Orders of the Day — Western Europe

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th November 1954.

Alert me about debates like this

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [17th November], That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Western Europe as expressed in the Agreement reached in London on 3rd October, 1954, and in Paris on 23rd October, 1954.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Before proposing the Question again, may I appeal to all hon. Members to make their speeches as short as they possibly can? I have a very long list of hon. Members from both sides of the House who desire to speak in this debate, and it is a matter of grief to me when I cannot satisfy more than a fraction. If hon. Members on this, the second day of the debate, could condense their speeches, I am sure that the whole House, including myself, would be very grateful.

Question again proposed.

3.48 p.m.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), in his admirable speech yesterday, explained that we are prepared to accept these Agreements; and, if there were any doubt about that, or, indeed, about the reasons for it, I am sure that that doubt was dispelled after the excellent speech of by hon. Friend and neighbour the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey). But the fact that we accept these Agreements does not mean that we have no criticisms to offer, no anxieties to express, or no comments to make. In the first part of my speech I propose to touch upon some of those matters of detail before going on to the wider issues which are involved.

I should like to begin with one or two comments upon the question of cost or finance. I think that the Government were extraordinarily slow in giving us the facts of this matter; indeed, we are still not entirely clear about what is involved here. I hope that we shall receive some further elucidation from the Minister of Defence.

I should like to make it clear, however, that because there may be, as, indeed, there seems almost certainly to be, some extra expense compared with what we are now spending, that does not mean that this extra expense would necessarily have been avoided. For that would imply that we could have gone on as we were going on before. I myself do not believe that that would have been possible. I believe, on the contrary, that some extra expenditure in Europe in present circumstances would probably have been unavoidable. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) did not make it very clear, when he was sketching his alternative proposals, exactly how they would differ in cost. Nevertheless, we do want to be perfectly clear, or as clear as we can be, how much is involved.

I should like to explain how I see the position, and then the right hon. Gentleman can tell me later whether I am right or wrong. As I understand, we have been receiving from Western Germany a contribution to our occupation costs amounting, so far as we are concerned, to about £150 million a year out of a total of £600 million a year. That resulted from an agreement made at the time of the Bonn Conventions in 1952, and the agreement regarding occupation costs would have come to an end in any case at the end of this year, on 31st December, 1954. So we would in any case have been bound to have entered into fresh negotiations with the Germans on this matter.

The new Agreement itself provides that in the first 12 months after ratification Germany will pay, in total, a further £270 million, of which we may expect to receive approximately £70 million. The Government have said that because of that, and because of what is in the pipeline—a phrase I am not entirely clear about in this context—they do not expect that we shall have to find any extra money at all until the financial year 1956 to 1957.

I gather that the reason for that is that the £150 million which we are receiving now includes a large amount of capital expenditure which we shall not continue to require; in other words, that there are extraordinary items at the moment of a temporary character, connected, I suppose, with the building of accommodation, roads and airfields, which, in any case, would not have gone on. I hope that the Minister will confirm that that is the case, and give us a rather clearer idea of what those items are and of how it comes about that the cost of our own occupying forces in Germany is suddenly to fall by as much as a half.

The implication of the Government's statements is that we can assume that after the first 12 months in the financial year 1956 to 1957 and thereafter, we are not likely to have to find more than about £70 million a year. That would be the case unless, of course, there were a return, as it were, to higher capital expenditure. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would confirm that that is the case and that, therefore, the maximum that is likely to fall upon us, assuming that nothing else occurs, is about £70 million to £80 million a year.

Presumably, when we undertake expenditure of this scale, we shall introduce our own system of Treasury control. I think that, hitherto, when the amounts have been provided by the German Government, the British Treasury, very naturally, has not been much concerned, and some of us believe that a rather stricter control over expenditure there would result in certain economies. It is, after all, human nature, when one is getting a lot of stuff for nothing from a foreign country, not to be very much concerned about exact requirements and whether they are really necessary. So I myself would hope that we could make some saving on that.

Next we are told about this period beginning with the financial year 1956 to 1957 that there is to be negotiation with the Germans about what further support in aid of expenditure in Europe is to be forthcoming from them. Obviously, nobody would expect the Government to give a figure in public of what they think they can persuade the Germans to pay. That would be unreasonable, but I should say that, if that phrase about further negotiation means anything, the minimum that we could expect as a further contribution from Germany is—shall I say?—at least a further £20 million a year, which is a very small proportion of what Germany has been paying up to now.

That brings me, however, to a question of some importance which has not, I think, been referred to at all yet. Can the Minister of Defence give us any idea of what the expenditure on defence by Western Germany is likely to be under this Agreement? In particular, are the 12 divisions, which are mentioned in the White Paper as the maximum which Germany is to be allowed to have also to be regarded as the minimum? Or may there be a lower level of forces?

On this question of expenditure there is a good deal of confusion at the moment. The German Finance Minister" Dr. Schäffer, has been saying—I should say that it may be only, perhaps, political talk—that he does not intend to spend more than about £750 million on defence. That is very nearly the sum that the Germans have been spending on total occupation costs up to now. If that is the case, it is very difficult to see how Germany will be able to finance her 12 divisions or anything like that. I think we certainly are entitled to ask for any clarification the Minister of Defence can give us on this point.

I was rebuked yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East for expecting some assistance from other countries in meeting any extra burden that may fall upon us. With great respect, I think we are entitled to say that other countries should be prepared to share this burden; and I think that there is one very good reason for this. It so happens that the burden falls by chance upon those Powers which happen to be the occupying Powers. It is, nevertheless, surely agreed that the Paris Agreements are of value and benefit to all the Western European countries. In principle, therefore, I cannot see why the cost of those should fall, as it were fortuitously, solely on the three occupying Powers.

There is a further point which, I think, may become of some importance. I should suppose that under the new arrangements some of the costs we shall incur through the stationing of our forces in Europe would more properly now be attributed to N.A.T.O. expenditure. After all, when we had occupying forces financed, or largely financed, by Germany, that was one thing; if we were building airfields or roads, and so on, the Germans paid for those and there was no need to worry about it.

But if, however, we are to have any degree of integration of our forces with other European forces—and the Foreign Secretary told us that it was the aim to bring about integration at the lowest possible level, even below army level—there seems to be a considerable amount of common expenditure which would fall to N.A.T.O. more properly than to us, and which would have to be financed by some form of common budget.

There is also the wider issue which I had in mind when I suggested that we ought to have the whole burden reexamined. I have never been very happy about the way decisions have been taken in these last few years on how the general burden of defence is to be shared out between the various countries. In fact, of course, each country seems to decide entirely on its own how much it is to carry, and this has, I think, two disadvantages. First, it is psychologically unsatisfactory because we have these independent decisions and then United States aid, so-called, thrown into the pot.

That, I think, is wrong terminology, for a start. United States aid, whether it be economic or defence aid, is no more or less than the United States contribution to the common defence, just as we make our contribution to the common defence. If we have each country deciding its defence programme on its own, as it were, and then America coming along and giving defence aid here and there, we were bound to give that impression.

The second disadvantage is that there is always the danger of a cycle of cuts in defence without the matter being properly considered by N.A.T.O. as a whole. When we were in power we endeavoured to overcome this difficulty, which we saw lying ahead of us, by introducing an attempt in N.A.T.O. to work out how the burden should fairly be shared. At the time of the Ottawa Conference considerable progress had been made in that direction. I recollect that the finance and economic board of N.A.T.O. produced an extremely important and interesting memorandum setting out the financial position of the different members and the kind of burden which it might be reasonable for them to carry.

All that seems to have been completely thrown aside in the last few years. It is true that there is an annual review by N.A.T.O., but we hear very little about these annual reviews and we have no idea whether there is an agreement between the different countries. In answer to one of my questions, the Prime Minister said, "Our defence programme is our own affair and nobody else's." Frankly, I have never been able to take that point of view and I should have thought that in the kind of alliance to which we have belonged, and still more in the kind of alliance into which we are now to enter, it does not make sense to plan a defence programme on one's own and independently.

Furthermore, the question of a common N.A.T.O. budget ought now to be considered. Of course, such a budget was provided for in E.D.C. I am well aware of the difficulties which arise in this field, but we are now half-way between the previous situation and E.D.C. and I think the position should be considered again. I shall be interested to hear from the Minister of Defence whether any thought has been given to it.

The Minister will be well aware of the feeling on the question of conscription which exists in this country. This, I think, partly arises because people look around and see that we are almost the only Power in Europe with a two-year period of National Service. I know that answers are sometimes given to this question on this basis, "Although we have two years and the French have only 18 months, nevertheless the degree of call-up is greater in France."

I am sure that the Foreign Secretary will agree with me, however, that a great deal of friction between members of the alliance could be avoided if there were a clear and simple understanding that everybody did the same period of National Service. This is part and parcel of the same problem of how we are to satisfy the different countries in the alliance that everybody is doing a fair share.

When we talk about costs, we must consider the level of national income. I have always supported the view—and it is a view which we accept on this side of the House—that the principles embodied in progressive taxation should be applied here, that is to say, the larger the national income per head, the larger the proportion of total national income which can reasonably be expected to be spent on defence.

I turn, finally, in these detailed points, to a matter of rather greater importance, which concerns the whole strategy in Europe. I do so with some diffidence because it is not my normal field, but I have been greatly disturbed by something which was said recently by Field Marshal Montgomery. I make no apology for raising the matter now, because I think it is relevant to the debate. Speaking last month, Field Marshal Montgomery said: I want to make it absolutely clear that we at S.H.A.P.E. are basing all our operational planning on using atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons in our defence. It is no longer a question of, 'They may possibly be used.' It is very definitely, 'They will be used if we are attacked.' We could not match the strength that could be brought against us unless we used nuclear weapons. We have reached the point of no return as regards the use of atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons in a hot war. That is a rather serious statement, coming from one of our greatest soldiers. I appreciate that he is now an international soldier, coming under N.A.T.O. and not directly under Her Majesty's Government, but, nevertheless, his statement has caused a great deal of anxiety in the country, an anxiety which is not confined, as I know my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) appreciates, to people who hold his point of view.

If I may, I should like to set this statement in the correct historical background of the main problem. I was one of those who, on the whole, accepted the view that in the first period after the war the possession by the United States of the atomic bomb was probably a very effective deterrent to Soviet aggression in Europe or anywhere else. Then, of course, we had a change in the situation, because the Soviet Union produced the atomic bomb; and there was a further development in which both America and the Soviet Union produced the hydrogen bomb. Even before the hydrogen bomb was developed I took the view that the fact that both America and Russia had the atomic bomb in a sense cancelled out the deterrent power which had previously been held by America and that it produced a very powerful argument for strengthening our ground forces in Europe.

We have often been asked by those who criticised German rearmament why the Russians did not attack, and we have said, previously, that they had the fear of the atomic bomb. That can be disposed of, however, because they can retaliate; and hence the need for stronger ground forces. That was the argument.

We are now told by Field Marshal Montgomery that these atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons are to be used immediately in a future war. The Minister of Defence must appreciate that if they are to be used they are almost certain to involve retaliation, and it seems to me extremely unlikely that that retaliation will be confined to purely military purposes; in other words, we are saying, "We must use these weapons because otherwise we cannot defend ourselves, although we realise that, as a result of our using them, they may be used by our enemies in a most devastating fashion."

Clearly, if this is the case, the whole of our strategy is profoundly affected, and we have to face the whole problem of Civil Defence. I am not saying at the moment that this is necessarily a wrong policy. I do not know. It may be that it is the serious military conclusion at the moment—that is to say, that if there were an attack, we could not restrain Russian advances without using atomic artillery and all the rest of the weapons. But it is a grim prospect. What we are saying, in effect—and I repeat: it may be necessary—is that, to deter Russia, we have to be prepared to use these instruments of atomic artillery, and, presumably, bombs as well, even though we know that in doing so we shall be involved in destruction here on a terrifying scale.

Certain questions arise out of this, and I hope that the Minister will try to answer them. First, was Field Marshal Montgomery's statement authorised by the N.A.T.O. Council or by Her Majesty's Government? Secondly, is the statement which he made a correct account of the policy of the Ministerial Council of N.A.T.O.? If so, when was it decided and why were we not told about it in the House of Commons? Is it a policy—and this is my third question-which is simply an interim policy pending the building up of ground forces in Europe or is it something which will continue even when we have built up those forces?

Exactly what bearing on this policy will the existence of 12 German divisions have? Does it make this policy less necessary than before? There can be quite a valid argument there that 12 divisions are a powerful force for strengthening our ground forces and strengthening our power of resistance without using atomic weapons; but if that is not the case, I think that we have to ask the question: is it really necessary to have all 12 German divisions? After all, this figure was settled in 1950 or 1951–1951, I think—and so far as I recall, before any atomic artillery had been produced, and it seems surprising that it has been taken over three years later without, as it were, further consideration being given to it.

I ask all these questions, not because I am in disagreement with the nine-Power Agreements—indeed, for the rest of my speech I shall give reasons why I think that in all the circumstances they are the best policy—but because we are entitled to have an answer from the Government on these matters of very great importance which are related to the military position in Europe and, therefore, to the treaty.

I turn, now, to the grave issues which we are discussing in this debate. I think we must look at this European problem in the light of the principles which British foreign policy must follow. Most of us would perhaps agree with this—that the ideal we would like is an international system of law and order in which peace is preserved because the nations are prepared to accept the kind of system of law and order which each one of us has in its own territory, a system in which there are, so to speak, automatic majority decisions of the United Nations, and decisions which are observed and accepted by everyone else.

That may be the ideal, but it is evident that we are a very long way indeed from any system of that kind. We have the veto which was insisted upon in the Security Council, and there is no use, I think, denying the fact that in the present state of international relationships the existence of the unanimity rule was very difficult to avoid.

Secondly, there is a system of international relationships, which perhaps is less ideal than the first, but which, nevertheless, would give us almost all we want. That is a system whereby questions of peace and war and international problems were settled by the Security Council and the Assembly of the United Nations, but where, in the case of the Security Council, although the unanimity rule did apply, there was, nevertheless, sufficient good will between the various members of the Council to ensure that with give and take on both sides and compromise, settlements could be reached.

I suggest that that relationship does exist in several organisations which the Western allies have organised. One is O.E.E.C., where we have the unanimity rule, but, because of the good will which exists, we always find it possible to reach conclusions and settle our problems. I have little doubt that the same thing would apply where the unanimity rule is enforced in the case of Western European Union.

We all know that that system has not worked in U.N.O. since the war because the good will has not existed. I say without hesitation that anyone who has studied the history of this period must agree that the main and overwhelming reason for that has been the ambitions and the fears of Soviet Russia. Since this second system has been made impossible for this reason, we now have a third situation, in which the United Nations exist as a bridge or as a link between the Iron Curtain countries and the others with the possibilities of reaching occasional settlements that way, but we rely for our security far more on regional security pacts and adequate defences to deter aggression. We were driven to that in 1948 because of our experiences with Russia up to then. This means that we must, of course, be sure that the balance of power does not favour potential and probable aggressors.

I believe that these policies on which we had to fall back, enshrined as they are in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, have been abundantly justified by experience. One has only to contrast the period of the last five years with the miserable pre-war experience through which we went—the time when, again and again, by sheer blackmail, Hitler was able to paralyse the democracies, who, divided, inadequately armed and terrified, simply allowed him to pursue unchecked his course of aggression, getting thereby stronger on every occasion.

Contrast that with what is happening this time. I do not think that there can be the slightest doubt that the establishment of N.A.T.O., together with the defence programmes, has stopped the danger—and it was a very real danger—of Soviet expansion in Europe. I must say to those who seem to be worried and anxious about the policies we are discussing today that many of us disagree with them because we have had the lamentable experience of the consequences of neutralism and defeatism in the pre-war period.

I feel very strongly indeed that the kind of atmosphere that existed in Europe at that time—a very unhappy atmosphere for all of us—is something which certainly did not prevent war, but, on the contrary, made it certain, and I have little doubt that were we to pursue the same neutralism and defeatist policies today, exactly the same consequences would result.

There is one point of major importance which we must never forget, and that is that, in this post-war period, the greatest and most important event of all that has helped us so much, and contributed so forcibly to peace in this part of the world, has been the end of American isolationism and the presence of American troops in Europe. It is against that background that I turn to the specific European problem.

In the early stages after the war, it was a comparatively straightforward problem. We had to have the physical means for defence, and I have already spoken about that aspect of the matter. But the time when Germany was weak and ill-prepared was bound to pass. German recovery had to come, and the problem which has confronted us more and more in the last four years is, as the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East truly said: how to deal, on the one hand, with a resurgent Germany and, on the other, with the threat of Soviet expansion.

I believe that in looking at this problem there are two very grave dangers which must be avoided by any British Foreign Secretary, and which, indeed, must be a nightmare to any British Foreign Secretary. The first of these is the withdrawal of America from Europe. Nothing could be more disastrous. I do not know whether anyone really would deny that. The significance is overwhelming.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

I think that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) would.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I am not sure. There may be some difficulty. For my part, I think that it would be disastrous. I may say to the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) that my hon. Friend would probably say that there was no real danger of that. I am not sure that I agree with him.

There have been moments in the last three years when the strain on European American relations has been so great that we have faced the possibility of a movement of that kind. It cannot be denied that just as McCarthyism in America poisons the relations and attitude of Europeans towards Americans, so neutralism in this part of the world poisons the American attitude to Europe.

The second great danger which must worry any Foreign Secretary is that Russia will somehow or other get control over Western Germany, by infiltration or by force, or perhaps by diplomacy. I need not emphasise that it is as great a danger as the first.

While these are the two great dangers, I do not think there is any difficulty about saying on the positive side what our policy for Europe has to be. What we want, of course, is a permanent settlement, a relaxing of tension and a reduction in the arms burden on the basis of a genuine settlement with increasing confidence all round.

It is in the light of all this that we have to decide today between the possible courses and alternatives that die open before us. What are they? The first is, in theory at any rate, the possibility that we continue the occupation of Germany. Others have spoken about the very grave consequences that might follow if we persisted in that policy much longer. I have little doubt that we should have no support from the United States for the policy, and we should certainly have to "go it alone."

Equally, I have no doubt at all that if we were to pursue it we should soon come up against bitter and increasing Germany hostility. In fact, we should steadily be moving into the position in which we found ourselves in Ireland, India, Palestine and a number of other countries. In the end, we should be forced to withdraw, the only difference being that we should, meanwhile, have lost any hope of the friendship of Germany. Consequently, I consider that to be an impossible alternative.

The second alternative, I suppose, is to say that we will bring the occupation to an end, but also give up any idea of bringing Germany into the Western alliance. I do not regard that as quite so dangerous as continuing the occupation, but it is only a little less dangerous. I suppose that the most probable thing to happen in that event would be that the United States would make a special independent arrangement of her own with Germany, and that itself would be a bad thing. We should have a state of chaos and confusion in Western Europe. Even if we went in with America and Germany, we should have excluded France from the defence of the West, and we should probably have weakened our own possibility of influencing American policy. Consequently, I think we must equally reject that alternative as being thoroughly undesirable.

The third possibility, and the one which is put forward by those who oppose the Agreements, is that we should make some kind of agreement with Russia, and it is usually supposed to be an agreement on the basis of German unification. I am in favour of the unification of Germany. I do not agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that it really does not matter and that we should have no interest in it. I will tell him why I do not agree with him. If we were to take that line and show ourselves indifferent to the division or unification of Germany, it would certainly have the worst possible consequences in Germany itself and we should be doing the best thing we could to antagonise those whom we are trying to bring into the Western alliance.

However, I must add that although I want unification I do not want unification at any price. We must be very careful about the terms on which we might consider it. My hon. Friends and I have always insisted, and the Government have always insisted, that there must be free elections. Interestingly enough, no one has suggested in this debate that the Russians have so far shown any serious signs of agreeing to free elections. The argument which has been put forward is, "Well, of course, they will not agree to free elections unless we give them something in exchange." I am bound to say that I do not much like the idea of making a concession in order that democracy may be established.

However, let us leave that on one side and consider what we should offer. Two suggestions are usually made. One is called "the Austrian solution," which is, apparently, the continuation of the occupation of a united Germany in the way that Austria is occupied today. The introduction into Germany of the Austrian solution at a time when we are trying to get out of the Austrian situation does not seem to me to be a very good idea. Frankly, I believe it is completely out of date now. It certainly would be unacceptable to the Germans. It certainly could not be regarded as a permanent solution, and I doubt whether it could be regarded as any kind of solution. Also, it would not be acceptable to the Americans. Therefore, I do not think that one can consider the suggestion very seriously.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East was yesterday putting forward not that suggestion but a proposal for neutralisation and demilitarisation. He has been told by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East that that policy is not acceptable to anybody at all, and I believe that that is probably the case. Nevertheless, supposing it were acceptable——

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

As my right hon. Friend knows quite well, I put forward what was put forward on his behalf at Margate, namely, that we should offer, in exchange for free elections, to postpone for a period any prospect of German rearmament. To be fair to myself, I must point out that that is what I put forward, and it is what we agreed to on this side of the House two years ago.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

A great deal has happened in the past two years. I think that the Berlin Conference, the Paris Agreements and one or two other things make a bit of difference. I merely wanted to say that, in present circumstances, the policy for the neutralisation of Germany would give us the greatest risks of incurring the two major dangers which I mentioned. Certainly, it would be quite unacceptable to America, and the consequence of that might be the withdrawal of America from Europe. The second reason I would oppose it is that I can think of no greater opportunity for Russia to get control of Western Germany.

The truth is that to create that kind of vacuum in Central Europe would be to increase the uncertainty and anxiety everywhere. All of us—ourselves and the Russians—would be increasingly nervous that, as the result of the isolated situation that she was in, Germany would be won over or swung over to one side or the other.

My hon. Friend is perfectly entitled to ask, "How, then, are we to get unification?" All I can say is that I believe that the only possible policy which is consistent with our own security is one in which we get unification on the basis of a truly independent Germany which is not treated in an inferior way, which is free to ally itself with the West if it so desires and which accepts control over its armaments in exactly the same way as other Continental Powers do. I do not believe that any permanent settlement is possible except on those lines.

Therefore, if we are to offer anything to the Russians—"offer" is really the wrong word; it would be a suggestion that we should make—surely the right thing would be for us to say, "We think we should have the unification of Germany. We understand your anxieties, but we propose that the kind of system of arms control that we are introducing in the Paris Agreement should be extended to embrace the Eastern Powers as well as the Western Powers of Europe."

I agree that that may be very difficult to carry out in practice, but at this stage one can, as it were, only point to the broad road on which one can travel. One could also offer the Russians, as Dr. Adenauer has suggested, some form of security agreement on the lines of what has been called an "Eastern Locarno." I am sure that that kind of policy offers us, and is the only policy that offers us, both security and the prospect of a settlement.

The last alternative which has been put forward by some people is delay. The argument is, in effect, that there are risks about Germany having arms. An atmosphere of impending doom is cast over the whole proceedings as though, at the very moment the treaty was ratified, an irrevocable step would be taken which would lead us on to war. I do not question the sincerity of those who believe it, but I do not believe it myself.

So it is said, "Why not postpone all this? Look how well we have done by postponing it over these last four years." I cannot agree that we have done well in postponing it over these last four years. If there has been an improvement, it has been only on the military side. The strength of N.A.T.O. militarily has been increased and we can feel assured as a result of it.

