Suez Canal

Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments, 1957–58 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th May 1957.

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Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [15th May],

That this House expresses its concern at the outcome of the Government's Suez Canal policy, and deplores the damage to British prestige and economic interests resulting therefrom.

Question again proposed.

3.43 p.m.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in his speech yesterday, dealt in some detail with the Egyptian memorandum, the respects in which it was an improvement upon the previous memorandum and the extent to which it falls short of an agreement conforming to the six principles.

I heard no criticism in yesterday's debate of my right hon. Friend's analysis of the Egyptian document. It does in some ways conform to the principles enunciated in the Security Council Resolution, but its fundamental defect is that it is capable of being withdrawn at short notice, wholly or in part. I do not believe that Egypt will command the confidence of the users of the Canal upon such a basis. The future arrangements for the operation of the Canal must have the same sort of status as the 1888 Convention. We shall do everything in our power to bring that fact home to the Egyptian Government.

Several points were raised in the course of yesterday's debate. First, let me deal with matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition. He returned to the contention which has been made many times, that the Egyptian memorandum represented worse terms than were readily available in October or November. The Prime Minister made it clear that on 29th October there was no agreement about the Canal offered to us that we could have accepted. It is wholly wrong to say that negotiations were taking place after the end of the Security Council meetings on 13th October.

What had happened was that the six principles had been unanimously endorsed by the Security Council, but the part of the Resolution calling upon Egypt promptly to produce proposals conforming to these principles and giving the users equivalent guarantees to those contained in the 18-Power proposals, had been vetoed. After that, all that took place was that the Secretary-General himself had further talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister in the hopes of eliciting more proposals. It was for that reason that the letter of 24th October was written. There had been some indication of a possible meeting at a future date.

Another matter which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned was our position on the Tripartite Declaration. Her Majesty's Government have on numerous occasions, in the last six months, in answer to Parliamentary Questions, said that they considered themselves bound to act in accordance with the principles of that Declaration. The termination of the Anglo-Jordan Treaty has made no difference to our obligations under the Tripartite Declaration.

The Declaration has two objectives: first, to prevent an arms race between Israel and the Arab States; secondly, to prevent any violation of frontiers or armistice lines. The House has often been told that the attitude of Egypt to the Declaration has been such that Her Majesty's Government do not consider that the declaration is applicable in Egypt's defence. Apart from that, the position, of the three countries on the Tripartite Declaration is unchanged.

The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about U.N.R.W.A. The Director of U.N.R.W.A. has said that at the end of June he will have, at most, 6 million dollars left for working funds, and that without the assurance of further contributions he will then have to start cutting his programme. He has issued a general appeal for contributions and has asked that the United States and the United Kingdom, as the main contributors, should indicate what they propose to pay in the last six months of this year.

Her Majesty's Government have informed the Director that we propose to pay the equivalent of 2·2 million dollars as soon as Parliament has approved the appropriate Vote, and to pay a similar sum in 1958 for the U.N.R.W.A. relief budget in respect of the period July, 1957, to June, 1958. Her Majesty's Government, in addition, propose to pay up to 1 million dollars to the U.N.R.W.A. rehabilitation programme in respect of the same period, and at least half that sum will be paid as soon as the Vote is approved. We have done this without waiting for the United States Government to state what contributions they will be making.

In the course of the debate yesterday, attention and interest were shown in the discussions which arc to take place on financial matters with the Egyptian authorities. The Prime Minister dealt with this matter in his statement to the House on 13th May. I want to make it clear that these discussions will cover the following matters: first, the possible extension of the use of the No. 1 (Special) Account for current trading transactions in the United Kingdom, since, of course, non-resident holders of transferable sterling can use it anyhow for trade with Egypt; secondly, the discussions will cover a limited unblocking of the No. 1 Account with regard to certain trade transactions which were interrupted or frozen by the events of the 26th July and the Government's action of 28th July. My right hon. Friend indicated that in his statement. Thirdly, the discussions will cover the question of financial claims.

As the Prime Minister said on Monday, subject to what I have just said about those limited trade transactions: The existing No. 1 Account of course, remains blocked. Removal or modification of the restrictions must naturally depend upon satisfactory arrangements covering all financial claims against Egypt."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 36.] The blocked accounts are our security for the claims of British subjects against the Egyptian Government. We have no intention of whittling away that position. The House can be sure of that.

Now I come to the more general issues raised by this Motion of censure. During the debate yesterday it seemed to me that there were two lines of criticism of what we have done. They came from very different quarters of the House and were based upon very different approaches to the subject. If I may take, for example, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes), his indictment of the Government was not for what we did on 29th–30th October, or, indeed, for the decision of 6th November to cease military operations, or the decision announced on 3rd December to withdraw our forces from Port Said.

