policy which led to aggrandisement and aggression, is now repudiated by the Italian people. While, dearly, such a state of affairs must never be allowed again, we have no intention of approaching the problem of Italy as if Mussolini and his policy still existed. Rather we intend to proceed on the assumption that the country will be re-established on the basis of free elections and parliamentary government. To that end, I have indicated that it will facilitate matters if the elections to the Constituent Assembly in that country could also be held at the earliest possible moment, and, if practicable this Autumn. I also hope it will soon be possible to dispose of other outstanding Italian problems, such as the problem of prisoners of war.
I am engaged in the task of reviewing the whole of our policy in relation to France, with which great country I am most anxious that we should be on the best terms. I am not in a position at this moment to make any detailed statement. It must await the talks I am proposing to hold with the French Government, in order to try and clear away points of difficulty which have arisen between us, and arrive at a clearer and closer understanding between France and ourselves, so that both of us can contribute not only to the economy, but also to the stability of Europe as a whole.
It is encouraging from all the reports we have received that Belgium has made great headway. Her output appears to be improving, and many of the difficulties caused by the occupation and disruption of the war have already been overcome.
Equally, we welcome the deliverance of Holland, which was delayed by the protracted resistance of Germany. We are fully conscious of the damage perpetrated by the enemy in the Netherlands, but from reports I have had it is clear that our Dutch friends are working with a will to make good the ravages of the war. I know I shall be echoing the feeling of the House if we send them congratulations on the liberation not only of Holland, but of the Dutch territories in the East.
Regarding Norway, the task of reconstruction has begun, and I am looking forward to meeting my good friend Mr. Lie, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, at an early date. With Denmark, we have signed a financial agreement, and as a result I am looking forward to a full resumption of trade which should assist us in our food supply. The opening of the Baltic has permitted the resumption of trade with Sweden. In the case of Finland, we have invited the Finnish Government to appoint a political representative here with the personal rank of Minister, and to regard the British political representative in Finland as having the personal rank of Minister in Helsingfors. For constitutional reasons, this is as far as we can go at the moment until a peace treaty is made.
One of the great problems which still face us is that of Poland, and I know there is some feeling about the extent of the area which has been included in the Polish zone. The question of the actual future area of Poland must be settled at the peace table, and I admit personally, taking the view expressed by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) with regard to the danger of the Poles going too far West. Let me tell the House something of the situation which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I found at Potsdam. There was a kind of vacuum from which the Germans had been driven, and the administration of the zone was largely handed over to the Poles. I am referring to the territory between the Eastern and the Western Neisse. We came to the conclusion at the end of our discussions with the Soviet, United States and Polish Governments that there was no escaping the conclusion that the economy of the region must be restored so that these territories could be able to make their full contribution as soon as possible to the provisioning of devastated Europe.
The question of where the final delimitation of the frontier will rest will depend to a large extent on what the population is that returns to Poland. From what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, the impression may have been given that the figure he quoted of 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 was the number of persons to be displaced as a result of the transfer to the Polish zone of the territories between the Eastern and Western Neisse. In actual fact, that figure represented the pre-war census of population contained in the whole area of German territories now being administered by the Poles.
It did not quite read that way. There had been agreement, at least by the inference, that the Poles should go up to the Oder and the Eastern Neisse. The population of the territories to the West of this latter river, even on a pre war basis, amounted to a little over 3,000,000, most of whom were said to be already gone. No mines were working, nothing was happening there, and they had just been driven out. On the other side, as I understand it, there are 4,000,000 Poles in the territory that has been ceded to Russia. Will they return to Poland, or will they remain in Russia? [Hon. Members: "No."] It depends on what happens. When people are attached to their little bits of land, they do not always go. You never know what will happen. They are allowed a certain period in which to go into Poland, and we cannot tell whether they will trans- fer. It would not be right of the House to ask me to judge what is going to happen until I can see. Then there are the Polish troops and civilians in Western Europe. Thousands of Poles are outside Poland, either in the Services or working. The number of Poles in Field-Marshal Mongomery's zone alone to be repatriated is 550,000.
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are aware, as a result of their discussions with the Poles, how difficult it is to get a clear understanding as to the future Government and administration of Poland. It was with this knowledge, and with these considerations in mind, that the Prime Minister and I met the representatives of the Polish Government on three occasions while at Potsdam. We pursued the question of Poles returning to settle in the new Poland, and we were assured that all Poles returning, whether in the Services or as civilians, will be accorded personal rights and rights of property on the same basis as all Polish citizens. Then we raised the question of the elections, and were assured that the elections would be free, secret, and conducted in accordance with the 1921 Constitution, and further that it was hoped to hold them as soon as possible, not later than early 1946. We asked about freedom of religion, and we were assured that it was free in Poland and would remain so. We also asked for the right of entry for the Press of the world, and for the sending out of uncensored news. That, too, was accepted. Further, we came to an arrangement for the establishment of a reciprocal air service between London and Warsaw, to serve British and Polish official needs, and that service has now begun.
I indicated to the representatives of the Polish Government at Potsdam that the British people desired friendship with the Polish people, and said that nothing could prevent friendly relations except failure to give effect to the assurances which the Polish, representatives had given. We shall expect, in particular, that the principal Polish democratic parties, such as the Peasant Party, the Christian Labour Party, the Socialist Party equally with the Communist Party will be allowed to take part in the elections with full liberty to make their own programmes and put up their own candi- dates, and that freedom of speech, freedom of association and impartial justice shall be granted to all Polish citizens. Further talks are going on both on commercial and economic matters, but here again there are very great difficulties. Transport in Poland is in a parlous state, food is short, much of the cattle has been killed. It will take time for the Poles to overcome all these difficulties, but their task will be eased if they re establish a really independent Poland based on genuine liberty. Finally, I inquired from Marshal Stalin whether the Soviet troops were to be withdrawn, and I was assured that they would be, with the exception of a small number required to maintain the communications necessary for the Soviet troops in Germany. That is not unreasonable. There is also the question of the presence of secret police in Poland. That still needs clearing up, but, with these assurances, I would urge Poles overseas, both military and civilian, to go back to their country and assume their responsibilities in building the new Poland. They will render a far greater service there than they can do from outside.
May I now turn to a very popular subject—Spain? A good deal has been said in this Debate about General Franco and the Spanish question. I will briefly quote His Majesty's Government's view. It is that the question of the régime in Spain is one for the Spanish people to decide. I cannot go further than the declaration issued at the Berlin Conference, which makes it plain that while we have no desire permanently to penalise the Spanish people, we cannot admit Spain into the club, unless she accepts the basic principles of the club. These are the rights of peoples freely to choose their own form of government. On the other hand, I am satisfied that intervention by foreign Powers in the internal affairs of Spain would have the opposite effect to that desired, and would probably strengthen General Franco's position. It is obvious from what I have said that we shall take a favourable view if steps are taken by the Spanish people to change their régime, but His Majesty's Government are not prepared to take any steps which would promote or encourage civil war in that country. In this, I know, I am voicing the views not only of myself but of many ardent Spanish Republicans.
I turn now to a point raised by the right hon. Gentleman in relation to Persia. As is well known to the House, the question of Persia was discussed at Potsdam and an arrangement was made for the immediate withdrawal of Allied troops from Teheran. It is the view of His Majesty's Government that since Persia agreed to allow Great Britain and Soviet Russia to utilise her territory for the purpose of defeating the enemy, when that purpose had been accomplished both countries should withdraw. Not only the Soviet Government and ourselves had those facilities from the Persian Government, but the United States Forces have also been able to use them and they were of tremendous value in providing a vital link with Russia during the most critical days of the war. Therefore, the purposes for which those facilities were granted having now ended, so far as His Majesty's Government are concerned, it is not our policy to take advantage of them for any purpose other than that for which they were given, namely, the prosecution of the war. Neither do I believe that it is the policy of our Allies. I should be very much surprised if, having been freely granted these very valuable facilities in another country, they in any way demurred at withdrawing when their purposes were served.
There are, of course, many other serious matters left over and still to be dealt with. The internationalisation of the waterways of Europe, the question of the Straits, the position of Turkey—all these matters will become the subject of very careful study during the coming weeks, but I should be glad if I am not pressed to pronounce decisions upon them at this moment. I ought, however, to say this to make our position quite clear. One of the most vital areas affecting the British Empire and Commonwealth, as indeed it affects the peace of the world, is the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
With regard to the Far East I am sure the House and, indeed, the peoples of the world heard with great relief the news of the surrender of Japan, which ended a period of terror in that part of the world. Vivid recollections will, however, be brought to our minds of the magnificent struggle of China, a peace-loving nation bound to this country by long standing friendship and sympathy and the close bond of trade and cultural relations. I am sure it has been the desire of every- one in Britain to see China strong and prosperous. We welcome this great nation to the place provided for her in the new world organisation and in the councils of the nations. Now, with her deliverance and with unity within, is her opportunity to make her great contribution to the progress of the peace of the world. Neither can we forget the enormous task undertaken by the United States of America, which has contributed so much in bringing about the defeat of Japan. The organisation, determination, provision of materials, mobilisation of man-power and the transport of men and armaments over so many thousands of miles represents one of the greatest feats in history, whilst the speed of their effort from Pearl Harbour until to-day has been prodigious. Our own task in preventing the invasion of India by the Japanese and fighting through the jungles of Burma also represents a magnificent effort.
Now, as in Europe, the task of resettlement faces us in these great areas, and the problem is no less serious from the point of view of the peace of the world than the European problem. The fact that the Far East is a long way off must not blind us to the necessity of accepting wholeheartedly now the principle that peace is indivisible. We would assure all British subjects who have been liberated in the Far East of our watchful care for their interests, for the re-creation of their industries and the restoration of their normal life throughout all those territories.
I would here say a word about His Majesty's Government's position and intentions in Hong Kong. The first fury of the treacherous Japanese attack fell simultaneously on Pearl Harbour and on Hong Kong on 7th December, 1941. The Hong Kong garrison, of United Kingdom, Canadian and Indian forces, fought to a finish without hope of aid from outside at a time when we were in a death struggle in Europe. From the bases which they have wrested in South China from the gallant Chinese Armies, the Japanese brought great land and air forces and overwhelmed Hong Kong by Christmas Day, 1941. Since that date our men and Women have sustained the hardships of the prison camps. We have now taken steps to receive the surrender of the Japanese Forces in Hong Kong. There may still be difficulties, but they will be overcome, and I am sure that in agree- ment with our Chinese and American Allies our territory will be returned to us.
May I now say a word about Siam, a country whose relations with Great Britain had been particularly cordial before the war, a country with which we have been closely associated in its attainment of full emancipation as a sovereign State? Siam declared war upon us in January, 1942. It came as a disagreeable shock that when Siam was invaded by the Japanese she immediately entered into an alliance with Japan and later accepted British territory at the hands of the Japanese. It is pleasing to note, however, that last year the Government which took those measures was replaced and that there has been a growth of a resistance movement in Siam, We acknowledge the help received from this movement. If it has not taken overt action before now, I ought to make it clear that this has been due to our advice, on purely military grounds. It remains to be seen how far its spirit permeates the country.
We have now learned that the Siamese Regent issued a proclamation on 16th August denouncing the declaration of war on Great Britain as null and void and declaring Siam's readiness to make restitution, and further stating her readiness to co-operate in every way with the United Nations in the establishment of stability. The text of this proclamation when received will be carefully considered to see whether it provides an adequate basis for an instrument which would regularise the present anomalous position. Siam's association with Japan inevitably leaves many practical questions for settlement. These will be examined, and our attitude will depend on the way in which the Siamese meet the requirements of our troops now about to enter their country; the extent to which they undo the wrongs done by their predecessors and make restitution for injury, loss and damage caused to British and Allied interests and the extent of their contribution to the restoration of peace, good order and economic rehabilitation.
Before I leave the Far East, there is one question uppermost in our minds which concerns our prisoners of war in that part of the world. I assure the House that the Government will give the highest priority to bringing them back to their homes and taking every step at our disposal to secure proper treatment for those who have suffered so much in that area.
In conclusion, it will be noted that both Russia and the United States were brought into the actual conflict by treacherous attacks. Hitler's attack on Russia brought that marvellous Red Army into the struggle, with results with which we are all familiar. What an amazing surge forward by the armies of the Nazis, and what an heroic defence it took to stop them; what marvellous courage to drive them back from Stalingrad to Berlin. The victories of the Red Army have been an outstanding factor in the deliverance of Europe from Nazi tyranny.
I cannot close this statement without again paying a tribute to the United States. It has been a marvellous partnership. I shall never forget the dark days of 1940 and the leadership of the late President Roosevelt, who unhesitatingly showed to the world where his great sympathies lay. Steadily and surely his eagerness to 'help was unfolded. With what relief we heard of the signing of the Lend-Lease Act in 1941, and we knew directly the treacherous Japanese attack at Pearl Harbour had been made that the great American nation under his leadership would rise as one to join with us in this titanic struggle. As I said earlier, out of the German, attack on Soviet Russia, and the attack of the Japanese upon the U.S.A., and out of our own fortitude in this country, there have been forged a great respect and a great comradeship. We shall have our differences and difficulties, but in the interests of future generations we most overcome them.
Our own part is one of which we can justly be proud. History may well judge that our place is the proudest place of all. To the people of these islands belongs the imperishable fame of those grim days when, almost unarmed, they rose, refused to accept defeat, fought on, and made this little island the bastion of liberty, as was so well expressed by my right hon. Friend at that time. It can fairly be said that we held the fort and preserved the soul of mankind. Our policy now must be worthy of our people.
I rise to address this House for the first time with the accumulated diffidence of four years, during which I have had little opportunity of following current affairs or of practising the arts of oratory. There is one thing that helps me to overcome my diffidence sufficiently to take part in this Debate, and that is, the immense importance of the issues involved and the absolate necessity that young men in the House and throughout the country should do what they can to help to frame a foreign policy which will enable us to live in peace and friendship with our neighbours without sacrificing any of the ideals and principles for which we have been fighting.
I am convinced that the major issues and the ultimate aim of our foreign policy are not, and cannot be, a party issue. Sensible men of all parties are agreed that we must do everything in our power to preserve the Grand Alliance with our Soviet and American Allies, which carried us through the war, and will help us to surmount the difficulties and dangers which confront us, now that victory has been achieved. But there is a danger that we may disagree as to the means by which these aims can best be achieved. In that respect, I greatly welcome the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, which has completely reassured me and, I am sure, will have reassured most of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, that the Government intend to face all these problems of foreign policy with the utmost realism.
I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's speech all the more because hon. Members on this side of the House, and perhaps in other quarters too, have been disturbed by statements and utterances which have been made at one time or another during the past two months. It is perhaps rather a risky thing in a maiden speech to refer to such a controversial issue as the utterances of the Chairman of the Labour Party. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] I risk a certain amount of interruption; in fact, I am already getting it. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood-ford (Mr. Churchill), I have not had to sit under Professor Laski in the school of political science. I have learned what I know of Left Wing politics in rougher and readier circumstances. Attempts have been made to belittle the honourable position occupied by Professor Laski, but I would remind hon. Members opposite that in the Socialist State, which I presume it is their aim to set up, the position of Chairman of the Party, whatever party it is, is an extremely important one; in fact, it is supremely important. Therefore, I do not think that they can brush aside these statements as easily as all that.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said the other day that, as a citizen of Great Britain, Professor Laski has the right to express his views. But that is not the question. The question is, Has he the authority to make a statement of the policy of His Majesty's Government? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what I wanted to know. But it is not only the statements which have been made by the Chairman of the Labour Party; it is the speeches which were made throughout the country by members of the Labour Party during the General Election, the speeches and ejaculations which have been made in this House by members of the Labour Party, that give one food for thought.
What is the purport of these statements? Their purport is, that our foreign policy should be based on ideological considerations. We are told that our attitude towards France will depend upon whether a Socialist Government is returned to power in France. We are told that our relations and friendship with the United States, perhaps the most important factor of our whole foreign policy, will depend upon the attitude of American financiers, that is of private citizens, in the United States towards the Socialist experiment in this country. That is a very dangerous doctrine. It means that our foreign policy has to be based on the shifting sands of political sentimentality and not on reality.
I have nothing against the French Socialists. I happen to have a number of very good friends among them. They have that same enduring quality of vague idealism which is shared by so many hon. Members opposite. Unfortunately, I do not happen to have any friends amongst American financiers. [Laughter.] Therefore, I approach this problem from, I can honestly say, an unprejudiced point of view, and that is what I hope and believe His Majesty's Government will do, despite the laughter of hon. Members opposite. I hope—indeed, after listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary I am sure—that in this respect they will show themselves no less broad-minded than the Coalition Government in which so many right hon. Members opposite served with such distinction, the Coalition Government which gave its support to foreign Governments ideologically as far removed from one another as those of Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia and his neighbour Admiral Voulgaris in Greece. I hope they will show themselves no less broad-minded than our Soviet Allies, who, as good Communists, are on equally friendly terms with the capitalists in America and the Socialists here, and who, although nobody could accuse them of exaggeratedly monarchical tendencies, recently bestowed their highest honour, the Order of Victory, on King Michael of Rumania.
I would conclude with a final appeal for realism in these matters. Surely the community of ideals, the community of sacrifice, which has brought us through the years of war at one with our great Soviet and American Allies, is a sufficient bond to unite us now, regardless of what Government may be in power here or there? Is it not essential that the Grand Alliance, which helped us to surmount the perils of the war, should at all costs be maintained so that we may face, united with our Soviet and American Allies and the rest of the United Nations, the no less terrible dangers which now confront us?
I hardly thought I would have the privilege of tendering congratulations to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lancaster (Brigadier F. Maclean) who has just voiced his opinion in the House. His view is not, of course, wholly agreeable to all sides, but nevertheless we have listened to him with great interest. We had heard his name previously; we had heard what he had done, we certainly knew what a great soldier he was and, representing the County Palatine, at least Lancaster, as he does, I as a Lancashire man congratulate him most heartily because he has certainly tendered to this House good opinion and good advice. I hope we shall have the privilege of listening to him again on issues affecting the Balkans because, as an old soldier in the Balkans, I would say there are many experiences which we shared together—he in this war, and I in the last war. I hope we shall hear quite a lot from him in the future.
My simple contribution this afternoon is concerned with a slightly different country, and one well removed from the zone to which he made reference, that is, Holland. The Foreign Secretary's references to Holland were very much abbreviated. He told us how that country had become revitalised and re-energised and had, indeed, recovered in such a manner that the right hon. Gentleman tendered in the name of the House sincere congratulations. However, I would say to the Foreign Secretary that there is another aspect regarding Holland to which some attention should be paid. Those of us who are acquainted with Holland do not feel that all that should be said has been said here this afternoon. I believe that when the Under-Secretary replies to this discussion, we are entitled to know from him what measure of information has been obtained from Holland concerning the collaborators, now under arrest or behind barbed wire.
The Dutch Government are having a very difficult time at the moment. It is true that it is easy to indict collaborators, and it is true that there are 85,000 Dutch people behind barbed wire at the present time—I saw some of them myself, only a few days ago, outside Utrecht. When I inquired from the military governor what they were going to do with them, it was very difficult to obtain any information at all. He himself was uncertain, and what is now well known is that, so far as the Dutch Government are concerned, it is quite likely that they may release some of the people who have been indicted and imprisoned as collaborators in the towns or cities from whence they came. If that should be so, then I fear, along with the military governor and with other citizens, that the responsibility for a very difficult situation will fall on the shoulders of our men who are in Holland to-day, that is, the British Army.
I would beg the Foreign Secretary to examine this question very closely because, while I do not myself fear the same kind of problem as that which we had in Greece, yet if the Dutch people pass through this winter with 85,000 men, and a further 20,000 to be gathered in during the next week or two, left without trial, without any form of hearing before the tribunal, I can well see a difficult situation, probably disorder, arising and serious responsibilities falling on our shoulders. Therefore I would ask the Foreign Secretary to hold conversations immediately with the representatives of the Netherlands Government to see whether some fundamental change cannot be made forthwith.
My other point relates to food. I am extremely anxious, and I am sure the House is too, concerning our friends in Holland. They have been liberated, and we are receiving their children over here, caring for them, and restoring them to a state of good health. However, there is another consideration which I think we ought to give in all neighbourliness and charity and that is to the question of transport to which the Foreign Secretary referred. It must be clearly understood that in many of the countries, particularly in Holland and France and Belgium, there are many parts of the country with an abundance of food, but it cannot be transported to the mouths which have to be fed. From the angle of feeding Holland, I would venture the opinion, as given to me by one of the Ministers of State only last week, that if they could be given efficient transport in Holland, if we could put on a few thousand lorries and supply petrol—because that is a very important issue to them—they could at least get over the difficulty of rationing bread and potatoes. If you can get over the difficulty of rationing bread and potatoes, it is a good barometer to the rest of the dietary of the whole nation.
I beseech the Foreign Secretary, therefore, to examine this question of the food supply, to examine the question of transport, and to examine the question to which I referred earlier—whether they themselves know now how to tackle the trial of the collaborators or those who have been interned. There will be a greater problem for us later on, if we do not begin, right away, to encourage the Dutch people to render justice where they have actually put men into these internment camps. I will not detain the House, but I beg the Under-Secretary, when he replies, to give us some information as to what reports we have had recently from our friends in the Netherlands.
