I was saying that the effect of the H-bomb has been to destroy the possibility of what has been called in the past negotiation from strength. Since neither side can use the threat of war to back up its diplomacy, that means that each can ultimately impose a veto on any change of the status quo vitally affecting itself.
I suggest to the House that that means that, although we cannot rely on military strength, this has the great advantage that the strength of one's cause probably counts for more now than it did before, and that there is now more chance of each side seeing reason because the ultimate force is denied to it. Any impression which I got at Geneva was that each side now knows that no problem can be permitted to be insoluble.
Six months ago, I think that it would have been fair to say that the Foreign Offices would go into negotiations knowing in advance that no solution was in sight. I believe that after Geneva negotiations will be entered into in a belief in their possibility. That means that, instead of playing political warfare in our discussions with each other, we shall be seriously negotiating. It does not mean that all negotiations will end in success, but that at least each side recognises the possibility of them.
I want to apply that to the problem of Germany. When the Paris Agreements were signed, many hon. Members and nearly everybody in Germany believed that once Germany had been re-armed then, negotiating from strength, the West would be able to roll the Russians back —a phrase used, I think, by Dr. Adenauer —out of Eastern Germany. Now we know that to be an illusory dream. There is no way of rolling the Russians back out of Eastern Germany, because that would involve war, and war is impossible. The dream that the strength built up in Germany would automatically in some way crush the Russian power must now be abandoned.
What happened at Geneva? The West put forward what we called a "package offer" to the Russians, saying, "If you agree to the unification of Germany and the inclusion of Germany in N.A.T.O. we shall talk about European security, the possibility of a disarmed zone in the middle of Germany, and might consider a disarmament pact, provided you agree that Germany should be re-united and integrated with N.A.T.O." It is clear that the Russians turned that package down unequivocally. It was clear that they did not accept the package. They said, quite simply, "We will stay as we are, and have European security in the first stage and, in the second stage, mutual disarmament." The West turned the Russian package down just as unequivocally. Both packages are vetoed.
Therefore we face the fact that a permanent division of Germany is before as, unless we are willing to move from our prepared positions. I want very much to give my support to the words used by the Foreign Secretary when he said that it might be possible to find, at the Foreign Ministers' conference, a way of reconciliation of those views. It is clear that we stand pat on the package we offered at Geneva and that there is a permanent division of Germany until such time as the Russians make a bilateral deal with the West German Government; for that is the real danger which faces the West. We stand pat on a change in the status quo which is unacceptable to the Russians. They can effect a change in the status quo without asking our advice, if ever they can persuade the West German Government to do a bilateral deal with them.
Therefore it is to the advantage of the Russians to have no agreement. It is we who seek agreement on Germany and are keen to get it in the short run; while the Russians can always hope that when Dr. Adenauer is dead other people in West Germany will, sooner or later, enter into some arrangement with them. We can be quite sure that Dr. Adenauer will come back from Moscow not having sold out to the Russians. This is a rather melodramatic story which will not come true this year; but if the division of Germany remains for three, five or ten years more, the possibility of a bilateral deal will grow.
Is it in the interests of Britain that we should stand pat on the integration of a united Germany into N.A.T.O.? We know that we shall not get it from the Russians. If we hold out for too long the Germans may become impatient and do a deal with the Russians. The Minister of State shakes his head. We cannot know that the Germans will never get bored of having their country divided, and will not do what they have done in the past. I am saying, not that they will, but that the risk is on our side, because the Russians can offer unification to them and we cannot.
That was one passage of the Prime Minister's which I found a trifle disingenuous. After all, we should not stand for freedom unless we were certain that it benefited us.
I must point out to the Minister of State that West Germany is bound under the Treaty to forfeit large sections of her sovereignty. We have not said that West Germany shall be completely free. We have tied her up in all sorts of ways in the Western European Union. Therefore, it would be wrong to say that there would be unlimited sovereignty for a re-united Germany, and that we could then start making an agreement with the Russians.
It is an astonishing suggestion that reunited Germany should be the only country in the world with absolute freedom of movement. We do not mean it. We want to integrate Germany with the West. The Russians understand that quite well. The Minister of State must see that it is not much use talking to the Russians like that, because they know what all these things are about.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on not being rigid on the point and upon seeking to reconcile these conflicting positions at the Foreign Ministers' conference in October. It is no use standing pat on the principle of integration or of neutralisation. I believe that the Foreign Secretary would agree with me that there are literally dozens of methods of finding practical solutions which, at the end of the conference, would neither be integration nor neutralisation. There are ways in which the great job that Britain can do can come, not at high-level talks, but at the Foreign Ministers' conference. Our great job of diplomatic skill will be to put forward these proposals, knowing that time is not on our side and that we mean to re-unite Germany. We need it united and we need to be the mediators.
I would say just a word about the position of this country. If, as the Prime Minister suggested, the cold war comes to an end, one of our problems is that the Russians as a whole, when they change their minds, do it with a will. They do not mind eating their words. When they about-turn they do it, completely unaware that they have been doing the opposite six months ago.
My hon. Friend has taken the words out of my mouth.
I was going to say that I hoped that the power of the Conservative Party for change that it has shown on the home front will be shown in the cause of world peace. I have a feeling, now that the Russians and Americans have made up their minds to try to co-operate, that they may move very fast in that direction. It will be a great mistake for this country to be left in a cold-war vacuum in a world of peaceful co-existence.
During the last ten years we have all become accustomed to the cold war and to being a kind of aircraft carrier in the North Sea. In a period of peaceful coexistence the value of aircraft carriers goes down. In an era of peaceful coexistence we shall be at a loss to a greater extent than we have been during the last ten years. We, as a country, have had to distort our economy more than has any other in order to achieve rearmament. America has scarcely distorted hers at all; ours is as badly distorted as that of the Russian satellites.
If peace is really breaking out, we shall make a grave mistake if we do not undertake a complete reassessment of the situation. By the Paris Agreements we agreed to send four divisions to Germany and station them there permanently, meaning that we might have a two-year National Service for ever. We did that in a period of cold war, but almost as soon as it has been done that period is being transformed into one of peaceful co-existence. On my way back from Paris I spoke to a friend of mine who had been commanding an armoured unit in Germany. He said: "The problem of keeping up the men's morale is getting worse and worse because we cannot see the function of an armoured division in the light of present developments, and it is demoralising for a soldier to know that all this costs millions and millions to keep up, and it is ruinous to the economy."
We introduced the two-year National Service at a time when we really thought that the Korean war would spread. We did it also—let us be frank—in order to persuade the Europeans, by giving them a lead, to follow us. None of them did follow us. First the emergency went; now the cold war has gone and we live in a period of peaceful co-existence with a spell of two years of military service which bears no relation to our requirements, and which is an appalling burden on our economy.
Thirdly, our trade has been more affected by the embargo on East-West trade than is the case with any other country, for one simple reason, namely, that we keep our promise. When we accept an embargo we accept it; but not all our Allies have done the same. There are gentlemen in West Germany who are ardent anti-Communists ideologically, but when it comes to trade they seem to have a strange facility for evading their obligations.
All I know is that with peace breaking out there will be a race into the East-West market. Who it to get in there first—the Germans, the Japanese, the Americans or the British? Are we to remain cold-war warriors, sitting with our ideological preconceptions, or are we to change quickly enough to keep up with the Americans when the time comes? I believe that in the next six or nine months this House will really have to sit as a Council of State and think over the basis of our foreign policy and our defence policy. I think that the basis has been transformed—and thank goodness it has been transformed—by the Geneva Conference. The only question is—can we British move quickly enough to keep up in the race?
Despite what was said earlier this afternoon from the other side, it would seem that hon. Members opposite can scarcely wait to begin their holidays. I will therefore be extremely brief and resist the temptation to follow the interesting and imaginative observations of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). I want merely to address myself to that part of the directive given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the other Heads of Government to the Foreign Ministers on the development of contacts between East and West. In that directive these words are to be found:
The Foreign Ministers should, by means of experts, study measures—including those possible in organs and agencies of the United Nations—which could…bring about a progressive elimination of barriers which interfere with free communications and peaceful trade between peoples.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East touched on some of the economic aspects of the present international situation, and I want to approach the economic side of the Iron Curtain which divides the main Powers today. There have been various stages and skirmishes and incidents in the cold war since Potsdam—and even before Potsdam. We have been divided from the Soviet camp by ideals and interests and faith, but historians may, I think, decide that even more important in the story of the cold war than, say, the Berlin air lift was the decision, which we regret, made by the Soviet camp not to take part in Marshall Aid.
That decision meant that the world was divided into two economic sides, one of which had a rigid, regimented, totalitarian economy with a State monopoly of foreign trade; and on the other side was the free world containing nations, some of which might be socialistic and some of which might be capitalistic, but which were dominated by principles of non-discrimination in their trading relations—principles which were irreconcilable with the sort of system which had appeared in the Soviet world.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) referred to the Foreign Secretary's excursion into the vernacular. He said that my right hon. Friend was talking cockney. I was under the impression that it was American. Be that as it may, I think that my right hon. Friend will agree that whether or not we are entering into a post-war era, in a new sense of the word "post-war"—I hope it is so—this is a period when it is even more difficult than usual to read the future. We can, however, speculate. As events unfold, there may be a disengagement of the forces of the major Powers in Europe. It may be—we hope so—that the Germans in the West will be reunited with their compatriots in the East.
It may be that it will be made possible for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which have been vassals in the Soviet empire, to regain their freedom of action. But I think that we shall delude ourselves if we think that if that happy event takes place those countries now on the other side of the Iron Curtain will suddenly embrace principles of free trade and free enterprise. It is more likely that the peoples' democracies will continue in one form or another, perhaps on the pattern which we can see today in Yugoslavia. It is possible that even if the Soviet Union removed its forces and its direct influence from these countries it might be able to maintain its control over them by economic means because they have the same social system and because their currencies are tied to the rouble.
I am rather afraid that we may get nothing very much more fruitful than coexistence; that we may, as was said by the hon. Member for Coventry, East, remain in a cold war stance unless we can solve some of the economic difficulties between the free world and the Soviet Empire.
Reference is made in the White Paper from which I have quoted to
…organs and agencies of the United Nations…
I have been told by hon. Members who know more than I do about these things that the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has already been helpful in the promotion of East-West trade, but civil servants and international civil servants—and even politicians—are, I think, inclined to be afraid or chary of departing from precedent. There is always a tendency to try to adapt oneself to an existing system rather than to change a system if that should be necessary. I believe that we shall have to change in the free world the present system of non-discrimination in economic relationships if we are to erode the economic Iron Curtain.
This is a time of change and of hope. We are glad indeed of the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and we shall all welcome the leaders of the Soviet Union. I believe that we are getting somewhere when the hon. Member for Coventry, East is heard in this Chamber praising the diplomacy of the President of the United States.
We should all pay tribute to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary for what they have already achieved on behalf of our country during the Geneva Conference. In the discussions which are to follow I believe that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will have even more to contribute, because in the Commonwealth and the sterling area we have special experience of the kind of system which enables countries and groups of countries of different outlook and civilisation and differing economic strength to work together and exchange mutually economic advantages. I believe that if we have the courage to tackle the fundamental economic problems in the world today, Britain may succeed in helping all the countries of Europe to form a system which will give them sovereignty, solvency, security and self-respect.
I consider that it will be the general view of the House that the report of the Prime Minister was all the more effective because he did not claim that any dramatic results flowed from the Geneva Conference. I for one do not consider that that lessens in any way the value of the Conference, any more than I consider the fact that the advent of the hydrogen bomb acted as a spur on the Heads of the four Governments who attended the Conference, lessened the value of the Conference. The fact that, as the Prime Minister said, for the first time in ten years the Heads of the four countries represented at Geneva met was a very important portent in international relations.
The Prime Minister has made it quite clear today that the personal relations which were established at that Conference between the Heads of Government has produced a good will which has, for the time being at any rate, put in abeyance the cold war and has resulted in a definite relaxation of international tension and provided an opportunity for obtaining the political solutions of the international problems which have divided the world in recent years.
I agree with the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), that the nation as a whole will warmly welcome the announcement which has been made this afternoon by the Prime Minister that the Government have invited the Russian Prime Minister and M. Kruschev to visit this country. The more there are personal contacts between the Heads of Governments and, indeed, Ministers of Governments, the better for international relations. I have always regretted that the custom that grew up in the inter-war years of Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers regularly attending the Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva has not since been followed by Governments in the years after the end of the Second World War. Therefore, the fact that for the first time for many years the Heads of these four Governments have been able to meet is of considerable importance.
When we are dealing with personal contacts between East and West we do not have to limit them to the politicians. The more that we can break down barriers between nations, whether on the field of sport or in any other sphere of national life, the better it is because it makes people realise that people of other countries are very much the same as themselves and that they have the same hopes and aspirations.
Although one takes the view that in spite of the fact that no dramatic results flowed from the Geneva Conference it was none the less vitally important, it does not alter the fact that formidable problems which have so far divided East and West still remain to be solved, and I think that the directive is interesting because it has rightly focused attention upon the most important of these international problems—the problems of European security, united Germany and disarmament.
I hold the view that fear has played a far greater part in preventing a solution of these problems than any other factor. Russia, for example, cannot forget the suffering she had to endure during the Second World War. Speaking at the Berlin Conference on 1st February last year, Mr. Molotov gave some extremely interesting facts. He stated that 1,710 cities and more than 70,000 towns and villages in Russia had either been wholly or partially destroyed or burnt, that direct damage on Soviet territory during four years of Hitlerite occupation had amounted to over £40,000 million in value, and that the Soviet Union had suffered a loss of about 7 million people on the battlefield and as a result of the expulsion of populations.
