Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [12th September]:
That this House approves the proposals contained in the White Papers Command No. 8026 and Command No. 8027, designed by His Majesty's Government to meet the growing dangers to world peace of which the war in Korea is an example; and is of opinion that the necessary legislation to amend the National Service Acts should be brought in forthwith."—[The Prime Minister.]
Before I call upon the hon. Member who has the ear of the House, I would like to say that I have knowledge that there are something like 87 hon. Members who wish to take part in the Debate today. I can only hope to satisfy—if I am lucky—one-tenth of that number. I am keeping no list; as the spirit moves me and as I think they may contribute to the Debate, I shall call upon hon. Members to speak, but there can be no promise in advance that any particular hon. Member will be called until I make the choice.
A three days' Debate is always something of a long-distance endurance test. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday looked as if it rather killed the Debate, but the House of Commons yesterday did much better than the Leader of the Opposition the day before, and I think it would be useful to start today by discussing some of the interesting speeches made from different points of view in yesterday's Debate.
I will start with that of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Blackburn), and his demand for national unity. I think the little altercation we have just heard shows that despite his optimism, there are one or two major issues which divide the country. One cannot anticipate the Debate next week, but I would say this: In 1940, when things were very dangerous for this country, the Labour Party and Labour movement, at the demand of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), put their Socialism into cold storage for the duration of the crisis. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members can shout, but that is a fact.
All I am saying is this. Since 1940, a great many changes have taken place in this country. Part of a peaceful revolution has taken place, and those who talk of national unity from the benches opposite should realise that ideological anti-Socialism has got to be put into cold storage this time if we are to retain the unity of the country. I hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield, in his new position as an Independent, instead of talking about nationalising slums before steel, will recognise the truth that the completion of the programme of 1945 is no new advance, but is the logical completion of what has already been begun to be built up in this country, and that those who seek to frustrate the decisions duly made in Parliament, and twice voted upon by the electorate, are those who precipitate party strife.
I now want to turn to two other important points which were made yesterday. It seemed to me that of the two main criticisms of the Government's rearmament programme one came from the benches round about where I am now standing and the second from the other side of the House. First, there were the pacifists who said that all rearmament was ruinous and would lead to disaster, and then there were the Conservative critics whose theme was "too little and too late."
I want to deal with both those points very seriously because they both deserve serious treatment. First, I would like to turn to my friends around me. I noticed an interesting sentence in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies). He said we need not have any rearmament for the following reason:
A Socialist Government has no reason at all to fear Communism, as long as that Government is Socialist."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th September, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 1216.]
I say to him that he had better say that in Berlin. If there were no Western troops in Berlin today, every German Socialist would, if alive, be in Siberia. Then, when he has been to Berlin, I suggest that he should go to Helsinki and tell a Finnish Socialist, after 10 years of experience, that if he is truly a Socialist he can live side by side with
the Russian Communists. Let him tell the Finnish Socialist in Helsinki that and see what response he gets. That is all I have to say to my pacifist friends.
I can respect a pacifist who, like Dr. Soper, says perfectly consistently, "I am prepared to accept, in the spirit of Christianity, even the domination of the Communists in Britain. I am prepared to accept it because I believe God will have ordained it." I do not believe it is a true religion, but it is consistent, and no pacifist who does not go as far as that, has the right to tell anybody in the modern world that if he is a Socialist he can live safely side by side with Communists.
I shall never forget going to Prague in February, 1948. I would recall to the House that there is not a single Socialist who stayed in Czechoslovakia, hoping to collaborate with the Communists, who is not gaoled in Siberia or dead. I would also add that it is a responsibility of everybody in this House that those men died because all of us, including the right hon. Member for Woodford suggested that they should go back to Czechoslovakia and seek to collaborate with the Communists, with the result that this is the fate they have now suffered. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I agree that there were one or two exceptions on the back benches, but, by and large, it was the policy of this country and of all parties. I am glad it was, and that we tried to work with the Soviet Union as long as we could.
All I am saying is that they have paid the price and we have not. We all agreed above all, the right hon. Member for Woodford agreed, that there should be an attempt to co-operate, and that those people should go back to Central Europe and try to work with the Communists. Well, they are dead, and we bear the responsibility to see that no others die for the same reason.
I admit variations of technique, but I still address my remarks to the pacifists and ask what is the answer to my question. It is not true that a Socialist, unarmed, can work alongside Communists without the threat of what happened to the people of Prague happening to them.
I will now turn to the more serious argument. We have been told throughout this Debate that we are doing too little and too late. I noticed in the brilliant speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) the passage where we have the words "frustration," "despair," "deterioration," "inertia "and "indecision," with the conclusion that had we taken his advice two years ago everything would now be all right with the Defence Forces. I am wondering about that. After all, a good deal later than two years ago the hon. and gallant Gentleman fought an election. He had a great opportunity last February to tell the people of this country that they needed an extension of National Service and that taxation should be enormously increased for the purpose of rearmament.
If the hon. and gallant Member knew all this two years ago, why did not he go to the people of this country during the election—and why did not his Leader—and say to them that we must have more austerity and not more social services? He says now it was the dentures which ate away our defence, but he also says that he never opposed the dentures, that he was always in favour of the National Health Service. He cannot have it both ways.
I am not denying that, but I am saying that the Conservative Party did not fight the election on the theme, austerity and rearmament. They said little about rearmament and promised more social services than anybody else. They did not tell the people last February that they thought the National Health Service and the dentures were a disaster for rearmament. That was not what was said.
But let us assume they did say that, and that we had taken their advice three years ago; let us suppose that we had launched this rearmament programme in 1947. Let us, first, see what would have happened supposing we had taken their advice about exporting goods east of the Iron Curtain and that for the last three years we had imported no coarse grain and timber from Russia, because I do not think they would have been so un-gentlemanly as to take the coarse grain and the timber and then to default on their obligations. Surely, if they are consistent they would have said, "We will not touch the coarse grain and timber because we believe in an embargo on trade with Eastern Europe."
We heard nothing of that. What we heard were constant demands for coarse grain and timber because they have helped us to build up our home-grown cattle and poultry and to build the houses we need. Do they seriously tell us that had they been in power they would have refused a million tons of Russian coarse grain and Russian timber? They were pleading for more houses, and for timber from anywhere with which to build them. Or again, suppose we had gone in for a gigantic rearmament drive instead of mechanising the coal mines, building generating stations and doing the hundred and one jobs we had to do in order to put our economy on its peacetime feet, would we be stronger for war than we are today?
Have we misused those five years even in terms of defence by re-equipping the industries of this country? [HON. MEMbers: "Yes."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "Yes," but look at the production figures of this country. One cannot fight modern wars without plant, machinery and basic industries. Even from the point of view of Defence I would suggest to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that five years' re-equipment has been absolutely vital and that re-armament three years ago would have left us in the sad position of the French between the wars, with a gigantic army and a rotten economy.
We had to re-equip, and I can only thank heaven that we were given those five years before Korea came along and the necessity of re-armament came. It is not only grossly unfair of Tories to say that it is "too little and too late"; it is stupid of them as well, because we can only re-arm effectively on the basis of a sound, expanding economy with new and renovated basic industries.
We will come next, if the hon. and gallant Member wishes, to this precise question of the basis upon which we are re-arming and the purpose for which we are re-arming. What is the primary purpose of our re-armament today? I get the impression from some of my hon. Friends here below the Gangway that they believe there is an armaments race going on between the Western and Eastern blocs. They started a long time ago, if it did, and at first we refused to race. An overwhelming preponderance of military power has existed in the Eastern bloc for the last five years. Ever since the war ended they have had an overwhelming preponderance of military power.
Anybody who says today that we should aim, in peace-time, to maintain in the Western world armaments greater than or on a level with Soviet Russia is demanding the impossible of democracy. Totalitarian States can always have bigger armaments in peace-time than the democracies. That is one of the risks we run by being democracies. In two world wars we have won because we have had better armaments by starting late, but we have had to sacrifice ground to do it.
If anybody lays it down as a basis of Anglo-American re-armament that we should attempt to maintain as many divisions as Russia, and attempt to outdo them in an armaments race, he is making it certain either that our economies will collapse, or that we shall be driven into preventive war. The democracies could only sustain the Russian burden of armaments for a short time and, after that, the war machine would compel them to go to war. One of the reasons why I believe that this armament programme is so excellently designed is that it does not make war inevitable by completely transforming our industry into a war machine, and yet it gives sufficient indication to the Russians that we would be prepared to do so if the worst came to the worst.
I take that to be the aim of the Government—the strengthening of our diplomacy in order to save the peace by giving an unmistakable sign to the Eastern bloc that we are prepared, in certain eventualities, to go the whole way. But we have not gone the whole way at present. I suggest to hon. Gentlemen opposite that in considering the size of the programme they should consider it on that basis—on how far it meets that particular job.
Furthermore, I agree with a very interesting part of the speech by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). I do not think the main danger from Russia is an offensive move by the Red Army. I think the main danger from Russia is that she will attempt to destroy the democracies by forcing them to re-arm too highly and taking over as the democracies collapse. We do not want to play into Russian hands by doing precisely what she wants us to do, that is, kill ourselves with rearmament and rot underneath it. Every Government has this appalling responsibility, that it must achieve this balance between what is necessary to deter and what is necessary to defeat, always knowing that, if the worst comes, we shall not be fully prepared. We must face that fact because that is the disadvantage of democracies when up against totalitarian States.
While I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) has said, will he deal with the fact that it is Soviet policy to get hold of satellite States and twisted dupes for the fulfilment of their purpose.
The precise object of this re-armament plan is to meet the situation provided by the precedent of Korea. Up to Korea the Communists in the Kremlin have done everything short of war. In the case of Korea, a secondhand war was started. What we have to do now is, by next summer, to have sufficient strength so that no further experiments of that sort can be undertaken. Even if we cannot have sufficient strength to defeat the Red Army when it attacks, we can have sufficient strength in West Germany and behind Persia to defeat second-hand aggression. We can look round the world at the danger spots where another Korea might happen and can have, between us, sufficient forces to crush it if it happens and hope to deter them from trying to do that at all.
The Opposition has never been statesmanlike, because they have never tried to assess this armament programme, as aimed not at preparing for inevitable war against Russia but at militarily deterring Russia from further Korean experiments.
The most obvious place where a Korean experiment might occur is Germany. In Germany there is the greatest danger of a second Korea. I know there is confusion in the House as to how we should meet that problem. There are those who believe that the way to meet the German danger is to have a German army as a contingent of Western Defence. I agree here with the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton, who put forward a more prudent, sensible and realistic policy. To begin with, he completely understands that what is really dangerous in Germany, the same as in France and Italy, is the indifference of the people and their hopelessness. There is their indifference to the danger of occupation.
I met a Frenchman in France and asked him what he would do. He said, "I will join the Resistance." That is heroism a bit late in the day. It is defeatist to think that one's job would be limited to joining the Resistance. The job is to deter people from creating a situation where one has to resist or go to Siberia. That is our problem—the morale of Western Europe; and I believe that even more important than the number of troops is the need to maintain a spirit of resistance.
I ask whether, in fact, the morale of people worth having in France will be improved by the creation, five years after a Second World War, of a German army headed by men condemned as war criminals four years ago. One cannot create a Germany army without officers and generals, and the only ones one can get are the ones of last time. To do that must demoralise decent people. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton. The first step is to distinguish between the defence of Germans against aggression from the East, and the suppression of insurrection in Germany. The defence of Germany from aggression by the Eastern bloc must remain the responsibility of the Occupying Powers. But the Germans must be given the power to suppress insurrection if East Germans try a Korea in Germany. What we should say to the Russians, and be open on it, is, "Whatever you give the Eastern Germans we shall give rather more to the Western Germans, slightly more men, slightly more arms."
There will be no difficulty in regard to a police force in Germany. We could allow Germany to have a police force slightly stronger than in the Eastern zone. This is one of the few cases where we and the Russians have something near common interest.
Both of us dislike the idea of arming Germany. If we show ourselves prepared to go as far as they do, then there is some possibility that they will be deterred from going any further, for they have Slav allies who dislike the idea of arming Germany as much as do our Western European allies. I hope, therefore, that the Government will maintain their rigid opposition to a German army, or a German contingent in an Atlantic Defence. It could only demoralise those who believe in social democracy in Germany and it would demoralise the democrats in France.
Why does the hon. Gentleman think that this country should accept indefinitely the sole responsibility and burden of defending Germany from aggression in the East? How long does he think the Germans will submit to being told how many policemen they can have?
I want to give the answer to that. The responsibility is not that of this country, of course, but of the whole Atlantic Pact group. As long as Germany is divided we shall have to have an occupation there. One cannot talk about a Western German nation, as one hon. Member wanted to talk; there is not a Western German nation. There is a nation divided, and divided deeply, unjustly, between West and East. That nation will seek to unify itself either on one side or the other. This, therefore, is a second best that we have. Grant the Germans the police force and say that in the short-term we, the Atlantic Union, have to "carry the can" in the defence of Western Europe.
Of course, if we are looking at the long run, we all hope that there will not be a war between ourselves and Russia. In the long run there is only one solution—for Germany to be united. But if Germany is ever united, I want to see it neutralised; I should never trust it with arms if it was united. I am in favour in the long run of saying to the Germans, "We believe in your unity, but even then we shall have to neutralise you." In the short run and in the long run I believe we shall have to give the Germans the police and nothing else.
I am not interrupting: unhelpfully at all, because I follow the hon. Gentleman's modes of thought with as much mental agility as I possibly can. I recognise his contributions to our discussions but, as I understood it, his idea originally was that there ought not to be a German national army. I was very glad, therefore, to find out recently that the Germans, or their representatives, did not want that and were willing, on the other hand, to make a contribution towards a European army or grouping of the different forces. Now, as I understand it, the hon. Gentleman is against that, too, but is in favour of a large armed police with an army inside it, which is what the Russians have in the Eastern zone. If we add to that, facilities for making weapons, and so on, are we not developing a German armed force which may conceivably be far less in harmony with our general interests than the one we have ventured to suggest?
I accept the seriousness of the argument. I was about to add a concluding remark on the subject of Germany. In the long run, one cannot keep Germans from carrying arms for ever, and I agree with the German Social Democrats on this subject. They say they are prepared to permit a German army if it is a genuine European army serving a European super-State, and I believe, if I may say this to the right hon. Gentleman, that, as British people, we ought now to accept the need for a Western European State consisting of all those who want to-federate, because that would enable us to have a European army in which Germans can serve. We ought to be firmly outside it ourselves but allied to it. I think that is a solution which the right hon. Gentleman might think over. If, instead of going to Strasbourg and always giving the impression that Britain might be in a European federation, the right hon. Gentleman had gone to Strasbourg from the start and said, "We can never be in it; we will certainly help you all we can but hurry up yourselves and do the job "—then we might have gone a great deal further in uniting Europe than we have today.
I want to deal with one other problem which is outside Europe, for I do not think we ought to put all our eggs in one basket. It might be a very dangerous thing to agree that we should put everything into Western European defence, as some hon. Members are asking. It is quite clear to me that the danger point in the world is the Middle East and that those who press for us to undertake obligations in Western Europe which prevent us from maintaining defences in the Middle East, may be precipitating war. The noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), thought that the policy for the Middle East was that we should send West Africans to defend it. I would only say to him that some time must have passed since he was in the Middle East if he thinks that the peoples in the area would appreciate that compliment.
I suggest that it would be more sensible in the Middle East to arm the people who are ready to fight for their own freedom—and there is only one nation in the Middle East today which is ready to stand up for itself and fight—Israel; and that is the only nation not being armed by the British. We are arming the Egyptians, and it is no good hon. Members opposite complaining about that, because they urged the arming of the Egyptians against the Israelis. It was not until the Israelis were winning that the Opposition changed sides. I should have thought that the common-sense thing to do was that we should provide arms to Israel and Jordan and stop providing them to the Egyptians, who will always be neutral on the winning side.
Now I want to say a word about a peace policy. There has been a very legitimate demand from this side of the House, though not from the other side of the House, for a peace policy. Of course, it is a bit depressing for the Opposition. We hear them saying that everything in this country is terrible, that the country is going to pieces, that the Empire is collapsing; and, of course, if they believe all that, then life must be very depressing and the prospect must be dreary.
I realise very well that the hon. Gentleman's dislike of common sense makes him dislike what I am saying.
Let us look at the peace policy, the chances of preventing war by this rearmament. If we are to prevent war by this re-armament one thing is essential—that Asia should be on our side. If the peoples of Asia go on to the other side there will be a war and we shall lose it. The key to the whole defence of democracy, therefore, is retaining the peoples of Asia on our side.
I would suggest to the Opposition that they ask themselves this question: if they had had the misfortune to be in power under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, would a single Asiatic be on our side today? Would India be in the Commonwealth and on our side over Korea? Would the Burmese be fighting on our side or on the other if he had done what he wanted? Would there be any chance of keeping Communist China out of the war if he had had his way? Let us realise, when talking about a peace policy, that the Socialist policy of a Labour Government has kept India in the Commonwealth, co-operating with us. By keeping India in the Commonwealth and co-operating with us, we have made it possible that we may succeed in dividing the Communist forces and keep Communist China serving her own interest and not that of the Soviet Union.
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should reflect on the last six weeks. Consider the subject of Formosa. I remember, in the Debate in July, speech after speech from the Opposition demanding all-out toughness to Communist China. We were all just Socialist cranks when we said, "Korea is O.K. but Formosa is not." But what has happened in the last six weeks? The American Government have adopted the Labour Government's attitude more and more. [Laughter. Would those hon. Gentlemen opposite who laugh please read President Truman's last statement on Formosa? Would they notice the appointment of Mr. Marshall, a notorious supporter of an intelligent policy in respect of China—a policy which has been opposed by the right hon. Gentleman as well as by the China "lobby" in Washington.
That is the diplomatic job we have been doing with the Armed Forces. We are building them up, because there is one thing which is clear: if we want to influence American policy we have to contribute to the defence of the West sufficiently to make Britain a power for good.
In my view, nothing has been done more effectively to avert this danger of war than the job we did in Washington. We helped to prevent MacArthur from having his way and frustrating a sensible American policy. [Interruption.] Yes, there are dangerous people in America. There are people who preach preventive war. But there are strong forces against them. We have got President Truman and Mr. Acheson and the Fair Dealers. What is the thing that is saving peace today? It is the collaboration between a loyal Labour Government here and an American Administration which shares the same ideals, which wants the same sort of world, the fair shares we want in our Commonwealth. [Laughter.] New ideas are always laughed at by the Tories—until they adopt them in a few years' time. They will get used to these ideas in the end.
I am sorry; I cannot give way.
I want to conclude by summing up very briefly. The reasons for our rearmament and the reasons for the scale on which we have done it are these. We do not want to make war inevitable by total rearmament, but we want to make it unmistakably clear to the Russians that if they try another Korea in Germany or anywhere else we shall not only want to stop it but shall have the power to stop it. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman opposite said we shall not, and that brings me to the point where the Opposition have been most disingenuous.
That country, both in the peacetime fight against Communism—by pouring millions into India, for instance—and in preparation for war has taken the lead—not in speeches but in deeds. We have done more than any other country in the world, and the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that what the Government already propose is beyond the economic capacity of this country. We have gone ahead confident that America will help us, but with no assurance of the precise extent of the help she will offer. We have gone ahead in the belief that if we give more than we can afford our friends will follow; but we have no assurance. This has taken us far beyond the present level of our resources, while the Americans have made no firm commitment about the men they are to have in Europe or the dollars they will provide.
It would be more useful if the Opposition, who berate this Government for doing too little too late were, instead, to get the Republicans—their allies—in America to bring pressure on the other side of the Atlantic. What we can do does not depend on us alone. It depends on collaboration between the free peoples. We have gone far ahead of the French. We have gone far ahead of the Americans. I think we were right to do so. It re-moralised the Western world. But we cannot go beyond a certain limit. We cannot produce double the divisions in Germany, though the French might like it, without actual help from America.
Instead of always berating the Government about too little and too late, the Opposition might recognise the fact—and be proud of it—that this country and this Government have done more for economic reconstruction and for military defence than any other country in the world. This country has gone far beyond its resources, and the Tory Party, instead of yapping, might be praising the Government and giving it their support in achieving the things we require.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) will scarcely expect me to follow him in the survey which he has made, because he knows it would be beyond my capacity. It is not my line of country. There are plenty of others here who would like to cross swords with him, and will no doubt do so, if they have the opportunity. You, Sir, have referred to the fact that there are some 85 more Members of the "band of hope" in the building, and I shall not try to waste the short time you expect me to occupy by talking about matters which I do not understand as well as others. I will stick to my last, and what I want to talk about is what has largely been left unsaid in this three-day Debate. We have heard a great deal about men and pay, military formations and political repercussions, but to my mind there has been singularly little said about what the men are going to fight with. That is the point to which I intend to apply my remarks.
The Prime Minister gave us certain information for which I, for one, was very grateful. He put the ball on the ground, and I should like to kick it along a bit. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) made certain remarks, and the Minister of State for Economic Affairs touched on the subject, but they did not get down to it in the detail in which I should like to refer to it. I know that the Minister of State has had contacts with industrialists. I was out of town at the time, and they did not fetch me back; and since I have been here I have taken good care not to see them in view of this Debate, so that the Minister can be quite certain that I am not going to give away anything that he said to them. I am not going to let them down, I am not going to let him down, and I am not going to let myself down, because I do not know what he did say to them. This is entirely off my own bat.
The Army has a lot of equipment. The Minister of Defence mentioned it on the previous occasion. Very good stuff, no doubt, a lot of it. It has been put into cold storage, and is very valuable. However, old equipment in any war is not always good enough. We must always have new machines. It is vital that our people should be armed in an up-to-date manner. We have been spending money—and very rightly, I think—on research, so that when we get into production we shall have the right material that we should have—the very latest possible. Up to a point that is always a right policy, but I have spent my life dealing with research people, and I can assure Ministers that there comes a time when one has to lock them up and tell them to stop—tell them, "Go on with your work, but do not expect us to take notice of what you are doing today. We will do that at the next stage."
Now is the time to put what we can—what has been evolved by research so far—into production. That is the stage we are in today—only I think we should have been in it a bit of time ago. We have to start with the latest designs that we have. It is no earthly good listening to the research people saying, "In three months' time we shall have something better." They always will. In the past, hon. Members have come to me and have said such a thing as this, "I have got the very latest motor car." I said, "You have not." Then the Member would say, "Yes, the very latest." I would say, "It is an out-of-date model." He would say, "What do you mean?" I would reply, "Do you realise that the model you have bought was designed two years ago, and that a year ago it was put into production, and that there is a better one on the stocks now? But if you wait for it you will have to wait for ever, because there is always a better one coming along." That is exactly the position that the Government are in. They must insist upon going into production, and must not let the research people put them off by saying that they will have something better yet in such and such a time. There is no finality in anything.
There is another point I should like to make, and it is that we must have a continuous flow of production. We have to give continuous orders. I am trying to help the Minister by giving him advice from practical experience. We have to run risks if we are to get a steady flow. We have to be prepared to order stuff that we are not quite certain we shall want. It is quite impossible ever to get a complete balance. One has either to have an overlap or have a gap in production. One has to weigh up which is the most important, and I have always found that I would sooner have an overlap than have a gap.
Now, the Minister of State and the Minister of Supply will have to make decisions. I urge them to give extra orders as soon as they can, and not to wait until the last minute. I advise them to run the risk of having products they do not want, and run the risk of having to cancel orders and pay compensation, rather than run the risk of having that gap in production which will cost the nation a great deal more in the long run. I ask my hon. Friends who sit on the Select Committee on Estimates to remember this, so that if the time comes when Ministers have to say to them. "Well, we thought we should want these things but now we do not, and there has been a certain waste," they will remember that business people are doing exactly that, and that it is better policy to have a steady production, because we lose more if production comes to a standstill.
My reason for speaking in this manner is because history has a habit of repeating itself. My mind goes back to 1938, when we were faced with a set of circumstances which were in some ways similar to those that we face today. After Munich, I was in an industrial organisation, and industry was very worried at the position which was then disclosed. We were unable nationally to carry out our undertakings; we were not able to fulfil what we had said we would do; industry was very concerned, and I was asked to see the Prime Minister of the day. I took a deputation to see him and we put it to him—and the position is not dissimilar now—that industry thought they could do a great deal more to help if only they were given the information and called in to assist and if their experience were used.
I do not know what the Minister of State for Economic Affairs said at the meeting he had; he may have taken that line; but I do know that at that time I pressed Mr. Chamberlain, and he agreed. He was being shot at in the House and hauled over the coals, and so he took the opportunity of saying that he was appointing a committee, which I helped him to form, and which we called the Prime Minister's Panel of Industrial Advisers. There may be some hon. Members who remember it. I can assure the present Ministers that it helped. To start with, no more Questions were shot at the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, when he was able to refer to and get his information from this committee, because the House knew that he had got impartial people investigating these problems. It also helped the Departments who, although they did not like these, as they thought, busybodies coming in to start with, soon found that they were people who wished to help and who were not there to find fault; and we got magnificent co-operation from them.
Some of the preparations made were excellent, and I have no doubt similar investigations now would produce the same result. For instance, there was a splendid organisation for food. It will be remembered that when we had to have rationing, the schemes were prepared and ready. There was also an excellent arrangement for raw materials, and we found that practically every raw material we thought was scarce had been covered in some form or other. But there were ghastly omissions. We found, for example, that it was impossible to clothe the Territorials at their annual camp in August, and we had to suggest that there should be a clothing controller. A gentleman named Sir Frederick Marquis, who may have been heard of in other connections, was put in charge, and the Territorial Army was clothed for the August camp, with the exception of one Scottish regiment which had no trousers. I think they thought they were going to get kilts, but Sir Frederick Marquis was only asked to provide trousers.