I crave the indulgence of the House if, in my maiden speech, I draw the attention of the House to some of the grave issues that are emerging in Greece, not because they are important in themselves—although they certainly are—but because they are symptomatic also of what is happening in Europe as a whole. I was fortunate enough to serve in Greece during the last weeks of the German occupation, I stayed for over four months in E.L.A.S. territory, and I served in Athens during the greater part of the fighting. I mention these facts only to show the House that I speak from personal experience.
One of the things that is plaguing Europe to-day is the legacy of German occupation. It is not only a legacy of economic waste; it is also a legacy, thanks to the propaganda of Dr. Goebbels, of suspicion and political misinformation. For years the Greek people have been told by Dr. Goebbels that Germany and England were going to fight Russia; they have been told that, too, by General Metaxas from 1936 to 1940. One of the first things that British officers found when they entered the liberated towns, was this feeling, as a result of so many years of propaganda, that war between Britain and Russia was imminent. I submit to the House that it ought to have been the primary aim of our British Diplomatic Mission in Greece to shatter these dangerous and Goebbelesque illusions. I can only say to the House that there has been an utter failure in our political propaganda to the Greek people, and there has also been—whether by accident or design I do not know—a grave buttressing-up of the Goebbels line in Greece.
So that to-day I have to inform the House that wherever our Ambassador goes, whatever town he visits, there is a scene of royalist excesses, cries of "Sofia, Sofia," and sometimes "Moscow, Moscow." I need give an example of only one case. Our Ambassador visited Patras in the Spring of this year. Simultaneously, there were royalist demonstrations against the Left. The Left wing printing press was smashed. Those are the scenes that meet our representatives in Greece, and we must, at all costs, I submit, prevent the emergence in Greece of pro-Russian parties on the one hand and pro-British parties on the other, because Greece, which is the meeting point of the Slav and the Mediterranean worlds, the periphery on which the Russian and British zones meet, ought to be made a bridge, instead of which, by faulty political propaganda, and by a faulty political line, it is to-day a barrier.
I want to go into details if it would not burden the House, for I feel that the issues are so important that it is my duty to do so. We are committed in Greece to-day to the aiming of three Greek divisions, and their training. All reports from Greece, and my own personal experience, are that the recruiting towards these three divisions to-day is so one-sided, that anyone suspected of any connection with the resistance element or anyone even of Venizelist views is excluded from the new Greek divisions now being created. Therefore, I think it is supremely important that we should inform the Greek Government that unless they broaden their army, and make it a truly national army instead of a political army, we cannot, through our British Military Mission in Athens under General Smallwood, continue to put arms and tanks and equipment into the hands of the royalist clique who control the present Greek army, and who make no secret of their military aims against Southern Albania, against Bulgaria, and their general hatred of the present régimes in the Balkans.
I agreed entirely with the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary when he said that we on this side of the House must stand out against excesses of the Right or of the Left, and must try to bring back to Europe something of that moral law which she has lost and which, indeed, many countries have never known. I would merely point out to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, when they talk of the "police State, "that their new campaign for democratic and human rights in Europe would sound a little more convincing to some hon. Members on this side of the House, if they had not before this war been such obsequious supporters of the police States of Carol, Boris, Stoyadinovitch and Colonel Beck. And if it be not too controversial for a maiden speech, I would say that some hon. Members on this side of the House suspect that there are other motives at work.
The Foreign Secretary has dealt with the general situation in Greece. I welcome the proposal that there should be an Allied Commission in Greece, but I would ask
him to ensure that no opportunity is los
There are three other important aspects of the present Greek situation. The first concerns the political internees, of whom there are 20,000 in Greece. The conditions in the prisons of Missolonghi and Lavrion are indeed dreadful. British officers and British troops have done their best to mitigate them in every way possible, but the responsibility is that of the Greek Government. Many of those political internees are held on charges of having sat on courts martial during the German occupation and condemned to death Quislings of the German Armed Security Battalion. I draw the attention of this House to the fact that a great friend of mine, a member of the Resistance Movement, George Dallas, has been in prison for the last four months in Kalamata Gaol because he is accused of having caused the death of one Pirotis, Quisling provincial governor of Messinia, a man who had one son in the German S.S. and married a young German wife during the occupation and who left with the Germans.
I would draw the attention of the House to another incident, not because it is an individual incident, important in itself, but because it shows the general political line that is being pursued in Greece without, apparently, any protest being made by the British Ambassador or by British military formations in Greece. There was a gentleman who was head of the Security Battalion in Tripolis. His name was Dionysius Papadongonas. He sent a servile letter to Hitler in July, 1944, congratulating him on his escape from the bomb attempt on his life. This man was furnished with supplies, dropped from German aeroplanes which had been sent from Athens, in order that he might fight the Andartes. When the Germans left Tripoli a special aeroplane proceeded from Athens on 19th September to drop him arms and equipment. His adjutant, a Captain Taboularis, was employed subsequently in the National Guard at Salonika, and two other officers from the Tripolis Security Battalion, a Second Lieutenant Korolisand Captain Leras, are also in the National Guard at Salonica. Security Battalion officers are to-day forming the cadres of the new Greek Army. I cannot believe that such a situation is one which His Majesty's Government will allow to pass without active protest.
I would like to say how, during the period of the E.A.M. occupation, British troops were used, and rightly used, to prevent excesses against the Right. I myself went on many occasions to E.A.M. Headquarters and threatened to use force unless they desisted from a certain activity which did not agree with our ideal of political morality. That is as it ought to be. During the first week, when the new Right Wing Plastiras régime was set up, a directive was issued to British troops stating that now they would not interfere in Greek internal affairs. The burden of the directive was that the Greeks must now stand on their own feet, and therefore, when any cases of injustice were brought to the notice of unit or formation commanders, they would be referred to the appropriate Greek authority. To-day, therefore, British troops in Greece are not fulfilling, as they fulfilled during the period of E.A.M. predominance, the role of umpire, the role of preventing excesses and political reprisals, with the result that to-day the Varkiza agreement is a dead letter. The gendar- merie and the police force, completely un-purged, as I know, are allowed to act in such a way that, within the last three weeks, Mr. Kapandaris, the leader of the Progressive Party, Mr. Sophoulis, the leader of the Liberal Party, and Mr. Zachariades, the leader of the Communist Party, have all agreed, in consultation with Admiral Voulgaris, that a representative Government which will put down terrorism is essential for Greece, just as hon. Members opposite would insist that it was essential for Bulgaria, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia.
I welcome very much the news that we are to have an Allied Commission to supervise the Greek elections. I assure hon. Members that we shall get no just, fairand accurate reflection of Greek public opinion unless there is constant and detailed supervision. As an illustration of the state of law and order in Greece, I may mention that just before I left Athens a warrant was issued, after many months' delay, for the arrest of Colonel Papathanasopoulis who was Quisling governor of the Island of Euboea, who had shot many E.A.S. hostages during the war and was a classical traitor. When the police went to arrest this gentleman—hon. Members can check this story through the files of "Effitheria"—ex-officers of the Security Battalion prevented his arrest. The police, not altogether with a blameless record, allowed this gentleman still to go at large, and he was at large when I left Greece. On the other hand, the prisons are full of those suspected of participating in the unhappy revolt of December, and I only hope that the police mission of Sir Charles Wickham, which must be given every aid in Greece, will be given the opportunity of helping the Greek authorities to purge their gendarmerie and their police force, of those many individuals who, on account of their activities during the occupation, inspire public trust neither in their impartiality nor in their fitness to exercise their functions.
That is a brief resume, offered with apologies and deference to the House, of the situation in Greece. I feel we can do much. If we make it clear through our British Military Mission that we cannot equip an army which is not national, we shall get, at once, decisive results. We got decisive enough results in dealing with the excesses of E.A.M. and E.L.A.S. Let us hope the Government will help to put Greece on an even keel, by dealing firmly with the excesses of the present pro-Fascists and royalists who, unhappily, dominate the State services.
I think I may be allowed to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken upon the vigour and eloquence of his maiden speech. It is clear that he has been at great pains to examine the subject about which he was informing the House, and I trust that many times in the future we may have the pleasure of hearing contributions from him. May I also be allowed to congratulate my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean) on his maiden speech? We know that for a long period in the late war he carried out a personal service of the greatest value to the Allied cause, and it is fitting that he should be here now to help us with his advice. We are now in the third day of the Debate on the Address, and I confess, having listened to the greater part of it, that I have been much impressed by its quality, and by the standard of the speeches delivered, and I share with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition the feeling of confidence in the contribution that this new Parliament can make to the very difficult tasks that lie ahead of us. It is fortunate for the nation and for this Parliament that the Japanese war should have ended as suddenly as it did, just at the moment when the new Parliament assembled. It has enabled us to pass at one stride to the tasks of peace, and we are spared that anxious period when the Government would have had to make the maximum contribution it could to the Japanese war while at the same time trying to carry through a heavy reconstruction programme at home. I had always thought that that 'period would be one of the greatest difficulty for the nation and I hope that I shall not be considered too tender to right hon. Gentlemen opposite if I say that I am glad that they have not got to go through that period and that none of us have.
As one looks round this Parliament one is impressed by the number of new Members on both sides of the House who have seen active military service in the war. I think that is an advantage to us all, and I think perhaps that it would have been better after the last war if, in the early period after it, we had had more here who had experienced what so many young Members of this House have experienced in this war. The Debate on the Address has ranged over a large number of subjects, and to-morrow we go back to general issues, but you, Mr. Speaker, have guided us to-day in indicating that we should concentrate, in the main, upon issues of foreign policy. Therefore, this is perhaps our most important day of all, for upon the successful solution of these most difficult problems depends our ability to deal with all our domestic issues which, heaven knows, are wide and complicated enough.
So I would like to begin my remarks on foreign policy by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—if I may still call him "my right hon. Friend"—upon the speech which he has just made. In its wide sweep, and in its breadth of judgment and in its forth rightness, it was worthy of my right hon. Friend, and worthy of the occasion. I wish him, cordially, all good fortune in the heavy tasks that now fall to his hands. He will be served at home and abroad by a most loyal and experienced staff. As a former Foreign Secretary, I should like on this, the first, occasion of speaking in Opposition, to pay my tribute to them. I know something about the diplomatic services of other countries, and I believe ours to be second to none. If I may say so, I think that their only fault is that there are not enough of them, but as my right hon. Friend has been Minister of Labour, he will know how to make up for that deficiency. He and I served four years together in the War Cabinet——
There were no differences on any important issue of foreign policy. My right hon. Friend helped me during those critical war years, and, in the same spirit, I should like to try to help him now. As my right hon. and hon. Friends and I see it, now when we are in Opposition—we cannot tell for how long; no one can tell—it. will be our duty on these difficult foreign issues to ask questions, to make comments and occasionally, perhaps, to voice criticisms. But I can assure my right hon. Friend that we shall do so, being scrupulous to avoid, as far as possible, adding to the difficulties of his task. It seems to me that it is not our duty to emphasise the divergencies that may exist between us on foreign policy, but rather to state those divergencies frankly, in order that we may try to reach agreement as a result of discussions, so that Parliament may, in these difficult years of foreign policy, function largely as a Council of State. I am convinced that the greater measure of agreement there is between us at home, the greater will be the authority of my right hon. Friend abroad.
It is in that spirit that I address myself to one or two remarks which my right hon. Friend made during his speech. I am glad that agreement was reached to set up a Council of Foreign Secretaries here in London to prepare the peace, and carry through other tasks which may be charged to it. I ought to say, perhaps, in passing, that as I understand the position, the previous arrangement for meetings of Foreign Secretaries, agreed in the Crimea, may very likely be merged with this new plan. I have seen it stated that these suggested meetings in the Crimea never came to anything. That is not quite accurate. We did not have our summer meeting in London, because all three Foreign Secretaries were in San Francisco at that time. But the intention to have those meetings has never been changed, and I, naturally, greatly welcome this development as it now is. I welcome it, among other reasons, because I am sure that the task of preparing a peace, such as the Government and our Allies have now to prepare, cannot best be done at one great assembly. The matter is too complicated; the work at a great assembly is too heavy for it to be done well. The right way to do it is by a permanent staff, who will serve the Foreign Secretaries, and by deputies who will replace them, and who will prepare the work for subsequent submission to the Government.
I have had this project in mind for a long time, and it was because I thought that we should work in this way, and not through some great peace conference, that at Moscow, in the autumn of 1943, we suggested that the European Advisory Commission should be set up and should meet here in London. That was the first occasion when the great Allies met at a meeting, other than heads of Governments or Foreign Secretaries. That body has been criticised for failing to achieve more than it did. It was a body that had to prepare the ground for others, and those who carried through that task never expected to get much credit. But they did valuable work for us in preparation of the Armistice terms and other matters, and I would like to pay tribute to the American Ambassador in London, the Soviet Ambassador in London and Sir William Strang for the part they played in the many months of weary work that was quite indispensable, if there was to be Allied unity in this period.
Now I come to further remarks which my right hon. Friend made. He said, in reference to the Mediterranean and the Middle East—if I have got his words right—that this was one of the most vital areas affecting the British Empire and Commonwealth. We entirely associate ourselves with that remark. If I may speak about some of these countries I will do so in turn, beginning with what my right hon. Friend called that most popular subject—Spain. I do not propose to make any political observations about Spain, only to make a suggestion. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), some little time ago, addressed a communication to General Franco which was at the time approved by the War Cabinet, and if there be no objection, I think it might be useful if that document were, at some convenient early date, made public. I do not know what the diplomatic procedure and so on may be, but, if it were possible, I think it would be a good thing.
It was largely made public in the United States, but if it could be officially made public here, I think it Would be a good thing, because I think it would serve to remove some of the misconceptions which seem to lurk here and there about my right hon. Friend's views on that subject. Now I pass to other countries, to the Mediterranean, and first to Greece. I agree entirely with what the Foreign Secretary said on that subject. I am glad that the Government have invited the Archbishop to come to London. I am sure that that is a wise thing, for the Archbishop certainly impressed my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood-ford and myself, when we saw him, as being one who possessed a physical stature, a mental stature and other gifts as well which made him the most considerable figure in Greece. I feel that conversations and discussions with him will be of assistance, in attempting to settle the tangled affairs of that country.
I do not want to enter into any controversy about the past in regard to Greece. I would only say, for ourselves, that in all the troubled time in Greece, about which there is so much dispute, Greece has, at any rate, been the one country in the Balkans from which, and about which, everyone was free to comment as much as ever he liked. Indeed, this was done. Messages poured out from Greece without any kind of political censorship even at the height of the fighting and the worst of the period. That is something. I agree with the Foreign Secretary's words on that. My right hon. Friend and I spoke of this also at Pots dam. We should like to see other countries give exactly the same facilities. We ask nothing more. It is not very much to ask. Anybody can comment on our elections. Why should we not comment occasionally on other peoples? We cannot do any harm, unless there is some reason why we should not or which is not apparent to us now. With a situation such as we have in these countries, which the Foreign Secretary so well described at the beginning of his speech, it will be a gain to them and to Europe if there is as little as possible political censorship and as much as possible freedom to speak and criticise.
I want to say a word or two now about an important matter—the radio campaign which has been going on against Greece from Sofia, Belgrade and, I think, Moscow, and the charge, among others, that the Greeks have aggressive military intentions against their Northern neighbours. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary has arranged for this mission to go to that frontier. I am sure that is a wise step. I have little doubt what their re- port will be. Frankly any suggestion that Greece has aggressive intentions against her Northern neighbours does not bear a moment's examination when you look at Greece's own military capacity. Some of this radio propaganda seems to have overlooked the fact that the Greek Army was destroyed in 1941, in playing a most gallant part in the Allied cause. It has, for various reasons, never been reconstructed. Greece's liberation is not so long ago. There have been internal disturbances in the country. It has not been possible to create an army that could form an aggressive force against anybody, certainly not against her fully armed Northern neighbours.
If there is one country about whose radio campaign and criticisms of Greece I feel badly, it is Bulgaria. I have no sentiments of tenderness towards Bulgaria at all. Her record in this war, and in the last, was bad. In 1941, at a critical period, she allowed German troops to come into Bulgaria, which greatly complicated our task in trying to help Greece with our slender resources. I do not think that that country has any ground to speak as she does or for the making of claims against her Southern neighbours. Treatment of our prisoners has been very bad, and she is not one towards whom we have any cause to feel tenderly at all. I also agree with the statement of Mr. Byrnes which, I understand, was endorsed by the Foreign Secretary to-day, about the present government of Bulgaria. We had, in fact, stated that that was the view of His Majesty's Government at the time of the Potsdam Conference. All that Mr. Byrnes, the Foreign Secretary, or anyone asks, in any of these countries, is that elections should be, as far as possible, freely held, and that the countries should be allowed to express themselves as they wish. If they choose one form of government or another we shall not complain nor, I presume, will the other side of the House. But what we do ask is that they shall have a fair chance of doing it. The Bulgarian elections cannot possibly be described as free elections or as giving a chance to candidates from all parties to play their parts.
One word about Yugoslavia, because His Majesty's late advisors have certain responsibilities there. We joined with our Russian and American Allies who recommended the recognition of the present Yugo-Slav Government, on the basis of what was known as the Tito-Subasic Agreement. That Agreement had in it very wide guarantees for freedom of the Press, freedom of political parties, and so forth. Not much has appeared in our own Press, but from what I can learn there is not now the amount of freedom there should be, if that Agreement is being carried out. In particular, at the time, the three heads of the Governments addressed a message to Marshal Tito, from Yalta, suggesting that it would be good if the National Council of Liberation could be enlarged at an early date to include members of the previous Parliaments, and that was agreed to then by Marshal Tito, but, so far as I know, it has never been carried out. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply, whether he has any information about that in recent weeks. As we did recommend the recognition of this Government on the basis of certain assurances, we have a proper right to ask that those assurances should be fully carried out.
I turn to another country about which we are much concerned. That is Poland. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the most important internal issue in Poland now is the question of the elections—as in so many other of these lands—and that the elections should be free, and the world free to comment upon them. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a number of assurances which the Polish Government had given them, and I think I ought to say, because I endorse what he says, that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and I received the same assurances from the Polish Government when we saw them, and also the same assurances from Marshal Stalin about the withdrawal of Russian troops. All that is satisfactory. When I saw the Poles the last night before I left Berlin—not being quite certain I was not coming back again—I did not finish up the conversation as tidily as I ought to have done. I was not sure myself what the position was about the parties. What we asked from the Polish Ministers was that all four main Polish pre-war political parties should have a right to run their candidates in the election.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Socialist Party, but the four pre-war Polish parties were the Socialist Party, the Christian Socialist Party, the Peasant Party, and the National Democratic Party. We know that the Peasant Party is in the Government; M. Mikolajczyk is there. We know the same about the Socialist Party; M. Stanczyk is there and is now, I understand, in this country. They also have complete freedom. As to the Christian Socialist Party, I do not know what their position is, and I do not know whether they have freedom to run their candidates. No one suggests that they are collaborationists, and we think they should have their chance. More difficult is the National Democratic Party. I was told by some of the Polish representatives that some members of that party had been collaborationists. That may or may not be so. I am bound, however, to say that Poland is almost the only country where no Quisling was ever produced. Even supposing it were so, I do not think it would be right that the whole party should be excluded from taking part in the election because some of them had been collaborationists or behaved in some way they should not during the war.
No, I do not think I have ever heard that suggestion. I have always understood that term could not be applied to that party, but if the Government have other information I shall be glad to hear it. There is one small section of it which might be so described, but certainly not the party as a whole. It has been represented in the Government from the earliest days that the Polish Government came here. I ask that the Government should do what they can to ensure that they are all allowed to run candidates, always excluding those who have been collaborationists, if any, and to have a fair and free chance at the election.
I would like to say a word about the question of the Western frontiers of Poland. It is an immensely tangled and difficult question. May I tell the House my own feelings about it? I do not desire to commit anyone else, but this is a matter on which everyone is allowed to have his own opinion. There was originally the age-old problem of the Corridor. It was my conviction, and I stated it to the House in the last Parliament, that it was impossible to continue with the policy of the Corridor if there was to be enduring peace in Eastern Europe. Therefore, either you had to say to Poland, "You cannot have access to the sea at all," or the Corridor had to go and East Prussia had to go to Poland, save the Konigsberg area, which goes, by agreement, to Russia. In addition to that, the Polish claim to Oppeln Silesia is a strong one. I think Poland should have it, and also some parts of the land of Eastern Pomerania. We were never really happy about the Polish frontier going even up to the line of the Oder. When in Moscow we discussed this matter and there was the question of Mr. Mikolajczyk going back to Poland as Prime Minister, we agreed upon words which said "Land that Poland may desire, up to the line of the Oder." We thought it would be unwise even to go up to the line of the Oder or even along its frontier.
Now we have this further demand to go right through to the Western Neisse. I think the population was about 11,000,000 in the whole area, but let us take it as 8,000,000 or 9,000,000. I find it hard to believe that the Polish population who would come out of Russia will be much more than 4,000,000. There you have these agricultural areas of Germany, of immense importance to the feeding of Europe and its industrial areas, and I cannot see how the Polish population is going to be able to settle this problem, man these industries, look after that agricultural land and produce, as they should, food for the other parts of Europe. This question, I understand, will not be settled until the Peace Conference. I would only say to our Polish friends that as, last time, they made a mistake in insisting on going too far East, so, this time, I fear, they are making a mistake in insisting in going too far West. I think it only fair to make that statement to the House.