On the other hand, the Russians should remember the great sufferings of the Western Nations. Death in war is no respecter of nationality. The peoples of Britain, France, the United States and their war allies hate war and aggression just as much as do the people of the East. But we saw in the years following 1945 that Russia was maintaining great armies and air forces while we in the West were largely disarming. We were only too conscious of the dangerous implications of the Berlin blockade and of the cold war.
Also both East and West should keep in mind that their strong feelings against another war are shared by the masses of the German people who will long remember the bitter consequences of the military aggression into which Hitler forced them. They now, like other nations, have experienced what it means to have devastating war sweeping across their own territory and bringing in its train the destruction of their homes, villages and towns, the division of their country and the disintegration of their national life. I think the last thing in which the new German democracy intends to get itself involved is treading once again the disillusioning and catastrophic path of military aggression.
In those circumstances it is clear that what is required today is an effective system of security which will remove the fears of both East and West. As far as one can gather from the statements of policy and the speeches which have been made by the statesmen on both sides, there can be no doubt that both East and West want to see a reliable European security system established. I agree very much with what the Prime Minister said today—that such a security system cannot be achieved as long as Germany remains divided. A secure Europe means a united Europe, and that presupposes a united Germany.
I am convinced that the problems of security for Europe and of unity for Germany are inseparable problems. Indeed, I again find myself in agreement with the Prime Minister, who referred to them this afternoon as twin problems. I believe that a reunited Germany is essential to an all-in or even a limited European security system from its inception. If we are to build up an effective system of security for Europe, whether it be on an all-in basis or on the five-country basis suggested by our Government, a united Germany must be in it from the inception.
On the other hand, I am also convinced that Soviet Russia will not agree to German reunification except within some satisfactory and reliable system of European security of which Russia herself is a member.
It seems to me that the British proposal for a five-Power mutual defence pact, to which the Prime Minister referred this afternoon, has a great deal to commend it as the means of eventually establishing an over-all European security system. In the first place, as I understand it, the four war Allies would be associated—that is, including Russia, one of our war-time allies—with a united Germany, in a common defence pact against aggression. As the Prime Minister said, by its terms each country could declare itself ready to go to the assistance of the victim of aggression, whoever that might be.
In my view, such a pact should do much to reassure Soviet Russia and to allay any legitimate apprehensions which she may have about her own security arising from the reunification of Germany, since Russia herself would be a direct partner, with her war-time Allies, in the collective maintenance of peace in Europe and in defence against aggression.
The second British proposal to which the Prime Minister referred was that to limit the total of forces and armaments on each side in Germany and in the countries neighbouring Germany. I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said about the vagueness of this proposal, and I very much hope that the Foreign Secretary will throw a little light upon it when he winds up the debate.
If it means what I think it means, then it appears to me to be a positive and constructive proposal which should help to bring agreement on the problem of German reunification. It would give strength to the proposed five-Power pact because, as I understand it, it would mean that the armed forces of a reunited Germany would be limited and would be subject to a system of control and inspection. If that be so, surely it is a further assurance to Soviet Russia. Such an arrangement, if it were acceptable and properly carried out, could, in my view, have an important bearing on the achievement of a comprehensive disarmament agreement.
In support of questions asked by my right hon. Friend, I want to ask the Foreign Secretary exactly which area the Government have in mind. Is the proposal to be effective within Germany—affecting just East Germany and Western Germany; or is it to affect a belt of country extending not only into Germany but into other countries in Central Europe? Is it to apply to the forces of Russia and the countries associated with Russia in the Warsaw Pact? Does it stretch as far as that?
Is it also to apply to the defence forces of Western European Union, including our own? Is it to affect the forces of Canada and the United States at present located in Europe? Does it mean that there will be an agreed limitation of strength of the armed forces—Army, Air Force and Navy? Does it mean that the inspection organisation, the officers from the various countries, is to ensure that those limitations are not exceeded or is the inspection to make sure that no warlike preparations are being made?
I hope it means that there are to be limitations of forces, with an inspection to ensure that those limitations are observed, in which case it may play a useful part in the build-up of this Five-Power security system.
The third proposal to which the Prime Minister referred was the possibility of a demilitarised area between East and West. I imagine that that is related to the proposal for the limitation of defence forces in the areas referred to in the second proposal—or is it something quite apart from the second proposal? It is not clear to me what the offer means, and I hope it will be elaborated in order to make clear what is intended both as to the geographical areas concerned and as to the practical significance.
We must remember that we are living in the days of jet aircraft. In one sense distance is of no importance. Aircraft can fly 50 miles in a matter of seconds. A demilitarised zone has therefore not quite the same significance as it might have had in the days of a conventional war. Nevertheless, I am glad to see that these proposals are embraced by the directive relating to European security and Germany and will therefore be considered, with other proposals, by the Foreign Ministers in October.
I certainly hope, as I am sure does the House, that out of that consideration will emerge an agreed plan which will combine European security and the reunification of Germany, twin aims which, as I have said, can be fully realised only in unison.
May I say a few words about the situation in Asia? In my view there is equal need for political settlements in Asia. The problems of Korea, Formosa and Indo-China cannot be isolated from the problems of world peace, and it is just as important to secure political solutions in Asia as it is to secure them in Europe. I am sure hon. Members on both sides will endorse the welcome which was given by the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South this afternoon to the news that discussions are shortly to take place between representatives of the United States Government and of the Peking Government on the question of the repatriation of American prisoners-of-war now in Chinese hands.
This is only a beginning. I for one therefore welcome the proposal of Senator George, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposing that an American-Chinese Republican conference at Foreign Ministers level should take place in the autumn. I understood the Prime Minister to say—or, maybe, it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South who expressed the hope —that our Government will co-operate with the United States Government and the Chinese Government on those lines. I hope also that our country will make a definite contribution to these peace efforts. I ask the Foreign Secretary whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to co-operate with Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, in securing a high level conference on Asian matters?
That endorses the importance of the policy being pursued by Mr. Nehru.
I wish to say a word on the third matter referred to in the directive, disarmament. I realise that many hon. Members are familiar with the situation in which the world finds itself with 20 million men under arms and with an annual expenditure throughout the world of £40,000 million a year on armaments. The countries have in their possession tens of thousands of war planes, tanks and warships, yet we must realise that a few hydrogen bombs could well paralyse the whole of them. In spite of that fact, in spite of that vast expenditure and that vast mobilisation of manpower, we know that two-thirds of the population of the world are living in conditions of poverty and hunger. I suggest that finding a solution to these economic problems cannot be indefinitely delayed.
In the course of his speech at Geneva, President Eisenhower made reference to this vital problem. He said:
As we think of this problem of armament, we need to remember that the present burden of costly armaments not only deprives our own
people of higher living standards, but it also denies the peoples of under-developed areas of resources which would improve their lot…Armament reduction would and should ensure that part of the savings would flow into the less developed areas of the world to assist their economic development.
While I entirely agree with those words, I cannot but regret the attitude of the United States Government and Her Majesty's Government in relation to the establishment of S.U.N.F.E.D., the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development. Surely a beginning could be made with this vital project without waiting for a disarmament agreement? I ask the Secretary of State if he can say what action was taken at the recent meeting of the Social and Economic Council in considering the latest report by M. Scheylen, the Belgian official charged with the conduct of this investigation?
While it is true that President Eisenhower's proposal for unrestricted air reconnaissance facilities was an admirable gesture, indicative no doubt of the sincerity of the United States in the search for peace, I am afraid it is not likely in itself to secure disarmament nor to prevent war. Disarmament, if it is to mean anything at all, must be translated into concrete reductions of manpower and, above all, of the weapons of war, war planes, tanks, warships and other instruments used in time of war. It must also mean the abolition of weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and high explosive bombs and guided missiles.
I am afraid that some people think that if we got rid of the nuclear weapons everything would be all right from the point of human welfare, but there can be just as much damage done, perhaps on a less extensive scale, by high explosive bombs as by nuclear weapons. The big question is, will Governments face the risks involved in real disarmament? I believe the people will. An agreement providing for a substantial measure of controlled disarmament would in itself be a powerful contribution to the solution of many of the political problems at present poisoning international relations. I hope the Ministers on the Front Bench are listening to this as I consider it very important.
As the Foreign Secretary knows quite well, disarmament has long left the academic realm and is now one of the most vital problems facing the country. I express my best personal wishes to the Foreign Secretary in the arduous tasks that confront him and his colleagues. At the conference in October there is going to be no short cut to a solution of these problems. There has to be hard work, patience, give-and-take and an attempt to understand the point of view of other countries.
The tasks given to the Foreign Ministers in the terms of the directive for consideration at their meeting in October are indeed formidable. No one can deny that, but, with the increase of mutual confidence and trust engendered by the recent Geneva Conference, and with the common desire to achieve common security, it might well be possible to make steady progress towards genuine world peace and disarmament.
I know that we are on the Adjournment, but I shall try if I can to stick very closely to what I thought was intended to be the main topic for discussion today; that is, what we know of what was said at Geneva and what we may reasonably suppose the words to mean. I shall do my best to stick fairly closely to those things.
I am bound to say at the beginning that in approaching all this I do not feel very optimistic either about what is happening, or about my capacity to understand it very clearly, or to explain it very effectively. It seems to me that there are two or three matters in which we are having assumptions, and having a rather light-hearted use of language where, even if the task be not a very gracious one, someone ought to stop and question the implications.
I thought that the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who addressed us in his usual impressive manner, carried too far the principle which I share with him—I suppose he is explicitly conscious of it. He certainly always rather acts upon the principle that in any great human affair there is always a factor of paradox, and that if one expounds a great human affair without any paradox one is almost certainly wrong. I thought he carried the tolerance of paradox really a little excessively far this afternoon when he told us all about how nations want power—how it is relations of power we have to discuss—and how the more powerful the weapons are which nations have, the less are those nations in a position to exercise power.
I am not quite sure that the world is quite so paradoxical as that, and when it appears to us, as it well may appear at the moment, that little nations with little power can fairly easily get their own way by using weapons of death and destruction, and that great nations cannot, I feel reasonably certain that there is a new chapter just round the corner which we do not yet understand.
When the hon. Member was speaking, I was not quite sure exactly what was meant by "status quo." My recollection, on which I would not bet very heavily, is that in the old days "status quo" always meant, not the state in which things now are, but the state in which things were before some event or other—before, for instance, a war which is now being conducted. But "status quo" now seems to be used to mean things as they are, and the whole of the hon. Member's argument is very difficult to understand unless one is quite clear which he did mean, and whether he always meant the same thing by "status quo" during all of his paragraphs.
Of course, the status in Europe now is extremely different from the status quo before the war, and there is one thing about which nobody has said anything at all today. Although it is perhaps a little like saying rude words in the drawing room, someone ought perhaps to say a word about it before the day is over. Nobody has made any reference at all to the condition of Eastern Europe and to the fact that the whole of Eastern Europe is occupied by that Power which has, at least to that extent, so far defeated us in the cold war, which it was fighting when we were fighting a hot war side by side and which it still is fighting. We ought not to forget Europe. We should remember that Eastern Europe is still there geographically. [Laughter.] It is a rather important thing to remember.
The second thing that I should like hon. Members to question in their minds before they assume it in argument is the phrase that atom bombs, H-bombs, and so on, cannot win a war. I know very little about war. I have survived three of them and I have not liked any of them. Of the one or two things I do know about war, one is that the next war is neither so much like the last war as one thought it would be, nor is it at all like what the inter-war experts said it would be. Those things we can be quite certain of.
Another thing of which we can be reasonably certain is that however destructive weapons become, unless they get to the absolute point of destruction where they destroy the whole of our biological species, which Lord Russell told us the other day was the only thing to care for, short of that point there will be two sides left when the war is over. And I would sooner be on the one which can be said in any sense whatever to be the winning side than on the one which can be said in any sense whatever to be the losing side.
I cannot believe that it is wise that we should approach foreign politics continually asseverating that if there is ever again another war, it will not matter which side wins; I cannot believe that that is political wisdom. Nor can I believe that it is political wisdom for us to asseverate—in the way that right hon. and even hon. Gentlemen who have been at Geneva have done, who, if they did not have quite such long red carpets, still had their entrées and still were near enough to greatness, as we were told—to "feel" that, for example, "the Foreign Ministers got into a mess this morning, but the Prime Ministers got out of it again after lunch," and so on. I cannot help believing that it is risky to attach that amount of importance to the personal contacts and to the little that one can see of the personal contacts, in a world in which one of the two great Powers—up to date the more victorious one—is founded upon not believing in personal contacts, is founded upon the principle of dialectical materialism.
Let us get whatever we can get by being on as good terms as we can be with any foreigners anywhere, and, for all I have said to the contrary, most of all par excellence, with the Russians. But do not let us go about telling ourselves and our people that these personal contacts are, and are likely to continue to be, a decisive factor in international politics. I believe that that makes both home and foreign government extremely difficult for the future. It almost certainly prepares disappointment and it makes quite certain that if there is disappointment, it will be greater than it otherwise needed to be.