Then there was the question of tanks. I had something to do with this, and I can assure the House that in the few months of investigation that we had it was impossible to get that job put right. Some of my hon. Friends will remember that, right through the war, we never got that job really right because we had not started in time. We were trying to overtake an enemy who had started and developed long before us. This time we are in a better position in many ways. In 1939 we had no engines for the tanks; we had to put in two lorry engines because we had not an engine big enough. As can be imagined, that complicated things. We had no guns either. One of the tanks that was in production when I went to the Ministry of Supply was armed only with a machine gun. The best we could put on were two-pounders; and it took years before we could get the suspension and the armour to take a big gun. We are a little better off now than we were then. We have got a good engine. The engine we did get last time was a revised aero engine, which is now in production. The question worrying us is: Can they make the number required? Again I have no inside information. Perhaps the Minister of Supply will tell us. I know of only one factory making this engine, and if they get their full increase, they will not, in my view, produce anything like enough engines. One factory, to my knowledge, is making modern tanks, but the quantity I understand the Army will want is very much greater than the capacity of any one factory.
If time were on our side, we could no doubt go on with development and build and equip new factories. But several years will be needed to do that. I do not think I am exaggerating, because one of the jobs I did in the last war, after the war had been on a year or so, was to get the Army fitted up with, among other things, rifles. A year after Dunkirk, scarcely a rifle was being made in this country—perhaps a few hundred a month. We lost practically all our rifles at Dunkirk and borrowed from the Americans. It took us two years to get the new factories equipped and rifles made. In the present situation it is no good saying that we shall expand and build. That cannot be done quickly enough.
Today we are short of electric power. Why? Because we had to switch over from making the equipment for the power stations and put those factories on to the job of making tanks and guns, and we are today paying the price, and we shall go on paying. If we are to have, as we need, rapid expansion, we must turn to the heavy engineering industries for these things and to the electrical industries, as we did last time, for radar and such like. There is no need to panic, or to say that we have to close down present production, or anything of that sort, because the demand will take time to work out. My point is that we must have the plans made now; we must now, step by step, get it going and work it up. In the last war we had to do it against time with the enemy on the Channel coast. This time we have a little more time, we hope. We must make our plans now so that we can expand in an orderly manner.
I have no doubt that the factories exist for making aeroplanes, and that the Ministry of Supply are in touch with the Society of British Aircraft Constructors in the makng of airframes. Last time we found that it was easier to make airframes than to make engines. What about engines this time? We have a new type of engine now. The reason I mention this is to help the Minister of Defence, because I know that people are saying "What you want to do is to go back to the old shadow factories and put them on to the production of engines." Today the jet engine is a totally different thing from the piston engine made in those factories before. Also, those factories have been turned over to civilian and other production, and it would take years to convert them. It is no good relying upon the shadow factories.
My own idea, for what it is worth, is that we should use our engine makers. There are today in this country people who understand jet engine making who are still, in my view, ahead of anyone else in the world in the way in which they handle these problems, because of the way in which the work has been coordinated—and a great deal of the credit for that goes to the Ministry of Supply and their Committees. The only way I can suggest is to use these engine makers, encourage them to go ahead, and get them to, as it were, godfather the whole production round the country and control the sub-contractors. We ought to be able to get the jet engines as fast as we need them, but it would take two years to build and equip new factories de novo.
There is running through military circles the admirable idea of standardising all our front-line equipment. I have spent my life trying to get standardisation in the motor industry, and it has been a hard job. I believe that we have made some progress in standardisation, but I am certain that in the time available we cannot standardise and re-equip the Army when we are talking about having so many divisions in the next few months, or the next year or so. It is a long programme. Let us go ahead with it, but at the same time let us use the existing factories and the existing production. Again, time is not on our side. We must use the existing models. We can do so, and there are many of them.
While the Army and the authorities are developing something special, let them look at what is already there. I could give details, but I am not going to do so here—I will talk about these things privately—because I am now speaking in a general sense. It is no good worshipping any ideal scheme. In business or national affairs we shall never get an ideal scheme. We have to be prepared, when we have surveyed the problems, to have the second best in schemes rather than to talk about the best and not get it. All this means sacrifice; that is the point to which I am leading. The Prime Minister said so, but the Prime Minister has to be guarded in what he says. I can say what I like, and I am only taken to task by my colleagues here or hauled over the coals by my industrial friends.
I maintain that this is going to mean very great sacrifices—not little ones. The Minister of State for Economic Affairs confirmed this, but, there again, he had to be guarded. We have to make sacrifices, and they are going to be very great—and not only financial. We are, all of us, going to be the poorer. One cannot wage a war or get ready for a war without it costing money. These sacrifices come down to everyone in the nation; everyone has to play his part. I agree that we should let those who can carry the biggest burden carry it. But it is not only money—labour is involved. I agree with the idea of taking all we possibly can to the development areas, but when we have done that, we shall not have solved the problem.
We are not in the position that we were in during the 1930's. We have not a large amount of surplus space, and we have not a large amount of surplus labour. We are already strained to our utmost to keep our economy going. In many cases the only way of getting what we want will be to expand on the spot. That will involve some terrible problems in labour. I was glad to hear an hon. Lady opposite suggest that now is the time to think about hostels and housing before we move the workers. Let the Government get ready for it. The hon. Member for Coventry, East, knows that in Coventry they want more labour. We want more labour in Birmingham; but we have not the houses or the workers. We could do much more if we had the men and women and the houses. If we are to have these things, let us plan them now. No one wants to leave his home to go somewhere else, but we may all have to do so. I am not up here because I do not like my home; I would much sooner be in the garden.
We are going to have an acute shortage of consumer goods in certain directions. People will not like it. They are already calling out. If we are to meet the Army's requirements, we shall have to go short in other directions. I am terribly frightened that, in spite of all that we can do and in spite of increased production, we shall not have enough of all the things that we need to send overseas and in that case we shall go short of imports. I hope to God that we can avoid a war, with all the sacrifices that it implies.
My friends in the textile world have said to me: "I hope you will mention the question of clothing." The textile people say that they do not know how they are going to clothe all these extra men. We shall have to make our suits last a little longer. We are just getting used to the idea of not having to apologise for the shine on our clothes, but we shall have to go back to doing with fewer clothes now that the Army need them. The boot and shoe people are also worried, and we may have to go short of these and other things. It is going to mean sacrifice.
I should like to give the Government the same advice as I gave to Mr. Chamberlain, that there is a vast amount of experience at the disposal of the authorities. Industry and those associated with it are only too anxious to help in a national emergency; but do not throw it at them that they do it solely for profit, because that is not true. I have heard hon. Members opposite say: "No wonder the steel people"—but perhaps I had better not mention steel today—" want to increase production; they want more profits." But surely they realise that the steel industry is stretched to the utmost and does not want to be upset or to stop what it is doing in order to do something else. This is going to mean less profit. There may be inflation and everything will go up in price; everyone will be worse off in the long run. Let us try to avoid inflation.
When people come forward to help, do not say that they are just trying to make a bit, and that every industrialist would sell his soul for extra profit. I know some men who want a bit of leisure; I feel like that myself sometimes. They are not trying to make something out of the nation; they are trying to help the nation. Industry is willing to do this, and there is a vast body of willing helpers among all sections of the people of this country. All they ask is leadership. They have to be told what is happening and given the full facts. According to the information which I read, the need is very great and the time is very short. Anything that industry can do to help the Government, I can pledge that they will do, if only they are given the opportunity.
I am sure that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett) will not expect me to try to follow him into the very interesting mass of industrial and production considerations to which he has treated the House. That, I think, is more a matter for the Minister of Supply to deal with. I want, however, to comment on one point, which may have struck others, as it struck me, as having been said rather rashly, and which might give a misleading impression. The hon. Gentleman suggested that the reason why the country is now short of electric power is because the power stations were raided during the last war in order to provide armaments. That cannot be correct, because the country is now producing much more power than any of the existing power stations at the beginning of, or at any time during, the war. I am sure that he must have made some kind of slip in his statement on that matter.
I should like to turn to what I think is one of the vital points for consideration in this Debate, and which was dealt with fairly thoroughly, but, I think, rather unfortunately, by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). I refer to the question of whether or not, and if so, to what degree, Germany should make a contribution towards the defence of Western civilisation. The reason why I want to intervene on this matter particularly today is because I have been extremely disturbed by the fact that whereas many people on both sides of the House and in all countries have been discussing this question, they seem to have overlooked the fundamental point, to which attention was drawn by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Mr. Boothby). It is when we are discussing this question we have to consider not how much we are going either to permit, or even instruct, the Germans to do, but how much the Germans are prepared to do themselves.
We have to recognise that on this special recall of Parliament, the Government cannot bring before the country a programme of re-armament or of preparation for national or collective defence without first of all testing and ascertaining the degree of support in the country for what we propose to do, and testing that by open Debate between the various parties in the House of Commons. Neither can Western Germany, or any other democratic Government, decide that they will lead their country into any expenditure of this kind, or sacrifices of this kind, until they have the same opportunity. Until now, these opportunities have been denied to the Western German Government, and, so far as I have heard up to this moment, there has been no suggestion from any side that opportunities for this kind of democratic test should be provided for them.
The noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) issued a direct challenge yesterday to whoever dealt with the German question from this side of the House. He wanted an answer to the question of what moral right we have, when we cannot defend Germany ourselves, to refuse to allow Germans to obtain arms. I gladly accept the challenge, and reply that I think we have no right at all. If we are saying to the Germans that their place is with Western civilisation, that they should make some contribution towards the defence of Western civilisation to which they belong, we have no moral right to deny to them the opportunity of making that contribution, particularly when we are not in a position to guarantee them that security ourselves.
If that is accepted, then I suggest it is high time that the whole of the policy which has been applied to the German problem, not only by this country but by our partners—it has not been a unilateral policy, which is an important fact to bear in mind—should be immediately reviewed and, as far as possible, entirely scrapped. Why is this question of Western European weakness raised at all? Why is Western Europe weak? Western Europe is weak as a result of a world war, for which, I admit, Nazi Germany was responsible. She is weak because of six years of war and destruction, and the necessity to rebuild her economy as speedily and as rapidly as possible. It is universally recognised that the greatest single factor in European economy and prosperity is the great potentialities of Germany.
From the beginning of 1945, the policy that has been applied to Germany has been the policy that was laid down by the Potsdam Agreement. I have no particular objection to the basic principles of the Potsdam Agreement, and I have said so in the House before, when called upon to explain and defend what was a quadru-partite policy at that time. The basic principles of the Potsdam Agreement were that we should first of all secure the disarmament of Germany, which I think was generally agreed as necessary, secondly, the destruction and dispersal of all Nazi institutions and instruments of government, and, thirdly, that what even the Germans recognised to be a tremendous surplus of industrial potentiality created for war purposes should be used as far as possible to contribute towards the rebuilding of the other devastated parts of Europe.
With that programme I have no differences at all. It was not, unfortunately, the basic principles of Potsdam which were able to influence the implementation of the policy, but other factors which were quite external and quite apart from what most of us, I think, accepted as the real approach to the German problem. There was the overhang of the Morgenthau policy, the traces of which are still to be found, even in the modified policy now applied to Germany. At the time that was understandable. We had just emerged from six years of war. France, Belgium and Holland had emerged from years of occupation, and there were tremendous fears in the minds of those people, as well as bitterness and hatred. That was the first factor. The second factor was Russian intransigence—Russian's long-term policy, as it has now been clearly exposed to be, of trying to bring the whole of Germany under her domination.
There was a third factor which I am sorry to mention here, but we might as well recognise it and that is our Foreign Secretary's obsession with the fact that it was not Russia which was the menace to world peace but Germany, a philosophy or conviction which he expressed as recently as a few months ago. Recognising that, and recognising that even the Foreign Secretary must now surely accept, whatever he might think about the possibility of a future German aggression, that there is the glaring fact of the Russian menace at the present time which affects Germany as well as ourselves, we are entitled to hope that he will approach this problem on a somewhat different basis.
It was as a result of these factors that we had this completely indefensible policy of a long list of prohibitions and restrictions on German industries which were regarded as war potential industries, but which were, nevertheless, recognised as vital to any peace-time industry. Their banning or restriction could only retard—it has been said over and over again on both sides of the House in the last five years—the rebuilding of European economy, from the steel industry and the level of steel production to rubber, oil, clock and watch parts, down even not only to the banning of any merchant shipping activities but to the restrictions on building of fishing vessels of over 200 tons, thereby forcing the German fishing fleet, when Germany was on the point of starvation, to fish in the already overcrowded North Sea fishing grounds.
The argument was that if Germany were able to build larger boats she might one day find them useful auxiliaries for a German navy, although it must surely be clear that by the time Germany had a substantial navy, she would have been long out of our control and that these fishing vessels would not by then be of much importance. That was the philosophy and approach. It has been repeatedly said in the House, and it does not need much argument now, that the only effect of that policy could be to retard and not encourage the possibilities of bringing Western Germany or Germany as a whole into the family of Western democratic nations. I do not know what the hon. Member is saying.
I have referred to the fact that it has been said again and again in the House, but I would remind the hon. Member that we were, unfortunately, parties to a quadrupartite agreement. Recognising that the tendencies which were influencing the policy of Potsdam were detrimental and deleterious, not only to Germany, but to Europe, surely, as parties to that agreement, our duty and responsibility was to seek to get the most liberal interpretation of the policy and its implementation, and as far as possible to secure modifications, which is precisely what the Government did.
No doubt the Government tried to ensure its modification with Russian agreement, but surely the point was that the Russians never observed the Agreement from the word "go," particularly in regard to Germany being treated as one economic whole? Therefore, I could not see why we were bound to that Agreement.
I was going to deal with that point. Our responsibility was surely to try to get the most liberal implementation of that policy, and as far as possible, its modification. That is precisely what happened, so much so that when the question of the level of industry was being considered—and from it flowed the question of reparations and everything else—while the other parties, Russia, France and America, were trying to retain the German steel capacity at 5½ million tons, or less, this Government insisted that no less than 11½ tons were necessary for German peace-time purposes. They insisted on that so much that eventually the Potsdam Agreement broke down; the quadrupartite control ceased in Berlin, but immediately the other parties came back asking that negotiations should be re-opened, agreeing to our 11½ million tons—in fact, the Russians went further and asked for more.
That was the kind of policy that was in existence, and that was the kind of approach that was sometimes made by the British Government, though, unfortunately, not always. It is the kind of approach, incidentally, that saved the Ruhr for Germany, because there was no question at all—and Germany and the world should know this—that whatever may be the disadvantages of the Ruhr Control Authority, it was the only alternative to the separation of the Ruhr from Germany, not at the behest of the British Government but at the behest of the other Governments. It is to the credit of the British Government that the Ruhr Control Authority was established as an alternative. There were other things such as the separation of the Saar and so on, over which we could have no control, and in respect of which the most we could do was to try to safeguard the principle in anticipation of the ultimate peace treaty, which has been done.
The point I am trying to make is that with all this pressure and influence upon the original Potsdam Agreement, what we have been doing consciously or unconsciously as a group—America, France and England, if hon. Members want to put it that way, or if they prefer it America, France, Russia and England—is encouraging the Communist Party and the most nationalistic and demagogic elements in Western Germany, and destroying all the prospects of democracy. We have certainly not been encouraging or assisting the Social Democrats. The question now arises whether we are to modify that policy, and whether we are to let Germany have an effective opportunity now of rebuilding her economy, and of making some effective contribution to Western defence.
How is it to be done? I suggest, again, that we are not going to get that cooperation and enthusiasm by simply making concessions when we are forced to do so by events. We have done so in regard to the fishing boats, and the merchant fleet, and we are doing it in regard to some of the prohibited and restricted industries and the gendarmerie. We are considering whether we should allow Germany to form some kind of army to sacrifice their lives and wealth in common defence. That is not the way to do it. I cannot see that kind of policy having any other effect upon Western Germany than to impress them with the fact that the more they demand and the more difficult they make themselves, the more concessions they will get.
It is time we realised that if we are to have Western Germany in the councils of democracy at Strasbourg, in the I.L.O., in the Marshall Plan and eventually, we hope, in the United Nations, we had better make up our minds what we are going to do and do it generously. Are we to allow Germany to come in not as some kind of pariah but as an equal partner? I know the question will be raised: Is it safe? Again, I put the point in reply—there is no assurance, whatever is done, that we shall be guaranteed permanent and ultimate security from anybody whom we now regard as an ally. I remember the "little gentlemen of the East" who were our allies in the 1914–18 war; we changed our minds about them later. History is full of such examples.
What we have to decide is where our interests lie and who have the most common interests with us. We have then to decide on a broad possible basis of unity and alliance with them. The question of what would happen if the Germans had some kind of an army, or if the Germans were part of some European army or an Atlantic force or a United Nations force was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. He said they would bring back the militarists and the general staff. May be, but there have been countries which have managed to build a new army with a new general staff. It may be that the Germans will bring back some of the old general staff. Then what will happen?
Let us assume that there was no Russian attack. There is the whole might of the Atlantic Pact and the fears of Russia and her satellites, and what could the German general staff do against this mighty force ranged against them? Take the alternative. Suppose there was a Russian attack on Germany. What then? Would there be any assurance of help from a German army or from the Germans as individuals if we maintained them in a condition of subjection, and prevent them from having any opportunity of taking any sides at all once their land or part of their land had been overrun by the Russians. In that event is it to be assumed for a moment that they would be left very long by the Russians without arms, or instructions how to use those arms? Would it not be infinitely better that they should be invited to take part in the defence of Western Germany, to advance and, even, if necessary, roll back with the Western forces, retaining their arms and their commitment to liberate their country from the forces which have overrun it?
We know what happened in the satellite countries. Neutralised people were swept up by Russia into the Russian camp, and were used to build up Russian divisions. The same thing would happen in Germany, and if it is a gamble I say let us have no hesitation in coming down on the side of negotiating with Western Germany now, asking her how much she is prepared to do, giving her an opportunity of consulting her people, asking them how much they will allow their Government to do, and getting her to commit herself to the side to which she rightly belongs—the side of Western civilisation.
As I have said, there are risks. Reference has been made to opinion in France. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, made reference to the fact that Russia, too, has a lot of Slav allies, who no more like the idea of arming the Germans than we do. Does it matter two hoots what the Russian Slav allies think about arming the Germans? If it were the Russians who were proposing such a step, what opportunities would those Slav allies have of protesting against anything of the kind? My hon. Friend knows very well that that argument has no value whatever. So far as France, Belgium and other Western countries are concerned, has my hon. Friend overlooked entirely the fact that within the last 12 months, particularly the last six months, there has been a complete revolution of opinion in France and in these other countries in regard to this?
So far from being retarded, there is wider recognition of the need of greater freedom for Western Germany. The French, the Belgians and others are setting about building up Franco-German unity both in the industrial and economic field. There is no reason to believe that they would not be prepared to consider further unity in other fields as well. I am not saying that we should say to the German Government, "You can go on now and organise an army, air force and navy." Nor am I suggesting that we say.
"You must be neutral." My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, suggested that we should tell the Germans that they should remain neutral. I am not suggesting that they should do anything of the kind. What I am suggesting is what has been put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeenshire, East, that it is not our business to tell the Germans any longer what to do in these matters.
We have sought in the last five years to build up German democracy, and we have secured local governments, Länder and now a Western German Government. What I am saying is we should tell that Western German Government that we recognise that they are faced with the danger which is common to all of us; that it is for them to make up their minds, having consulted their people, who put them into power, whether or not they are prepared to make a contribution to their own defence; and if they are so prepared to decide for themselves what contribution are they going to make.
If the Western German Government says—as I have been told they will say—that they do not want to be mixed up in any more wars because they have had enough and they do not like it, and that, therefore, they do not want to be re-armed, there is no alternative but to accept that, because we cannot force them to arm and fight for us unless we adopt the totalitarian methods adopted by the Russians. I think that that can be ruled out as a consideration. There should be no question of our telling them what form of contribution it is to be, whether a gendarmerie of this size or that, or a fully fledged army, navy and air force, or ground forces such as have been suggested in America, or a new or an old general staff. If we mean what we have said in Germany, that we wish to assist them to build up democratic institutions, it is now, when the testing time has arrived, for them to decide what they are prepared to do, and it is for us to make it possible for them to come to the decision.
At present, what we ought to do, although it may not be possible and there may be complications, is to invite the German Government to go to Washington and discuss these things with the representatives who are there now. There may be complications in regard to their coming into the Atlantic Pact. I do not forget, however, that when I asked my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary only a few months ago, whether he was prepared to allow Germany to come into the Marshall Plan, he answered that nothing would be more calculated to destroy the Marshall Plan than any such suggestion; yet within a month they were in. My right hon. Friend might consider how far it is really impossible to invite Germany to participate in these matters, which affect not only her future and security, but ours as well.
If we cannot invite them to Washington, let us at least make it clear to them that we would like to hear from them and would like them to make proposals outlining their plan. If we found it so monstrous and preposterous a plan that we could not possibly accept it, we should have to consider whether we were to maintain, or try to maintain, the controls and the restrictions that have so far bedevilled our German policy. If it is a practical plan that can be fitted into Western defence we shall have come much nearer to the solution of our German problem, to which many people have already addressed their minds, but to which I have not yet heard what I consider to be a satisfactory answer. It is the problem of the place of Germany in the present world situation. I suggest that the solution which would be recognised by all of us as most fitting is the recognition now that Western Germany's place should be on the side of Western civilisation, to which she undoubtedly belongs.
First, as a point of order, may I ask whether the blinds on the upper windows might be shifted?
The House has almost gone back, on this occasion, to the old-fashioned procedure when Bills or changes of policy of first-rate importance were founded upon Resolutions. The Motion that we have before us today, with its reference both to the two White Papers and to the draft amendment of the conscription Acts, is very much like the old-fashioned procedure of passing a Resolution and then introducing a Bill on the basis of that Resolution a day or two later. I hope I may be forgiven, therefore, if I begin my speech with what might seem to be a small point on so great an occasion. It is about the way in which the conscription Bill is being introduced and the way in which, in my judgment, it would better have been introduced.
I wish to suggest to the House that conscription is not the same sort of thing whether it is only for six months or for six years. You do not simply have more conscription by lengthening the period. The nature and the quality of the tax upon the individual, and of the loss to the State by the withdrawal of individuals from civil life, is altered, and not merely the amount of it, when we shift our conscription period from 12 months to 18 months or from 18 months to 24 months, or whatever it may be. I hope I make my meaning plain so far.
Therefore, I really think it was the duty of the Government to reintroduce the whole of the conscription legislation in order that the whole matter might have been considered in all its details. I have never met anybody who thinks that this matter has been very well managed throughout the last three years. I do not say that that is wholly the Government's fault, but it seems plain that the House of Commons ought to have had an opportunity of debating the whole thing and not merely of debating a Bill which amends by saying "For 18 read 24, and leave everything else as it is."
What I have been saying strengthens very much indeed the argument that the House ought to have been recalled sooner. If it is true that for the National Defence it is necessary that we should have 24 months' conscription by next Tuesday, it must be quite plain that we ought to have had the House called soon enough for the whole policy, and for the whole statutory regulation of conscription, to have been discussed. That is a comparatively small point.
There is another comparatively small point about which I want to say something before I come to the main topic of my speech tonight. It is the question of Communists in our midst. Surely the danger that arises from Communists inside a country depends almost wholly upon the climate of opinion in that country. It is really impossible to legislate confidently against disguised Communists. None of us would desire that everybody suspected of Communism should be put into a concentration camp, although conceivably in the heat of war that might be necessary; but the real chance of ensuring the safety of our country against Communists from inside depends very largely upon the climate of opinion here.
I venture to suggest to the House, and more especially to the Treasury Bench, that a very heavy duty lies upon all of us to make plain what rights we think Communists have in a human society. I put it very shortly, because I do not think this is matter for full discussion today. For what my view is worth, I would say that Communists have really no rights inside a society which reasonably regards them as dangerous, and that men who, like Communists, avow themselves to hold not only a view of the world which dispenses them from all moral obligations but also to belong to a party which has allegiances outside and above the country, cannot have the right to claim that the ordinary rules shall always be preserved in their case.
It may well be tactically right to stick to the ordinary rules in the case of Communists, but we ought to make plain to ourselves whether we do or do not think that is what we are morally bound to do, and then to make it plain to our countrymen that we decide that we are under no moral or constitutional obligation to continue to treat Communists as if they were inside the rules of the game; even though, so far and on the whole, it has been best to treat them as if they were. We ought to make it plain that that treatment is ex gratia and is not because of any right that the Communists have.
No, I have not suggested that. I thought I was making my meaning plain. I now wish to pass to the next part of my speech, which is about recrimination.
We have been begged to have party unity, in the matter of National Defence. I am sure we should all desire to have the maximum of party unity. We have been told that recrimination is no good; but recrimination is, I think, sometimes useful and sometimes inevitable. If I might adapt a definition used by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition during the war—I have forgotten exactly what he said—I would say that recrimination is useful in so far as it helps, if not to avoid, at least to observe past errors. [Interruption.] There has been a good deal of recrimination against the Tory Party. I could hardly find myself outdone in denunciation of the Tory Party were it not that every other party seems to me to be slightly worse.
But at the moment I wish to recriminate against the party opposite. I had rather intended to try to answer the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) but it is rather a long while ago now and he answered himself so often and on sc many different planes that he succeeded in rotating simultaneously on a horizontal and on a vertical axis, and I hardly think it is worth going back to him at length. However, he said that we were charging the Government with the old charge of "too little and too late."
About "too little," I want to say only one thing. We still do not know exactly how long it is considered that the money now threatened or promised will take to spend. In July we had no indication of that, and really it is quite meaningless to say that we mean to spend an extra £100 million unless we indicate by what date this is to be done, and when we may expect to have the armaments. It is like the old nursery joke "How long is a piece of string?" That was all we got in July. Even now we have not had it very clearly indicated to us, and I wonder if it is too late to hope that it may be more clearly indicated to us by what period it is expected that the sums which have been mentioned shall be usefully spent. If we are to argue the matter on the basis selected by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, whether or not this is too little, it is only fair to the House that it should have that information.