Now I come to a word on the economic conditions about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. I agree with his analysis of that problem. It is going to be a desperately difficult one not, perhaps, even so much this winter as the early part of next year, before the harvest is brought in. We have to make every contribution we can within our very straitened limits, and not so much because we want to be generous, but because, in our own interest, the economy of Europe should not collapse. We know how straitened are our circumstances and how small our contribution can be, with the best will in the world. I should be grateful, if the right hon Gentleman is going to reply, if he would give us any further information about U.N.R.R.A. and its development and what the prospects are there. They have indeed a heavy task. The right hon. Gentleman referred to France and there, too, I would wish him all success in his endeavours. We hope they will be fruitful.
Then, I come to another country further away, about which I want to speak for a few moments if the House will bear with me, because I regard it as a country of great importance because of the special responsibility we have undertaken there. That is Persia. In 1941 Persia became suddenly, as a result of Germany's attack on Russia, a most important strategic area. She was on our lines of communication, and the only route open to us save the Arctic route, the full story of which has never yet been told—a superb piece of gallantry by the Royal Navy and the Merchant Marine. Save for that, we had no route except through Persia. The Germans were fully aware of that, and did everything they could to sabotage our attempts to get supplies through that country. The result was a diplomatic duel, long fought out until the Treaties made between us and Persia and between the Soviet Union and Persia by which we got permission to station troops over the period of the war, and a number of other facilities, in return for which we undertook to respect the integrity of Persia and withdraw as soon as fighting was over.
Persia has loyally carried out these Treaties by us and the Soviet Government and, therefore, for some time past, I have been anxious that we should begin to do our part of the bargain. Although, strictly speaking, we were not called upon to withdraw until hostilities were over, we did recognise as long ago as the Crimea Conference, my right hon. Friend and I, that such a beginning should be made and it was agreed that the first withdrawal should take place at Teheran, both by us and by the Russians. It was further agreed that further stages of the withdrawal would be discussed at the Foreign Secretaries' meeting next month. I certainly think that it would be good if they were so discussed, because the Japanese war is now over, and there is no object for any of us to stay in Persia any longer; and certainly this country would like us to get out as rapidly as possible. We have only one interest in Persia and that is, to see that country prosperous, united and strong, and the last thing we want is a recurrence of the practice of zones of influence and matters of that kind which there were in Persia long ago, and which made us so intensely unpopular in that country for a generation. I hope that the policy of withdrawal will be carried out by the Allies and carried out rapidly.
As to China, I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply can tell us whether the former Foreign Secretary and now Prime Minister of China, Mr. T. V. Soong, is going to carry out his intention of paying a visit to this country. It would be very good, I think, if he did so. He would have a great welcome here from the people of this country who understand what China has endured during the war years and are anxious to see China and the friendship which we have had for her in the years gone by as steadfast and enduring in the years that lie ahead. I endorse what the right hon. Gentleman said on the question of Hong Kong. I think the position taken up is a just and fair one, and one which everyone in this country would wish to uphold. What he has said has received, I think, the approbation of the House as a whole, and we feel that what he has said represents a foreign policy on behalf of which he can speak for all parties in this country.
I say only this in conclusion. I repeat my best wishes to the right hon. Gentleman. Every section of the House will endorse those wishes. Two successive generations have given of their best that the world may be free. This time, victory has come, together with this stark and unparalleled warning. I said at San Francisco that it was the world's last chance. I meant it in the light of the knowledge that we then had. We pray that the world will seize this last chance, and any efforts which the right hon. Gentleman makes wisely to guide and encourage it, we shall support to the utmost of our strength.
I rise with great diffidence, and crave the indulgence of the House because the matter to which I should like to draw attention is one which must be treated now or never. His Majesty's Government have a unique opportunity of bringing about a great and lasting benefit to the trade of this country, and, consequently, to its standard of living, as well as to the standard of living of many other nations of the world. It is a theme which I advocated continually throughout my election campaign, and, when it had overcome the tendency of some of my more stubborn opponents to regard any statement which fell from Conservative lips as being automatically tainted, found universal acceptance. I dare to hope that it will have the approval of all the parties that constitute this great Assembly.
The International Labour Office has for some years advocated that the standard of living of the world should be raised, and that most laudable aim—and there is no Party in this House with whose approval it would not meet—has found its echo in the tenets of the Atlantic Charter and the findings of the San Francisco Conference. This objective is, presumably, to be reached by international agreement; that is to say, by persuasion. The Government have, in the peace treaties at this time, a literally heaven-sent opportunity, and a non-recurrent one, I hope, of bringing about by force that which persuasion may easily never achieve. The progress of the peoples of the world along the road of social improvement seems to me to be like a Marathon race to which there is no finishing post. For many years, this country has led the world, and it has once again been confirmed in that proud position by the tremendous steps forward initiated by the late Government and to be carried out in their entirety, as I understand it, by the present Government. Some nations are on our heels. Some of them are our Dominions, but others lag behind and others have never got off at all. We have a magnificent opportunity of getting these laggards off the mark, by means of well-placed pedal propulsion from behind.
I have studied the conclusions and decisions of the Potsdam Conference with care, and I regret that I could find nothing there, nor in the Gracious Speech, which indicates that any of the control measures to be applied to defeated nations will contain a minimum wage standard and a maximum working day. It is true that, perhaps, Japan was not at that time be- ing very closely considered—Japan, who is, in fact, the greatest sinner of them all—but that time, too, has now come, and, in any case, the pressure of economic circumstances and events may easily persuade or impel Germany or Rumania, or any of the others who backed the Nazi nag, so to depress their living standards that they may improve their chances in international competitive trade.
Therefore, I urge that there should be imposed upon the defeated nations of the world a minimum wage standard and a maximum working day. How close those standards should fie to our own is a matter which experts will have to consider in all the special circumstances and conditions of each case. It may be said that this will be a difficult measure to enforce. I agree, but surely no more difficult than many of the other decisions arrived at at Potsdam in connection with Germany. We are going to administer a great deal of very unpalatable medicine to Japan, with occupying forces and control commissions, to hold their celestial noses and see that they take it; and, therefore, I claim that these measures will not be impossible of achievement.
Hon. Members will remember just how keenly this country suffered from Japanese competition between the two wars, and how the markets of the world were flooded with Japanese goods, which even jumped the tariff barriers protecting this country and landed in our shops at prices with which we could not compete. These goods were produced under conditions and at wage rates which this country would never tolerate or follow. I beg hon. Members to remember, now and at all times, that the high level of our social services, and even their improvement, can only be maintained if we have a prosperous trade. Ultimately, trade bears all these burdens, and any measure taken to protect our international trading position is automatically a measure taken to protect our social services. But the great advantage of this scheme, is that, even if it fails, we will be no worse off than if we had never tried it. I do not believe that it will fail, because after the Japanese workman has handled two yen instead of one, or enjoyed four bowls of rice instead of two—if the word enjoyment is a suitable term for a simple bowl of rice—then I do not believe, and economic history has never shown, that the Japanese employer will succeed in reducing the workman to his previous sweated standard.
There then is the plan. Now is the time for its adoption, when representatives of the allied nations are considering the terms for these treaties, and I earnestly beg the Government not to allow this unique and heaven-sent opportunity to pass without giving these proposals the closest and most profound consideration. Where may we expect to find opposition to these proposals? Not, I submit, from any party in this House, all of whom would like to see the standard of living of the people of the world as high as the trading position will permit. Not from any of the adherents to the International Labour Organisation. Not from the signatories to the Atlantic Charter or the San Francisco Conference. None of them is mute on this point. Not, least of all, from the Japanese workmen. No, the only voice which we may hear raised in protest will be the sibilant whine of the Japanese employer, and, in the light of the happenings of the past five years and their well-known diabolical attitude to human happiness, that voice is one to which we are under no obligation to pay any attention at all.
I enter this Debate to take up the argument at the point at which it was left by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). He spoke of the vital importance of the new discovery to the consideration of all questions concerning foreign affairs. The reference in the King's Speech to the devastating new weapon, and the need which this imposes on all parties to make an end of war, is, in my judgment, the most important reference that has appeared in any King's Speech for many years past. The view here expressed is, of course, no new one, Mankind has been trying, with little success, to disprove, during the last 1,900 years, that
all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
Now we find this same phrase, in another form, appearing in the King's Speech, and that Speech is made doubly Gracious by the presence of that phrase therein.
There appear to be many people now engaged in an effort to belittle the importance of this matter. They hope that this horror will grow mild, and its darkness become light. At any rate, there was little promise of mildness in the speeches of the leaders of both parties regarding this matter. I am personally thankful that they are taking the attitude that this is a vital matter for our consideration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) said it was a new factor in human affairs. The Prime Minister says that we must revalue our international relations. Indeed we must. The late Prime Minister thinks that the atom's new secret can be fastened up in America and left safely there. I suggest that that is no more possible than it would have been possible for John Daltan, when he made his earlier discovery about the atom, to fasten it up in his retort and leave it there. Indeed, the knowledge now available about this matter has come to such a point that it is inevitable that, within a comparatively short period of time, this secret will become common property.
We were hoping, a little while ago, that we should be able to divide the nations into two classes—the policeman class and the gangster class. The former was to usher in, with the appropriate use of the necessary violence, practised successfully against the latter, a new world of peace and justice. Now, we are coming to realise that both the police and the gangsters may soon be in possession of a weapon about which everyone in this House who has spoken responsibly has used the most earnest words. When we come to realise that people, will be in possession of this weapon, we begin to wonder to what extent the theories in our various political party programmes are going to be able to stand the strain of the situation now facing us. Indeed it is clear that an entirely new conception of law and of international sovereignty is being forced upon the attention of the world.
The right hon. Member for Woodford assumed that a couple of bombs that were dropped stopped the Japanese war and saved a million lives. Was it not rather that the lives were saved because' the bombs exploded his own policy of unconditional surrender? He and the President, as he himself admits, were so conscience-stricken about the annihilatory force that they were unleashing on the world, that, at the last minute, he says, they offered terms to the Japanese. There was to be the retention of the Mikado, a very unsavoury personage. There was to be Japan for the Japs. One rather wishes that Blatchford were alive to write a thesis on it. There was to be access to raw materials for the Japanese. What a liberal manifesto in itself. There were terms. This is not unconditional surrender, and the Foreign Secretary will have much trouble in dealing with those terms before he is finished with them. But, at any rate, better trouble for a Foreign Secretary than slaughter for millions. It is better that the policy of unconditional surrender, so persistently preached by the right hon. Gentleman, has had to give way to something of a saner character.
There is one other matter that has not appeared in the King's Speech concerning foreign affairs, and on which I wish to speak. That is, the issue of foreign affairs in its relationship to conscription here at home. Lord Vansittart, at the time he was chief diplomatic agent to the Foreign Office, privately prompted leading French statesmen to threaten the British Government, his masters, with a further dwindling of the Entente unless they imposed conscription. He has recently stated so in an article in the "Daily Mail." Here was a civil servant, not only bluffing the Government but bluffing Parliament by tricks and stratagems. One has there a confession of a great civil servant in the Foreign Office, which makes it right that I should say to the Foreign Secretary—whose work I wish with all my heart to succeed—thathe should be cautious and careful that no one, either behind his back or behind the back of Parliament, makes it difficult for Parliament, in the days to come, to rid ourselves of the evil of conscription in our midst.
It will be a poor contribution to the better international situation which we are all hoping to secure if we are to foredoom our young men and women to giving one, two or three of the best years of their lives to compulsory training in war-like pursuits. Conscription is sheer waste and futility, when a thousand or a hundred thousand souls can be blasted into eternity in a second by one bomb. The Society of Friends has recently said that conscription demands much which in private life is recognised as anti-social and criminal. That wrong is greatest when conscription is imposed upon youth at its most formative period. Christ tells us to love our enemies; Governments bid us kill. The effect of that on sensitive young men is, necessarily, to confuse and divide. The conscript, in effect, is required to endorse war in advance. We, on these benches, have come here to make an end of war, and I believe hon. Members opposite have come with a similar hope. If there be no other reason conscription ought, therefore, to be abandoned at the earliest moment.
I learned during the last Election what many must have learned, how deep was the longing of our people that their loved ones might return home after this war. But I learned also that, associated with that general longing, was another which I heard expressed in meeting after meeting, in question after question. It was the longing of parents that their boys and girls should be saved from the wasted years that must be involved in the continuance of a process of conscription. The Foreign Secretary voiced a magnificent aim to-day, speaking as he did about the necessity of a great economic building in the world. I would say to him that conscription will grow like a canker at the root, withering and causing to perish the finest fruits that might come from his other efforts. Just as they are going to remove that other sign of the people's enslavement effected by the Trade Disputes Act, I hope that at the earliest possible moment the Government will announce that conscription as well shall be placed among the limbo of dead and forgotten things.
The courtesy and consideration which are habitually extended in this House to those who address it for the first time must be a comfort to all newcomers, as it is to me at this moment, the more so because the number of women in this House is so small. On these benches we are justly proud of the fact that there has been a considerable accession to the strength of our women Members as a result of the Election. At the same time, when my women colleagues and I survey the male attire on these benches and the even higher proportion of male attire on the opposite benches, we are indeed prone to ask ourselves "What are we in numbers among so many? "Indeed, I have been tempted more than one since coming to the House to share the incredulity of the bright and unbelieving young lady I met last Wednes- day morning when, on the strength of the fact that I was a Member of the House, I was trying to gain access to the House through the crowds outside. She looked at me half mockingly, and altogether unbelievingly replied "Sez you."
The subject which we are debating today seems to me to be of all priorities the most important priority. Because of that fact we must welcome those words in the Gracious Speech which refer to the need for international co-operation and for the extension of social justice throughout the world. Those are tasks which I suggest cannot be left to another generation, or even for a few years. They are tasks of very high priority indeed. Never was I more impressed with this fact than when, a few months ago, I attended a meeting on the outskirts of my own constituency, where a young woman voter was speaking on how she intended to use her vote. She described at that meeting the thrill of excitement, and indeed of exultation, which she and others of her age felt when they knew by the declaration of war, that they were to pass through the fiery trials through which their parents had passed 20 years before. We cannot put old heads on young shoulders, nor would we try to do so even if we could. It is very difficult for a succeeding generation to learn from the experience of its predecessors.
Therefore it would seem to me that the task of securing world peace, if world peace is to be secured, is our task, and it must be commenced here and now, without delay. In saying that, I am in entire agreement with something which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said the other day in another place, that international organisation must not be imposed from above; it must be of the nature of a growth, which springs up from below. But if I could extend his metaphor a little further, I would say that the seeds for the production of that growth must be sown now, without delay, and they must be tended, as lovingly and carefully as it is within our capacity to do, in order that they may be brought to fruition within a measurable period of time.
The machinery for keeping the peace is important, as we all know, but it is legitimate to doubt whether peace-keeping machinery will suffice for peace keeping if men, women and children are fed, clothed and housed under conditions that do not conform to civilised standards. If I may give an illustration, a diet of 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day for people of countries in Western Europe, as compared with a diet of 1,000 calories a day in Eastern Europe, and a diet of somewhere about 800 calories a day in the Far East, has operated in those parts of the world, not simply in the days towards the close of this war, but almost throughout the 1930's. We Shall not bring peace to humanity by the threat of the atomic bombs that another war can bring, for while such conditions as these persist why should men and women fear death when the circumstances under which they have lived have been such that they have hardly known what it is to be alive? So I would urge upon the Foreign Secretary and the Government that equally important, at least, with Bretton Woods and with the Charter which emanated from San Francisco, was the work done by the International Food Conference at Hot Springs. I hope they will be just as anxious, and I am sure they will be, to bring about the things forecast in that Charter as in the other Charters I have mentioned.
Then there are other international problems that have become of great moment to us in these days of power and technology. During the last quarter of a century we have lived through something which has been comparable to a worldwide industrial revolution, and most of us have been hardly conscious of what has been happening. Mineral wealth, power and raw materials have been demanded by all the nations of the world to an increasing degree. They have played an almost dominating part in the relations of nation with nation. The world has become unified to a greater extent than ever before, far more unified than man has learned to think and plan for world unity. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has played an important part in the past, both in thinking and speaking on these important problems of world technology and of world economic arrangements, and I am sure he will not allow that aspect of international affairs to be overlooked.
I would like to refer in conclusion to a picture in the corridor through which one has to pass in gaining access to this House day by day. It depicts a scene in my own constituency some 300 or 400 years ago when the Pilgrim Fathers set sail from the Mayflower Stone in Plymouth to find a new world of justice, liberty and of freedom on the other side of the globe. When I paused the other day to look at that picture more closely, I noticed that the foreshore was strangely different from what it is at the present time, but the Mayflower Stone still remains there, as a memorial to the hazards and the courage of the pilgrims who left the harbour at Plymouth. As I stood and looked I thought "We too are engaged on a voyage of discovery for a new world for ourselves, a world where justice, liberty and opportunity shall be opened not only to a few and not only to a class but to the citizens of the entire world. "I am convinced that with my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary at the helm and with all of us plying our oars as manfully and as womanfully as we can, we shall be able, despite all the hazards, perils and trials of our journey, to 'bring our craft safely to harbour, the harbour of international co-operation and of a stabilised international peace.
One of the nicest traditions in this House is that those of us who have been here before have the privilege of congratulating maiden speakers. I am unusually fortunate to-day for I rather think I have the opportunity of congratulating three, or at any rate two. The hon. Lady who has just spoken will be a very worthy representative of that great city Plymouth. The sincerity with which she spoke and her knowledge of her subject are, I am sure, going to be very useful in this House. The hon. Gentleman who spoke before, I gather, is not quite in that category, because I believe he was in the House before, but I would also like to pay my very sincere tribute to the hon. and gallant Member who spoke before him, the Member for Central Glasgow (Lieut.-Colonel Hutchison). He has a magnificent war record and we want people of that sort in the House of Commons. Also, there is no doubt from the way he spoke that he has those other qualifications which we need in this place. Indeed, throughout this Debate I have listened to most of the maiden speeches—I have read the others—and there has been such an extraordinarily high level of oratory that I think those maiden speakers who ask for indulgence have no need to do so. They stand up, practically without any notes or without any notes at all, and they express their views very forcibly and intelligibly indeed. I think there should be indulgence accorded to those of us who are a hangover from the last Parliament and who still find that we have to stumble through our speeches with the help of copious notes. Therefore, if I may, I would ask the indulgence of the House.
This new House is very much more in tune with the resistance movements in Europe than the old one was. It was of inestimable advantage to this country when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) became Prime Minister in 1940 just in time to personify the stubborn resistance of the people of Britain. I think it is also going to be of very great advantage that the Party which has always paid so much attention to and laid so much emphasis upon international co-operation should come into power just now when we have ahead of us this problem of making peace. The right hon. Gentleman the new Foreign Secretary, who has everybody's good wishes, including my own, in some ways has an easier job than the Foreign Secretary who preceded him. I am a very great admirer of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden). I have been fortunate enough for 14 or 15 years to work very closely with him, indeed, and I do not think that all Members in this House have had the opportunity of realising sufficiently how well he knew his subject. I used to have the privilege of seeing him fairly often with a small group of people, and you never could tackle the Foreign Secretary on any question without his knowing the answer. He hardly ever had to turn round to his secretary and ask what was in the latest telegram. I have seen the right hon. Gentleman during the difficult years at Geneva when he was putting up a very gallant fight indeed in favour of international co-operation, but I think he was handicapped by two things.
He was handicapped by the knowledge that when he stood in support of international co-operation and decent principles he would get support more easily from the Opposition than from his own Party. Also there have been times when we have had two foreign policies, one run from the Foreign Office and one from Downing Street. That is bad. Do not let us forget, for example, that when the late Mr. Chamberlain went to Munich and carried out one of the most important acts that one could imagine in the history of this country, he went without a single official from the Foreign Office. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will have that sort of difficulty; at any rate I hope not. Any attempt to build up a genuine international organisation will win for the present Foreign Secretary the enthusiastic support of all the Members of his own Party, and also, if I may judge by the new fervour for almost revolutionary changes shown by my right hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler), I feel sure he will have the full support of the Conservative Party as well. Judging from his speech to-day he ought to have, because it was a speech which was above politics; it was a national speech.
But enthusiasm is not enough. I want to suggest two difficulties which may be in the way of achieving the world of freedom, peace and social justice to which the Gracious Speech refers. One obstacle is the "military mind." The right hon. Gentleman in his speech this afternoon paid a well-deserved tribute to the work done by Field-Marshal Montgomery and the men under him in repatriating displaced persons and so on, but we have to remember that in the early days of the war civilian heeds and desires had to be ruthlessly subordinated to military requirements in the national interest. It is just as necessary now that that process should be reversed. My right hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) in "The Times" last Thursday had a remarkable letter which hon. Members should study very carefully indeed. He emphasised how very much the social and political recovery of Europe could be helped if surplus military supplies such as lorries and so on could at once be handed over for the use of civilian populations in Europe. I would like very much to support him in that, but I do not wish to take up the time of the House in developing that argument.
I wish to develop another which may seem to be of lesser importance. It is the importance of abolishing that secrecy which is hallowed by the magic word "security." The problem of finishing off the aggressors has now become a political and not a military problem. I want to see as quickly as possible the right hon. Gentleman taking over much more control of matters which in the past have been left in military hands. The war is over. Do not let us forget it. After all, policy should depend upon public opinion, and we have to realise how much of the peace settlement has already been made without any kind of consultation with public opinion at all—very much more than during the last Peace Conference. Great territorial changes have already been agreed to by the British Government without any opportunity for the British public or the House of Commons really to know the details. That may have been necessary—it probably was necessary during the war—but I do beg of the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman who is going to wind up this Debate that they should pay a great deal of attention to this business of getting back to the maximum of publicity possible for all our actions in foreign affairs. We have realised that public opinion cannot be suppressed; it is vitally important that it should be well informed. It has got to be informed through the newspapers, radio and so on.