In that connection, I am bound to be candid enough to go so far as to say that when it was assumed this afternoon that everybody in the House was delighted that these two honourable, noble, eminent gentlemen are coming here in the spring, I could not feel, and cannot feel, "delighted." I wish I could be sure that I knew enough about either the world or these men to be sure that in nine or ten months' time, whenever it is, it will be a very good thing that we have now been publicly committed to their coming here then. It may be so; I very much hope that it is so. I believe that it makes the task of our statesmen more difficult, it makes the risk of disappointment for our people more serious, if we should all begin with enthusiasm, in the eighteenth century sense, taking for granted "delight" and words like, which seem to me excessive.
I come now to the third thing that I should like to say about the whole of this discussion which we have been having for the last six weeks, before, about and after Geneva, and to which we are now having a sort of Parliamentary wind-up. I believe that it is a profound mistake—and the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South this afternoon very explicitly made the mistake, if it is a mistake—to talk about disarmament being the key. I feel certain that in so far as one can in these matters distinguish cause from effect, we must regard disarmament as a desirable effect and not regard it in the main as a method. I feel sure that that is true.
Even if I am mistaken about that, I feel even more deeply convinced about what I am about to say, which is closely connected with it. The latest weapons are not controllable. Quite a few years ago, they probably still were controllable. There was a point at which it would have been possible for statesmen, advised by scientists, to find means of knowing where the necessary materials for the most powerful weapons were and of keeping an eye on them, of keeping a tab on them and of knowing where they were, and what could be done with them. I believe that that is no longer true, and that almost certainly it will get less and less true, and more and more obviously untrue.
Nor am I alone in that belief. I have here a phrase, and I hope that the House will forgive me if I stumble a little over it, because I am quoting it from the Germany, translating as I go along. It says:
Even if such a control"—
The speaker, of course, is using the word "control" in the French or German sense of control, in the sense in which a ticket collector is a contrôleur, not because he tells a passenger that he must go to Southend and not to Southport, but because he keeps a check, and so on.
Even if such a control"—
that is, of atomic and H-weapons, plutonium and so on—
were possible, it would be ineffective, for if no confidence subsists, a circumvention of this control would be possible.
And then he goes on to say:
It would be all the more probable because the technology of atom production makes possible quickly and without very exceptional difficulties
the utilisation of atomic materials and so on which are there for peaceful purposes for purposes of armament. It was Marshal Bulganin who said that.
I do not speak Russian or read Russian.
We all know very little; but I think the hon. Member may take it that that is a fair record and as likely as usual to be true.
I am quite certain you are not going to have the Earl Russell atomic paradise without the enemy, any more than you had the paradise where your first parents were without the enemy. There is not any way now any longer of making sure that international inspection will know where atomic weapons and materials are and making sure that they are in such condition or place that they cannot be utilised for war purposes. I believe that that is true. If there is competent advice that that is not true, then I hope to be told. But if there is no such competent advice, then we have got to regard —even more is it plain that we have got to regard—disarmament as a necessary result of confidence, when we can get confidence.
And if we can get confidence while so much of Asia is dominated, as it now is, while half of Europe is occupied, as it now is, if we can get that confidence, nobody will be more glad than I. But it is fair to say, and that there is nothing either cynical or defeatist about saying, that to assume that you are taking long steps to such confidence at any point before there are concrete guarantees of it to which you can point, to make any such assumption is running the risk of being the greatest deceiver of your people that any governors have ever been.
He referred to the question that we are not certain, as he put it, that nuclear weapons will bring the extermination of the human race in their train; and until that is certain he would prefer to be on the winning side. I wish to quote to him what the Prime Minister said in his opening speech at Geneva. The right hon. Gentleman said:
There was a time when the aggressor in war might hope to win an advantage and to realise political gain for his country by military action…Nothing of the kind is possible now. No war can bring the victor spoils; it can only bring him and his victim utter annihilation. Neutrals would suffer equally with the combatants.
I confess that, unlike the hon. Gentleman, I prefer the judgment of the Prime Minister to the judgment of Marshal Bulganin on this point.
I may say that in this debate I find myself in the position of the Irishman who, for once, was fighting on the side of the police. I should like to begin what I have to say by congratulating the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on their really great achievement at Geneva, and to say that I think that the Prime Minister pitched his claim too low. I think that he was too modest in merely saying that what the Geneva meeting had done was to change the political climate. I think that something more happened. I think that the Heads of Governments that met at Geneva did nothing less than sign the armistice in the cold war and that that armistice is now being endorsed and ratified by the public opinion of the world and by the Parliaments of the participating countries, including our Parliament today.
Once you have signed the armistice after a long and gruelling struggle in which the peoples have grown war weary and tired of the sacrifices and the burdens and the prospect of endless strife; when that comes to an end, then there has been a psychological revolution. After that it is almost impossible to renew hostilities; and today, anyone who wishes to start the cold war again will have to climb a long and steep psychological hill before he can start it over again. And part of the job of these meetings is to make that hill longer and steeper, until it becomes an impassable and unsur-mountable barrier to the reopening of the cold war. From that point of view I warmly welcome the news that Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Khruschev are visiting this country in the spring.
Here I should like to make the first suggestion, which I hope the Government will not turn down out of hand, but will consider benevolently—although, of course, they will not commit themselves. A good deal has been said lately on the need for breaking down the barriers to intercourse between the two sides at every level. I suggest making a modest beginning at the Parliamentary level. Our Parliament were the guests of the Soviet Parliament not so long ago. Let us issue a return invitation at a time to coincide with the visit of the Soviet leaders to this country. Let us suggest that it is not enough to have junketings with the delegates, but that the Soviet Parliament should be invited to select a strong and representative delegation—say, thirty; that our Parliament elect, by proportional representation, a delegation of thirty; that they should not be handpicked by party leaders or Government, but that they should really be a cross-section of Parliament; that these two delegations should then meet and discuss current issues; that the Parliaments, our respective Parliaments, should find time to debate the reports of the proceedings at these discussions which should be partly public and partly private.
When I discussed this with a friend, he said, "Oh, but you are expecting much too much. Soviet leaders would never allow their M.P.s to be pitched into free discussion with M.P.s of the West. It would be too dangerous." My reply to that is twofold. In the first place, the Soviet Parliament quite recently passed a resolution saying that they believe the responsibility for peace rests on Parliaments as well as Governments; that more contacts between Parliaments would strengthen the cause of peace. And, even more recently, the Soviet Parliament applied to join the Inter-Parliamentary Union. So I think there would be a good chance of these proposals being accepted, and I believe that it would have some very good results.
Now let us turn to the actual issue confronting us which the Prime Minister described as a twin issue—German reunification and European security. I would say that the issue of disarmament is intimately connected with those two, so that the issue is really triplets—if we care to put it that way. I do not believe, in fact, that Governments would come to the point of decision on disarmament unless they had made some progress on the side of political settlement and of security arrangements. On this point we are, unfortunately, deadlocked. The deadlock is due, I think, to mistakes by both sides —I will come to the reasons for those mistakes as I see them.
The West wishes to include a united Germany in the Western Alliance. The Russians are no more likely to accept that than we would accept the reverse arrangement; and when we say it is a matter of Germany being free to decide, we know perfectly well which way the decision would go. If the Russians were equally sure, they would not mind having Germany free to choose the Eastern Alliance. We should have as strong objections as they have to that freedom.
But I object in principle to the notion that Germany should be free to do what she likes. Why should she? I do not want to dictate to the Germans, but nor do I wish them to arrogate to themselves the right, for instance, to rearm without limit. Nor do I wish to see Germany use her arms in order to press for a change of her frontiers under the threat of war.
In that connection I would draw attention to a recent article—published 18th July—by Mr. Walter Lippman of the "New York Herald Tribune," who is a very sober and responsible observer, outlining Dr. Adenauer's position. He states that Dr. Adenauer would not accept even what he calls the Eden Plan because he will not renounce the lost territories, and that he prefers to wait for two or three years, and then he adds:
Dr. Adenauer made it clear enough during his American visit this spring that his policy is to be armed by the United States, and then with the loyal support of the whole Western alliance, led by the United States, to negotiate a German settlement with the Soviet Union. Dr. Adenauer believes that in two or three years, when there is a German army in N.A.T.O., his position will be strong enough to obtain reunification with frontiers that are much better than Potsdam.
We know perfectly well that no West German Government who go in for revising the frontiers will be content with minor readjustments of the Polish-German frontier. What they would try for would be a new partition of Poland. The Poles will never submit to that. We are committed to the main lines of the bargain—I am not saying whether it was good or bad, but only that we are committed to it—by which the Poles received certain eastern German territories in exchange for eastern Polish territories they gave up to the Soviet Union.
I think it is necessary to clarify our position. I think our position is that Germany should be united within the Potsdam frontiers, but neither in the matter of armaments nor in the matter of alliances should Germany have complete freedom—any more than the rest of us. I think all of us must subordinate political sovereignty and defence sovereignty to international obligations.
On the other hand, I have no use for the Soviet proposal, which suggests embedding a divided Germany in a universal all-European alliance. I do not think that the division of Germany is a solid basis for organising the whole of Europe for peace, and more than that I am completely sceptical about the whole idea of a universal military alliance, which postulates the readiness of everybody to fight anybody. That readiness simply does not exist. In both the Covenant of the League of Nations and in the Charter of the United Nations the idea of compulsory universal military sanctions was dismissed out of hand, and quite rightly, and we tried to make economic sanctions compulsory, leaving military sanctions to be voluntary. Even that system did not work in the League of Nations, and it has been deadlocked by the impasse of the great Powers in the Security Council of the United Nations up to the present.
This whole conception I regard as completely unworkable and unreal. The idea of a neutral Germany was condemned and dismissed by M. Faure at Geneva in a speech which gave, I thought, an extremely academic dissertation on the conception of neutrality as known to international law before the First World War but which bore no relation whatever to the world in which we are members of the United Nations. That is the starting point for a constructive suggestion I would make.
It is a strange paradox that at the tenth anniversary of the United Nations at San Francisco the member Governments swore their loyalty to the United Nations Charter and said that it was the foundation of their policies. Mr. Dulles went further and said that if only the Soviet Union would agree to observe the Charter in its relations with other countries the cold war would end. I say that is perfectly true but that it is only half of the truth. The whole truth is that if all the great Powers would agree to do so the cold war would end. Instead of that they went to Geneva and worked out a lot of ideas and then proceeded to deadlock each other. Some of them were very ingenious, but none took any account whatever of the application of the machinery of the United Nations. Except for one or two passing references indeed, the subject of the United Nations was not even mentioned.
The great Powers have been driven by the sheer excess of their military preparations in the system of the balance of power on which they fell back after the war to adopt the position which they were pledged to adopt by the Charter of the United Nations ten years ago. They have now got so far with their preparations as to be able to exterminate each other in the event of war. So diabolically successful have their preparations been, that they do not dare to go to war. They prefer to talk. That was precisely the position they undertook to adopt under the Charter. The wheel has now come full circle. For good or bad reasons we abandoned the Charter and fell back on the balance of power. Now we have piled up so much power we do not dare use it.
We cannot negotiate from strength, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) said, because we are too strong. I would put it this way, that we cannot resort to mailed fist diplomacy, which is the less pretty but more telling name for the kind of diplomacy that used to be employed in the old days; we cannot resort to mailed fist diplomacy, because if we clutch a hydrogen bomb in our fist and try to hit the other fellow we shall blow up not only him but ourselves and the whole world too. We just cannot use it. So we have got to talk, and we have discovered that both sides dread war and are frightened of getting into a war because of the consequences.
Very well, let us accept the risks of the Charter and of the peace-keeping system as envisaged by the Charter. The Charter took the line that once war broke out between the great Powers the whole system would collapse and there would be nothing left. So the United Nations in the Charter directed their energies to building up economic and political arrangements which would make the outbreak of war progressively less likely and raise psychological, economic and political barriers to the outbreak of war. They did not attempt to do the impossible, to organise any kind of collective arrangements that would ensure victory in case of war. Any such arrangement would be a return to the balance of power which, as Mr. Lester Pearson said, has become a balance of fear and reached a dead end. The operative word is "dead."
What would a solution be on these lines? First, of course, the unification of Germany through free elections under international supervision; then the admis- sion of all the European ex-enemy States to the United Nations. That means Austria, Finland, Germany, Italy, on the one hand, and Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Roumania on the other. Since Germany cannot be a permanent member of the Security Council without a revision of the Charter—and that takes a long time—let us see Germany take her due place in an all-European organisation, a regional agreement based on Articles 52, 53 and 103 of the Charter. It would grant power to the E.C.E. of the United Nations, to co-ordinate the economic machinery of East and West Europe and promote intra-European trade and economic development. E.C.E. could then play the part it was originally designed to play when it was set up by the General Assembly.
It could include a political conference of the European members of the United Nations, which would elect an executive committee, of which Germany would be a member, and which would not only watch over the carrying out of decisions of the conference, presumably with the help of a secretariat, but also advise the Security Council on all matters concerning disputes or disturbances of the peace between the members of the United Nations.
I should like to suggest a transition, as it were, between rival alliances and the security system of the United Nations. I would suggest inserting an article in the text of the European regional agreement, based on the United Nations Charter, by which the parties to the agreement would undertake that so long as the agreement remained in force they would not take enforcement action nor exercise the right to collective self-defence—I emphasise "collective" because I leave untouched the exercise of the individual right of self defence—under any other treaty without the authorisation of the Security Council. This would not scrap the existing treaties or pull Germany out of them. But it would subordinate their military obligations to the peace-keeping system of the Charter. We should really try to apply the system by which we, the permanent members of the Security Council, trust each other to settle our differences peacefully and pull together in trying to keep the peace of Europe.