But, undoubtedly, the delays that have taken place have brought political weakness and not political strength to the West. Of course, it has also brought no agreement with Russia. We cannot help feeling when we hear, "Please delay it a little longer" that we have heard that before—two or three times before—and we get a little tired of it. The real truth is that these delays gravely endangered the whole structure of Western European defence and, even now, have led to a much less satisfactory situation in Germany than that which existed two years ago.

I cannot help expressing—and I am sure the Foreign Secretary will agree—a good deal of anxiety about the way in which public opinion in Germany has already moved as a result of these delays. Two years ago there was much more enthusiasm for the European movement. There was a feeling that Germany wanted to be in E.D.C. and was genuinely in favour of it. But the reports we hear of the reception of the Paris Agreements in Germany must be a little worrying and I am sure that the reason is simply the delay. If we were to delay any further, the consequences for Europe would be fatal. In France, it would mean the end of the most hopeful Government—if I may say so—that they have had since the war. In the United States it might easily lead to a return of isolationism and in Germany—I do not know exactly to what it would lead, but, if anything, it would be an intensification of nationalism.

In all this we cannot forget the importance of morale in the democracies. It is, of course, an inherent weakness of democracy that because of our faith we have to allow propaganda from totalitarian countries to affect and influence our people, whereas, of course, they allow no counter-propaganda on their side. All the time we are having to fight this eternal battle against the efforts of the Soviet to influence people over the heads of their Governments. This is, in fact, very largely the cold war as we know it. I do not believe that we shall get any final settlement in Europe so long as this goes on; in other words, so long as the whole policy is expressed in propaganda, and a particular move is a move not for a settlement but to help forward some ulterior motive which the Russians may have.

That is why I join in welcoming the reference to diplomatic channels as the best hope. Indeed, when I read that Mr. Malenkov favoured that and had said that he was not sure we were quite ready for four-Power talks until we have had the ground properly prepared, I thought that that was one of the most hopeful signs that we have had for a long time. But if we are strong, resolute, united and calm, I believe that one day the Russians will abandon the dream of Communist expansion, which is really the thing that underlies all our troubles.

Because we accept these Agreements it must not be supposed that we can just rest on that and be content with what has been achieved. I believe that these Agreements have rescued Europe from disaster, but we have only just reached dry land from an extremely dangerous crossing and it is imperative that we should look ahead. Even now, there are difficulties and criticisms in both France and Germany. The Government should very seriously consider what modifications could be made in these Agreements, if necessary, to overcome these difficulties; perhaps "modifications" is the wrong word. The Government should consider what further moves can be made to improve the situation.

One possibility is the establishment of more arms controls and an arms pool on the lines suggested by the French. That might he something that the Germans would be prepared to accept, particularly those Germans who are worried—as we know some of them are—about an independent army. Certainly, it would make it much more acceptable to the French.

Equally—and I am now only repeating what I said before—as soon as ratification has taken place I think we should make it plain that, on the basis of free elections, we are prepared to talk with Russia about unification. But it is essential that before any such talks take place we should clearly understand with Germany, America and France exactly to what we are prepared to agree. It is immensely important, particularly in the case of Germany, that there should be a clear understanding of the terms on which we are prepared to discuss unification.

We accept these Agreements because in the present state of Europe they are better—in our view—than anything else which could be done without grave risks to our security. They underpin N.A.T.O. and involve the full and active participation of the United States. They introduce an elaborate system of arms control—I think for the first time in history—a system which holds out possibilities of expansion in a wider field. They bring in a high degree of integration of European forces and, in particular, of German forces with other Western forces. Finally, they involve a Franco-German settlement and the possibility of improved relations between France and Germany. They bring to an end a dangerous and difficult period, when, at times, the future of the Western alliance has been sorely strained very largely by this problem of Germany. It is no exaggeration to say that this problem has been an ulcer which has been poisoning relations between European countries and between Europe and America.

I emphasise again that the Agreements must now be looked at merely as a basis for future defence. They need strengthening psychologically by closer ties between European countries and between Europe and America. Above all, everything must now be done to strengthen the bonds of friendship with Germany and to win over doubters of the new policy. In particular, it will help these objects if we tackle first the financial problems—and there I have made one or two suggestions; secondly, if we look a good deal more closely into the possibility of strengthening arms control, and thirdly, if we handle the diplomatic problem of talks with Russia without undue delay.

We accept the Agreements, but we look to Her Majesty's Government to play their full part in strengthening the bonds of European unity and in any practical steps towards a wider settlement which a change in Russian policy may make possible.

4.39 p.m.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

By the Motion now before the House, the Government seek approval of the recent decisions in the field of foreign policy and these, whatever may be the view of individual Members as to their wisdom, are certainly of a dramatic and even historic character.

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated in his wide and impressive survey yesterday, our new undertaking marks a decisive step in the history of the United Kingdom's association with the Continent. It does indeed, and this dynamic intervention has been hailed with enthusiasm throughout Western Europe. It has the strong and enthusiastic support of the Commonwealth and Empire, it has been acclaimed by the New World and, for good or ill—and all, even those who disagree, will pray for good—the policy and the initiative which has led to those Agreements will always be associated with the name of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

The Government have every reason to be satisfied with the course which the debate has taken so far. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in giving his support to the Motion yesterday, made a wise and a generous speech. He reminded us that we have our controversies in this House. They are sometimes sharp and even violent and, somehow or other, I occasionally seem to get mixed up with them. But the right hon. Gentleman also reminded us—and this was a theme which carried universal approval—that, although we may have our divisions, we are united in defending our right to differ.

The Government received support from a notable maiden speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) and in what I thought was a moving speech from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson): Indeed, the only powerful arguments raised against the Motion were those deployed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) with his usual dialectical skill. However, I thought they were completely demolished on his own side of the House later in the day by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey). I can say this with the more impartiality because he thought it necessary to dilute his praise of the Government with a rather strong attack upon my personal conduct in the European movement. However, as I found myself in the pillory with certain of my leading colleagues, including the Prime Minister, I was not unduly ashamed.

I shall try today to say a little more in detail than was possible for the Foreign Secretary about the effects and implications, direct or indirect, of these Agreements on questions of defence, and more particularly on the defence budget. In the financial sphere, I shall try to reply to some of the important financial points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), who speaks with special authority on these matters. I am grateful to him for the helpful way in which he posed his constructive suggestions; and I hope he will not think it impertinent of me to say that, apart from the first part of his speech, to which I shall more particularly address myself, I and the whole House together admired the splendid statement of broad principles contained in the second part of his speech.

The first and most obvious question is: do we need the German contribution? I mean, do we need it from the defence point of view? We know all the arguments, for and against, from the political angle. We know all the advantages and all the perils. Indeed, they have been argued ad nauseam. But do we need a new German army to help N.A.T.O. to do the military job that has to be done? If we might have needed these German forces in a conventional war, are they necessary or helpful in an atomic age? I think the answer is quite clear.

Of course, the first and primary object of N.A.T.O., or, indeed, of any other military organisation which serves the democratic world, is to prevent war. That is our supreme purpose. But, should war come, one of the main objects of N.A.T.O. strategy must be to prevent Western Europe from being overrun by the enemy. Nor have any people, for obvious reasons, a more direct interest in this than the people of these islands.

General Gruenther believes that we have already done a good deal to build up such a protective shield. It is now doubtful whether the Soviet forces at present in the forward areas could defeat our forces without reinforcements. That is real progress, as the right hon. Gentleman has said. Nevertheless, the Soviet Army could be increased to well over 100 divisions within 30 days and, of course, their total forces, with the satellites, over the whole field of deployment East and West, could be mobilised to the tune of some 400 divisions.

This is the measure of our disadvantage in manpower. We must surely do what we can to offset it, and in this context 12 German divisions, with supporting air and naval forces, standing ready in peacetime in the vital central sector of the European front, will provide a reinforcement of critical importance to the West.

Now, of course, we can never hope to succeed by manpower alone; we can never equal, still less surpass, the manpower resources of the Communist countries. We can only hope to bridge the gap by superior weapons and by superior skill in their use. All the same, we want all the manpower we can get and, indeed, as in all alliances in which we have taken part from the days of Marlborough onwards, the chief concern of responsible commanders has always been to extract the maximum contribution in men, arms and treasure from the constituent countries. That is normal. What is perhaps a little strange about this alliance is that, for the peculiar circumstances of history, we have to provide for ceilings as well as for floors.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

But they cannot be trusted.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

There are, of course, doubts and anxieties about German rearmament. They were expressed on both sides of the House yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Basset-law (Mr. Bellenger) and by others. As I think my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) said, this is in a sense an act of faith, but faith cart be sustained by forces, and this brings me to the next question, that of control over the level of forces.

As the right hon. Gentleman said, it is a unique thing in history that is being done today. It had been one of the main purposes of E.D.C. to solve this problem and, as hon. Members know, E.D.C. sought the answer in the complete surrender of sovereignty and in a supranational organisation. This has proved impossible and today, by the good sense of all concerned, we are finding the solution in a partial surrender of sovereignty and in a confederal rather than in a federal constitution.

Control of the level of forces has been achieved in the fairest as well as in the most practical way. This is laid down in one of the new protocols to the Brussels Treaty. It is really very simple and it is very sensible. First, let us take the six Powers who would have been the members of E.D.C. if E.D.C. had gone through. The maxima for peacetime land and air forces are those laid down in the special agreement to the E.D.C. Treaty.

For Germany, this means 12 divisions and 1,350 aircraft. The precise forces of the other five Powers of E.D.C. are known to each other and to all the N.A.T.O. countries, but are not otherwise revealed. That is for the six Powers. Now for the British contribution. The United Kingdom contribution is, as the House knows, four divisions and the Second Tactical Air Force. So far as navies are concerned, contributions to N.A.T.O. will be determined in the annual review. For the German navy the limits of the E.D.C. special agreement will again apply.

So there it is then. After all these years and all this talk, this long way from Strasbourg to London and Paris, here it is at last—the European army in the N.A.T.O. frame. Here are the controls and they are to be enforced in the Western European Union through N.A.T.O. and by making use of N.A.T.O's. organisation. The levels cannot be exceeded unless in the course of the N.A.T.O. Annual Review increases are recommended. In that case those members of N.A.T.O. who constitute the Western European nations must unanimously vote for those recommendations. There is a double safeguard there.

On 30th November, 1950, the Prime Minister used this phrase: … an Atlantic army, with … a European army inside of it and a German contingent, on honourable terms, inside that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1950, Vol. 481; c. 1333]. Here it is exactly. By another very sensible arrangement to avoid duplication of machinery, all the inspections which are necessary to see that these levels are observed will be carried out by the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, that is, the Supreme Commander of the N.A.T.O. Forces. It has been arranged that the results of his investigating and invigilatory work will be conveyed by his representative to the Western European Union. That will be the machinery that will give us the results.

I should like to say a word about the other safeguards against the revival of a dangerous national militarism, from whatever quarter. The control of the level of forces, which I have just described, is of a restrictive character and, therefore, negative. Are there no positive means of control? There are really. There is the method of integration. The best way to get, at the same time, a high degree of military efficiency and a growing sense of European and democratic unity is through the Supreme Allied Commander, in N.A.T.O. The Supreme Commander's powers are to be increased in three main ways, all of them important. First, all the forces on the mainland, except those recognised by him as suitable for national command, or already under some other N.A.T.O. commander, will be under the authority of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. He can deploy them, and he can move them about in consultation with the national authorities, but they cannot be re-deployed without his consent. That is a very important safeguard.

Secondly, the process of integration is to continue as far as is militarily possible. It may well be that there will be practical limits to the process, but, of course, the overriding consideration must be the military efficiency of SACEUR forces. Thirdly, and perhaps this is the most important of all, the positive safeguards—the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, has been given extended powers of control over what the Foreign Secre- tary described yesterday as "logistic support." That means a great deal.

In the old days, an army used to march upon its stomach and live on bread and meat. Now the machines in which a modern army rides to battle and by which it is sustained in the field live on logistic support largely in liquid form. The Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, has got the logistic support. He is the master, for he turns the tap on or off as he wills. That is a very important consideration in control.

Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Birmingham Aston

Before the right hon. Gentleman passes on to the next part of his speech, I should like to ask him a question. He will remember that one of the important safeguards of E.D.C. was that units would be integrated on the divisional level. In other words, there would be no single national unit larger than a division and they would be mixed internationally into corps. The right hon. Gentleman has left this particular point rather vague. Is it not now thought militarily possible to mix internationally into corps the various national divisions?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman raised that, but I think I dealt with it just now before I spoke about the logistic support, for I said that we were trying to carry integration as far as was militarily possible. The Allied Supreme Commander must, of course, be the judge, and it may not be possible at corps level. It may be possible only at army level, and the judgment must lie with the Supreme Allied Commander.

Finally, there is the question of the control of armaments. Germany has agreed not to manufacture atomic, biological or chemical weapons in her territory or to make certain other types of weapons except on the recommendation of the Supreme Allied Commander. In that case—and this is a little complicated—if a particular weapon is recommended by the N.A.T.O. commander, then it can be made if there is a two-thirds majority for approval by the members of the Western European Union. The level of stocks of important types of armaments held by the Continental members of Western European Union will be controlled. A special agency of Western European Union is to be set up to supervise and enforce these arrangements.

Here I should like to say a word on the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South about the French proposal for an armaments pool. This matter was dealt with by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, when he spoke last night. Strictly, of course, it was purely a Continental pool that was envisaged, but we shall be members of the working party which is now about to begin to operate and we shall do everything we can to assist to the full a constructive examination of this somewhat complicated problem.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

Is it not clearly understood that if any Government wishes to hand over either atomic or thermo-nuclear bombs to Germany, it can be done?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I was talking here on the question of the armaments pool, the Germans agreeing not to manufacture these weapons and a two-thirds majority being required for the carrying out of any recommendation by SACEUR on the subject. I think that that deals with the problem of armaments.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

Not at all; it does not answer my question.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Complete control is given by the German renunciation.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I thought the hon. Gentleman was referring to the question of N.A.T.O. and the Western Union. The matter that he raised is one which will have to be taken up directly between the Governments. It is not control by these precise agreements.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

Why cannot the right hon. Gentleman answer the question?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Does the Minister mean that possession by the German armed forces of nuclear weapons is not excluded by the Agreements?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The Germans have undertaken not to manufacture these weapons at all, and what I am asked is what happens if someone comes along and says, "I will give you some."

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

Yes, and can they use them?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

That was the suggestion, and I should have thought that that was not a matter suitable for these Agreements, but a matter to be taken up between Governments. It does not seem to be germane to this set of Agreements.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Surely the position is this. Both the petrol and the ammunition is controlled by N.A.T.O. Atomic weapons are part of the ammunition. They will be sent up by N.A.T.O. to the troops, including the Germans, who will use them.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I think the hon. and learned Gentleman has given the practical reply. Purely as a matter of theory, if there were a method by which these can be transferred but never effectively used, theoretically that would not be covered by the precise terms of these Agreements.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

No, I will not give way. I think I have given way quite a lot this afternoon.

I now come to the financial aspect, about which the right hon. Gentleman asked a number of questions. I am very grateful to him for the very clear way in which he put them. There are really two quite separate issues. Primarily, the London-Paris Agreements mark, or at least foreshadow, the end of the occupation of Germany by the victorious allied forces. In that sense, they are the culmination of a policy which has been followed by successive Governments since the early years after the war. Indeed, it has been the purpose for which we have all been striving.

Surely no one could argue—and I do not think that anyone really has argued—that the Allied Control Commission was intended to constitute a permanent occupation of Germany to last through all time. Unfortunately, the policy followed by the Soviet Government has not made it possible to re-establish a unified Germany. Nevertheless, the Western allies have done all within their power to assist in the establishment of a democratic and self-governing Germany in the Western Zones. Nobody could argue that we should continue to occupy the country a day longer than is necessary merely because occupation gives us the right to obtain from Germany help in financing our own forces. The right hon. Gentleman made that point very fairly.

I have already explained the importance, from the military point of view, of the German contribution. It is the fact that, by general consent, Germany will now raise her own forces. That, naturally, will progressively diminish the support costs for the allies, because Germany will be paying for her own forces. When I was pressed the other day on this matter, I was not able to give a very precise answer. That was not just the functional disease of Ministers—the desire to be evasive—but because I really wished to protect British interests.

The timing of reductions in occupation costs, or support costs as they are to be called when the occupation ends, has been carefully provided for. For the first period up to the end of the year or the ending of the occupation, whichever is the earlier, the Federal Government will continue to provide funds at the present rate, that is to say, at about £600 million a year, of which the British share, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is about £150 million.

If there is an interim period between the ending of the occupation and the entry of Germany into N.A.T.O., which may very well happen owing to the problems of ratification, and so forth, although part of the money will be reserved for particular defence measures to be agreed with the Germans, yet the same rate will continue.

After the entry of Germany into N.A.T.O., and for a full 12 months after that date further support will be provided, though at a steadily decreasing rate, giving a total for the 12 months of about £270 million. Our share of this remains to be negotiated, and that is why I did not want to be too precise on the first occasion; but I think we can safely assume that support costs will continue to be drawn from this country at substantial rates during this period, that is to say, for the whole period of about 15 months, probably about the same as now.

As I explained to the House, the sums that we have been receiving can be divided into two roughly equal parts. About half has been spent or committed on capital account, and about half on current account, ordinary running costs. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the capital account payments. They are mainly for airfields, barracks, headquarters, and also a large programme of married quarters construction, the object of which was to provide for our troops in the first place, but also to surrender requisitioned property so that it might become available as rapidly as possible for the Germans.

There is, of course, an unspent cash balance on capital account which will be carried forward, and which will be enough to pay for all the capital services to which we are so far committed.

Thus, in the period I have mentioned during which our share of support costs will be declining, we shall be required to pay from that share, apart from current costs, only for new capital projects which we may start in the future, but these we do not expect to be large. Over this period, therefore, we expect that our local current costs in Germany will be substantially covered.

What is to happen at the end of the period? The Germans have agreed to discuss with the Western allies the question of further support costs and payments on that account. I am very anxious that nothing should be said by me in this House, or said at all in the House, which will hamper our chances of reaching a satisfactory conclusion in due course on these negotiations.

We must have regard, first, to the need for Germany to make a total contribution to defence which is equitable in relation to the burdens assumed by her allies, and, secondly, according to the progressive growth of her own forces. Any continuing contribution of support costs should thus neither impose upon Germany an undue or unfair burden, nor relieve her of her full obligations as a member of the organised society of the Western nations.

I would add, incidentally, that the total German expenditure on defence, once she is able to raise forces of her own, will probably be considerably higher than her present contribution to occupation costs. As the years go on, that is very likely. Therefore, there will be a significant financial increment as well as the essential increment of forces to the total resources of the N.A.T.O. alliance.

If Germany ceases to pay the local costs of our forces, naturally, we shall have to pay them ourselves. But unless we were to disband those forces, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, we should have to pay for them, and at roughly the same rate, whether they were stationed at home or abroad. The fact that we are no longer receiving a German contribution will, of course, have to be taken into account when we frame our annual defence budget. I made that clear in my original statement, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary repeated it yesterday.

There is, of course, a further important point which arises from the fact that these forces will continue to be stationed in Germany where much of their cost will have to be met, not in sterling but in Deutschmarks. Naturally, this will become more important as the German support costs decline. Any British Government will take particular care to reduce as far as possible military expenditure in foreign exchange. That is only natural, and I have no doubt that economies can be made, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, in a number of ways.

I have explained that there should not be any substantial capital expenditure beyond that for the liquidation of which we can already look to German funds. There is, therefore, a sum amounting to about £70 million or £80 million a year to be met in Deutschmarks. I am not speaking of the total budget figure, but the expenditure in foreign exchange. We shall, of course, make economies where we can. There is always room for economies, though I think that a good deal has been done in recent years. In addition, we shall make economies by buying as much as we possibly can from home instead of locally, in sterling instead of foreign currency, and that is the second method.

Thirdly, we shall get whatever continuing support we may obtain from our negotiations with the Federal German Government. Nevertheless, there will be thrown an additional burden on our balance of payments.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves that point, will he say something about the question of a N.A.T.O. defence budget? Is it not likely that more of the expenditure in Germany will have to be taken over by N.A.T.O. instead of by the individual Powers?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I was just coming to that. It is rather a difficult subject, and it is important that it should be made clear.

As far as that is concerned, in future years there might be another time when our balance of payments caused us anxiety. Therefore, we thought it prudent to include provision for some measure of relief should the burden of the balance of payments become too onerous. The actual words of the undertaking are to the effect that we are entitled to ask the N.A.T.O. Council to review the position in such circumstances, and, of course, when one reviews a position it is like reviewing a sentence—one hopes that some or all of it may be remitted.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Here it would perhaps be convenient to say a word or two about a subject which the right hon. Member for Leeds, South-East stressed. He asked, as he did at Question time the other day, how far the Government propose to press for an equitable sharing of the defence burden between all the partners in the N.A.T.O. enterprise. This question derives not so much from the London-Paris Agreements as from the general principles of the N.A.T.O. alliance—not so much from the latest decisions as from the earliest decisions.

We and our European allies have had a great deal of American aid, year by year as Congress has voted it, through a variety of channels, aid in dollars, aid in the form of United States-produced equipment, offshore purchases—although I believe we regard these as "trade, not aid"—and various forms of practical aid, for which we are grateful. There is a further example of burden sharing in the Infrastructure programme, in which the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) played a very leading role.

The total cost of the supply of this great programme for N.A.T.O. approved or foreshadowed is not far short of £700 million, to which all countries contribute in agreed proportions, the United Kingdom share being about 12 per cent. and the United States share about 40 per cent. This is another practical example of the sharing of the burden of rearmament in N.A.T.O. But in general the concept of burden sharing has not found its expression in multilateral transfers of money, equipment, or services between N.A.T.O. countries.

What it has emerged into is a general understanding, reached after considerable discussion and argument during the course of each N.A.T.O. annual review, that all countries are undertaking the maximum effort of which they are capable, bearing in mind the relevant difficulties, problems and factors in their own countries and defence commitments outside the N.A.T.O. area. I think this is a reasonable method of sharing the burdens and is also a practical method. We are about to undertake the review in a few weeks' time and will certainly bear in mind the advice and help which the right hon. Member for Leeds, South gave in trying to make this as practicable as we can. I do not think we can have a mathematical equality of effort. It may be attractive in theory, but it is difficult to find a yardstick, or a combination of yardsticks.

It has been suggested that the principle of progressive taxation should be applied; I think the right hon. Member mentioned it. I am not quite sure what that means. I thought it meant, the richer you are the more you are taxed until you finally die and then you are ruined. That may be quite all right inside a country, but it is rather difficult to apply practically to an international organisation. It has also been suggested that defence expenditure per head of population should be the criterion. I am sure the right hon. Member would agree that that is not a good system because of the differences in national incomes. I think all we can do is to do our best to see that this principle is applied as fairly on all sides as we can possibly succeed in ensuring. Of course, the object is to straighten out this effort.