We have heard a great deal during the Debate of the Potsdam Conference, a Conference which has decided a great many things. Most of us even now do not know all that has been decided there. I do not, for one. The nearest link between the delegates at Potsdam and public opinion were the Press, and they were some eight miles away from Potsdam all the time. That is not the way to run international affairs. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see that that sort of policy is not followed at the forthcoming meeting in London of the Foreign Secretaries. He will find it difficult to relegate the Press to a place eight miles outside London, but it will be possible if he so desires to see that the Press is not adequately informed and through the Press that public opinion is not adequately informed. I beg of him to put a stop to that sort of thing. The hon. Gentleman who is, I think, to reply to this Debate will remember certainly better than I do how much the League of Nations prospered when we had as many discussions as possible in public. He will remember much better than I do that no delegate from any country likes to defend a bad policy if he has to do so in public, if he has to do it in front of representatives of the public and the Press.
It is not going to be an easy job to break down this tradition of secrecy which has grown up during the years of war, and it must be admitted that the right hon. Gentleman does not get much help from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has developed a very strong dislike of that sort of free discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) many years ago stimulated some of us who were then becoming interested in international affairs by publishing, at the end of the last war, a book on secret treaties, which he was able to do by the simple fact that these documents had been released from the archives in Moscow. I have a horrible feeling that there will not be such a readiness this time to give us the information we need.
One other matter that I wish to refer to is the atomic bomb. Most Members have handled the subject very gingerly and I am not sure that I blame them. But there is this phrase in the Gracious Speech:
The devastating new weapon which science has now placed in the hands of humanity should bring home to all the lesson that the nations of the world must abolish recourse to war or perish by mutual destruction.
That phrase is obviously no sort of exaggeration at all. I sympathise with the refusal of the Prime Minister earlier in this Debate to make a definite statement about what is to happen to that bomb. But I would ask the House to reflect for a moment. What are the alternatives? We can either try to keep the secret ourselves with the United States, or we can hand it on to the Military Staffs Committee of the Security Council, that is to say to the other three permanent members of the Security Council, the Soviet Union, China and France. If we keep it ourselves we shall be masters of the world for a time—for the time when nobody wants to make war because everybody has had enough of it for the time being. We shall be able to impose our will upon the world.
There are all sorts of questions that I hear being expressed about whether we ought to try to keep that secret ourselves or not. People say: "Can we be sure that nobody in Russia, for example, is so suffering from megalomania as to want to use the bomb? Can we be sure that if we do hand this information on the Russians will not consider that action as a sign of weakness rather than of strength? Will not the Chinese Government be tempted to use it against the Chinese Communists—whose gallantry in the past, whatever is going to happen to them now—and I am not sure that they are not in for a bad time—is something that ought not to be forgotten? Apart from the fact that these vast countries may not want to experiment with the one weapon that robs them of the territorial advantage of their size and which does make them vulnerable, I maintain that we must take the risk.
What is the alternative? It may be that the British and the Americans are less dangerous than other people and are better to be trusted with so important a weapon. I hope that is so. I do not know. The alternative is surely that the Security Council cannot possibly exist if two permanent members of the Council possess so important a military secret that the other three have not got. It is impossible that in such, circumstances this new international organisation which many hon. Members have spoken about can continue to exist. It would only be a matter of time before some other scientist working for some other Government manages to split some other atom and produces some other bomb. They will think that their bomb is better than ours, the temptation to test it will be irresistible; we shall have another war very quickly. I urge that the information should be handed over to the Military Staffs Committee as soon as the United Nations Charter has come into operation and methods have been devised to control the manufacture.
I believe that such a step would do more than we can imagine to hasten the ratification of the Charter and check the tendency of certain countries to grab what advantages they can before the Charter comes into operation. As the former Foreign Secretary said just now, this is really our last chance. I believe that only in this way can this new power become a potential blessing to mankind. Only in this way can this Parliament prove worthy in the international field of the hopes and aspirations in the minds of the millions who elected it.
On rising to address this House for the first time, I ask the indulgence which it is the custom of the House to extend to maiden speakers. I feel that a maiden speaker taking part in this Debate has a special claim upon that indulgence. We have been told from both sides to-day how advisable it is that controversy should be avoided on matters of foreign policy and we might imagine, from those appeals for unanimity, that, where-ever else British policy may have failed in the past 10 years, in the matter of foreign policy it had been a glittering and matchless success. I am afraid, unhappily, I cannot subscribe to that view, and therefore I may possibly sink from that high level of pure affability which we are supposed to attain in our maiden speeches.
As far as the rest of the King's Speech is concerned, there are some matters which some of us in this House would have liked to see included. I would have liked some specific reference to the possibility of a new Royal Warrant for the benefit of the disabled Service men or their widows. We would like early consideration to be given to the position of old age pensioners; but where so much is included, and where so prodigious a programme is attempted, it would be churlish to complain about tine omissions. I believe this is the best King's Speech, and certainly the most ambitious, that has ever been presented to this Parliament. So great is my satisfaction, that I would go so far as to say that Oliver Cromwell could hardly have done a better job himself in the realm of foreign affairs. We are dealing not only with specific proposals and concrete measures, but a whole attitude of mind.
It is true that the electors have fought largely on domestic issues, and that, in foreign affairs, the Government are partly committed to policies which were previously initiated by the Coalition. None the less, so momentous an event as the return to power with a full majority, for the first time in history, of a Labour Government, is bound to have enormous consequences. If anyone has any doubt about that he has only to witness the rejoicings which were so great in so many countries when the news of Labour's victory became known. I believe it is a matter of great credit to the Labour Party in this country, and to the international doctrine which it has always preached, that its victory at the polls was attained in so many lands and in particular by those sections of the community which have played a chief and most honourable part in resisting the Nazi conquest of their country.
What is it then that those countries expect from this new Government? Why is it that so many places rejoice—Paris, Rome, Madrid, Athens and many other capitals besides? The Leader of the Opposition referred to some of those matters last week. He also referred to Professor Laski. I hope I will be pardoned for trespassing on private property. I do not want to appear in a private quarrel which outsiders cannot be expected to understand, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) suggested that Professor Laski had been guilty of some monstrous crime when, in his capacity as, shall I say, an observer in Paris, he suggested that the change of Government here might involve certain changes in Britain's attitude towards Greece. Is that really so startling?
The same kind of view was expressed a few days earlier by a prominent Greek. He said that he hoped that his country would have the chance of following Britain's Socialist example. This Greek was not a professor. He was not a Communist. He was not a bandit. He was not even a Trotskyist. He was the Greek Foreign Minister, installed partly by British arms. He had obviously received the blessing of the late Government. He represented Greece at San Fransisco. When he returned from San Francisco he was so disgusted at what he saw of the trend of events in Greece, and by the preparations which he saw for a terror and for faked elections, events which have been described much better than I could do by the hon. Member who has just been in Greece and who spoke a little earlier, that this Foreign Minister preferred to hand in his resignation.
Events in Greece have moved very fast recently and they have not moved in the direction which any true democrat can applaud. Therefore, if the Leader of the Opposition really was eager to ensure fair elections in Greece, might he not have realised that a few words, even from such an unofficial person as Professor Laski, might have a good effect in warning re- actionary elements in Greece that a great change had taken place in this country, and that the foreign affairs of this country were no longer conducted by persons who had a vested interest in securing the return to his throne of King George of the Hellenes—a vested interest in order to justify a long campaign which they have waged on behalf of King George of the Hellenes, and which, I believe, is partly responsible for the unhappy state of Greece to-day?
The right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition was using this as an illustration of a much larger argument. He spoke of what he described as "police Governments" in Europe. He made a powerful plea for the sovereignty of the ballot box. He even went on to say that we might have the need of a redefinition of democracy. I agree with a good many of those sentiments, but I cannot help feeling that hon. Members who applauded him so lustily on those points have left the mass journey to Damascus a little late. The right hon. Gentleman himself was once an avowed supporter of the police Government of Signor Mussolini, and when General Franco raised his rebellion in Spain against the ballot box, where were those hon. Gentlemen? The privilege of defending the sovereignty of the ballot box was not undertaken by the Leader of the Opposition, in countless Debates in this House, and not by right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. It was undertaken by those who now, happily, sit on the Front Government Bench.
Therefore, we think we have no reason to submit to instruction on the principles of democracy from that side of the House. So many people in Europe hold the same views as we do, and so many people in Europe remember the shameful record of Toryism in our foreign politics, that they are expectant and hopeful to-day that that long era has come to a total end. They hope that when they look to London in the future they will hear no more kind words for the dictators. They expect firm leadership in the ways of Social Democracy. I hope that the Foreign Secretary and other members of the Government will not insist too eagerly upon continuity in our foreign policy, because a great part of the prestige of the Foreign Secretary in dealing with these matters arises from the great electoral victory in this coun- try. Much more arises from that than from the legacy which was left him by his predecessor. If we are to give this leadership to Europe, I believe that we must begin to understand more precisely what has been happening in Europe during the past four or five years. One of the reasons for the failure of our foreign policy and why we have acquired the odium of supporting reactionary régimes is that those in charge of our diplomacy fail to understand the internal cleavages in many of these countries. Before the war many monarchs, supported by the Foreign Office and those in charge of our diplomacy, were themselves the upholders and initiators of police government—King George of the Hellenes, the House of Savoy and King Alexander of Yugoslavia. The event which the Leader of the Opposition graphically described as the knock on the door of the policeman was supported by those gentlemen who have been lavishly supported by the Opposition.
We have to try and understand what has happened in Europe. When the war came, when Hitler made his attack, there were very few friends of Hitler to be found in the workers' homes in Europe, and there were very few friends of democracy to be found in the precincts of the palaces and the offices of big business. It was that choice made by the rich and powerful elements in many countries of Europe which is partly responsible for the bitterness which still prevails in Europe. We must try to understand that. I would be the last to pretend that that is the sole cause of the anxiety of those who wish to see democratic methods restored in Europe. There have been grievous wrongs done elsewhere. Men have had their freedom taken from them and worse, merely for expressing their opinions or for being suspected of holding certain opinions, in Poland and many other parts of Eastern Europe. I protest against that, but unlike hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side in this matter of police government, I also protest when the victim is an Indian and when a man like Nehru has to spend a large part of his life in a British concentration camp. If we are to have this matter of police government out, let us have it out above board and let us be consistent.
How are we to restore democratic methods in Europe? No one pretends it will be easy. I believe that we must start by asserting again the rights of the free communication of ideas and the rights of free reporting. I hope that the part of the Berlin Declaration which refers to these rights will foe most liberally applied and insisted upon. Indeed, if we are to establish on a firm and lasting basis our alliance with the Soviet Union, which we know to be essential for the future peace of Europe, we must establish our right to criticise the Soviet Union just as the Soviet Union exercises its right to criticise us. We are a European country, and I hope that we are determined to maintain our influence in Europe, but it cannot be done by force any more than we can maintain our Empire by force. It can only be done if, added to our strength, we have a more subtle magnet. The Leader of the Opposition in his speech appeared to suggest that the leadership of the nations had in some way passed to the United States. He appeared to approve the process, or at least he said that we must limit our ideas of British influence throughout the world. I do not know exactly what he meant, but I hope we are not going to have from this new Government an unambitious foreign policy.
We do not wish to play the part of Lepidus in this triumvirate of great nations. Britain stands to-day at the summit of her power and glory, and we hold that position because to-day, following the Election, we have something unique to offer. We have a conception of political liberty which our friends in Russia unhappily have not been blessed with. We have at the same time a conception of economic democracy, which we on this side of the House are proud to call by the name of Socialism, a conception which is unhappily not yet shared by the people of the United States. If, however, we were able to take a free vote of all the peoples in Europe, I believe that they would vote overwhelmingly for these two ideas. It is this unique combination of treasures, together with the prestige that this country has acquired during the war and the support we had from the Dominions who hold the same opinions and are travelling along the same road as ourselves, which gives to us the commanding position of leadership if we choose to exercise it.
All through the period before the war the foremost interest of Britain above all other nations was that she should be the advocate and the sponsor of a broad conception of an international society. That chance was squandered by successive Tory Governments, which preferred to make treaties with the aggressors. We have had further chances since. We had a chance at the Chicago Air Conference and another at San Francisco, 'but Britain at neither of these conferences exercised the privilege of leadership. The real leadership for an advance to an international society was taken by Australia and New Zealand. I believe that if Britain had acted with Australia and New Zealand we would not have gained what we wanted, but we would have made our own position much better. We would have rallied Liberal opinion in America and we would have helped to kill the opinion which exists in many Liberal circles in America, that this was an old, stodgy, reactionary country out of which no good could come. We could also have begun the task of educating the peoples of the world in the idea of one world.
We lost all those chances. We may not have many more chances. The invention of the atomic bomb should impel us to assume the position of leadership among the nations with all the courage we can muster. At the end of this great war and after this great Election, the British people can play as conspicuous a part before the gaze of all mankind as they played in 1940. Hitler has left behind him terrible legacies—racialhatred, love of violence, hunger, homelessness, famine and death. Surely it is the duty of our great country not to be content with some secondary role, but rather to seek the abatement of those evils by the assertion and example of a much more positive democracy. As we look out across this stricken Continent and as we see a new hope in the struggle to be born across this wilderness of shattered faiths, may it not be our destiny as the freest and most democratic and a Socialist Power to stand between the living and the dead and stay the flames?
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) on the manner in which he has delivered his maiden speech and put his views before the House. He is likely to arouse us all, and I hope that he will have many other opportunities of expressing his views. He is the sole survivor of a family which has been for many years represented in this House, and I congratulate him on his surviving by swimming very hard. We are trying in this House, I believe, as hard as we have ever tried, to work out a foreign policy that gives hope for the future; we are trying to build something on a general principle which is fair, which is British and which is sound. If some of us plunge into the pools of the past and play about with our buckets and spades, and if, while pretending to build, we stir up a great deal of mud which had better be left to lie at the bottom of the pool, we shall not build very rapidly. I would like to feel that every one of us can offer some sort of help to the Foreign Secretary in his immense task and in the terrific responsibility which he has to carry.
I have heard several times to-day suggestions that the atomic bomb has brought the world to a realisation that this is the last chance. I wonder if it is only the atomic bomb. I do not think there is much hope for humanity if it is only the atomic bomb which has brought us to a sense of reality. I believe that there is far more to it than that, and that, even before the arrival of the atomic bomb, there had been a growing realisation that we were perpetrating terrible things which, if they were continued, would not allow humanity ever to reassert itself. It is true that the atomic bomb brought a realisation of the brutalities of war nearer to the peoples of the world. But do not let us make the mistake that that is the only urge in the public mind in this or any other country which will lead us to work together in order to get a policy which will help the world to retain peace and build a stronger peace than has ever been built before. I welcome what the Foreign Secretary said when he stressed the economic aspect of foreign policy. I remember that some years ago, when the League of Nations was beginning to decline in prestige and influence, the suggestion was made that a whole section of the League should be devoted to economic affairs in much the same way as the International Labour Office functioned. Whether, if such a great machine had been set up, it could have brought about any successful issue, and whether it could have helped to find cords which would have bound nations together, I very much doubt, so far had the world slipped down the slope.
I would like to ask now whether we have even yet studied closely enough the framework of some international economic structure which could be so welded as to form a practical bedrock of foreign policy for the future. We have a tremendous opportunity now, terrible though the difficulties are which face us in the immediate future. We have, however, one valuable common denominator which is pulling the nations together. It is a terrible thing to say, but probably the biggest common denominator to-day is fear, fear of want, famine and lack of food.
It is in that very direction that we have already gone a long way in international conversations regarding the production, distribution, and consumption of the world's foodstuffs. We have that great fear in common. Is it not possible to use that common fear, that common urge to solve the problem of feeding the world, to build up an international organisation which will help to lay the foundation of a later organisation to maintain peace? I mention food in particular because of all the spheres in which we are vulnerable in this country, in that of our own food production we are most vulnerable. I look to the Foreign Secretary not to forget—and I am quite sure he will not—that the lives of the workers producing our own food on the land of this country depend very much on his success, more perhaps in the field of agriculture than in any other industry. I would urge him therefore to do his utmost to encourage all those who are with him in the Government, and others from the Dominions and foreign countries, to come together and study the food problem, not only for the purpose of solving the world's food production problem, but very largely to help solve the problems of our own agricultural industry, which we can never see let down again.
Finally I would say that, as a Scotsman who has the honour of representing an English constituency, I welcomed what the Foreign Secretary has said because it was English. It was English in this way—it was not a "Nosey Parker" foreign policy, and that to my mind is a terribly important thing to make clear not only to people in foreign lands but to some of our own people at home. It is terribly and vitally important for the peace of the world that we should make it clear to our friends at home and abroad that Britain is not a "Nosey Parker" nation looking out for trouble, that she will speak her mind openly and fairly, but will not interfere to an inexcusable degree in the internal affairs of other nations. Along that dangerous path lies not only our own ruin but, at the end, the inevitable horror of further war and possibly the end of human life on this world.
I, like many others about to make maiden speeches, am filled with diffidence in addressing this House. I thought that of of all the nightmares which come to one from time to time, perhaps the worst was making a descent by parachute behind the enemy lines, and that is the only contribution which I can make to the Debate having, in some small measure—in much smaller measure than my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lancaster (Brigadier Maclean) or my other hon. Friend—in the old days in Greece contributed towards the resistance movement. When I descended I came down on one Foot—but let that be. I have had a certain experience with those gallant and noble people in North Western Europe, in Belgium and in Holland, and I assure this House that, magnificent though the achievements of the members of the resistance movements have been in Intelligence, their military effort was not very considerable and their motives for being in the resistance movement were often less.
I most seriously suggest that there has been in the past an over-estimation of the work of the resistance movements. It is a most dangerous over-estimation because those people are undoubtedly having a great influence in Europe to-day. As the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary so rightly pointed out, there now exists a lust for power and a desire for loot rather than for the betterment of life, in many of those countries. I think it would be extremely rash if the people of this country were to take at its full face value all that is said by resistance leaders, their friends or members of the resistance movements throughout Europe. Gallant though they have been, most of them are no more suited to run a country than an officer or two of a second-rate British division if they were put in power to-morrow to conduct the government of a sovereign State.
But the question of such movements is comparatively unimportant, and has been thrown into a minuscule perspective, beside the discovery of the atom bomb. One may well say that the successful and hideous fission of the atom has, as the Foreign Secretary so rightly said, made peace total. If the shadow of this bomb is heavy across the political face of the whole world to-day, I hope that this House and this country will not show themselves weak in face of that fact, and will not wither away with fear, because in that way it is certain that we shall compass our own destruction. We must, as the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) said, continue to take the lead in the world. We must not be afraid of these things. We must pursue a policy which, even as the Foreign Secretary has indeed outlined it, is courageous and which is in the tradition of our great foreign policy. There have, over the last 100 years, been lapses from the great foreign policy of this country, which is to defend the legitimate interests of this country and commonwealth of nations abroad, and to see that the individual rights of ordinary men and women, and the rights of States, shall be protected in so far as we are able to protect them.
We hope that the great burden which has lain upon this country for many years, which has exacted such a heavy toll of our contemporaries, and, Mr. Speaker, of your contemporaries in the last war, may be removed by the successful establishment of some international system. It is our last chance, but it is not new, this search for an international system. Ever since the earliest days of communication all mankind throughout the world has sought some method of controlling war. In fairly recent times, Napoleon tried to impose an international system; then came the Congress period after the Napoleonic Wars, followed by the rise of the German Empire. Then came the League, then Hitler, each in his own fashion striving for world hegemony and each ending, finally, in a more terrible and hideous disaster. We must be realists; we must realise that much though we all desire such a system and much though we will sacrifice to its working, there is still the danger of its failure.
We must also realise at this moment, before the great system of San Francisco can be put into full operation, that a settlement must be carried out within Europe, a settlement which the Foreign Secretary has so pleasingly promised to help to achieve. That settlement must be made as soon as possible. I think perhaps the Foreign Secretary exaggerated a little conditions in Belgium and Holland. I do not think, from recent personal experience, that conditions in either of those two countries are yet such as could be considered as in any way approximating even to the verge of happiness. We must view the settlement to be made in Europe as one which must be made now, made by the Council of Foreign Ministers so shortly to be set up here, to which body we all wish the greatest possible success. It was with great pleasure that I heard the Foreign Secretary tell this House of his views, and the views of His Majesty's Government, on the question of Greece and on the Russian zone of occupation beyond Greece.
I believe it to be most important, as the hon. Member for Devonport and the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) have said, that there should be full access to news of the political events which are occurring at this moment in Eastern Europe. A settlement is being carried out there now, of that there can be no shadow of doubt. This country must be informed and must be kept fully in the picture, so that we in this House can offer either suggestions or criticisms of what is happening without fear or favour, whether it be—as we the people of this country face Europe—to the extreme Left, the dictatorship of Stalin or, on the extreme Right, that of Franco. We must be able to criticise without fear or favour, but we can only do so if the facts are available to us. Those facts are not at the moment being made available. Let us remember that we have fought two wars to defend our rights and true interests, to see that all over the world the ordinary man has his proper rights, and that small nations have also their human and civil rights. Whatever may befall, I believe that we and the other English-speaking peoples of the world are resolved that those rights shall not perish from the earth.