These various compromise arrangements of five-Power pacts and all the rest of it postulate that kind of trust. We suggest obligations in which the Soviet Union would participate in refraining from helping an aggressor and would join forces against an aggressor and so on. But why not simplify the situation by saying that as we literally cannot afford to fight, for it means death for all of us, and as we have to trust each other to talk, let us trust each other to keep the obligations which we have assumed under the Charter. Let us try to work the system and put the Security Council in charge of keeping the peace, as it was meant to do under the Charter, and not try to do its job and take it out of its hands.
The political conference which I have suggested could be a bridge between the international political institutions built up in Eastern and Western Europe. The economic arrangement would be a bridge between East and West economic institutions. The various proposals for the control of armaments might take in not only the inter-allied system of W.E.U. in Western Europe, which might be internationalised and the Soviet Union brought into it on some limited basis. We might also see whether we could not combine these things in some form of Articles 43 to 47 of the Charter, suggesting how the Security Council should organise international military action when required to keep order.
These suggestions might be put together as part of our disarmament plans and linked with implementing the Charter as a basis of security. That is not neutrality and not alliances. It is something new, and it would inject a fresh element into the situation. I may he wrong in every detail of what I have suggested, but I implore the Government not to close their minds to the possibility that the time may now have come when we can make a start at making the Charter of the United Nations the real and effective basis of the relations of the great Powers.
It might be that this is a new angle, a new factor which would enable us to break the deadlock that has arisen, largely because we have thought solely in terms of neutrality versus alliance and rival alliances versus the chimera of a universal alliance. It may be that here there is a kind of compromise basis that has elements common to all these schemes but has something new that differentiates it from all and which might give us a practical basis for advance, if not at once, at any rate by stages.
Finally, I suggest making a political virtue out of our economic necessity. We are in the unhappy position that Nature has disarmed us unilaterally. We can be wiped out by six hydrogen bombs whereas it might take 50 to wipe out the United States and perhaps 80 to wipe out the Soviet Union. Moreover, we cannot manufacture more than a few hydrogen bombs as compared with dozens, scores or hundreds manufactured by the others. On that basis, therefore, we are bound to come in a poor third.
Let us be the first among the States to have the courage to catch this tide at the full and be swept on by it to a new vision of the unity and peace of humanity. Let us suggest an immediate standstill in tests of the hydrogen bomb and in its manufacture. Let us make slashing cuts in our defence programmes. Let us clear the clogged channels of East-West trade. Let us not forget that our present towering armaments are not the result of close calculation. They have been very much a hit-and-miss business with a great deal of error and guesswork. Preparations for war, like war itself, are based on a balance of errors, and we should not be too meticulous about waiting for the other chap to act.
Let us not be afraid to set an example in showing that we are not afraid. Let us show that we have the moral courage and political wisdom to give leadership to the longing of the peoples of the world for peace. Let us realise that something has changed and broken and that this evil enchantment that has held mankind in thrall has gone and at last we see the possibility of living together and using tremendous forces, not for our destruction, but for raising civilisation to heights hitherto unimagined.
I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) for the first time in these debates. A great deal of what he said on disarmament and the hydrogen bomb I hope to deal with later in my slender remarks this evening. I am quite certain that the hon. Member's constituents and political associates in the country will fully take the point that he made earlier—that he would rather listen to the Prime Minister than to Marshal Bulganin. Like him. I sometimes feel that there is a certain amount of joy in Heaven. As one looks at the development of foreign affairs today, one wonders if one is the sinner that repenteth or whether one was right after all and the world has come round a little.
I am certain that the whole country will want to make haste tomorrow to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the momentous announcement that he made today. It was in my view both a skilful and a brilliant move to issue the invitation and to have it accepted. It was skilful because it would seem to ensure in advance at any rate a partial success for the conference of Foreign Ministers in October, and it was brilliant because I know full well that when it takes place the traditional British welcome will be in full play and at full range. Even if this is not a Royal occasion —and I do not know whether it will be and whether Marshal Bulganin can be defined as President of Russia for the purpose—the British people will afford the friendliest welcome to these two Russian statesmen that it is possible for them to give. I am quite certain of that.
What a curious phase we are in, and what a curious turn of events it is when one reflects on the shocks and bruises the world has suffered in the last ten years. Geneva, 1955, and this invitation to the Russian leaders; Potsdam, 1945, and the hopeful accord of the victorious nations there and the plans that they jointly made for the defeated enemy. One can imagine how relieved somebody could be who had been able to sleep for these past ten years of discord and had been able to wake today to see the whole process of international friendship go forward.
That brings me to something I should like to say about my right hon. Friend's speech this afternoon with regard to the plan he outlined for an area subject to inspection along the Iron Curtain. When that proposal was made in Geneva I frankly admit that I thought it had a content of propaganda in it. Perhaps it was because it followed immediately after President Eisenhower's very grandiose plan for allowing the Soviet Air Force to fly high, wide and handsome across the United States, so typical of American foreign politics and diplomacy, at one moment fierce, forbidding McCarthyite, and Olen in another moment expansive, broadly friendly, clapping people on the back and making impossible proposals. We have only to look at the machinery for a scheme like that to see that it is wildly impracticable.
So it was rather in that atmosphere that my right hon. Friend's proposal followed, and I thought it, too, had a content of propaganda and was not immediately realisable. Then I must admit that when my right hon. Friend was developing the theme today at the Box, and I thought of the significance that he gave to it in his speech, there seemed to be in it practicality, idealism and wisdom. I look at it in that light and against the atmosphere of Potsdam, on which I tried to enlarge at the beginning of my remarks, because my right hon. Friend himself said just now that there was this proposal immediately after the war for a joint occupation of Germany by the victorious Powers, that is to say, Russian troops, British troops, American troops, and later French troops on the ground, in intimate association all over Germany.
I am glad that such a proposal was even thought about. I remember writing an article in the "Observer" on that very theme. My right hon. Friend referred to the studies which the Chiefs of Staff had made at that time, and it was found to be impracticable. So we had this division of Germany. Now, in the atmosphere of Geneva ten years afterwards, we come back to it and we ask ourselves, can it be done? I do not want to go into the technicalities except to say that I think it is something on which the House should concentrate, because even if it achieves nothing purposefully from the point of view of disarmament, and, of course, there can be no element of government in it now, at any rate there is friendly association in working out a joint convention on the ground and that may be of value to the cause of peace.
I have only one other thing to say to the House, and that is on the subject of disarmament and the hydrogen bomb. I hope I am not being vainglorious in saying this, but how is it possible for Members like the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and the hon. Member for Gorton to say that we should disarm completely and utterly, and that that should include the hydrogen bomb.
For is it not the existence of the hydrogen bomb that has brought about this great detente? Was the cartoon by Cummings in the "Daily Express" a few days ago not right? It showed the statesmen in Geneva decorating this monster with medals and ribbons. Is it not the bomb which has guaranteed peace, and if so why do we want to get rid of it? If we get rid of it, we shall be back again to the old era of conventional arms, and even if there is control of these arms, we may not be able to ensure that the populations do not break apart and start fighting again with hand weapons so that we should be back to the Middle Ages and all that went with them.
I am firmly of the conviction, and I have said it before in the House that the hydrogen bomb is not only the greatest force for peace that the world has ever seen, but that it achieves stability in the nations that make it.
Because both have it.
What has caused this detente after 10 years? Is it the building up of N.A.T.O.? Is it the fact that we have a few more divisions on the Continent of Europe? Or is it the fact that the Russians have invented the hydrogen bomb, and by the process of inventing it have acquired what might be called a great-Power mentality, which means that they think solidly as a nation, that they are in no state of jitters, that they can discard all the apparatus of international propaganda and polemics and return to a sensible, robust sanguine atmosphere? I think that is a significant factor in what has taken place. The Russians have achieved a great Power mentality, they have become formal and correct in their diplomacy and are now prepared to go into conference in a more genial atmosphere.
I believe the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was right —and there are others who have referred to this in the debate—when he said that war is no longer an instrument of foreign policy. That is a very novel factor in the world. There has never previously been an era where war was not an extension of foreign policy. A nation always went to war hoping that better conditions for itself would result, and there was always that prospect. Now a nation goes to war with the knowledge that that is not the case, and that must produce a tremendous reaction in the thinking of statesmen all over the world.
Indeed, I think that factor began to operate before the atomic bomb was let loose upon the world. If we had been able to say, in 1939, "We know that the City of London, the Cities of Exeter and Coventry and others will be smashed to pieces," and if the Germans had been able to say then, "We know that the Ruhr will be devastated, as well as Hamburg, Munich and the rest," would those two Powers have gone to war? In my judgment they would not. So 1940 to 1945 was, in my view, the moment of historical change. We know now that if war breaks out between the great Powers there is no chance of victory or even the maintenance of civilisation.
It is sometimes said that the physical scientists are evil genii who make the world terror-struck, that all apparatus should be taken away from them, that they should be confined in one place, that we should hand over the world to the historians, the artists, and the so-called liberal professions. But I believe that John Milton was right in that famous, prophetic passage in "Samson Agonistes" when he wrote,
Oh how comely it is, and how reviving To the spirits of just men long oppress'd When God into the hands of their deliverer Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the earth, th' oppressor,
The brute and boisterous force of violent men …
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats
With plain heroic magnitude of mind …Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes His errand on the wicked …
With very great humility I say to the House that if, in that context, the atomic scientists are the handmaids of God, then they must be blessed in their generation.
May I be permitted to congratulate the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) on a very moving speech and to say that I am not as surprised as normally I should be to find myself in almost complete agreement with everything he has said. Because this is certainly a unique occasion, particularly in a foreign affairs debate. The fact that there has been practically no dissension, no controversy in any part of the House on this occasion, is the best indication of the significance and import of the Geneva talks.
I would not, however, be so completely optimistic as some of my hon. Friends seem to have been. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) went so far as to say that now the cold war is over we are in an entirely new situation and we can proceed to do all kinds of things that yesterday or the day before we could not do. I hope that that is the case. The debate indicates that every hon. and right hon. Member here fervently hopes that it is the case, but we do not know yet. All we know is that, after ten years of cold war, we have suddenly found what appears to be an entirely new situation but, of course, we cannot forget what are the basic purposes of Communism.
It is legitimate to consider the possibility that the present leaders of the Communist world may have undergone a change in their conceptions of how best they can lead that Communist world, whether towards the classic conception of Communism or, by some other means, to a different kind of conception, which could be born out by their recent history, by the changes in the leaders of the Russian world. But that we do not know yet. All we know is that the tactics which that Communist world has been pursuing for the past ten years have failed completely and that its leaders are apparently now conscious of that fact.
I agree with the noble Lord that a great deal of the responsibility for this change in their conceptions is no doubt due to the existence of the hydrogen bomb. From the beginning I have always held that the hydrogen bomb, although it is certainly the greatest physical danger the world has ever known, might well be a means of bringing about a change of mind in the statesmen of the world which would lead to the end of war.
Indeed, it has been throughout my experience a common thing to hear the ordinary people of this or any other country say that war would only end when the statesmen and others who make wars realise that they will be the victims of war. And they will be victims of any future war, because what the Kremlin and Wall Street and Washington and Berlin and everyone else knows is that the hydrogen bomb is no respecter either of ideologies or of bank balances. Therefore, I believe that is the most significant and potent factor in the situation which seems now to promise us the possibility of peace in the future.
The other factor which I think has contributed—and here I differ from some suggestions that have been made by several of my hon. Friends—is that the Paris Agreements were ratified. It is a secondary but an important factor, and the timing of the events that have taken place during the last six months seems to bear that out. What has happened as a result of the Paris Agreements has been the sudden change of attitude on the part of Russia in regard to the Austrian Treaty.
The Prime Minister said this afternoon that it was a change which took everyone by surprise, which even he, with all his experience and his close contacts, had never anticipated. It was followed by the overtures to Marshal Tito; and it has been followed by other significant, although smaller, developments such as the release of prisoners of war, who should never have been prisoners of war anyhow, but who are now being released in greater and greater numbers to Austria and elsewhere; by the change in attitude towards British wives in Poland, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere who, in many cases, for years have been trying to get permission even to go home and see their relatives and have been refused in most cases. All these little things are pointers to the fact that there is a change in the whole situation.
Finally, of course, there has been the development of the meeting of the Heads of the great Powers. The purpose of that meeting was twofold: first, it was to discuss the problem of Germany; and, secondly, to discuss the problem of security in Europe with which the question of Germany is inevitably bound up.
It would appear, from reading the communiqués and the White Paper, that the Russian attitude is definitely and positively against any question of the unification of Germany. That was the declaration the Russians made earlier, that the ratification of the Paris Agreements would make the discussion of the unification of Germany impossible. They are maintaining that attitude at the present time, but these are only the opening gambits. Nothing positive has come out of the Conference. There have only been exchanges of broad views and the reference of certain questions to the Foreign Secretaries. Therefore, I do not myself take it as final that the Russians will not be prepared to budge on the question of the unification of Germany so long as the Paris Agreements remain operative.
As I mentioned earlier, and as the Prime Minister said today, if that had been the case there would have been no Austrian Treaty. If it had been the case with regard to the threats made by Russia against Yugoslavia up to fairly recently, there would have been no agreement with Yugoslavia. But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) has pointed out, the Russian Government are in the peculiarly happy position of not having to be accountable to an electorate from time to time. They can make dramatic changes in policy, they can make dramatic concessions in negotiations of which we are not so capable, and I believe they are prepared to make dramatic concessions in this matter as well.