Now, on the question of "too late." Why are we doing this now? Does anybody know why we are doing this now?
I think I can, but what is much more curious is that the Foreign
Secretary, with whom hon. Gentlemen opposite have better opportunities of consulting than I have, and whose language they may perhaps interpret more easily than I can, could apparently have told them that this necessity—[Interruption.] If hon. Members will wait a moment I will read it to them and then they can tell me what it means. The Foreign Secretary has known about this all along. He told the people in New York that "he did not think conditions in the world"—this is the language to which I was referring—" were any more acute than they were 18 months ago." So why is it that we now have this special Sitting and have to spend these special sums of money?
Conditions are in sharper focus now "—
and people are more conscious of them.
But whose business was it to make people conscious of them any time these five years?
The Minister of Defence told us in July that this Government had three objectives when it came into office. I wonder if he remembers what they were. One was the switch-over from war to peace. Have we done that yet? The right hon. Gentleman does not look very happy. Next, to achieve economic recovery. Have we done that yet?
That is very interesting. Even now the Minister of Defence thinks that to say that, five years after the greatest strategic success in all history, we have achieved the social service proposals, is enough. When he talked of the three objectives of his Government he said nothing about Defence. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot any longer go on with the line that it did not matter how much they spent in money, labour, materials and attention on then-party programme—whether it was perfectly good or perfectly bad—that it did not affect our external situation or our capacity to be strong abroad. They used that over and over again in 1946 and 1947 but they had completely to abandon it at the time of devaluation.
I shall not have much time to reply to some of these questions tonight, so perhaps I might point out what I said. Perhaps the hon. Member will read it carefully. It is in HANSARD. I said that in 1945, immediately after our return to power and in the immediate post-war situation, we sought those objectives and, therefore, no one expected us to say anything about Defence. Not even the Conservative Party expected us to do so, and certainly they said nothing about Defence in the General Election of 1945.
I cannot speak for the whole Conservative Party but I will say—I did not make speeches in 1945—that in my Election address I certainly stressed this. If the right hon. Gentleman studies me as carefully as I study him, he will read the Nottingham newspapers and he will find that I never made a speech in the General Election this year in which I did not stress this point. This stuff about no one in 1945 being able to see the dangers coming will not do. There were people who saw the dangers coming. One of them was the present Foreign Secretary. He has said so more than once. He said in 1948:
The right hon. Gentleman was nearer to accuracy when he said that throughout the whole of South East Asia there is a Commiform and Communist plan to eliminate from that territory every Western association of trade and of everything else.
It is all very well for the hon. Gentleman to say that we have discussed it for a year. I would remind him that this problem has been in existence ever since the Marxist-Leninist theory was adopted."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th September, 1948; Vol. 456, c. 91.]
So they did know that the problem was in existence in the year 1945. Here is another one:
Not only in Malaya, for if this policy of stirring up civil war as an instrument of policy goes on—I repeat, if it goes on—as it has gone on ever since the war closed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th September, 1948; Vol. 456, c. 96.]
In 1948 the Foreign Secretary knew that ever since the war closed the Bolsheviks had been pursuing a policy of stirring up civil war all over the world and in particular in the British Empire. It really will not do for the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to tell us now what we might perhaps otherwise have believed, but what in view of their chances of consulting the Foreign Secretary we cannot believe, that they were foolish enough in 1945 to think that National Defence was a matter that could be neglected for a considerable period. It cannot be true, and it is no use their telling us that it is true.
They go on telling the world that it is true in their new pamphlet "Preparation for an Eventual Election." They go on saying these things, but we cannot really any longer believe them. There is no argument against the charge of "too late."
There is another point about this question of getting agreement in all parties: that is the question of whether a war ought or ought not to be of advantage to a party. I do not know if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite think it ought. The hon. Gentleman from Coventry, East, certainly obviously thought that it ought. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Clearly he thought that anti-Socialism would have to be dropped if we had to defend our country. He said so in those terms. And he is not the only one who thinks there is a silver lining. I could quote many Labour pamphlets issued during the last war claiming that war was clamping all sorts of controls on us which we would never have accepted in peace-time, and how it would be the duty of Socialists to see that they were preserved afterwards. But I do not have to go back to wartime pamphlets, because this is the latest official document on Socialist policy, August 1950:
Prices have a habit of going up as a consequence of war. But this time "—
they mean, last time—
earnings have gone up still more, and today families can be sure of a regular pay packet each week.
[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Very well then, why not have another war? If, as a consequence of war, though prices go up, earnings go up still further, why not have another war? The argument is continually used and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite know it perfectly well.
I come to the last thing I want to say and I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite will like it any better than what I have said already—
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn), when he began his speech, complained of the light shining on him. Ever since then it has been flickering back and forth and, unfortunately, he disappears from our view even though we can hear him. Can the blinds be stabilised?
I come to the last point I want to make, and it is this. We have got now in the world at least three quite easily distinguishable sorts of war: the cold war, to which we have been long accustomed—and I may say that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in September, 1948, said that we had been long accustomed to the cold war, which is another confirmation of the "too late" argument. The cold war we have been long accustomed to, and I should hate to quote my own speeches—[Laughter.] Hon. Members are quite right, I do not either memorise or read them. [Laughter.] I may say this—
I may say this, that I have more than once suggested in this House that the most dangerous way to treat a cold war is to allow it to go on and refuse to participate in it. I think one of the most dangerous sorts of cold war is a cold war which one side fights and the other side does not fight. It was not completely and obviously imbecile to think in 1945 or 1946 that that was the right thing to do; that the best thing to do with a cold war was to leave it alone, not to take part in it. And many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and some on this side of the House, took that view. But I ask any hon. Gentleman in the House, if he is candid, whether he can still think now that to let one side fight a cold war and not fight it back is not the grossest of all political errors. Is there general agreement that that must be a gross political error?
I think the Minister of Defence would probably admit it now. What happens if you do not fight back in a cold war? What happens if you do not fight back in a cold war is that the other side makes very considerable gains and you make very considerable losses actually, and much greater losses in prestige and potential.
That is what happens. Now hon. Gentlemen really must not laugh at me—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen really must not laugh at me for venturing to remind them that that doctrine was enunciated over and over again from this side of the House in the past when now it is accepted from the Treasury Bench.
No, I was going to spare the right hon. Gentleman the Berlin air-lift but, since he has reminded me, I wish he would look up and tell me the exact quotation because I could not find it and, therefore, I quote probably inaccurately. I remember the Foreign Secretary saying about the Berlin air-lift something to this effect, that if it went well, it would mean peace in Europe for generations. That is what I remember about the Berlin air-lift.
Nothing can be more obvious than that he was not right. My point about the cold war is that you must fight it back. The Berlin air-lift was not fighting the cold war back. I admit that for purposes of public debate this is a difficult argument, because the essence of a cold war is that you do not declare it, that you do not even, as much as you may have to in a hot war, allow your intentions to be obvious before you start on them, that your actual operations are, in the main, secret. That is the essence of a cold war, and therefore hon. Gentlemen opposite can very easily score off me by saying, "Well, how would you fight the cold war back?" It is quite obvious that I ought not to tell them even if I thought I knew. [Laughter.] I am quite prepared to tell them in private if they like. I am quite certain of this, that we could have fought the cold war back. If we had fought the cold war back in the last five years, among other things the Balkans would be now in the western sphere instead of in the eastern sphere. I have no doubt at all, none whatever.
And I say another thing far more controversial which almost everybody will disagree about. I think it is quite possible that, if the hot war does come, we may be all mistaken in thinking that Western Europe is what is going to matter most. I think it is quite possible that what might matter most would be the Dardanelles. I think it is quite possible that might turn out to be the case. Certainly, if it were a matter of positively defeating Bolshevism, the only place we could do it in would be the Black Sea. Accordingly we should have power enough to give confidence to Greece and Turkey. That we should have had, and, even now, I think we could get power enough to have Albania certainly—Yugoslavia I believe we could have—I have very little doubt about Bulgaria and Roumania.
These things could have been done if the cold war had been fought for the last five years instead of being laughed off by gentlemen, especially those not, perhaps, very much experienced in these matters. If the cold war had been fought back, I believe that our position now could be very much stronger. What happens if we do not fight a cold war is that we get a warm war, and now we are in that position and we are fighting the warm war.
I still beg the Treasury Bench to consider and to consult with its advisers whether, if we are to win this little bit of a warm war, as I have no doubt we are in time, but if we are to win it reasonably soon, whether that is not, so far from being a reason for returning to passivity in the cold war, still more of a reason for activity in the cold war. If what we want is time before the hot war—I am sure that it is—the longer the time before the hot war, the less likely the hot war is to come and the more certain we are to win it pretty quickly when it does come. On the whole, I believe that to be true, in spite of the atom bomb, for reasons into which I will not now go.
If time is what we want, then I beg hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider the possibility that they will get more time by fighting back the cold war than by pretending it is not there. And if we are to have moralism, which is the opposite of morality, and the damnation of man—and incidentally, I would beg the hon. Member for Coventry, East, if he were present, when he sets out to re-moralise Europe, not to tell them so beforehand, because people are apt to get into a rather antagonistic attitude if you tell them you are coming to re-moralise them. If we can get away from the moralisms which have bedevilled our foreign policy for 50 years, and try and look at simple morality instead, then I would say this also about the cold war: Does any hon. or right hon. Gentleman think that the hot war is going to be pushed more than to the edge of the stage, that it is going to be pushed right out of the dramatic possibilities, so long as so much of Europe is under the heel of Bolshevism, as it now is?
I do not believe anybody can really think that Europe is going to be stabilised, that there is going to be peace in our time, increasing prosperity, rising standards of living, so long as the whole of Eastern Europe is under the Bolshevik heel; and if people do not think that is going to happen, then not only is it, as I believe, strategically necessary to be active in the cold war, but, I believe it is moreover morally necessary that we should continue to hold out hope to those of our fellow creatures who are on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.
I agree with the general use of the terms which we heard from the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) when he advised us not to try to remoralise Europe, but I was reminded of the statement by Confucius that the first task of a statesman is to make his terms clear. Unless the terms are made clear, one cannot hope to establish justice at any period. Remoralising Europe is a very important issue. Whatever we may think about the detailed issues in the last five years, and whatever differences there may be between different parts of the House about that, there is no difference anywhere in the House that our being summoned together for a special Session of Parliament indicates our sense of the gravity of the world situation.
The situation today is a grave one for the world. The last five years have seen a complete transformation from one end of the world to the other. Our view of the complete change which has taken place does not matter; the change is a fact. When we fought the election in 1945, in which I was returned to the House, everyone, I think, irrespective of party, believed that, the war in Europe having come to an end, peace was going to be established. That was the hope, that peace would be established through the co-operation of three of the great Powers—the United States, Russia and ourselves. That was the hope of 1945.
I am trying to state what is a non-controversial fact. That was at least the general hope of the country and of the world. It is now only five years later, and this assembly of Parliament shows quite clearly that that hope has been dashed completely to pieces.
Turning to Asia, we find that in the meantime a great country like China has become a Communist country. In India, the two great Dominions of India and Pakistan have been set up. I am not commenting on whether this is right or wrong; I am commenting on the change. Broadly speaking, there are 400 million people in China and 400 million in India, and we now have, for the first time in the last 500 years, at least, those two great countries without any Western influence in the administration of either. Whatever is the effect of that change, there can be no doubt about its greatness. It will come also to the Middle East. I think it was the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who referred to the Middle East as the great danger point in the near future. In 1945, five years ago, there was our Mandate; our influence was there. It has disappeared, and there has been complete change throughout the whole of the Asiatic Continent. I have omitted Japan and the changes in Indonesia.
In the same period, the United States has become the dominant Power in the world and, what is much more serious to us—I am coming back to the question of morale—we have seen Europe, the smallest of the continents, the Continent which has led the world, which in 1945 was confident of its mission, whose sense of law and justice and whose standards of commercial integrity have dominated the world—both East and West have borrowed them—we have seen this Continent gradually contract during these five years and lose confidence in itself. Tonight, when we meet for this special assembly, the continent of Europe fears that it will become the battleground for two non-European Powers. That is a complete change in the outlook of the world.
Morale becomes important to that issue. I agree with one thing which the hon. Member for Coventry, East, said, that there is some doubt about the morale of Europe and of the country. That is a matter which becomes significant. Let me remind the House of an incident during the last war. After the fall of France and after Dunkirk, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made a speech at the Despatch Box. Hon. Members who were then present will remember the occasion, but I did not have the privilege of hearing the right hon. Gentleman making his famous speech about "fighting on the beaches." There was no rational warrant for that speech. The right hon. Gentleman could very easily have got up at the Box and made a totally different speech. He could have said, "France has fallen. Holland and Norway have fallen. One country after another in Europe has fallen. By the mercy of God, we have been able to extricate our men from Dunkirk. We have extricated them without weapons. Russia is not assisting us. She is not in the war, neither is the United States; we are standing alone. What have we to do?"
It would have been equally rational to have suggested "Nothing will withstand the might and power of Germany; let us make the best terms we can." He did not make that speech. The difference between the speech I am suggesting and the speech which he made was not a difference of rationality; it was a difference of spirit, of morale, and that difference of spirit has altered the whole material condition of this country tonight. That Government would not have had five years in office had he not made that speech, and made it successfully. One of the dangers I see in Europe tonight is that that spirit might be absent. Therefore, when we are discussing and applying conscription, it should be discussed and set into its framework as ancillary to the great mission. A sense of mission should be restored to Europe—a sense of its leading civilisation and its great spirit.
For the last five years we have been trying to patch. We first set up the United Nations; it has failed. We then tried separate alliances between ourselves and Russia, and with France and Russia. We then tried alliances in the West of Europe between the Western countries—not adequate. We sought then to build Western Union—not adequate. We went on to the Atlantic Pact—not adequate. We have gone on to the Council of Europe—not adequate.
That is our experience. Step by step we have abolished the balance of power, we have thrown overboard the mechanisms that the 19th century laboriously built in order to establish prosperity, and we have thought we could govern by the opinion of the hour. That is what is wrong in Europe. This country, above all, has a duty. This method of believing we can control society from a central government in a country or a central authority in a continent, gives no opportunity except to mass forces in some sort of religious crusade, which will damn the world.
This is our responsibility and, unless we restore this vision to Western Europe, we can have all the armies we want, but we will fail. I am not a pacifist. I believe in the use of force when force becomes necessary. I have never understood the pacifist doctrine. In this world every act, as I see it, is an act of force, an act taking place in the material word. But, make no mistake about this, the great ideas of the world have appeared in mufti. The disastrous ideas like Fascism. Nazism and the modern form of Communism have appeared in uniform.
I am sure that we shall all be grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris), whether we agree with everything he says or not, for having rescued the Debate from the speaker who preceded him, the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn).
The hon. Member showed, with all his usual impartiality and charm, the real contribution of the Conservative Party to keeping party controversy out of Debate at a very critical moment.
If it is still in order to do so, I want to look at the actual Motion that the House is asked to approve. We are asked to approve of a vast increase in our armament expenditure and an increase of the period of National Service from 18 months to 24 months. We are expressly asked, in the actual terms of the Motion, to look at those two propositions as a contribution to the maintenance of peace.
For five years the Government of this country has been carefully and successfully building up a new kind of society. It has been building up a society which has the courage and the determination to control all its material resources, produce as much as can be produced and share the result fairly among all those who contribute to its production and to show the world that that can be successfully done without the sacrifice of one jot or tittle of the political and civil liberty without whose maintenance mere material prosperity would not have been valued either here or in the world.
I take the view, and I think there are many on this side of the House who share it, that in proving that that new way of organising human affairs can work, this country was making its real contribution to the peace of the world and to its civilisation; and we had succeeded. For the first time for many years we had achieved an overall balance in our trade, for the first time we had made ourselves economically independent, for the first time we stood on our own feet paying our own way and—five years after all the sacrifices and destruction of the war— life for the great bulk of our people was easier, more secure, more dignified, than ever it had been in the whole history of our country.
No one denies that the measures we are now asked to approve make serious inroads upon that triumph and that at the very moment of having secured our economic independence we have to sacrifice it again. I am not saying that it is not necessary to do it; I am only saying at this stage that it is right that we should recognise at the beginning what it is we are asked to do, and against what background we are asked to do it, and what objectives it is suggested we are thus to achieve.
The hon. Member for Carlton, who has just left, asked one pertinent question. He asked why we were being asked to do this at this time. It seems clear that when we had our Defence Debate in July the Government had not these plans. The Minister of Defence, in his speech, said expressly of the extension of National Service that it had been carefully looked at and that the case for it had not been made out. Let it be recalled that that speech was made after and not before Korea. It is quite true that he announced an increase in armaments expenditure of £100 million. It is also fair to remember, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Economic Affairs pointed out yesterday, that there were passages in his speech that forecast further expenditure on rearmament.
From what has been said so far, however, I think it is quite clear that on the occasion of the Defence Debate in July, before we adjourned for the Summer Recess, there was not in the mind of the Government either the intention to increase the period of National Service or the intention to increase re-armament expenditure to anything like the extent which is now proposed. That is so clear that when challenged to say what had caused the change the Government quite frankly told the House, as one would have expected them to do, what, in fact, had caused the change. It was said that it was because the United States Government asked us what more we would be able to do if further financial assistance was forthcoming, and asked for an answer within ten days.
The Government take great pride, to which I think they are entitled, in having a specific and clear and detailed answer ready for despatch within those ten days. But, of course, they would not be entitled to take pride in that if the ideas had been there before, and the very pride they express in being so quick with their answer, is based on the assumption, which I am sure they wish us to accept, that until they were asked they had no intention whatever of increasing re-armament expenditure to the scale which is now proposed.
Does not my hon. Friend realise that what we could do alone without full knowledge of the immense help of our allies, is one thing, and that what we can do in co-operation with the effective power of the United States is quite another?
Of course. I thought that is what I was saying.
The point I am making is that in making their own dispositions, in reviewing the situation for themselves after Korea and after the deterioration in international relationships and in the increase in the intensity of at least the cold war which followed upon the Korean diversion, and in making their own analysis of the situation, the Government decided not to extend the period of National Service or to increase, except in a very modest fashion, the volume of commodities and services which were to be diverted from our ordinary civilian production to re-armament. Only when they were asked, "What would you do if assistance were given?" were these new plans made.
It seems, therefore, to follow beyond any real controversy that in recommending these two proposals to the House of Commons His Majesty's Government are not being guided solely by their own judgment and their own assessment of what the necessities of the case require. I am not complaining of that. [An HON. MEMBER: "Then what is the point?"] A speaker on this side of the House last night complained of it bitterly, and he has put down an Amendment to the Motion complaining of it bitterly. I do not complain of it. I think it is the natural consequence of the Atlantic Pact. One cannot enter into economic, military and political arrangements with one's allies and partners and still retain the right to exercise one's own private judgment. And if one of those allies happens to be the major ally, and happens to be paying the piper all the time, it seems to me idle to complain of his claim to call the tune; and we must all dance to it.
Once one has accepted the policy in international relations which is the policy of the Atlantic Pact, it becomes inevitable that if the senior partner, the partner bearing most of the burden, demands further efforts from one and offers to pay for it, one has not much option but to do what that partner wants. For that reason I do not propose to oppose the Government in the Motion which is before the House today.
What is the claim for these proposals in the narrow sphere of defence? My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) made a very remarkable speech. He always does.
I took the precaution of bringing into the House with me—do not be afraid, I do not propose to read any of it—the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings of 18th November, 1946, when my hon. Friend made an equally remarkable speech, but not quite on the same side. In his speech today, he told us what it was intended to achieve by these two proposals. He said, "Please do not imagine that this is an armaments race. It is not, because we could never catch up." I do not know that that makes it not a race, but then I was never an expert on racing; I am always left behind. He said that it is not a race because we could never catch up and that if we were to attempt to catch up it would ruin our economy, and if we ruined our economy we should make no effective contribution. I am in entire agreement with every word of that, but if it is not intended to catch up what is it intended to do?
My hon. Friend said that it is intended to provide for the possibility of something like the North Korean aggression in Korea happening in Europe. He admitted that we do not know whether anyone is thinking of it or not. He spoke with approval, as I certainly would, of the remarkable speech made yesterday by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), in which he said—and for my part I think he is right—that there is not really much reason to fear an armed military attack by the Russians in Western Europe. But, in case anybody was thinking of it, this was intended to deter them. I think it is not an unfair—I must not say parody—summing-up of his argument to say that these measures were intended to provide us with such forces as would enable us to win in any area in Europe in which the Russians did not fight. That is precisely what he said.
I do not want to be diverted into making too long a speech, because there are other hon. Members who want to speak, but I will say to my hon. Friend that his intervention really does not do him justice. The suggestion about North Korea—and I accept it—is that although it is, strictly, aggression by the North Koreans, it probably would not have been started, and certainly would not have been persisted in, but for Soviet help.
I think I should make clear that what I was trying to say was that other people besides the Russians might start war, or might start some local war in Europe or Asia; and if we have sufficient forces we may be able to prevent that happening in the first instance.
Not necessarily! If there is some other sphere of war I hope that at some time in this Debate we shall be told what it is. The only one that looms like a shadow of horror over the ordinary people in the world is some all-out totalitarian conflict in which all the world and all the resources of the world are involved, and in which, whatever side wins, there will be no civilisation as we know it, and love it and want it.
If it is intended to meet some other kind of localised little war, somewhere in Europe, I doubt whether anyone on this side of the House would think it worth while preparing to meet that. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Wyatt), does not mean that, and he knows that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, did not mean it either. What the hon. Member for Coventry, East, meant was that if there is war in Europe, any kind of local aggression inspired from elsewhere, we, by this method, would be able to warn the aggressors that it could not be cheaply done or without involving all their forces. But if their forces were all involved it is admitted that the proposals we are now making would be no remedy.
That, again, does not mean that these things should not be done. It might be that in some sort of way proposals of this kind may call some kind of halt to anyone contemplating world war. It may be so and I certainly would not wish to prevent the Government, or impede or obstruct them, if they think this is really worth while doing. Whatever my own private doubts and anxieties may be, I certainly would not oppose them in such an effort, and I do not propose to do so. All I am seeking to say to the House—and I think I carry with me all my hon. Friends—is that, by themselves, these proposals will not prevent a war. That is all I am saying. They will not prevent the kind of war which most of us, at any rate, wish to see prevented.
What is the lesson? I suggest that what is established beyond further controversy is that the foreign policy pursued for the past five years has hopelessly failed. I am not now seeking to say why or by whose fault. I know that the prevailing opinion is that it is entirely the fault of the Russians and I am quite certain that they have a large share of the responsibility and the blame. There are others who think that there is blame "elsewhere. There are some who think that everybody but the Russians is always right everywhere, in every question, at every time in every detail, and that the others are always wrong. I do not propose to examine any of those questions.
The Leader of the Opposition and his friends have throughout this Debate claimed the credit of what is called the Fulton and Missouri policy. They are entitled to the credit, such as it is, if they will accept the responsibility. What is quite clear is that that policy has failed. The proof of this failure is that five years after the end of what had been the most destructive war in all human history we seem to be on the eve of a struggle even more destructive than that. Friendship and understanding among the nations of the earth is not better now than it was five years ago. The chances of preserving peace today are not greater than they were before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) made his famous speech at Fulton in the spring of 1946. The organisation of the nations into some system of collective security is not nearer success now than it was then.
If it is the fault of somebody else, that is the answer. It is the easy answer which people have always given. The mote in the eye of the other fellow is always so much easier to see than the beam in one's own eye. I say that the policy has, in fact, failed, and even if the fault is on the other side and we do not share it at all that would be no reason for not recognising the failure of the policy now and trying to seek some new initiative and take some new initiative today.
I would begin—and I do not think that in anything I am saying I am differing in the least from the declared policy of the Government—by endeavouring to reconstruct the United Nations. One hon. Member opposite said today that it had failed. Well, it has failed so far, but are we to give up hope? Are not we to try again? It remains the only hope of peace in the world, this endeavour to organise collective security in some society of nations. We have no right to say, because it has failed and because of the situation in which we now find ourselves, that we will abandon the effort. If we abandon the effort we abandon civilisation.
I say begin again. Make a new start, even now. I rejoice that the Government are doing that by trying to bring the Government of China into the Security Council. In recognising the Government of China not merely de facto, but de jure they are taking a constructive step towards easing the international tension. They are making some kind of attempt to secure peace by collective security among freely co-operating nations. I would like them to do it a little more enthusiastically. I would like them to take more credit for what they are doing. I think that when they bring pressure to bear upon their partners in the Atlantic Pact there is no need always to do it in secret. Let our people know what they are doing, if it is right. There is no need to be ashamed of our efforts when our own people know and support what we are doing.
It is clear that we can have either the policy of the United Nations, the policy of collective security, or the policy of the Fulton speech. We cannot have both. We cannot assist this delicate and difficult effort to organise peace on the basis of collective security if we begin by saying that one nation is so vicious and evil that all the others must gang up against it from the start. I do not know whether Russian behaviour would have been any better but for the Fulton speech; possibly not, but if we declare to a nation that it is fundamentally evil, that it never does anything right, that it can never be trusted, and that the only possible policy that can be pursued towards it is a policy of encirclement, a policy of arming against it and leaving it to its own resources, we must not complain if it tries to push its own frontiers further and further away in order to maintain its own security.
The late Mr. Lloyd George once made a speech about Germany—in 1910 or 1912—on the subject of the encirclement of Germany. We cannot have a policy of encirclement and a policy of collective security at the same time. We cannot organise a family of nations on the basis that one is a permanent black sheep. So I say, "Persist with these efforts, get China back into the Security Council, where she ought to be; try to persuade our American allies that it is right and just and necessary, and, when the United States submits a dispute about an aeroplane to the Security Council, do not allow it to prevent the complainant from being heard."