I must say a word about our own position. In our own defence programme we have had to face the realities of the situation. In his time the right hon. Member had a defence programme of £4,700 million which, if it had proceeded unchecked, would now have reached a figure of £2,000 million a year.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I must correct the right hon. Gentleman there. The original plan was £4,700 million in three years, after which we certainly hoped and expected it would turn downwards. What happened was that in carrying out the programme the Government decided—I am not challenging the decision—that it was better to have a longer and lower haul.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I was not trying to make a point of that, but was simply saying that we had to make a readjustment of our programme unilaterally because we had so many commitments besides those of N.A.T.O. Therefore, I do not think we can enforce on the N.A.T.O. Powers a logical mathematical system of burden sharing, although we shall do everything we can to see that it is on as fair a basis as possible.

Photo of Mr Stephen Swingler Mr Stephen Swingler , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Does the statement of the right hon. Gentleman mean that he is quite satisfied that this country should have two years' conscription imposed upon its youth when no other European member of N.A.T.O. accepts that? Is that the right hon. Gentleman's conception of burden sharing?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I was coming to the further points about which the right hon. Member for Leeds, South asked me, of which that is one.

The purpose of N.A.T.O over what may be a very prolonged period—we cannot tell—is to raise and maintain forces to deter aggression and to protect the free way of life to which our country and our allies are devoted. We hope that as a result relaxation of tension may be brought about and, as the right hon. Member said, a period of peaceful negotiation may be inaugurated. Meanwhile, we shall continue to carry our full share of the burden in the spirit in which the former Government entered upon their great rearmament programme. This we are in honour bound to do.

The end of the German occupation will in due course deprive us of certain subsidies by which we have got help in maintaining our Armed Forces, but we must not forget that that will apply to other countries in the alliance as well as to ourselves—other occupying countries, big and small. The German military contribution will enormously increase the general strength. So far as our balance of payments is concerned, there is an element of anxiety. To reduce and overcome this we must depend upon our general economic strength, but we have tried to provide some alleviation in case of need.

There were two wider questions the right hon. Member asked me. The first was on the length of service and the second was upon a statement made by Viscount Montgomery. The right hon. Member did not give me notice of either of those questions. I have no complaint to make about that, but he is sufficiently experienced to know that they are not statements which one may make, as it were, "off the cuff" in reply to a speech, because they raise important matters.

In reply to the first, I would say that the Government are, of course, continuing to consider all the implications of the present situation and will announce their policy in the normal way when the Service Estimates are brought before Parliament next year. I would remind the right hon. Member and others that this country has other obligations to provide for besides this.

On the second question, I think I must refer the right hon. Member to the very clear reply which the Prime Minister gave on the question of strategy. It was that control, of course, remains, as it always has been, in the hands of the political authorities.

Perhaps upon this historic occasion I might be permitted to make some very short concluding observations. All of us in this House long for peace. Most of us believe that peace can best be got through strength and through unity——

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

That has been tried over the centuries.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I remember the splendid words which Mr. Bevin used at a critical moment, perhaps almost a turning point in post-war history, at the time of the Berlin airlift. He said: We recognise that as a result of these decisions a grave situation might arise. Should such a situation arise, we shall have to ask the House to face it. His Majesty's Government and our Western allies can see no alternative between that and surrender. Then he used this final phrase: and none of us can accept surrender."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th June, 1948; Vol. 452. c. 2233.] That is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government and, I believe, of this House of Commons. From that day not one Government, but all Governments, have sought peace through strength and to that end we have continued to strive for unity. Some have thought that it would be best found in N.A.T.O. and in N.A.T.O. only. Others have felt that within N.A.T.O. European unity had a great part to play. These different approaches are now reconciled, and if I may be allowed to say so, this is emphasised by what I thought was an admirable speech made yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). I thought it was the best speech I have heard him make in this House.

Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have striven for European union both for its own sake, and because it was the only method of bringing Germany into the European family. In July, 1949, I ventured to use these words in the House of Commons. I said: By itself, the German problem is insoluble. Indeed, it is worse than insoluble, for mishandled it will only be solved in this fatal way—a new Russo-Germanic coalition. But within the broad unity of Europe, Germany might find at once peace and hope."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1949; Vol. 467, c. 1582.] After many heart-searchings, after much anxious thought and discussion, after many false starts, hesitations and disappointments, a way has now been found which enables Great Britain to play her full part, both as a great Imperial and a great European Power. We rejoice that by something that seems almost like a miracle, a solution has come by common consent. We pray that the efforts of those nations of the free world may secure peace.

5.22 p.m.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I think that I shall meet with the general approval of hon. Members in all parts of the House when I say, not only sincerely but also, I think, tactfully, that it would be a good thing to say that all of us are looking at this problem strictly from the point of view of how far what we do this evening will contribute towards the preservation of peace. I hope, therefore, that some of my right hon. Friends will refrain from innuendoes about "neutralism" and "defeatism." It would be far better if such language were not used.

Some of us on this side of the House have attempted to make our position in this matter perfectly clear. We have always, from the very beginning, supported N.A.T.O. We have always taken the line that if the Soviet Union saw herself entitled to mobilise the forces round her borders along with herself, we had an equal right to mobilise what allies we could get. Also, we have to consider that if we are to have an alliance of that sort, it is necessary that it should be sufficiently armed. Where we have disagreed is about the pace and altitude of that armament.

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) intervened just now to say that what had happened was that the period over which the £4,700 million was to be spent was lengthened, without, of course, lengthening the expenditure by amount, that is tantamount to its reduction. We could lengthen it over 100 years and it would be less still.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

I do not think that my right hon. Friend has understood the point I was making, which was that the original idea had been for a very sharp, big increase in the programme which would get us to a higher level, after which we could drop it. There was a change from that to a longer and more continued defence programme at a lower level than would otherwise have been the case, but remaining eventually at a figure above the original programme.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

My right hon. Friend now makes the position worse, because with a naïveté which astonishes me, he thought that it would be possible for us, for all the nations participating, to reach a higher level and then not to be on a plateau, but to go down. What would the enemy be doing in the meantime?

If I may say so, that always was not a very sound point of view. Indeed, before long both the American nation and ourselves saw that mounting expenditure of this sort imposed such a strain upon the economies that it had to be abandoned and a longer and lower effort substituted. All I wish to say in that connection is that we not only supported N.A.T.O., but at the same time we wanted to have adequate arms, and "adequate arms" meant all the time not an arms burden of the kind that would undermine the economy, particularly of Western Europe.

We also took a second view which the right hon. Gentleman hardly mentioned. We considered that the danger from Communism arises not primarily from a military source but from social, political and economic sources; and that it would be possible for us to spend so much money and to devote so much manpower to meeting the military menace that we should be too weak to meet the economic, social and political menace. Indeed, our point of view has been confirmed, because although my right hon. Friend talked about what Hitler had gained in pre-war years, he forgot that in China, not primarily by military methods, but by social, political and economic penetration, the Communist world has gained an accession of 600 million. So, in point of fact, if his analogy is to be accepted, our method of fighting Communism has been singularly unsuccessful. The same thing is true of other parts of the world. I approach this, therefore, strictly from the point of view off how it is possible for us to meet the menace of war in the first instance.

First, I should like to ask a question about the financial point of view, because, although the Minister of Defence occupied a very long time, he left the financial situation as obscure as it was before. He admitted it at the end of his speech. I do not blame him for that, because he does not know. No one knows what the financial commitment would be. Here we are "buying a pig in a poke." All we would like to know is whether we are assuming that if we have to meet the obligation that we are entering into under this arrangement, we are prepared to accept continued American financial aid if it proves too much for us.

This is a very important consideration, because when we first agreed to the original defence programme—I am now speaking about the Labour Government—it was understood that if the physical burden, as distributed between the participants, was too much for any single one to bear, the total would be reduced. It was called the Nietze exercise. We felt—and here I am in profound disagreement with my right hon. Friend, and I hope that my party is also—that what we could not accept was a physical burden, that is to say armed forces, of a size, and equipped in a certain way, that would prove too heavy for us to bear; and that then we would have to rely upon annual appropriations from the United States of America in order to enable us to carry it.

We argued, and I have argued in the House before, that nothing does more damage to Anglo-American relations than for there to be an allocation of a physical burden, and then for Congressmen to argue year after year as to whether any additional amount was to be found by the American taxpayer for their international dependants. My right hon. Friend believes in that principle. I do not. My right hon. Friend is supposed to be in favour of good Anglo-American relations—so am I; but nothing poisons Anglo-American relations more than the annual spectacle of the Americans having to pay an amount over and above the original bargain struck, because that converts our soldiers into mercenaries. It also means annual pressure by Congress on our policies.

I am certain that there are some of my hon. and right hon. Friends who agree with me in this, because my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey) said last night: A country which has not got independent armed forces cannot have an independent foreign policy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 513.] And so, if the armed forces that we put into the field can only be kept there by supplementary American assistance, it is not a desirable relationship for this country to have to the United States.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds South East

I should like to make my position clear. I of course believe what I said yesterday, that a country without independent armed forces does not have an independent foreign policy, but I thought I made it clear later in my speech that the necessity of the age meant that we must all try to have interdependent foreign policies and interdependent armed forces.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

That does not answer me or make the situation clear.

As I understood the situation, we are discussing in the first place a treaty which we have entered into with our various allies, and we have agreed between ourselves what contribution each shall put into that treaty. Having made that contribution, if any one nation is able to make a contribution over and above that, it is because its own contribution in the first place was too small. In other words, there is not a proper distribution in accordance with resources. That is exactly what the Minister said was wanted, an allocation from each nation in accordance with its own economic and financial resources. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South said the same thing just now. If that be the case, the bargain ought to be struck in such a fashion that no one nation ought to be additionally dependent upon assistance from any other nation. I hope, therefore, that in this connection we will be very careful what we are doing, because even today our economy is not viable.

The Minister of Defence said just now that there were apprehensions that our balance of payments might be upset. But our balance of payments today is precarious. According to one calculation, if it were not for special assistance that we are having by way of the residence of American troops and American aid, we should at the end of this year be 500 million dollars in deficit. So even today, when we are undertaking this additional commitment, which may have consequences very serious, we are in dollar deficit, and consequently next year we might be in a worse situation. We are by our own definition today entering into commitments that our economy cannot bear without assistance from outside. That is a very dangerous and foolish thing for this country to do.

I want to leave that financial aspect and come to the other aspect. What is the hurry about this? From what source did the danger of the collapse of the Western defence system come? What was the origin of it? It has been universally agreed that international relations are today less strained than they have been for some years past. Everybody has admitted that. The Prime Minister has said so, and the Foreign Secretary has said so. President Eisenhower, Mr. Foster Dulles, M. Mendès-France and Mr. Malenkov have said so.

The international situation today is more favourable than it has been for some time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I am asked, "Why?" Obviously, at the present time the balance of power between the various potential combatants is of such a character as to reduce international tension. Both sides have made their contribution to that situation, and I supported it. We have now, therefore, reached a position where, as far as we can see, the continuance of the existing power relationship is more favourable to the maintenance of peace than it has been. Is that denied?

Then, I ask, and the ordinary men and women outside are asking, if that be the case why are we trying to upset that balance? The assumption is that on that power relationship we cannot enter into negotiations with the Soviet Union on favourable terms and, therefore, we have to add to our power.

Let us, therefore, suppose that we get the Nine-Power Agreement and that Germany is rearmed, and we then enter into negotiations with the Soviet Union on that basis. The Soviet Union has already told us, in its latest Note, that if that is done, if Germany is rearmed, the Soviet Union is bound to take additional measures. What will be the situation then? It will be another balance of forces at a higher level of expenditure. My right hon. Friend was making the wrong case this afternoon. The fact is that at the present level of expenditure, not only is the balance of forces between us of a kind that does not give anxiety to either side, but is obviously resulting in an improvement in the world situation.

What do we gain by this in terms of power, thinking only for the moment in terms of additional power? I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary this question. If we get the 12 German divisions, if they are integrated into the Western alliance and we then invite the Russians to a conference to discuss Europe, what proposals will we then make? What will we ask the Russians to do that we will not ask them to do now? What is the purpose of this exercise? Behind what diplomacy are we putting it? We would like to know, and the nation would like to know, from the Foreign Secretary what proposals he would put before that conference then that he cannot put now.

What is the purpose of this addition to our armed strength, unless it is to obtain support behind proposals that we cannot get now? What are they? Are we suggesting that if we do have this addition to our forces, we can then compel the Russians to give what they will not give now? Is that the psychology of negotiation? Is that what the right hon. Gentleman is suggesting? If it is not what he is suggesting, then what is he suggesting, because, obviously, if we have no other proposals, if we have no secret proposals which we are not mentioning, then there are proposals that we could make now on the existing relationship of strength? What are they? Not the Berlin ones, because they were turned down. They withdrew them; the Russians, on the right hon. Gentleman's own showing, turned them down. So obviously he will either put these proposals again, hoping that the 12 German divisions will then "get them," or he has got some other proposal, either more conciliatory or more belligerent, as representing an addition of strength.

The country would like to know, and a lot of my hon. Friends here would like to know, because—[Laughter.] This is really no laughing matter at all. There are supporters of hon. Members opposite who are as anxious about this as we are. They want to know what is the policy behind our armed strength, because armed strength, by itself, with no sense of destination, is nonsense. We must know what policy we are to pursue. Are we deluding ourselves into believing that 12 additional German divisions will cause the Russians to surrender something which they will not surrender now? That really is a delusion. In that case, the 12 German divisions, from the point of view of adding to our strength, are a sheer waste. It does not get us anywhere, except, as I have said, to re-start the arms race all over again.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South talked about the necessity of adding to our armed forces if atom bombs were set aside as weapons of war, but his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made it quite clear in a remarkable speech in the early part of this year that, in his view, no first-class nation would go down to defeat without using its last weapon. We must take it for granted that, if war breaks out between two major nations, the atom and hydrogen bombs will be used. In the context of that situation, what would 12 German divisions do? What on earth will 500,000 foot soldiers matter in Western Europe? What difference will they make?

If we are to have a real difference in mere soldiers in Europe we should want very many more than 12 German divisions, but we have just been told this evening something that had a very evil purport indeed. We have just been informed this evening that, although Germany is not to be allowed to make atom and hydrogen bombs, this treaty does not rule out that they may possess atom and hydrogen bombs. It has already been brought out this afternoon that America may give them the bombs, because a great deal of the German arms will be found by the United States, and there is no protection here against a new German army receiving from America atom and hydrogen bombs.

I ask the House very solemnly this question: Does anybody think that the people of this country will feel safer against the prospect of war if German armies with Nazi officers have atom bombs? Really, it seems to me lo be a piece of wanton frivolity to bring forward a proposal of this kind and discuss it as a great diplomatic triumph. The fact of the matter is that the Foreign Secretary was squeezed into submission by Mendès-France and Foster Dulles. So far from it being a triumph, it was the most ignominious surrender in British history.

I will try to prove why. My right hon. Friend, when Prime Minister and, later, as Leader of the Opposition, always opposed committing our resources to the Continent of Europe. We always refused to do so. My right hon. Friend always took the view that we ought to have these forces in a much more mobile position, and that we ought not to commit them on the Continent at all. Indeed, it is known to this House that E.D.C. could have been attained some years ago, despite the opposition to France. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but this was the French position all the time.

The French said that it was not only that they wanted British troops committed to Europe in order that there might be better defence forces there, but that they also wanted British troops there so as to watch the Germans. Indeed, we were so sure that we were stronger by having a German army that we had to arm ourselves more in order to watch the Germans. So sure were we, in point of fact, that when the international situation was more dangerous, when our fears were higher, before the end of the Korean War and the Indo-Chinese War, we refused this commitment. Why make it now, when the international situation is easier?

The right hon. Gentleman said he did not surrender, but he has surrendered to more strength what he would not surrender to greater weakness, so that he has come back from Paris with a proposal that we ourselves would never make and he suggests that that is a triumph. The fact is that the international crisis in Western Europe was not a crisis of relationships between Britain and the Soviet Union, but more a crisis of relations between Western Europe and the United States of America. That was the crisis; it was not a military crisis, it was not a diplomatic crisis. It was simply that the United States told us and France that they were not going on any longer unless Western Germany was rearmed. That was it, and it is contained here in the most precise language by Mr. Foster Dulles. Yet a surrender to that is now represented as a triumph.

It seems to me that for some time past there has been a change taking place in American public opinion. Very large numbers of citizens of the United States have been losing a great deal of confidence in the foreign policies of their own administration. I think that very many people in the United States have a great admiration for Great Britain. They still believe that this nation possesses more resources and certainly more sagacity in dealing with international problems than probably any other country in the world. They were beginning to lose confidence in the leadership of their own people, and they were beginning to turn more to Great Britain for leadership. We do not win the confidence of the American people by surrendering to the pressure of one American Secretary of State at any given moment. We have, in fact, surrendered to the pressure of Mr. Foster Dulles. All along, he has committed himself to these German divisions.

We have argued this matter for so long that it seems to me that what is now at stake is not the international situation but British prestige. We convinced ourselves three or four years ago that the rearmament of Western Germany was necessary, and we cannot say anything else now. We have to keep on saying it, like parrots, because we committed ourselves to it three or four years ago. There is no reassessment of the international situation.

I hold the view that the addition of these 12 German divisions will not make a very great difference to the military balance, but will make a very great deal of difference to the political atmosphere. I have told my Friends before that, when we had discussions in Moscow with the leaders of the Soviet Union, I did not gather that the Russians were very worried about the 12 German divisions because, in terms of modern war, they do not count. If the Suez Canal is vulnerable to the hydrogen bomb, what about the complex situation in Europe? These additional foot soldiers for Europe will not make all that difference to the balance of military power because, if war breaks out, that part of Europe will soon be a shambles, and if any soldiers are left there they will be turned into sanitary squads.

I did not gather that the Russians were apprehensive about the military consequences of rearming Western Germany, but I did gather that they were very frightened about the prospect of bringing into international conferences representatives of the one nation that wishes to change the status quo, that has grievances to ventilate, that wants to change the existing situation. They were frightened of that. Malenkov said to me—I am not suggesting for a moment that hon. Members accept what he said, and I merely repeat it—"In Western Germany, economically, culturally, philosophically and certainly financially, the same elements are coming into power as were there before the war." He did not say that they were in power but that they were coming into power. We believe that, too.

One of his arguments is that we should not give the Germans sovereignty at the moment because the Nazis would come along and take it from them. What Malenkov says is, "Is it not possible to try to bring about a reunification of Germany under mutually agreed terms before this irrevocable step is taken?" My right hon. Friend has said that the last Russian Note contained nothing new. I reply: "But you say nothing new, either." The Government keep on saying the same arid things. They make no new proposals. No nation makes its propositions before a conference meets, or the conference would become an attempt to break down what had already been offered.

Is it not desirable, before we take this step, to try to get another meeting with the Russians? Suppose this step is taken, and we ratify. It may be that ratification will go through; we may not be able to stop it. Between ratification and the physical implementation of the treaty will be a considerable pause. It may be a year or two before the actual physical harvest of the treaty will be reaped, whether it be malignant or otherwise. What we are anxious about—and I ask this of the Prime Minister—is that when hon. Members on the Government side of the House have their prize, have got what they wanted, ratification, and when their amour proper has been satisfied sufficiently, they should assure the House that immediately afterwards they will seek a further meeting with the Soviet Union, before the German armies are in the field and before irretrievable steps are taken.

Hon. Members on this side of the House do not like voting for this proposal this evening without any qualification whatsoever. That is one of the reasons we shall not go into the Lobby to support it. I should not have thought there were less reputable reasons. I should have thought that one of the reasons we do not want to vote for this proposal is that we cannot see that it is a positive step towards peace in Europe. Therefore, although my hon. Friends, by a majority, have decided that they are not going to oppose this Motion, I am nevertheless convinced that they would all be highly delighted if the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister could say, "Certainly. Immediately ratification has occurred we are prepared to meet the Russians and to examine any proposals that they are likely to make." In putting that proposition forward, I am convinced that I represent the vast majority of people in Great Britain.

I am not anxious to talk too long, but before I sit down I want to say something about Western Germany itself. I say once more that I cannot understand what the haste is. What is the hurry? It is not as though Western Germany were panting to be rearmed, or were so militarised as to be anxious once more to enter the lists. On the contrary, millions and millions of Germans, through their trade unions and otherwise, have already said that they want a further attempt at reunification of their country before it is irretrievably divided into two parts.

A suspicion is growing up that one of the reasons Dr. Adenauer wants immediate rearmament of Western Germany is that he does not want reunification of Germany. It is highly probable that if there were an election in a united Germany Dr. Adenauer's party would be defeated. This seems a very high price for us to pay.

When my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) asks, "How can you keep on sitting on a nation's head from outside indefinitely"—I make no bones at all about the elegance of the metaphor—I would remind him of the argument that, so far from sitting on its head, we have got such terms that we have a half-nelson on it. We are told that the measure of sovereignty that we are giving to Western Germany is so limited that we need not be afraid of it; that the Germans cannot discuss anything with the Russians and would be compelled to negotiate with us; that they cannot have additional arms but will have to ask us; that we have control of their supply lines; and that their military organisation will be so much under our control that they cannot move without our consent. Those are the safeguards we have in regard to this new ally.

If the Germans are to have a limited sovereignty of that nature, how long will they put up with it? The same arguments as are being advanced in favour of this Motion, that a great and proud nation cannot be kept in subjection permanently, will very shortly be made against the limitations of her sovereignty contained in this treaty. Indeed, we shall have no answer, because the same reasons for giving a great and proud nation full sovereignty will be even more valid then than they are now.

It seems to me, therefore, that what we are doing at this moment is not making a contribution towards peace at all. We are merely trying to satisfy our own political pride. We are insisting upon doing something because in all our conferences and meetings we have said that it ought to be done. We have no greater justification for saying it than that. If my right hon. Friend does not agree with me, will he agree with the other proposition which I have already put? Having carried out our conference decisions, having ratified this Agreement, would he then agree that before we have taken physical steps we should invite the Russians to a conference? It appears to me that Soviet antipathy has gone so far——

Photo of Sir Austen Albu Sir Austen Albu , Edmonton

We are entirely in favour of discussions taking place with Russia as soon as this Agreement has been ratified.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

We are making progress. It is extremely distasteful for hon. Members to have to walk in the Lobby with the Conservatives. We do not want it, but what we want is that there shall be some positive move made before there are arms in the hands of the Western Germans. That is all that I am asking the Foreign Secretary to give tonight. If he does not give that, the assumption is that the Government are not prepared to take any further steps to try to settle the German question with the Russians until they have presented the Russians with these new German military formations. In other words, they are preparing for that conference the worst kind of psychological background, because the Russians would not do what we would not do. They would not surrender to a situation of that sort.

That is why it seems to me that we are making at the end of this long journey a very great mistake indeed, that we are losing sight of the main objective, which is that the ordinary men and women of the world should see their Parliaments treating this international situation with the seriousness which it deserves—and not have this old-fashioned nonsense of "Let us do this. We shall be stronger and then we can talk out of strength." That language is dead. It has no meaning, either with the Russians or with ourselves.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

If my right hon. Friend now says that nobody is talking about speaking from a position of power, what on earth was he saying when he said that international relations are less strained because a balance of power of such a character as to relieve the strain has been achieved?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

That surely does not contradict what I said at all. What I have said fits. If one cannot obtain terms of permanent peace on this balance of power, is it now decided that we are to improve our power position in order to get more favourable conditions?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

My hon. and learned Friend says, "Yes," but what are the Russians going to do in the meantime? Restore the balance.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

If my right hon. Friend wants to know, I will tell him.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The Russians will attempt to redress the balance by adding to their forces and we shall be back where we were. That is why we are asking that there should be a diplomacy which should be adapted, not to a bows and arrows age or even to an H.E. age, but to a hydrogen bomb age, and that we should try to come to terms as quickly as possible with our enemies or potential enemies—not that we should give in to what they want at all. No one on this side of the House has argued for a single moment that what the Russians mean at the moment by free elections in Germany is what we mean. But I am convinced that the Russians are prepared to go a long way. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am entitled to say that.