Even if it is true, however—and I have many reasons for thinking that it is true —that the Russians are prepared to concede the unification of Germany on the basis of free elections, despite the existence of the Paris Agreements, including the reason that the situation in Poland is not a particularly comfortable one at present, I believe that there are small indications, such as the fact that Stettin is now the only major town under Polish control which has not been rebuilt and which there has been no attempt to rebuild since the end of the war, that what they call the peace frontier in all their propaganda is the frontier at which they are eventually aiming.
Yet it is clear that we shall not immediately get the settlement of the unification of Germany on any final frontier. If the outcome of the Geneva Conference is to have any practical results, I am satisfied that they will only be achieved after long negotiations, which may go on for a period of twelve or eighteen months or even two years. I almost hope that that will be the case, because I am convinced that we cannot get a complete solution of all the complicated issues involved in this situation by some sudden decisions. If we begin to embark on long-term negotiations which start to deal with even small things at the beginning, I shall be more hopeful than I should be of dramatic declarations emerging from the Foreign Ministers' negotiations which would, in the end, be as impracticable as the Potsdam Declaration.
The unification of Germany—I agree with everyone who has spoken in the debate that that is the most important contribution which can be made to the settle-men of Europe and the world at the present time—cannot eventually be achieved except in two stages. We have, first, to agree upon the central German authority which will emerge from the free elections which constitute the only basis on which to begin the unification of Germany. That central authority must be one over a territory defined prior to a peace treaty, and at that stage the defined territory can only be the four zones of occupation, British, French, Russian and American, or what is now the Federal Republic plus the Russian Zone.
Then would come the definition in the peace treaty of the final frontiers of Germany on the east and on the west. It is generally accepted that the frontiers on the west are settled, but so far as the east is concerned, whatever may be the purposes of the present Russian manoeuvres and the preparedness of the Russians to negotiate, we must continue to maintain, in conjunction with our demands that the unification of Germany is inextricably bound up with the question of European security, that the eastern frontiers of Germany, whatever may be the temporary area for the provisional authority, must be left until the peace treaty, and the final authority in Germany must be consulted before the frontiers can be finally settled. That is vital and obvious.
Mr. Molotov, in a statement in Berlin, in January, 1954, made it much clearer than I could that to impose a settlement upon Germany as something imposed upon a defeated country—bearing in mind that, if we agree to establish any united Germany, we are establishing a free democratic Germany from which Nazism will have been abolished and whose regime and constitution will be acceptable to the treaty Powers—to impose upon such a Germany in a peace treaty frontiers which she would refuse to accept and could not be persuaded to accept would result in a situation which would be little less dangerous than the permanent division of Germany and the present frontiers.
Mr. Molotov said:
…the Versailles Treaty … far from ensuring the security of Europe, was one of the main preconditions of the Second World War … it was a robber treaty … it was hated by the German people—hence it was doomed to inevitable and ignominious failure.
We might not agree with every expression in that statement, but I think that most of us would agree, that the Treaty was hated by the German people and that it was, therefore, doomed to inevitable and ignominious failure. That might not have been the way in which it was destroyed, but ultimately the Treaty could not last, for the reason which Mr. Molotov stated.
Mr. Molotov continued:
…can anyone believe "—
this is relevant to the present negotiations and the present consideration of the possibilities of getting Russian agreement about a unified Germany irrespective of the Paris Agreements—
that for an indefinitely long period the Germans in Western Germany"—
this applies to a united Germany—
will tolerate a situation in which they are unable to settle independently either their internal affairs or questions of their foreign relations with other countries?
These are the words of Mr. Molotov:
How can one picture…a situation 19 which in some parts of Germany, and in this instance in Western Germany, three Western countries—the United States, Britain, and France—could at any moment interfere in the internal life and introduce a state of emergency whenever they wished….
If that is an untenable situation in Mr. Molotov's view, it is a little difficult to understand why, in the Russians' suggested pact for mutual security in Europe,
it is proposed that the four Powers shall each reserve the right to enter into the territory which they previously occupied in order to re-establish order. In view of the very careful statement which Mr. Molotov made in Berlin in January, 1954, I do not think that the Russians could stick to that attitude. I do not think it would be difficult to remind them of the implications of Mr. Molotov's own words.
Then there is the question of security, which is tied up with the matter of German unification. Again, I do not agree with a number of my colleagues who repeatedly refer to the fear that Russia has always had about the possibility of another German aggression. For a number of reasons, I do not believe that that fear has existed at all. As was pointed out by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), it is not only the people in Moscow, Washington and Great Britain who are aware of the impact of the hydrogen bomb. The people in Berlin and Bonn are equally aware of it, and if ever a country suffered from even high-explosive bombing and the other effects of a modern war, it was Germany.
The Germans are aware that the hydrogen bomb makes aggressive war impossible. They are aware that there is no question in future of Germany, Western Germany alone or united with the Germans in the East, declaring war against Russia and all the Eastern countries associated with her—China and countries in Central and Eastern Europe —and probably, within the Charter of the United Nations, the Western Allies. The conception is a fantastic one, and I do not for a moment believe that it is one which is in the Russian mind at all.
Furthermore, I do not believe there exists the terrible fear of Germany which one finds advertised everywhere in Poland and elsewhere. One would get the impression, by looking at the newspapers and at the posters and slogans on the walls of shops and factories in Poland, that already there are poised on the eastern frontier, for the invasion of Poland, twelve fully armed German divisions under the command of two Nazi generals. I have forgotten the names of the generals, but one was released from prison a few months ago because he is a very old and dying man, and the other one would certainly not be appointed in charge of the German Army anyhow. The Russians do not believe that; otherwise there would be no logic or sense whatever in the steps which they have taken to arm the Eastern German people and to bring them into the Warsaw alliance alongside Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries. Therefore, I do not believe that to be a serious proposition.
My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East made a proposition about the idea of negotiating from strength having been completely discredited. I was not able quite to follow the logic of his argument when he said that negotiating from strength means negotiating with the threat of war if one does not get one's way. I never understood that negotiating from strength meant that. I understood that* it meant negotiating as equal partners with someone who was no stronger than oneself and when one was in a position at least to defend what one had before one bargained for something else.
I understood, too, that in the House over the last ten years the feeling has overwhelmingly been in recognition of the necessity of our at least having the strength to defend our own position against possible aggression when we were engaged in negotiation. I think the history of the last six months has justified that view.
If it is not true that the Russians are so afraid of aggression from Germany, united or otherwise, it should not be so difficult to find a method of establishing an effective security system in Europe. We must not, of course, since the Paris Agreements are quite clearly among the factors that have made it possible for us to persuade the Russians to talk and not to threaten, and to realise that aggression, irrespective of hydrogen bombs, is not going to be a paying proposition, scrap everything at the beginning of the negotiations.
Obviously we cannot surrender the right of united Germany to the control of her own foreign as well as domestic affairs, as Mr. Molotov pointed out. That is not a practical proposition. I would again remind the House of something that Mr. Molotov said, this time at the Berlin Conference. Referring to
the proposition about free elections he said:
Indeed, will Germany, after the elections proposed to it, be really free in its own home and foreign affairs? The Soviet Government desires that, as a result of the all-German elections, the German State should be really free, should have a really free hand in both its home and foreign policy.
He went on:
In so far as Mr. Eden's plan evidently follows from the assumption that, after all-German elections, Germany will not be free to decide the question of whether or not the Bonn and the Paris Agreements now being imposed upon Western Germany, shall remain in force, there can be no talk of a really free Germany after these elections.
What Mr. Molotov was saying was that the elections cannot be really free unless a Germany emerges which will be entitled either to accept the Paris Agreements or to reject them. That is precisely our position here. I understand that it was not our position in Berlin, and it is useful to have the record of what the Russian attitude has been until now, and I assume still is. It is that after the elections Germany shall be free, united, independent and democratic. In the context of other statements made by Mr. Molotov, "independent" means freedom in deciding its own relations with other countries and to build its defence and everything else. It should be equally free to decide whether or not to be a party to any pacts with East or West.
In saying this I am not suggesting for a moment that the Paris Agreements are necessarily the last word. They are a conception which has evolved from a situation which we now hope to change in these discussions. If the ground is changed as the result of these discussions and in the course of the negotiations which are now going on, and we and our Allies are satisfied that we in fact are facing the possibility of a practical solution and agreement with Russia, there is no reason why we should not re-examine the Paris Agreements or the relationship of any one party to the Paris Agreements, or evolve some entirely new conception, always bearing in mind that we are not giving up our own right of self-defence, individually or collectively, in some form or another.
Whether this solution will be found on the basis of the Paris Agreements, or an agreement with the Russians, or a European security pact adjusted according to our own conceptions of how to implement such a pact, or on the basis of the smaller conception submitted by our own Prime Minister of a five-Power pact, we obviously cannot say at the moment. We are in a region of speculation. I would not rule out of consideration any solution which was genuinely directed towards establishing mutual security in Europe based on the conception of a united, sovereign and democratic Germany.
It is an interesting sidelight on this debate that, so far as I know, there has been no attempt, in all the different viewpoints we have heard, to advocate the idea of a neutralised Germany. That used to be the burden of the attitude of most of the opposition, but it is generally ruled out now, as a result of the Geneva negotiations, as an impracticable conception in regard to Germany.
I have heard the question very often in this House, if Sweden and Switzerland can be neutral why cannot Germany? If that were all, perhaps I should have no objections. Sweden can stop being neutral whenever she wishes. She is neutral because she wants to be. If that conception is applied to Germany, it does not mean anything, but a neutralised Germany, armed or disarmed, is something that does not fit in with the facts of modern life.
Whatever may be the solution that is attempted for this new approach to a European security agreement which will satisfy everybody, I hope that it will be realised by the Government, as has been emphasised by every hon. Member who has spoken on this side of the House, that fundamental and vital to it all is a really practical approach to the question of disarmament. Whatever pacts of security we get—whether an all-Europe security pact, a five-Power pact with mutual inspection over a limited area, the Paris Agreements, the existence, if we will, of a divided Germany, with the Warsaw agreement on the other side—so long as the world is divided into two over-armed camps, with troops lined up on a narrow frontier facing each other, carrying most of the economy of their respective countries on their backs, while every country is suffering from and fearing that situation, the world is still in danger, in spite of all the security pacts. That is why my hon. and right hon. Friends believe that an effective approach to the disarmament question is fundamental and vital to everything else in this connection.
While it is true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East said—I am sorry he is not here at the moment—that the hydrogen bomb has now ruled out aggressive war, it has not, as he also pointed out, necessarily ended war. It has, however, put the fear of death into all statesmen, Governments and people to the extent that none of them now, including Germany united or divided, will dare in the future to launch war as an instrument of national policy or for the purpose of aggression. There is, however, no assurance whatever that so long as armies are poised against each other, with hydrogen bombs stacked up behind, that a panic or an explosion of some kind will not lead to the conflagration which everyone fears. That is the danger.
Disarmament, with the necessary inspection which must accompany it, has to be worked out. The Government may say that a committee or a sub-committee are discussing certain proposals and will report on them, but I hope that the Government will see how much further they can get in the definition of "aggression" and With the evolution of an applicable form of sanction which will prevent aggression. That has always been the snag, and I have not yet seen the answer.
The idea of everybody piling in and starting shooting because someone has run across a frontier—because some Arabs have shot some Jews over the Israeli frontier or vice versa, or because Communists have broken a barrier in Berlin—is nonsense. Once the small incident is ruled out, there remains the definition of the size of the incident which brings in the large Powers. Is it to be another march into the Rhineland? That was an incident in which we did not think we could persuade others to join us in resisting. The Sudetenland and the other incidents were matters of security, but there was all this hesitation as to extent and so on. The key problem to be solved is that of defining not only when and where an incident begins but when it begins to be a danger and what steps can be taken about it.
Finally, I want to refer to the importance of those other matters discussed at Geneva which have been referred to the Foreign Ministers. There are the questions of the opening of trade and of visits. Even if the visits are only formal at first they will still be visits. If it were permissible to mention the Galleries of the House I would speak of my wish to see the attendance there of as many Russian people as possible to hear us. I think that they would be impressed. The more who come the better. That applies to all people. Already there are the beginnings of the introduction of English and American books, papers and publications into Poland.
It is important that in these negotiations we should not forget—while having no illusions about the liberation of the countries behind the Iron Curtain—the importance of getting some small understanding that those driven from their homes in the Sudetenland, Poland, Silesia, Pomerania and elsewhere should at least have the right to return there, if only temporarily. I can assure the House that many of them would not want to go back permanently, but to have the principle established that they are entitled to go back would be a great moral gesture and would be very worth while.
I therefore welcome the statement made this afternoon by the Foreign Secretary. I am glad of the unanimity with which all who have taken part in the debate have welcomed the outcome of the Conference and the spirit which has animated it, which I think we all look forward to presaging a new development in the peace of the world.
The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) has made perfectly clear that in the world of today and tomorrow many problems will continue to arise, and many will remain for solution. It is an important and good thing that he should have done that, because a feature of so many of the speeches we have heard today has been, perhaps, some kind of notion that we had in one step achieved a golden age in which we need have no fears at all for the future. I have always thought that there will always be serious problems, there will always be stresses and strains, and possibly for a very long time there will often be stresses in the international field. I fear that it is too much to hope that mankind has suddenly and internationally achieved perfection when we know that mankind as represented by the individual is a long way from perfection; when we know that we as a people in this country are so terribly imperfect and so guilty of faults towards one another.