My hon. Friend said he did not like either of those last two decisions, but his complaint was—I think I have got his thought accurately—that in those months since December, far from trying to rally all the Canal users, far from trying to find methods, diplomatic and otherwise, by which we could, in fact, have still shown ourselves to be a great Power in dealing with Egypt, we handed over everything to the United States of America and to the United Nations.

I shall try to answer that criticism. The House, of course, will bear in mind the consideration—I am afraid, the inevitable fact—that a great deal of the activity of any Government in negotiations with other Governments must necessarily be confidential. I should like nothing better than to lay before the House a full record of our negotiations and representations during the past four months, but if there is to be any value in confidential discussions they must be confidential. Nevertheless, bearing that fact in mind, I will give the House as full an account as I can of the events since January, of what we have been trying to do, and the degree of success we have achieved.

First, we wished to establish the position that the United Nations Force should not be withdrawn the moment the Canal was cleared. The Canal has been cleared, but the United Nations Force is still in position on the frontier of Israel and Egypt and at Sharm-el-Shaikh. I believe that it still has a very useful part to play. We wished to ensure that the Gaza Strip should not be used again as a base for organised fedayeen raids upon Israel. I had put forward the idea that the Strip should come wholly under United Nations control. That proposition has not been accepted in full, but up to the present the United Nations Force has been established in the Gaza Strip on terms which have so far prevented a return of the situation of September and October of last year and with which General Burns is satisfied.

Then, we wished the right of free passage through the Straits of Aqaba to be established. We have asserted that right. The United States Government have done that and at the moment that right is being exercised. We wished the Bagdad Pact to be strengthened. We are announcing in Bagdad this week, in the Economic Committee, further aid for technical assistance and economic development. The United States has announced the provision of a considerable sum for development of communications between the countries concerned. On the military side, the United States has stated that it is willing, if invited, to participate in the work of the Military Committee. I have no doubt that that invitation will be extended and that the strength and cohesion of the Bagdad Pact is, in fact, greater than before.

We wished to secure agreement upon a system for operating the Canal which would conform with the six principles. Of course, no one can pretend that that has yet been achieved, but at all events we have had a virtually unanimous statement from the major users that the present Egyptian declaration is unsatisfactory and unacceptable as a basis for permanent settlement.

We wished to make the Security Council realise that it still has a responsibility with regard to the six principles which it unanimously affirmed. We thought that before the Security Council met again an effort should be made to get the Egyptians to put forward specific proposals. That effort was made by the Government of the United States in the course of their discussions with the Egyptian Government in March and April and some obvious improvements were made in the Egyptian proposals. Nevertheless, we were still dissatisfied and the Security Council debate of 26th April was called for. At that debate strong views were expressed as to the inadequacy of the Egyptian declaration. The United Kingdom delegate made a clear statement of our own dissatisfaction.

Up to that time, by strenuous efforts, we had managed to keep a common front on the part of the main users in regard to the use of the Canal. We had been advised that within a day or two of the reopening of the Canal—I think it happened early in April—a common front about the use of it would collapse. We succeeded, however, in maintaining it during that Security Council debate and for some time thereafter. On 30th April, however, I went to the meeting of the Suez Canal Users' Association and it was again made quite clear that almost all the Governments concerned had no power to enforce a boycott, that their shipowners considered such a boycott was impracticable, and that it would break down within a day or two. The choice before Her Majesty's Government, therefore, was whether or not immediately to have another debate in the Security Council, at which no further progress might have been made, but which would have been followed by the ending of the boycott.

The view of the vast majority of our friends and allies was that that would be an error in tactics. It would still further diminish the authority of the Security Council and a piecemeal acceptance of use of the Canal would diminish the influence of the users. Therefore, it was decided to accept this prospectus as a de facto arrangement for use of the Canal, but reserving the unanimous position of the users that the memorandum was not a basis for an agreement or a settlement. Immediately that decision was taken, I got in touch with the Secretary-General of the United Nations with regard to further developments in the United Nations.

The French Government have now called for a meeting of the Security Council. We support that request. We are in close touch with them on tactics. The only difference between ourselves and the French Government is on the question of the interim use of the Canal, pending a final settlement. I know that the French Government appreciate the rather different practical problems with which we have to deal. I think that everybody knows, for example, that we, as one of the main oil distributors in Europe, have had to buy oil for dollars while the Canal has been closed and then resell for sterling. The extent and importance to our economy of our shipping interests is also known. The meeting of the Security Council. I believe, will take place within a few days. During the past four months, we have also sought to secure that the existing financial pressures should be continued, mainly by the United States, and that has happened.