I believe that the Russians are prepared to go a long way in modifying their attitude towards free elections if they can prevent what they believe will be a dangerous step—the organisation of Germany into two armed camps. I think that the statesmen of this nation will be acting as the people of this nation expect them to act if, having got what they wanted—this Agreement—they immediately see whether the Russians are not prepared to sit down with them, not only for co-existence, but for more co-operation than we have seen for some time past.

6.7 p.m.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I hope that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) can hear me at the moment, because I am going to speak about him forthwith. In the greater part of its content, the right hon. Gentleman's speech was either an insult to his own intelligence, not to speak of an insult to the intelligence of the House, or it was a reflection of the fact that he has not remotely begun to understand what has been happening in Europe. It may have been something even more than that—a disingenuousness which makes his opening remarks a travesty of their literal meaning.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman goes on listening. He makes the most astonishing statements. He has accused the Foreign Secretary of giving way to pressure by Mr. Dulles. Let us explain what has really been happening. It may be possible for me to say something from the back benches which it might not be easy for the Foreign Secretary to say from the Front Bench. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asked what was the hurry for this Agreement. If he does not know what is the hurry, he has no right to attempt to lead a movement of the kind which he is leading in this country.

I wonder whether the right hon. Member was in any part of Europe a week or two after the rejection of E.D.C. by the French Assembly. I was, and so were a fair number of my colleagues who happened to be in Strasbourg. Has the right hon. Gentleman the slightest idea of the despair into which a great part of free Europe was cast by the rejection of E.D.C.? This is not a matter of 12 divisions. What really matters is that, with the rejection of E.D.C., there was a grave risk of the free Western European nations disintegrating, and quickly rather than slowly. I say without hesitation that, had the Foreign Secretary not moved as fast as he did, the chance of free Western European disintegration was acute.

What was the, pattern in France? I still find it difficult to understand why the French Government, led by M. Mendès-France did not see fit to encourage the passing of E.D.C. E.D.C. was rejected. If some further action had not been taken really quickly, what would have been the political situation in France? There were forces determined to get M. Mendès-France out of power by any means if he could not show some achievement very quickly. Would it not then have been inevitable that the two extremes would have gone for power? The extreme Right would have gone for power, and so would the extreme Left—the Communist Party.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

No, I shall not give way. I must finish my argument.

There would have been a risk of extremism from the Left or the Right. There would have been the grave risk of a Government being formed which, from weakness, would have started an ugly rush to Moscow. That is the first country.

What would have happened in the second country—the German Federal Republic? In free Germany, the Government's whole position was based on E.D.C.—the desire of Germany to get away from the old acute nationalism and get into some form of European unity was one of the main forces which held Dr. Adenauer in power. Had action not been taken, what would have happened in that country? The probability was that Dr. Adenauer's Government would have fallen. There would have been real reason to fear the revival of extremes—Nazism such as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talked about, or Communism. As for Italy, we know how strong her Government was; a Government whose strength depended on a European solution.

What was needed was not only the 12 German divisions. It is terribly easy for the right hon. Gentleman to make that kind of speech all over the country and mislead some decent, honest people. It is very easy for him to speak like that.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I am putting forward some facts regarding what was happening in Europe during this period, and answering the question which was the keynote of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, namely, "What's the hurry?" I am explaining that, if action had not been taken really fast by Britain under the leadership of our Foreign Secretary, there was every prospect of free Western Europe disappearing—if not quickly, at least fairly quickly. If hon. and right hon. Members opposite pay no attention to me and want supporting evidence, they might pay some attention to their fellow Socialist, M. Spaak. I am referring to his speech at Strasbourg when he expressed a very real fear of exactly the thing I am describing. He was not frightened that at that moment the Russian troops would move through the Iron Curtain, but of what he described as decadence developing in the free European nations.

Photo of Mr William Warbey Mr William Warbey , Broxtowe

The right hon. Gentleman has exercised his rather feverish imagination, which arises from the hothouse atmosphere of Strasbourg, but has not given a single fact. I will give him just one. Does the right hon. Gentleman deny that, the day after the debate on E.D.C. in the French National Assembly, M. Mendes-France was attacked by his enemies and received the biggest vote of confidence he has received in the Assembly?

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I will tell the hon. Member what happened the day after the rejection of E.D.C. There were a great many people, in many countries, including our own, acutely distressed by what had happened—some not as much as others. There was only one part of the world where there was universal rejoicing, and that was on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Let the right hon. Gentleman remember that. Of course there was rejoicing on the other side of the Iron Curtain—rejoicing not because the 12 divisions were not to be formed straight away, but because the one thing essential for the free Western world might have been deferred indefinitely.

That one thing is the reintegrating of free Western Germany into the free Western nations, and the solution of the age-old Franco-German problem. That is what these Agreements really mean. It is vastly important that there should be, for the first time in a very long time, the prospect of a solution of the problem of Franco-German relations. The German contribution, of course, is important but nothing compared with the cleansing of a festering sore in Europe.

It is when one comes to examine the motives of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues——

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

On a point of order. The one thing an hon. Member cannot address himself to under our rules of order is an examination of the motives which have inspired us.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

One can certainly apply oneself——

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I shall not argue with the right hon. Gentleman on a point of order.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

I did not hear what the point of order was.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The right hon. Member said he proposed to examine the motives which inspired us in our view. If that is in order, it is the first time that I have heard it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

I do not see why it should not be in order.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

All right—all right. We note that.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should shout at me like that. I am here to give a ruling; I have given it and he must accept it.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

With all respect, I merely said that the right hon. Member said he wished now to proceed to discuss the motives which have led us to our view, and that that he could not do.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker:

And I said that I thought he was in order. But what I objected to was that the right hon. Gentleman said, "We note that," in a most objectionable way. I do not allow that. I do not think that that should be done in this House.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Further to that point of order. My right hon. Friend discussed at length the motives of those of us who support this and said that we were only doing it to save our faces. Is it out of order to answer that?

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

May I continue with my speech? If the right hon. Gentleman is reluctant to have his motives discussed, I will not do so. I may say that I have no desire to cast reflections on the personal integrity of any hon. or right hon. Member of this House. I am genuinely puzzled to know—if one is to pay the same compliment to him as to others—how he could compose the latter part of his speech. It is not consistent with sense. It is not consistent with the realities of the situation. It is consistent only with a pre-determined attitude, and with a refusal to acknowledge what has been happening in Europe.

To get some understanding one has to look at the preamble to it, which was delivered by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) yesterday. In that speech we find one very specific proposal, and then we have to try to see where that proposal, if accepted, might have led us. He was referring to the possibility of further negotiations. He said: What we have to ensure is that we do not give them more than we can afford to give, and my view was that we could have afforded to give up the 12 German divisions in the West in order to obtain free elections in Eastern Germany."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 484.] What does the hon. Member mean by that? Is he suggesting that we give up planning the rearmament of Western Europe in the vague hope of persuading the Russians to consent to free elections? If so, it is either wildly unrealistic or sheer lunacy, because all our experience in the last six years has been that the Soviet Government is not prepared to consider a united Germany, armed or rearmed, with free elections under conditions which could possibly be consistent with the principles of freedom which the Western nations uphold. Of that there is yet no hope, though we hope that it will come. It may be that, when these Agreements have been ratified, there will be the opportunity for reopening negotiations with that other country——

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Mr. Bevan rose——

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

Is the right hon. Gentleman going?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I am sorry, but I have an engagement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I have sat in the House since 3.15 p.m., and I now have to leave.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I have no objection. All I wanted to do was to make it clear that I intend to refer further to his speech, possibly in critical terms.

There are some hon. Members who seem to be under some genuine misunderstanding about the position. Take this question of German rearmament. Why the word "rearmament" is used I do not know. It is a triumph for Soviet propaganda, for Eastern Germany has been rearmed for ages. This is not a question of German rearmament.

Let us consider what kind of Power we would be dealing with if we stopped these negotiations pending yet another attempt to get agreement. I say this with some hesitation, but with a sense of responsibility. Let us remember that the Soviet Union still has 175 divisions under arms and another 80 divisions available in the satellite countries, an air force of 18,000 to 20,000 aeroplanes, a cruiser strength of about 30 cruisers, and a submarine strength which is estimated to have reached 500 submarines.

Is there anything really unfriendly on the part of the free Western nations trying to compete with that pattern of strength, with what is not just military strength but moral strength, before they make yet another attempt to negotiate? There can be no doubt that one thing that we have learned about the Soviet Union since the war is that they do at least respect strength. I include not just military strength but moral strength.

The thing that has been at risk in these last three months and which the action of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has saved was the collapse of the moral fibre of the free Western European countries. It seemed to me intolerable that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale should risk misleading decent people in this country who want peace and who have a natural abhorrence of German rearmament—I do not blame them—and that he should seek to prey on their fears for an end which is difficult to understand.

I come now to two other points. One of them is the future size of the Western European Union. My hon Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) made an extremely interesting speech yesterday, though I did not quite agree with him when he said that it was desirable that as soon as possible other nations should be added to the seven, or eight including the Saar. My reason for disagreeing is that I think we must bear in mind throughout this discussion that N.A.T.O. remains the key to defence. Western European Union is an essential part, but not so much of the defence structure as of the control structure which is essential if we are to get the Agreements through.

In future the rôle of Western European Union is primarily in the control of armaments and in certain matters of economic, social and cultural activities which are already in the Brussels Treaty and are essentially European. But we must avoid any tendency to make even Canada feel that she is not intimately linked to Europe as she is through N.A.T.O.

My own concept is that inevitably there must be groupings within the N.A.T.O. nations. There is the Western European Union, the Northern group, and if one looks at the polar projection one finds that the Northern part can be described as consisting of not only Norway and Denmark but Canada as well. One must think of Canada's position if Norway and Denmark came immediately to the Western European Union. And similarly there is a Southern grouping in the Mediterranean, the Turkish-Greece position and the Balkan pact. Such considerations should balance the great desire which some of us have of seeing our Scandinavian friends coming into this new alliance.

Finally, there is the question of the linking of the new assembly to Strasbourg. I welcome very much what the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, and the more detailed statement made by the Joint Under-Secretary, that it is the hope of the British Government that such parts of the new Assembly as are possible shall be integrated as quickly as possible into the Strasbourg structure.

6.25 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

There was one point on which I found myself in profound agreement with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). That was when he said that international relations had become much less strained because we had achieved a balance of power of such a character as to relieve the strain. I agree with that statement profoundly. But I found it contradicted by what he said later. I was also a little surprised to hear him say it, because that balance of power had been achieved by our consistent rejection over a period of five years of everything which his friends have advocated.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) would not wish deliberately to misinterpret anybody's speech. What my right hon. Friend said was that it was not our added strength but the fact that the Russians had a hydrogen bomb that brought this state of affairs about.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

It was not what he said, but if he feels that the balance was overwhelmingly in our favour and was shifted to the Russians, that is an opinion which is almost too eccentric to ascribe even to my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Plymouth, Devonport

Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devon-port) rose——

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I will give way in a minute.

What I really want to consider, within the terms of this treaty, is whether it will contribute to that balance of power on which security and good relations depend. If this treaty makes a contribution to that balance, it is a good thing. If it does not, it is a bad thing. Certainly, leaving a vacuum, leaving the German problem unsolved, does not give any promise of stability. Therefore, let us consider whether there is evidence of stability in this German settlement. I believe there is.

I am less interested in the mere paper undertakings of the German Government. I shall not be unduly concerned if those paper undertakings are varied from time to time. What I am concerned with are the realities which this treaty sets up. The first reality—and this is a formidable limitation upon German sovereignty—is that large foreign armies remain as of right upon German soil. I believe that for Germany freely to accept that is a great contribution to the stability of Europe.

Secondly—and I think this is even more important—the German army is to be linked to an infrastructure through France, perhaps right across the Atlantic. A modern army cannot exist as an army save upon the basis of an infrastructure. Without that, it is simply unmanoeuvreable garrison troops waiting for the slaughter. Infrastructure has become steadily a more complicated thing.

I had an opportunity of discussing this problem with the German generals during the recent manoeuvres, when the effect of tactical atomic weapons was being ascertained. They told me then that the tactical atom weapon's principal effect in war was to increase the necessity both of depth and infrastructure. It meant that there was a need not merely for lines of communication, but alternative lines; not merely a command organisation, but alternative organisations. It meant that the dependence of an army upon the lines behind it was now far greater than it had ever been before.

Therefore, to the people who imagine the spectacle of the German army suddenly swapping sides, like the Stanley's at Bosworth Field, I say that they really have no conception of the nature of the modern army. There is no room for an army to defend itself in Germany today. Germany is not 10 hours across by tank. There is not enough depth, and if they were suddenly to switch themselves from a Western to an Eastern alliance they could do so only by fixing themselves on to an Eastern infrastructure.

Let us see how complicated that process would be. In supply, it would involve sources for ammunition of a different calibre from that which exist in the East. It would require the provision of spare parts for different machinery; the training of an entirely new maintenance personnel, trained to maintain different types of aeroplane and vehicle; the creation of a new air control procedure, and of new signals and command organisation. Anybody who has experienced the problems of linking new armies on to the N.A.T.O. infrastructure knows that I could spend the rest of the afternoon simply listing the problems involved.

It is not a thing that could conceivably be done in 12 months; I doubt whether it could even be done in two years. So Germany cannot change sides except upon terms of making herself totally defenceless, both from East and West, for a minimum period of 12 months. I believe that that would require a degree of confidence in the Russians which is unlikely to be found in any German Government.

Next, and this is the most important point, the interest of the army which we are creating is linked to this system because its effectiveness as an army depends upon this system. To my mind the great virtue of the Agreements—their stability—is that they limit German sovereignty in a way which is acceptable to Europe and commit the German army to the maintenance of this limitation. That is a tremendously important political fact.

We are asked whether the German army is to be a democratic asset. That depends a little upon what is meant by democracy. If, by democracy, one means allowing Communists to win elections, the German army will not allow that to happen. Democracy, to me, is a system which provides for the individual certain essential liberties, such as the freedom of thought, expression and action, which I find necessary to my self-respect; freedoms without which I should not feel it dignified to want to live, and freedoms for which I personally am prepared to die and would ask others to die. Holding that view of democracy, I should have nothing but unmitigated contempt for any so-called democrat who supinely sat by and allowed a Communist to win an election. It would involve a reverence for the machinery that made one forget the substance of democracy.

In that sense, I believe that the German army which we are creating will be a guardian of democracy. I shall be asked whether I think it would deal equally with a Fascist threat. That would depend largely upon us. The interest of the German soldiers will be not merely in a German army but in a European army, under N.A.T.O. Their interest will lie in their influence and authority at N.A.T.O., and if there were any movement in Germany which led the army to believe that their reputation at N.A.T.O. would be undermined or their authority destroyed, they would deal with it.

I believe that we are creating an army which will guard democracy from both extremes. Do not let us be too hesitant about this fact; authority rests upon power and arms. Democracy is not insulated from that need. Every authority rests in arms—in Germany rather more so than in other places—and I believe that we are providing Germany with the sort of army which will support a régime with which Europe can co-operate. I regard that as a contribution to peace.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) that we cannot disinterest ourselves in German unity. But that does not mean that we should feel particularly and individually interested in it. It is a German interest rather than an interest of ours. German unity has been blocked by the Russians. The Russians have been blamed for it. Personally, I do not blame them; I think that they have been wise. A Germany co-ordinated, controlled, and integrated with the West is far less of a threat to Russia and to the peace than a Germany united uncontrolled and uncontrollable. I think that the Russians have had the sense to see that and I congratulate them upon it. I believe that unity will come, for much the same reason that we have left Egypt and will leave Cyprus, because one cannot maintain oneself too long against the will of a whole people.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) threatened us with the prospect of counter-recruiting by the Russians in East Germany, but they have recruited about 180,000 already. It has not been a very encouraging process, because 40,000 have already deserted, and at present desertions are running rather faster than recruitment. Another point to remember is that the Russians have not given the Germans heavy arms—for the very admirable reason that they dare not trust the Germans with them. I do not believe that the East Germans present a very real threat. I think that the Russians want to do a deal and that as we consolidate and stabilise the balance of power they will be more ready to do a deal.

There has been a change in Russian policy, not primarily as a result of Stalin's death, but as a result of the rising of China. For the first time Russia finds herself seriously challenged for the leadership of the Communist world. She has had some rather ignominious experiences. She started a war in Korea without telling the Chinese. The Chinese newspapers did not know which side they were on for 24 hours. She then found that, owing to MacArthur's Pusan landings, she was cut off from her troops, and she had to call on the Chinese to pull her chestnuts out of the fire. The ultimate result of the Korean war has been that Russia has lost Korea to China, and has now had to surrender Port Arthur, which has become untenable.

Do not tell me that this is a process the Russians have enjoyed. They are challenged in the primacy of their Communist world, and I think they are energetically seeking to disengage in the West so as to be able to have power and surplus to reassert themselves in Asia. Therefore, I think that when the time comes, when we are ready for it—it should not be too soon; not until we have effectively absorbed Germany into the realities of our organisation—they will be ready for a deal.

I want to say a word or two about the opposition which we have had here. That opposition has provided no alternative of any sort, and that is not very surprising when one sees what a coalition of opposites it is. At one end there is Lord Beaverbrook, and I think that his is also roughly the point of view of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton). Their point of view is that the only good Germans are dead ones, and that what is wrong with the Agreements is that we are giving them guns pointing the wrong way.

That is one point of view which opposes the Agreement. It finds itself in odd coalition with liberal humanists such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), whose hobby horse is of the opposite colour.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

It is flattering to receive that appellation from my hon. and learned Friend, but my temporary position on this bench below the Gangway is no sign of that.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I am not referring to my right hon. Friend's position on that bench. I am referring to his position in this controversy.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

Would "retired Marxist" be a better term?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I would say that my right hon. Friend's hobby horse is of a quite different colour. His delusion is that not merely the German tribes but the Kremlin apostles of the Marxist revelation are amenable to reason. They are not. They are amenable to power, and to nothing but power.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

My hon. and learned Friend began his very interesting speech with a description of his conversations with German generals. Does he feel that they are people who are fully amenable to reason?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I have just indicated that I think it is the gravest mistake to imagine either that the German tribes or the Marxists are permanently, or even in the short run, amenable to reason. This is an arrangement of power, to which both will respond.

Having dealt with those two opposite points of view, we then come to the point of view of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East. He, of course, is the supreme pessimist in this House. He is the Calhoun of our assembly, who sees with dreadful certainty the doom of our civilisation, and proclaims that any form of resistance will only make that doom more painful and, perhaps, more permanent.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My hon. and learned Friend calls me a pessimist. Since he is engaging in these pleasantries, perhaps he will allow me to say that I think he is a little unfair to say that. He knows quite well that he and I supported N.A.T.O., that we both supported the defence programme, that we both supported conscription. It seems to me that he should endeavour to ensure that his high jinks bear some relation to the truth.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I agree that there is difficulty in finding very much consistency in my hon. Friend. His despair has not been of very long standing. It is of comparatively recent years, but after a somewhat equivocal start he has come down emphatically on the side of despair.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

Oh, despair. Other people call it something else.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I would say this to my hon. Friend. I think we must pay him this tribute. He is prepared personally to pursue a policy which he advocates for England. He told us yesterday that he proposed to contract out of the consequences of war in the Lobbies and to call his weakness martyrdom. Substantially, that is the policy he advocates for England.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I think my hon. and learned Friend knows quite well that we are all to abstain from voting, and that we are all doing so in obedience to the instruction of the Whip. I shall be interested to find whether he shares my despair when he does exactly the same thing when, if he believes in the Agreement, he does not vote for it.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

What my hon. Friend yesterday said was that he was driven by obligation——

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

—to avoid a battle which he believed was right. That is, broadly, the policy he has been advocating that England should pursue. I say that he has been following himself the policy he commends for England.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I think we must get this clear. Unless my hon. and learned Friend, and my right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench who spent the whole of yesterday passionately supporting this Agreement, announce that they will not after all abstain from voting for it, I fail to see just what the difference is between that and passionately opposing it.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

The Government will carry the Motion. There will not, presumably, be a Division.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

I beg my hon. and learned Friend's pardon for contradicting him, but there will be.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

What is really odd is to find that somebody who takes my hon. Friend's position should find himself in an alliance with so supreme an optimist as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale. My right hon. Friend's point of view, as he said, is that he is convinced that the Russians are prepared to come a long way. It would be hard to find greater optimism than that. Yet these opposites seem to have come together.

I feel that my hon. Friend's position amongst his friends is analogous to that occupied by Mr. Foster Dulles in the Republican Party in days when that party was in opposition. Mr. Dulles owed his authority to the fact that his colleagues were so ignorant of foreign affairs that they did not know how thoroughly they disagreed with him. I think that that is essentially my hon. Friend's position. Indeed, the opposition here is a little like the recent Spartak match, which was a close thing for a long time, but in the final period there was suddenly a collapse, not because of the weight of numbers but because the fog cleared.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

We won.

Now that we have settled these things, and this decision has been taken, I hope that we may all unite in supporting a foreign policy which is our foreign policy. Foreign policy is the process whereby one seeks to enable nations of different ideologies to live in peace, and to align their interests. In this task foreign policy can be effective only in so far as it remains itself ideologically neutral. We can no more avoid the collisions of nations by having a Socialist foreign policy than we can avoid collisions on land by having a Socialist road traffic code.

Throughout history ideological foreign policies have been uniformly bloody. What this nation requires is neither a Socialist nor a Conservative foreign policy; it is a British foreign policy. We have one. Its origin we owe to the genius of Ernest Bevin. Its continuity we owe to the loyalty and the wonderful skill of the present Foreign Secretary. Let nobody try to take a political advantage from it, because it belongs to us all.

6.51 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), has, as he always does, made a cogent, moving and very sincere speech; and I was, as usual, in complete agreement with nine-tenths of what he said.

In that respect he was a little happier than the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who started with a violent, angry speech and then suddenly began to paint a strange picture of the London Conference—of a recalcitrant and kicking Anthony Eden being carried into Lancaster House by M. Mendès-France against his will; whereas, as we all know, most of his time was, in fact, spent in stopping M. Mendès-France from walking out of Lancaster House.

The right hon. Gentleman then brought the whole level of his speech down to the ludicrous; and I respectfully suggest that not even the right hon. Gentleman, with all his oratorical powers, can move from melodrama to farce and back again to melodrama at that pace. As I sat here watching his angry face and the far angrier faces of hon. Members above the Gangway, and as I remembered the fascinating description given yesterday of life in the Labour Party by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), I could not but be thankful that I had not succumbed to a youthful impulse to join the Labour Party, as I very nearly did. "Out, out, brief candle!" would have been my epitaph; for I do not think I could possibly have lasted for more than a fortnight at the outside.

I think that perhaps another reason for this may be that, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton said, there is an element of catastrophe, of disaster and of despair in the Labour Party. I remember the hon. Member for Coventry, East once saying to me, in an expansive moment, "In the final analysis, the Labour Party is the party of catastrophe."