It seems to me that, if there was a world war, there would be an end of democratic Socialism in the world. It has two enemies, one in the Kremlin and the other it Washington, and, whichever side won the world war, there would be nothing for our ideas of the future of humanity. That is perhaps a small thing, compared with all the other things that would be lost in such a conflict, but I would say to the Prime Minister and to my right hon. Friend on the Front Bench that this may be the last opportunity.
If nothing is done except increase our armaments and lengthen the term of our National Service, if we do that and nothing more, if we let the cold war drift on and make no effort to end it, then the end is inevitable war. It may be that war is inevitable anyhow. It may be that the new initiative which I would like the Government to take will fail in any case, but that is not any excuse for not taking it. It might come off, and even the most forlorn hope is better than no hope at all.
I think the Government have at this moment the opportunity of repeating in international affairs the triumphs which they have achieved in the domestic field in the last five years. They might not only enable this country, as it has done already, to save itself again by its own efforts, but they would help almost the whole world by their example and their encouragement.
While I enjoyed the last speaker's obsequies of Socialism and his apologia for a foreign policy which has failed, although he entirely agrees with it, and while I heard with admiration his interpretation of the speeches of his colleagues, I hope he may forgive me if I do not follow him on that theme, but merely discuss one or two humble points concerning the actual defence of our country which are largely nautical and aeronautical, these being subjects with which I have been concerned most of all and with which my own constituency is almost entirely concerned.
My constituency is a naval one, and it has throughout the years supported large dockyards and contributed, as it does at the moment, the highest percentage of Service electors of any constituency in the country, and nearly all of them in the Royal Navy. The Admiralty, I gather, is certainly not in the same jam for men as are the other Ministries, but I would like to know just how efficient is the outlook of the Admiralty at the moment in looking forward to the potentialities of submarine warfare. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Mac-millan) has already referred to this terrible menace, but I feel sure that the whole country does not yet appreciate the immense growth in degree of the menace which the submarine holds for us since the time of the last war.
We know, for instance, that the submarines possessed by Russia are approximately 10 or 12 times the number of those possessed by Germany at the outset of the last war, and yet the German submarines played havoc with us. Not only are they so much more numerous, but they are infinitely swifter. They now have the speed under water of one of our destroyers on the surface, while our anti-submarine forces have had to rely on very much slower and humbler craft that could never do that speed. It was the experience of some of us in the last war to be in convoys accompanied by formations of U-boats. These submarines on the surface kept out of gun range and cruised along until night, when they came in close to attack. If the escort vessels pursued them they turned away, only to follow the escort back to the convoy. Have we any hope that a proper supply of ships capable of keeping up with these new submarines, even submerged, is forthcoming? We have a large moth ball fleet of escort vessels, but they are all vessels of the last war which did not possess the speed of a submarine on the surface.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman allow me? There is not the slightest evidence that the Russians have any submarines with an underwater performance in excess of that of our escort vessels in the last war.
I must differ from the hon. Member opposite. I believe they have, and quite a lot of them. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are all in the Pacific."] They will come here if the Soviets want to use them on us. If we are to ignore the existence of these submarines by turning our backs upon them, that is not the way to defend our country; and it is my criticism, that this is the attitude which has very largely been adopted by the Government up to now.
What hope have we that the moth ball fleet of anti-submarine vessels will be capable of dealing with these very much larger and faster submarines? To what extent are we relying upon them or upon new vessels? To what extent are our old vessels going to be modernised? I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister of Defence could make some reference to this matter when he replies to this Debate. To what extent is new apparatus forthcoming? Can we have any assurance that any actual orders have been made? We have heard that they are to be made. Can we hope that the work is in train? I have had the privilege of setting foot on one of the vessels that is being converted so as to be faster, but, so far as I know, the numbers are terribly small. Can we be told if those numbers are going to be supplemented?
Another very important point in this submarine war refers to that Cinderella of all the Services, the Fleet Air Arm. It has had a dog's life ever since it was inaugurated. It has certainly been the Cinderella of the Navy, and of aviation, too. I think it was said in this House during the war that the pilot of an Air Force machine knew that he was in the fastest aircraft, with the finest organisation and build-up behind him, whereas the Fleet Air Arm pilot's morale was his own affair. Have we enough pilots for the Fleet Air Arm? They have only a short useful life in the Service; it is difficult to turn them into the chaps who walk the quarter deck with telescopes under their arms.
Can we be sure that a supply of short-term airmen is coming into the Navy? With that in view, would it not be better to increase the number of R.N.V.R. squadrons? There are a few of them; one gets into the picture papers every year when it goes to sea. Could we not have a score or more of these squadrons in order to have a lot of men who do not cost the country very much and whose enthusiasm makes them undertake free of charge, what other people need to be paid to do?
On the subject of the air, there is another matter which has caused me a great deal of anxiety. We have this worldwide war, in various degrees of heat, on a front that girdles the earth. At one point we have an outbreak of bloodshed and threatened outbreaks at others, and amongst those who may have the next priority is Tibet, but there is also the Middle East and its oil bearing deserts. Supposing the Soviet Union accepts the glittering prize, perhaps the richest in all the world, and one which might be obtained with the least possible exertion—these Middle Eastern oilfields—what prospects have we of beating back an attack?
Surely, what matters most is that before anybody gets there by train or boat, they will want to get there by air, and an Air Force will be wanted to beat back the attack. To what extent have preparations been made? I know that the desert is generally flat, but I wonder if there are any prepared aerodromes in the Middle East to guard, say, the oilfields of Kuweit. Are there any aerodromes available to enable heavy aircraft, with a great weight per wheel, or jet aircraft, to start flying in troops and beating back an attack? I should like to know what the answer is to that.
The only other question I have very much at heart is the fact that in this country we have a very large amount of aviation which has been struggling without any of the blessings of Governmental good will—to wit, the air charter companies. Every remunerative form of enterprise which exists is taken from them by the big corporations, the monopolies which the Government love so much. These charter companies are largely manned by ex-Service men who received their technical training in the Royal Air Force. We have no Transport Command. We have some assurance that we are going to have the use of charter aircraft for transporting our Air Force.
It may seem paradoxical that a highly mobile Air Force, such as we have seen flying past us today, should, with all its mobility, be difficult to transport. But it is clear that although the aircraft may fly with immense speed to their destination to start fighting, their ground troops, mechanics and supplies have to be taken there in a different manner. For that purpose we need a substantial amount of air transport.
May we not hope that the air charter companies, which are run by highly patriotic men and staffed, largely, by ex-Service men, will be incorporated as a sort of reserve in the Royal Air Force to provide not only the transport, but also the skilled mechanics which are hard to find for the maintenance of the civil aircraft needed in the reserves of our Air Force? Would it not be possible for the mechanics employed by the charter companies to do maintenance work in reserve or auxiliary squadrons?
Those are the problems which have struck me as being the most urgent in our defence situation, and until we have some measure of confidence in the conduct of our air and sea defences, I for one, and the people I represent, will still continue to be very uneasy in the face of these disturbing world conditions. May I be reassured on some of these points?
The hon. and gallant Member for Gosport and Fareham (Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett) has dealt mainly with technical matters with which I am not qualified to deal, and, therefore, I trust he will forgive me if I do not pursue the arguments he raised. I want to deal with a feature of the situation to which reference has been made on more than one occasion by hon. Members on both sides of the House—the question of morale at home, and how best, in the situation that exists, the Government can deal with the dangers of Fifth Column activity in this country.
Our country has many times been faced with the threat of aggression by a great Continental Power, but the present situation has a new and distinct feature in that the threat now comes from a Communist Power which is claiming to be the saviour of the oppressed and the downtrodden. Where can that Power's Fifth Column hope to find its adherents? On the assumption, which is now generally held, that it has very few adherents in this country today, where, none the less, if things become more critical, can that Fifth Column look for support over here? I suggest that, as Communism is the product of misery, poverty and despair, the two quarters in our community where the Fifth Column would hope to find adherents would be in the overcrowded houses and the slums of the country, and among the lowest paid groups of workers.
I believe that a Labour Government in particular, with its obligation to safeguard and advance the interests of the working-class of this country, should watch very carefully to ensure that standards of living are maintained at a level which will not give a Fifth Column any chance of success. Speaking as the Member for a division where there are overcrowding and intolerably bad housing conditions, and where there are great numbers of grossly underpaid workers, I have marvelled at the patience and courage with which these hardships have been borne. Communism has made virtually no headway as yet, and, in my view, the success which the Labour Government have had in retaining the support of the low paid workers and of the overcrowded families is a very important factor in defence. But the situation needs watching.
I ask the House to consider what is occurring. Under the proposals which this House is considering, at one fell swoop a Lieut.-Colonel gets a rise of £2 16s. a week. That is equivalent to more than half the basic wage of the vast majority of railwaymen in the country. A Second-Lieutenant gets a rise of £1 11s. 6d. a week, three times the amount of the wage-increase which the railway-men have been told emphatically that they cannot possibly expect. No matter what his party, let every hon. Member place himself in the position of these railway-men, whom I choose as an example because it happens I have great numbers of railwaymen in my division.
They have restrained the scale of their claims in answer to the Government's request, and they have received the smallest possible concessions from the Railways Executive. They realise the importance of their work for the country in defence, quite apart from other considerations. They hear, from both sides of the House, talk of equal burdens, and yet now they hear of these proposals. All I am suggesting is that though the danger is not present yet, potentially there may be a danger that the sense of unequal treatment and of grievance felt by the lower paid sections of the workers will have harmful effects upon morale and upon the resistance of our people to Communism.
Consider the case of overcrowded families, housed six and eight in a room, the health of the children and of the parents imperilled. There is fertile ground for the Fifth Column. There is fertile ground for the seed of Communism to be sown. They have waited for years in a priority category. Now they learn from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that, inevitably, the rearmament programme, to use his own words, is going to make some demand upon the building industry. That is an indication to them that this long wait which they have already experienced is likely to be prolonged further. I take the view, and it is my duty to express it—and I am thinking as I speak of the overcrowded families in my division—that the time will come soon when they will demand new measures.
One of the measures they will demand, especially if there is going to be a greater shortage of building materials because of the necessities of Defence, will be a total veto, in the worst affected areas and for a short period at least, upon all commercial building. By that I mean, not industrial building, but the building of shops, cinemas and construction of that kind. That is the kind of measure which these people require and have a right to require.
If one wanted to create Communism in the city of Liverpool—which I do not want and nobody in this House wants to see—the best way to do it is to take people out of the slums of Liverpool down to the centre of the city and to show them the vast construction of Lewis's stores with all the bricks, the plaster and the steel you want.
I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke), will accept that, at the present moment, I am not in the least desiring to make a party point at all. The Communist Party is not represented in this House, and this House is, therefore, unanimous in its desire to see that Communism makes no headway in the country. All I venture to suggest is that there are dangers we must beware of, and it is a vital factor in our defence policy to ensure that morale is preserved and that the Fifth Column receives no kind of encouragement nor makes any headway.
I have indicated the kind of new measure that the badly housed will want to see carried out, and on which I hope the Minister of Health will keep his eye. As to the lower-paid workers—the other category to which I referred—I would only say that they made a splendid response in 1948 to the White Paper when the Government set out the grounds upon which they must ask that the workers should restrain their claims for higher wages. They would make precisely the same understanding response if, once again, in the new situation which has developed, the Government published a White Paper setting out exactly how much or how little can be done to help the lower-paid and under-paid workers.
To resist aggression, wherever it lifts its head, is profoundly right. This is so, even if the victim is a Government we do not like. That does not affect the principle, and the people of this country have grasped this point. That is why our people are behind the forces of the United Nations in Korea. This Fifth Column of which I have spoken will make no headway if the Government does two things: first if it continues to demonstrate that it safeguards, and has at heart, the interests of the least fortunate citizens, and, secondly, if it makes clear that it has a plan for peace.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Blackburn), said yesterday that there was no plan for peace, but he is quite wrong. The plan is that, persuasion having failed, the United Nations should now demonstrate that they will meet aggression by force. The purpose is that would-be aggressors shall learn the lesson and that they will interpret this demonstration made by the United Nations as what it is—a demonstration of United Nations power to resist aggression, and that they will resort again to the conference table so that peace in the world may be maintained.
We have had a very interesting and rather extraordinary Debate today. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) spent nearly 15 minutes trying to explain what the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), had meant when he spoke, with the only result of proving once more that it is impossible to explain the inexplicable. The hon. Member for Coventry, East, was more of the flying saucer than usual. Now we have had a most extraordinary attack by the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) upon the Government. He attacked the housing policy of the Government and the Government's discrimination in pay in favour of the Forces.
I have the Floor. I think I should be allowed to make the accusation before it is replied to. The accused has a right to hear the case before he makes his defence. Listening to the hon. Member with great care, because I hoped very much to follow him, I heard him attack not only the Government's housing policy but the building programme and the way the Government are allowing stores to be built instead of houses—with much of which I agree; and I heard him say that the discrimination in pay in favour of the soldier against the railwaymen would cause trouble. There was another point, too.
I will give the hon. Member this warning. If he goes on in that way, then the only Independent, the hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Blackburn), this Robinson Crusoe, may find a Man Friday joining him.
I want to bring back unity to the House. I want to talk well of the Prime Minister and thus bring back unity. The Prime Minister is carrying a great load. Even if he is not a Titan, he does not pause as does the weary Titan. We all admire the spirit in which he leads a Government composed of incompetent Ministers. [Interruption.] That is a tactless interruption; I have tried to pay a tribute to the Prime Minister. I very much admire the spirit with which the Prime Minister carries his burden, and the worst of his burdens is not the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. That in itself would be a heavy enough burden for the Prime Minister to carry, with his incompetent colleagues on the Front Bench.
I want to deal with what I think is historically very important. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the difference between the situation in 1938 and 1939 and the situation today. I do not want to labour that point unduly but we have here, in the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), one of the authors of a book called "Guilty Men." I know of nobody better qualified to write a book with that title. Here is the situation, very briefly, as it was then and is now. Mr. Chamberlain, as leader of a National Government, supported by the Conservative Party, had the opposition of the Labour Party to all his rearmament measures. I do not want to disturb the honeymoon between our Front Bench and the Liberal Party, but their bewildered idealism was almost as bad. He had to face a France which was unwilling to come in at the time of Munich. He had America dedicated to complete isolationism. Those were the cards he had to play when he faced the challenge of Hitler. These are vital things and not matters of foreign policy; these are matters of life and death.
What is the situation today? We have a Socialist Prime Minister with a loyal Conservative Opposition ready to support him in everything—
I am talking about war. If the Prime Minister and the Socialist Government insist, as they are doing, on introducing and carrying through controversial Measures when they have had our support on these defence measures, then the Government will stand condemned in the eyes of the public. Contrast the position of Mr. Chamberlain with the position of the Prime Minister today. We have America financing and arming the Western allies. She has poured out her millions and billions. We have a loyal Opposition ready to back the Government in every vital measure. Yet, with all that, we find ourselves less prepared today to meet the menace than was the Chamberlain Government before the war.
The hon. Gentleman has asserted that we are militarily less prepared today than we were in 1939. Will he please tell me the number of effective divisions we had in 1939 and the number we have today?
The hon. Member is not going to dictate my speech. The hon. Member is now talking to somebody else, and his discourtesy to me is almost beyond belief. He is a most engaging conversationalist and the worst listener I have ever met in my life. If he can for one moment take his mind away from the next long speech he intends to make, I will answer the point he raised. The Government under Mr. Chamberlain put on to the water a fleet which had to do the work that five fleets and navies had done in the 1914–18 war, and they kept control of the seas. We put into the Battle of Britain an Air Force which won the greatest and most important battle of the war. Could that be done today? Could we keep control of the seas? Could our Air Force meet the Russian air force? The hon. Gentleman should not have made that frivolous interruption.
I simply say this of "Guilty Men": not all hon. Members opposite were here at the time, but the guilty men sat on the Socialist side. Neville Chamberlain stands today justified as he was never justified before. I was a "man of Munich"; I am still a "man of Munich"; and I say that the contemptible figures were those who blocked conscription and rearmament and realism up to the time when the Germans marched on Prague.
After that rather noisy piece of frolic. I want to say something in which, I hope, I shall carry some hon. Members with me. I think we badly need some clear and honest thinking on what lies ahead. I think we have somehow to consider whether there is a difference between Communism and Russian imperialism. I know it is a very difficult subject, the mere contemplation of which makes many men very angry; but I think we should remember that Greece, which under Metaxas was really a Fascist Government, came into the war against Fascist Germany and Fascist Italy and, as a result of the delaying process, may have saved Soviet Russia itself in the ultimate attack. I do not know how far we have seen today an exhibition of Tito's Communism. It is very important. Many of us doubted whether it was genuine, but it seems that Tito is permanently and irrevocably anti-Stalin and anti-Moscow. I am very unhappy about China. I am not certain that we are right in not allowing China to join the United Nations. As far as we can see ahead, I think we all agree that Russia does not want to wage a gigantic war against the Western world. She wants these satellite countries to do it.
I know that is the A B C of the situation but, in order to make my point. I think we have to go through it. Are we going to drive every satellite country into Moscow's arms because it has a Communist government? I personally detest Communism, but in some ways I welcome it. Without the challenge of Communism, which is more vital than Socialism, the capitalist system might have collapsed by its own defects, whereas, as a result of this challenge, capitalism has become coherent and realistic and is acquiring new strength. I believe in capitalism, but I deplore its defects and abuses; and we must be very careful in working out how far Communism can be detached from Russian imperialism.
I think we should be realistic in Korea and admit the truth: in Korea we are at war with Russian imperialism. We have every reason to believe—and there is ample proof—that the Russians armed the North Koreans and inspired and ordered them to attack, but I do not believe that that is the whole answer to the question. I do not believe that those troops of North Korea are fighting with such ferocity merely because they are under Russian orders. There is something missing—something we do not understand. The Koreans, all through their history, have been fighting for their freedom. I say this to the Government—and I think it should be said emphatically: there is a tendency, the moment the guns go into action, for everything else to stop. I see no reason why North Korea should not have been summoned to the United Nations to make her case. Suppose it to be sinister, all the better that she should make it before the bar of history. Suppose it is astute or cunning—suppose there is something in it, even—why should we not allow her to make it?
Are we really looking to psychological warfare, as we did against Germany? Are we saying to the North Koreans, "Stop this fighting. Lay down your arms. We promise unity for Korea"? How many people do we have to kill? Is it 10,000, 20,000, or 40,000? Or have we already reached the point of unconditional surrender? Have we? Who decides these things? Our boys are sent into action, and that is all we know. We read that we are destroying the industries of North Korea. If there is war there has to be total war, I agree; but at what point of arithmetic do we say, "Our task is ended." Will the killing of another 50,000 men make it easier? I repeat that the firing of the guns itself is not policy. It is an interruption of policy, and we should be very frank in demanding to know what we are about.
I want to turn for a minute to the subject of the Communist Party. I have already said that it looks as if Yugoslavia has simply made its Communist Party permanently against the Russians. I do not think the Poles are committed to the Russians. There must be great resentment in that country. I am not sure that Czechoslovakia is allied to Moscow. But what about our own Communist Party here? I want to say something that I think is, perhaps, better said by someone who is a journalist and who believes in the freedom of the Press.
If we are at war at the present moment against this advance attack of Russian imperialism in Korea, is it right that a newspaper in this country should advocate mutiny and sabotage against that effort? I would not stop the "Daily Worker" preaching Communism until it was black in the face, or denouncing capitalists and Socialists and Tories with equal venom, but have we any right to send young men to fight while a newspaper is advocating mutiny and sabotage? I think it is wrong and, much as I regret it, I think the Government ought to give a warning to the "Daily Worker" that it must not do this or it will be banned. I am sorry to say that I had to make the same suggestion in 1939. I was glad when the "Daily Worker" was given back its liberty. However, I find something terribly indecent, terribly revolting, in its columns these days. If we are at war with Russian imperialism, then this paper is an agent of that Power. I suggest to the Government that they should give this matter their consideration.
I believe profoundly that diplomacy must still work for a solution with Russia. Diplomacy has come to an end. Policy has come to an end. Nobody doubts the courage of my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) and nobody doubts his pugnacity behind that rather calm and chivalrous exterior, but he makes no question about it that he still believes that he can make a deal with Uncle Joe.
We should still try to make contact with Russia in spite of all this, because we have to live with the Russians in the world, and if we go to war they will still be here.
My final point is this. In the 1914 war we had the belligerent, courageous voice of Lloyd George and the idealistic voice of Woodrow Wilson, and those of us who were fighting in France in the British or Canadian Armies felt uplifted as soldiers by the speeches of Woodrow Wilson. He was giving expression to an idealism we felt, or wanted to feel, and gave some meaning to the wretched, rotten business of war. In the last war we had the voice of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, whose voice, whatever hon. Members may think, rang out across the world and kept the candles flickering in Europe, as perhaps no other man could have done. Now, we are at war again—in a war on a small scale. What voice inspires us? In America there are so many spokesmen. Here there is none. The Prime Minister put his case the other day courageously and firmly, but without magnetism and without imagination or words to stir.
I end as I began. I admire the courage and the spirit of the Prime Minister, but he cannot put into words what the people feel. I am grateful to the House for allowing me to say as much as I have. However, why do not the Government appoint men who can give voice to the country's mood? This country needs expression. The United Nations need expression. We cannot fight or go on fighting this dry, harsh war without inspiration. That is my last word, and I hope that the party opposite will not disagree with all that I have said.
I am quite sure that everyone in the House enjoyed the cheerful preliminary banter of the hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Baxter) before he embarked on more serious matters, and I hope that much of what he said in the latter portion of his speech met with the approval of everyone in this House. I am speaking with some temerity, for in my aggregate period of service in this House of nearly 18 years it is certainly very long since I even attempted to speak in a Debate of this kind. I do so tonight with the recognition that even a very odd minority point of view is, at least, listened to, although I do not expect it to receive more than quite superficial and limited support.
This evening I am speaking with some nervousness in my heart, because I know it is extremely difficult briefly to put a point of view, so as to be understood by those who are listening, and give adequate expression to what, I know, is a very unusual approach to the grave affairs that are before us now.
I confess to having been, and to still being, a personal pacifist. I do not say a political pacifist, but a personal pacifist I am as convinced as I ever was in that faith. I confess it is a philosophy and a faith which inspires my political services, and which determines my approach to the international problems of today. At the same time, I think that, ideally, if everyone could accept that faith it would be possible to resist even colossal systematised evils like Nazism or the fanatical intensity of Communism, and in the end, after great suffering and sacrifice, to win through. I know that is an act of faith, and that I cannot prove it, although there have been people in the world's history who have to some extent indicated and demonstrated the inherent truth of what I have said. Although I believe that, ideally, it is the path that one day we shall have to tread in order to overcome both individual and systematised evil, I recognise that that method is extremely difficult to implement, that it involves great discipline, great sacrifice and great endurance at least equal to any that is called for by war; and that frequently, even on the part of those of us who confess ourselves pacifists, either personal or political, all that it involves or implies is not always appreciated sufficiently.
I would, however, submit, that it is neither cowardice nor sentimentality that causes us to take up that position. The other day, in France, I was talking to a young man who, although a pacifist, was a member of the Norwegian Resistance movement. He was responsible during the war for printing some 10,000 copies of a weekly journal which was circulated throughout the whole of Norway. On one occasion he was discovered by the German police, and he described to me the sufferings imposed upon him before he was at last released. He is still as firm a pacifist as he was then. That man undertook the task of doing what he could to resist evil in his own country in his own way.
Similarly, no one would repudiate the claim of those who believe Mahatma Gandhi to have been a man of immense courage and determination. I do not altogether agree with some things that Mahatma Gandhi said and did, but I believe that in him we had a great moral challenge to our civilisation and to the world at the present time. He it was who said, quite explicitly, that he believed in non-violence; he would far sooner his own followers took up arms to overcome evil than that through cowardice they ran away. He did not take up arms himself, but surely none can deny the resolute power of his spirit and that his witness was a worthy one, and indeed an invaluable contribution, not merely to the liberation of India but also, I think, to the whole of mankind.
In the long course of history there have been many people and groups of people who have suffered for their faith, but whose very suffering and sometimes death has been the means by which that for which they died or suffered rose again in the end and triumphed. I believe that in the last resort hon. Members in all parts of the House recognise this truth and that if this country had been beaten in the last war, whatever our personal convictions may have been we should have been united spiritually to resist evil things, one person in one way and another in another way, in the hope that we would, in the end, liberate this country and mankind from the temporary triumph of evil.
I confess, also, to hoping that an increasing number of people in all lands will find an inner spiritual obligation to tread this "more excellent way." In saying that I am casting no reflection on the courage, intelligence or integrity of any member of the Armed Forces or any Member of His Majesty's Government. They, I am quite certain, are also in their own way making their own contribution to the freedom and the peace of the world. Having said that, I also recognise that pacifism in its political sense is perhaps politically unrealistic at the present time, precisely because the great majority of people either do not understand or sincerely and intelligently reject that pathway as being irrelevant or, on the other hand, as being impotent.
Therefore, looking at the matter objectively, recognising that the overwhelming majority of the people of this country are by no means pacifists and would not accept what may be the very awesome obligation arising from such pacifism, I recognise that the Government's decision is both logical and consistent in respect of the opinion of the mass of the people and also of the obligations incurred through the United Nations. Even so, I do not think that recognition of what may be a very wide divergence between some of us and other hon. Members should preclude us from at least joining together to issue a grave warning about the danger of increased preparation for war.