Another matter upon which we have been seeking to achieve progress during the past four months has been the provision of additional means for the transit of oil from the Middle East to Europe. We have to see that there is a proper impetus behind the programme of the construction of large tankers and that adequate arrangements are made in this country for handling them, and the oil which they bring. Consideration has also been given to the question of more pipelines. Several references were made to that topic in the course of yesterday's debate. I wish to say one word to the hon. Member who spoke about that matter in particular. This is a matter which has a political as well as a commercial content, because it has to be handled with the agreement of the sovereign States concerned.

Certain practical lessons have been learnt about the consequences of the Canal being out of operation. It is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to do all that lies within their power to see that the dependence of Western Europe upon the Canal is diminished. It must be brought home to those who have physical control of the Canal that their asset may easily be a wasting one, and the appointment announced yesterday by my right hon. Friend is not the first step which the Government have taken in this matter.

During the past four months it has also been our purpose to persuade the United States Government that, by reason of the action they took in November and December of last year, they have placed upon themselves greatly increased responsibility for the preservation of peace and the Maintenance of the interests of the free world in the Middle East. I believe that one of the first indications that that responsibility is being undertaken is shown in the Eisenhower Plan for economic aid, which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition welcomed, and in the attitude which the United States Government took, for example, during the recent events in Jordan. Since the Bermuda Conference, we have maintained the closest contact with the United States Government about these matters.

It has also been our purpose to see that the United Nations accepts its responsibility. The position there has been rather more equivocal. The General Assembly went very far in showing its disapproval of our actions. It has been much more timid and tentative in its approach to the problems of the area. Much is needed and expected of that organisation. The preservation of peace is not its only function. The honouring of international obligations and the production of solutions in situations which arc likely to cause discord are also its concern.

I would define the major problems of the Middle East as the maintenance of peace between Israel and the Arab States, an improvement in the general standard of living in the Arab countries by properly balanced development programmes, and the exposure and defeat of Communist infiltration and subversion. We must realise that in this contest a great deal must depend upon the countries themselves and the spirit which animates them. So far as the Arab countries are concerned, we have no wish to divide them. We have a long-standing friendship with many of them and we have not abandoned that friendship at all. We realise the emotional appeal of Arab nationalism and we realise their deep-seated suspicion of Israeli expansionism.

In these matters, there are rights and wrongs on both sides, but we have, I think, to seek to show the Arab world that leadership which believes that their objectives should be the eradication of all Western interests and the conquest of Africa can bring only disaster for the Arabs. One of our purposes during the past four months has been to try to bring that fact home to Arab leaders. I think that there has been a much wider appreciation, shown by recent developments, of the dangers for the Arab world in the approach set out by Colonel Nasser in his book, "The Philosophy of the Revolution."

If I may say so, I thought there was some inconsistency in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude). He said that, in his opinion, Colonel Nasser had played his hand brilliantly. He went on to criticise the Government's decision—a decision to which, incidentally, his hon. Friend the Member for Garston said there was probably no alternative at the present time—on the ground that it had been taken at a time when Colonel Nasser was weaker than ever before. In October, Colonel Nasser commanded almost the unanimous support of the other Arab States. Can anyone truthfully say that that is the position today?

I have tried to indicate our objectives during the past four months and the steps which we have been trying to take to achieve them. Although I do not think there is any ground on the part of anyone for complacency about future developments in the Middle East, I would maintain that the situation is not quite as bad as has been represented.

I have dealt with the attack from certain hon. Members in the House that during the past four months the Government have not known what they have been trying to do, and that to the extent to which they have known, they have done nothing about it. I hope that the points which I have made will serve to refute that argument.

I come, now, to the Opposition. The weight of the attack of the Opposition has been upon our actions of 30th October and 4th and 5th November. Bitter criticism has been made of my personal part in those decisions. All I can say is that, reading again the material available to me, I still have no doubt that the decisions which we took were right and in the interests both of, this country and of ultimate stability in the Middle East. The issue then was not the system for the operation of the Suez Canal. The issue was our reaction to the Israeli attack upon Egypt.

That attack has been described as an act of aggression. In his speech on 14th March, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) described it as "aggression". I cannot accept that description. If a man is tightening a noose around one's neck and one takes out a knife to cut the noose, I do not agree that that is an act of aggression. Because we could not accept it as an act of aggression, that determined our action in the Security Council on that day.

We thought that hostilities would spread. There was a common command of the armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt There were Russian technicians in Egypt capable of manning the Egyptian air force and other arms. Every one of us knew that this dangerous situation might have degenerated into a major war. That has not happened. I believe that as a result of what we did, it is less likely to happen now. When all these charges are made, and an attempt is made to strike a balance on this matter, I think that it is a substantial achievement to stop a major war.