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

Probably he meant only that it was brought in by disaster. The hon. Member may recall it, because it caused considerable dismay to a young friend of ours who was hoping to become Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and who did not see the Labour Party in that light at all.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

To clear the matter up, I will tell the House what I said. I said that it was the only party which could deal with the disaster which would be created by the Tory Party—and that is slightly different.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

I think it may have been I who added. "Then you admit to being the party of disaster." [HON. MEMBERS: "Get back to the subject."] It has been an interesting debate this afternoon, but it has not always kept on the subject; there have been many irrelevancies, and they have been fascinating irrelevancies. However, I will now bring it back to the subject, as I so often do.

I must at the outset join issue with my right hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Maclay), who had some very rough things to say about the opponents of E.D.C. As I happen to have been from start to finish an opponent of E.D.C., I want to answer my right hon. Friend for a moment. When he was making his very effective reply to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, he began by saying some hard things about those of us who were against E.D.C. and about the very dire consequences which might have happened in Europe had E.D.C. been rejected.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I said that they would have happened, had not a substitute for E.D.C. been found quickly.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

My right hon. Friend said that, had that interregnum continued, all sorts of disasters would have taken place in France, Germany and almost everywhere else. At the risk of boasting, I should like to say that I think I myself helped to kill E.D.C. I felt a great responsibility at the time; but few things I have done in public life have given me greater satisfaction; and in a couple of sentences, Mr. Speaker, I will explain why, despite the fact that at the time it earned me some sorrowful reproaches from the Foreign Secretary and a severe rebuke from the Prime Minister.

The reason I did it was that I was in France quite a lot, not only at Strasbourg; and I took the view that E.D.C. was breaking France to pieces. I think there is real truth in that statement. E.D.C. was also doing a great deal to poison Franco-German relations. Indeed, I have never seen Franco-German relations deteriorating so rapidly; and there were times, when moving about provincial France, when one was reminded of the Dreyfus affair, with families turning against one another, and bitterness growing the whole time. If E.D.C. had been passed by a majority of half-a-dozen—and it would never have been passed by more—it would have done infinitely more harm than good.

I was opposed to it for these and also for other reasons. It sought further to divide Western Europe. It also sought—and this I hated—to exclude Britain from Europe. It sought to create a Continental federation, to which neither history nor geography nor economics gave any sanction. Finally, it sought to establish in Europe a thing called a "supra-national" authority in order to do this.

I dislike all these things. Those were the reasons why, perfectly sincerely—and I remain quite unrepentant—I was an opponent of E.D.C. I had no doubt that once that issue was cleared up we should find a substitute, and a far better substitute, and that is exactly what has happened.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I am not quarrelling with anything that my hon. Friend has said, but, as there may be some misunderstanding on the other side of the House, I ought to explain that my point was that we had to find a substitute. I still hold the view that had a substitute not been found very quickly, disintegration would have taken place. That is what I said in my speech.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

I quite agree that it was necessary to find a substitute and to find it very quickly. I am delighted to think that we have done so.

I have no doubt at all that, although they do not say so, the Russians much prefer this arrangement to E.D.C.—had E.D.C. gone through—because E.D.C. might have given the Germans a chance of controlling an international army on the Continent, and of using it for their own purposes, while these Agreements cannot do so.

I have always maintained—and here I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey), for we have always been together in this matter, year in and year out at Strasbourg—that there is no purely European solution to the problem of European defence. As he and I have always said, N.A.T.O. is the only organisation which is capable of defending Europe with success, or of containing the German military potential without risk. That is what we have now, and that is why I am so pleased about it. I think that the demise of the European super-State is no less satisfactory than the demise of the European super-man, both of which were bad ideas and both of which have gone—I hope for ever.

I would now like to remind the House of something which nobody has put quite clearly today. I can do it in a sentence or two, for I will follow your advice, Mr. Speaker, and be short. I want to remind the House, in a few sentences, of the solid achievements of these very complicated Agreements which were reached in London and Paris; and here I think I will carry my right hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West with me all the way. First, they have revived the Western alliance which was threatened not so much, I think, by the failure of E.D.C. as by all sorts and kinds of "agonising reappraisals" which were about to take place in many different countries, and which could not have been allowed to go on. Secondly, they brought to an end the conception of what is called "Little Europe," which I always thought a bad idea; and gave birth to the conception of a united Western Europe under British leadership, which I always thought a very good idea.

Fourthly, they restored political sovereignty to Germany without making it conditional on a defence contribution. If we examine the articles carefully we will see that sovereignty is restored to Germany without rearmament as a condition of it. I have always thought it was madness to try to rearm the Germans before we had even made peace with them. That was the great mistake which we all made some years ago.

The final position is that we have now an effective partnership between a free united Western Europe and the Atlantic community; and the opportunity for the construction of a new form of Western Union based on the very solid foundation of the Brussels and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisations. All this amounts to something rather practical; and I think that one of the most remarkable features of these Agreements is the fact that, as against N.A.T.O., they deliberately provide for the limitation of arms—they put a ceiling as well as a floor on armament production.

This is, I suppose, the first time that a defence alliance has ever been negotiated which does this: and makes it an effective piece of machinery for subsequent negotiations with the Russians, which, of course, will have to come. By placing control of European armaments production in the hands of the Brussels Treaty Council, and the strategic direction of the new European army in the hands of the Supreme Allied Commander, these Agreements provide by far the most effective safeguards against the revival of German militarism that have yet been devised.

As Walter Lippmann has pointed out, we are putting the new German army in an enveloping coalition of armies which will include the British Army and the American Army; and that is far better than leaving a German army, without a British Army, on the Continent of Europe. Furthermore, we are doing it without duplicating the defence organisation, or disturbing the existing chain of command, which is extremely important. As a result, France can now feel satisfied that she will never be left alone on the Continent with a rearmed, resurgent and—let us face it—dissatisfied Germany. That was what made France nervous, and was the main cause of her rejection of E.D.C. Germany, too, can feel satisfied that she will now be accepted, under stringent conditions, but as a full member, of the Western alliance, including N.A.T.O., which is what she has always wanted since the rearmament of Germany was first suggested.

As to the cost, no one can yet give accurate figures. We cannot expect Germany to pay for our army for ever. Everyone agrees that we have to have an army there; but, ultimately—and I am all for Germany paying for as much of it as possible for as long as possible—we shall have to pay for it ourselves, otherwise we shall be in danger of becoming mercenaries of the Germans, which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would not like at all.

That being the case, it is important to decide where is the best place to put that army, and then to put it there. It is clear that from the strategic point of view, and in present circumstances, the best place is in Germany. So everything is quite satisfactory all round, so far as I can see; and I would only add that while the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be relied upon, with the assistance of the Minister of Defence, to see that the Germans go on paying as much as possible for as long as possible, in the end we shall have to brace ourselves, if we do not want to became German mercenaries, to pay for our own Army.

I agree with all those who have said, "Ratify these treaties, and ratify them quickly." It is an illusion to suppose, whatever the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale may say, that we can negotiate successfully with the Russians from weakness. He may not like the phrase. "Negotiate from strength." I do not like the phrase "Negotiate from weakness." He says that we cannot negotiate if we go ahead and ratify these treaties, and if we rearm West Germany first. But he does not apply that argument to the Russians, who have already armed East Germany. The truth is that we have to negotiate from equal positions and from, as near as possible, equal strength, if we are to have any hope of success.

In my opinion, negotiations will be facilitated rather than hindered by the established unity of the West, and by the provisions—and remarkable provisions—in the Agreements not merely for the creation of armies but also for the limition of armies, unique in treaties of this kind. I am referring, of course, to conventional armaments. Nuclear weapons will have to be dealt with one day at world level. I hope I am not being as wildly optimistic as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, but I genuinely believe that nuclear weapons will never be used. I believe that in ten years' time no one will dare even to think of using them.

That does not mean that there will not be small hot wars here and there, with conventional weapons, which we shall have to deal with. In Malaya, which I have recently visited, and where we are fighting 4,000 or 5,000 terrorists, I was struck by the observation of an air marshal who said, "Thank God we have just about enough obsolete weapons with which to conduct this war." That is not an insignificant remark. If we send a jet aeroplane, flying at 600 miles an hour, to find a terrorist with a shot gun in the jungle, we have not much chance of success. All these things have to be carefully considered. I commend to the House the works and observations of Captain Liddell Hart on this subject. They are well worth the special attention of the Minister of Defence.

I entirely agree with everyone who has suggested that, as soon as these Agreements are ratified, we should go ahead and propose negotiations with the Russians. But I should like to say that I am not unduly sanguine about the prospects for German reunification. The division of Germany is a monstrous thing. It is an unfair thing. But it is also an established fact, and I do not believe that the Russians have any present intention of changing it. At Berlin, as the Foreign Secretary will recall, they could have had what amounted to the neutralisation of Germany for a considerable number of years, in exchange for German reunification on the basis of free elections.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

I tell the hon. Gentleman that, from the moment when the Foreign Ministers of the Western Powers declared that Bonn could not bind a reunited Germany, and, therefore, that a fresh treaty would have to be negotiated, it followed that E.D.C. would be held up indefinitely, and amounted to an offer of conditional neutralisation of Germany.

That was the price which my right hon. Friend was prepared to pay to Molotov, and, I think, rightly prepared, in exchange for genuinely free elections in Germany and for unification; and the Russians would not look at it. They were not in the least interested. Why? Because their idea of a free election is a rigged election. They are perfectly genuine.

The hon. Member for Coventry, East will remember the conversation we had with the editor of "Pravda," when we tried to explain to him what was a free election. It was a disheartening experience. There is no doubt that he sincerely believed that a free election was an election so arranged that the right side won; and there is quite a lot to be said for that idea—unless one happens to be a democrat.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

He knew what a free election was in Austria, but he did not know what one was in Germany.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

He did not know what a free election was at all. That disposes of the theory that we are preventing the unification of Germany.

The fact is that at Berlin the Foreign Secretary bent over backwards to get an agreement with the Russians about the reunification of Germany; and in vain. It would have amounted to the indefinite postponement of E.D.C., and the negotiation of a new treaty with a new German Government, with the Russians taking part and goodness knows what else; but they did not even listen. Why? Because they had made up their minds at that time that they did not dare risk moving anybody out of anywhere in any circumstances.

That was the simple instruction which Molotov brought to Berlin. It did not open the way for any large diplomatic advances in any direction. I think that the great triumph of my right hon. Friend at Berlin was that, despite this somewhat chilling factor, everybody ended rather better friends than when they arrived; and there was, miraculously, a relaxation instead of an increase of tension.

The other reason I think the Russians will not consider the reunification of Germany in the near future is that at present we have nothing to offer them of comparable importance or value to the physical possession of East Germany, which they have got. There it is. I do not see what they have to gain by German reunification at present, because, whatever hon. Members may say, we cannot ensure the permanent neutralisation of a great country like Germany once it is reunited. That is why all this talk about neutralism is such nonsense.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The hon. Member said only a minute ago that it was the very thing which the Russians could have had at Berlin, which the Foreign Secretary offered them and which they rejected. He is now saying that there is no such thing.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

Oh, no. I was trying to give the reasons for their rejection. If the hon. Member missed it, it was because I am speaking so fast to get through this speech in reasonable time.

I asked why the Russians rejected it, and I said that one of the reasons was that they did not think it was worth losing the physical possession of East Germany in order to get it. They do not think that now and they will not think it tomorrow; but I do not altogether rule out the possibility that they might think it worth while one day when they become "fed up" with the Germans, as they might easily do.

We have, therefore, now to address ourselves to a situation in which, for the foreseeable future, there will be two Europes and two Germanys. What, in these circumstances, can we do to bring about a further relaxation of tension between the East and the West? This relaxation of tension is very important, and it is the concluding note that I should like to strike; because to live with a problem under conditions of relaxed tension is sometimes to outlive it and ultimately to solve it.

There are one or two hopeful lines of advance. I do not despair of an Austrian treaty, even now. There it is, in black and white—"Agreed," "Agreed," "Agreed," 208 meetings, or whatever the number is. Nobody wants any more amendments. They might suddenly wake up one morning and sign it. That would be a great advance.

Then, we might use the agreements which we are just about to ratify—I hope—when they are ratified, as a basis of negotiation with the Russians for a reciprocal reduction of conventional armed forces now maintained on both sides of the Iron Curtain in Europe. I have said that nuclear disarmament must be settled on a global basis; but this would bring great relief. If we could get some reduction of the conventional forces in Europe East and West of the Elbe, it would be a help; and for economic reasons alone the Russians might want it. Here, again, is an obvious line of advance.

Then we must really do something, or try to do something, to modify the existing restrictions on trade with countries behind the Iron Curtain, which are becoming too childish to be true. When one knows that the Russians possess not only the atom bomb but the H-bomb, and then we solemnly prohibit the sale of two trawlers on account of the fact that they might attack this country, it is becoming a little silly. I might as well be told that Scottish herrings could be shot back at us from the sea, but, fortunately, the Government have not yet prohibited their export.

We must really make a fresh approach to the Americans. Having been in Hong Kong, I am sorry to say that there was quite a lot in what the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) said about the number of American consuls who were there with a kind of general desire to stop us doing any trade at all with China. I am quite sure that the general policy of the State Department, although it has come on in a number of other respects, is to try to stop us trading with the countries behind the Iron Curtain. That is profoundly mistaken.

Of course, I do not want to sell them submarines or atom bombs; but I do want to sell them a lot more things than we are selling now, and to take a lot more from them, because I am sure that this kind of intercourse is one of the best ways of getting a relaxation of the tension.

To end on a personal note, I appeal to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to see what he can do for the poor old Council of Europe under these new Agreements. I do not think it is an insoluble problem because, after all, all the member countries of the Brussels Organisation are also members of the Council of Europe; and I was greatly encouraged to hear that they are to meet in Strasbourg. They can be fitted in. There is no structural difficulty. It may be—we have a right to hope—that Norway and Denmark will, in time, come into the inner Brussels Organisation, too. There is no hurry; but it might happen that way, and it would be a good thing if it did.

What I would say most urgently and earnestly to my right hon. Friend—I am sure that the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East will agree with me in this—is that unless he can galvanize the Committee of Ministers into greater activity than it has hitherto shown, he will never get that place really going. You cannot have a great Consultative Assembly just sitting round waiting to be consulted, and nobody ever consulting it. It gets upset, and feels thwarted and frustrated.

I should like to say one word about somebody who has not been mentioned much in this debate. Adenauer has had great praise. Mendès-France has not had very much. Perhaps it is because he is very tough; but he had to be tough; and he has done a tremendous job for France. He found France in what Walter Lippmann has moderately described as "a condition of the gravest disorder." It was rather more than that at Geneva. I think that he saved France from a disaster of infinite magnitude. I do not know how long it will go on, but we ought to pay tribute to the fresh vigour, the new start, and the new deal that he has given to France for the first time since the war.

Finally, there is my right hon. Friend himself. With my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East, if I can call him my hon. Friend now that he has left the Chamber, I had the luck, as a journalist, to follow my right hon. Friend from Berlin to Geneva and, finally, to London. I have already described what he did at Berlin. At Geneva he did an even bigger job. There was one moment in particular when he reminded m0e of the nursery poem about the boy who … stood on the burning deckWhence all but he had fled. My right hon. Friend was quite alone at one moment facing the embattled diplomatic forces of the entire Communist world, and facing them successfully.

Photo of Mr Robert Boothby Mr Robert Boothby , Aberdeenshire East

The ship did not go down; it was salvaged.

Lastly, there has been the London meeting and there has been the Paris meeting, and there are these Agreements, which have set us all on a new and far more hopeful course than we have been on since the war, as everybody except about three hon. Members of the House knows; and all this achievement within the compass of 12 months. I said last time I spoke in the House, before the London and Paris meetings, that I knew of no comparable diplomatic achievement in our history. I repeat it tonight; and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be under no misapprehension that I pay him this sincere and well-deserved tribute out of any passionate desire to become Postmaster-General in the next Conservative Administration.

7.19 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby) usually intervenes in foreign affairs debates and we like to hear him, but I have been a Member of the House for over five years and I have not hitherto ventured to intervene in this field. I am, however, heartened by the fact that the Minister of Housing and Local Government has become Minister of Defence. If, with his little knowledge of local government, he can become Minister of Defence, I think that with my far greater experience of local government I can at least intervene on foreign affairs. In the circumstances, I think that is fair.

I want to intervene in this debate as one who has not had a broad experience of foreign affairs, but who has sat here from time to time and marvelled at the information that is poured forth by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I want to tell these learned hon. Members that they do not represent the great generality of our people. The great mass of the people who glean their information from the newspapers have to weight up what I might call paper evidence. They cannot say, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) can say, "When I was speaking to Malenkov."

I cannot hope to join in that, but I want to look at the evidence as it appears to one who has passed the best part of his life working on behalf of the natives of this island without too much knowledge of the natives of other lands. Mine is the general reaction of the average trade unionist, or shop steward, who has spent eight hours a day on the factory floor wondering what the boss is up to.

Let us turn to this proclamation of the German T.U.C., which is reported to have come to a decision against any German rearmament, with only four dissidents. First, I want to observe that I am very much touched by this veneration for the West German T.U.C. by elements in my own party who have very little time for its British counterpart. I am not too worried about the West German T.U.C., because the West German T.U.C. can meet in open conference and presumably conduct a vote in which four men can hold up their hands against the majority, without the certain knowledge that they will be liquidated in the morning. Nobody can say that about the East German T.U.C. I can remember 17th June when the East German workers rose and Russian tanks were called out and shot them down.

This does not so much affect Members on that side of the House, but the Communist Party puts pressure on hon. Members on this side. Often hon. Members on that side do not give us the credit we deserve for standing up to almost impossible pressure, blackmail from time to time, and character assassination. McCarthy did not invent that, it was invented here by the Communist Party from 1920.

My hon. Friends know that when anything happens that even slightly affects Russia we have a certain fan mail. I have kept a list. I can tell all that I am going to receive when there is any change of foreign policy. There are letters from the dedicated Communist Party members, fellow travellers, crack-pots, lunatics—one has them all. But I do not remember receiving a single letter of protest against the massacre of the East German workers.

I remember 20 years ago being marched out of a factory between a couple of policemen. I have known what it is to be picked up under emergency powers. But, of course, all that sort of thing has gone. Hon. Gentlemen on that side have a heavy responsibility for what happened in the General Strike and in 1931. But under full employment they regard the T.U.C. as almost a venerated ally. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know they cannot get away with monkey business any longer. I hope that I have no cheers from that side, because hon. Members on that side are not my natural allies.

The S.P.D.—the German Social Democratic Party—has not been reflected in East Germany. It has been integrated—somebody said kaleidoscoped—into the Communist Party, and as an independent political party it completely lacks reality. That sort of thing is a normal progression from the traditional course of Marxism and Communism.

If there is one thing on which I can speak with authority, it is the Communist conspiracy in this country. I hate the United States bases in this country, and I would not have had them, but they and the H-bomb are not the cause of international tension but the end-product, the harvest of Soviet imperialism and naked aggression. When the indictment is made, it must be remembered—it cannot be denied—that the United States proposed the internationalisation of atomic weapons when the United States alone had the bomb. That is the sort of evidence on which one must judge.

I thought the reference of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale to these 12 divisions was rather funny. He said these divisions did not count, but I thought that earlier in his speech his argument was that they would overrun Europe. He used an emotional tone and the question-begging phrase "foot soldiers," as if we were back at the Battle of Waterloo. Nobody who has seen a mechanised unit talks like that.

On the question of whether or not the German Social Democratic Party believes in these agreements, or whether it is playing politics, I want to quote what Herr Ollenhauer said at Dortmund in 1953. E.D.C. does not give us equality which in our view is an indispensable condition of co-operation among democratic nations.The S.P.D. will oppose the Treaty. We believe that co-operation in a shape which is acceptable also to Great Britain and the Scandinavian nations and associated with N.A.T.O. will provide better conditions for the effective security arrangements than the E.D.C. Treaty. The S.P.D. would accordingly welcome new negotiations on this basis. I should have thought that this Nine-Power Agreement was in line with that aspiration. But, if I were asked if I thought that what the Germans said was most important in Europe today, I would say "No." Far more important is what the British T.U.C. says and what the British Labour Party resolves; far more important is what the French say, because let us never forget that the flower of French manhood was decimated in the opening months of the 1914–18 war. If France is now relatively weak, it is because of the numbers she lost them.

Nor can French culture be put aside. I am not one of those who thinks in terms of the big nations, one who thinks that the big nations necessarily make the best contribution to the well-being of toe world. Of course they do not. That has been our indictment against the German Nazis—that they completely believed in force. Of course, the big nations are not the people who necessarily make the biggest contribution to the well-being of mankind.

So the significant thing to me is not those four dissentists in the West German T.U.C., but the French Socialist Party which by a majority of 2,187 to 454 approved this Nine-Power Agreement.

If I have some qualifications for speaking—and I apologise for intruding any biographical details—they are that during the war I was the leader of a council of a little town every one of whose houses was hit at least four times. There were 50,000 incidents of air-raid damage in a town of 11,500 people. That leaves a memory. I do not necessarily think that the indictment of Germany is finished, or that we have completely forgotten. Let us temper justice with memory. If her penalty is that she has got to remain a dismembered nation for several years while she painfully grows in stature in the democratic tradition, then that is not too great a price to pay to prevent the Germans starting another world war. Possibly in 1919 we got out too quickly and the Weimar Republic was so weak that it let loose other forces.

I never imagined that the Russians would grant free elections in Eastern Germany. Why should they? They do not have free elections on their own soil, and we expect a country only to export indigenous ideas to other lands. They have no use for free elections; they do not believe in them. For that reason, the Germans may well have to maintain themselves indefinitely as a divided nation.

I hope I shall be excused if I use a quotation at this stage. Lenin put the position quite starkly, and part of my case is that Russian intransigence is the cause of our foreign policy today. The Russians do not have a Question time at 2.30, nor are the Russians tumbling over themselves to know whether at 3.30 a Bill shall be brought in to provide tracts and trousers for South Sea Islanders. There is no great urgency with the Russians. They look at things as far ahead as 25 to 50 years. They believe that in the end they will triumph over other people, and—I say this with all respect—like the Catholic Church, they believe that they will win out with a universal creed in the end.

Lenin put the position quite starkly when he said: We are living not merely in a State but in a system of States; and it is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue for a long period side by side with imperialist States. Ultimately one or the other must conquer. Meanwhile a number of terrible clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States is inevitable. In case it is suggested that I am delving into old history like my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, I will bring the matter up to date. As recently as 1945 there was published in Moscow an English translation of Stalin's earlier book, "Problem of Leninism." It is one of the fundamental text-books for the political training of Soviet youth today. It says among other things: The overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie and establishment of the power of the proletariat in one country does not mean that the complete victory for Socialism has been ensured. … The victory of the revolution in at least several countries is needed. One could go on quoting this sort of thing, but anyone who knows anything about Marx will know full well that that is the Russian policy. That is how they think.