It falls to me to congratulate the last speaker on the very excellent maiden contribution he has made to the Debate. I only hope that it gives a promise of further excellent contributions to come. I must say that I envied his extreme confidence, as well as that of other madden speakers; personally, right from my first speech in this House in 1929, I have always trembled at the very idea of addressing the House. I tremble, even when I know something about the subject. I feel the qualms of conscience now in addressing it on the very difficult problem of foreign affairs and making a contribution on this immense subject. But, after all, foreign affairs are the affairs of the common man, and it is rather from the attitude of the common man that I would like to address some remarks to the House in order to try to clarify the situation and to ask for some help in an understanding of this most difficult situation.
The Foreign Secretary has made a very excellent speech, which will cheer the hearts of many democrats. Everyone knows that he has the will, the heart, the energy and the efficiency not only to clear up the mess which he has found in the world, from the point of view of foreign affairs, but to try in time to get some democratic order into the whole business. But I am greatly perturbed. Take, for example, his remarks on Spain, a country in which I was interested for a long time, especially during the civil war. I was in Spain at least three times during the Spanish civil war, and saw a great deal of what was going on. The Foreign Secretary knows well, from the democratic point of view, the background of the present Spanish régime, and the way in which that great Christian gentleman, now the head of the régime, broke his military oath as an officer and a gentleman, and became the most celebrated mutineer in Europe. When democratic countries wanted to help the common people of Spain to maintain the representative system of that time, they were prevented by a policy of non intervention. This gentleman Janus, two-faced all the time, was helping our enemies during the war, and four years later was making a treaty to limit his export of wolfram, etc., to Germany, and simultaneously making Spain a spy centre not only for the Germans, but for the Germans outside the Continent of Europe, in Latin America. He had helped our enemies by giving facilities for refuelling submarines within his ports and things of that kind. As I understand the situation now, we are told we must simply say that Spain is outside the comity of nations which has been decided upon by the great trinity, and until she becomes a democratic nation, with a representative democratic system, she must remain out. Nothing must be done that can possibly give rise to the common man in Spain taking steps to rid himself of this despotic incubus, this burden placed upon his shoulders by events of the past.
I see that point of view. We do not want civil war but wish to prevent civil war. But who can tell me the difference between totalitarian Spain and authoritarian Portugual? Authoritarian Portugal has not a democratically representative system but she is our Ally and is, apparently, to come within the comity of nations. But in Spain, which, I agree, has one of the most contemptible despotisms in Europe at the present time, and is a country which should be our Ally from its geographical situation—in view of aeroplanes and the possibilities of atomic bombs—we have that situation. I wonder how and why it is decided that one totalitarian country is not to come within the comity of nations, and another country is to come in? I can see the difficulties but I would like a little clarification, as one not conversant with foreign affairs but interested in democracy.
I want government by the people for the people, in Russia, in Spain, and in the United States of America—where there is a great racial question and many of the people, because of the poll tax, have no vote. It is a sort of hypocrisy. It is a very big problem in the South where many blacks are disfranchised completely because of the poll tax. I am only pointing that out as one who believes in the democratisation of the whole of the universe, in a cosmopolitan way. I want, as one who is not versed in foreign affairs, to see a solution.
Who is to carry out this policy? The Foreign Diplomatic Service, like the medical service, wants democratising from top to bottom. Are the present diplomats, with their present outlook, to carry out the policy in Europe, or are we to have diplomats with the labour and Socialist outlook selected from people in Great Britain to do ambassadorial work in the different countries? What is the position vis-à-vis Eire, a democratic country with a democratic system, but neutral during the war? Eire made a finer contribution to the war, in spite of her alleged neutrality, than did Ulster. Even under the democratic system, the total number of votes cast for Members representing Ulster in this House numbered 185,000, while the number of votes favouring the policy on this side of the House was only 10,000 less. And the Service vote in Ulster only amounted to 26,000.
That interruption seems to be quite jejune. I was comparing the recognition of the régime in Europe, with the recognition of the régime in Eire. It is not Ulster at all. It is only six counties.
No, they are not. I want to ask whether we are trying to democratise the foreign services throughout the world. My remarks seem to have caused perturbation in certain quarters. Where is France going to be under the new system? France has had a terrible time. Are we to do anything to give her a proper place in the comity of nations? What are we to do with the common people of Italy?
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Paddington (Vice - Admiral Taylor) always interrupts and asks me very abstruse questions. I would rather have leading questions. I think a little reading rather than a little querying would be more to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's advantage. The common people mean the ordinary, common or garden men, workers by hand or brain, in any country who do not live on the toil of the ordinary common worker.
I want to appeal to the Foreign Secretary to do something for the people of Italy. There is a holding-down of certain classes in Italy. A.M.G.O.T. is still there. Many factories are devoid of raw materials and unemployment is rife in Milan and other industrial centres in Northern Italy. The common people of Italy, even the Socialists, have really had a raw deal with regard to being brought in to govern their own country. Every step should be taken to see that the common people, the Socialists, the Christian Democrats and the Christian Socialists, are brought into the democratic régime in Italy. This has not yet come to pass.
Democracy is not always the proved instrument of government which we would like it to be. Take Great Britain, with its great representative system. I presume that conditions will be changed in this country, but from the point of view of India there is in the King's Speech only a paragraph which mentions negotiations or impending changes with regard to self-government in India. Is nothing to be done for the common people in India before that? Have we made comparisons with regard to the death rate in India—3,000,000 yearly died from plague—and have we made comparisons between the tuberculosis death rate in India and the tuberculosis death rate here? Do we realise the meaning of the deaths of children under one year of age in India as compared with the number in this country? Many speakers on this side of the House may say, "You are trying to place difficulties in the way of our Government. "I am doing nothing of the kind. All that I am asking is that, with the impending changes in government a Commission should be set up—if necessary a mixed Commission of British Parliamentarians and Indians—to deal with the health and social conditions, and to survey the field and make investigations in order to let the British public know the facts about India. All that the people know about India is when an Indian prince comes here wearing his diamonds, and they are told what a fine kingdom he has, that he is a fine sportsman, that he runs race horses or plays cricket, but nothing is told us about the death rate from diseases such as leprosy, venereal disease and tuberculosis. A whole wave of disease is running through India, and we, a democratic country, are sitting here discussing the question of the approaching danger of epidemics in Europe and at the same time apparently paying no attention whatever to the great task and responsibility with regard to the people of India.
I hope that the Foreign Secretary will follow and continue his policy not on the lines of past Governments, but along the lines which really lie at the bottom of his heart. I hope he will maintain and continue that policy until we have built a better system not only throughout Europe, but throughout the world.
Rising for the first time, I seek the indulgence which the House always extends to those who address it. However, I must say that listening during the last few days it seemed to me that a new tradition is growing up; you get up and ask for indulgence, and then proceed to lay about you with all you have got, tormenting everybody on the other side, and hoping to get away with it. I hope I shall not trespass too deeply on the indulgence of Members on the other side of the House, but I do want to ask hon. Members to lift their eyes for a few moments from the European scene to what is happening in Asia at the present time.
I was very glad indeed to hear what the Foreign Secretary had to say about the prodigious American contribution to victory in the Pacific war. Those of us who have had the opportunity of seeing a little of that contribution are left in amazement at the breadth of conception and the speed of execution with which the Americans have carried out their attack across thousands of miles of ocean. I believe it to be almost unparalleled in its field, but at the same time I would like to say that I think this House and this country also owe a debt to those dogged Australians who slogged their way across New Guinea.
However, this very successful strategy of the Americans, which has taken Japan by the throat at the earliest opportunity, has left problems behind it. The first problem is this, that because they have been willing to leap across hundreds of miles of ocean, cutting the communications of the Japanese, they have left behind them large forces of well-equipped troops, well-housed, well-dug-in, well trained and not a bit feeling like surren- der. We are going to face the spectacle of tens of thousands of troops at present in Truk, in Rabaul, in Indo-China, in Malaya, throughout the Netherlands East Indies, returning to Japan undefeated and that, in my judgment, is a most dangerous event. I do not suggest for one moment that we should prosecute the war on those islands to kill them—we value the lives of our own men too much—but I do say that the course which events are taking in Japan at the present time is liable to reinforce the militaristic myth which has bedevilled that country far too long.
I will try to speak with a due sense of responsibility for I remember the Foreign Secretary's words on the need for it. I can understand the policy of the Allied commanders at the present moment, which is to use the authority of the Emperor of Japan to compel the surrender of his troops, but I hope that when that surrender has been compelled, we shall have no more to do with the Emperor of Japan. He is, as a divine monarch, the embodiment of all that is opposed to a democratic State and I think this ancient and honourable House will recall that 300 years or so ago it once had occasion to deal with the divine rights of kings. Now we have the spectacle of an Emperor who puts himself on a far higher plane than did our own King Charles. We must have had enough of the Emperor. His position as a semi-divine monarch cannot be reconciled with the introduction of a democratic State in Japan and I say that we must get rid of him.
The second point I want to make is this. I do not know whether hon. Members have been following the composition of the new peace Cabinet in Japan, but I regard it as the height of insolence to the Allied commanders that some of the men now holding office in the Japanese Cabinet should be permitted to retain those offices, and I hope the Allied commanders will make away with them. May I remind the House that the present Vice-Premier of Japan, Prince Konoye, is the man who was Prime Minister of Japan when she made war on China; that he is the man who condoned the stripping of British subjects at Tientsin; that he is the man who concluded the military alliance with Italy and Germany? Is that the sort of man we are going to treat with? Do hon. Members know, too, the Character of the present Foreign Secretary of Japan, Shigemitsu? He, too, was a member of the War Cabinet in Japan who was recently operating against us, and who has exchanged the friendliest of messages with Herr Hitler, Signor Mussolini and Count Ciano in the past. We must have nothing to do with these people. They hold out no hope for the future as far as we are concerned.
I hope, if I may look across the Inland Sea to China for a moment, that at some stage before we break up, the Foreign Secretary will be able to give us some information about the present negotiations between China and Russia. I believe these discussions are fraught with in credible possibilities for peace or war in the future. If I might venture to utter a criticism of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said earlier in the day, it would be this: he seemed to refer to China as though it were a country like Greece or Bulgaria or Poland. Hon. Members will know as well as I do that China is no country; it is a continent, it is an empire. General Chiang Kai-shek cannot claim to speak for the whole of the peoples of China. I think I am right in saying that at one time during recent years there have been as many as four Governments in China; certainly at the moment there are two who can lay claim to the allegiance of considerable numbers of the Chinese people. I think we should be very hesitant in coming down on one side without having regard to the vast territories which are administered by another section of the Chinese people, which are administered well, and as far as one can make out, have some contribution to make to the future of the world.
One final word. I think that now the rising tide of Japanese aggression has passed its summit and the waters are beginning to recede, we shall find that the configuration of the landscape has changed. Throughout the whole of Asia there are new problems and new landmarks arising. A fierce resurgent nationalism is to be detected throughout the whole of the Netherlands East Indies, throughout Indo-China and Malaya, certainly in Burma, which will give headaches to the Empires of Britain and of the Dutch and to France. I believe the Foreign Secretary will have to find new men and new methods if we are to deal successfully with the problems which will confront Great Britain in its relations with its Dominions and its Colonies in South-East Asia.
It is a very great pleasure to me to have this opportunity of following the previous speaker, the hon. Member for South Cardiff (Mr. Callaghan) and, therefore, to be able to congratulate him on what I personally considered to be the most interesting of all the maiden speeches we have heard to-day. I am particularly happy to have this opportunity of following him because, Mr. Speaker, I have been hoping to catch your eye in order to talk on this very subject of the Far East. I hope that whoever is finishing the Debate to-night will say something more about what is going on in the Far East. I believe there are large numbers of people in the country at the moment who are very worried at the lack of information ever since the latter part of the last Parliament. At that time, rightly, I think, we were told that we had to concentrate on talking about the German war, as it was finishing, and the Ministry of Information was determined to concentrate on the Japanese war afterwards. It all came to a finish much quicker than we expected, and I believe that in some ways we were not quite prepared for this finish.
In a few weeks, in October, we shall be coming back here again, but, before October is reached, I believe that some very important decisions will have to be made with regard to the Far East. I would like a little further enlightenment on that subject. Nothing that we are discussing in this question of the Address, nothing that we can look to that will be done in this Session, or in the coming Parliament, will really be of any use or value at all if we find ourselves landed in a further war. I can see very little likelihood of a European war for many years to come—possibly never again—but at the moment I can see much likelihood of war starting up in the Far East. I can see it largely because everything seems to be happening with regard to Japan at the moment as it happened with regard to Germany after the last war. After the last war with Germany the Army took the very greatest care to see to it that they did not lose face, as one puts it in the Far East. They took the greatest care in the succeeding years not only to build up the Army again but to see to it that one of the things whereby they lost did not happen again, namely, that they were not starved out. They never admitted that their army was defeated. They prepared their land and agriculture in an amazing way to see to it that they were not starved out, and they were not. I think it is true that the food in Germany to-day is in many ways a great deal better than it is inmost other parts of Europe. Now the Japanese Army is realising already, and telling the people, that it is not the army that has been defeated; it has been our scientists with this bomb who have won against the people of Japan. The people of Japan are being made at the moment to lose face.
We are doing all we can, as far as I can see, really to let the Japanese Army save its face and it is a very important thing in that part of the world. We are looking on it at the moment from rather a Western point of view, and I think we ought not to do that. We ought to put ourselves in the position of what the Far Easterner thinks. This question of an Emperor-god is not so important to the Easterner as the question of losing or saving face, and it appears to me that this country, America and Russia are making it possible for the Japanese Army to say that it has not been defeated; and that may so easily mean a war of revenge once they find the atomic bomb secret.
I do not know what is going on at the Russian front at the present moment—I would very much like to hear—but I believe that is really about the only place where the Japanese Army is being defeated. I believe they are still fighting at the present moment. I hope that the Russians, at least, will defeat what is probably the strongest of all the Japanese Armies. We are, as the hon. Member for South Cardiff said, making use of the Emperor. It is suggested in the papers that we shall be able tremendously to humiliate him and make him lose face by having an Allied Commander-in-Chief to occupy the country. But if you go back into Japanese history you will realise that the Japanese Emperor was for ages and ages completely in the background. There was a man called the Shogun who was the commander-in-chief. He ruled the country, and the Emperor never lost face, being pushed away into a side-line town, and left there to be brought out on certain occasions. It can happen again and I do not think he will be losing face from the Army's point of view with our General in occupation and in command.
Then again, it must not be forgotten that during 300 years the whole of Japan was cut off completely from the outside world and during that time the Japanese never went abroad. Neither was anybody allowed to go into the country. Towards the end of that period a certain political party in Japan decided they must get rid of the Shogun somehow, and the only way was by reviving the very old theory about this godhead of the Emperor, which was practically defunct. That was not more than 100 years ago. I could not find any European authority when I was in Japan who maintained that there was any real historic background further than 100 years to that statement about the Emperor being a complete god. He is a monarch in the same way as other countries have monarchs. Although, as the head of his people, he may be immensely useful at the moment for the bridging-over period, do not let us get too frightened at the idea of his being a complete god; let us treat him as an ordinary popular ruler.
There are nearly 100,000,000 people in those islands, and they are being told to believe that the atomic bomb won the war, and unless we completely humiliate the Army and make them also lose face the Army will work very hard in the years to come to find a means of revenge. We must try to think of the rest of the people, other than the Army, and I am optimistic about that, because one must realise that only in the last 60 or 70 years have any Japanese really left their country, and the percentage has been very small and those who have gone abroad, gone to America, for instance, have, if they stayed there, had children who turned out in the end to be not so bad. For instance, the United States has complete division of Japanese, born in the U.S.A., which did not do too badly, and I think we can hope that, with considerably more propaganda and by insisting on the Japanese travelling abroad, we may one day—it will not be done at once but will take a long time—find them a fairly reasonable nation, but only if we rid them of the Army.
We shall need to study Japan a great deal, but who is going to do it? I have been worried over wondering who in this country is studying the Japanese. Not long ago I broadcast on the subject of Japan, and received a large number of letters from people connected with the Forces and the Churches and a variety of interests connected with Japan, people who were very knowledgeable on the subject and, I believe, completely patriotic, yet when I sent their names to the B.B.C. nothing was done about it. I was thanked for the interest I had taken, but there was nothing more. I hope that when Parliament returns in October, we shall give far more time to studying these very serious Far Eastern problems and finding out who are the people in this country who know most about them, because there are far too few of them in either the United States or Great Britain for us to neglect any opportunity to make use of them. Until that time I hope we can get some assurance from the Foreign Secretary that something more will be done than is being done at present to see that no further mistakes are made such as would give the Japanese Army the chance of getting away with things as the German Army managed to after the last war.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the honour and privilege of addressing the House for the first time. Despite what the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Bartlett) said earlier in the Debate, I sincerely pray the indulgence of this House. I am confident that the country as a whole will welcome His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech. I am certain it will have the approval of my constituents in Workington. I know, too, that the men I have had the honour to serve with overseas will welcome the legislation proposed by His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech. That legislation is, we hope, the keystone of the new Socialist Britain, but the success of that legislation depends on sound and healthy international relations. We have emerged out of a titanic struggle, and the task of all nations will be how to preserve the peace. The peoples of the world, civilians and Servicemen alike, know the grim meaning of total war. The development of new Wellsian scientific devices has increased the necessity for
world peace. That, I believe, has been emphasised by the development of the atomic bomb. Total peace must follow total war. If mankind is to survive we must have a new approach to foreign politics and international affairs. The petty nationalisms of States must go, and I am certain that a grave responsibility is now placed not only on the leaders of nations but on their peoples. I am confident that His Majesty's Government is fully aware of its responsibility—indeed, I trust His Majesty's Opposition too. I am certain that the Foreign Secretary is of sufficient stature and understanding to make Britain play a leading part in the establishment of a real and lasting peace—in the words of His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech:
In concert with all peace-loving peoples to attain a world of freedom, peace and social justice, so that the sacrifices of the war shall not have been in vain.
Hon. Members must forgive me if I trespass, as have other Members making their first speeches, into the realm of controversy. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood), speaking during the Debate on Friday, expressed the views held by Members on this side of the House. We, I hope, represent something different in politics. I trust that our Socialist philosophy and our Socialist principles will guide and direct all our actions; and so, in the realm of foreign affairs, I trust that a Labour Government will not pursue the policies pursued by Members who now sit on the apposite side of the House. We on this side have bitter memories. We remember the men who are no longer here. We remember those who supported the attack on China when Japan first embarked on that struggle. We remember the betrayal of Czechoslovakian democracy. We remember the tragic betrayal of the gallant Republican forces in Spain. I trust those weak, cowardly and vacillating policies of the past, policies which were, like the path of a crab, neither backwards nor forwards but sideways, are no more.
Now there is hope. We are to have a new policy. There is no such thing as a continuous British policy. I trust we are going to have a Socialist foreign policy that will give a lead to all democratic forces throughout the world. We may have destroyed the Hitlers, we may have destroyed the Mussolinis, but we have not
as yet destroyed the economic systems which made those evil tyrants possible. The causes of this war and the rise of Fascist aggression are more fundamental than personalities. The causes are political, economic and psychological—and the economic are the gravest of all. A contrary view is naÏve. It will be the task of the Labour Government to see that conditions are created throughout Europe and the world which will enable a democratic way of living and procedure to prosper. It is for that reason that it is essential to create now in liberated countries good economics. Bad economics make for bad politics. We have had a warning from Herbert Lehmann, the Director General of U.N.R.R.A., who said on Friday, 3rd August:
There is no doubt in my mind that the economic conditions threatening Europe during the coming winter will be such as to strain the political and economic structure of the Continent so seriously, that the consequences may do incalculable harm to our hopes for a permanent and peaceful settlement in European affairs. We may undo by our failure to aid these countries now all that has been achieved by our united efforts.
That is a grave warning. I have recently returned from Italy, where I spent more than a year serving with the Forces. My impressions gained from that country are that a people confronted with economic misery, poverty and social distress will not easily laud the virtues of democratic government. The conditions are still there to create power again for political demogagues, who would hold democracy in contempt and ridicule. The picture is not confined to Italy. It is repeated throughout many European countries. The power of corrupt ruling classes who supported Fascism has not been fully destroyed. The cocktail crowds who elegantly haunt the "Grand Hotels" of Europe and have in the past relied on the sympathy of the British Right to preserve their rule of privilege and property are still there. Too often in the past has the Foreign Office been guilty of showing tolerance and sympathy to decadent European monarchs who have sided with European reaction. No longer must Britain be regarded as the pawnshop of European crowns. The Labour Government must act with the democratic forces of Europe representing all that is best in Europe. They were the people who fought against the German
Gestapo. They were the people who gave our Allied Armies, when we liberated Italy and Europe, the help and assistance which we needed against Fascism.
It is well for the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), who talked so eloquently, as is his wont, about the dangers of police Governments throughout Europe, to remember that we on this side of the House fought by pen, by vote, by speech and with the rifle against European reaction. Many Members who are now sitting with him were against us. Moreover, I believe, too, that a Labour Government will give a lead to remove any suspicion and distrust between this country and our great Ally the Soviet Union. Suspicion and distrust marred our relationships before the war. If we had won friendship with Russia probably this terrible war could have been averted. In conjunction with the Soviet Union, and America, indeed with all nations, we must plan a new world. Those individuals who would toy with power politics are playing a dangerous game. The world cannot afford to have another war. Jungle politics are obsolete. The atomic bomb has seen to that. The Council of Foreign Ministers has great problems before it. I believe if its faces those problems with courage and sincerity a lasting peace can be won. I am certain that I am expressing the views of every Member of this House when I wish our Foreign Secretary God speed in his work. His Majesty's Government must not fail. I believe it will not.