I appreciate and endorse a great deal of what some hon. Members have said about the necessity of recognising that something much more is required than the arbitrament of violence. After all, looking back through history we notice how again and again those who at one time were accepted as our firm and loyal friends became exactly the reverse in the course of time, which means that those who at one period were cherished as our allies ceased to be that and, in some strange malevolent way, became devils a little later. In other words, in the strange, mysterious passage of years masses of ordinary folk, who had little part to play in the ordering of their affairs, suddenly found themselves pushed from one field into an opposite one.
Some of us here take friends to the Royal Gallery at the rear of this building. When doing so we no doubt point out that interesting mural on the wall showing Blücher and Wellington shaking hands as allies after the battle of Waterloo, with the French victims on the ground. At that time France was our bitter enemy. The years passed and an entirely different picture can be seen. In the First World War, Russians, British, French, Japanese and Americans fought the Germans. In the Second World War, Russians, Americans, British and French, fought the Japanese and the Germans. If there is to be a third world war, as far as we can see we shall have Germans, Japanese, Americans, British and French lining up to fight the Russians, who were our allies in the last war. It is almost as if a continuous diabolical card game were being played, the cards being frequently re-shuffled and the end for all of us being a kind of general collective suicide.
It seems to me that there are many hon. Members who, from their standpoint quite naturally and rightly, have been considering the technique of approaching a possible war, but who fail to realise exactly what that involves. In saying that I do not mean that I am more sensitive to human suffering than anyone else. I know that is not true. I well remember giving silent assent to the passionate assertion of the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) when he said that those who had been through war realised what it was. I fully appreciate that. At the same time, I think we tend to forget that each war is not like the preceding one. Although war has no doubt played its part in the evolution of mankind it has now reached the stage when the accumulation of forces, the crescendo of violence is so great, so massive and so comprehensive as quite probably to destroy the very things which we set out to preserve.
Supposing this possible war does break upon us, can we be certain, after Europe is reduced to rubble, that Communism will be weaker than it is now? Is it not much more likely that after such horrible devastation Communism, which most, and possibly all, in this House dread, will grow stronger and fiercer than ever—and not because more people will be convinced, philosophically and ideologically, about the truth of Communism? Great masses of the Russians were behind the Bolshevist flag, and vast masses of Chinese now follow the Communist flag not because they have read about Karl Marx, or understand much about him, but because they are driven on by bitter experience. Communism provides a channel into which their released emotions can flow. I am glad to notice that not only President Truman but also many other Americans are, in their speeches, becoming aware of this behind the screen of their indignant bellicosity.
I am glad that the Prime Minister himself reminded the House, in these words, of the fact that, although in the view of the great majority violence may have to be employed, that is only an interval in the process of civilising the world. Said he:
Communism is a militant and imperialist creed held with fanaticism by its adherents. It is based on certain ideas. You cannot confute ideals with armed force. You can confute them with better ideas and by better action, and by showing in practice the superiority of the democratic way of life."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th September, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 955.]
May I, in further support of what I hope is accepted by most Members of this House, read a brief extract which I found in the "New York Herald-Tribune," which someone kindly sent me the other day to add to the hundred or so journals I receive weekly? In that I found this extract from a recent speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who cannot be accused of being akin in outlook to his colleague the Dean:
We who can see the black tyranny of its (Communism's) creed fully revealed naturally denounce it. But we must frankly realise that, in the Far East, it can easily be seen not as a tyranny but, at present, as a liberation. It does, indeed, offer in certain conditions, and bring about, a release from social evils, too long and unheedingly accepted.
These words by the Primate of the Church of England need to be carefully kept in mind. We may well believe, if we are that way inclined, that violence may be necessary; or we need not. But all can be agreed on this: the reason why so large a part of the world today is turning against democracy, or has not been induced to accept the democratic faith, is because Communism seems to offer, and in some cases has offered, a measure of security that was not enjoyed before.
In Asia and Africa there are millions of people, some of them already seduced by the Communist creed, but many still waiting, in India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma, as well as in Africa, and the time is rapidly approaching when in those areas we shall be put to the test. We say that we are prepared to sacrifice our lives for the sake of liberty. Are we prepared to sacrifice some of our comfort and wealth, our habits and traditions? There are some who would far sooner give up their lives than give up their habits. I put it to Members on both sides of this House that if we are to induce millions of Asiatic and African fellow human beings to turn to the democratic way of life, then we, for our part, must be prepared to extend to them, far more than we have done, our wealth, our service, our energy and our experience. Is it not well worth doing that? If we are not willing to do this it means that grave doubts will arise because our professions are not consistent with our practice.
In Korea we have the focus of that challenge. Behind the alleged aggression of the North against the South there is really a clash between the two ways of life, and I submit that the Koreans, at the present time are seriously asking themselves exactly what the liberation we offer them means. Their country is being devastated. The Koreans are seeing their relatively small share of the wealth of the world being destroyed. Their factories and their houses are being destroyed; their villages are being ravished.
These people are beginning to ask themselves whether it would not be better to remain, so to speak, enslaved, than to be liberated at such a cost. They ask themselves: What will happen when this war comes to an end? Are they to have their homes restored; are they to have offered to them compensation in any way commensurate with the sacrifices destruction imposed upon them and the bitterness, pain and suffering which they have endured? If they do not get an answer, I am afraid that instead of the United Nations winning that struggle for democracy the position will be even worse afterwards than it was before.
I do not believe that we are helpless creatures of capricious fate. I do not believe, in spite of my allusion to the picture in the Royal Gallery showing how ordinary human beings are changed from enemies to allies in a short time, that that is the whole story. Whatever our point of view may be, we must realise that our democracy and our alleged Christian civilisation will not win through by reliance upon violence or upon arms. Some may feel that that is necessary to withstand aggression, but I affirm looking beyond that, that the only way by which this way of life of ours can be saved is by men and women, in all parties and in all lands, uniting in their witness to the strength and power of the human spirit. We must do that not only in words but in deeds.
For that reason I hope that if we agree to the Government's regrettable measures, and take further steps to increase armaments, we shall not avoid the obligation of showing to the world that not only do we possess and believe in a better way of life but that we are determined constructively to apply it as well and to rely on that to release men from the bondage of evil things.
I respect the views expressed by the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen), but I do not agree with them, and I shall not therefore follow him along the path which he has invited us to follow. He suggested that a large part of the world had not been converted to democracy because it had not been convinced by the views of democracy. I suggest to him that a large part of the world has not been converted to democracy because it is afraid that it is going to be hit over the head by Communist Powers wielding a rubber truncheon, and it is because we intend that that rubber truncheon should not be wielded with any great effect that we are standing firmly behind the Government on this occasion.
I should like to refer, on the other hand, to the very amusing speech made by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). I found it only a little less difficult to understand than "existentialism.' There were one or two observations in his speech which, I think, were extremely illuminating. One governs the situation in which the Government finds itself today. It is that the Russian policy is not at this moment to provoke open aggression with Russia but to keep the democracies under a continuous pressure. Of course, he is right. That is the problem which I think, this Government faces at the moment. The problem is how to face that situation. I hope that I may not be accused of plagiarism if I take as my theme for the few observations which I have to make—and I will endeavour to keep within the hour—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—I shall only be following the example set by a large number of other speakers—" Let us face the future."
These measures which have been put forward have, I am sure, been put forward with the full realisation that they are emergency measures. I am in full agreement with Members on the other side who, for reasons different from mine, have emphasised the economic problem which is going to confront the country—the sacrifices that will have to be made. We have to decide that, while we are backing these proposals, we are backing them because we hope that eventually the situation will be handled in a different way.
The Minister of Defence, when he spoke in the last Defence Debate, said that the old concept had failed. That is true. We have had a good many recriminations, but I am not concerned with that aspect now. I want to know what is the new concept, not the new temporary concept. The new temporary concept is that we shall have a longer period of National Service and higher pay for the Forces. The point is that we cannot afford to allow that situation to obtain continuously, and therefore we must have a new concept. We have not heard in this Debate, although I hope we shall be told by the Minister of Defence when he speaks later, the measures that are being taken to make this new concept work.
This is not a nation that can afford large military forces or temporary armies for a long period of time. Therefore, we have to build up our Regular element. Although I welcome, with those of my party who have pressed for this for some time, the increase in pay, I do not think it goes far enough. There is a psychological approach to the Regular Forces which is undermining the operation of our Armed Forces today. I believe that one of the mistakes now being made is that the Regular Army is being assessed too much in terms of numbers. We want to ensure in our Regular Forces, not only better pay, but that people regard their service as part of their career. That can only be so if the trades of the Regular Forces are more closely integrated with civilian trades, so that a man who goes into the Regular Forces does not feel he has made an irrevocable decision, and that if he wants to turn back he can do so and immediately become a useful member in civilian life. There is far more integration to be done in regard to military trades generally.
I want to touch on something which has not been mentioned so far, and that is the question of education in our Regular Forces. Education is a very great responsibility there because, whereas in civilian life, men are able to take advantage of the increasing facilities for further education, those in the Army and other Services are unable to do so. Ministers responsible for the various Services must see that education is vastly increased in scope and keeps up with the standard of education offered in civil life. I am not criticising those who are doing this work today, but the conception under which they are operating.
What worries me, and it has worried me ever since I listened to the speech of the Secretary of State for War in the first Debate in which I had the honour to speak, is that the voluntary forces are not getting a square deal. We are not depending enough upon our voluntary forces. The hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Booth), who made a very interesting speech, suggested that we should pay our Territorial Army. I am not in favour of that, nor do I think the Territorial Army would be in favour of it. We have to give to our Territorial and voluntary services a closer association with the Regular units, and far more civic association with the areas from which they come. I know that very good work has been done in this connection, but it has not been enough.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) spoke yesterday on the subject of Anti-Aircraft Command, and I should like to enlarge on what he said, because I think it is important, having served in that command during the war and in the Territorial Army since. It is a very dangerous thing to leave the anti-aircraft defences too much in the hands of voluntary forces. It is very dangerous for the reason that anti-aircraft is the prime arm at the beginning of a conflict, because we are nearly always, by the nature of our make-up and rôle, in the position of having to defend ourselves.
I am sure that, at the moment, there is not that strength of knowledge or of Regular experience in Anti-Aircraft Commands that there should be. Moreover, Anti-Aircraft Command has been denuded too swiftly in the last five years of people who have had experience of it in the past. A very unfortunate development occurred in connection with anti-aircraft during the last war. It became too much a private and independant arm. That was a grave error which should not be allowed to occur again in the unfortunate event of another conflict. The men and women of Anti-Aircraft Command should be interchangeable with other units, and there should be a continuous flow throughout the Royal Artillery of men with antiaircraft experience. I hope measures will be taken to place at the disposal of the Commander of Anti-Aircraft Command more Regular units at the earliest possible moment.
There is another point in regard to the Territorial Army on which I would like to touch. We have had over the past year, as a result of the present proposals, an adjustment in the period of National Service, and there are men who have had service before the last Act which has not involved service with the Territorial Army. Although I am not in favour of retrospective legislation, I suggest that this is the time when these men should be recalled for service in a Territorial capacity. In that way the very serious gap which has been referred to can be filled.
If we are to be successful in the long run in making a defence contribution which does not impose an intolerable burden upon our economic structure, we must have a Regular Army which is highly efficient and can do more work for less men, giving, in fact, greater value for money. We want to give to the Regular content a sense of calling. That can be done by the method rightly suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) yesterday, and also by giving them a more realistic method of training, by following up far more swiftly the lessons learned particularly in regard to airborne and mobile tactics in the last war, ensuring that men are trained with the very latest equipment and with far greater vision and realism.
I hope to have the honour of watching the manoeuvres of the Army in Germany in the near future. I trust that my fears, which at the moment are very great in this respect, may be to some extent assuaged. In the Territorial Army there have to be greater incentives to people to join and play their part. The Territorial Army must, moreover, give to our national Forces the volunteers to enable those Forces to expand swiftly, because unless we do so, the whole structure is going to fall to the ground.
I hope that, although there is to be an extension in the period of service for the National Service man, he will not be kept away, mentally and culturally, from his civil occupation. There should be a greater regard during the period of his training for the occupation which he will follow in civilian life. The Chiefs of Staffs have been accused of not using their men properly. That is an unjust accusation, and is due, not to their planning, but to the fact that there are too many tasks which the Regular Forces have to undertake, so that it has not been possible to give proper training to the men available to them.
We are undertaking very grave measures today. We on this side of the House give them our fullest support, because we know that this has got to be done. We have already indicated in a number of speeches that we think it is a pity that it should have to be done, and although we cannot blame, nor do we wish to blame, the Government for events in Korea, we think that had a Regular Army been built up earlier it would not have been necessary to send untrained conscripts to Korea 10 take the brunt of the fighting. For that the Government must be responsible, and they cannnot escape that responsibility.
Training is a question of standards, and while six months' training may be adequate for a man who is not going to face battle, it is quite inadequate for men going to face very considerable rigours in battle. It is this refusal to accept what are the real risks that men have to run under modern conditions that is terrifying to us who have had to do it.
That is no justification whatever for following their example. I did not intend to be controversial, but I hope that the Government, in planning a temporary measure, will take the necessary steps to see that our Defence Forces are integrated with our social responsibilities and services which it is their duty to co-ordinate, because we cannot again face the country with increased demands of this nature, nor can we on this side again give our support to them if the Government fail to fulfil their responsibilities.
This long Debate has been remarkable for one particular feature, and that is the amount of humbug which we have had from the other side of the House about the lack of precautions and preparations taken by the Government on Defence. The Opposition have attempted all the time to make out that they would have greatly accelerated rearmament years ago, that they would have increased expenditure and the size of our Forces and all the rest of it. But I took the precaution before speaking in this Debate to look up previous Debates on Defence which we have had, and in none of them has the Opposition asked either for more money or for more men, although they claim to have known of the danger all the time.
On 20th March, 1947, the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head), who is often the spokesman of the Opposition on defence matters, said this:
I believe it to be impossible to quarrel entirely with the ultimate size and shape of the Armed Forces, because we do not know enough about them. But it does seem to me that we know one thing, namely, that in March, 1949, the approximate size of the total Armed Forces will be about 750,000."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th March, 1947; Vol. 435, c. 703.]
He then went on to advise the Minister of Defence about various methods by which this number could be reduced. I hope he was not greatly disappointed, because when we came to March, 1949, the total of our Armed Forces was 35,000 more than he thought it was going to be.
A year later, in March, 1948, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) said this:
The House must bear in mind, however, that the money which is now being spent and, more important, the manpower which is being employed are very much larger than those employed at any time between the two wars right up to and including 1939. I am not saying that under present world conditions … these figures are necessarily too large, but I say that when, under our present economic circumstances we are concerned with those figures, it is the duty of the House to probe and to insist on information, which enables us to judge whether those vast figures are justified or not."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st March, 1948; Vol. 448, c. 61–62.]
This from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition hardly sounds like a man who is urging that more and more money and more and more men should be devoted to our Armed Forces.
A year later—we are coming up now to 1949; and, after all, according to the Tories, by this time they were demanding massive increases in the Armed Forces and in our expenditure—the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Carshalton said:
… in the middle of a time of great economic stress, when we are struggling for our economic recovery, and in the middle of
a foreign situation which demands preparedness of our defences, we are being asked to give to the right hon. Gentleman £750 million and 1,500,000 men, including those in the factories. That is a very considerable amount of money and man-power to grant in these days."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd March, 1949; Vol. 462. c. 625.]
He did not go on to suggest that the Armed Forces should be any larger. Let us be honest about this.
If the right hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. Bracken), who rarely attends our defence Debates at all, will look up the speeches I have quoted, he will find them to be as I have read them out. What I am saying is: let us be honest about this, if it is possible for the Opposition to be so; let us for one moment put aside party advantage and admit that we are all reluctant—at least I hope we are—to be spending this increased sum of money on defence. The truth is that we were all hoping it would be unnecessary, and nobody on either side of the House was demanding, until very recently, that there should be an increase in expenditure on armaments or in the rate of conscription, with one exception, when some hon. Members opposite suggested there should be a selective ballot for a few people to serve longer but no demand for a general lengthening of National Service. Let us have an end to this humbug that the Government were unprepared and that the Tories were prepared all along for it.
That was also a slight exception, but it did not involve vast sums of money.
Some of my colleagues believe that our country will be engaged in an armaments race, but I believe, as does my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), that that is not a true summing up of the position. We, of course, cannot hope to compete, nor do we want to compete, with Soviet Russia in the extent of our Armed Forces either in men or in the proportion of our national income which we devote to it. But what we can do is to provide a deterrent to any adventures such as there were in Persia in 1946, which was stopped by a determination on our part to tolerate no further incursion into Persia, in Berlin, in Greece, and, indeed, in Korea.
I believe that it has been the swift reaction of the United Nations to the incident in Korea which has brought Russia back to the Security Council, although she said she would not come back until Communist China was there, and which has kept her there after Mr. Malik's presidency was over. I believe that the evidence that we could back our resolutions with force has been the deterrent to the spreading of the war in Korea. Nor do I believe that the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was right yesterday when he said that there seemed to be a general opinion in the House that war was inevitable. I do not believe there is that general opinion, either in this House or in the country, that war is inevitable.
As the hon. Gentleman has referred to me, with perfect courtesy, may I remind the House what my actual words were? I think I can convince him that I am right and that I said there seemed to be a kind of feeling in the House that we were sliding into war—which is a different thing.
He added that there was a feeling that war was inevitable. I believe that these preparations for war make it all the less inevitable. Nor do I share the defeatism of the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) who made an extraordinary remark yesterday. He said that we were met here to devise measures to resist aggression,
if that be still possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th September, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 1114.]
as though there were any doubt about our determination to resist if there were an attack.
The one thing that can preserve us from attack is to have the courage, determination and resolution to make it manifest that we will resist, precisely as Finland did, and Czechoslovakia did not as Indonesia resisted her own Communist insurrection inspired from within and had to put it down by force of arms, and as Burma did, equally without any aid from the Western Powers at all.
But something has to be added to the purely military preparation and to the increase of expenditure of the Armed Forces. The more we increase and attempt to strengthen our Armed Forces, the less able we are to proceed with the one way in which we can finally defeat Communism throughout the world. The Opposition like to enjoy themselves by a play on a phrase which was originated by a senior Member of my party: "Left speaks to Left." It may be that they have a debating point on that. It is true that Left did not speak to Left in the way that we hoped it would. But we can say, at any rate, that a Labour Government is far better able to understand the social forces that are at work in the world—[Laughter.]—and which have created the conditions under which Communism flourishes. I beg hon. Members opposite to listen for a moment. They never bother to study these problems at all.
What we are faced with today is a vast social revolution operating throughout the world, intermingled in various areas with revolutions for national independence. In Europe we have had the experience of Marshall Aid, which has effectively damped down the Communist challenge in Europe. I do not think that anyone would deny that at all. Let us look for a moment at what we have done about the East, where the danger is probably far greater than it is in Europe from Communism. The latest report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East says that whereas the United States have given nearly 17,000 million dollars in aid to Western Europe since the end of the war, they have only given 53 million dollars in aid for the whole of South-East Asia.
The comparison is ludicrous. We cannot expect to build up the conditions under which people will not be attracted to Communism in those poverty-stricken areas, unless we are prepared to do more about it. The British Labour Government has done something, to the best of its ability, despite the taunts and sneers of the Opposition. We have given in aid to South-East Asia nearly £1,000 million since the end of the war. We would never have given a penny if the Opposition had been in power.
Yesterday, Pandit Nehru, Prime Minister of India, was reported as writing to the effect that the East and Asia will turn to Communism unless the West helps to end Colonialism and poverty. I think he is quite right. The British have done their best. We have today, sitting in London, a great Commonwealth Conference which is engaged in working out a six-year plan—without very much vociferous assistance from the Opposition—in order to try to help South-East Asia to get on her feet. We shall need a considerable amount of aid from America to make it effective. The one great factor in the East which matters most is that we have a Labour Government here in Britain, a Labour Government which is trying to help. Today, even now, it is sometimes very difficult for us to realise that imperialism of the old-fashioned kind is more distrusted in Asia than is Communism. They have experienced imperialism over many years in Asia, but they have not experienced Communism. They still fear imperialism of the old-fashioned sort more than they fear Communism.
If we had had a Tory Government in power there would not have been the slightest hope whatever of mobilising the forces of Asia on our side. Every time the Leader of the Opposition makes a remark about Asia, as he did on Monday, when he said:
We have got rid of India."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th September, 1950, Vol. 478, c. 988]—
as though India were some vassal that should have been pleased to be in thraldom to us, he offends the susceptibilities of millions of people. We have not got rid of India; we have won India for the first time.
There can be no possible doubt that a Tory Government would have backed what I call "MacArthurism" in the East today. We should remind ourselves of what General MacArthur said in that extraordinary statement the other day. It was:
Nothing could be more fallacious than the threadbare argument by those who advocate appeasement and defeatism in the Pacific that if we defend Formosa we alienate continental Asia. Those who speak thus do not understand the Orient. They do not grant that it is the pattern of Oriental psychology to respect and follow aggressive, resolute and dynamic leadership—to quickly turn from a leadership characterised by timidity or vacillation. …
In other words, MacArthur was saying; "Kick them in the face. They like it.' I do not believe that they like it, or that they ever liked it.
Stalin says that I am a war criminal and ought to be hanged. Nobody can accuse me of being a Communist. The situation in South-East Asia and in Asia generally is so grave that we cannot possibly allow people like General MacArthur to ruin the Western cause throughout the whole of that area. I think that we should seriously ask ourselves whether such a person as General MacArthur is fit to command United Nations forces in which British troops form part of the contingent.
It is precisely because there are British troops fighting in Korea that I think we are entitled to have some voice in who their commander should be, and when it is a person of so bad a political reputation as General MacArthur, this House is entitled to say so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I hope the day has not yet come when we cannot say, in this House, that we disapprove of such persons.
I am not in any way criticising General MacArthur's abilities as a general. What I am criticising are his political interventions which are totally inept and do the greatest disservice to the entire Western cause in Asia. I believe I am one of the few hon. Members in this House who has travelled extensively several times in South-East Asia since the end of the war, and I think I can appreciate the effect which such things have in the East at the moment. I should add that our Labour Government is the greatest single asset that the West has in Asia where both MacArthurism and Churchill-ism are regarded as being utterly intolerable and complete anathema to everybody there.
We ought to try to realise the change in atmosphere and structure which has taken place in the East since the end of the war. I believe the time has come for us to try to bring forward some kind of war aim for Korea. The whole of Asia is waiting to know what U.N.O. and the principal Western nations in the United Nations intend to do in Korea when the war is over. They are near the spot and they know that it will not be easy to put Korea on its feet again; they are much more interested in knowing what the future of that country will be than we are, because we are concerned only with the principle involved in preserving international law.
We ought to try to work out a war aim which would appeal to the East and capture its imagination. Our war aim perhaps should be this. Once we have got back to the 38th parallel we should say that we are prepared for elections to take place on a unified basis throughout the whole of Korea and that if the Communists won elections carried out fairly and democratically—the elections could be watched by international observers on both sides of the border—they should take over the government. We should then have proved to Asia and to the Communists that these things cannot be done by force but only on a democratic basis. I also believe that is why it is so important to get a clarification of the issue in Formosa.
I also want to refer to the Middle East, of which we have heard very little during the last three days. I believe that we could have done much the same in the Middle East as we have done in Asia, and the Labour Government could have had the same powerful influence in the Middle East as it has in South-East Asia. We have very much missed our chances, but I believe that our chance has now returned with the increasing international tension. Take the case of Persia. There is no doubt whatever that the ruling families of Persia, who run the government in the most corrupt manner, have now got the wind up because they can see that the Korea affair could be repeated in Persian Azerbaijan where operates precisely the same sort of situation as there was in Korea. Those families are very susceptible to pressure from Britain and America to carry out social reforms and reform of their government so as to make internal Communist propaganda difficult to achieve. I believe that the same applies to Egypt and the other Arabian countries. Again in the Middle East we need the double programme of social improvement coupled with military defence.
I want to refer to something which my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), said about Israel, and to amplify it. In the Arab-Israel war, Israel was able to put six divisions in the field and she managed to beat off the attack from all the surrounding Arab countries and the forces which they could muster, including the famous Arab Legion. Israel is now able to put 200,000 troops in the field, and we must remember that these are troops of European training and standards of intelligence and courage. When I talked to the chief of staff of the Israel Army not many months ago I was very interested to learn that the Israel Army is on a motorised basis and that it is constructed to operate by incursions of many miles into enemy territory should the need arise.
A very powerful striking force is being built up there, but it lacks the arms which we and America could provide if it were not for our extraordinary foreign policy in the Middle East which has prevented the one country able to provide an effective resistance to Russian aggression from getting the arms it needs. We should realise also that the 200,000 Israeli troops are better fighting material than would be an equivalent British force operating in that area, simply because they would be fighting for their homes and would have their backs to the wall if there should be any flare-up in the area.
I have spoken longer than I intended because I had so many interruptions from the Opposition. I would say finally that if the Government's measures, which to my mind are wholly admirable, particularly in that they do not go too far and also do not fall short of what is needed, are continued, plus an intensification of the joint plans for economic aid throughout the world's undeveloped countries—a point which cannot be emphasised too often—and if we can work out some kind of Marshall Aid with rapidity for South-East Asia, and if we add to both these things the courage and resolution which will make it quite clear to any potential aggressor that we mean to fight back should we be attacked, the danger of war will be growing not greater but less with every year that passes.
Having listened very carefully the whole way through this three-day Debate, I have become a little muddled by the arguments put forward by various hon. Members on the other side of the House, but I am extremely pleased, Mr. Speaker, that you have seen fit to call me at this moment because the performance just given by the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt) is the only one which I should really like to answer. It was the most monstrous and disgraceful speech that I have heard. The remarks which I wanted to address to the House will now be set aside entirely while I turn to the declarations of the hon. Member.