The Opposition have tried all through the debate to limit the question to that of the Canal, but, of course, beyond it and transcending it is the real issue—the struggle for the balance of power in the Middle East. Upon that question I would say this: we brought to a head a number of matters in the Middle East which up to then had been drifting. First, there was the deterioration in relations between Israel and the Arab States. An hon. Member opposite suggests that this is an Aesop's Fable. Does he think that this steady deterioration was an Aesop's Fable? I have spoken before of 160 men, women and children killed on the borders of Jordan and Israel alone in the months of September and October without any active hostilities going on. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Port Said?"] In addition, there was the penetration of the area by the Soviet Union and the reluctance of the Government of the United States to appreciate the realities.

As a result of what happened, I think that the situation between Israel and the Arab States is less likely to lead to war. The myth of Egyptian military power has been exploded. The dangers to world peace have been demonstrated. The United Nations Force is in position, and Israel feels more secure for the time being against Egyptian attack. The situation in the Gaza Strip and in the Gulf of Aqaba is more peaceful.

I do not for a moment expect hon. Gentlemen opposite to accept the realities of the situation. They are much too busy playing a rather different sort of game. In fact, the present results of our actions have not been anything like as bad as has been represented. I would say that today there are considerably more grounds for hope in regard to the situation in the Middle East than there were nine months ago. I therefore adhere to my view that our policy was right, and that to the courses of action which were subsequently forced upon us we had no worth-while alternative.

Throughout, our international position has been worsened by the attitude of Her Majesty's Opposition. They have nothing to be proud of over their attitude in this matter, and I ask the House to reject the Motion with the scorn that it deserves.

4.12 p.m.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

The debate yesterday was remarkable, perhaps above everything else, for the fact that it produced virtually no defence from any side of the House of the policy which the Government have, in fact, followed over these last nine months.

Even the Prime Minister, when he spoke in opening the debate, had to admit that the present position is unsatisfactory, with which, of course, we all agree. He said that we could not have had at an earlier stage, before the military action, a better settlement than we look like being able to get now, and that that is something with which we disagree. Nevertheless, he was not able to tell us of any respect in which the negotiations over the Canal, which are the immediate subject of this debate, have been made easier or their result more likely to be favourable as a result of the military action taken by the Government.

The remarks which the Foreign Secretary has just addressed to us were put in a way which revealed the nakedness of the land. He said that the results of our action are not anything like as bad as has been represented. This is the Front Bench defence of their own policy over the last six or nine months.

The Prime Minister tried to concentrate mainly on the problem, which we all recognise to be difficult, of the negotiations which will now follow about financial details, and so on. He did not go into the past very much. He did not enter into any of the arguments as to the rights and wrongs of the past, and, no doubt, he was wise, from his point of view, not to do so, because there are, in fact, no arguments which could sustain his case.

Almost the only point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned which seems to me to have any weight as showing that the situation is now better is that the United States, many aspects of whose policy we have all criticised in recent years in the Middle East, has now been brought more fully in, and that, as the Foreign Secretary was saying just now in a rather "governessy" sort of way, is now having to realise its responsibilities. Many of us think that if the United States is to be influential in the Midde East, and that is something which she has been for some time, it is as well that she should fully recognise that she has got these responsibilities, but, surely, to try to justify what was done in October on account of this achievement is really to burn down the house in order to roast the pig.

The Foreign Secretary said that we brought to a head many things in the Middle East. Indeed, we did, but was it really necessary in order to achieve this one single result of interesting the United States more closely in the area? The Foreign Secretary was not quite so wise as the Prime Minister, because he did attempt briefly to recapitulate some of the old worn-out arguments why he and his colleagues took their decision last October. He said that the issue was the Israeli attack on Egypt. He said that it was a substantial achievement to have stopped a major war.

I am not going over all those arguments again; they have been thrashed to death in this House. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister know perfectly well that, after the information which has come from various sources, particularly from France, there is not a soul in the world who believes them any more. Indeed, I am bound to say to the Foreign Secretary, firmly, but as courteously as I may, that after his record in the House in the last few months, the House and the country can give little weight to his opinions and attach very little credence to his explanations.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested, towards the end of his speech, that there was something wrong in the Opposition having opposed them. I would only say this to him. Surely it is a fundamental principle of our parliamentary system that the Government take the responsibility for what they do, and, as he knows, we have not complained because the Opposition were not consulted on the actions of the Government—[Interruption.] Oh, no, we have not, but it is a corollary that the Opposition have not only the right but the duty to call the Government to account afterwards when that policy has been disastrous; and we make no apology for having opposed these policies of the Government from the very start.

The only thing which the Prime Minister said in justification of the earlier part of his Suez policy was the dogmatic statement, unsupported by argument, that he thought that the Government's action would be fully justified before history. I shall give some reasons why I believe that this remarkable verdict is entirely wrong, and why, in fact, I believe it will be to the contrary. It is, so far as I am concerned, above everything, because Government policy has flown in the face of the main current of history, which was becoming perfectly evident, not only in the Middle East but in the world as well, that these policies were both immoral and futile and foredoomed to the failure which they have now met.