It is my most pleasant privilege to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Workington (Lieutenant Peart) on his maiden speech and all the pleasanter because he is, I believe, a constituent of mine, a graduate of Durham, the most beautiful of the eight universities I represent. I welcome his speech, too, for another reason, in that while we may agree or disagree with some of his remarks, he obviously represents a trend of thought which is very common in the youth of his generation, and which, therefore, ought to be fully represented in the House. I think it would be true to say that some of the rather cynical older generation, to which I belong, perhaps do not altogether share his cheerful optimism about the transformation which would overtake the world if Socialism became commoner. Nevertheless we can all hope that this optimism will be justified.
My own contribution to this Debate which has ranged over such a wide field, will be limited to three closely-related subjects—the food situation in Europe, the position of displaced persons in Europe who cannot be returned to their homelands, and, above all, the position of the largest and most tragically situated group of those persons, the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps, the Jewish survivors who have nothing they consider home but Palestine, and who find the door of that home barred against them. As to the food situation, the wise plain speaking practised at the U.N.R.R.A. Council last week left no doubt whatever as to the facts. For liberated Europe including Germany there looms ahead a winter of stark insufficiency of food, clothing and warmth and very possibly widespread famine. Supplies so far promised to U.N.R.R.A. will be wholly insufficient to carry them through that winter. They will need at least £345,000,000 more money to get them through that winter. No doubt the Government are at this moment considering what contribution they are going to make towards that need. Obviously the difficulty of finding supplies will be greatly lessened by the end of the Japanese war. As was so admirably put by my right hon. Friend the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter) in "The Times" last Thursday, the end of the war has released an enormous quantity of everything necessary in the way of stores, which have hitherto been held in reserve for war production and consumption. The difficulty may be no doubt to get the military to disgorge. Habit is strong even in able minds. The military have for years been so accustomed to expect priority for everything they need or think they need that it may be difficult for them to readjust themselves to peace time values. But it is essential that they should do so if casualties just as numerous as those in war-time are not to occur.
There is one assumption which has been made by both sides in this matter that I must question, namely, that no further contributions towards the works of U.N.R.R.A. or Europe's needs can be made at the expense of our civilian population. I want especially to say this to the Leader of the Opposition—whom it is very difficult to call "my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford"—who seemed to be agreed about that. My admiration for him is such, that I hate to differ from him in anything, because I believe that he will go down in history as the man to whom not only this country, but the whole world, owes more than to any other British statesman who ever lived. But my heart sank when I heard one, who in the past, never hesitated to make the sternest demands on the British public, say that no further contributions can be made towards U.N.R.R.A.
Yes, in food. My right hon. Friend said the other day that our rationing system could not be made more severe without endangering the life and physical strength of our people. Is that true? Is it not true that our standards throughout the war have been three times, or at least twice, as high as those of any other European Allied country? Is it not true that our vital statistics are, in nearly every respect, the best we have ever known? Is it not true that the main staple foods, bread, oatmeal and potatoes, all vegetables, fruits and fish have never been rationed and are not always everywhere but generally speaking in unlimited supply? One could always gorge one's full, in any restaurant, of some of those foods, although it would be a wearying kind of diet. How then can it possibly be said that we cannot afford to give up more without endangering our lives? If we did give up it might not be much, but it would set an example to the United States of America. We owe so much to the Americans that we are not in a position to lecture them as to what they ought to do, but if they saw us tightening our belts would not they be stimulated towards doing a little more themselves?
On this matter millions of lives depend. Cannot the Leaders on both sides of the House get together as they did in the war and tell the people the unpalatable truth that the mild austerities they have had to practise must be continued a little longer and must even be a little more severe? If the reasons for that were brought home to them I am sure they would respond. We are not a nation of grown-up greedy babies. We are, perhaps, as a nation rather dull-witted, and of slow imagination, but when an appeal is made to us, in a way that reaches our conscience and our hearts, we always respond.
I want to speak now about one group of unhappy people on the Continent, namely, those who have survived the horrors of Buchenwald, Belsen, Auswitz and other places, and especially the Jews and Poles. Most of the other races have already, by the great skill of the military, been returned to their own lands, but these have not. A great number of Poles are afraid to go back. Most of the Jews are Germans. What has happened to all these people? I have been to a good deal of trouble to find out and have read numerous reports and letters from one source after another about them. It is three months since they underwent so-called liberation. Many German Jews returned to their home towns where they are entitled to exactly the same rations as ordinary Nazi Germans, rations which for even these Germans are barely sufficient for subsistence and utterly insufficient for people who have for years been living in conditions of almost total starvation. The majority are still in camps where the food is slightly better, with an average value of 2,000 calories instead of 1,500.Most of the food is breadstuff's and is quite unsuitable for building up emaciated and exhausted bodies. Conditions in some camps are good—Belsen, for instance—and are improving in others, but some are shockingly bad. All these, whether good or bad, are still in fact concentration camps, places where there is no liberty, and where there are limited opportunities for occupations and self-development, which is so important. So far as we can judge, the idea of the authorities seems to be that if you leave these people in these camps as long as possible, the mere irksomeness of it combined with skilful propaganda will persuade most of them to claim repatriation, thus lightening the burden on the authorities who are responsible for dealing with the" non-repatriables."
One thing that emerges from all these reports is that the overmastering desire of all these poor victims is to find some place where they can be allowed to settle down, to feel at home, to live out the remnant of their wrecked lives in peace and safety. As to the Poles, their future depends mainly upon the attitude of Russia. But for the Jews the British nation has a special responsibility. It was the Palestinian White Paper of 1939 which closed the gates of Palestine against Jewish immi- grants, except on an extremely limited scale, and by so doing, in effect condemned hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to unspeakable suffering, and eventually to death. They could have been got out in time. They could have lived safely and happily during the war years with their kindred in their promised national home, but the door was shut in their faces. The past is irremediable. The dead cannot be brought back to life. But what of the living? What of the poor surviving remnant of European Jewry? Shall we not incur terrible responsibility if they are left to perish—as they probably will perish if they have to endure the rigor of a European winter under their present conditions?
I have no time to discuss the iniquities of the White Paper, or all the questions of policy it opens up, and no words of mine are needed to condemn it. That was done at the time with unsurpassed eloquence by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and by others of his Party, such as Mr. Amery and the late Colonel Victor Cazalet. It was done in equally scathing terms on behalf of the Labour Party, by the present Leader of the House. The Labour Party, now in power, voted against the White Paper almost unanimously, and warned the then Government that, if returned to power, they would not feel bound to maintain its policy.
Now the time has come for the Labour Party to show the sincerity of their professions of sympathy with the Jewish claims. They cannot wish it to be thought that they were merely angling for the Jewish vote. They must be allowed time. It cannot be expected that the party which came into power so recently, and at a time of such tremendous changes in the whole outlook of the world, should be ready immediately to declare their whole policy as to the future of Palestine. What we in Parliament, and the Jewish people everywhere, have the right to expect is some assurance that that policy, when it is announced, will be in accordance with the principles previously enunciated by the Labour Party, and will not inaugurate some new era of appeasement of the kind the party was wont to denounce so fiercely and scornfully when it was practised by the Conservatives in power—appeasement of potential enemies and of half-hearted friends at the expense of real friends and loyal Allies.
As for me, I am a wholehearted supporter of the Zionist claim as it has recently been put forward—for a Jewish State as part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that can be done with full justice to the real rights of the Arabs. It would be enormously to the economic benefit of the Arabs of Palestine and equally to the benefit of the Arabs everywhere because it would show what can be done with undeveloped lands when developed as the Jews would do it. As to the Arab nationalistic aspirations, we believe these can be satisfied, just so far as and no further than they have a basis in justice and common sense.
This is my final word. If we have to ask some sacrifices—and these are the days when we are asking tremendous sacrifices from one country after another including some which have been our loyal Allies throughout the war such as Poland, let us ask ourselves this question: To whom do we and to whom do the world owe the greater debt—to the Arabs or the Jews? What a debt we owe to the Jews not only for their contribution to religion, philosophy, science and culture throughout the ages! We owe to them the Bible and the twelve Apostles; we owe to them the basis of Christianity. But we also owe them much for what they did for the Allied cause throughout the war. When we contrast what the Jews have done for us during this war, with the grudging, half-hearted and often insincere efforts of the Palestine Arabs, are we not strong enough now to settle the Palestine issue, with a sole eye to what is just and demanded of us by humanity, and for the sake of the honour of our country as implicated in the Balfour Declaration? Let us deal with the Palestine problem as it was foreshadowed it would have been dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of a Labour Party in 1939. In the meantime, pending a long-term solution—because I do not think the Palestine problem will be settled before the winter—let us, at least, do something to solve the immediate problem: open the gates of Palestine and let the Jews come in. Otherwise the spirit of Hitler, if it still exists somewhere, will be able to say exultantly that the victorious Allies have finished for him his task of exterminating European Jewry.
May I ask the indulgence of the House on rising to address it for the first time? As a new Member, I was rather astounded by some of the remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have no doubt that I shall get used to it in time. The right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), earlier in this Debate, said that he did not like "police government. "That to me was a very surprising statement. The right hon. Member for Woodford has had an opportunity during the course of long membership of many Administrations of doing something about his dislike of police government in no less than 562 States. I refer, of course, to the Indian States. I would like to tell the House of a conversation which I had with the Prime Minister of an Indian State very recently in India. I said to him, "Supposing I lived in your State as one of the subjects, and one morning I got up and said, 'I think we ought to have something like constitutional machinery. I do not think the Rajah ought to be a despotic monarch,' what would you do?" He said, "I should offer you a good job to keep you quiet."
I am very glad to have this encouragement from the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). We went on with the conversation. I said, "Supposing I did not take your job, what would you do then?" He said, "I should take steps to have you removed from the State." I said, "Supposing I did not leave the State, what would happen then?" He said, "Oh, well, you would go to gaol, and the whole process would not take more than two or three weeks." Those who have any acquaintance with India know that going to gaol would be the least thing that would happen to one in an Indian State.
I welcome the reference to India in His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, but I am a little afraid that the Indians will think the references are much the same as all the promises they have been 'having ever since the first promise made by Queen Victoria in her announcement to them after the Mutiny in 1858. I realise that this King's Speech is very different from other King's Speeches, and I realise that the Government really intend to do something about the proposals in the King's Speech. As have just come back from India, I think I would like to offer a few suggestions, if it is not too impertinent of me, to the Government.
There are a few Members of this Government who are not concerned very vitally with India. The President of the Board of Trade is interested in expanding our export trade. The average wage for 400,000,000 Indians is £4 10s. a year. If, perhaps, we could do something about raising that standard of living by developing India's industries, we would create a great new export market. The Foreign Secretary is interested in the security of the Dominions and of our interests in the Far East. India lies across the air and sea routes to our Dominions. The Minister of Food is worried about shortage of food in the world. When the Government consider, in conjunction with U.N.R.R.A., the feeding of Europe, would it be too much to ask them to remember that 110,000,000 Indians live permanently between starvation point and serious malnutrition, and, in addition, another 100,000,000 Indians get just enough to eat but not enough to give them protection from disease?
The population of India is now 400,000,000. By 1970 the population will be 500,000,000. The agricultural production of India, by taking very energetic measures, could foe increased by about 50 per cent. That would hardly meet the situation. In Behar, a Province of 36,000,000 people, less food was produced in 1941 than in 1921. The problem of feeding India is one of the most urgent problems that this Government have to face, if there is not to be a repetition of the Bengal famine. Would it be too much to ask U.N.R.R.A. to consider something about that, because the Indians did, at least, fight with us, whereas the Italians fought against us? The Chancellor of the Exchequer is interested in sterling balances. We owe to India £1,000,000,000, lent to us during the war. It is obvious we cannot pay it back cash down, but India is very worried about our good faith in paying any of it back. I have often heard Indians remark that they do not expect to see a penny at the end of this war, and it is very necessary that the Government should make it quite clear that they have some plans to deal with that situation.
All these are very big and urgent problems, but it is difficult to do anything about it, until the political situation in India is resolved. A nation ruled by another nation is a nation with a cancer in its soul. It can think of nothing but its independence, and it will not co-operate wholeheartedly with the Government of the country that rules it, however beneficent the measures of that Government may be. The reason for the failure of the Simla Conference was a very genuine fear among Moslems about Congress rule. They were afraid that if they had to take part in day-to-day government of India, they would lose their claim to Pakistan; but that deadlock cannot be allowed to go on. If it is continued, and if in six months from now it is unresolved, I am quite certain there will be greater trouble in India than at any time since the Mutiny.
Indians, like the people of this country, are looking with great hope to this new Labour Government, and as an earnest of good faith, there are a number of things that could be done straight away, simple administrative things. We could arrange to hold elections immediately, so that we could find out the true state of the contesting parties in India. We could, before the elections, increase the suffrage, which is at present only 10 per cent, of the whole adult population of India. When the elections are over, we should say that we would have another Conference, this time in London, with plenipotentiaries like Mr. Jinnah and Mr. Nehru—nothing like the mammoth round table conferences from which nothing ever comes out—but a simple conference that would settle some final plans for India's future. We could also order that all the remaining political prisoners still in gaol should be released, and all the bans on Congress political organisation meetings taken off, and we could implement the suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, at Blackpool last May, that the India Office should be closed down.
This may seem a trivial thing to the Members of this House; but to the people of India, the India Office stands as the symbol of oppression, and they will not think that this Government mean any better than other Governments until they start implementing their very simple promises. Because these problems are so urgent in India, I hope that the hon. Gentleman who replies to this Debate will indicate that the Government do intend to deal with these problems on similar lines to those on which it is going to deal with the urgent problems of this country. I hope he will give some specific instances of how the Government intend to fulfil their obligations to India. Above all, I hope that this new Government will show they have a very different attitude towards India from that of any other Government we have ever had, and will make clear to the Indians that at last the Englishman is going to get off his horse, and cease being "monarch of all he surveys," and identify itself with the humblest of the Indians.
My experience in India was that often, beneath abuse of this country, there was very sincere good will towards us. I am sure if we can tackle this problem in the right way, we can do, at this moment, in India, what we failed to do in America and Ireland. We can keep India as a voluntary partner in the British Common wealth of Nations and we can form a great Indo-British Commonwealth which will be of inestimable benefit to both countries; but we can only do it if we take action now, before it is too late. To-day there are four great Powers in the world—Russia, America, Britain, and China. To-morrow, there will be a fifth. The fifth will be India, because of her inexhaustible reserves of man-power, and because of the huge undeveloped industrial resources which she possesses. It is my hope that this Government will assist the inevitable rise of India to being a great world Power, and not hinder it by inaction or obstruction. If we do so, that great Power will stand with us in the new world of atomic energy, and not against us.
It is my privilege to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Aston (Major Wyatt) on his very able and lucid maiden speech. He has got over a fence which I think every hon. Member of this House is glad to have surmounted. I will not attempt to follow him in his disquisition on India, although I am not entirely without experience of that sub-Continent myself, tout the subject on which I wish to say a few words to-night is that which was spoken of by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone)—Palestine. Palestine is a Mandated Territory, and I am well aware that Mandated Territories come under the aegis of the Colonial Office, but Palestine, its affairs, difficulties and problems, do come very close to foreign affairs, with which this Debate has mainly been concerned.
It is frequently said that it is a question, not whether there will be trouble in Palestine at the end of the general hostilities, but rather when that trouble will come. It does sometimes appear as though no compromise would be possible between the conflicting claims of Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Both sides are said to have illicit stores of arms, and constant terrorist activities, notably the murder of Lord Moyne, do seem to foreshadow extremist action, especially now that the danger from outside appears to be removed. Responsibility for law and order, and for the welfare both of Arabs and Jews, rests on Great Britain as the Mandatory Power, and Britain, moreover, has special interests, due to the strategic position of Palestine, which interests we, as a world Power, certainly must not leave out of account, and also owing to the fact that we are a great Moslem Power, because Moslems are very much concerned in this Palestinian settlement or unsettlement. Palestinian affairs are being watched most closely, not only by the rest of the Arab world, but by the Moslems in India, that great Dependency which has been referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Aston. Our prestige and our power are now at their height. Surely, therefore, our policy should be firm? We should crush terrorism and concede nothing to violence, but, having made it clear that our action will be firm and that we shall share our responsibilities with no one else, surely we ought to do our utmost to bring the leaders of the Arabs and Jews together and try to get each to consider to what if any extent, the claims of the other side can be met?
The White Paper of 1939, which was so greatly impugned by the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities, put a limit on Jewish immigration. It restricted the sale of land held by the Arabs and it provided for the setting up in due course of self-government in Palestine. Now, the Zionists are pressing for un- limited immigration again and for making Palestine into a Jewish National State. The Balfour Declaration, did, indeed, foreshadow a Jewish National Home, but a Jewish National State is a different affair altogether. I suggest that it must be remembered that Palestine is a very small country. You could put the whole of Palestine very easily into as trip of about three-quarters of the Eastern or East Central side of England. Not only is Palestine very small, but parts of it are very barren indeed and do not offer any prospect of sustaining any considerable population. So that, quite apart from Arab rights, there is literally no room for an unlimited number of immigrants in Palestine.
Would the hon. and gallant Member inform the House whether he has read any of the recent contributions which have been made in respect of the Palestinian situation by scientists, and whether he is prepared to deny that their views are the correct ones regarding the possibility of Palestine accommodating a very large number of people?
I am endeavouring to put my humble view before the House, and I will say at once that I have not considered any scientific writings about Palestine, but am venturing to give my views for what they are worth to the House. They can be contradicted at a later stage. It seems, then, that, apart from Arab rights, there are practical reasons why unlimited immigration into Palestine cannot and should not be allowed, and I would remind the House that the Arabs have very definite rights. Indeed, politically and historically, the claims of the Arabs to political predominance in Palestine cannot, I think, be contested. They have been there, I am told, for 1,300 years, at any rate. There is very little doubt that they are the descendants of the race who were there right back before the original Jewish immigration into Palestine.
Both as the Mandatory Power and in view of Moslem opinion, both in the Middle East and in India, we are bound to uphold the rights of the Arabs and not to allow sympathy for Jewish wrongs in Europe, which we all have on tooth sides of the House, to cause us to do less than justice to the Arabs in an endeavour to do justice to the Jews by conceding all that the Zionists desire. Can we not bring the leaders of both parties together? Can we not get each to adopt a less uncompromising and unconciliatory attitude to the other? Can we not persuade the Arabs to co-operate with the Jews? Will they not accept the benefits which Jewish energy, skill, education and wealth can bring to Palestine and which have been brought, to a great extent, to the Jewish portion of Palestine already? Cannot the Jews, on their side, be persuaded to use their special qualities for the benefit of the Arabs as well as for their own benefit? Further, cannot both races, who are, in fact, cousins and akin, agree to form a bi-national Arab-Jewish State together and to abandon their ideas of separate States? Possibly such a State might be a member of the Arab League and of any future Arab Federation. In any case, it is surely our duty to bring together the moderate elements of both sides if we can. I am far from saying that it will be easy, but I think we ought to make the attempt and do everything possible to bring about a peaceful settlement.
I cannot help feeling that something on those lines might be possible. I am well aware that it is a difficult job and that both sides have shown themselves to be thoroughly uncompromising about this and about their respective aims, ambitions and ideals, but, if Palestine is to be prosperous, these two nations have got to live together and have got to find a way in which they can tolerate one another and combine for the benefit of the country. Is that beyond our power? Our country's power and prestige now stand at a very great height. We are respected by everybody concerned. Surely, it would not be impossible under the aegis of our present very distinguished and very able High Commissioner to bring about a Conference at which the moderate elements of both sides could be represented and at which a modus vivendi in that unhappy land could be arrived at.
May I crave the indulgence of the House? I am sure the House will understand that, if I do not follow the hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) in discussing the topic of Jews and Arabs in Palestine—that very controversial and recondite problem—the reason is that I can lay no claim to specialised knowledge to justify my intervening on those matters. The topic in the Gracious Speech which I do desire to raise is the Bretton Woods Monetary Agreement. It is one that has many facets, financial, international and domestic, and might, therefore, have been most appropriate to any one of the three days into which this Debate on the Address has been sub-divided.
I want to approach this very difficult problem with a sense of responsibility, not desiring to make things difficult for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is perfectly obvious that, very soon, the Government will have to take a decision whether or not to ratify the Bretton Woods Monetary Plan. The American Congress has ratified it, and we must decide whether we are going to do so. I hope we shall not do so, because I fear that, if we do, His Majesty's Government will be handicapped very seriously in carrying out the economic programme foreshadowed in the Gracious Speech, and I am particularly anxious that the Foreign Secretary shall not be induced to give his consent to any international agreement which may have the effect of embarrassing this Labour Government in the way that the last Labour Government was embarrassed throughout its entire career by the necessity for having regard always to deflation. After all it is a long time since the second Labour Government went out, but only last month a very influential City magazine, "The Banker, "recalled that the second Labour Government had had no scope for a spending policy because of the necessity for adhering to the gold standard. I do not want the same thing to happen to this Labour Government.