My pretext for doing so is that I was chief of staff of the United Kingdom Liaison Mission in Japan at its inception in 1945 and thereafter, and I am proud to have worked close to General MacArthur. I regard him as not only one of the greatest soldiers of our time but also as a very high-ranking statesman. May I therefore make an attempt to try to put right the damage which the hon. Member for Aston will have done when his remarks are read by our soldiers fighting under General MacArthur, who do not realise the insignificance of the hon. Member in this House—
At all events, Sir, if there is any misunderstanding about what I said when hon. Members read in the OFFICIAL REPORT my actual words, I most certainly wish to make it clear that I am not criticising the President of the United States. What I am trying to do is to talk about the Far East.
In my opinion, this campaign in Korea may well last a very long time. I believe that if it does so, it will suit the purposes of the Kremlin as well as if, unfortunately, the United Nations forces are forced out of Korea. We have to face either the inevitability of withdrawing from Korea or a long campaign there. It will not only be serious in that it will be a bleeding sore for the United Nations forces, but it will also be serious in the effect it will have on the Japanese.
We have been considering to a great extent during this Debate the question of our immediate threat here in Europe, and we all realise that it will need a great effort on the part of all the peace-loving nations, including immense help from the United States. If the United States has to contend with potential hostility and unrest in Japan, we cannot expect the sustained assistance we must have from our ally across the Atlantic. The remarks made just now about the Commander-in-Chief who has been appointed by the United Nations to command our troops are remarks which require a denial from the Minister of Defence when he makes his winding-up speech. I see that the Minister of Defence has just come in, and so he did not hear the speech of the hon. Member for Aston. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see fit to pay a tribute to the statesmanship and soldiership of the Commander-in-Chief who is commanding our young lads at the present moment in the fighting line.
May I ask one question to get clear what the tribute is that is to be paid? Is the Minister to pay a tribute to General MacArthur for having denounced President Truman's Formosan policy and for being snapped down by President Truman? Is that what is to be given—a tribute to a general who enters politics and has to be reproved by his President?
I am obliged to the hon. Member for having raised that point. Of course not. I am not talking about the field of politics. [Laughter.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite to laugh now, but the remark made by the hon. Member for Aston was a rebuke to General MacArthur who has charge—a charge which was appointed by the United Nations in which we have our voice—of commanding our troops in South Korea. It is for that reason that I think we should have a statement by the Government that the General has the fullest confidence of His Majesty's Government in his ability to command our Forces in that present sphere of operations.
Perhaps, now, I may take up the time of the House for a moment or two on what I had originally wanted to say. It is against the background of electrical world tension that we have to consider the proposals that His Majesty's Government have put before us to discuss in this Debate. There is little difference of opinion amongst the majority on either side of the House, but let the Government realise that, had this been a question of a Vote of Confidence in the policy of the Government on Defence over the last five years, the Debate would have taken quite a different course. I personally—and I am sure my view is shared by a number of hon. Members on this side of the House—have no confidence in the ability of the Government ably to carry through these new proposals.
We have only to look back at the record of the Government on Defence since they came into power, although I will not weary the House by going into detail. The hon. Member for Aston made a gallant effort to show how brilliantly the Government had done too little. He quoted my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head)—or, rather, he misquoted him.
Then the hon. Member misrepresented what my hon. and gallant Friend meant, because he has persistently, all through the Defence Debates urged military reorganisation, better use of the Armed Forces, and higher pay for the Services. At all events, the time has now come when the Government have had to face facts and have had to take such drastic steps as prove quite clearly that they had not done enough before. If they had not wavered and procrastinated in their defence policy; if they had anticipated a situation which did not need a Piddington to foresee, because it was quite obvious that the world situation was gradually worsening instead of getting better; if the Government had acted in time instead of having a lop-sided policy which taught the people of this country that they could happily enjoy a peace without paying sufficient attention to defending it, then at this stage I believe we should not have had to face the serious proposals which the Government are presenting to us today.
One thing stands out above everything else in its importance for us to deal with in the near future. We have to produce manpower, we have to produce equipment, but that is not the end of it. We have to produce a feeling of unity in the nation. We have to produce a feeling of confidence by the people in the Government. I do not believe the people have confidence and I do not believe the Government are doing what they should do to try to rally the nation behind them with a stirring call on the seriousness of the situation.
The Prime Minister in his recent broadcast emphasised the need for national unity, but he did so at the end of a quarter of an hour of vituperative attack on my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Is that the way to unite the nation when at least half of the people listening to him were ardent supporters of my right hon. Friend? Is that the way to get the nation—
My right hon. Friend only made one remark. He called him sullen, and if the hon. Member looks in the dictionary at the word "sullen," he will find that it means "angry" and "silent." That is a tribute to the Prime Minister—he is angry with his supporters but long-suffering enough to be silent.
One other point concerning unity. The Government still propose to press ahead, inflicting the mortal wound of nationalising iron and steel. I will not anticipate now the Debate we are to have next week, but it seems to me that if the Government cannot grasp the importance of getting behind them, not merely followers of Socialism, but the whole nation, then I view the future with the gravest concern and I believe that the sooner the Government get out and make room for another, the better.
The hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo) will not need apologies from me if I do not follow him in what he said, because we are dealing with different subjects and mine is the Navy. Before I deal with the main points which have been raised by the Opposition, including that of the largely theoretical Russian submarines. I should like to deal with a point which was made by one hon. Member opposite when he suggested that the centre of operations should be the Dardanelles. It seems to me that when he talked of what could be done in the Dardanelles, he did not know where it was or anything about its surroundings. As one who served in the Dardanelles, and one of the few in this House who has been engaged in active operations in the Black Sea, may I say I never heard such nonsense. The strategical experts on the benches opposite will agree that the worst place from which to operate a war would be the Dardanelles.
This has been an involved Debate. It has been an anti-climax from the point of view of the Tory Party in their campaign in the country. It has been largely shadow-boxing on the benches opposite, because a lot of things which have been advocated are already in operation or in train, and a lot of the arguments which have been made have been founded on inaccuracy or lack of knowledge. Like those who, during the last war, advocated the Second Front, knowing very well that it must come ultimately, so a number of hon. Members on the other side have argued things during the last five years in the hope that they would one day come rather than the hope that they would not come. I have not the slightest doubt that today there is greater unity from the majority of the country, namely, the working class, in support of the Government and their proposals than at any time in history.
I will devote my preliminary remarks to the question of pay before I pass to the general situation, dealing first with the Tory argument that full employment is not a factor in preventing recruits from joining the Services. Carried to its logical conclusion, this would mean that more men joined the Services during full employment and fewer during mass unemployment, which, obviously, is nonsense. Everyone on the lower deck knows that the main reason for men joining the Service before the First War and between the two wars was unemployment, as I shall show. [Interruption.] I am quite prepared to give way. at a favourable moment, but I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to wait until I quote a few things against them; then, perhaps, they will take the grin off their faces.
If the Tory and Liberal argument is right, how do Opposition Members, both Tory and Liberal, relate their argument to the fact that for 60 years the Tory and Liberal Governments failed to increase the pay of the Services, and, in fact, opposed an increase in it—[An HON. MEMBER: "And reduced it."]—yet recruits volunteered to join the Services? This simply does not make sense. The attitude of the Tory and Liberal Parties, in trying to pose as being really interested in Service pay and as advocates for Service men, is quite farcical to those in the Services and to those who served in them, particularly on the lower deck, as I did.
Up to the Crimean and Baltic wars of 1854, the Navy was largely recruited by the press gangs. Owing to the failure to get suitable men during those wars, a continuous service was introduced. In 1860, the pay of A.B.s was fixed at 1s. 8d. per day. Fifty years later, when I was an able seaman, I drew the same money, 1s. 8d., as was decided on 50 years earlier, after the Crimean War. In 1912, certain parsimonious pay increases were announced. I have the White Paper with me. It reads:
New rates of pay:
Present rates, 1s. 8d.
New rates, 1s. 8d.
The question arises: What was the increase? The only increase was a paltry 3d. a day—not 3s. a day, like today—after six years' service; in other words, not until a man had reached the age of 24. In addition, the only increases for higher ratings were confined to Service limits. Consequently, throughout my 10 years on the lower deck, in every grade, I was
paid at the rates established 50 years beforehand after the Crimean War. Those basic rates went on until 1917 and would not have been altered then but for trouble in the Grand Fleet up north.
The First Lord of the Admiralty of the pre-1914 Liberal Government had difficulty in convincing the Tory Opposition that even this paltry increase was necessary and justified. Let me quote what he said:
I was told at the time by many people that giving sailors more pay would only mean that they would spend more on intoxicants and on pleasures ashore."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th March, 1914; Vol. LIX, c. 1915–6.]
There was then no marriage or children's allowance. The sailor had to pay for the whole of his kit after the first issue and there were no other additional emoluments as there are today. I ask hon. Members to visualise the vast amount of intoxicants and shore pleasures which my married A.B. messmates could enjoy when they had wives and families to support on only 1s. 8d. a day, with an additional 3d. a day from the generous Government of the time. Yet this was the Tory attitude at the time, and who was the First Lord of the Admiralty? None other than the present Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) who, then sitting on this side of the House as a sensible Liberal First Lord of the Admiralty, was attacking the Tory Opposition.
I now jump to 1919 when the pay question, after the First World War was dealt with in the Statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty explanatory of the Navy Estimates, 1919–20—and, for the purpose of the record, I have a copy. It was stated:
One of the most urgent needs at the time of the Armistice was the preparation of revised scales of pay for the officers and men of the Fleet. The existing rates had been increased but slightly during the previous 60 years and had quite lost touch with the prevailing value of money and the salaries and wages obtainable in civil life.
This is in complete harmony with the arguments that have gone on on the other side of the House recently. That was the lamentable admission of the Tory First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Walter Long, in an official document which was presented to this House. So perhaps, hon.
Members opposite will try to laugh off the condemnation of their own party from one of their own Cabinet Ministers.
The pay of able seamen was then raised to 4s. a day, but what happened? After only six years, in 1925, the Tory Government reduced the able seaman's pay by 20 per cent., by 1s. from 4s. to 3s.—[HON. MEMBERS: "25 per cent."] From then onwards there were two different rates of pay, even for volunteer Regulars, 3s. for the post-1925 entries and 4s. for the pre-1925 entries. Now hon. Members of the Opposition try to make a mountain out of a molehill about the differential between the pay of the Regular and that of the conscript in his early service. Under Tory and Liberal Governments there was also the difference in pay as between Regulars and short service men doing precisely the same job throughout their career. Perhaps when hon. Members opposite become better acquainted with the failures of their own party when in office they will not be so bumptious in attacking the present pay scale.
We have now had the most fatuous intervention that have heard in this House in the last five years. The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Joynson-Hicks) has, apparently, just entered the House and has not heard a word, because, in spite of the appeal of the Prime Minister for unity in the country, practically everybody on the other side of the House has taken a different line and the Leader of the Opposition has thrown a spanner into the works to sabotage the whole appeal.
This is the point I want to deal with in connection with pay scales being reduced. These reductions applied all round—I am only taking the A.B. as an example—but recruits continued to volunteer, despite the reduction of pay. That makes nonsense of the Tory argument because, obviously, the reason was one and one only, unemployment.
Today, with the new increases, the A.B. in Class D. will receive 11s. per day. This is more than six times his pay in 1914 and twice that of a warrant officer at the time. Hon. Members opposite are probably whispering, "Cost of living." I will take them up on cost of living and show them where to get off on that, because it was greater in 1919 than it has been recently. This pay is also nearly three times the 4s., which was afterwards reduced after the First World War.
If the Tory and Liberal Parties consider that they will gain any electoral advantages from the Service vote as a result of their shadow-boxing advocacy of increased pay, let me assure them that they are wrong. The attitude of the Serviceman is, "The Tories and the Liberals ignored us before the First World War and refused increases of pay, and between the wars they reduced our pay by about 20 per cent., so we have nothing to thank them for." They then argue. "No Government, other than a Labour Government, would have given us such worthwhile pay as that of today and it is our job to ensure that another Labour Government is returned. The Tories advocate in Opposition what they have never practised when in Government and so, obviously, the better plan is to keep them permanently in Opposition."
I wish to say a word about Russian submarines. No responsible person should underestimate the enemy and we know the position of the Russian Army and Air Force. But why should we be tempted by the other side of the House to scare the country about the Russian Navy and their submarines? The Russians never in their history did anything in naval war. In the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 their effort was a disaster and in the First World War what they did was nothing; we had to send our own submarines into the Baltic to do the job for them. In the Second World War they did nothing.
This story about Russian submarines is growing, like the story of the Russian troops who landed in Scotland in the First World War and were supposed to have been seen with snow on their boots. A number of Russian submarines are mainly in the Pacific and it is quite a fair point for the Opposition and the Press to raise the question of the submarines, provided it is realised that it is mainly the responsibility of the American Navy.
Today, this country, from a naval point of view, is stronger relatively than it has been at any other time in its long history. We do not hear anything about Russian battleships, cruisers, or anything else. These submarines are mainly in the Pacific, yet the right hon. Member for Woodford and hon. Members opposite, and the Press, would try to get the public to believe that there are 360 submarines stationed at the Isle of Wight waiting to sink the first convoy leaving Southampton.
The only other point I want to make, is, "Be British." Today, on the other side of the House and in the Press everybody is advocating the enemy line. During the war I was in journalism and I was asked to write articles on invasion. If I had done so, saying that the Germans would be here tomorrow, I would have been paid high fees. I refused to do so because I did not believe it. The Press in those days carried marvellous diagrams showing that the Germans were coming from everywhere. That is the enemy game, but we should put over the positive British position.
Today, we have a greater number of men in the Armed Forces than we had in 1939 or in 1914. It is no good the hon. and gallant Gentleman shaking his head; we have. We have three Fighting Services, and we have more civilians working in support of them and a better economic and social position in this country today than ever we have had before.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence says, "No," so that I can ignore the interruption, which is just another example from one who is considered to be one of the authorities on military affairs on that side of the House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman does not even know the relative strength figures. It is a typical example of shadow-boxing nonsense.
I want to make this further point. In my humble submission, the atom bomb is not the greatest deterrent against war today. In my view, the greatest deterrent against war today lies in the fact that both America and ourselves are actually on the Continent of Europe, committed from the word "Go." If America had been therein 1914 and 1939, there might not have been war in either of those years.
Furthermore, criticism of the lassitude of this Government in sending aid to Korea is disgraceful denigration of one's own country. Never before in the history of any country, when a situation similar to that in Korea arose, has there been naval and air assistance immediately on the spot. Never before has there been military aid on the spot in such a short time. I say to our American friends, quite candidly—and it is time that somebody said it, and particularly somebody with Service experience—that it does not lie in the mouths of the Americans to criticise this country for its lack of effort in Korea. Let them remember 1914, when we had to wait three years for them; let them remember 1939, when we had to stand alone in that war and wait two years until they were attacked before they came in. So I say to them, "While we appreciate your help in every way, we shall expect you to show fairness in every direction and pay tribute where it is due."
I say to the Leader of the Opposition that his speeches have done more harm to this country internationally and in relation to Russia, than any other factor in the last five years.
I am not trying to be funny. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford had been Prime Minister at the present time, no one more than himself would have deprecated such speeches. He himself would have said that they were preaching alarm and despondency and giving confidence to our enemies.
One helpful speech made from the Opposition benches was that of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), who gave the figures of the potential strength of the allies on our side today. We are in a far better position today, with our allies, to deal with any international situation, whether short-term or long-term, and even against Russia in full mortal combat, than ever we have been before in our history, and certainly better than in 1914 and 1939.
I rise to say that I am in full agreement with the terms of the Motion put forward by the Government. I appreciate that it will be hard, or may appear to be hard, for some mothers that their sons will have to serve longer in the Forces, but if the showing of strength will prevent another war, at least it will be well worth while.
The sum of money proposed to be spent is staggering. My concern is that it should be spent wisely and not wasted, as in the Second World War. I quite appreciate that the position was inevitable at that time. We were unprepared and it was necessary to get ready quickly, but the position is somewhat different today. We have time to prepare, but, what is more important still, compared with 1939, this country is very hard up. Actually, we cannot afford to spend this huge sum of money, although it is necessary to do so for our preservation. Therefore, we should at least try to benefit from our previous experience and avoid waste of money wherever possible.
To win the two previous wars, we had to bring in millions of civilians as amateur Service men, some of whom had spent half their lives as business men. They saw money being literally thrown away, for which error we are now paying dearly. Being a small island with 50 million people, Britain could never put in the field forces equal in number to those of Russia, but I have for years visualised Great Britain having a Navy, Army and Air Force of really hand-picked men, receiving the highest rates of pay and trained to the highest possible efficiency. This, coupled with the natural inherent fighting spirit in the heart of every Britisher, whether he be Cockney or coming from the north, south, east or west of England, or from Scotland and Wales, would make up a striking force which could be respected and feared by all would-be world aggressors as a fighting machine of which to be wary. I therefore rejoice in seeing the new proposals for better pay for the Services.
Now I come to the question of efficiency. One of the first shocks which so many of our amateur Service men received on being called up and on finding their feet in the Services was the number of dull-witted, dead-wood officers employed in the administrative branches of the Services—officers whose only achievement was the number of years over which they had been successful in drawing their pay. They were often in positions of responsibility where technical knowledge should have been an absolute necessity. Many of these Regulars, who had been failures at other activities, were placed in command of people who had spent the best part of their lives mastering a particular profession or trade, with the result that they acted as a brake and deterrent on efficiency and progressiveness.
One obsession of these officers was to build up their "empires" by pressing for increases in their establishment, which meant, in turn, increasing their rank and pay, but rarely led to greater efficiency. I well remember the methods employed in a certain branch of the R.A.F. Most commands at the time had a squadron leader at headquarters, and a flight lieutenant or pilot officer at each station, according to size. A certain officer at the Air Ministry, who had ideas and was intent on building up an "empire," persuaded those with the necessary power that instead of one squadron leader at headquarters, there ought to be two, plus two flight lieutenants, with the result that, with two squadron leaders and two flight lieutenants, there were then four officers to do the work of two.
The same thing happened on various stations—two officers to do the work of one. This meant that it was necessary to double the number of officers throughout the command in order to do the same amount of work. The technical experts were never consulted on such matters as these, and if they gave an opinion, it was ignored. The usual reason given was greater efficiency which, in most cases, was sheer rubbish. This "empire" building was rampant throughout the Services on the administrative side because it was a golden rule that no command ever refused a rise in its establishment.
Another case which comes to my mind is that of a certain command which had an establishment of one squadron leader and two flight lieutenants, representing a branch at headquarters. A considerable number of complaints were received throughout the command about the efficiency of the branch, and it was rightly felt that something should be done about it. The command proposed as a solution that the establishment should be upgraded to that of one wing commander, one squadron leader and one flight lieutenant, which, they alleged, would solve the problem. After much passing of letters and files this was agreed to, but, believe it or not, the same three persons who carried out the duties before, continued to carry out the same duties, the only difference being that two had been given higher rank. One can appreciate what this would mean to men in the business world. If three men at the top in a business concern failed in their duties, they would certainly not be promoted but would be replaced by better men.
There were many misfits. More often than not, officers were placed in posts for which they were unsuitable. It was very seldom the case that an officer was given a post of which he had real, sound peacetime experience. Believe it or not, catering training in one of the Services came under the direction of an officer who had a life-time's experience as an armourer fitter. He was assisted in his culinary training activities by another officer who was a well-known and able football club trainer.
The point I want to emphasise is this. Our National Debt is already beyond redemption in our lifetime. Our rate of expenditure is already too high, but we shall have to increase that heavy burden through sheer necessity in this preparation for war. For goodness' sake let us be a little more careful in the spending of public money. Let us introduce into the Services a few sound business principles which will make for real efficiency and the cutting out of waste. Drive and thrustful-ness should be encouraged in the Services and not decried and held back as they were in the last war.
In the First and Second World Wars it was necessary for the Government of the day to turn to the civilian population to see it through. Why wait until war comes before using the brain power of the country? Why not set up civilian advice panels now, in time of peace, to enable them to give the benefit of their wide knowledge and experience to the three Services in respect of every branch and activity with which civilian experience and knowledge can be utilised?
There are many who would be willing and ready to spare the time in this great building up of strength to prevent war. At least they would do it without any thought of gaining another half-ring on the arm or a pip on the shoulder. In the last two wars we were late in getting away at the start, and were in terrible danger as a result thereof. Let us learn from our past mistakes and omissions.
I beg the Minister of Defence and the right hon. Members responsible for the three Services—some of whom were among the amateurs to whom I have referred—to look into the points I have raised. I assure the House they are meant to be constructive. I know that the examples I have quoted are true; I know that millions of money were wasted which could have been saved, and my fear is that millions more will be frittered away unless something is done to cut out the wasters. I hope from the bottom of my heart that something will be done so that the people's money may be spent for their protection with the same care and efficiency as each Minister would spend his own money.
This Debate has been remarkable for the large number of hon. Members who have displayed an exceedingly wide knowledge of Service affairs, and I am sure the Government will derive much benefit from many of the facts drawn to their attention. But the burden of the Opposition speeches has been to blame the Labour Government for not doing enough in the matter of defence during the last five years. Taking the position as we found it, and taking the resources that were at the disposal of the Labour Government, we could not have done more than we have done in defence. To have spent the sum of £800 million last year on defence shows that we have not neglected that side, and I am quite certain that, considering the whole circumstances, we could not have had greater efficiency or spent more of our resources on defence than we have done during this period.
The hon. and gallant Member for Car-shalton (Brigadier Head), who speaks with the authority of an almost official spokesman for the other side, blamed the Government for inefficiency in this respect. I thought it a remarkable statement to make when he said that these years would be referred to as the years which the dentures had eaten, and when he contrasted the efforts of the Minister of Health with those of the Minister of Defence. It seems remarkable to me to suggest that if the British people had had a few less false teeth our defences would have been all right.
This Debate has also been remarkable for the fact that the same official spokesman for the Tory Party claimed an extra recruit for the Conservative Party and conceded one to the Labour Party. He said they had gained the hon. Member for Birmingham, North-field (Mr. Blackburn), but had had to concede the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke). The noble Lord made a speech which has been referred to several times from this side of the House. One of his statements was that we need take no steps to provide any German defence in Western Germany because he felt quite certain that the defensive measures that the Russians were bringing into being would react in our favour—that when the time came the German police force in Eastern Germany would turn round and protect Western German. I do not think that that optimism can be depended upon when we are considering our affairs.
The noble Lord also said that he felt that Tito was safe because of the pacific intentions of Stalin, and he asked for an independent policy to be created so far as this country was concerned. He made the remarkable statement that we ought to have taken measures to introduce the Welfare State into Europe when we came into power. If my memory serves me correctly, the noble Lord has been so much opposed to the Welfare State in this country that he has actually advised people not to contribute to National Savings, and if I have read his speech in other countries correctly, he has spent his time denouncing this Government and this country for the measures they have taken in the Welfare State. Therefore, without some greater proof of a change of heart than a single speech I think we shall have to decline to have him as a recruit on our side of the House.
I should like to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I have a great personal affection for him, as well as an admiration of him as a debater. He stated that the present situation represents the failure of our foreign policy, and he referred to a Debate in 1946 in which my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was dealing with foreign policy. In that speech the hon. Member for Coventry. East said:
The other main cause of the present drift into two blocs—in my view the second main cause—was the diplomatic and propaganda offensive launched by the Russians against the British Empire and the British Commonwealth. There has never been a more disastrous mistake. It was calculated by the Russians upon the basis that Great Britain was weak and that America was powerful and hated the British Empire, and that there might be a chance of disrupting the British Empire and so securing Russian frontiers and Russian safety for ever."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 436.]
That statement by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, was a correct statement of the facts, out his conclusions were entirely wrong on this issue. The only successful policy that could be followed by this country, after the opposition of Russia to the British Commonwealth and Empire became clear, was friendship with the United States. The fact that we stand in firm and solid friendship with that great and mighty nation, the United States of America, and all the free democracies of the world is not an indication of a failure of foreign policy, but a justification of the Foreign Secretary in the efforts he has made.
As to the present situation, the House of Commons has faced a grave situation on many occasions with great courage. Within our lifetime we have faced worse situations than the one we are facing at present. We faced the aggression of the Kaiser in 1914 and we faced the aggression of Hitler in 1939. Both those situations were much graver than the present situation, because I believe Russia has not finally decided upon aggression. There is still time for Russia to retract. There is still time to preserve peace and to avoid a third world war. It is still open to Russia to co-operate with us and the other free democracies of the world.
We are ready, at this moment, to abandon our greater efforts in rearmament and to turn our mighty industrial machine to the productivity of peace. That message should go out to Moscow—that we are prepared for peace and ready for peace and that war is not inevitable. It is a bad thing for the nation that the Opposition are decrying our efforts and suggesting that we are weaker than we really are. It is a bad thing, especially on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, to make bad blood between us and any other nation. I could understand his doing this, perhaps, when he speaks of Moscow and the Soviet Union. His complaint when he spoke was that the Government had proposed £100 million expenditure and then had vastly increased that expenditure in a few days.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to that as quick work. When the Government, having promised to keep something under review, acted swiftly he complained about that. I could understand it if the reverse were the case and he complained because we had been too slow. I cannot understand any complaint on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, of the Government acting more swiftly and effectively than he expected. His language and the phrases that he uses are likely to do vast harm to the Allied cause in America.
I think the Americans are bitterly disappointed.
The Americans have no cause to be other than grateful to the British people. They have reason to be grateful for everything we have done, both during the last war, and since the war in building up security throughout the world. The Americans can pay us a tribute; they have no need to be bitterly disappointed. They should be proud and grateful that the British people have responded in the way they have.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to:
… the anger of the people in the United States at the treatment they are receiving. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th September, 1950; Vol. 478, cc. 981, 989.]