Most of the speakers from the Government benches yesterday, whether or not they finished by saying that they would vote with the Government, wholeheartedly attacked the Government's performance. Most of them, I think with the exception of perhaps only two hon. Members, would have liked the Government to have flown even more in the face of history and with even greater determination than they did. They are a group, if I may so describe them, who have resented over the last few years every attempt that has been made to come to terms with the new forces in this area.

These are the group of people, no doubt perfectly sincere, who delude themselves into thinking that our positions in Egypt, the Sudan and Iran could and should have been maintained on the old basis of military power unilaterally employed. When, last October, their own Government seemed to have been won round to that point of view, it was quite natural that they should cheer as they did, and when it turned out, as it has, that the Government were, after all, only paper tigers, it was natural that they should revolt, as they are doing this week.

Our criticism of the Government is of a very different order indeed. In fact, ever since the end of the war, we have been actively, and I would go as far as to say enthusiastically, seeking for the very relationship between Britain and the rest of the world which the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) finds so humiliating. He would recognise that, as we recognise his position. We have been seeking to base our national security in the present and for the future on collective strength, first, through the United Nations, and we have also taken our part in collective organisations of other kinds, such as the North Atlantic Treaty. We have sought to base the substance of our international policies on the principles of the Charter, no matter how difficult the machinery of the Charter might sometimes be to operate. Above all, we have been seeking to base on mutual respect and equality, our relations with the areas which we used to dominate.

Of course, in making an adjustment of this kind there are bound to be enormous difficulties. It is an enormous challenge. We must expect some things to go wrong; that we shall have disappointments; that wrongs may be committed against us. Despite this, we on this side, the country and, I believe, the world, thought that we were succeeding in making that adjustment, and only last October there were many of us—I confess to being one of them—who genuinely, and perhaps naïvely thought that these objectives of ours had come to be accepted, perhaps reluctantly in some cases, by responsible Government leaders.

It was this assumption that there was a measure of underlying agreement between us which was shattered by the Government's Suez policy. I believe that this is why there was such a deep division so violently and suddenly opened up in British opinion, such as there certainly has not been since the days of Munich before the war. That is why not only Socialist and Liberal opinion, but the opinion of many people who have no party allegiance, the opinion of many who were firm Conservative supporters—that is why such people as colonial administrators, professional diplomats with experience in the Middle East and Asia, almost to a man, businessmen with interests in the Far East and Middle East, have all alike felt that as a result of this, from ten to twenty years of their work has been put in jeopardy by a single week of madness.

I think that I hear one of my hon. Friends say "refugees from Egypt." I was about to say that the position is even worse for those who have not only been working in this field but actually living there, and who had all their business interests and their homes there. The House will have seen the remarkable and moving letter published only on Monday in The Times from a British businessman. The end of that letter reads: I write this as a British business man, who lost tens of thousands of pounds, and the result of a life's work in Egypt, because of the ' police ' action … I feel hopelessly frustrated when I read Press articles … that it may not have been at all necessary. That was, of course, a protest against the statement made by the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. Perhaps one might say, in passing, that if the appointment of Sir Matthew Slattery—which may, for all I know, be a perfectly sensible one—is to be taken as a vote of no confidence in the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, we are wholly behind it.

We have to thank the loyalty of our friends and allies throughout the world, inside and outside the Commonwealth, for the fact that much of the damage done is proving to be temporary. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister when he said that we should not be defeatist; that we should not exaggerate the permanent damage that has been done, but it is thanks to the loyalty of our friends and to the solidity of the policies that have been built that this has been so.

The Anglo-American alliance was undoubtedly shaken—nobody doubts that—but it is recovering. I should like to say that, meeting Americans and reading the American Press, I have been struck by the greater readiness there is in the United States to admit their share of the errors committed than there is on the Government side of the House, or in the Government-supporting Press. At the recent N.A.T.O. meeting we were told that confidence had been nearly restored, and that it was a much better meeting than was the last one. That, I suppose, by modern Government standards, is considered an achievement.

I do think, however, that the Government should take note of the fact that the very deep suspicions that were voiced in recent weeks by most of our European allies about our intentions with regard to defence are, to a considerable extent, a legacy from our utter failure to consult them over Middle Eastern policies in the autumn, and of their feeling that, although they were deeply concerned and were consumers of Middle Eastern oil almost as much as we are, we simply did not allow their interests to count.