I begin by asserting that the Bretton Woods Final Act, whatever else it does, involves a very rigid gold standard. There can be no doubt that, under the Bretton Woods Final Act, not only would the value of sterling be legally fixed in terms of a given weight of gold, but also would our monetary authorities be under the obligation to buy and sell gold at fixed buying and selling prices. The gravamen of my objection to Bretton Woods is that it would undermine the authority of His Majesty's Government here in this country. It would be placing a bludgeon in the hands of persons not necessarily in this country who might desire to hammer the present Labour Government in the way the last Labour Government was hammered by financial influences outside this country. Under the old gold standard His Majesty's Government had the right to devalue sterling at any time they liked or even to drop the gold standard altogether. That happened twice in my lifetime. Under present arrangements the Government have the right to impose exchange control. We have been doing it in order to suit our domestic policy, but under Bretton Woods, His Majesty's Government would find themselves compelled to abdicate all financial control in favour of an alien authority not resident in this country, and not answerable to anybody at all. Talk about Fascism! Once bound by the fetters of Bretton Woods we shall be unable to strike them off because Article XI of the Bretton Woods Final Act empowers this international authority not only to declare economic war against us but even, as part of its belligerent operations, to instruct our own Dominions to boycott and blockade us.
On the whole question of deflation, I think it is axiomatic that under modern conditions the gold standard must necessarily stereotype depression. Whereas the world's supply of gold cannot be expanded rapidly in the nature of things, unless by a fortuitous development like that of Klondyke, the world's supply of goods can be expanded very rapidly. Indeed, already in 1944 the output of British industry was up by 40 per cent. over that of pre-war, and the output of America was up by nearly 100 per cent., notwithstanding the fact that in both countries there were millions of men in the Services who were unemployed in the economic sense of the word. It is a very sobering reflection that the America of 1944, with 11,000,000 of her best citizens unemployed in the economic sense, should have been able almost to double her industrial output. The rest of the world is very much concerned with the use which America will make in the next few years of her immense productivity. I would remind the party opposite that the productive capacity of our own country has been very substantially increased during the war, with the result that we have it in our power very greatly to improve our standard of living.
The Washington correspondent of "The Times" said recently that America had it in her power to double her standard of living, but there can be no great increase in the standard of living if in future trade and industry are to be hampered by the gold standard. If a relatively fixed amount of money has to distribute an increased quantity of goods—the money being controlled by the gold standard and the quantity of goods by technology—thereis a condition of things necessitating a falling price level. When our industry is governed by the gold standard and the falling price level, not only does our tremendous National Debt become very much more burdensome, but also do we have to reckon with permanent deflation and chronic depression, with which we were all too familiar between the wars—depression for which the Leader of the Opposition accepted full responsibility on behalf of the Conservative Party, when in 1932 he confessed in this House his own mistake of 1925, precisely this mistake of putting us back on the gold standard, which he did, as he confessed at the time, on the advice of outsiders—not indeed on the advice of Professor Laski, but on the advice of the financial experts of whom I am perfectly certain history will record that their advice was inevitably and invariably wrong.
I would submit that the British Government's decisions on commercial policy really ought to precede decisions on financial policy. Bretton Woods would begin by telling us engaged in British politics, and everyone engaged in British industry and agriculture, and all the people engaged in the politics, industry and agriculture of every country of the world: "Here is a rigid, cast-iron financial system over which neither you nor your Legislature has any control whatever. You have to make all your activities conform with the requirements of that system. "Whatever else that might be, I submit it is not democracy. I devoutly hope I have not come to this House to play a game of political football in which the referee is somewhere across the ocean. I think it would be more suitable for the nations severally to assess their potential prospective export surpluses and import requirements, and get together—through the Council of Foreign Ministers or in some other way—to devise the exchange of goods for goods either through bilateral or regional clearing arrangements. Bretton Woods begins at the wrong end altogether. I can account for Bretton Woods only on the sinister supposition that the financial controllers are desirous of using the instrument of finance in such a way that Labour Governments here or elsewhere shall not pursue an expansionist industrial policy.
Another possible explanation of Bretton Woods is the explanation that the people concerned are desirous of perpetuating a system of competitive overseas investment by private individuals which we on these Benches regard as being, to say the least, a cause of disharmony in the world. The economic convenience of Bretton Woods is only too clear from the point of view of a creditor nation that might wish to export its own unemployment problem by selling its goods to other countries and refusing to buy their goods in exchange. Such a creditor country, acting in accordance with the orthodox doctrine of the favourable balance of trade—the amazing and astounding doctrine that one has a favourable balance if one parts with more than one gets—will proceed to sell its goods, say, in Great Britain and take payment from them by using the resulting sterling to buy shares in valuable British companies, a predatory proceeding which Article 6 of the Bretton Woods Final Act would encourage, but which would certainly undermine international goodwill. We were never such a creditor country. When we were investing freely abroad, at least we opened our ports to enable our debtors to pay us in goods.
We are now a debtor country. If we ratify Bretton Woods our external war debt of about £3,500,000,000 will no longer exist in blocked sterling, to be repaid in goods as and when that can be done; it will exist in the form of dollars or gold, which we shall never be able to get hold of except we pay the price of reducing catastrophically the standard of life of our own people. An international financial setup like that of Bretton Woods is bad if it can exist only at the cost of rendering inevitable default on international indebtedness. The House will remember the unfortunate controversy about the American debt in the last war. Great Britain never did default on the American debt in the last war. What we borrowed from the American was neither gold nor dollars; it was goods. If we had had an intelligent international financial setup, and had been permitted to repay in kind, that debt would have been on the way to liquidation long ago.
I am glad that the interests of this country at this very difficult epoch, when international relations are so tangled and complicated, are in the very capable hands of my right hon. Friend who, in his ample person, manages to combine not only statesmanlike qualities—I am not sure what they are—but also downright horse sense which he has learned in the rough and tumble of industrial life. He may have to deal with some persons who may not always see the British point of view. There are persons responsible for the financial policy of great nations who take the extraordinary line that a certain country should export a torrent of goods and import only a trickle, making good the deficiency by a continuous and cumulative process of overseas investment; there is no other way of making good the deficiency. Persons like that render themselves open to the accusation that they are using their tremendous economic power to impose on the rest of the world their own political and monetary ideology. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be able to deal with that sort of thing; and in any case I will draw his attention to the fact that Bretton Woods, concerned as it is almost exclusively with the monetary aspect of international trade, will hinder and not help the sort of international trade we on these benches want, which is the exchange of goods for goods, as opposed to the exchange of goods for debt.
I would like to say this in conclusion. I hope that British international policy will be to buy from those who will buy from us; and I hope that His Majesty's Government, which is committed in its policies to bulk purchase and import boards—which Bretton Woods would forbid—and which is committed in the Gracious Speech to the maintenance of a high level of home agricultural output—which Bretton Woods would render impossible—will reject all specious pleas for compulsory multilateral international trade under monetary sanctions, pleas which can mean only that private enterprise shall buy what it likes and sell where it can, having no regard to the international trade balance, and leaving any disequilibrium to be corrected by the creation of international indebtedness on commercial account, a process which would bring quick retribution at the hands of the monetary Fund proposed by Bretton Woods.
Let us face up to the implications of the fact that Free Trade has gone, never to return. Let His Majesty's Government preserve the right to recourse to what are often condemned in financial quarters as discriminatory practices. Let His Majesty's Government reserve the right to enter into bilateral trade arrangements with our Dominions and with Soviet Russia. Let His Majesty's Government revive and extend the sterling area. Those are practical alternatives to the appalling international thraldom which is Bretton Woods, a thraldom that would poison world harmony and would have the effect of frustrating the declared intentions of the British electorate, intentions so admirably interpreted in the Gracious Speech. I commend those alternatives to my right hon. Friend above the gangway.
May I, in the first place, congratulate the hon. Member for South Nottingham (Mr. Norman Smith) on the very excellent and interesting contribution he has made to the speeches in this House to-day? I am certain that he has given very considerable thought to the subject on which he has spoken, and that the manner in which he has addressed the House will not only commend itself to the House to-day but will prove an incentive to the House on future occasions to listen with considerable interest and respect to what he has to say. As for myself, I was almost going to ask for the consideration of the House in my humble and faltering first footsteps which are being taken here after the lapse of a considerable time. Perhaps in view of the extremely grave task which is imposed upon me on this occasion the House will bear with me. I speak in reply to the hon. and gallant Member who has preceded me with a responsibility that rests on my shoulders as spokesman for the million and a half desperate souls who have survived the most brutal tortures and the most sinister planned executions that have ever been devised by people in this world. I feel that we cannot deal with the matter which he has raised in any light vein, and that, no matter how eloquent the tongue may be, it cannot be sufficiently eloquent in its appeal to him and others who still think in a similar manner to him on this very important question of Palestine, to reconsider the facts. What is the size of Pales tine? The hon. and gallant Gentleman himself has indicated that it is a very small land indeed. He says it is barren——
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had listened further 'he would have heard what I was going to say, namely, that he says it is barren in parts. The same thing was said at the time the Balfour Declaration was accepted by the Jewish people. It was said that practically the whole land was barren, and indeed at that time it appeared to be devoid of the possibility of giving proper life or adequate opportunity to anyone who wished to live in it. The Turks had denuded the country. Most of the Arab landlords—let us be perfectly plain about this matter—did not live in Palestine. In the main they lived in Cairo, and they lived upon what was produced by the fellaheen in Palestine who, to this day, are anxious that the Jewish people should settle and work with them. Do not let us have any misunderstanding about this question. It is not a question of the Arab world being incited. It is a question of certain political leaders who wanted to retain their power over the common people, endeavouring to incite others into the belief that the Jewish settlement in Palestine is disadvantageous to the Arab people.
Nobody is talking about Palestine being occupied by the Jews. I said that they were anxious to work with the Jews in Palestine. Not only is that a fact but, if the hon. Member had been in Palestine and had seen them, he would know that they are happier in those districts in which Jewish enterprise has taken place and that they are most unhappy in those districts in which Jewish enterprise has not been exerted. That is not the point. What I want my hon. Friend and his friends to understand is that the Balfour Declaration stated that Palestine was to be a Jewish national home.
The hon. and gallant Member for Petersfield (Sir G. Jeffreys) has said that that does not mean a State. Well, I do not know what the word "home" means to him; I know what the word means to me, a place to which I and my family can resort, a place not from which we shall be barred, but in which we shall be welcomed. The declaration said categorically that the immigration of Jewish people into Palestine should be facilitated. Why at this stage deny their right to men and women who have seen their nearest and dearest tortured in a manner that is unspeakable? Where are they to turn? To whom are they to go? Is my hon. and gallant Friend prepared to say that there is any country in the world to which those people who have suffered that fate and who have seen the horrors that they have seen will be received with such open arms as in Palestine? How can they possibly survive—I ask this House—unless their embittered souls and hearts are allowed to come back to something like civilised conditions through the tender care and loving kindness from nearest and dearest ones? They alone are going to have the necessary patience. I ask this House to let those 1,500,000 people, to whom the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) referred, regain their sanity, and return to ordinary decent living. Are the Jewish settlers in Palestine entitled to say that they have a right to receive their kith and kin? What has the Jewish community in Palestine done by which anyone can suggest that they have not fulfilled the task that was placed upon them by the Declaration? Did they not dig with their very hands the soil that had been corroded and eroded for centuries? Did many of them not die in their efforts to make that land once again a land flowing with milk and honey? Have they not succeeded in peace in doing what every civilised nation would want their people to do, fight against the ravages of nature to bring food, health and happiness to the inhabitants of the country? In consequence of that, did not the Arab community who are living in that country increase in numbers from 700,000 to over 1,250,000, whereas, before the advent of the Jewish settlers, not only had their numbers not risen above that level but were being reduced? Had the Jews not removed trachoma from the districts in which they lived? Did they not make it possible for the troops who went to the Middle East—let us understand this position—to live in a clean, healthy atmosphere during their training, instead of being decimated by disease and subject to anxieties that otherwise would have overcome them? Was it not the only centre to which the Allied Forces could look in the Middle East without the fear of being stabbed in the back?
Instead of attacking the efforts of these people in Palestine, would it not be a little more gracious to say to them that they have played a very important part in the 25 years in which they have been building and illustrating bow civilisation should advance, and that they have done an important job in the course of the war in giving the Allies a place in the Middle East to which danger could not come, where food and other things were being provided and where there was the provision of a harbour to which, even in the darkest days, Allied Forces could go? There are 35,000 Jewish men and women from that neutral country who have been fighting for this country. The Jewish Brigade Group, after having done excellent service in Italy and lost many of its men, is to-day in Germany. These things were not brought about without a considerable amount of struggle and anxiety. When the war broke out, of the 500,000 Jewish people in Palestine, 135,000 offered their services through Dr. Weitzmann in any capacity to the Allied cause. That this offer was not accepted was not their fault but it is not as a recompense for any of this that I ask this honourable House to accept my view against the White Paper. When the White Paper was brought forward it was opposed by the Leader of the Opposition, the Labour Party and those who are watching the interests of democracy. It is not only for that reason, but because I feel that this House would not want to bring greater sorrow and distress upon those who have suffered so badly and so heavily, that I ask that it should be withdrawn at once.
The White Paper was not accepted by the League of Nations. It was a document which could not prevail either legally or morally. On reconsidering this matter further I am quite convinced that my hon. Friends who feel at the present moment that any injustice is being done to any other section of people will come to the conclusion that they are wrong. Palestine was not an Arab country before the last war. Palestine was Turkish country. The Arabs in Palestine fought against us in that war. Palestine itself is only a very minute portion of the world in comparison with what the Arab community has in the way of land. The Arab States have as much land as the whole of Western Europe. I would be the last person in the world to endeavour to throw any discord into this position, but I would ask that the great Arab people should show in this matter that consideration which the rest of the world has shown to them in their matters.
At a conference which was recently held in London, there were present men and women who had fought in the underground movements of Europe, had striven and fought in the Allied cause. We saw men and women from Palestine. Resolutions were passed that in the Jewish State every citizen will have full equality of rights, and all communities will enjoy full autonomy in the administration of their religious, educational and social institutions. The Arabic language and Arab schools will enjoy such rights, and municipal self-government will be developed in towns and villages. The conference passed a special appeal to the Arabs and other peoples of the Middle East to appreciate the tragedy and need of the Jewish people, and calling for full co-operation in a common effort to bring greater prosperity to the whole of the Middle East. The Zionists said firmly that they strive for an alliance of friendship between the Jewish State and the Arab peoples in the neighbouring countries on the basis of mutual assistance for the welfare and progress of the Middle East as a whole. There is nothing equivocal about that. It is a statement which, in my view, and I hope in the view of hon. Members, will commend itself as being a reasonable and proper approach to this subject.
The question of home is something of tremendous value, and I would like to commend the Government for the action they have already taken in providing homes for the people in Leicester. My colleagues in the representation of Leicester, join me in thanking the Government for the prompt action they have taken. They have told the men who are returning and the people of this country, "Your homes will be provided. "What do the Jewish people ask? Speaking on their behalf, I say, do not send their people to places where they will be told that there is no work for them and where they can find only temporary refuge. Send their scattered men and women, the remnants in Europe, to a place where, if it is only a crust, that crust will be shared, where there will be no question of one Jew saying to the man coming home or to the child that is being brought home, "I have no roof for you," but that he will say, "This one roof will cover the family that comes to me as well as myself. "Give the opportunity of doing what is necessary to restore the dignity, self-respect and humanity to those men and women who have survived. Let us open wide the gates of Palestine. In that manner we shall be carrying out what has been said in His Majesty's Gracious Speech. We shall indeed be restoring liberty and freedom to every Jewish man and woman who needs it. We shall be doing what the Atlantic Charter said; we shall be taking a step which is consistent with all the great expressions of opinion that have been given as to the reasons why we fought this war. We shall be acting justly and truly with these men, women and children without affecting the rights, dignities or privileges of any other set of people in the world.
This is the first occasion on which I have addressed the House, and I hope I shall be duly diffident and at least sufficiently controversial. If I transgress in this latter respect, I hope it will be attributed to my Colonial upbringing, which will be readily detected in my uncouth tongue. I was brought up to a certain directness of action and speech not with the merit or excuse of the Celt but plain Colonial. My first duty is to convey to the House and to your office, Sir, greetings from the people of my own country, New Zealand. They are not in any way official but from the number and diversity of the messages I have received there is a very real message of greeting.
I have received messages over the last three weeks by aeroplane letter and by cable from people representing every side of New Zealand life. They have come from the back block stations, from the farms and from the professional classes—although actually we do not have classes in New Zealand, and we shall not have them here if we do our job. They have come from the schools and universities and from the contemporaries in the House of Representatives. I notice that those which came from the House of Representatives were stamped in a peculiar way, which seemed to indicate that the charge was met by the State. But that will not be of any particular interest to hon. Members here. I bring this greeting from that distant million of our Commonwealth people who revere the traditions if this land, people who have never seen this country and many of whose parents will have come from different nations; yet who still speak of this land as home. The burden of their message is their intense satisfaction and joy that the British people at last have shown their political maturity in so convincing a manner.
New Zealanders are pretty interested in atomic theory. If hon. Members have read a fascinating publication issued by His Majesty's Treasury, they will be reminded that the whole of the last 40 years of nuclear physics have been built round and from the work of a pre-eminent genius of our day, latterly a Member of another House. I refer to Lord Rutherford, who is our greatest New Zealander. Many hon. Members will have known him. I knew him, having played in the same fields and worked in the same laboratory where he began. It will be observed that every leading scientist who has played a part in this final achievement, from whichever country he came, was an immediate student or colleague of Rutherford. If he had lived to see this latest development of his work, he would have been delighted that it was used to aid the defeat of Fascism. He would have been dismayed at the suggestion that any aspect of this work or any secret connected with it should be made the monopoly of any single people. I remember, too, that between 1924 and 1936 one of his most eminent colleagues at Cavendish was Dr. Peter Kapitya. Every act which tends to withhold this information from our great Allies casts a shadow across every negotiation in connection with world peace, and also tends to delay the constructive development of the knowledge that we now have, which can indeed become a "perennial fount of world prosperity."
I was quoting there, and I quote again a phrase from my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill). This comes from the astonishing contribution he made last Thursday, when he said that
there are…three years before the progress made in the United States can be overtaken, fn these three years we must remould the relationships of all men, wherever they may dwell, in. all nations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th August, 1945; Vol. 413, c. 80."]
I wonder what the suggestion is—is it proposed that we should set out now, for example, to present to, shall we say, our Soviet Allies, the kind of relationships that exist in Greece? I speak with some diffidence about Greece, bearing in mind that my right hon. Friend has indicated that His Majesty's Government, perhaps, is inclined to think that it might be suitable for elections to proceed under the present régime. But if this be right—if the Greek people are condemned to vote under the present Government—it is all the more important that we should observe what kind of Government it is. Hon. Members have recognised that the leaders of Greek opinion—I am not speaking of E.A.M. or the Left Wing—are demanding a change in the Government. May I venture to refer for a moment to the latest evidence—I do not rely on the kind of contribution which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Newcastle (Major Wilkes) gave to the House from his own wealth of personal experience of Greece in recent months—but only on information. We should all know it if we really had been following events earnestly. On 16th July four ex-Prime Ministers, not in E.A.M., denounced the Government, the administration and the police, as being infested with Royalists, Fascists and Quislings. They insisted that the Fascist murder gang should be dissolved. They said they
would take no part in any election until the terror was removed from the lives of the Greek people.
I will not deal with the case quoted by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) of Sofianopulos, the Foreign Secretary, who had just come back from San Francisco, but let us remember the point that this man made. The Yalta formula demands a different Government from that which now exists in Greece, which flagrantly breaches that agreement. On 30th July the Republican and ex-Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army, General Othonaios, in similar terms demanded a purge of the army, particularly of the officers, because of the traitors he found among them. On 11th August Admiral Voulgaris reshuffled his pack, and the main result was to expose its barrenness. Honest men are not joining this administration, and he had to resort to the device of every small-time dictator and take a fistful of porfolios for himself. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend observed that even since the speech we heard this afternoon was written there has been anothe reshuffle, and the same kind of people are there. The reporter of "The Times" made it perfectly clear that there was no change in constitution or colour of the Government which is still dominating Greece. This reshuffle put General Menenditis in as Minister for War. He was brought straight from being military Governor-General at Salonika, where his reputation was such that the workers had demanded his dismissal because of the murderous attacks his police and military had made on the workers at the time of the voting for the trade union offices.
It is not necessary to repeat that the resistance movement is mercilessly persecuted. The glory of ancient Greece is archæological, the glory of modern Greece is the passion for liberty of the people, but both appear a little tarnished when we find that the latest great building commandeered to hold the people who fought so well against the Nazis is the great archæological museum in Athens. One hon. Member this evening has made the point that he has seen with his own eyes photographs of Stalin torn down by the Greek police. That was six months ago; let us bring it up to date. On 31st of last month the brothers named Folcros who run a butcher's shop at 4, Cyprus Street in Athens had been given, by the British Information Bureau, a picture of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, which they put proudly in their front window. The police demanded that they should tear it down. They refused and the police, to save the trouble of entering the shop, broke the window and tore it down. By all means, we welcome this proposal; by all means let there be elections in Greece as soon as it is practicable. But it is not practicable while the terror still hangs over the lives of the Greek people.