Is it, therefore, reasonable to imagine that nations can be so superior to the people who compose them? I suppose that many hon. Members would say yes, and their reason would be that nations have been forced into this position by some overpowering fear. I hope that that may be the case, but I fear that all the evidence of history is that in the lifetimes of nations and of people there are occasions when unreasonable risks are taken. For that reason I agree with the hon. Member for Attercliffe that while it is probably true, as the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) suggested, that it can no longer be deemed advisable to go to war to attack from strength, it is probably much more true, as the hon. Gentleman said, that our idea in negotiating from strength was the idea of negotiating from a position in which we were able to defend ourselves to some degree. I think that is the interpretation that the hon. Gentleman gave.
I have also taken the view that ultimately, although it may be many years yet, the ideals and ideas of my countryman, the late Lord Davies, including the idea of an international police force and some considerable sacrifice of sovereignty on the part of all nations of the world, will be a prerequisite to the sort of conditions for which we all wish. It is possible that we may achieve much without going so far, but I feel that ultimately the nations of the world will have to face the necessity for that situation, because although we may never have a large-scale universal war of the kind that we have been discussing today, it is still feasible that in some parts of the world there may be small incidents reaching considerable dimensions, and who is to say that some international machinery or court or sanction beyond any sanction contemplated by the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) will not be necessary?
Nevertheless, it was indeed for all of us a very dramatic moment when my right hon. Friend came towards the end of his speech this afternoon and said that he had an important statement to make. I suppose many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House felt, as I did at that moment, a hope that something would be announced for which we had wished but for which we had scarcely dared to hope. In that dramatic moment we found that it was true, that the chief members of the present ruling administration in Russia are to come to this country. I suggest that that kind of visit may be just as important—perhaps more important—than some of the conferences. I agree that the conferences have their place and must be held, but I respectfully suggest that meetings of this kind and visits at the top level may be of even greater importance.
I think that one of our chief jobs is to convince the present rulers of Russia not necessarily that they need not fear attack from Germany—the hon. Member for Attercliffe has dealt with that matter—but to convey to them vividly and forcefully when they are here— and they will have every evidence of this—that they need never fear any kind of attack from this country. That surely is some positive gain. If they are really convinced of that, I think we can go further and convince them that they need never fear any aggressive attack from any country associated with this country, in the British Commonwealth, and that will be an even greater gain. We may be able to go a step further still and convince them that they need not fear any conceivable attack from any country in what we have for so long described as the free world.
I was very much impressed by the remarks of my right hon. Friend about the possibility of an interchange of visits between the citizens of the countries East of Europe and the Western countries. I differ from the hon. Member for Attercliffe. I want more of the free visits, not the organised delegations of Members of Parliament and people in that sort of capacity.
They have their use, but what we long for is the day when some of the ordinary people, people in all walks of life, will be able to take short unescorted holidays, perhaps in Poland or Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria, and when the people of those countries will be able to come here on unescorted holidays.
I readily ackowledge that.
I hope that in the happy meetings next Spring my right hon. Friend will be able to convey to Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Kruschev how important it is that the ordinary people shall see each other and get to know each other, because I believe that that is a vital way of ensuring that the ordinary people of the one country will never contemplate an attack from the ordinary people of the other.
We are speaking today in the light of a conference which has created a new atmosphere in the world, and that atmosphere has been infecting the House, for we have had far more unity on foreign affairs than we usually manage to achieve in the different quarters of the House.
I very much welcome what the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) said about the impending visit of the Soviet statesmen in this country and I express the hope that it may be possible for the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) to be present to receive those Soviet guests when they arrive in this country. There is a special reason for that. This will be a remarkable and historic moment when it arrives. It will be the first time since the Russian Revolution that the head of the Russian Government has visited this country. In that time 38 years will have gone by during which the contacts between the Soviet Union and this country have varied from indifferent to extremely bad.
This may be the opening of a new chapter and the conclusion of an unhappy chapter which began at the time of the Russian Revolution. Over the past year or two the Russians in their propaganda have not ceased to call attention to the fact that it was the right hon. Member for Woodford who played, from their point of view, a rather unfortunate part in the activities directed from the West against that nascent force in Russia. It has been clear from the reiteration of their attacks upon him that they find it extremely hard to forget the rôle which he played on that occasion and at times afterwards.
Yet we come to this curious cycle of history; we have a new situation created to a large extent by the initiative of the right hon. Member for Woodford. We have to recognise, from this side of the House, that it was he, above all, who pressed constantly for the holding of this Conference at the summit. There were times when we had to point out that, having expressed a desire for it, he seemed no longer to have retained his enthusiasm for it, but we saw that there were difficulties, we understood them and we knew that they were not entirely of his creation. It was perhaps unfortunate for him that we had to have a British General Election to make that summit conference finally possible.
In the end, it came about and it very largely took the form which he thought it ought to take—namely, an exchange of views on a friendly human basis between the Heads of States and of Governments without the accompaniment of hordes of officials and agendas and masses of paper. It is true that they were all there around them, but they were nevertheless able to get away from those trappings and get together on that friendly basis as a result of those very intimate contacts.
So intimate were they that the journalists of the whole world, hundreds of journalists assembled in Geneva, were not able to discover the results of some of the conversations which took place and which have only been revealed here to us this afternoon. That shows the degree of intimacy and closeness of relationship it was possible to establish at Geneva. That is really a very great thing and has proved—contrary to the views of some people in this country and perhaps in different parts of this House previously—that a conference of Heads of States can achieve something in the creation of a new confidence and a new relationship between peoples because the Heads of Governments represent in a peculiar way the feelings of the masses of the people in their own countries.
We saw at this Conference how those Heads of Government were able to step outside the narrow circle which undoubtedly was drawn for them and which is always drawn for foreign secretaries by the Foreign Offices and Chancelleries of the world. Time and again we saw examples—and I am sure there were many in private discussions of which we know nothing—in which the Heads of Government were able to step beyond what their Foreign Secretaries would have dared to say, and certainly what the hordes of officials around the Foreign Secretaries would have allowed them to say. When, for example, President Eisenhower assured the Russians in particular that his only aim was peace, that he had no desire to go to war, Marshal Bulganin replied, "I believe you."
I cannot imagine Mr. Molotov making that reply on the spot. He would not have dared to. The whole burden of tradition, of past experiences, of diplomatic dealings and manoeuvres would have prevented him making that spontaneous gesture. He would have had to think about it, consult his officials, and consider what would have been the political consequences of giving a reply of that kind. The Head of Government was able to step outside that, achieve a contact, and say something which marked a new factor in history.
The new factor is that each great Power has now gone beyond convincing itself and its own people that it does not desire war. That they had already done before the Geneva Conference, but now they have gone further and, so far as we can see, they have really succeeded in convincing the other side that they do not want war. That is the really new factor which has emerged at Geneva.
It is destroying what General Macarthur six months ago, in a remarkable speech, described as the great illusion, the illusion held on both sides of the Iron Curtain. There was the illusion on the one side held by the Russians and Communists that America and her Allies were preparing for the moment when they would launch an attack upon the Communist world and the equal and opposite illusion on the other side that the Soviet Union and the Communist countries were preparing to launch an aggressive attack on the West. General Macarthur described last January how that illusion was dominating the world and preventing the relaxation of tension by impelling forward a continuous, competitive arms race which could lead only to disaster. That illusion has been destroyed by the Geneva Conference.
I think another illusion has been destroyed, although not all my hon. Friends will agree on this, as was apparent from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd). I believe that the illusion that has been destroyed by Geneva is that the build-up of powerful forces, including within it the ratification of the Paris Agreements with all that may follow, or was originally intended to follow, from that, has brought about concessions from the other side. In fact, it has not brought any concessions from the other side at all. I should have thought that that was one thing that the Geneva Conference has demonstrated.
It has demonstrated that, as far as Germany is concerned, the build-up of Western strength and the ratification of the Paris Agreements has not compelled the other side to budge one inch in regard to its previous position about Germany. It has now admitted it quite frankly instead of, as it were, wrapping it up in a propaganda disguise. Mr. Bulganin said quite openly that the reunification of Germany was not on the orders of the day and would have to be postponed—he made his idea quite clear—until N.A.T.O. and the Soviet Alliance were dismantled. That is what he said. I say this merely because my hon. Friend gave the impression that in some way the Russians had budged from their previous position; but they have not. They have reaffirmed it.
After all, there were illusions before the Conference began, rather foolish ones written by diplomatic correspondents telling inspired stories that as a result of Russian weakness and relative Western strength, the Russians would now make a lot of concessions and that it would, therefore, be possible to expect them to withdraw from Eastern Germany. It was said that it would be possible to create a demilitarised zone in the Soviet Zone of Germany, which, of course, would mean a unilateral withdrawal of the Russian troops from Germany, leaving the Western troops in Western Germany. That illusion had to be very speedily abandoned.
I notice that the Prime Minister, in putting forward his proposals for a demilitarised zone in Eastern Germany, did not say "the Soviet Zone of Germany." In fact, as the Conference progressed, this demilitarised zone moved visibly towards the West and it became a demilitarised zone in Germany between East and West: in other words, a demilitarised zone which could be based partly in the West of Germany and partly in the East.
I was very glad to see that the Prime Minister showed some flexibility in the proposals that he put forward. He quickly recognised that a deadlock had been created by the insistence of both sides in holding to their previous positions in regard to Germany and that if there was to be any ultimate settlement of the German problem, one would have to begin to break away from the previous rigid position.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on beginning to break away from those previous rigid conceptions, first in the concept of a demilitarised zone both East and West of the line dividing the two forces within Germany—in other words, the beginning of a little power vacuum inside Germany that some right hon. Gentlemen opposite and some of my hon. Friends have been so worried about creating in Europe. They have created one, by the way, in Austria. They have accepted a power vacuum in Austria, in what from a strategic viewpoint is a very important position in the centre of Europe.
They have accepted a power vacuum in Austria and they are now beginning to think in terms of a possible small power vacuum inside Germany. Gradually, perhaps, they will be able to extend this concept until it becomes later larger, and there will then gradually be a rise in the concept of a mutual disengagement, which, of course, is the only way in which the German problem can be solved.
I am glad to see that there are signs that the Americans are moving in a similar direction. I notice that Mr. Dulles said—and it is remarkable that it should have been said by him and not by General Eisenhower—that when, in October, the Foreign Ministers came to discuss the twin questions of European security and German reunification, there would have to be mutual concessions. I think that the Americans may move quite fast in the recognition of the kind of concessions which may have to be achieved in order to bring about the ultimate reunification of Germany in agreement—and it will have to be in agreement—between the Germans and their neighbours; because that is the only secure basis on which a future for Germany and for Europe can be founded.
I had hoped to underline the arguments used by others of my hon. Friends about the importance of this question of disarmament. I wish only to say that I hope that the Government are now going to make up for a certain amount of lost time in this matter. We have not really moved very much forward since the last meeting round about 11th May. We then had the rather staggering Russian acceptance of ceilings for armed forces which, if they are carried into effect, will certainly be to the disadvantage of the Russians compared with the present position. That is something which we ought to take up and follow up very quickly, and I hope that the Government really mean to get on seriously with the disarmament question.
I hope that the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) will forgive me if I do not immediately follow up some of the points which he raised. I hope that later I shall be able to point out what divides the hon. Member from me in his analysis of the position. I should like to welcome the tribute which he paid to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) for the foundations which he laid for the present situation, which, however we may analyse it, has at any rate the benefit of being mobile.
This afternoon when we heard the Prime Minister's momentous announcement to the effect that two of the most important living Russians were coming to this country, I think we must all have immediately asked ourselves what our personal reaction should be to this—if I may so call it—extraordinary event. For, as the hon. Member for Ashfield rightly pointed out, it is an extraordinary event, and I think that it goes a good way towards demonstrating that the talks at Geneva have in fact produced a radical change in the situation, whatever that change may be.
I am sure that our reaction to this visit should be one of seeking to ask ourselves in all honesty what it is that continues to divide the world. Were we able to stand back a little from the important events of our time and look at history in the large and ask ourselves what is the dominating political tendency of mankind through the centuries, I am sure we should answer that it has been the tendency to unite in ever larger political societies.
Perhaps I am very conscious of this as I represent the city which was the first capital of a united England, the place where a number of small warring kingdoms were first brought within a single rule. From that time onwards down to the present day the whole progress and organisation of political society, in the mediaeval and the modern period, has been one of the gradual formation of larger and larger political units. The question we have to ask ourselves with this impending visit before us is, are we now or are we not in a position in which we can approach the final step and, by a skilful playing of the cards in our hand, begin the formation of what Mr. Wendell Willkie, in an imaginative phrase, called "one world."
In the presence of this strong natural tendency of mankind to unite, what is it that continues to divide us? The old divisions of nationalism are not, I believe, what separate us now. A nationalist war today is a physical impossibility; and economically and socially the temptations of the benefits of internationalism are so great that nationalism in itself is no longer a very attractive proposition.
I do not believe either that it is a division between the European and Asiatic civilisations. Visiting the countries of Asia, one cannot help but be impressed by the fact that everything tends to make them and us complementary to one another. In all those countries one cannot help but observe that they have achieved escape from or independence within somebody's empire. They do not want to fall freshly into the Communist empire and lose their new-found independence. The more we consider their economies the more we find that the part they can play and the part we can play are complementary. The more we consider their political structure the more do we see that it is divided into fractions of various kinds and of all political colours, much as is our own political society, and that amongst those peoples we have many natural friends and allies. So that I do not believe that is the real division.