These things cannot be rebuilt in a day. So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, we have it on the best possible authority that there was a moment when the Commonwealth was near to disintegration, but that structure, too, has stood, and we are all glad that it has. Above all, we must thank the untiring, conciliatory efforts of the Canadians for that, but I should also like to say that we owe a great deal to the forbearance of the Indian Government. Although they have been under very great pressure from many quarters to leave the Commonwealth, they have declined to do so. I therefore particularly regret having had to listen yesterday to the speech of the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), which seemed to be wholly mischievous and inaccurate on this point.

The efforts of the Canadians and the forbearance of the Indians have not been matched by any Tory understanding, let alone any admission of error. I believe that, until there is some admission of error, it will be very difficult for mutual confidence to be restored. In passing, I should like to mention what has, I think, been recognised by the Press of all political opinions as a contribution to the rebuilding of Commonwealth unity —the visit to India of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). There has been no dispute about that either in the independent Press or, indeed, much of the Press that is normally Conservative, and I think that hon. Members opposite should reflect seriously on the fact that no Tory Minister could possibly have fulfilled that function.

One of the most lamentable features of the whole of this story is not only that the decisions taken were so wrong as to earn us world-wide condemnation without achieving any useful objectives; not only was there a failure of consultation—those were bad enough—but there was an element of deception which struck at the root of our alliances abroad and at any hope there might have been of achieving national unity at home.

In view of what has come out of France in particular, nobody can doubt, or does doubt today, that there was a deliberate decision taken not to let our allies know, and not to let the Commonwealth know what was brewing—and there was something brewing. Nobody who has listened in this House to the succession of unconvincing, inconsistent reasons for their action coming from the Government Front Bench could possibly retain even that minimum confidence in Government frankness with the public which is an absolutely indispensable element in the democratic process.

One of the Government's difficulties today is that they face all the same problems which existed before, and some tough negotiations, with their own influence and moral authority diminished. Nowhere is this more true than in the United Nations where, as we have been told, the next phase in Middle Eastern negotiations is to take place—as much of it so far has. I hope that we can say that here, too, the lowest point has been passed. I believe that the lowest point was in the period before Christmas, when the British delegation could not cosponsor the main Resolutions on Hungary because their signature was not thought to be a moral asset.

I believe that that point is now passed. Nevertheless, the Government's attitude to the United Nations right up to now has not done much to restore its status. For instance, I do not think that it was very helpful when, yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated, when talking about Israeli ships going through the Canal, that that was a matter on which, so far, the United Nations had failed—not coupling it with any recognition that this was our failure. He spoke of the United Nations as of an outside body for which we had no responsibility. There was no recognition that if the United Nations has not, in fact, proved an adequate instrument for some of these purposes it must be made one, and that the very first step in rebuilding its authority is for the leading Powers, including this country, to make their own policies conform with the Charter, as the policies of Her Majesty's Government did not conform last autumn.

Yesterday's speeches showed only too clearly that these principles are still not accepted on the Government benches. Yet I believe that there is no alternative to their acceptance. Not only is the use of the Canal a matter to be negotiated within the framework of the United Nations, but Middle Eastern security as a whole cannot be organised without the inclusion in the discussion of all the great Powers, including Russia, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday. If that is correct, the United Nations is surely the obvious mechanism to use for consultation; it not only would enable one to bring in all the great Powers, but it would bring in also the peoples of the area who have a right to know that decisions about their future are not being taken by the great Powers over their heads.

I suggest that a similar effort is called for to build economic stability and develop the resources of the Middle East, and that a United Nations agency, or something very like it—a broad international agency of some kind—is absolutely essential for this purpose.

In all these policies, obviously, a great deal depends upon the United States, because of its great resources. While I, like my right hon. Friend, on the whole welcome the increased interest the United States is taking, I think that there is a danger, which we see unfolding from week to week, that the United States may be embarking on, or carrying on with, some of the policies which have served us none too well in the past. It is into collective, and probably United Nations, channels, that Her Majesty's Government should be seeking to persuade the United States to canalise its efforts. I am bound to say that I see no sign of this yet.

It is no substitute for policies of this kind to talk, as the Prime Minister did at the very conclusion of his speech, about keeping Britain great by having nuclear bombs. I am not going into the issue of the importance of possessing nuclear bombs; that is a matter for another occasion. But, whatever the view on that may be, it is not by nuclear bombs that one can restore the prestige and standing of Britain or exercise an influence again in the Middle East.

There is one particular aspect of United Nations work to which I wish to refer. During the earlier stages of these arguments over Suez, it was part of the Government's apologia for what they had done that they had brought the United Nations Emergency Force into the area. We regarded that as a rather remarkable excuse. I notice that the United Nations Emergency Force was not referred to by the Prime Minister, or, I think, in any detail, by any hon. Member opposite yesterday. It seemed to have faded into the background, though today, I admit the Foreign Secretary said something about it.