Photo of Dr Hyacinth Morgan Dr Hyacinth Morgan , Warrington

My hon. Friend included the Catholic Church in his speech and bracketed it with Communist Russia, with which I do not agree.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

My hon. Friend is a distinguished Catholic, but if he continues to make this sort of intervention I shall get all mixed up, because I am a trifle excited at this moment.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

He tends to knock me off the general thread of my argument.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

The sort of question we are entitled to ask is what will happen if we do not endorse the Nine-Power Agreements? It is the alternatives we are concerned with here. For the benefit of my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Dr. H. Morgan), I would say that I believe there is a Papal injunction which says that of all evils one should choose the least. I think by that standard there is no doubt where we stand on this question. To my regret, no one in this debate has offered any alternatives to these Agreements. They have been attacked by certain of my hon. Friends, but no adequate alternative has been put forward. There has been a series of negatives.

Some of my hon. Friends seem to think that words have some sort of significance outside their meaning and that they achieve something. They do not. What we have to care about is the spirit which is behind this sort of thing, and it is that spirit which makes it go. I followed from day to day in the papers the progress of E.D.C., and I can honestly say that I could never see it working at all, because I felt that it would make no appeal to the French and that therefore it would not work.

There can be no doubt that when these Nine-Power Agreements were approved there was a new spirit abroad because the tension had been lifted. That was the general reaction of the people of this country, and we must realise that if these Agreements are not carried out there is nothing else to put in their place. They are the quintessence of negotiation and compromise. They are the least that the Germans and the French would accept. We are not speaking in terms of trade union branch airy-fairy resolutions.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

They are not airy-fairy.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Well, they are sometimes by the time they reach me.

I do not think there is any doubt that failure to endorse the Agreements would discredit social democracy in France, and that is one of the principal things we have to bear in mind. Would the defence of Western Europe be strengthened if France fell into civil disorder? I remember on one of the rare occasions when I went abroad that I went to a United Nations meeting. I recall that the meeting was addressed by Senator Tom Connally, then Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and also by Senator Wiley, who is the present Chairman. After they had spoken, one of the French said to me, "The Americans! They sound like moral rearmament, they believe in everything," to which a young lady who was with me at the time said, "In contradistinction to the French, who believe in nothing." There is an element of truth in that.

It was necessary to build the confidence of the French and other nations in connection with these Agreements. That is an important element in the situation today. We are an old nation with tradition, feeling and subtlety, and we do not believe in bullying and bludgeoning people as the Americans have tried to do. We are more settled in our outlook, and we try to understand old hates and fears.

We must also remember West Germany. If we fail them now we might well drive that country into a more extreme form of nationalism. During the war it was fashionable for all sorts of people like Lord Vansittart to urge that the Germans should be broken up into rural communities so that they would never rise again. But the fact that must impress itself upon our minds is that Germany is likely to be on this planet for a long time yet. It will be there in the time of our children and of our children's children, and we hope that the Germans will be less warlike in the future. We cannot always be harking back to the past. We must look to the future with hope of better things in a spirit of experiment and endless endeavour.

We have reached the present pass in foreign affairs largely because of Russian intransigence. In 1945 no country in the world had so much good will extended to her as the Soviet Union. She was our great ally, and her territory was more ravished and torn than that of any other allied nation. Die-hard Tories almost fell over themselves to organise flag days in aid of the Russians.

I want to know why she threw all this away. She threw it all away, of course, because she was the slave of a doctrine which is well known and well understood. Do not let us forget the ruthlessness of the country we are dealing with. Does this House realise that one of the conditions of the Ribbentrop—Molotov Pact was that Russia should hand back to Germany all the Jews and prisoners in her concentration camps.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

I will quote my authority for it. It was in a book written by Weissberg——

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Do not try to bully me with points of order. The title of the book escapes me. I do not know whether my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey) can help me?

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Yes, and there was a review of it written by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who vouches for the truth of the book.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Mr. Silverman indicated dissent.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

I do not believe that every Silvermanian argument put forward is necessarily true. I have the honour to represent a city which has a larger element of Jewry in it than any other, and I hope, after five years, that I am conscious of some of the history of the Jews. I am conscious, too, of the waves of depression which have spread over them, as at the time of the Prague trials. I look at the Jew rather more objectively, and I am filled with pity for this sort of thing. This has been quoted to me by people who have some standing in the Jewish world, apart from what I have read, and I do not accept the fact that my hon. Friend says "It is not so." He will have to bring far more specific evidence than that. Koestler, in his latest book, also says it, so do not let my hon. Friend deny it simply because it is inconvenient to him at this time.

Soviet Russia believes that capitalism must decline and anything we can do to disprove that theory, that the West has no backbone and is decadent, is a move towards peaceful co-existence. I can remember the late Ernest Bevin saying at the Blackpool Conference of 1945 that he thought the Left could speak to the Left. Nobody who knew that man would doubt that he believed this passionately, and I have no doubt that one of the greatest disappointments in his life, and the most wounding to his pride, was that he could not build that bridge. He was wrong.

West Germany is a power vacuum today. I cannot believe that Russia wants a united Germany. All the experience in this House since I have been here—I go no further than that—tends to disprove the idea that these Agreements will be a barrier to peace. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale did not quote what we can all remember, a most memorable speech on rearmament which he himself made. It was in favour of spending £4,700 million. He told us not to scoff at it. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was in 1951."] He told us not to scoff at it but to get on with it and be true to our friends. By that speech, and by what he did in the Labour Government, my right hon. Friend was one of the people who helped to create the conditions in the world today which have ended confusion.

One asks what the end will be. I fully appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that speaking at the end of this debate I have possibly spoken far too long, and that there are other people who want to speak. I apologise. I will finish with a quotation made in the context as to whether we shall win out finally or not. It is from Paul Winterton's "Inquest on an Ally." The prospect would be very different if Russia could divide the American and British people against themselves. Then Russia might think a war worth while. But Russia can sow dangerous divisions only if the West fails in its practical undertakings. If the complex and far-from-uniform way of life which Russia likes to label 'capitalism and imperialism'"— or social democracy— fails to evolve in a peaceful and orderly manner, then of course Communism may triumph. Another economic disaster like that of 1931 would almost certainly be fatal to democracy. The prime task of the West is to disprove the validity of the dogma. This is the point— If we can show that the Communist predictions are wrong and that capitalism"— or social democracy— can develop and change without breakdown, if we can build better than the Communists and provide security and prosperity without destroying freedom, then the Communist parties will retreat, their cause will decay, and the foundations of Soviet power will begin to crumble. In the end—far off though it may be—not merely the satellite victims of imperial communism but the long-suffering Russian people also will be liberated. Then, but not before, free men may be able to create a united world. Then and only then will Christian ethic be realised—for the meek shall inherit the earth.

7.48 p.m.

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

I have listened with great interest to every speaker who has taken part in this debate, and by that I mean since yesterday and not since 3.30 p.m. today. In speaking in approval of the ratification of these Agreements on behalf of my Liberal colleagues and myself—in due course we shall vote for them—I do not wish to take up a lot of time repeating arguments already put forward both yesterday and today.

I want to make one comment on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) who referred to political atmosphere. Political atmosphere in the international sense is difficult to define, but I remember well the dire threats that came from the East when N.A.T.O. was first proposed, and yet, since N.A.T.O. has been set up, the tendency has been for the atmosphere to improve.

I wish also to add a comment to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey) last night in reply to the proposal that the neutralisation of Germany was a practical proposition. It is as well to remember that Russia herself, on 10th March, 1952, when she proposed that Germany should be granted sovereignty and should give a pledge not to enter into any coalition, also suggested that Germany should be permitted to have her own national army and her own national aramaments industry.

Personally, I think there are few worse solutions than that. I look forward to the day when there will be no national armies, but I realise that in striving for an international police force to replace them, I am striving for something which it is not easy to attain and the road to which is a long and difficult one. As realists, we have to deal with the immediate situation.

I am fully aware of the difficulties that must have faced the Foreign Secretary after the refusal of the French Assembly to ratify E.D.C. I have no illusions about the serious consequences that would have followed the disintegration that would have set in in Europe if the London Conference had failed, but I admit that one has to make certain assumptions before approving these Agreements. If I state them dogmatically it is only because I do not want to take up time in going into all the arguments.

We are not faced with the choice between ratifying the Agreements and holding a conference with Russia with a reasonable chance of settling the issues dividing the world. On the other hand, if we were to postpone ratification, the chance of creating disunity in the West would be almost unlimited. However favourable a view one takes of the changed outlook in Russia, it would be unwise to assume that Russia would not take advantage of any opportunities to create disunity and uncertainty in the West.

I have not yet had an opportunity of reading the book by Mr. George Kennan entitled "Realities of American Foreign Policy," but I agree with the summary of the views expressed in it which appears in a leading article in "The Times" today. It is that … the Communist leaders are more likely to assert their hostility not in open war but in sowing discord in the Western camp.… My first assumption therefore is that we are not faced necessarily with that choice, and that a postponement of ratification might be disastrous.

My second assumption is that the Germans cannot be kept indefinitely disarmed and that any attempt to make disarmament a condition of granting sovereignty might have the opposite of the desired effect, by creating in the minds of Germans a sense of grievance that would play into the hands of German militarists. The problem is not whether to arm Germans but how it should be permitted with the least danger to the peace of the world.

I believe that the risks have increased with the delays of recent years, and I am still not convinced that the psychological effect of the statement made at the London Conference by the Foreign Secretary would not have been equally valuable if it had been made two years ago by the present Government, or three years ago by the previous Administration. There were occasions when Britain could have stated her own terms, when Continental countries were so anxious that Britain should come in that she need not have adopted those federal ideas which this country found unacceptable.

The future alone can tell how serious the consequences of the delay may be. I hope that they will not be so serious, because we now have another chance provided by the agreement reached in Paris and London. Had this idea of a European Army been adopted two and a half or three years ago, however, it is quite possible that a European Army might have been well established before German recruitment commenced. We might also have had a symbol of European unity, such as a uniform for all forces in Europe with recruiting offices functioning under a European organisation. I do not think that that was beyond the bounds of possibility.

However, I see no advantage now in lamenting the past. The only question now is whether there are any lessons to be learned from the past. One lesson that we have learned during the difficulties and frustrations of the last five years is that one cannot make very much progress towards European unity unless Britain is in and taking an active part. Britain is now deeply involved, not only in military spheres but in others as well. It would be unwise to regard these Agreements as solely concerned with defence. The object, as set out in the London Agreement, is ….to promote the unity and to encourage the progressive integration of Europe. In assessing the chances of making a success of these Agreements and in assessing the chances of achieving the objects which are set out in them, one must distinguish between what I call the legal structure and the broad lines of policy which will have to be pursued. It is clear that the legal effect of these Agreements will be to bring about some major constitutional changes. There has been a considerable pooling of sovereignty. We have abandoned the unanimity rule. It is interesting to note that this has not had any disastrous effect on our ties with the other countries of the Commonwealth. I have always felt that the fear that Britain's entry into Europe, politically and in matters of defence, would break up the Commonwealth was an exaggerated fear. There has been scarcely a ripple of disagreement from the Commonwealth since these Agreements were entered into.

A new relationship has been created between the Western European Union and the Council of Europe. I am glad it has been made quite clear that in the view of the British Government the Assembly referred to in the Agreement should meet at the seat of the Council of Europe. It is true that there is a difference in the wording of the London Agreement and the Paris Agreement and, as a result, there was some cause for misunderstanding. I am glad to hear that the intention is that the Assembly should be an assembly of delegates meeting at Strasbourg.

It is clear that someone representing the new Western European Council will be responsible to the new Assembly and that Assembly, I assume, will be entitled to ask questions on defence as well as on other matters which are covered by the revised Brussels Treaty. Out of that may come a European Defence Minister. I feel that there is some real basis for the criticisms which have been levelled from time to time against statements of major policy being made by generals and field marshals, however distinguished. The ordinary man in the street would feel more at ease if statements of that nature were made by somebody who was elected, directly or indirectly, some political head, rather than by some distinguished military leader. When these statements are made by a military leader, however well-informed, it gives the impression that the whole show is a military one, which I think is most unfortunate in its impression here and overseas.

Another very interesting and important change which has been brought about concerns the right to withdraw troops from the N.A.T.O. command. That is not only an academic question. Hon. Members will be aware of the incident which occurred at the time of the Trieste crisis when the Italian authorities withdrew two divisions, one of which, at least, was under the N.A.T.O. command, and moved them towards the Yugoslav frontier. I understand that the N.A.T.O. authorities only heard about it afterwards; permission was not asked. If I understand the effect of the protocol and the resolution on page 52—which has been clarified by the speech of the Foreign Secretary—it no longer will be possible for any of the countries belonging to the Western European Union to withdraw troops from N.A.T.O.'s command without the permission of N.A.T.O. command. This is an important change. I wish it were stated more clearly in the Paris and London Agreements.

Under the same heading of what I call the legal structure, there are the clauses relating to the control of armaments. I do not minimise the importance of this legal framework but, to state a very obvious platitude, we cannot build a united Europe on defence alone. Whilst I may be departing somewhat from the main theme of this debate, I would remind the House that political, social and economic unity is equally important. I should like to give one illustration. On 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th November last year "The Times" printed a very interesting survey of "Communism in Free Europe." It pointed out that there were 3 million Communist Party members in Western Europe and that the Communists are able to poll about 13 million votes on this side of the Iron Curtain. They have 96 Communist representatives in the French Assembly and, I think, 143 in Italy.

It may be that no more than a handful of these have ever read Karl Marx, but if their party got into power it would very seriously upset all these careful defence arrangements. If, for example, there was a long period of unemployment, a sudden rise in the cost of living or a great increase in the disparity of the standards of living of different sections of the community, this might give the Communists a chance to achieve power. If any Communist Party got into power in any one of the Western European countries the forces we have now undertaken to maintain permanently on the Continent would be seriously embarrassed. I am not suggesting that this is likely to happen.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

The hon. Member would not suppress it?

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

That would be a difficult question to answer. The forces are not there to overthrow a Government. This is a purely hypothetical question, and I hope it will always remain so, but since we are dealing with a period of 44 years—which is a long period—this is a possibility which we should at least consider, and after having considered it, we should try to ensure that the event does not occur. For that reason, I feel justified in introducing into this debate the subject of economic policy, in which I include, of course, social policy. I think that many are aware of this question. I have had some interesting correspondence with Senator Motz, a Liberal senator in Belgium, telling me of research work he is engaged in with a view to a social security system for Europe. I think there are others doing similar work. Almost the same day I received the Report of the Social Committee of the Council of Europe, and there is a similar activity being carried on by the I.L.O.

The danger is that there will be too much overlapping in this investigation into the differences of social legislation of various Western European countries—rather too much overlapping and perhaps too great a dispersion of effort, but not enough practical social reforms, which I think are as necessary as economic collaboration. I believe that now Britain can provide the drive which is needed. I believe, also, that Britain can help to prevent the waste of effort through lack of co-ordination. Britain has been in a difficult position before. So long as Britain was unwilling to enter fully into the defence system of Europe, so long as Britain was unwilling to enter E.D.C. or to take part in any of these political supra-national organisations, British representatives were under some disadvantage in taking the lead and provide the drive that is required to achieve greater economic integration and social reform. I believe now we have a great opportunity. I believe our chances of leading Europe in that field are greater than at any time before.

Lastly, there is the problem of political unity. I realise that it is easy to wax eloquent on this subject but very difficult to be precise. It is easy to talk about creating a united Europe and not so easy to achieve it. But, in striving to be a realist, one sometimes forgets the value of idealism. Somehow or other we have got to create a loyalty to Europe which is stronger than the old national loyalties. In the long run, I think that is the only solution to the German problem. There is a comment in "Political Ideals," by de Lisle Burns: A common memory and common ideal—these, more than common blood, make a nation. It is going to take a long time to provide that common memory and those common ideals which will cement the people of Europe, but it has got to be done. I believe that Britain can now provide a lead, which she has not been able to provide in the past.

When I first read the White Paper on the Nine Power Conference I felt that the words "final act" were somehow not quite suitable although, technically of course, that is the correct term. "Act I. scene 1" would be more appropriate. To change the metaphor, we are at the beginning of a new chapter. It is very difficult to see clearly the end, hut whether it will be the happy ending or a sad ending will depend very largely, not on the amount of the contribution that Britain makes to the defence of Europe, but on the part which she plays and the lead which she Gives in the political, economic and social life of Europe during the coming years.

8.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The House has now had nearly two days of an extremely interesting debate—extremely interesting, but perhaps not very fruitful because it has become altogether too depressingly clear that this argument which has been raging now all over the world for two years, is completely exhausted.

All the arguments are known, all the points have been taken, the whole thing has been canvassed and re-canvassed in conference after conference, debate after debate, and it is quite clear that nothing said in the course of this debate, on either side, will have caused any single hon. Member to have budged one tiny bit from the position which he held at the beginning of the discussion. I am not complaining of that, because if there is one thing which is also perfectly clear, one thing about which I think the House will be completely unanimous, it is that the issue which we are to decide tonight is one of supreme importance.

Those who think that the ratification of these agreements is right—and I concede at once their complete sincerity—equally with those who are passionately convinced that to ratify these Agreements would be wrong; and I think that most hon. Members of the House would concede our complete sincerity, too—believe that the decision we make is fraught with the gravest consequences to the future of Europe and the world.

Diametrically as we differ in our judgment as to what it is right to do, we are all convinced that the decision we are making tonight is probably the most important decision in the field of this country's international relations that this House has been called on to make since September, 1939. I do not think that anybody doubts that.

Those who advocate the ratification of these Agreements do so because they believe that this gives the best hope for peace. I am sure that they do. Those who oppose the ratification of these Agreements do so because they believe that it puts a new, almost insuperable obstacle unnecessarily in an improved world situation, and sends us back to where we were several years ago.

With all respect to my right hon. and hon. Friends on both sides of the argument, this, for me, is not a decision which I can shirk. This is not a decision in which, for me, it is possible not to take a part. I can understand that the argument is difficult. Some may think that the argument hangs on a fine balance. Some may think that it is difficult to decide conscientiously on which side the balance ought rightly to fall. It is too important a decision to make lightly, and if, having heard all the arguments—not merely in this debate, but the argument as it has run over this past three or four years—a man feels that he is genuinely doubtful tonight as to whether the Agreements ought to be ratified or not, then he, but he alone, is entitled to say, "I will take no part in this decision, because I do not know who is right."

My right hon. and hon. Friends who have said that this is not merely right, but that there is no conceivable alternative that would not be infinitely worse; those who have said, "Reluctant as we are, nevertheless we are sure that, on balance, this is the better risk to take," have no right to sit back and abstain. If that be their view, and if they agree that this is really a matter of supreme importance, they must take their responsibility for it.

Why not? May I say to my right hon. and hon. Friends who are on the other side of the argument that the point I have made applies equally strongly to them. How can they be passionately convinced that this is a tragic error—and how passionately convinced of it they were we have all heard—and then say, "I will take no part in it. This is the most important decision that the House of Commons has been called upon to make for years, but I will not help the House of Commons to come to such a decision."?

If it be said, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, "The only reason I do not vote against the ratification of these Agreements is that I might be expelled from the Labour Party if I did," that seems to me—with all respect to my hon. Friend, for I have a great respect for him—to be completely out of proportion, out of accord, with the weight of his own argument. If I may say one personal thing—and I shall say only one—I have been a member of the Labour Party now for 40 years. I have never been a member of any other party. While, I suppose, I am not the most rigid of party-liners in my party, nevertheless, in an experience of politics that is not now very short, I cannot conceive of any other party which I might conceivably join.

With 40 years' membership of the Labour Party, and with my genuine belief that social democracy in the world provides the only hope of genuine civilised progress for mankind, I would not wish—difficult as the decision would be—to remain a member of a party if the price of so remaining was that I was forbidden, or prevented, or prohibited from casing my vote and voice tonight as I think I ought to do. To my mind, that is democracy. That is the liberty to differ, which the Minister of Defence, in his speech today, his very able speech, said that he would defend to the death—and I hope that if I ever need his assistance I can rely upon that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), who is Deputy-Leader of the Opposition, said yesterday that he did not know what the attitude of German social democracy was to these treaties. I hope to have a word to say about that in a few moments, but may I say to him, in all affection, that while it is very important that he should know what the German Social Democrats think about these matters, it is also important that they should know what he thinks about these matters?

Photo of Sir Arthur Irvine Sir Arthur Irvine , Liverpool Edge Hill

Will my hon. Friend tell me this? If, in fact, a decision has been arrived at by a party to abstain, is not the inevitable consequence that the number of hon. Members going into the Lobby against these treaties is likely to be much smaller than it otherwise would be and will be disproportionate to the actual opposition to the treaties? Would not the result, therefore, be completely deceptive and misleading to those who, in other countries, think like us?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. Friend is a much better politician than I am ever likely to be, and his answer to that question would be more enlightening than mine, but I should like to say to him that, even on that view of the matter, it is not possible for an hon. Member to abstain from a vote unless there is a vote to abstain from. So far as I understand the procedure of the House, if there was a decision by any party to abstain it could not be complied with unless a Division was called at the end of the debate.

What I was saying to my right hon. Friend—and I am sure that he agrees with me—was that it is important that German Social Democrats shall know what is the attitude of British social democracy to these treaties. The speeches have been made and no doubt they can read them, but my right hon. Friend himself sometimes finds that speeches are a little difficult to follow. One can pick out a phrase here and another one somewhere else and say at the end, as my right hon. Friend did, "This leaves me in doubt as to what they mean." Well, he can resolve the doubt, if there is one. When the Division is called tonight he can vote for the treaties in which he believes. And why should he not?

What is it that divides us so deeply? What, in fact, is the issue? People have talked throughout this debate as though the choice that was being posed between those who support and those who oppose the ratification of these treaties is the ratification of them—including the German part of them—on the one hand or a complete dismantling of the Western system of defence on the other. In his speech yesterday the Foreign Secretary said this: So we cannot agree that the choice which faces the House this afternoon is between the Paris Agreements, on the one hand, and some miraculous settlement of the East-West problem on the other. I agree with every word. In the very next sentence he went on to say: No such choice is before us. The only real alternative to accepting the Paris Agreements would be to plunge the West into confusion and despair."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 418.] But why? Why would the non-ratification of these treaties plunge the West into confusion and despair? Supposing we did not ratify, we should not have lost anything which we now have. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would still be intact. The Brussels Treaty would be unimpaired. All the arms that have been built up since the enormous expansion of armament from 1950 onwards would still be at our disposal. All these are surely not matters which leave the West in confusion and despair. Nobody is suggesting that we should give up any of them.

So far from confusion and despair, the right hon. Gentleman himself, my right hon. Friend on this side, and many other people inside and outside the House have said, first, that there is a significant improvement in international affairs, and, secondly, that that improvement is the result of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Brussels Treaty, the other international arrangements, rearmament, the growing strength, and the greater balance of forces—and all the rest. No one has suggested that we should surrender any of that. The vote tonight does not mean that any 'of that should be given up.

When did the right hon. Gentleman decide that the cumulative effect of those things was to leave Western Europe in confusion and despair? He does not believe it at all. All that we should really be giving up—perhaps not even giving up—is whether we should now ratify these treaties. It is, therefore, not a giving up but a suspending, a postponing—of what? Twelve German divisions.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

Will the hon. Member tell the House whether he is against the treaties, or against ratification now?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

If the hon. Gentleman would like a full exposition of the whole of my views on international affairs I should be glad to accommodate him at a convenient time, but I do invite him to agree that now is not a convenient time. I think he knows the answer, anyhow. I have made no secret about my views.