May I turn in conclusion to one other matter. Everybody on this side of the House will welcome the terms of the Gracious Speech in connection with India. The words to which I refer are, of course, "the early realisation of full self-government in India. "May I refer also to what my right hon. Friend said at Blackpool in his statement on the foreign policy of our party, a statement which probably is the most significant contribution to foreign affairs made in our country since Shakespeare observed and announced that Britain was an island. Hon. Members will forgive me—that was not meant to be a pleasantry. Up to to-day the essence of our foreign policy has been the protection of Great Britain as an island, but as my right hon. Friend explained in his great statement at Blackpool, from this day onward it is the defence of the standard of living and the freedom of the people of all the world, for only on that basis can we be secure and prosperous. Let me return to India. In that statement my right hon. Friend denned self-government as meaning nothing less than this: India shall have the right to choose whether she shall remain within our Commonwealth, or secede from it. It is the ambition of the Government representing our party that we shall so act that our Indian brothers will think us worthy of being their associates. I notice, too, that the proposals for progress in India are to be carried out in conjunction with the leaders of Indian opinion. So long as any group of those leaders remain in gaol without charges brought against them, progress is difficult. We hope that the policy of our party, which all hon. Members know is to release the prisoners, break the deadlock and give India her freedom, will be quickly and vigorously implemented.
In the Gracious Speech we find set out the proposals of our Party's leaders for immediate activity. Our greater aims, of course, go further. They are nothing less than this. We look to the advancement of the well being and lightening of the burden of all the peoples of the world. If we succeed on the points in our present programme, one or two of which I have touched upon then, we shall have taken giant strides forward towards the achievement of our object. If we achieve success on these there is no power of man and no power of nature we cannot harness.
I am, indeed, fortunate in finding myself following the maiden speech of one of those denizens of the "down-under. "I once had the privilege during the last war of fighting with them on the Western front, and I can only say to my many friends in New Zealand that we have here an hon. Member who looks at things with forthright courage, and aggressiveness of the right nature, and we are delighted to see him in this House. I am sure that we shall all look forward to hearing more from my hon. Friend. I have only two or three minutes in which to speak and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner), who made rather a controversial speech on Palestine, will forgive me if I speak—I hope without interruption, and that will be most unusual for me as old Members know—on this vital question of Palestine. After the speeches made by the hon. Lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) and by my hon. Friend, it is important that it should not go out to the millions of the Arab world, that nobody in this House stood up and tried to represent their point of view on this very great occasion. Therefore, I wish to say two or three things.
My hon. Friend suggested that perhaps I might know more about it if I had been to Palestine. May I explain that I have been to Palestine time and time again, and I number Jews and Arabs among my friends, even though I may disagree with them? I have tried to understand the problem, and to deal fairly with the House. The first thing that hon. Members should understand—and I speak particularly to hon. Members on my side of the House—is that they should appreciate that the term "Zionism" means to the Arab the handing over of the whole of Palestine to the Jews. I submit—and this will have to be discussed on a future occasion—that that was never intended in the Balfour Declaration, which provided that a home for the Jews should be founded in Palestine. The 1922 White Paper, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was the author, made no such declaration; it made it clear that it was never intended by the Balfour Declaration. It was not intended that Palestine as a whole should be handed over to the Jews, but that a national home should be founded for the Jews in Palestine.
I would briefly recapitulate the main points. Let us remember that everybody in the world to-day has the greatest possible sympathy with the Jews. I will go so far as to say that I am the only Member in the House who has ever suggested that a proper national home, capable of providing adequate facilities for all Jews, should be founded in the British Empire. I have constantly opposed, and propose to continue to oppose, the idea that we should hand over territory, which does not belong to us, to people to whom the Arabs consider it does not belong. I do not think that hon. and right hon. Members of this House know the history of this affair nearly well enough. In 1915, when the Arabs were persuaded to fight for us in the last war, they were promised the return of Palestine to them free from Turkish domination.
In terms laid down in the McMahon White Paper (Cmd. 5957, 1939) and about which, I admit, there is contention. Two years later in the Balfour Declaration it was declared that a national home for Jews should be in Palestine. I want to put on record this fact, that whereas there were between 50,000 and 60,000 Jews in Palestine at the end of the last war, there are now over 500,000. At the time that the Balfour Declaration was made, the horrors since perpetrated en Jews in Europe were never contemplated. The whole idea was that there should be, in conformity with Jewish aspirations, the grant of land for a national home in Palestine. I defy anybody to argue with me that to increase the number from 50,000 to 500,000 is not fulfilling the clear intention of the Balfour Declara- tion so far as we are concerned. I warn the House—and I hope that the earliest opportunity will be given by His Majesty's Government to allow this matter to be debated—that if there is any serious attempt to modify the provisions of the White Paper there will be a situation in the Near East which will amount to no less than civil war.
I want to begin by apologising to the House for not having been here throughout the whole of the Debate. I have had to spend the greater part of the time at meetings at which my presence was required. I would also add congratulations to those of my hon. Friend who has just sat down, to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills) for the speech he made. I do so with the greater pleasure because he represents the borough for which my father, for many years, set in this House. I did not agree with everything he said, but I agree with the rest of the House in admiring his speech and the way he made it. After the comprehensive survey made by my right hon. Friend this afternoon, I do not think that the House will want me to make a geographical survey of the world at large, but I must answer some of the questions put to me and it will be convenient for me to do it country by country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden)—and I say this by way of preface—paid a tribute to the work of the European Advisory Committee. I would like, on behalf of my right hon. Friend and the office for which he speaks, to endorse that tribute and to say how greatly we appreciate the preparatory work done by Mr. Winant, by the Soviet Ambassador and by Sir William Strang.
The first country of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke was China and he asked when Dr. Soong was coming to London. The invitation has been sent to Dr. Soong. We hope that he will come soon, but he is not yet able to fix the actual date. We feel with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought to do everything in our power to express our great appreciation of the part that China has played in the struggle for freedom. No country has had greater suffering or more cruel hardship than China in the last 14 years. The war began in Manchuria 14 years ago, and if China had surrendered without resistance, the cost of Japanese aggression to us would have been far more terrible than it was. I heard a speech in the U.N.R.R.A. Council on Saturday last made by the Chinese delegate. Dr. Tsiang, of such nobility that it convinced me that China still has a splendid part to play in the work of the United Nations, and I hope that Dr. Soong's visit will be the beginning of that work. My hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster (Mr. E. Walkden) asked about events in Holland. I am not going to say much about the trials of collaborators or the incarceration of about 100,000 people this coming winter. In our view it is for the Governments of these countries to handle these problems for themselves. But of course my right hon. Friend will consider everything with great care which appears in HANSARD tomorrow morning. He raised the question of food and transport, and I will come back to that, if I may, in a short time.
The right hon. Gentleman the late Foreign Secretary asked whether His Majesty's Government will publish the letter from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) to General Franco. I cannot give a specific answer to that question, but my right hon. Friend asks me to say that he is going to consider actively the publication of the whole correspondence. Perhaps I may just add one word to what my right hon. Friend said about the attitude of His Majesty's Government towards General Franco's régime. It is to emphasise his point that what he said this afternoon is in accord with the Spaniards themselves. Here is a quotation from a speech made in Mexico by Dr. Negrin, I think, last week. He said:
Some people sometimes talk of the help which other countries could give us. On that subject I want to say this: I will not accept a republic brought about by the help of other countries. I know that in the long run such help and such intervention is very expensive.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me whether in Poland the Christian Socialist Party can run their party candidates. Our information is that they can; we are awaiting confirmation. He asked me about the National Democrat Party. That is a little less clear, for reasons with which I think he is familiar, but it is at least established that members of that party,
if they cannot run as a party, can affiliate to other parties and so take their part—a free part—in the election.
He asked me about Yugoslavia: have members of the previous Yugoslav Parliament been allowed to join in the Anti-Fascist Council which has been formed? Well, a number of steps have been taken to carry out the agreement which was made. The information I have is that the Anti-Fascist Council has recently been enlarged by the addition of 107 new deputies, that it has been renamed the Temporary Parliament, and that of the new deputies 36 were members of the 1938 Parliament.
Now I come in my geographical survey to the country about which I want to say most, because I hope that what I have to say may help. It is the country that has been talked most about to-day—I mean, Greece. I agree very strongly, and the Government agree with the right hon. Gentleman in regretting the radio propaganda which has been carried out against Greece from her Northern neighbours. We think particularly regrettable the propaganda by Bulgaria. We all wish well to a free and democratic Bulgaria, if it is set up, but I think that every Bulgar should remember that their previous rulers had a record in Northern Greece which it will take some time to live down. I could not accept all that my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury said about the present Government. I know something of the conditions there and particularly, for reasons which the House will understand, I do not want to talk about the past, but I do ask him to consider firstly that new and able men are now being brought into this Government; that the supervision over the election will be a reality and not a sham; that my right hon. Friend is seeking, as he said this afternoon, to empty the prisons—a very important factor.
I agree with what was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Central Newcastle (Major Wilkes) in another admirable maiden speech. He said that Europe is plagued by the legacy of German occupation. That is supremely true of Greece. We agree with him on the following principles: that acts of violence by the Right or by the Left must be prevented; that all parties should have facilities to express their views and, indeed, in my experience all parties do express their views in Greece to-day; we agree that the Army and the police must be national organs and not party organs of either side. My right hon. Friend is hoping that all these principles may be established, that a great new start may be made in Greek affairs in the early future. I ask my hon. Friend to study to-morrow in HANSARD, very closely, what has been said. He is hoping that the Greek people, by an early, free and fair election, may give themselves a strong, united government whose authority is founded on the people's will. I believe that if things develops as he hopes, there is good reason for thinking that that can be done.
I believe, at least, that the material conditions required for an effort of national unity and national reconstruction are beginning to appear. Up to date the Greeks have not had much chance. When this war ended for them by their liberation they were being saved from literal starvation by Red Cross food. Their country was bare of raw materials, their transport system was almost completely smashed, their economic life was at a standstill, their political life was torn by the terrible passions engendered by the war. But, worst of all, was the lack of transport. How can you create an administration, how can you stop mountain bands if you have no trains, or cars, or lorries, or even motor cycles for your civil servants and for your police? Now the material conditions have begun to improve. The Greeks number their lorries, not by dozens, as they did last Autumn and even at the beginning of this year, not by dozens, but by thousands. There are goods in the shops, not only for the rich who can pay in gold and sovereigns, but even some goods for the poor. There are raw materials. Many of the factories have begun to work. Supplies of animals and machinery are arriving. I had a telegram the other day: —"Much horses in Greece"—and more of everything is coming. For the time being—and I hope it may be for a considerable time—the menace of inflation has been beaten and at least a hope of reconstruction lies ahead.
As I have said, the emptying of the prisons will be no less important than the filling of the shops. Greece needs a new spiritual impulse as much as she needs food. Can she get it? Have her people still the matchless vitality, the overriding patriotism that they used to show? I have known the Greeks for 30 years. I think I know the life and the thinking of the workers in the cities and the peasants on the land. Year by year, I have found growing in my heart a deep affection for the Greeks, affection strengthened by admiration and respect. Save for the Jews, there is no people in the world which has been so sorely tried in modern times. Providence has given them the loveliest country in the world, but, like the Low Countries, it has been the cockpit of other people's wars. Twice in a generation they have thrown themselves into war on the side of freedom; twice they have done so in the very hour when the hope of victory seemed very small; twice they have held strategical positions vital to our ultimate success. But they have paid a fearful price. Over the last 33 years they have had 14 years of war; they have had terrible losses in the best of their men killed and mutilated, in women and children killed or enfeebled by hunger and disease, in towns and villages destroyed and, more than once, they have been brought to the very breaking point by physical and nervous strain.
During these last three bitter decades they have had grave crises of different kinds. I was with Dr. Nansen in Athens in 1922 when Greece had suffered a defeat in Asia Minor by the Turks. A million and a half refugees flooded in on a nation which numbered 4,500,000. It was as if 12,000,000 had come to Britain. They were penniless, ragged, without clothes or food or means of earning their livelihood. The Greeks took in those refugees. The peasant drew a line across the floor and two families lived in his single room. But there came also from Asia Minor 100,000 Armenians, whose crowded ships had gone from port to port in the Mediterranean and no one would let them in. The Greeks opened their doors and gave to the Armenians an equal share in everything that their own refugees received. Terrible things happened in Asia Minor in that disaster. The memory was bitter in the extreme. Bat a few years later it was the Greeks who sought a reconciliation. It was they who voluntarily abandoned every thought of national revenge. It was they who built up the Balkan Entente. When the crimes and failures of the greater Powers brought the world to war again they showed generosity and courage no less than they had shown in times of peace.
No one has forgotten the campaign in Albania in 1940. Not so many of us remember what happened in Macedonia in 1941. For 20 centuries men have talked about 300 Spartans who combed their hair before they fought the barbarians at Thermopylae, knowing they were all to die. In Macedonia, when the Germans came down with their armoured columns, there were three Thermopylaes. The road to Salonika cut behind them, outnumbered 10 to 1, with no modern arms of any kind, 500 Greeks held the Fort Perichori until not one man remained alive. The garrisons of two smaller forts did the same. The Greeks are capable of greatness. Now, when their fate is in the balance, is the time for them to show it. Now is the time for patriotic toleration, for reconciliation, for generosity, for self-restraint. Now, by a great united effort, they can return from ways of violence to the democratic freedom which Greece first gave the world.
I turn now from particular nationals to questions of more general interest to the nations of the world. Many Members have spoken of international economic problems and of the economic cooperation which in the years to come is sure to be required. My right hon. Friend said to-day that poverty, malnutrition and economic instability are among the many causes that lead to war. Europe has proved in the last 15 years that that is true. There is no cause of present difficulties and future trouble so great and so ominous as the poverty, malnutrition and economic instability of the Continent of Europe to-day. Here in Britain we are faced with terrible problems—rationing, housing, restoring international trade to pay for essential foodstuffs which we must import, providing work for all our people. In almost every country in Europe these things are infinitely more acute. Hunger and unemployment are a present menace. Transport systems are in a parlous state. There are no raw materials, no fertilisers for the fields. Goods required are in short supply.
I want to talk for a few moments of the immediate problem and for a few moments of the long-term international work which we must do. I begin with the prospect for next winter. The Director-General of U.N.R.R.A. said, not long ago, that Europe stands before a terrible crisis, that unless food and transport can be found there may be, before the winter is over, famine, disease, bloodshed and anarchy. Those shortages and difficulties are European or world problems, which must be dealt with by European or world action if they are to be dealt with at all.
The right hon. Gentleman the Senior Burgess for Oxford University (Sir A. Salter), in his admirable letter to "The Times" the other day, said that the most serious need is for coal. We need for Europe this winter 70,000,000 to 100,000,000 tons. Perhaps even 50,000,000 or 60,000,000 would save the situation. We need it to give people warmth against the cold winter. Do Members realise that many old people and babies died through cold in Paris and Brussels last winter? We need it to make factories work. In Northern Italy 23,000,000 people, partly by the valour of the Allied Armies and partly by their own exertions, saved their factories and transport system, but to-day they have 2,000,000 unemployed—4,000,000, as it were, in this country. It is plain that if those factories are to be got going we must get coal, at least 50,000,000 tons more than we can now foresee. My right hon. Friend appealed to the miners of this country to give him 25,000,000 more tons. I hope the Government, in co-poeration with their Allies, will be able to get the other 25,000,000 tons or more out of the mines in Europe. The Government will certainly do everything they can to ensure that result.
With regard to transport, during last winter it was my task to talk to transport experts who were coming from liberated countries all the time, and I came to the conclusion that there was an immense loss of wealth at that time. Goods were not being produced, which we are now having to import into Europe at our expense because of the shortage of transport. Sometimes what was required was almost negligible. There was no one to co-ordinate the thing; it was not being done. Transport is not only transport; it is the vital link by which the life of society is carried on. It is law and order, as in Greece; it is the hope of a return to democratic circumstances; it is food, clothes, raw materials and work to people who have been cold, hungry and unemployed. Food is very short and raw materials from overseas are very short. There have been tremendous economic dislocations by the immense movement of populations which Hitler carried out. What are we doing to try and face that situation? First, let me speak of displaced persons. In our zones there were, when Germany surrendered, 6,000,000. Four millions have already gone home, in three months, 500,000 of them being flown by Allied Air Forces. I think that is a remarkable result, and I hope that at the speed at which they are now being returned the problem will be largely solved before winter. I think that the Armies, by that action, have made a great contribution to the economic reconstruction of the world.
Last winter transport experts came to see me, as I have said, and I tried to set up a European organisation of transport, which was then called E.I.T.O. but later had to be called E.C.I.T.O. because in Dutch "E.I.T.O." means "small potato. "The conference, for political reasons, did not succeed, although it had almost completed the draft of the technical agreement which was required. Next week, if our hopes are fulfilled, the conference will reassemble, the political difficulties having been removed. It is my hope that within a few weeks from now the provisional organisation we have set up will be merged in the final European Central Inland Transport Organisation and that it will be able to make a great contribution to the saving of Europe during this coming winter.
The hon. Lady the Member for the Sutton Division, of Plymouth (Mrs. Middleton) spoke in her admirable maiden speech—and it was admirable—of Hot Springs. Like her, the Government attach great importance to the Food and Agricultural Organisation which was setup, in which my predecessor in office played so distinguished a part. The first meeting of this Conference is to be held in Canada on the 16th October. We believe, with my hon. Friend, that there is for the Food and Agricultural Organisation a tremendous field for activities, and that it can do for agriculture now what the League of Nations Health Section did, in considerable measure, for public health between the wars. It can make a great scientific and practical contribution to the problems that must be solved, and I think there are many nations for whom this new organ will help to make "the desert blossom like the rose." His Majesty's Government will be represented at the meeting and its spokesmen will spare no effort to make the Conference, and its subsequent development, a complete success.
That brings me to U.N.R.R.A. I have had to sit these last 10 days on the Council of U.N.R.R.A. to represent the Government. I venture to think that that Council meeting has dispelled some illusions. Anybody can criticise U.N.R.R.A. if they want to, but at that meeting we heard the Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia describe how, in his country, U.N.R.R.A. had arrived before they expected them; how the only transport at one time which they had was 153 U.N.R.R.A. lorries; that U.N.R.R.A. saved the important town of Brno from virtual starvation and, by their medical supplies and help, averted typhus and typhoid epidemics. A member of the Government of Yugoslavia quoted Marshal Tito as having said that U.N.R.R.A. had saved hundreds of thousands of his compatriots last spring. Our British experts have assured me, and my own experience confirms their view, that when inflation was averted from Greece in June, it was because of the supplies which U.N.R.R.A. brought. His Majesty's Government are behind U.N.R.R.A. As the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have said they will give U.N.R.R.A. their full support, so long as they can afford to do so. We can only afford to assist that work so long as our economy is supported and we are given a chance to pull through the transition period safely. But I have every hope that means will be found to enable U.N.R.R.A. to carry on its work and to complete the great task it has undertaken.
In the meantime, I am quite certain that the meeting which has taken place this week has proved that international institutions, even in the extremely difficult conditions in which U.N.R.R.A. has had to operate, can, with good will, be made to work. Sir, I will not speak of the I.L.O., to which one hon. Member referred, although we attach the highest importance to it, nor will I dwell at any length on long-term economic co-operation. Under the United Nations Charter adopted in San Francisco, a Social and Economic Council is to be set up. The whole Charter is to be debated in this House on Wednesday and Thursday of this week and it would, therefore, be wrong of me to anticipate what will be said. I only make the observation that there is, now sitting in London, the Executive Committee of the Preparatory Commission set up by the San Francisco Conference and on which I have the honour to represent H.M. Government. I can assure the House, from the meetings we have had already, that that Committee is a body of very exceptionally able men, that there is a united determination to succeed, and that all of them realise that international economic co-operation is absolutely vital if political co-operation is to succeed.
I cannot sit down without saying something about the atomic bomb. Nobody who speaks on international relations can now avoid the subject. My right hon. Friend said last week that a great many of our previous conceptions, and of the assumptions upon which the work of the San Francisco Conference was accomplished, will have to be radically revised. He said that perhaps the weapons of war will become so horrible and dangerous that they cannot ever be used again. The Government's conclusion is that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington. This is our last chance. We accept the views of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson), and this Parliament has come here to make an end of war. The Government accept that, and we do not mean to have an unambitious foreign policy. We believe that leadership by Britain may be a factor of immense importance in time to come. It was my experience between the wars that, when Britain led, international institutions gave good results, but that, when Britain did not lead, they too often failed. Now we share the leadership with our great Allies, and, above all, with the United States and the Soviet Union; the Foreign Secretary will see to it that Britain plays her part with the Commonwealth nations at her side. His programme is one of Parliamentary democracy, of helping those who stood for freedom throughout the war, of condemning every act of violence and lawless bloodshed, of economic reconstruction by international action, of political solidarity against aggression and of active, vigorous, unreserved co-operation in the tasks of peace. It has been a people's war, and we are going to make it people's peace.
In opening the Debate on the Address the hon. and gallant Member for Watford (Major Freeman) said that in future it must be the housewife and the wage-earner who must dictate the foreign policies of the nations. We believe with him that Governments must have policies which the people understand. The simple folk in every nation now believe that the vital interests of nations are not individual but common interests which they cannot help but share. They believe that the prosperity of one nation promotes the prosperity of others. They believe that war is futile, wasteful, and wicked. They believe that it can be ended by our generation if we want to. The Government believe these things too, and it is in that spirit that they will do their work.