I believe that the future of the United Nations Emergency Force, both in relation to this particular dispute in which it is at present engaged in the Middle East and in relation to the future rôle which the United Nations may play, is of great importance. It is quite characteristic that Mr. Pearson, of Canada, has recently published a notable and very constructive article in the American journal "Foreign Affairs", in which he deals with the possibility of giving some permanence to this Force. It is characteristic, also, that our Government are so far silent. I was glad to hear that the Foreign Secretary shares this opinion, at least, that the United Nations Emergency Force should, if possible, remain in the Middle East while attempts at settling outstanding issues are made. I believe that, out of this experiment, a new permanent contribution can be made to th pacific settlement of disputes through the United Nations.

It is on policies of this kind that we should now concentrate. The country knows, and the Government should now frankly admit, as they have so far refused to do, that the policies of last autumn were a break from the main stream of British post-war policy, whether administered by Labour or Tory Administrations. They know that their policies failed. They know that they are unrepeatable, and that we must now get back into the main stream of more enlightened international thought. So far from the Suez action being something which history will justify, it was a piece of mulish obstinacy, without pride of parentage or hope of posterity. The country can afford neither this sort of blunder nor the sort of Ministers who were responsible for it.

4.34 p.m.

Photo of Sir Beresford Craddock Sir Beresford Craddock , Spelthorne

As all hon. Members realise, there are many who wish to have the opportunity of addressing the House today. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not attempt to follow along the lines of his remarks in any detail, because I have promised that I shall not delay the House for more than a few minutes. There is, however, just one comment that I will make on his speech. He said that our policy during the past nine months, and particularly when we took action over Suez, was directly opposite from that which had been followed by his own party after 1945. I certainly agree with him in that. In my judgment, what we tried to do last year was to stand up for what was right and to implement sacred agreements. If the right hon. Gentleman believes that, because a country wants to run its own affairs, it is entitled to break those agreements, as Egypt did last year, then he and I do not speak the same language.

Photo of Sir Beresford Craddock Sir Beresford Craddock , Spelthorne

No, I shall not give way; I have promised to speak for only a few minutes in order that other hon. Members may not be delayed.

The right hon. Member for Grimsby went out of his way to condemn his hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) for his speech yesterday. I listened to that speech, and it struck me as one of the most realistic speeches delivered from the Opposition benches yesterday.

I was very glad to hear from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and from my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary that the agreement into which we have entered is not regarded as a satisfactory one as regards the running of the Canal. I am bound to say that I look forward with interest to what will happen in the Security Council when an attempt is made to get Egypt to accept—as she most decidedly should—the six points of last year. I shall have a few further words to say about the United Nations in a moment.

There was talk yesterday in the House about humiliation and capitulation, but no such charge could be made against Her Majesty's Government. If anybody has suffered humiliation, it is the United Nations, through its inept handling of the whole dispute ever since it began when President Nasser seized the Canal—in my view, a piece of barefaced robbery—in July last year. I make no secret of the fact that I have always regretted that, when Nasser nationalised or rather seized the Canal last year, we were not in a position to take action there and then. That was the time. I believe, when we should taken it.

Again, I have made no secret of my attitude in regretting very much indeed that, when we did eventually intervene in November, we had to stop before we were right down the Canal and had finished the job. The pressures then against us were such that, I am afraid, that was inevitable. I do not think that there is any shame in saying that we did not on that occasion succeed in our objective and, in other words, we undoubtedly suffered a defeat. Nevertheless, when standing up for a principle is involved, it is better to have fought and lost than never to have fought at all.

In the few minutes that I wish to spend addressing the House, I shall not dwell on the past. I want to consider the future and to discuss particularly the lessons which we ought to have learned in regard to our future policy. There is an old saying, "What is a defeat but an education?" I want to examine the situation in that way. If that old saying has any truth at all, it is certainly true of the Suez affair. Therefore, may I put a few suggestions to the House as to the lessons which I believe we should have learned from the whole of this affair?

That brings me, first, to the United Nations and our future attitude to it. As I have already said, I shall certainly watch, indeed I think that we and the whole world will watch, to see how the United Nations, and particularly the Security Council, tackles this problem of making Egypt adhere to the six points and of arriving at a satisfactory arrangement for the future running of the Canal. I believe that this is the absolutely vital testing moment for the Security Council and indeed for the United Nations. I go so far as to say that if we do not get a satisfactory solution as a result of their efforts, then I believe that Her Majesty's Government should seriously consider withdrawing our delegation from the United Nations and leaving it to be run by the United States and the Afro-Asian bloc under the joint chairmanship of Mr. Foster Dulles and Mr. Krishna Menon.

Let me turn to other matters which affect us more closely in home affairs. I think that it has been borne very forcibly upon us as a result of two world wars that this country is an impoverished nation, economically and financially, and we are no longer able to bear all the burdens of the world. I believe that our whole future policy should be to concentrate the bulk of our resources and as much of our energies as possible on building up once more our own power and our own wealth as a country.