Words like that should not be used at this time. We should be building up a comradeship and friendship with the American people and with democratic people all over the world. The Leader of the Opposition is a great statesman, and outside this country his words count for a tremendous lot. I appeal to him
to remember that at this stage in history his responsibility is greater than it ever was.
I want the Leader of the Opposition to remember that the friends who sit behind him—and Munich has been mentioned here today—are the people who would have destroyed him politically, and that he owes his position in history to the fact that the Labour Party demanded that he should take the lead in the crisis of our history. He should remember that it is a very mean and petty thing for him to turn and attack the Labour Government and the British people at the present moment. He said that the dread balance has not changed since the day when the Government announced that the Soviet Union had gained possession of the secret of the atomic bomb.
The dread balance has not changed since the day when it was announced by President Roosevelt and the Allies that unconditional surrender was to be their policy. Anyone who was responsible and knew the military situation in Europe and the world, when the decision was taken on a policy of utterly destroying German power in Europe, knew that at the end of it Russian power was bound to be supreme. In consequence of that policy, there must have been in the minds of those who made it a complete trust of Stalin.
We inherited that situation. We inherited the consequences of unconditional surrender; and provided the Russians afterwards took the course they have taken of aggressive action in Europe, there was nothing that we, as a Government, could possibly have done to alter the situation we now find ourselves in. It is not only necessary for us to take the steps to re-arm; it is necessary for us to have an economic policy that will match the difficulties of the hour. In connection with these great proposals that are before us we have to remember that the world is in a state of change. When we consider all the changes we want to bring about, we must consider whether it is economically feasible for the group we suggest to function and whether it is defensible. I say that the British Commonwealth is economically all right, but it is not defensible.
A united Europe is not defensible. The Atlantic community is not enough. We should aim at the complete integration of the economies of all the democracies of the world and at the complete integration of their defence. I believe that if we have enough courage to do this we can go ahead with bold economic planning on a world basis. The Opposition must consider this situation, because there is only one way in which we can combat Communism—by a great international economic plan. I believe that the resources and power at our command are so vast that if we pool the industrial power of the United States and the industrial power of Great Britain, and if we take into consideration all the resources of the British Commonwealth and Western Europe and set about a plan for 25 years, then we can bring prosperity and security to the world and we need not decrease our social services; indeed, we can step them up all over the world.
I think we need great courage to undertake this great plan and that Great Britain should be in the lead. Let us make London the Mecca of democracy. Let us invite the individual members of Congress and the Senate to come here and see us and talk these matters over. Let us have every member of the governments of our Colonies to visit us here in London. It is cheaper to bring politicians than it is to bring armies. I am quite sure that we could build a great international community which would bring us peace and prosperity, and I hope the Government will have the courage to do it.
The hon. Member for Southgate (Mr. Baxter) spoke of the need for doing something more than fight in Korea. I entirely agree that that is necessary. We should try to make contact with the North Koreans in some way so that we can bring this wretched war to a quick conclusion and set up some organisation in Korea which the people there would be glad to accept, and for which future generations of the Korean people would be forever grateful.
I think the right hon. Gentleman must answer the point brought out by the hon. and gallant Member for Hull, East (Commander Pursey), with regard to submarines. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the story of the Russian submarines is a myth. Is that right or not? Is it a myth? The first time this House heard about the Russian submarines was from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence. I think that question should be answered categorically by the Minister of Defence tonight. Are these submarines a myth or not?
The second question concerns internal security. Do the Government realise that we face a situation entirely different from that which we faced in 1938 and 1939—namely, that there is a Fifth Column in this country? I should say that there are at least 50,000 people in this country who would carry out the behests of the Kremlin tonight, and they would stick at nothing. We have seen in the case of Portsmouth that they were prepared to blow up the City of Portsmouth. I do not want to ask the Government what they intend to do about it; I want only some reassurance from them that they appreciate this factor in the present situation. These 50,000 men are really Stalin's army in mufti in this country, and I hope the Government realise that that is a factor in the situation.
My third question has been raised more than once and I hope the Minister will reply to it. What about this Colonial army? We have raised the subject here time and time again in the last four or five years. What is it that prevents the Government from recruiting a voluntary army from the Colonies? Is it lack of imagination? The need today is for Regular long-service troops. In the Colonial Empire we could raise three or four divisions of first-class long-service men in a very short space of time. What is it that prevents this from taking place? After all, these men from the Colonies fought for us in the last war. They are magnificent raw material. Their values, their aspirations, their hopes and ambitions are just as much at stake in this struggle as our own. Why are we willing to throw away that source of long-service Regulars?
What is it that prevents the Government from allowing displaced persons and other people who suffered through Russian aggression from enlisting in an army of the United Nations to fight in Korea or to defend Europe? There is that magnificent army of General Anders, men who would be first-class soldiers. Why is it that we do not give them the opportunity to put on their uniform again? There is also—
There are also men from Latvia and Lithuania and the other countries which have been overrun by Stalin. Two divisions of first-class men could be recruited from that source. Why is it that that source of strength is willingly thrown away?
My last question is one which was put to me last night by a Frenchman, and I hope that the Minister of Defence can answer it. The Frenchman said: "As I understand your Prime Minister, even with this increase in military service you expect to have only seven Regular divisions and only 10 divisions on mobilisation. You expect the French to produce 15 or 20 divisions. Why is it that France, with a population of 40 million, is expected to produce 15 to 20 divisions, whereas this country, with a population of 50 million, is going to produce about half that number?" I dare say there is an answer to that question. All I say is that I should be grateful to know what it is. We have an enormous number of men in uniform and, at the same time, we have a depressingly small number of trained soldiers in formations.
That is all I want to say, but those four questions are, I think, in the minds of many hon. Members. I shall be more than grateful if the Minister of Defence will attempt to answer them.
I shall not detain the House long, but there are one or two points which can be stated briefly at this stage in the Debate. I do not think the uncertainty and uneasiness which have existed throughout this House and the country has been removed by this three-day Debate. A lot of further knowledge has been added, but while we accept these extensions of service and pay as inevitable—and I think with great reluctance—there is all the greater need for us to carry with us the people of the country and, in particular, those who have to take an active part in the extensions. Although, no doubt, the military case will be made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, I think we still have to make the case for the extension of service and for the extra pay on political and economic grounds.
We are giving an awful lot to the Armed Forces at this stage in our economic life and I think it is only right that, in return, the Armed Forces should make some concessions to the people who are going into them. At this time we ought to be insisting that, as far as discipline will allow, there shall be the same kind of treatment for the citizen who is going into the Armed Forces as that which he is entitled to receive in the civilian world outside. He must have the maximum amount of freedom which is possible with the maintenance of discipline in an armed force.
We ask, therefore, for specific reforms in military procedure in return for a further surrendering of six months of the lives of our young people to the military machine. It is time we had these promised reforms in court martial procedure. The recent Colchester trial showed what a farce these courts martial can be if they are not handled properly. I think we are, therefore, entitled to ask for the immediate implementation of the major reforms recommended by the Lewis Committee.
Secondly, we are entitled to ask that there should be no bar to the rising of any man going into the Armed Forces today to the highest levels, regardless of his income or of his social position. That does mean that the prestige battalions of the Guards, and so on, ought to be taken out of the narrow privileged sphere, so far as the selection of officers is concerned, and thrown open to everybody, so that no one need be debarred on social grounds from making the Army his career. The third thing we must insist upon is that there should be no waste of manpower in our Armed Forces. We all know of examples of waste and misuse that have taken place, and we ought to insist, in this stringent state of our economic life and manpower situation, that this waste should cease, as far as the Armed Forces are concerned.
Then there is the fundamental consideration which we must accept to make this new extension of service acceptable, and that is that National Service must now become more comprehensive than it has been in the past few years. We have lots of complaints about deferments, and about people escaping service, and it ought to be a condition of deferment that a man deferred should take up service in the Territorial Army. I think it is essential to give a sense of fairness and justice—that service in the Territorial Army should be obligatory on those deferred. Above all, our propaganda ought to be directed to showing that these are only temporary measures, and that as soon as Regular recruitment reaches sufficiently high proportions, or as soon as the international situation permits, these measures will be withdrawn as quickly as possible.
On the general economic position, I want to emphasise that it is of no use having manpower in the Armed Forces if we have not got the economic potential to keep them in the field should occasion arise. Moreover, we have also to keep up the morale of the people, and to keep intact, and to extend where possible, the great fabric of the social services which have been established at so much cost in the last few years. I appeal to the Government to preserve them, and in no way to halt the housing programme on which we have now embarked.
What divides us from the Opposition in this crisis today, I think, is that on the other side there are many people who believe that war is inevitable, and, in fact—or so some of the speeches we have heard today would lead us to think—that war is already taking place; whereas we on this side believe that war is not inevitable, and that the measures we are taking are the only sane ones which can preserve us from another catastrophe.
I am obliged to you, Sir, for calling me; I shall be sitting down at exactly 20 minutes to nine. This is the first time in this Parliament that I have had the opportunity to speak on Defence. Let me say that nothing would induce me to take part in a Debate such as this unless I really did feel strongly about just two points. Very often the House—and not without justification—makes fun of the the lawyers when they have legal Debates; but now here is a lawyer who just wants to say something about the Regular Army because I believe it may be helpful.
I noticed that the Prime Minister was speaking of the strategic reserve, and I noticed that, in regard to recruitment, he was talking also about the preliminary reports from the Services being encouraging. It is difficult for someone who has not been trained in the Army to be quite certain that his thoughts on the probabilities of things, if the Russians start to come across Europe, are correct; but as I see it—and I put it very simply—this is the picture that I get.
It will not be possible for Russia to conquer Europe until Britain is destroyed as a Power. We do not live in a castle. We cannot retreat after the first blow into a safe castle, and there train afresh, and then sally forth a month later or two months later and destroy the enemy. That is quite impossible. Therefore, what worries me is this. If there are long-range planes which can arrive, there is no mosquito netting I have heard of that can keep them all out. There are long-range and directed missiles, certainly worse than the V.2s that we remember here in London at the end of the last war, and these cannot be caught like hand grenades and tossed back.
Then how does one deter the Russians from striking? How does one deter them from striking Britain and striking Western Europe? The sad answer—but let us face it and get ready to do it when it is necessary—is that there is only one thing that can deter her as I understand it, and that is the fear of bloody retaliation on a fearful scale and immediately. Delay, as I see it, means putting off punishment until it cannot be administered. Two years ago General Eisenhower said to the President of America's Advisory Commission on Universal Training:
The decision in a future conflict would be determined by our ability to act and react in the first 60 days.
The readiness must surely be that of the best of men, the best of brains and training and keenness, and the best of leaders. We must have professional long-term troops serving enthusiastically. By saying that I do not mean that National Service men do not serve enthusiastically, but let me take a common trite example. I imagine that hon. Members on both sides
of the House look upon themselves as professional politicians in one sense. In the best sense we would all claim that we were professional politicians. It would be unthinkable if people who had joined our two great parties were forced to come to the House. They would not be the best Members of Parliament. It is those who are enthusiastic, who want to serve their country for the love and glory of their duty to their homes and their country who make the best Members of Parliament.
That being so, I am worried in the extreme about recruitment for the Regular Army. As I see it, it is not frank for the Prime Minister to say—and I beg the Minister of Defence to take these two things further—
In … the Army the number of firm applications for enlistment in the first week … has been more than four times the weekly average.
I do not know if "firm applications" means enlistment. I suppose it does not, but it is a vague term. The Prime Minister then went on to say about the Air Force:
The number of inquiries "—
not, it will be noticed, "firm applications"—
has increased five-fold."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 12th September, 1950; Vol. 478, c. 959.]
It is a change of phrase, as I see it, for the worse. Is it not better to be frank? What were the figures? Do let us know what the figures were. Every Member of this House will have a responsibility in the recruitment campaign that must open. It will be a joint one. It will be what is termed a call to arms, however much the political ostriches who will not face up to the possibilities, dislike it.
We shall have to exercise great speed. We shall have to exercise clarity of ex-planation. Indeed, we shall have behind it, without any doubt, the unity of the nation to reinforce our words. If only we could hear the guns of Korea in this Chamber now. Remember the map, and see China gone Communist. Let us remember what Indo-China is suffering. Let us realise that the Communists are on the borders of Burma. Let us realise the anxieties of India and Pakistan about the danger from Afghanistan. Let us realise the anxieties of Azerbaijan, and the anxiety still of Greece. It is absolutely essential that there should not be this. perpetual oscillation between unity and disunity.
Let me give one final quotation. The principle upon which the Government acted during the war is to be found in the "Economic History of Warfare" published by the Stationery Office, which contains this short sentence:
Everything for the war whether controversial or not, and nothing controversial that is not bona fide needed for the war.
May I substitute two words and read that again, and suggest that there is something which I believe will come, not from inside this House but from outside because we shall get our orders from our masters—from the people. This is how it will read: "Everything for security and a lasting settlement whether controversial or not, and nothing controversial that is not bona fide needed for security and a lasting settlement."
I believe that if the next few days show that any person or persons in authority take steps which are considered, whether rightly or wrongly, by the nation to have been deliberately taken for the purpose of playing politics, he will be ruined politically. I urge the Minister of Defence to realise that a great many of us throughout the country do feel anxious that speed should be put into the programme. May I tell him this: Our great Devon man, Humphrey Gilbert, who was used to worrying the great Queen Elizabeth, said something to try to get her to put speed into her policy and programme which, I believe, could be used well now. He wrote to her:
Haste, madam, for the wings of a man's life are plumed with the feathers of death.
I think that hon. Members in most parts of the House will probably agree that this last day of a long Debate on momentous decisions has had certain rather unusual and, I think, not uninteresting characteristics, some of them gay and some of them grave. Of the gayer kind, we have had the cut and thrust of debate not only across the Floor of the House but within benches on either side of the House. There has been sometimes almost an internecine struggle. Those hon. Members who missed the reply of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), for instance, to the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) might well consult HANSARD tomorrow. I can say that I found it vastly entertaining. I think that on the whole—and I hope I shall not embarrass the hon. Gentleman by saying so—honours went to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, although I tried to take up an entirely neutral attitude in that dispute, which is something difficult to do in these days when neutrality is very difficult to practise.
While I agree with much that the hon. Gentleman said, I think that he was less than fair in defining the attitude of this country, or, shall I say, of Members on this side of the House to Russia. I took his words down. No one to the best of my knowledge has ever declared that Russia is fundamentally "evil"—that was the word he used. No one, I think, believes that of any nation at any time, but what many of us have felt, and, I must say, I have felt, is that Soviet Russia for years past has not fulfilled either the letter or the spirit of the negotiations and terms into which she so freely entered on her own account. That, stage by stage, has virtually brought national negotiations and contact with her to a standstill. Someone in the Debate said that diplomacy had almost ceased to function between the countries. That is true. I think that it is deplorable. It is a situation that never existed either in 1914 or 1938.
I have tried to watch these things as best I could while not being a member of the Government, and I do not think that anyone could charge our own Government or the United States with failing to keep these channels open. There must be a reciprocity if these things are to work. I know that we must be careful of thinking that we are always right. That is the easiest assumption to enter into on foreign affairs, but I think that it is due to me to say that I believe that the heavy onus for the position in which we now are placed rests mainly on the Soviet Union.
But there is this other tone which I thought ran through the Debate, and which was the graver. I thought that Members in all parts of the House, while approving broadly the policy of the Government have put forward, were also deeply perturbed that we should be doing this at this time and were seeking for some method or means by which we could escape from entering into this heavy programme. I feel like them too, but, so far, I have been unable to find what that other alternative is. In all the speeches to which I have listened, on whichever side of the House, that have been searching for this alternative approach, I have been unable to find a solution which would clearly lead us anyway nearer the objective everyone wants to realise.
The Minister of State for Economic Affairs gave us yesterday a comprehensive survey of some of the problems which re-armament must be expected to create. He did this with a remarkable assiduity, which won for him a patient hearing; indeed, I thought at times that his speech was as smooth as our passage in these economic affairs is likely to be rough later. I do not mean that in a party political sense, but in a national sense. I shall refer to one or two aspects of his speech in a moment. I merely content myself now with saying that in our view the Government are right in their decision not to introduce an autumn Budget.
The account which the Prime Minister gave us of the additional land forces which will shortly be available, to which I have no doubt the Minister for Defence will be referring in a few moments, as a result of the new proposals now before the House, will not, I fear, be very heartening to our friends on the Continent. It must be remembered that they judge these methods not only by the number of new divisions we propose to raise, but by the locality in which we propose to station them. The Government's proposal, as I understand it, visualises an increase of only one division on the Continent of Europe, that is to say, raising the number from two to three, with, I suppose, an additional armoured brigade as well. That is rather meagre fare.
The fact that we also propose to create a small strategic reserve in this country of two divisions—and a little more perhaps—with additional forces, is of relatively little comfort to nations that are separated from us by the anti-tank ditch of the English Channel. I forecast that the Prime Minister will probably have to review this matter again, and that our contribution for the stationing of troops on the Continent of Europe will have to be larger than three divisions. I shall have some suggestions to make in a moment or two which might make that possible.
The Prime Minister referred on Tuesday to the three-year plan which he announced so soon after Parliament rose, and there have been several speeches commenting on the difference between this plan and the plan before us when the House separated. But he also made it clear that this plan was due to proposals from the United States, and to offers of help from the United States, and was to some extent provisional on what that American help might be. Meanwhile, if I follow his argument correctly, the Government are going forward with their programme, which I think is the right course, assuming American aid will be forthcoming to a sufficient extent.
If that reading is correct, I hope, because I think the House will be interested if he can do so, that the Minister of Defence will fill in that picture a little and give any further information he can of plans and proposals in the near future in connection with this question of American help to our rearmament programme. I think it is only fair, because no one has yet done it in this Debate, for the House to bear in mind how immensely heavy is the burden that the Americans are now carrying in the financial and economic sphere. Of course, their resources are immense, but their expenditure is staggering. Frankly, the figures are so large that I think it is very difficult to visualise them at all.
President Truman told us on 9th September that the United States would be spending in 1950–51 at the rate of 30,000 million dollars a year; that is to say, at the rate of £10,600 million a year, which is about three times our total budget on defence alone. These figures include military aid to Europe, to the Middle East and to South-East Asia. They are enormous figures such as the world has never known before, and I think they represent an expenditure of about 12 per cent. of the national income of the United States.
That is not all, because we have to add to that the cost of Marshall Aid, which is a further burden on the American people. Then there is the further economic help—I think this is all additional, but the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—contemplated or already given by the United States to countries in South Asia, so very important in itself. Therefore, while we are perfectly right to press our own claim it is only just that we should have some perspective of what are the burdens that others have to bear.
I agree with what the Minister of Economic Affairs said with regard to the relation of this rearmament programme to our export trade. It is most important that we should not allow the effort we have made to increase our exports to hard currency countries, particularly, for example, to Canada, to flag because of the rearmament programme which we have to carry out. That is a pretty hard doctrine to practise, because these hard currency markets are also hard markets in another sense. Much good work has been done, not only by British industry but by many friends of ours in Canada, to develop our markets in that country, and we are particularly indebted to the Dollar Sterling Trade Board, under Mr. James Duncan, for what they have done. We must keep that work going, and I was glad to hear the Minister of Economic Affairs say that the Government have taken it into consideration.
This leads to another aspect of our export trade, which has not been mentioned, but which ought to be in the mind of the House. The brilliant display staged last week by our aircraft manufacturers at Farnborough served once again to show that we have a clear lead over the whole world in the design of every class of aeroplane and aero engine. No mention has been made by the Government—I do not know whether the Minister of Defence can tell us about it tonight—since the Air Estimates, which, I think, were debated last March, about the production of heavy long-range jet bombers. We were assured that if the aircraft then in design proved successful the Royal Air Force would be equipped with them. Until large numbers of them are available it is undoubtedly right that we should rely to the greatest extent on the American B.29 and any other machines that they may have.
Britain's lead in jet aircraft is unchallenged, and it may be that the long-range jet bomber at present being developed by our aircraft industry will be flying before America can produce anything on the same size. If that is so, here is a contribution we can make to the common pool, and it may be advisable for the production of these bombers to be undertaken in other Commonwealth countries and in the United States as well as in our own country. At any rate, we are agreed that in the vastly accelerated production of munitions clear priority will have to be given to the production of military equipment and that some sections of our industry will need to turn over to that production, but I am glad that our export trade is also to be maintained.
We are not in the position yet to go into a large-scale production of heavy bombers, but in civil aircraft, in the Comet and in the Viscount our lead is unrivalled, and within the next 10 years the whole civil air fleets of the world will need replacement. There are, I am told, about 600 four-engined and 3,000 twin-engined air transports flying today, all with obsolescent piston engines. These will all need to be replaced by jet or turbo-prop engines, which will cost somewhere between £500 million and £1,000 million—very large figures even for the present day. Here is an opportunity for the heavy aircraft side of our industry such as we cannot afford to ignore. I suggest that by going all out for that civil market now we can hope to sustain the export drive and, at the same time, to ensure that the aircraft industry is tooled up and manned to meet our military commitments. At any rate, here is a proposal I would leave to the Government.
I must make one reference to a subject which has already been referred to, and that is the equipment of our Royal Auxiliary Air Force. During the Recess I saw something of the squadron of which I have the honour to be honorary Air Commodore, as several hon. Members of the House are of other squadrons. The House must remember that if war breaks out those auxiliary squadrons will have to fulfil exactly the same duties as Regulars will be called upon to perform. I believe that there is no change there. If that is so, it is deplorable that their aircraft are so lamentably antiquated. I know that most of those aircraft are jets, though not all, but they are very old jets indeed and have done many hundreds of flying hours. They are very limited as to the height at which they can fly and there are many modifications. That is a rather serious state of affairs to exist in what is a part of our front-line defence. I hope that the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will get its share of the new fighters.
Perhaps I might be allowed to say something on this matter at this stage. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, by the end of this year 13 of the 20 auxiliary squadrons will be equipped with jet Vampires.
Vampire II's and III's. It is intended, as more modern Vampires and Meteors come off the production line next year, to re-equip the whole of the 20 squadrons. They will be equipped and re-equipped with more modern jet machines.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has just made the point that I was trying to emphasise. It is true that some of these squadrons are equipped with Meteor Ill's. The squadron which I know is equipped with the Meteor III, but this is not the kind of aircraft which is needed, after all the flying that these machines have done. We must do something better for these squadrons than that. I am glad to hear that they are to have new equipment next year. I should have been even happier if I could have been told that we will not let new jets go to anybody else abroad, unless they go to very close and intimate friends, until our auxiliary squadrons are supplied with them.
I do not care so long as we get that answer. We should like that assurance very much.
As to the pay increase, that is very good. One point was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) to which I hope the Minister of Defence will give us an answer tonight. The increased pay for the National Service men will only come into force in the extra six months of their service. No exception can be taken to this arrangement as a general principle. When those National Service men are engaged in active fields of operation, surely they should receive the same pay as the Regulars who are fighting alongside them. That point was put by my right hon. Friend yesterday, and we feel that it is just. We hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us an assurance that he can do that, or at least that the matter will be considered.
The Prime Minister told us on Tuesday that substantial additions will be made to the strength and preparedness of Anti-Aircraft Command and that a high priority was being afforded to our radar defence. Something must be said about that because both these vital arms are manned in the main by auxiliary forces. We do not know what the rate of buildup has been since July when they received their first influx of National Service men but some recent decisions which have been taken must react on them. For instance, the Government presumably hope that National Service men will transfer to Regular engagements. If that happens the new rates of pay are bound to have their effect upon the number of men available for the auxiliaries.
More serious than that is the effect of the extension of National Service to two years, which will mean that from 1st October this year and for the following six months the only additions to the Territorial Army and the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve will be from voluntary recruitment. No others will be coming through owing to the retention of the National Service men. I reckon—I do not know whether it is right or not—that it will not be until July, 1954, that these auxiliary forces will reach their maximum strength, and that is rather grim.
What is to happen, meanwhile, in this absolutely vital sphere—I use the much-abused word "vital" but it really is a vital sphere—of Anti-Aircraft Command and fighter control? This was raised in July. The Prime Minister then told us that in the event of an emergency sufficient reserves could be called upon to man the radar stations fully. I hope that the Minister of Defence will be able to amplify that assurance by telling us who comprise these reserves who are to be called up to man these stations. Were not many of the personnel who manned the radar chain during the war women? How many of these are still available and free from responsibilities of homes and children?
The present undermanned position is extremely serious. As I understand the figures—there is nothing secret about them because they have been made publics —on 1st July the total strength of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force—it includes fighter control units—was 6,855 out of a total established strength of 20,000 That is a lamentable short-fall on this vital defence position. I should like to ask the Government, if they are concerned, as they must be, with this situation, whether it would be worth considering giving some refresher training to a number of Class Z Reservists, so that if the emergency does arise we can be sure that the immediate manning of these vital services is possible?
At any rate, I do not feel that we or the Government or anybody else could be content to leave the position in the dangerous situation in which it is now. The same applies to the question of the Territorials. The Prime Minister referred to the number of Territorial divisions which will in due course be available. I take it that the date when they will be available is a date very far off. If the right hon. Gentleman can give us any information about when that will be we shall be very glad to hear it tonight or at any other time.
I now want to say a word on a subject which has been raised by several hon. Members, that of Colonial troops. Are the Government making any progress at all with plans to raise additional Colonial forces? I raised this question last July and several of my hon. Friends have done so in this Debate and previously. The Prime Minister will remember very well the gallant part which the West African division played in Burma in the last war. Their record was equal to that of any other division in that very tough fighting. In East Africa, the King's African Rifles have an equally brilliant record. I should have thought that it would have been possible before now to have had two African divisions available. With their jungle training they ought to be of the greatest value for service in Malaya. They could relieve some of our own battalions and thus increase our reserves at home and perhaps make it possible to meet the problem which the Government will have to meet of at least one further division than they propose for Western Europe.