What we are discussing now, on the basis of the argument offered to us, is whether we should tonight authorise the ratification. That is the issue now. I say that all we should be doing, on the argument presented to us——

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

Mr. Macpherson rose——

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

—and I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not agree with me—if we did not ratify the treaties tonight is to postpone or suspend the im- plementation of agreements already made for the creation of 12 German divisions. It cannot be a matter of life and death.

The Minister of Defence in his speech today weighed up the conventional forces. He attempted a rough balance sheet between the two blocs of land forces in Europe, and even he did not say that without the 12 German divisions the West still could not hold its own. He certainly did not say anything to lead anyone to think that he felt that this matter of the extra 12 divisions was an immediate, urgent matter that we could not possibly wait for at all.

The case, no doubt, was different when this idea was first conceived three years ago. In 1950 or 1951 a great many people genuinely believed that the Korean war meant that the Communist world was about to make a military aggressive attack anywhere where they found it convenient or possible to do so. That was the only argument on which my right hon. and hon. Friends would for a moment have contemplated the enormous increase of armament expenditure to which they reluctantly agreed at that time.

It was done on the basis that there was an immediate urgency. I do not think anyone now believes that there really was; but, whether there was or was not then, nobody believes that an attack is imminent now. That has been conceded by everybody who has taken part in the debate. Therefore, the case made in 1950 and 1951 for a German contribution then cannot be made with the same force in conditions where everybody admits that there has been a significant improvement in relations without those 12 divisions in those three years.

Why, therefore, bring them in? Suppose those of us who have been warning about the result of German rearmament were wrong. Is there any immediate urgency for taking the risk? What is the hurry for the 12 German divisions? No case for it has been made out. What are the reasons? I agree with those who say that it is a great mistake to look at these questions, and especially this one, solely from the point of view of whether or not the Russians will like it. I have certainly never felt that that is the most important matter. The most important matter is Germany itself.

A great many speeches have been made and a great many warnings have been given. What are the warnings? They are to this effect: do not think that we can hold down a great and proud nation for ever. Do not always think in terms of the past. Because Germany has been so often aggressive, do not think that Germany need always be aggressive. Above all, do not think that the best way of making Germans democratic is to sit on them, trample on them, hold them down, with the bayonets of a foreign occupying army.

I agree with every word of that. Anyone would think that during the war it was I who had been clamouring for unconditional surrender. People sometimes think of me now as being too inclined to listen sympathetically to the Russian point of view. During the war the same people thought that I was pro-German. Why did they think so?—because I joined with a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends throughout the war in saying, "Fight Hitler with everything you have got, but do not regard the German people as consisting of 50 million Hitlers. State the terms that you would make with a reasonable German Government when the Nazis had been got rid of. In that way you will assist the Germans themselves to become our allies and shorten the war for you, and help you to get rid of this beastly thing."

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was then Deputy Prime Minister. The Government used to put him up to reply to the debates. I am not making any complaint about it; I am not even saying that I was necessarily right. Perhaps I was not; perhaps they were—although it is very difficult now to find anybody who will defend a policy of unconditional surrender. All I am asking of those right hon. and hon. Friends who were Members with me in the war-time House of Commons is not to accuse me of being anti-German.

I had as much reason as anyone else in this House for being anti-German, but I was not. There was a time towards the end of the war when Mr. Speaker was invited by General Eisenhower, as he then was, to send a Parliamentary delegation to inspect the concentration camp at Buchenwald, 10 days after it had been liberated, to see how it looked. I am not going to tell horror stories, but two hon. Members who were in that delegation did not long survive their return to this country, and I shall certainly never forget the scenes I saw.

But when I was asked, on my return, whether this did not make me more anti-German and strengthen my resolve, I said, "It does not. Weimar is not very far from Buchenwald, and if I had been the German citizen in Weimar during the war, if I did not know what was going on I would not be responsible. If I did know what was going on, but also knew that if I raised a little finger in protest not myself but my wife and children would have been in Buchenwald the next morning, then, unless I am certain that I would have had the courage to protest, I have no right to complain that they did not protest." I said that in 1945 and I say it again in 1954.

If one went to the German people today and told them that there is a great menace to civilisation—a menace that comes from the East, from the wicked Communists, in their living death—and that the only hope of protecting Western civilisation from this inroad of Russian barbarism is German arms, would it be the German democrats or the Nazis who would be more likely to be impressed? Do not hon. Members think there would be many Germans who would say. "Where have I heard that story before? Who last told me that I could not afford Socialism, and that I could not afford pacifism, and that I could not afford not to rearm because Germany was the last bastion against Russian barbarity? Who last told me that?"

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Hitler. That was Hitler's case. That was not only the case with which Hitler sold himself to the German people, but the case with which he sold himself to the world—sold himself to our dear old friend, George Lansbury, sold himself to John Simon and others. What is the use of saying that we ought to go to the German people now and tell them, "Arm yourselves once more because Western civilisation cannot defend itself without you"? Are they not a little likely to say, "Why was Hitler so wrong? Is that not just what he said?"

It is all very well to say, as my right hon. Friend the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, that we cannot consult only the German Social Democrats; there are the Norwegian Social Democrats, the Danish Social Democrats, whose homelands were occupied by the Germans, and who are entitled to be heard. Of course they are, but does that not sound just a little like the appeal to the emotions which my right hon. Friend himself warned us not to make, and which I have been trying throughout this speech not to make? Although it is quite true that the German Social Democrats should not be allowed to decide by themselves such a question, it is not for the leaders of social democracy in Great Britain to say that their view does not matter.

We cannot all take the view of democracy that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) took in the speech he made just now.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. and learned Friend must listen to me for a moment. He would not give way to me when he was speaking, and he must take it from me now.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Hitler did not allow replies to arguments. I do not think my hon. and learned Friend has got quite so far yet, but he is well on the way, because what did he say when he was dealing with the question whether a revived German army would be an assistance or an obstruction to German democracy? He said, "It depends upon what you mean by democracy," and he went on to tell us what he meant by it. In his view, democracy means that we must never let the Communists win.

Photo of Mr Charles Hobson Mr Charles Hobson , Keighley

Hear, hear. They ought not to win.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

My hon. Friend believes, I am sure, as I do, that if the Communists were to win in this country that would be a disaster and a catastrophe. I am quite certain it would. If he means that he and I together should use every democratic method to prevent their winning, I am at one with him all the way. However, that is not what my hon. and learned Friend said. He took the view that if it looked as if in a free, democratic election they were likely to win by the votes of the people, the army ought, in the name of democracy, to be used to prevent them from winning. My hon. and learned Friend agrees with me that that is what he said.

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

Will my hon. Friend permit me to interrupt him?

Photo of Mr Reginald Paget Mr Reginald Paget , Northampton

I gave way several times to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman).

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) must resume his seat if the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) does not give way.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I greatly regret not giving way to my hon. and learned Friend but, on this one narrow and limited issue, I am accepting his own definition of democracy. I sought to make this point to him in the course of his speech and he refused to give way to allow me to make it. He was perfectly within his rights, and I am sure that he is the last man in the House to complain if I do the same thing.

Photo of Sir Henry Legge-Bourke Sir Henry Legge-Bourke , Isle of Ely

The hon. Member said just now that if we warned the Germans of the Communist danger they would say that it reminded them of what Hitler said. Has he not overlooked the enormous number of refugees who poured out of the Communist zone in Germany into the West?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The hon. and gallant Gentleman must have misunderstood me. I am sure that is my fault. I have never said that we should not warn the Germans of the Communist danger; of course we should warn them. We all believe in democracy, in the free advocacy of political ideas which we like and opposition to the political ideas which we do not like. I said that if we told the Germans that Western civilisation could not be defended except by them, they would say, "That is what Hitler told us."

To return to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, once we take the line which my hon. and learned Friend took, we have to remember who has taken that line before, who first said, and who has said in the last 30 years, "Do not let the Communists win and use any method of force or violence to stop them from winning." Mussolini, Franco, Hitler—with whom is my hon. and learned Friend aligning himself?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I will not give way. My hon. and learned Friend must not expect from others courtesies which he is not himself prepared to give.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I will not give way.

I have stated who are the people who took the view which my hon. and learned Friend has taken. Did they assist us to keep peace in Europe? The result was the worst world war in history. If we say, "No matter how many of you want a Communist régime—however illadvised—you will not be allowed to get it in free elections," are we not saying, "If you want it you must get it in some other way"? Are we not approving of the very thing which we want to prevent? Are not we accepting the Communists' case, which is that they cannot rely on free elections because they would never be allowed to win? Is this the way to persuade the Russians to agree to free elections in East Germany—on the basis that if the Communists win they will not be allowed to take office? Are those the free elections which the Foreign Secretary was offering in Berlin? We must be careful in what we do in these matters.

I have been long enough, no doubt too long for some of my hon. Friends.

Photo of Mr Charles Hobson Mr Charles Hobson , Keighley

We can take it, and give it, too.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I know that my hon. Friend has always been able to do so. He gave it yesterday and I am doing my best to give some back today. We shall remain as good friends after it as we were before, I have no doubt.

Photo of Mr John Jones Mr John Jones , Rotherham

How good friends were you before?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

At least I shall.

I conclude with this point: I do not think anyone denies that there are large numbers of people in this country who take something like the view which I have been endeavouring to put to the House tonight. My right hon. Friend the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition talked about the Scarborough decision. When he wanted to know what British social democracy thought about these matters, he went to the resolution of the annual conference and read it out. I say nothing about how it came to be passed or what the moral effect of the resolution may be.

The point that I am on is that there are large numbers of people in this country who are sincerely and passionately convinced that to ratify these treaties would be a tragic and catastrophic error. I am not saying whether they are right or wrong. I am saying that in a free Parliamentary democracy such as ours, they are not to be disfranchised. They are entitled to have their representation here in debate, and they are entitled to have their representation in the Division Lobby. They are not to be silenced, and they are not to be deprived of representation.

I know that we are not delegates; we are representatives. If there were no hon. Members of this House who agreed with that, then perforce, because we are not delegates, they would have to go with their views unpresented in the debate or in the Division Lobby. There are many hon. Members of this House and many of my right hon. and hon. Friends who agree with them, and I say—and I can only speak for myself—that in agreeing with them and believing in democracy, and believing that they ought not to be disfranchised, I shall vote as they would wish me to vote tonight.

8.52 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

It is a peculiar privilege for me to follow the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—a privilege because of his well-known Parliamentary talents and peculiar because in this type of debate I have not had the fortunate experience of being called after him for the good reason that I have generally been thought to agree with him.

Although there has been some controversy—I feel that the least said about it on this side the better—between the two corners of the House opposite me, I think that on the whole we try to keep to a side-to-side debate, even on foreign affairs. I think that I have been called after the hon. Gentleman because I now find myself in a position to disagree with him on this issue in everything he has said.

There are only a few minutes that remain to me to answer the four clear points which the hon. Gentleman made in the course of his 44-minute speech. The hon. Gentleman started by saying that the arguments on this subject of European settlement had ranged round this House and round Europe for years and that no one's views had altered. He must be wrong about that, because a considerable bulk of the Labour Party and a great many people in the country, including many Conservatives, have found themselves in agreement with this solution on Europe whereas they were in disagreement with the previous solution. Some of us did not like the E.D.C. We thought that it was not a satisfactory answer to Europe's problems and that it did not give full scope and range to this country's powers, opportunities and experience in foreign affairs.

Many people have congratulated my right hon. Friend on the results of his travels throughout Europe this autumn and the success with which he has moulded different national opinions into a highly complex Final Act at the Nine-Power Conference, but they have failed to note the cleverest thing of all that he has done, which is to bring into a consensus of opinion a great many diffuse and unhappy disagreements in this country, with the exception of the little rump of dissident and discontented Members of the Labour Party, who seem to me to be now reduced to a nebulous void of argument.

We have had five or six speakers in the course of this debate, with 30 or 40 hangers-on feeling the same way, all turning round in a great spiral of negation, unable to settle on any really essential point of weakness in the Agreement, with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) himself gyrating slowly in the pivotal point in the centre of his group, a sort of Andromeda in Nebula.

The second point that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne made was in reference to my right hon. Friend's statement that the only real alternative to the Paris Agreements was to plunge the West into confusion and despair. The hon. Member said that this was nonsense, that it would leave N.A.T.O. intact, it would leave the Brussels Treaty intact, and it would leave intact all the arms that we have provided throughout Europe in the past few years, and the only thing that was lost was the 12 German divisions. But, Sir, they are the least of the things that would be lost. They are paper divisions until they come into force in, perhaps, a year or two years' time, and what we are in fact losing if we do not ratify the agreement tonight is very much more than that.

I do not believe that the hon. Member has even looked through the document.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

There is Section 1 on Germany and the obligations that Germany there fulfils. If this agreement is not ratified, Germany may fall away from that understanding and refuse to come again to that point of agreement. There is the alteration of the Brussels Treaty, to which nine nations have put their hands. If this Agreement were not ratified, those nine nations would return home and consult together about whether they could ever bring themselves to come again into a Brussels Treaty Organisation.

There is the armaments pool. There is the vital declaration of the United States Secretary of State that America will continue the obligations which she made in respect of the E.D.C. Treaty to keep her troops on the Continent. If by his vote tonight the hon. Member were successful in chucking out this Agreement, would that not be an immediate invitation to the American Secretary of State to go before Congress and ask for an agonising reappraisal. Would this not be the final disappointment to America—Europe again crumbling apart, unable to make up her mind, going up to the fence a second time and being unable to jump it? I have not the slightest doubt that the Americans would respond in an act of cynicism and disillusionment and withdraw their vital forces from Western Europe.

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne then went on to say that he thought that the German would believe that Hitler was right, if we were now to rearm 12 divisions. He painted a graphic picture of the despair with which the Germans ended the war, recognising that they were stripped of their armed forces and their military power. He said that from the moment they were asked to take on 12 divisions they would recall Hitler and the Nazi Generals—in their minds, at any rate—and immediately be filled with bewilderment and confusion as to whether a militaristic nation was not the right organisation for them to have. What nonsense that is.

If the Germans regret anything, it is not the formal and correct and—as we hope it will be—civilianised and democratic army which will be controlled at every point in this Agreement by N.A.T.O. and the Brussels Treaty Organisation. It is not that that they will regret, but the memories of an army swollen and dominated by frantic, vicious and licentious men, raping country after country and bringing the whole of German civilisation down to ruin and disaster. That is what the Germans recoiled from and will continue to recoil from.

Finally, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne went on to speak about free elections. Here I have a lingering point of agreement with what he said. I said in the last debate that I thought that the Berlin Conference had broken down largely because we asked for too much. What we asked for the Russians were not prepared to concede. Free elections would mean the immediate loss of Eastern Germany. It was plain to me that, at that time, the Americans did not want the conference to succeed and had insisted on demands which they knew the Russians would not accept.

Now we have a different situation. These Agreements must be ratified. We have been told in quite forthright terms by the Foreign Secretary and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs last night that, when they have been ratified, then an attempt will again be made to hold a conference with the Russians. With the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey), I very much hope that very careful preparations behind the scenes in the conditions of utmost secrecy will be made over the coming months before any conference is actually held.

But the aim must be—and these are my concluding words—the recovery for the democratic world of at least one of the States that has been raped by Communism. We cannot make a better beginning than with East Germany. The Baltic States and Hungary and Poland and others may follow. Already, we have got inside the Western orbit the eastern part of Austria, and we have had it since 1945, thanks to the remarkable agreement that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made at that time. The next goal is the democratisation of East Germany, and we must pitch our demands to the Russians in such a frame that they cannot be resisted. The only way that they can be so framed is to appeal not only to the people of East Germany but to their leaders who must be made to see how attractive our scheme is. It should cause them to look westwards and make them question the wisdom of their masters in Moscow in holding them firmly inside the Communist bloc.

If we put our requests to the Russians upon that basis and try to secure for Western democracy the leaders of the people of East Germany, then I am convinced that democracy will again be on the march, as it must be if we are to bring back freedom and hope to the lost peoples in the world today.

9.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Walthamstow West

I shall try to be brief because we have had a fairly full discussion and our point of view has been fully put by my right hon. Friends from the Front Bench on this side of the House and also in what I thought was a remarkable speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey). Leeds was going rather strong in this debate, because we also had fine contributions from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Pannell) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). But I thought that the speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East was particularly cogent and well-reasoned.

This—and let us face it—is a very difficult question. We have considered it for a long time. It means giving arms in certain conditions to the Germans and I sympathise with and understand the feelings of a great many people who strongly dislike any such idea. There are some who are quite logical and say, "Under no circumstances, after 1914–18 and after 1939–45, will we ever trust the Germans again. The only thing is to keep them disarmed."

I think that is a logical position, but I cannot accept it as practicable. I can understand a great deal of the emotion which has been aroused, and which I share to some extent, but I do not think that in international politics today we can get just what we want. I do feel that those who have sought to add to their emotions reasons for their case have failed to make out that case.

I have always asked, what is the alternative? If one pretends to be responsible one has to face this—what is to be done in face of the present position and what would be practicable? Sometimes, I believe, the position is over-simplified. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in the course of an interesting speech, told us quite a lot about his duty, but he left out one essential factor in the whole position. He imagined that we could leave Germany as it is today; but Germany has been promised that the occupation will be lifted and that she will, under certain circumstances, be given back her sovereignty. It is quite impossible to ignore that.

When that has been done, it is precisely the point we come up against: what shall be the position of Germany in regard to armed forces if we are to carry out that promise, restoration of her sovereignty—granted, not absolute sovereignty, but a great extension of sovereignty under certain conditions?

So far, I have not found any alternative suggestion which did not expose us to more dangers and difficulties than these present proposals. There has been put up the idea of a united, neutralised Germany in the centre of Europe. I do not think that that is advanced with much conviction now. I could not find anyone who believed in it very much, still less, anyone who believed it to be acceptable to the German people. Those who advocate it seem to be very strong that we must pay great attention to what the German people want, but in the talks I have had with Germans, particularly the Social Democrats, I have never found any enthusiasm for a disarmed, neutral- ised, united Germany in the middle of Europe.

I am bound to say that I, and, I think, many of our friends, would also have a strong objection to an armed, neutralised Germany in the middle of Europe. There we would be, sitting at once on the danger of renewed German militarism. And, of course, we would be bound to have it, because it is not healthy to have an armed neutral sitting unarmed next to a totalitarian State like the U.S.S.R. So I do not think that that alternative counts for much.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) argued with great dialectical skill in favour of doing nothing at present. That is a delaying policy, but I think that eventually he carried his argument so far that he destroyed it. He argued with a good deal of scorn about the balancing of forces. He asked whether the German divisions really mattered, had we not got a balance now, could we not talk just as well before we had them.

But that destroys all the argument for N.A.T.O., which my right hon. Friend supported; because the argument for N.A.T.O was that we wanted to get talks but could not get them since we all recognised at that time—no more so than my right hon. Friend—that the Communist philosophy which rules in Russia is a very practical thing, and that the Russians do not give things to people who have not any strength.

We felt it necessary at the time of the Berlin airlift and at the time of aggression in Korea to build up the strength of the West. I cannot really accept the optimistic view voiced by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne that things have become so much easier in the world that the danger is past. I think that that is a misreading of history. I think it was possible to make the same mistake at one time between the wars—indeed, I am not sure that some of us did not make the same mistake then—when there was a certain amount of soft speech by Hitler, and many people were persuaded that everything was going to be lovely. Unfortunately, it was not. We did not build up our strength quickly enough then. Therefore, I think it is an illusion to talk about the German divisions not making any difference.

I do not think that my right hon. Friend really quite appreciated what has been the growth of Western defensive power, how slowly that has been built up and how today its strength is still rather potential than actual. We have not got very great forces, but, of course, one of the greatest strengths one can have in an organisation like this is a union of wills. It is no good having the number of forces if we have not the will for them to act together.

The fact is that we have been trying for a good many years to obtain some unity in the West. The attempt broke down very often through differences, old jealousies, and the like. One of the reasons why E.D.C., though not ideal, was o accepted, was that people felt that there was a chance of ending the old trouble between Germany and France and that there was a chance of integrating Germany in the West.

Some people think that it is extremely wrong to try to get Germany integrated into the West. I do not agree, because I believe in the value of our Western civilisation and I want the Germans to contribute to it. I want the Germans in our Western milieu to be an attractive force, not only for the Germans in the East but for all people in the borderland. The danger is that the Germans have always been regarded as a menace, and one cannot blame people for thinking that way. Now things have been built up gradually, but it is very easy to have a setback. After the failure of E.D.C. there was great danger of a setback, and if one has that weakening one will very soon have a stiffening from the U.S.S.R. I cannot blame them; that is their method.

The formation of these arrangements may, in a very short time, prevent what might have been a very serious setback. I do not think that the Russian attitude is due to a fear that we are to arm a Germany which will be full of Nazis. I think that they object because it is a strengthening of the West. If they fear having armed forces with former Nazis in them, they would not have done what they have done in East Germany. It is quite interesting that their policy—given the power politics that they play—is one of trying to weaken the West. With a weakening of the West there is a stiffen- ing of Russia. I may be wrong, but that is my reading of Russian psychology.

It is important to remember that the U.S.S.R. is not just Communist. It is Communist plus Russian and it is interesting to see how this Communist Government picks up the old Czarist imperialist policies of years ago. I notice how in their latest Note the U.S.S.R. say how sad it was that there had been a building up of two opposing groups which resulted in war in 1939, and how conveniently they seem to forget that the U.S.S.R. had joined one of them and how closely Stalin followed the policy not of Lenin but of Catherine the Great in another partition of Poland. It is a great mistake to think that Communist countries—and China is an instance as well—are so dominated by Communism that they have not also in their minds their old habits, their old policies and very much their old nationalism.

What we have here is a double task. We are trying to build up in the West; we are trying to give Germany its sovereignty and we are trying to get an approach to a settlement on Europe. No one really suggests that the forces we are building up are big enough for aggression. I have heard it said—I think it was said today—"Now you have got the hydrogen bomb, you do not want anything else." I think that is a complete fallacy. That is like saying that if only one has a good force with machine guns one does not need any police going around to prevent small boys stealing milk bottles.

There is a danger, because to use the hydrogen bomb means a most terrible decision, not to be lightly undertaken. But many people would "chance their arm" by little aggressions or by little subversions, and I think we want adequate forces to check that sort of thing.

I turn to another point, which has been made rather emphatically, the views of the German Social Democrats. Herr Ollenhauer, speaking in Germany in 1954 at the Social Democratic conference, said: Nor does our rejection of E.D.C. signify the refusal of a military contribution to the defence of the free world in all circumstances so long as Germany remains divided. I think it is a mistake to try to run the German Social Democratic objection too far. Undoubtedly, the German Social Democrats, like all Germans I think, want a united Germany but they do not want a united Germany under Communists. I am not sure that it is not rather unfair to suggest that Herr Adenauer is influenced mainly by electoral considerations. An obvious riposte might be that Herr Ollenhauer is also influenced by electoral considerations. It seems to me that honours are easy on that. We are entitled to give full weight to the views of German Social Democrats, but we must also give full weight to the views of the Danes, the Norwegians, the Dutch, the Belgians and the rest—[An HON. MEMBER: "And the French."]—and the French. I have every sympathy with our German friends. They have suffered in the past and they are rather inexperienced, because they lost a great many of their best and most experienced leaders under the Hitler terror.