Is it, then, that the structure of the United Nations is inadequate and has failed to give the world in the post-war period the unity which we all sought? I do not believe that that either is the answer. Generally speaking, the Charter is a good formula for co-operation if the will to co-operate is there, but it has been demonstrated time and again that up to the present the will to co-operate has not been there.
Now I come to the reason why that will to co-operate has not been present, and here I part company from the hon. Member for Ashfield. In his argument he gives the preponderance of weight to the importance of fear. I think that feat as between ourselves and those on the other side of the Iron Curtain is an important factor, but I do not think it has been nearly as important as the factor of hope—the hope on the other side of the Iron Curtain that some day Communism will dominate the world.
I believe that during this impending visit my right hon. and hon. Friends of the Foreign Office would be very wise to brush up their Marxist-Leninism and see whether it is not in fact the Marxist-Leninist theory which alone up to date has prevented the unification of Europe into one single political society, and which alone has meant the perpetuation of armaments.
This theory, as I see it, is three things. It is a revolutionary appeal to mankind in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are gradually passing away in many countries, and the appeal is becoming of less and less interest. It is in part an attempt to deduce what the course of history will be. It is thirdly and most important an attempt from those deductions to deduce what national policy ought to be.
I believe that the most dangerous and most destructive assumption which has continued to divide the Communist world from our own is the assumption that ultimately the West will collapse through its own internal contradictions and that ultimately, even if temporary concessions have to be made by the Communist Powers to the West, those concessions will sooner or later be recovered and a Communist-dominated world will come about.
The importance of this visit is that it begins to give an opportunity to the leaders of the Soviet Union to see how slender are their chances of ever achieving Communist domination of the whole world, and of demonstrating to them how vigorous, healthy and progressive is our own society. Once these facts begin to penetrate behind the Iron Curtain, the Communist theory will begin to appear to people behind the Iron Curtain as obsolescent as it appears to most of us on this side of it. When that process begins to take place and Marxist-Leninism ceases to be the element of hope that has separated the ambitions of the Iron Curtain countries from those of most of the free world, I believe that we shall be approaching a situation in which we shall be able to negotiate something like a permanent settlement.
How, then, should we react to the Soviet visit? First of all, I would say, with very great satisfaction that the Soviet leaders will have an opportunity to compare the predictions of the Marxist-Leninist theory, which has governed their policies for so long, with the actual state of the world outside the Soviet Union. I do not believe that the reports of Soviet embassies submitted to the Soviet Chancellery and digested and passed on to their leaders have ever given to the Soviet leaders an adequate picture of the state of the outside world. I believe, therefore, that their policy has been based on unrealistic assumptions, and it seems to me that this visit is a real opportunity—
Perhaps that may be so. It will afford a real opportunity to import an element of realism into Soviet policy.
Secondly, we should make a great effort to understand and meet the difficulties which immediately divide us. The third and very important thing is to attempt to break down the Communist belief in the ultimate victory of Marxist-Leninist doctrine. This we can best do by maintaining the power and unity of the West. If we now begin any process of unilateral relaxation and unilateral disarmament we encourage the Soviet leaders to think that the process of dissolution for which they have so long hoped is beginning to come about and we shall send them back to the Soviet Union encouraged in intransigence rather than inclined to make concessions.
Therefore, now more than ever before, we should persevere in building the political structure of the free world, in consolidating the ties which bind the United States and Britain, in consolidating the ties of the Commonwealth and in consolidating Europe as a powerful political unit in a free world. We should also strive our utmost to bring about in South-East Asia a league of independent and free nations which have so much in common with ourselves in defence of the common aspirations and ideals. I am sure that if we combine in perseverance in building the structure of the free world we shall be taking the longest step towards the construction ultimately of the "one world" which we so much desire.
I am afraid that I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) when he analyses what it was that divided East and West by saying that it was not fear but rather hope on the part of the U.S.S.R. that eventually Soviet Communism would gain world-wide acceptance. I do not think that is what has separated us at all. I believe it has been fear.
Indeed, during the time I spent in the United States in 1945—when in this country we were still talking of our gallant Russian allies, when Mrs. Churchill, as she then was, was still building up that great fund of friendship and money and goods for Russia—I was amazed to find that in the United States there was, possibly because of the feeling that they were in sole possession of an atomic bomb, a great deal of loose talk from their responsible people about switching the war and that this was now the time not to withdraw troops but to turn them and smash the Communist menace that might arise. I was much affected by that because I was so surprised that, barely was the war with Germany over, and when the war with Japan was still on, eminent people could have held those views, although it may well be that they were in a minority.
I believe that fear is the real problem and that we have first to get rid of fear if we are to get anything like unity between East and West. I believe that the Geneva Conference has had a profound effect upon the ordinary people of this country because of that very factor. Indeed, it is almost impossible to engage in conversation with workers, in a canteen or anywhere else, without at some point the conversation turning to the H-bomb, to the possibilities of war, to conscription. Always, therefore, there has been hanging over people's minds, it may be subconsciously, and only seeing the light of day in casual conversation, that shadow, that feeling that war was possible and that in any war there was not much hope for civilisation.
The Geneva Conference, therefore, has had an uplifting effect. It has had a good effect upon the morale of people and it would be ungracious on our part if we did not congratulate the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on the part they played in what has been a great and momentous occasion in the history of the world.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ash-field (Mr. Warbey) felt that perhaps the Paris Agreements and N.A.T.O. itself had not made a contribution towards making the Conference possible and had not caused the change. He is entitled to his view and he may be right, but I cannot help feeling that the fact that there is a much more even balance of power in Europe today has had a significant effect upon the Conference and upon the decisions reached. Indeed, when we consider the question of disarmament it will surely be on the basis of maintaining that evenness of balance, even if we get right down to dispensing with almost all arms. Therefore it is likely that, because there is a more even balance now, the Conference was possible and was so successful.
Yet it would be very wrong, too, to give an impression to the country that because this Conference has been succesful there is not a lot more to be done. In my view, this Conference was not the turning point but a new starting point. For the first time we have had unanimous decisions on the part of the four great Powers to give a directive to their Foreign Secretaries to deal with specific things and, indeed, the most important things that could be imagined.
I think the value of personal contact was very largely responsible for the fact that within such a short time these decisions could, in fact, be unanimous. One cannot help but be impressed from reading in the Press of the way in which President Eisenhower put over his personality. The way in which Marshal Bulganin replied "I believe you" to President Eisenhower when he said that the United States did not want war was an indication of the way in which personal contact had done so much. It is interesting to recall that the very first time President Eisenhower came over to Europe as President of the United States was to meet the Russians and to talk about European problems.
I am sure we are all delighted that the Russian Prime Minister and Mr. Kruschev are coining to London. I would add to what my hon. Friend the Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) said earlier, that it would be very nice if, in point of fact, Parliamentarians in this House could at the same time entertain a number of Russian Parliamentarians and respond to the hospitality that was extended to Members of this House when they were in Moscow.
I hope sincerely that the Foreign Secretary might communicate the wish of backbench Members of this House to entertain in a friendly way our Russian Parliamentary friends so that they could see how we work democracy and at the same time see at first-hand what we mean when we use the word "democracy." Then they might try to explain to us what they mean when they use "democracy," because we both appear to use it and we appear to be sincere about its use, but we do not appear to agree on what "democracy" really means. If that opportunity were taken, it would be all to the good.
I revert to the subject with which I began. I believe that it is fear that causes a difference between us, and the real weapon against fear is confidence. What the Geneva Conference has done, in my view, is to give some sort of confidence, and that is a very important thing. There is no question at all that the two major contending parties, the United States of America and Russia, are fearful of one another. The Americans are certainly fearful of Soviet Communism, and it is believed that the Soviet Union has designs upon them and would be ready to march and wage war. But it is equally true that the Russians fear the Americans, and believe that the Americans, with their enormous productive capacity for armaments, would like to attack Soviet Communism. Therefore, I believe it is fear on both sides that causes the problem.
The right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to deal at some length with my argument about fear. I do not deny it is a very important element in the situation, and it has been a very good thing to try to remove it. All I was saying was that the removal of fear does not of itself mean that we shall be able to achieve one world.
I am going to develop the point, because I think that the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. I was going on to say that this defence ring looks very different according to whether one is inside or outside it. If, in fact, Russia and her satellites are encircled by what is known as a defence periphery, it might well be that the people who look at this ring as a purely defensive measure are right. However, if one is outside the ring, then one may look upon somebody else's defence as perhaps more offensive than defensive.
There is N.A.T.O. I am not quarrelling about N.A.T.O. and I am not arguing that we should not have it. For the moment I am trying to put the Russian position. Unless we are prepared to look at the point of view of the other chap we are never likely to get an agreement. To us, N.A.T.O. is a purely defensive organisation. Not a single person or country associated with N.A.T.O. would want to use it for any other purpose than defence. However, I cannot help thinking that if I were a Russian diplomat I should think that perhaps it was also designed for offence against my own country. Therefore, I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong when he seems to suggest that fear is not the real problem that divides us. I think that Geneva may have done a lot to dispel or lessen the fear.
The Foreign Secretaries now have an enormous task in front of them. I am sure that no one envies the job of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary. He will have a very difficult task indeed, and he will spend many hours cogitating and arguing in order to try to find a solution which is acceptable to the four Powers.
I believe, of course, that German unity is essential. I do not think that anyone in the House today has said anything to the contrary. Indeed, I do not believe that there is the least chance of a lasting settlement without German unity. Until German unity is established, no matter what arrangements are made about a European pact, I am certain there will be uneasiness. Therefore, the German problem is one that must be resolved.
Will my right hon. Friend agree that there could be a partial settlement without reunification of Germany with a view to playing for time in order to bring about a long-term settlement?
I am going to say something about that.
I feel that we shall not get German unity—I believe that this meets my hon. Friend's point—until we have effective European security. I do not believe that any European security pact based on a strictly divided Germany would be a good pact or a lasting one. It may well be unnecessary to agree as a priority on German unity; we may move, as my hon. Friend has suggested, to a European pact within which arrangements could be made which would enable German unity to follow. However, I repeat that it would be wrong to have a pact which was designed for and based on German disunity, because, if so, we might lose the opportunity for the unification of Germany for very many years and then any arrangements which we had would be very uneasy ones.
I also believe that a European pact which is merely a treaty of non-aggression is valueless. After all, it is implicit in the Charter of the United Nations that we should not undertake aggression against one another. There would seem to be no real point in merely having a treaty of non-aggression and signing a paper which said that we would not be aggressors against one another and that in the event of aggression each of us would go to the aid of the country suffering from aggression. That in itself would not be of very great value, for it is provided within the Charter of the United Nations and it has not prevented little wars from breaking out here and there.
It seems to me, therefore, that any genuine disarmament or collective security pact for Europe must be based upon effective control and inspection of arms. Indeed, unless a pact is based upon inspection and control there cannot be full confidence. Control and inspection of arms are the keys to a collective security pact that will be valuable and effective. President Eisenhower dramatically offered that the Russians might take aerial views of strongpoints in the U.S., provided that the Americans might do the same in the U.S.S.R. Apart from that being dramatic and catching the popular eye, there was not a great deal in it. [Interruption.] No. If I were a militarist I should be more concerned about what went on in the tunnels driven into the hills than on airfields that I could see from an aeroplane.
I would very much rather that President Eisenhower had been speaking in that way on behalf of the three Western Powers. It would be a great mistake, and I hope that it does not arise at the Foreign Ministers' conference, for bargaining to go on between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. This really must be a four-Power conference, without dramatic interventions by the two biggest boys, leaving the other two countries rather on the side. We do not want bargains between any two.
When the Foreign Secretaries move to the problem of disarmament, and if they are successful, what they do will have a tremendous effect upon the economy of the nations of the world. Whatever else happens, we must not move forward with real plans and ideas for a reduction of armaments without at the same time planning how to utilise the surplus production that will arise as the result of the non-production of armaments. That is a very important factor.
I was rather glad of the speech of M. Faure. He really made a great contribution when he pinpointed that matter and said that one of the best uses to which we could put some of the surplus that we saved from the production of arms would be the development of the underdeveloped territories of the world. I hope that the Foreign Secretaries will be seized with the necessity, even on economic grounds, of developing the various parts of the world to rid them of the poverty, ignorance and disease under which many millions of people still live.
Personal contacts between citizens of various nations is highly important. I remember being very impressed in 1946 by a speech to which I and many other people listened, by a man who is no longer with us, Ernest Bevin. He said, "I want to grapple with the whole problem of passports and visas. A diplomat asked me in London one day what the aim of my foreign policy was, and I said: 'To go down to Victoria Station, get a railway ticket and go where the hell I like without a passport or anything else.' I stick to that."
In that speech, Ernest Bevin laid great emphasis on the importance of the interchange of people and of personal contacts. We are much more fortunate in this House than many people in the country because we have very great opportunities to meet people from various nations. Either they cone here or we go to them. None of us has attended international conferences without realising that the most valuable contacts, apart from the conference itself, were those made outside the conference chamber, when, we learned to understand and to know the other people.
I wonder if the Foreign Secretary can do something before the conference starts? We need to establish many more contacts but there are some which we could, I think, do without. I wonder if it would be possible to get an agreement that at least until the Foreign Ministers' conference is over we might stop this war of words on the radio over Europe —the abuse that goes on from both sides—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh no."]—night after night. An hon. Member says "Oh no," but, with great respect, Russians listening to certain radio stations in Europe would certainly describe as abuse what is broadcast. It is no use looking at only one side of the scale, so to speak. Such a step would be a good thing. It would get rid of some of these tensions.