I must confess that I was not at all convinced by the Prime Minister's arguments last July. He said that the numbers in Africa are only sufficient for internal security. That may be so but, if it is so, why cannot steps be taken to recruit more? At the same time he implied that the men who could and did serve with such conspicuous success in Burma might not be so useful in Malaya. I find that hard to believe, and I hope the Minister of Defence will tell us what he can on that subject and give us a full explanation of the situation and of the policy of the Government. I do not see how we can afford to neglect the very high quality troops that the Colonies could contribute at a time like this.
I welcome the decision of the Government to create an armoured division at home. That is certainly right, because the smaller the force the more it needs to be mobile and to contain a high proportion of armour. I assume that our production of Centurion tanks is sufficient to deal with this and to maintain the necessary reserves. What is the position, I wonder, about motorised infantry? We know that the Americans and, indeed, the Russians have gone in for that arm to a considerable extent. I presume that motorised battalions and motorised infantry will form part of the new armoured division. But what about their equipment? As I understand it, no new vehicles have been produced since the war for them. Is there a prototype available, or how is it proposed to mount these motorised units?
One other comment on equipment before I pass to some general words before I sum up. Can we be told what progress has been made between the allied countries in the standardisation of equipment? The practical military advantages are obvious, though I know how difficult the carrying out of it must be. But the advantages are not only military. There are political advantages in it too, because these are all factors that tend to create a unifying influence between the free countries on the broadest possible basis and that, after all, is precisely what we are trying to do.
I turn from that, if the House will bear with me, to make one or two observations on what may be called the political side of this rearmament question and of the situation which we confront. It seems to me that the international situation in which we find ourselves can be best summed up now as a world alert. It means that we have to take up a position of self-defence, not merely country by country, but by concerted action over the whole free world, and we have to keep up our state of preparedness for an indefinite time.
All this will involve a supreme test of nerve, and to break our nerve will be as much a Communist objective as any other strategic or tactical plan of conquest, whether through direct aggression or through infiltration. We could quite easily have a crisis of confidence among the ordinary men and women in many parts of Europe and of Asia, especially among those who have had vivid memories of invasion and occupation, and all that means, unless we can give them practical evidence that they are part of a united and effective Defence system—and that is the importance of the proposals we are now considering. That point was made very well by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) last night.
Therefore, I am convinced, for my part, that concerted action in joint Defence is the best political as well as economic weapon we can interpose against the central Communist strategy, and I presume to provide this is the basis of the work to be carried out by the Foreign Ministers' Conference just begun in New York. But at the centre of their discussions lies the problem of the contribution Germany may make to the defence of the West. That has been much debated today. Opinions may differ, and they obviously do, in all parts of the House, as to the means, but there cannot really be any question that Germany is a military factor of crucial importance to the West. Any idea that Germany can be somehow side-tracked into a neutral position is today sheer fantasy. Everybody agrees about that. If we were so foolish as to try it, all I can say is that Soviet expansionist plans would take advantage of it the next morning.
The fact that Germany is already partitioned between East and West is the realistic answer to anyone who still hopes that her neutralisation is practical politics. In the last year we have seen agreements by our country, by France and by the United States, to important modifications of the Occupation Statute. Now we understand that further provision, it may be in the sphere of responsibility for foreign affairs, is now being discussed in New York. I hope that it is; I should welcome that. But we should also agree that the whole purpose of any modifications of that Statute, as well as the efforts of my right hon. Friend at The Hague and at Strasbourg, has been to draw Germany into the European family of free and democratic nations. That is the purpose of these acts, whether by the Government or by my right hon. Friend. That is the result we all wish to see.
If I carry the House with me, it is merely a development of our own actions that Germany should be associated in the defence of the free nations. This, as Mr. Acheson said, is "an obvious and proper objective." I do not think anyone in this House would deny that it is impossible to make constructive plans for European defence without those plans involving the defence of Western Germany. The Germans, however, have not asked for an army of their own. They have asked for a larger and stronger police force, in proportion to the undoubted threat represented by the Bereitschaften, or armed police, sponsored by the Soviet in Eastern Germany. I think we have to accept that that claim is well founded in view of what has happened in Eastern Germany. This police force should, therefore, be provided. But I, personally, say this without enthusiasm, for I am not myself very fond of strong police forces, and I am a little surprised to find from some of the benches opposite a much greater enthusiasm for this larger police force than for the idea of forming components of a European army.
I do not follow that myself. If one had to choose between the two, I should prefer to see a German contingent working with other countries under international command than a strongly built police force. Anyhow, it must obviously be done in view of what has happened in Eastern Germany. It would be a first contribution to Western defence, because the internal security of Western Germany is a component of European peace. But the question remains: Is it enough? We have to give earnest and, so far as we can, unprejudiced consideration to that question. I was impressed by the good sense of a remark made by one of the German representatives at Strasbourg, who said:
We do not expect from others that they defend us without our making a contribution on equal and just conditions.
Here, I ought to emphasise that the resolution for a European army, for which my right hon. Friend was responsible at Strasbourg, was framed in the context of "full co-operation with the United States and Canada." It opened the prospect of a German contribution to a European army. It most certainly did not imply the creation of a German army in any nationalist sense or in anyway independent of the Atlantic defence organisation we are all so anxious to see rapidly established. Personally, I hope that agreement on these matters will be reached by the Foreign Secretaries of the three Powers in New York in the next few days, and I hope that such agreement will make it possible for a German contribution to be made in due course to the international force which is to defend Europe.
I come now to the front where the actual fighting is being fought—the Far East. The fighting in Korea has been, and is, very tough, and the casualties, particularly, of course, American casualties, so far as the United Nations are concerned, very heavy. One conclusion is clear enough already. With the equipment of modern war, the aggressor has at the outset an overwhelming advantage; and if anybody still doubts who is the aggressor, he has only to look at that side of the picture. But in the diplomatic sphere I think there do seem grounds for more confidence. In particular, the steps taken to neutralise Formosa, politically as well as militarily, are most welcome. The United States have shown statesmanship as well as good will in proposing discussion of the future status of Formosa both by debate in the United Nations and, if necessary, by investigation on the spot.
As to the tangled problem of recognition of Communist China and her admission to the United Nations, which has been referred to today, I do not want to go into the subject in detail now because it will obviously be discussed by the Foreign Secretary. But the House must remember—it seems to me to add complication to the situation—that the Soviet case if China's admission is linked with the entirely artificial proposition that the United Nations resolution, upon which we are all acting now, which condemned the Korean aggression as a breach of peace, was invalid through the absence of China as much as through the absence of the Soviet Union itself. It is the Soviet intransigence which emphasises the difficulty of the situation. I am only expressing my view, but it adds the difficulty and danger of re-opening that question before U.N.O. until the Korean conflict is resolved. That is the consideration I would leave with the House.
I wish to say a word on the United States. May I say here that I think we should be careful in this House in trying to align parties in other countries with political parties in our own? That leads to the most fantastically absurd conclusions. I heard the hon. Member for Coventry, East, referring to our Republican friends and his Democratic friends as though the Democratic Party in the United States and the Socialist Party here were one and the same thing. If there is any hon. Member opposite who really thinks that, I have a suggestion to make to him. Let him go across the Atlantic and seek nomination as a Democratic candidate on the basis of nationalisation of the steel industry and see what happens to him. We could hope to be able to welcome him back in due course.
I suppose we are all agreed that our relations with that great and generous country are all-important, but that does not mean that we have to wait for all the initiative to come from that side of the Atlantic. We are co-partners and, while we cannot match the United States in material resources, we can be in the forefront in the leadership of the free world. It seems to me that what we want is a sustained resolve to establish and maintain mutual confidence from the highest to the lowest level, accepting the fact that we share a common burden.
I feel there is need for a better perspective on our part of the great strain now being imposed on the American people as much as on their Government by the incessant provocation of Soviet propaganda. The Communists have made an unparalleled effort to convict the Americans as the arch aggressors and conspirators against world peace. "Shameful, bloody orgy," "dirty plot" and "bloody Colonial war"—those are only some of Mr. Malik's epithets about the United States' intervention in Korea. Since that action was taken on behalf of the United Nations, since we specifically approved that decision surely we ought to do all in our power to sustain the Americans in their moral, as well as their physical strength.
There is one particular twist of Communist propaganda in America against which we ought to exert all our influence. Mr. Acheson himself has drawn attention to it. It is the phrase "a preventive war." Mr. Acheson has commented on it in very severe terms. He used these words:
When we talk about it we tend to bring about the very thing we are trying to prevent. … It does great harm to our Allies. It makes them believe we are not steady, sensible, and calm. It does great damage to our chances of peace by making our enemies believe that their own propaganda is true.
These seem to me to be wise and courageous words. I have no doubt myself that they represent the sustained opinion of the people of the United States, and that is why I have quoted them.
This brings me to a point which is of fundamental importance—the necessity for a greater effort for ensuring that our own propaganda is both true and effective. Its truth is a cardinal necessity, but, even if it is true, it will lose effectiveness if presented in a defensive spirit. In a certain sense the free world is too much on the defensive, and by that I do not mean in the preparation of guns, tanks and aeroplanes, but in the presentation of its thought.
It is a favourite Soviet theme—we find it in every country in Europe, and especially in what I call the border countries—that the free countries are reactionary; that it is our policy and way of life that is static. Nothing could be further from the truth. No system of government is more reactionary than the police State. The whole political conception of the police State is indefensible, for whatever purpose it is set up, or however specious the argument used to support it. The fact that this Communist propaganda strikes us as demonstrably untrue does not mean that it is entirely ineffective. Mr. Malik's distortions in the Security Council may be merely water on a duck's back to the initiated, but we must allow for the probability that the uninitiated are made of rather more absorbent material.
The counter does not lie, in my view, in the mere reiteration that Mr. Malik has got it all wrong on points of detail. It lies in presenting the case for the Western world with clarity and force; in setting forth the stability of worth-while democratic institutions, and all the infinite variety of our spiritual assets which it is the constant effort of Soviet propaganda to conceal or distort.
One final word. At all times and in all places we must never lose sight of the fact that the purpose of our rearmament is peace; to negotiate from strength for the purpose of arriving at a lasting settlement. That is what it is for, and it is fantastic that the Soviet Union and her satellites, with their enormous expenditure on armaments for maintaining forces under arms far in excess of any other country since the war, should be allowed to succeed in attempting to pose as champions of peace, merely because they found a piece of paper for people to sign at Stockholm.
I hope the Government are giving thought to all these matters. They are all part of the struggle in which we are engaged. It is a contest of thought as well as of material defence. If, together with our friends, we approach these matters firmly and in concerted action, I myself have confidence that, dark as the outlook is at present, we can yet establish in the world a rule of law and an enduring peace. That must be not only our prayer, but our constant endeavour.
The House will forgive me if I fail to answer all the questions that have emerged in the course of this prolonged Debate. There must have been hundreds of them, some undoubtedly of major importance, many, may I say with great respect, somewhat more trivial. I propose to reply so far as time permits to the major questions, and, to the best of my ability, to present to the House the broad picture of our existing defences and our proposed defence organisation.
In the course of this Debate it was inevitable that charges should be made against the Government; we had recriminations and there were some provocative speeches. I am not interested in recriminations, nor, for that matter, in dialectics; I am concerned, primarily, with the promotion of an adequate defence organisation for this country. Although, occasionally, as hon. Members are aware, I perhaps yield somewhat too speedily to temptation, I shall not succumb to its blandishments on this occasion.
I have listened to almost every speech that has been made, and I am bound to say that I have failed to detect any serious criticism of the policy embodied in the Government's Motion. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden), far from making a critical speech, as one might expect at the end of a Debate—although the right hon. Gentleman's contributions to our Debates are always agreeable, and the force of his arguments frequently accepted—produced no major criticism of the Government's policy. He asked a great many questions and made many helpful and constructive suggestions, as, indeed, did other hon. Members, of which note will be taken.
The right hon. Gentleman put one or two specific questions to me, to one of which I can give an immediate reply. It was on the subject of the building up of our Colonial Forces. This is a matter which has engaged the attention of our military advisers for many years, as the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware. We have at present in both East and West Africa round about 17 battalions which, on the whole, is an adequate force, at any rate for the purposes of dealing with any disturbance of internal security, and that, of course, is the major objective of that force.
We have considered whether it would be possible to increase the number of units of Colonial troops, but there are financial and other difficulties about that. For example, there is the difficulty of making such Colonial troops agreeable to all the people in any particular theatre to which they may be sent. [An HON. MEMBER: "Even their enemies?"] Perhaps hon. Members will permit me to make my speech. I am anxious to furnish them with all the information I possibly can. Of course, it could be otherwise, but I should prefer to speak as constructively as the circumstances demand. We shall not close our minds to the proposition the right hon. Gentleman makes to us, and if and when, in our judgment, we feel it is desirable to increase the number of units in our Colonial Empire and from our Colonial Empire it will certainly be done.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in a speech very early in the Debate, made several charges against the Government, one of which—I quote his words—was that the Government have been responsible in the sphere of defence for "mismanagement and muddle." But the right hon. Gentleman produced no specific evidence of mismanagement. Perhaps more than anybody in this House, he is familiar with the Service Departments and the administration of those Departments, and, if he had possessed evidence, denoting items of waste or mismanagement or muddle he should have produced that evidence. In the absence of that evidence, I repudiate emphatically the charge he has made.
Undoubtedly, from time to time, in a huge organisation like the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, there may be some misuse of manpower or of equipment and the like, but, generally speaking, we have failed to detect anything of the nature of gross waste and certainly of extravagance. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to argue that this mismanagement and muddle had been responsible for our alleged inability to provide adequate forces for the Far East.
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman—or anywhere else. I reply at once that there is not a single commitment overseas in the last five years that the Government have failed to meet. If any hon. Member can point to one I am willing to deal with it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Malaya."] Surely hon. Members will never allege that we have failed in our responsibility in Malaya; we have provided all the troops that the Command have asked for in relation to the Malayan operation. As regards the provision of troops for Korea, the right hon. Gentleman alleged that because of the absence of a strategic reserve, we were unable to provide immediate reinforcements. Let me tell him that for the past 12 or 18 months we have furnished to Malaya and Hong Kong large reinforcements out of our strategic reserve.
We have had to deplete our strategic reserve. If we had obtained that strategic reserve in this country we should have been able to provide a brigade group contingent much more speedily than has been planned, but, nevertheless, we have met every single request made to us by the United States authorities with relation to Korea.
If I cared, I could produce the chronological order of events showing the sequence of demands—not demands, requests—made to us from General MacArthur's headquarters, from the United States military administration and from the United Nations Organisation. And we speedily sent out naval forces; indeed, they were on the spot. Air forces were made available, and we despatched—I admit at some risk—two battalions from Hong Kong. The brigade group will be despatched from this country before many weeks have passed, and that is in accordance with what is expected by General MacArthur.
I come to the right hon. Gentleman's references to the Western Union Defence Organisation. There is confusion in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman; there is a misunderstanding which must be disposed of, and it arises in this way. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about the need for 60 divisions in the West. But he did not indicate the time available for us to provide those divisions, except in a recent broadcast when he talked about a breathing space of about two or three years—the time available for the purpose of providing those divisions.
Let me tell him and the House at once that the figure he mentioned of 60 divisions is closely related to the target of the Western Union Defence Organisation, not for next year—and apparently the right hon. Gentleman had not 1951 in mind—but for 1953 and 1954, so there is no quarrel between us. The misunderstanding arises in this way, and apparently there are some hon. Members—this has appeared in some of the newspapers—who expect that these divisions will be made available in 1951. That is clearly and physically impossible.
I shall come to that. I am dealing with the right hon. Gentleman's allegations against the Government in relation to the provision of adequate divisions for the Western Union. Reference has been made by a right hon. Gentleman opposite—I think it was the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in his speech—to the French decision to have 20 divisions in the West. But that is not for 1951.
Somebody did. At any rate, it came from that side of the House. These 20 divisions are not to be provided by the French by 1951. These 20 divisions are intended for 1953 and probably 1954. All that the French Government have decided to produce next year, in July or September of next year, is 10 divisions, and a public announcement has been made on this subject. That is the position.
What is the contribution we are making towards the build-up of adequate forces in the West? I want to tell the House at once that, however interesting it may be to plan for 1953 or 1954, I am much more concerned about 1951. I have done everything possible—I beg the House to believe me in this regard—not to bring pressure, for one is not entitled to bring pressure on one's defence colleagues in the West, but to persuade my colleagues of the West how essential it is that we should provide, I shall not say adequate forces—that would be saying too much—but forces available in the event of some disturbance arising in Germany or elsewhere in the next 12 months.
That is the position. What have we provided? At present we have in the British Army of the Rhine 2⅓ divisions. The Prime Minister in his speech informed the House that we intend to send another division, an armoured division, there by March of next year. Let me tell the House my view about this matter. I believe that more is required. I believe that we have to match, so far as is possible—and that is a qualification, because many factors have to be considered in this regard—the contribution made by our allies. [Interruption.] Indeed, we have not been asked to do more than that. I am much more familiar with what our allies are asking than hon. Members opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it? "] No doubt, hon. Members can give scope to their fertile imaginations, and sometimes their malicious and party imaginations, but I happen to be aware of what our allies are asking, and I am aware of what contribution we can make ourselves.
The right hon. Gentleman interjects, and asks, "What about the enemy? "That is the concern of all of us. If there were no enemy we should not be discussing defence tonight. It is precisely because there is a possible enemy that we are concerned in building up as speedily as possible an adequate defence organisation. Moreover, when we are told, as we have been told in the course of this Debate, that the Government's policy has come too late, I would remind hon. and right hon. Members that the Government's contribution is not belated in relation to the contributions and the assurances made by our colleagues in the Western Union Defence Organisation. The policy is to build up collective balanced forces, and we are making our contribution to the organisation, which is based on that conception. But it may be, as I have said, that we shall be required to provide further in the course of the next year.
Yes, I do. This is not easy to say, and, perhaps, not so agreeable to hon. Members opposite, but I beg of them to understand that I know exactly what the French expect of us, and what we believe is a worthy addition to the forces that they propose to provide some time next year. [HON. MEMBERS: "What are they?"] But it may be that the forces will be required to be built up much more speedily and in greater measure. That depends upon a variety of circumstances. After all is said and done, there is not much use in providing land forces unless we can provide adequate air support. That is not, even for the right hon. Gentleman opposite, an easy problem to solve. We are engaged in trying to find a solution.
But now I wish to come to the matter of the contribution of Territorial divisions some time next year, to which the Prime Minister referred. We can give the House this assurance: I hope there will be no emergency, but in the event of an emergency we shall provide 10 Territorial divisions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not 12?"]—I am sorry, 12 divisions next year, mobilisable progressively in a matter of months. It may be that we shall require in the event of an emergency to mobilise some of these divisions in a matter of weeks, but these divisions are in addition to the divisions, one armoured and one infantry, with a parachute brigade, which will be part of the strategic reserve we propose to provide in this country early next year. It may be, in the event of an emergency such as some envisage, that we may require to provide even more adequate forces, but that depends very largely on whether we can provide adequate equipment.
There is also the question of what contribution is likely to be made by the United States of America. We are much encouraged and heartened by what President Truman has said in this regard. President Truman has declared that troops in adequate numbers, properly trained and, of course, properly equipped, as the United States can do, will be available for the West in a very short time. What time I cannot say. That depends entirely on the United States of America. But whenever they come, they will be a valuable addition to the troops we and our other Western defence allies will provide.
No, I am speaking of the American troops. The American addition in troops will not be part of an auxiliary force. They will be trained Regulars who have joined the United States Forces, most of them voluntarily, although it may well be that some of them will be conscripted. That is a matter entirely for the United States of America. [Laughter.] Surely that is a matter entirely for the United States, and not for us, to determine.
Now I come to the question of air support. As I announced in July in the Defence Debate, we have received a matter of £100 million. Part of that was required—and I freely confess it to the House—for the purpose of covering obvious deficiencies, some in the Navy, some in the Air Force, and to a minor extent in the Army. There was £70 million in addition, the bulk of which will go in the provision of modern aircraft, to which I and my colleagues attach the highest importance. In addition, another £100 million has now been placed at our disposal. This is irrespective of any contribution from the United States of America. Already most of the orders have been placed, and in association with my right hon. Friends the Minister of State for Economic Affairs and the Minister of Supply, I am ensuring not only that orders are placed, but that the work is undertaken and completed with the utmost expedition. I agree with the hon. Member for Edgbaston (Sir P. Bennett) that there is no advantage in placing orders unless we secure the completion of those orders at a very early date.
I am unable to answer the question how many aircraft are available. Indeed, I tell the House quite frankly that it is inadvisable that I should tell the House and the world what aircraft are available and the number of squadrons that will be available early next year. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman has not asked me that, in spite of the jeering of some of his hon. Friends. This is the contrast between the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington and some of those ill-informed and inexperienced critics on the Opposition back benches. Obviously, not even the right hon. Gentleman, were he sitting on this side of the House, would vouchsafe specific information on the matter of aircraft at the present time in the face of the enemy he envisages.
I cannot speak as to that. What I say at the present time is that we regard it as inadvisable. The right hon. Gentleman is not asking for it, and I therefore leave it. I do say that with the money available we shall impart the utmost urgency to the task, not only of placing orders but of securing the early production of the aircraft required.
The right hon. Gentleman said that large orders for aircraft have been given. Is he aware that there is one large airframe factory which, unless it receives orders, will be without work in a matter of weeks?
It was quite unnecessary to ask that question. We have gone into this question of certain aircraft firms who have been dispensing with a number of their employees in the past few months or so, and we are now taking immediate steps to ensure that as much work as possible is placed at their disposal so that the employees can be retained and, moreover, so that they can jig up, if that has not already been done, for the purpose of providing modern aircraft.
May I say one word on the subject of the Navy—the hon. and gallant Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) asked several questions on the subject. I am unable to answer all those questions, but I can assure him that as regards aircraft carriers, both light and heavy, the number, although I would not regard it as adequate, is on the whole satisfactory. We are producing more. One will be available very early next year, and one not long afterwards, in addition to those that we already have. As regards research and development, the production of anti-submarine devices and production of anti-submarine frigates, the work is proceeding very satisfactorily indeed.
I want to come to the subject of the integration of the North Atlantic Treaty organisation and the Western Union Defence Organisation. I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Brigadier Head) that there are far too many organisations and committees. Only the other day, at a meeting of the Western Union Defence Ministers, we took one useful step. We abolished the Western Union Military Supply Board. That was only a minor matter, but it is an indication that we are not going to saddle ourselves with unnecessary encumbrances of that kind. Moreover, it is the intention—at any rate, the matter is under consideration, and I have not the least doubt that the principle and policy will be applied before long—to integrate the Western Union Defence Organisation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, thus reducing the number of committees and eventually to promote a unified command under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. There will be more information on that subject coming along later.
I want to say a word on the subject raised by many hon. Members, namely, German militarisation or German rearmament. There was a statement on Tuesday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and all I wish to add to what he said is this: We have had various expressions of opinion on that subject on both sides of the House. For example, the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) declared that, because certain German delegates in Strasbourg had favoured the proposal for the building up of a German force, that was one strong reason why the principle should be applied.
I would not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman who has so little time, except to say that I said the exact opposite. I said that what impressed us was that all the German delegates were against a German army, and they would not vote for a German army but would support a German contribution to a European Army.
I must say that I cannot understand the difference between a German contribution to a European Army and the building up of German units. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman, with the assistance of his right hon. Friend who originated this quaint and fantastic proposal, will be able to explain at some later stage. All I have to say is that the fact that so many opinions have been expressed in this House on both sides—the difference is revealed by the speeches of the right hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton and the noble Lord the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—and the inability of the Leader of the Opposition to explain clearly what he means by a European Army and the contribution he expects from the Germans to the Western Union Defence Organisation, indicate that this matter requires very careful study indeed. I put this to the House: Whether the right hon. Gentleman likes it or not, the matter is being studied.
If the right hon. Gentleman imagines that he can compel the German people to do as he desires, he is making a very grave mistake. After all, the German people have a right to be consulted as to whether they wish to make a contribution to defence. We might persuade them, but we cannot compel them, and speeches we have had in this House about forcing the Germans to do this—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who said that?"]—we have had such speeches from the Opposition side—are completely irrelevant to the existing situation.
I gathered from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition that he indicated his dislike of this Government; in fact, I gathered from what he said that he had no confidence in this Government—
—although he has informed the House that he intends to support our policy. He makes a virtue of necessity; he dare not do otherwise. But I have been a long time in this House with the right hon. Gentleman—not as long continuously as he has been, but off and on as long—and in all the time I have known him I have never understood that he had any confidence in any Government of which he himself was not a member. Sometime I hope the right hon. Gentleman will write his memoirs, not his war memoirs, but his personal memoirs, and inform this country and the world not only of his existing secret thoughts, but also about the Baldwin Government and the Chamberlain Government, and what he thinks of many of his colleagues sitting on the Opposition benches. Perhaps it will be interesting if at the same time Members sitting on those benches informed us what they think of the right hon. Gentleman.
Irrespective of the jeers of Members opposite, we shall proceed to the task of building up a Western Union Defence Organisation speedily, whether with or without the assistance of the right hon. Gentleman and Members opposite. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said our purpose is not aggression. We have no quarrel with the Russian people. They can live their own lives, and so can the people in the satellite countries. We have no desire to interfere with them, but we resent any attempt to interfere with our way of life and with our democratic principles. Any attempt that is made to attack this country, to indulge in aggression, will meet with the sternest resistance on the part of this Government and the British people.
That this House approves the proposals contained in the White Papers Command No. 8026 and Command No. 8027, designed by His Majesty's Government to meet the growing dangers to world peace of which the war in Korea is an example; and is of opinion that the necessary legislation to amend the National Service Acts should be brought in forthwith.