I have been interested in international Socialist conferences for a great many years, in fact since the year in which my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was born. I have followed their procedure and been present at these conferences. As a rule, with all respect, we did not think that German Social Democrats were very good, safe, guides. They were politically less experienced, I think, than the Scandinavians, or the people of the Low Countries. We have really got to decide on our own viewpoint and we need not be ashamed of having our own viewpoint. We should not be over-impressed because of the action of the German Social Democrats as compared with the others. So I say that we ought not to shut our eyes to the risk. This is a very risky thing, but there is no safety first policy in foreign affairs.

What is our objective? It is that we want to be in a position to talk as soon as possible with the rulers of the U.S.S.R. We were told by the Communists over here, and some other people, that the pursuit of this policy of building up N.A.T.O., and all the rest of it, would lead to increased intransigence on the part of the U.S.S.R. Exactly the reverse has happened. I do not for a moment believe that if the U.S.S.R. want to talk, this will make any difference. Nor do I believe that it means an irrevocably divided Germany because West Germany is armed; no more than I hope that it is irrevocable because East Germany has been absorbed into the U.S.S.R. orbit and armed by them. People seem to forget that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander in these matters. Nevertheless, I think that the sooner we can get talks, the better.

I understood, from the reply of the Prime Minister to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), at Question time, that while the Prime Minister deprecated conversations while ratification was going on, he would be prepared for talks when ratification was complete. But ratification may take a long time. If we make it absolutely clear and unmistakable to the world in general, and the U.S.S.R. in particular, that ratification is going ahead, I see no reason why talks should not proceed very soon. If ratification is going to stop the talks, it will stop them now; if the Russians are prepared to talk, ratification will not lie in the way. But in the urgent condition of the world, the sooner we can get talks going the better.

If, as my right hon. Friend believes, and I believe, the general atmosphere is better now than for a long time, let us go ahead with our policy, let us go ahead with talks as soon as possible.

9.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

We are now at the closing stages of what has been perhaps the most remarkable debate, and certainly the most memorable in which I have taken part, since the war. Although I do not always agree with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I do agree with him in his thoughts on an issue of this importance for the future destiny of the world. I hope that we shall be able to take our decision with unanimity. But whether or not that be so. I hope that we shall be able to take our decision clearly so that the whole world can understand.

The right hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Attlee) has just delivered a speech of characteristic—I do not know quite how to express it, because I want to express myself politely, and yet I do not want to cause any trouble across the way—shall I say characteristic prudence and wisdom—I think that is fair—with perhaps just a little tiny twist at the end, about which I was not entirely happy; but I would like to say something about that in a moment. Except for the little bit at the close, I can only say—if it does not embarrass him—that I found myself in complete agreement with everything he said, as I did with the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) in the speech with which he opened this debate.

I think that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South spoke not only with wise statesmanship but with obvious experience of what he had lived through at the Foreign Office and the contribution he himself had made at the meeting in September, 1951, in the United States of America which was in part responsible for these developments. But only in part, I should recall, because, of course, the decision to rearm Germany dates right back to the autumn of 1950. Therefore, one should be careful of criticism of German rearmament if one happened to be in the late Government in the autumn of 1950.

Apart from those speeches, we also heard a very courageous speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples). I say "courageous," because this is not a very easy debate in which to make a maiden speech. He did so in a manner which made the House wish to hear him again, although, Mr. Speaker, he may not be so successful next time in catching your eye.

Then last night, from the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey), we had what was really a brilliant exposition of the international scene. As a technical performance, if I may say so, I thought that it was unsurpassed. I thought that it was all the Foreign Office's best briefs rolled into one and expressed much better than they are usually put before me. If I congratulate him for one thing above all, it was that in the whole of that speech he contrived to avoid saying, as he could so well have said, "I told you so." There is no temptation in politics more difficult to resist than that.

In his speech the hon. Gentleman asked me a number of questions. Fortunately he answered most of them himself, which has lightened my task. However, there were three which he did not answer, and with which I want to deal at the outset of my remarks, because I think they are the essence of the matters which we have to discuss. His first question—which was also asked from a rather more volcanic point of view from below the Gangway—was, "What about the position of a United Germany in relation to these Agreements?" A very important question. The second, "What about the effect of all this that we are doing upon our relations with the United States?" The third question was "What does this new Western European Union really mean, and what are you—the Government—going to do about it?" Those were the three main questions of wide policy which he raised, and they have been raised in other forms, some more critical, in the course of this debate.

I shall deal first with the question of the position of the German Federal Republic. Of course, the Federal Republic, as long as the Federal Republic exists, is bound by these Agreements as long as these Agreements are in force. There is no doubt about that at all. But we did make it abundantly clear during the Berlin Conference—and this is also my answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on this point—that if a new unified German State were to take the place of the German Republic she would have the right either to assume, or not to assume, the previous obligations of the Federal Republic. I do not know whether the shrug of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is one of despair; it should be one of satisfaction.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Irrelevant. The reason is that the matter at issue is the condition under which the unifying of Germany is to be established.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I really thought that the right hon. Gentleman understood the matter much better than that. He really must refer himself to the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who understands it extremely well. The point is, is the future of Germany, when united, bound by these Agreements or not? If we are ever to negotiate about the future of Germany, that is a point of absolutely cardinal importance, and I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman can understand what he is talking about.

If it be true that the new Germany would be free, the converse is also true. If the new Germany declared herself no longer bound by the agreement, then most certainly the same position would be ours and that of the other parties to the agreement. In other words, the other parties would not be bound to the Germans if a unified Germany were to reject the obligations undertaken by the Federal Republic. I hope that is clear. I hope it also answers those who may be uncertain about the things which we may ultimately negotiate about. A little thought may show that those two things may not be entirely unconnected.

The second question which the hon. Gentleman asked was this: what about our position in connection with the United States? This is an issue of very great importance upon which the House ought to reflect carefully. First, I should like the House to reflect on this. Supposing we had not reached these Agreements, what would the United States have done? That is anybody's estimate in this House, and it is just as good as mine, or perhaps better.

But one thing is quite certain. If we had not been able to reach agreement in London, and subsequently to put that agreement into form in Paris and complete it, the forces of those in the United States who believe in what is called "fortress America" would have been immeasurably strengthened, and our friends would have been correspondingly discouraged. By "our friends" I do not mean members of any political party in the United States; I mean those who believe with us that the Western countries' way of life is something worth preserving by diplomatic action as well as by other means.

It is no exaggeration to say that if that had happened—this is in reply also to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne—although we can all misjudge these matters, I believe that after the collapse of E.D.C., if no attempt had been made to recreate Western European unity, we might have seen the complete collapse of that unity and the retirement of the United States into "fortress America."

By one of those curious events which happen in international affairs, the forces which led the countries to divide themselves came immediately into effect. Germany had been in favour of the European idea which was embodied in E.D.C. With the collapse of E.D.C., the Germans were inclined to withdraw themselves into themselves. The French, having rejected E.D.C. because they did not like the supra-national structure were in their turn discouraged.

In Italy, and in the Low Countries in particular where they had pledged themselves and had gone through all the Parliamentary processes to make the supranational structure effective, there was great disillusionment when France rejected it. In every country and in the United States above all, which thought of E.D.C., as the Americans are apt to do, in terms of their own federal arrangement, they were disappointed, too.

Therefore, it was a very dark hour, and it is fantastic folly to say that anything else would have done for Europe, or that if Britain had not done what was Britain's duty to do the results might not have been catastrophic for us all. It may be that in what we have done we have done more than the United States. I think it is true. I think it could be argued that we have gone ahead of the United States in this commitment which we have undertaken. But is that necessarily wrong? It is very odd that I should be accused of doing so by anyone below the Gangway opposite—if, indeed, I am accused of it—because hitherto I have always been told that I cannot move from Mr. Dulles' apron strings. On this occasion, at any rate, I seem to have got a little away from them, and now I am told, "You must not go walking off away from Nanny."

Shall we get into trouble by doing so? I wonder. I should be very chary of adopting new commitments, in any part of the world, which would result in a worsening of relations between ourselves and the United States of America, and that question is a perfectly proper one for anyone in this House to ask. But that was not the position with which we were dealing. What we were doing was to take a commitment which was admittedly in excess of that of the United States, but by taking it we were not doing damage to our relations with the United States. On the contrary, we were doing the one thing which restored confidence in the United States in the future of Europe and the chance of unity in the West.

I never would be guilty of thinking that something that I had done was wrong if it were a success in the United States; if it were a contribution to peace in Europe, and if I knew that in addition, by doing it, so far from injuring our relations with the United States we should, in fact, be consolidating them. That is what has happened. Our relations with the United States are better after the London and Paris Agreements than they were before.

The third question raised by the hon. Member concerned the future of Western European Union, and in that connection I want to refer to something said by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) yesterday. I do not complain about it. He made a profound observation. He wondered whether we were right or wrong in that we had not produced our plan earlier. He wondered whether we should have done so earlier, or whether our time was right. I should like to rid my hon. Friend of any anxiety he may have. As a matter of fact, we could not have produced our plan earlier, for the very simple reason that we had not got a plan. Nor could we have possibly had one before the failure of E.D.C.

That is why I want the House to look at this as a matter of some diplomatic interest, and to remember it when we are being asked to consider what we are going to do next. What, in effect, happened? After the E.D.C. plan had been rejected by the French Chamber it was obvious that some move must be made, preferably by this country, to try to reunite Western Europe. As the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South knows, nowhere in the world, in any other foreign office, are there abler officials than in ours, but we have not yet reached the point where we have plans locked away in cupboards, bearing little labels which say, "This is the plan for this, that or the other emergency." If we had them they would be completely useless. One weakness, perhaps, in the courageous conception of E.D.C. was that it was much too elaborate and complete a plan from the start.

In this case the reverse was the position. We had not a plan, but we had some ideas. I should like to tell the House briefly about the ideas which we took round the European capitals, because it will explain how the plan emerged. First, we were quite convinced that it was no use trying to make yet another attempt to put E.D.C. into effect after the vote in the French Chamber. Secondly, that being so, the right course to pursue was to bring Germany into N.A.T.O., and the possibility of bringing Germany into N.A.T.O. would depend, in a large measure, upon the contribution which the Germans might be able to make voluntarily—because it would have been no use otherwise—in giving up the use of certain weapons and therefore giving a measure of assurance to the rest of Europe.

Finally, we thought that that, by itself, would not be enough, and we must try to recreate in another form something of the spirit of unity in Europe which underlay the E.D.C. scheme. That was all we had as ideas when we left this country. The interesting part is that each capital we visited contributed something to the creation of this plan as it finally emerged. In Brussels Benelux produced their ideas.

I was not sure, when I left this country, that the other nations who were parties to the Brussels Pact, as it used to be, would be willing to see it reshaped. I did not even know that. They might well have taken the line, "No, we do not want this change, because the Treaty is our guarantee against what may happen in the future in Germany." They did not. Benelux immediate contribution was to say, "Certainly let us have the arrangements in this shape. Let Germany and Italy come in. Let us make a new arrangement in the place of E.D.C."

Germany made a contribution. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman pay a tribute to Dr. Adenauer. It was well deserved, both then and later. In a critical period Germany volunteered a contribution, which I may call the contribution of renunciation by Germany, which was almost decisive in the whole course of those meetings. We must pay Dr. Adenauer a great tribute for that. It is really not true to say that he does not want a united Germany because he would lose the elections. I do not know very much about what would happen in a German election, but I am quite sure of this, that if there is one place where Dr. Adenauer has an overwhelming majority it is in that part of Germany run by the Russians at the present time. He really is not the kind of man who thinks just in those terms.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

How does the right hon. Gentleman know that?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

How do I know that? [Interruption.] That is how I know that.

Photo of Mr Stephen Davies Mr Stephen Davies , Merthyr Tydfil

The right hon. Gentleman can draw his own conclusions.

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I was very glad to hear the tribute paid earlier today to M. Mendès-France. It was a well deserved tribute paid by my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) I promise to remember the last sentence of his speech. It was a very deserved tribute and one which those of us who have worked with him—I, at least—would warmly endorse.

Let me say something about other countries. Nothing pleased us more in these difficult negotiations than the attitude of the Italian Government, which throughout was constructive and helpful at every stage. Then how can one forget old friends, as some of our critics seem to have done—men like M. Spaak, who would have received some support from the benches opposite, I should have thought, and M. Bech, the doyen of our proceedings, and M. Beyen of the Netherlands, our staunch friend.

I am afraid I am getting behind the clock, and I must push on, and I must say a word in answer to the questions on economic matters. I have been trying to explain that the answers must grow. I do not think it is in my power to lay down some remarkable economic programme for the new Brussels Powers to work out. We have given them certain tasks—the Saar, for instance, which is very important, and armaments production, about which I shall say a word in a moment, also most important. We shall try to work out new proposals which do not conflict with existing organisations, which will allow Western unity to grow. In other words, the lesson of the whole of the arrangements is that unity can only grow, it can never be imposed, in these matters.

I must try to reply to some of the other questions that have been asked. I have been told that these arrangements are the result of my being squeezed by Mr. Dulles and M. Mendès-France. Everybody is allowed to make his own interpretation of contemporary history, and I do not complain about that at all, but I think that the two men who in all the world will be most astonished on reading that criticism tomorrow will be Mr. Dulles and M. Mendes-France, who are at this moment together in Washington. I wish I could be there to hear their comments.

I would place this on record, because it is important. We were at no time asked either by France or by the United States to make the declaration which at the time I was authorised by my colleagues to make during the London Conference about the stationing of our troops in Europe. We were never asked to do so. I may be asked, "Why did you rush in and make the offer?" We made it because we were convinced that without a contribution of this kind we could never finally allay Franco-German suspicion and we could therefore never build a true Western Europe. That is why we did it and that is why my colleagues authorised me to make that statement.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said a very wise thing at the end of his speech when he said that foreign affairs is a choice of difficulties. If he did not say precisely that, that is how I interpreted what he said. Of course, it is true. I heard some speeches today asking, "Why have we done this?" as though we had been planning some wicked, hazardous task which might eventually promote war, and I must point out that, in examining all the alternatives, this was the one which, we thought, was, shall we say, the least objectionable on all counts and the one which was most likely to ward off what we all feared—the collapse of European unity.

Much play was made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and others about the 12 German divisions. His argument, apparently, was that the existence of these 12 new German divisions would poison the atmosphere for future negotiations with Russia. In certain circumstances there might be something in that. There have been many opportunities for negotiations with Russia before, and I do not think it is our fault, or the fault of our predecessors, that they did not come to anything.

But if this argument which the right hon. Gentleman advances were true, the same argument must surely apply to every single division which the Russians have armed in East Germany and, more than that, to the ex-enemy countries which the Soviets have armed to the hilt in defiance of the peace treaties which they themselves signed. What is the good of coming to us and saying, after the Russians have done all these things and built up these vast armaments, "If you venture to arm 12 German divisions you will upset the atmosphere so that we can talk no more"? I do not believe it is true. On the contrary, I believe that the reverse will be found to be true. Indeed, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can have listened very carefully to what said, because I did not make great play with those 12 German divisions. They are a contribution of importance, but they are not considered the decisive factor here. The decisive factor is bringing Germany in.

On money, I must say something to the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) who criticised our financial arrangements. He was, of course, fully entitled to do so. He read us a little homily to the effect that we should Neither a barrower nor a lender be, because if we were it would upset our relations with the United States. I think I agree with that Shakespearian view, although I am bound to say that it comes a little oddly from a member of a Government who did not hesitate to borrow a little from time to time.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale called our financial arrangements unsatisfactory. I was a little apprehensive at one time that he was about to criticise me for not being a sufficiently desiccated calculating machine. I hope I escaped from that final taunt. He said these arrangements were not good because they might damage our relations with the United States. We are all very grateful for his concern on that score, and I am sure that American opinion will be greatly encouraged thereby, too. But he feared that in some way—I hope I am not misrepresenting him, and it was a fair question to ask—our decision might be tied up with some supplementary American financial assistance; in other words, that, as a result of what we are doing in keeping our troops in Germany, we might have to go to the United States for some further financial assistance.

I wish to make quite clear to the House that the decision which we took was a decision entirely on our own responsibility. We never asked for, or made any suggestion that we expected, any kind of financial assistance from anybody else as a result of the decision which we were taking. There is no question of any misunderstanding arising upon that between the United States and ourselves.

I must answer as quickly as I can the questions about the supply of atomic weapons. If hon. Members will look at this paper—I do not complain in any way if they have not read it—which is extremely complicated, they will see on pages 46 and 47 a number of Articles and very elaborate arrangements worked out for the control of these armaments, and all weapons, including nuclear weapons, are covered by this. They are very elaborate arrangements and they are fully set out there. The only point in addition that arises is: what is to happen if some country X provides country Y with a certain form of weapon? What happens then?

That is not possible, except with the knowledge both of N.A.T.O. and of Western European Union. All armaments within the N.A.T.O. Powers have to be declared both to N.A.T.O., and. under this new Agreement, to all Western European countries. So, if anything of that kind were to occur all the countries concerned would know of it, and any one of them could raise it at any meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council or of the Western European Union. A great deal of trouble was taken in our decisions on these matters, and there is no doubt that that is the position.

In conclusion, may I say this. I have been asked whether, after these Agreements are ratified, we would negotiate with Soviet Russia. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not before"] No, certainly not before. I think that it would be the greatest possible mistake to do that before these Agreements are ratified. That is the only difference of understanding that I had with the right hon. Gentleman before the end of his speech. We have not yet solved this problem of consolidating our Western European unity. It has not been particularly easy to reach the point where we now are. There is certainly nothing more that this country can contribute than she has now given. If we believe that on the basis of Western Unity peace can be negotiated, as I believe, we must take no steps that can possibly endanger the completion of these Agreements, not here but in some of the other countries of Europe.

So I say that our first task is to go ahead and complete these Agreements and get them ratified. As I told the House on 25th October, that if we can bring about stability and a common purpose in the West then we shall be ready on that basis to seek an understanding with the East. That is as far as I can go. There are other things which I wanted to say, but time will not allow.

I have been asked what we are going to negotiate about. We want to negotiate about free elections in all Germany and about the Austrian Treaty, in respect of which we offered to accept every word and comma that the Russians put in, and negotiate about the possibility of Europe living in peace and security in the future.

There has been a very wide measure of agreement in this debate. I understand that there has been some disagreement, but I hope that for the sake of the rest of the world we will take the lead in our voting tonight, as we have done in. other things. I would hope that we could decide this unanimously, but if we cannot decide it unanimously, then I hope that those who have spoken so well and support us in this work will support us in the Lobby tonight because, otherwise, I sincerely fear that Europe may not understand how true is this agreement and how much we all wish that by this work we can build peace for generations to come.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 4.

Division No. 234.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Aitken, W. T.Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Darting, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Hirst, Geoffrey
Alpert, C. J. M.Davidson, ViscountessHolland-Martin, C. J.
Amery, Julian (Preston. N.)Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)Hope, Lord John
Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Deedes, W. F.Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry
Arbuthnot, JohnDigby, S. WingfieldHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Dodds-Parker, A. D.Horobin, I. M.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W)Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McAHorsbrugh, Rt. Hon, Florence
Astor, Hon. J. J.Doughty, C. J. A.Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MDugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Baldwin, A. E.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Barber, AnthonyDuthie, W. S.Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.
Barlow, Sir JohnEden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Wrwk & Lmgtn)Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.
Baxter, Sir BeverleyEden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Hurd, A. R.
Beach, Maj. HicksElliott, Rt. Hon. W. E.Hutchison, James (Scolstoun)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Errington, Sir EricHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Erroll, F. J.Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Fell, A.Iremonger, T. L
Birch, NigelFinlay, GraemeJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Bishop, F. P.Fisher, NigelJohnson, Eric (Blackley)
Black, C. W.Fletcher-Cooke, C.Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Boothby, Sir R. J. GFord, Mrs. PatriciaJones, A. (Hall Green)
Bossom, Sir A. C.Fort, R.Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.
Bowen, E. R.Foster, JohnKaberry, D.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Keeling, Sir Edward
Boyle, Sir EdwardFraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Brains, B. R.Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Kerr, H. W.
Braithwaite, Sir GurneyGalbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Lambert, Hon. G.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Gammans, L. D.Lambton, Viscount
Brooman-White, R. C.Garner-Evans, E. H.Langford-Holt, J. A.
Bullard, D. G.Glover, D.Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. EGodber, J. B.Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Burden, F. F. A.Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.Lindsay, Martin
Butcher, Sir HerbertGough, C. F. HLinstead, Sir H. N.
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Gower, H. R.Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)
Campbell, Sir DavidGraham, Sir FergusLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Carr, RobertGridley, Sir ArnoldLloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Cary, Sir RobertGrimond, J.Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.
Channon, H.Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir WinstonGrimston Sir Robert (Westbury)Longden, Gilbert
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hall, John (Wycombe)Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.
Hare, Hon. J. H.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Cole, NormanHarrison, Cot. J. H. (Eye)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Colegate, W. A.Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Conant, Maj. Sir RogerHarvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)McAdden, S J
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHarvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMcCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Cooper-Key, E. M.Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Macdonald, Sir Peter
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMcGovern, J.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Heath, EdwardMcKibbin, A. J.
Crosthwa[...]te-Eyre, Col. O. E.Higgs, J. M. C.Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Crouch, R. F.Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Maclean, Fitzroy
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)Pitman, I. J.Steward, W. A, (Woolwich, W.)
Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Pitt, Miss E. M.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Macpherson, Wall (Dumfries)Powell, J. EnochStorey, S
Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir ReginaldPrior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Summers, G. S.
Markham, Major Sir FrankProfumo, J. D.Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
Marlowe, A. A. H.Raikes, Sir VictorTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Marples, A. E.Ramsden, J. E.Teeling, W.
Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Rayner, Brig. R.Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Maude, AngusRedmayne, M.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Rees-Davies, W. R.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Medlicott, Brig. FRemnant, Hon. P.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Mellor, Sir JohnRenton, D. L. M.Tilney, John
Molson, A. H. E.Ridsdale, J. E.Touche, Sir Gordon
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterRoberts, Peter (Heeley)Turton, R. H.
Moore, Sir ThomasRobertson, Sir DavidVane, W. M. F.
Morrison, John (Salisbury)Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Robson-Brown, W.Vosper, D. F.
Nabarro, G. D. N.Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Wade, D. W.
Neave, AireyRoper, Sir HaroldWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nicholls, HarmerRopner, Col, Sir LeonardWalker-Smith, D. C.
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Russell, R. S.Wall, Major Patrick
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Nield, Basil (Chester)Sandys, Rt. Hon. DWard, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Nugent, G. R. H.Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasWaterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Oakshott, H. D.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Watkinson, H. A.
Odey, G. W.Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Sharples, Maj. R. C.Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Osborne, C.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Page, R. G.Snadden, W. McNWills, G.
Partridge, E.Soames, Capt. C.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Spearman, A. C. M.Wood, Hon. R.
Perkins, Sir RobertSpeir, R. M.
Pete, Brig. C. H. M.Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Peyton, J. W. W.Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardMr. Buchan-Hepburn and
Pickthorn, K. W. M.Stevens, GeoffreyMr. Studholme.
NOES
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Fernyhough, E.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Yates, V. F.Mr. Emrys Hughes and
Mr. Sydney Silverman.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards Western Europe as expressed in the Agreement reached in London on 3rd October, 1954, and in Paris on 23rd October, 1954.