It would also be a good thing if people were not so trigger-happy—shooting down planes that may stray over their territory by a few hundred yards. It would be a good thing, too, if, without waiting for the Foreign Ministers' conference, the Government said to the President of the Board of Trade "Get on to the job of looking at that restricted list once more to see if there are not some things with which, in the new light, we can dispense. Before the Foreign Ministers' conference opens let us see a greater development of trade between the countries." I think that that would be all to the good.
My final words are these. The Foreign Secretary has before him an onerous, difficult, heavy and very responsible task. Success and agreement between the Foreign Ministers could usher in a new era for the peoples of the world. The removal of the fear of war, relief from the huge burden of defence, and a combined world attack upon poverty and ignorance, wherever it exists, could put civilisation upon a new and a higher plane. The peoples of the world could then reap the rich harvest which waits to be gathered from the work of scientific achievement in the realms of nuclear energy and the application of electronics to industry. The Foreign Secretary goes to this conference to speak, not for party, but for Britain. I wish him God-speed in the task to which he will shortly put his hand.
I must begin by expressing on behalf of the Prime Minister his apologies to the House that he is not able to be present to hear the end of the debate. He has already, I think, informed the Leaders of the Opposition. He has, unfortunately, a very long standing engagement at an important Commonwealth Conference, which he thought the House would wish him to fulfil.
I hope that I may be allowed to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) on what I might call his maiden speech in his new capacity. He will not, of course, expect me to hope that in this case the shadow should be changed at an early date into the substance of a Foreign Secretary.
Nevertheless, I could not wish for any more agreeable shadow to live with—and, I hope, for many a long year.
He and I, of course, are both amateurs in this field, and he will already have discovered, as I have, that this is one of those subjects in which almost everybody is an expert. He will also have found that he has been cast for a rôle which to anybody who suffers from any sense of responsibility has serious drawbacks. A Foreign Secretary—and this applies also to a prospective Foreign Secretary—is always faced with this cruel dilemma. Nothing he can say can do very much good, and almost anything he may say may do a great deal of harm. Anything he says that is not obvious is dangerous; whatever is not trite is risky. He is forever poised between the cliché and the indiscretion. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) appeared to think that I had been guilty of an indiscretion in expressing in colloquial terms my view that war was impossible. The newspaper which gave publicity to this statement was also good enough to give the reason which I gave. It is because in modern war there can be no victor.
I should like to thank the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, as I do the right hon. Member for Blyth, for the very gracious and kind words which they have said. They are a great help and inspiration to us all. Fortunately, this debate does not call for any detailed or argumentative reply. While, of course, there have been differences of emphasis and of interpretation, there has been an unusually large measure of agreement. The right hon. Member for Blyth said—and I agree with him—that we are only at the beginning of a chapter. Until last week there had been no meeting of the Heads of Governments for ten years. In the last two or three years there has been much talk of such meetings, but no one did more to prepare the way than my right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister. It was very sad for me that he was not able to render in person this last service to the world. But in spirit, if not in physical presence, he was there with us at Geneva.
If there was any doubt before as to the wisdom of the choice of date, I think there can be none now. The long hesitations over E.D.C. lost us three precious years. Even after the London-Paris Agreements were signed last October, final ratification and deposit could not be made effective until 5th May this year. Immediately after that, I think within a week, on the initiative of the British Government and on terms which I arranged with the French and American Foreign Ministers in Paris, the invitation was sent to the Soviet Government.
In the last Parliament it was commonly said—indeed, it was vehemently argued—that if the Paris Agreements became effective and if Germany were to be brought into N.A.T.O., all hope of any such Four-Power meeting was at an end. That was the argument. In fact, the invitation was sent out and accepted within a fortnight after these events. Moreover, having sat through six days of the formal discussions, and in some parts of the night the informal, I was more than ever convinced that to have held such a meeting before these Agreements had been ratified would have been a very grave error. We should have been in a position of great weakness and indecision.
At any rate, all these confident prophecies were confounded, and within a few weeks, I repeat, of the completion of the Agreements, which were supposed by some to be a final bar to negotiation, we have spent a most useful and certainly agreeable week in formal and in informal discussions with the leading figures of the Soviet Government and system.
Of course, as has been widely said in all parts of the House—and it is well that it should be said in all parts of the House —a great gulf remains between us as regards the methods by which European security may be assured of the conditions in which the German problem may be solved. The Russians argue that European security comes first. Security, they said, must pave the way to unification. We maintain that there can be no security in Europe until Germany is reunified.
They said, "We must study first one and then the other." We have made this reply—and I think the whole House thinks it is a wise reply: "Surely they must be studied concurrently and implemented at the same time." In the form of the directive this compromise is implied. That, I think, is its importance; the linking words are a contribution towards a hope of solving this problem—to take them together and to deal with them together.
Like all compromises, it can work only if both sides want it to work. I am afraid I must tell the House that Marshal Bulganin's last speech, which is printed at the end of the White Paper, left us in no doubt that, irrespective of the wording of the directive, the Soviet Government have not been shaken from the point of view that Germany must not be reunited until after a system of security has been created in conformity with the Soviet Government's own ideas. The language used by the Marshal was firm and clear on this point.
I must therefore strike a note of warning against any premature optimism about the task which will lie before us in October. I observe that that note was struck on different sides of the House, notably by the right hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn). As I have said, there is a gulf between us and between the two points of view, and it is no good pretending that the gulf has been bridged at the Geneva Conference. It has been defined. That is a great advantage. Suggestions have been made which could prove to be helpful. But the gulf has not yet been bridged.
What will happen in October? At least this will happen: the meeting will take place in October. That I do know. If, last July, with the events of that time and the confusion of E.D.C. having been rejected by the French Assembly, anyone had declared from this Box that within a year the Western European Union would have been negotiated and implemented, that Germany would have become a member both of the inner group of European nations and of the wider group of N.A.T.O., that a friendly meeting would have taken place between the Heads of four Governments, including Russia, to be followed by a meeting of their Foreign Secretaries to discuss not what the agenda should be—as has so often happened in the past—but an agreed and precise agenda, that a visit of the leading figures of the Soviet Government to the country would have been arranged for the following spring and, if I may add these words, that a newly elected Tory Government would be announcing this news to an approving and even enthusiastic Opposition, he would have been called not a prophet but a lunatic. But there it is; as one of the characters of one of Mr. Kipling's stories observed, "Nature beats art every time."
There has been very general agreement in the debate. The Opposition below the Gangway appeared to agree more or less with the Opposition above the Gangway. That is all right. The Opposition above the Gangway appeared to agree with us. That is quite usual, but it is quite all right. The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) seemed to agree with the Americans—or perhaps I should say that he seemed to think that the Americans now agreed with him. It is very novel, but it is all right. The hon. Member went further and did a thing I have not known him to do before—he appeared to agree with himself. That is almost a miracle.
There is one important point to which I must now turn. We have had a great deal of discussion in past months about the neutrality of Germany. I agree that there may be a different tone in which that word can be used. Some have strenuously argued that the only hope of getting the Russians to agree to a reunified Germany lay in the creation of a permanently neutral Germany. Others, with equal sincerity, have maintained the exact opposite and have stressed the impossibility of a great country being permanently deprived of the right to operate its own foreign policy, for that really is what imposed neutrality implies. I say, "imposed neutrality."
Curiously enough, the Russians did not in fact propose neutrality as a solution at Geneva. Taking the long view, I have no doubt they felt it neither practicable nor really desirable. They, like everybody else, could not find an answer to the question which the Prime Minister posed a few months ago, and which the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition rightly repeated today. If Germany is to be neutral and armed, who is to keep her neutral? If she is to be neutral and disarmed, who is to keep her disarmed?
Indeed, the Russians did not seem to have a policy about Germany in the sense that we have one. What they proposed was really that everybody should be neutral, that N.A.T.O. should be dissolved, that the Warsaw Pact—it is quite fair to add—should equally be dissolved. The result would be a kind of universal European security, of a type they have had in mind and have often put forward. Until that final and almost Utopian stage could be reached, they seemed to want the German settlement to be indefinitely postponed and the division of Germany maintained.
I must make our view as clear as Marshal Bulganin made his. We have no intention of allowing N.A.T.O. to be dissolved. The Prime Minister made that quite clear. On the other hand, we regard the continued division of Germany as in itself a source of insecurity. What we have to do, as has so often fallen to the British in their history, is to propose something in between the negative and sceptical view that nothing can be done and perhaps the over-idealistic view that everything must be done at once. We have somehow got to solve the problem of Germany by devising at the same time such a degree of European security as will give full satisfaction to the legitimate apprehensions and anxieties of the Russian people.
To that end of course the way will be long and difficult. I have no doubt that there will be many snags and many disappointments. We shall try in October to get to grips with this problem, but I cannot promise the House that we shall reach a solution in a short time. As the House knows, and as the Prime Minister has today repeated, the British delegation —I believe speaking on behalf of the whole country and the whole House—was able to put forward a number of proposals which we think are practicable, are workable and effective. Of course they are only put forward in outline at this stage; that is what the meeting of heads of Government was for. I think the Russian delegates were impressed by the sincerity with which they were put forward, even though they did not accept them as such. It is now, therefore, our task to persuade them of the practicability of such a method.
The deputy-Leader of the Opposition asked a question about the geographical area to be covered by the Prime Minister's proposals for mutual inspection of forces and armaments, and subsequently referred to a quite separate proposal for the control and limitation of forces and armaments, including perhaps a demilitarised area. I will try to answer both questions. My noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) asked the same question, as did the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister really made two proposals at the Conference on successive days. One was for a practical but modest experiment in international co-operation. It was to be a kind of interim measure. In this there was to be no question of limitation of armaments. What he contemplated was an inspection of what was physically on the ground at present in Central Europe, where the forces of East and West confront each other.
The area was not defined. It might be modest. Its extent, of course, would be the subject of negotiation. It might be wide. One might think that the narrower it was to start with, the more quickly we might be able to get agreement about it; or the wider it was, the more effective its work would be. But within whatever area the suggestion applied, it would apply, in our minds, to all forces, of whatever nationality—American, British or, indeed, any N.A.T.O. forces, on the one side, and Russian, Polish and all the rest, on the other side.
It was, I repeat, not a limitation or control idea. It was simply to be an experiment which might be a useful foundation for more extensive and more ambitious schemes later on. It would be a kind of practice in the teams of both sides getting together and learning how to work this kind of thing.
Then, I come to my right hon. Friend's second proposal, which was connected with the security question. This was a proposal for the control and limitation of forces and armaments and was to include the idea of a demilitarised area. This was advanced as one of the series of suggestions which my right hon. Friend thought might be studied by the Foreign Ministers to help to bring about the conditions of security in which Germany could be reunified.
The suggestions were not detailed; that was not really the function at this stage. The object was to give security. One way was by mutual engagements and the other by concrete safeguards. The pact was to be the method of mutual engagements, and the limitation and control were to be the concrete safeguards.
While speaking of the pact, I should like to underline—I think it is important —that the very fact that the Government of the United States accepted that it would join a five-Power or larger pact of this kind, is a very important development of United States policy and one which has great significance for those who have studied some of the difficulties of United States Governments in the past.
One matter about which I ought to say a word is the Far East. These proposals were not discussed at the formal meetings but, of course, they were in all our minds. Much useful exchange of thought took place with all our colleagues. The position remains one of serious anxiety. There is a lull, but it is an uneasy lull.
In the early part of the year, when the situation was more critical, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out the British policy in very simple terms: negotiation, not force. Sooner or later, if force is to be avoided, negotiation must begin. It is, therefore, with great satisfaction, I am sure, that the House will have heard that contact is to take place between the American and the Chinese Governments. It is true that it is limited in the first instance, but it is the beginning of a contact between the two Governments. I would like also to add my tribute to the useful, helpful work of the Indian Government in helping to reduce tension in the Far East.
There is only one other warning that I would venture to give. It is not cynical, I think, to say that such success as there may have been at the Geneva meeting, or may be future meetings, is largely—I put it no higher than that—based on the acceptance now of the view that power —war—as an instrument of policy is an obsolete conception. What that can imply, in such a new age, we hardly know ourselves; but that is really an accepted fact.
I remember when I was a boy before the First World War a book by Sir Norman Angell which had a great vogue. It was called, "The Great Illusion." Its theme has often been misrepresented. The author did not say that there would not be a war, but that there could be no victor in a war. The author was before his time, and two great wars had to take place and a vast development in modern applied science before this illusion could finally be dispelled. We now all know that there can be no victor in modern war. But I think that we must be careful that a new illusion does not take its place. For this proposition that there can be no victor is only true if the will to resist and the power to resist is maintained until these final settlements are made, in spite of temptations of relaxation during these dangerous formative years.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East said, I think truly, that you can no longer negotiate from strength, if he meant by that, that you can no longer impose your will through strength. Nor can you negotiate from utter weakness, and that is the answer to the hon. Gentleman who proposed that we should immediately unilaterally disarm. Surely the truth today is that what you need is military equality and political cohesion.
We are now entering—as we told the people last May we hoped to do—upon a new process of negotiation. This will subject the free democracies to new and severe pressures. It will be tempting to relax effort in all directions in an atmosphere of premature optimism. But in my opinion, if we do that, we are lost. But if we show courage and determination; if we show understanding of both sides of this question, which we must do; if we have perseverance and are able to survive what may be a prolonged test of nerves and patience and strength of will, then I really believe that we may be at the beginning of a new and fruitful period in the history of man's life on earth.