It is the old story, it has been the same since the world began, that money is power. I do not want this country to build up its financial strength again merely for the sake of power. I want to see it have a prosperous people and, above all, become an independent nation once more, because what applies to the individual applies to the nation. I believe that there is nothing like being independent, able to stand on our own feet and able to follow what we feel to be the right course, without having to rely upon other people or other nations.

If that line is to be taken, then I submit that it means a drastic change of attitude and undoubtedly a radical change in our policy. I am very glad to know that Her Majesty's Government have started on those changes in policy. For example, we have seen a very radical change indicated in the future structure of our defence Services. I am absolutely certain that that is right, that we should cut down our forces and see that we have a small force, but absolutely efficient and armed with the very latest and most up-to-date scientific weapons.

From that follows naturally a reduction in our commitments. I will give two examples of what I have in mind in that way. I was somewhat surprised to hear my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary say that we still regarded the Tripartite Declaration as being in operation. Quite frankly, I should have thought that, in the light of past experience, we really should have no more to do with it. What would happen? Suppose that Egypt or the Arab world were to attack Israel: we should be compelled to go to the help of Israel. That would mean further condemnation from the Arab world. If the converse came about, it would inevitably mean a great deal of criticism, no doubt, from the United States. I believe that it would be very much better if we kept out of that situation altogether.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Would not Her Majesty's Government's policy in circumstances of that kind be exactly the same as it has been in the past? Would not they go to the aid of the victims by attacking the airfields of the victims?

Photo of Sir Beresford Craddock Sir Beresford Craddock , Spelthorne

I do not see the relevance of the hon. Gentleman's intervention. I am sure that he will pardon me if I do not pursue it, because I am pressed for time, and I know that many other hon. Members wish to address the House.

I would make one further point. Cyprus is very much part and parcel of the whole of the Middle East problem. Quite frankly, I would suggest that, in the light of modern conditions, Cyprus is of very little value to us strategically today. If the Cypriots are not prepared to make the Radcliffe proposals work, I suggest that we should do one of two things. We could either partition Cyprus and keep a small part of it purely as a base for our air striking force in that part of the world, or, what I personally would prefer to see, if anything is to be done in that way, hand it back to Turkey, from whom we got it originally, with the same proviso of our having a small base for our air striking force in that part of the world.

Photo of Hon. Patrick Maitland Hon. Patrick Maitland , Lanark

Does my hon. Friend think that such a change could come about without a Greco-Turkish war?

Photo of Sir Beresford Craddock Sir Beresford Craddock , Spelthorne

In view of the attitude displayed by the Greek Cypriots, it might be a rather harsh attitude, but that would not interest me very much and, indeed, I very much doubt whether it would happen.

Photo of Hon. Patrick Maitland Hon. Patrick Maitland , Lanark

How are we to protect the pipeline?

Photo of Sir Beresford Craddock Sir Beresford Craddock , Spelthorne

I will not pursue that point. I know that my hon. Friend will not agree with me, because I know his views on this matter.

I am giving my opinion and I want to do so as quickly as possible because these are one or two things which have not been said in this debate so far. I am trying to emphasise the lessons which, I believe, should be learned by this country and the policy which we should adopt in the future, for the reasons I have stated.

I am delighted to learn that Her Majesty's Government are to pursue the whole idea of the Common Market, because if there is one lesson that ought to be learned, it is that we have been shown where our friends are. I believe that our whole policy in the future should be to get very much more close to Europe than we have been in the past. I would hope that as a result of that Common Market, even members of the Commonwealth and, indeed, some of the Colonies, would come into that system because I believe that it would be to their great advantage.

Again, I would suggest that we should devote much more of our resources to capital investment and to scientific research, with particular reference to nuclear physics. We all know the tremendous advances which have been made in that field of science during the past few years. I appreciate that by advocating such a policy rather than that of investing too much of our resources in overseas territories with a view to obtaining raw materials, I shall probably be subject to criticism and to disagreement on the part of many hon. Members, but I believe that with the advances in nuclear physics that we have already seen, the question of raw materials will become, as the years go by, less and less important.

I believe that, despite all the advances so far, we are on the threshhold, in the field of nuclear fission and nuclear physics generally, of further tremendous and spectacular advances. I believe—it is by no means beyond doubt—that within a very short time we may even realise the alchemist's dream of old, the dream of transmutation. Be that as it may, I certainly feel that to be an absolutely essential way in which to invest our resources.

I repeat the old saying, "What is a defeat but an education?" Having supported Her Majesty's Government all along in what is called the Suez venture, having supported all the action that they have taken, and believing now, quite as firmly as I have ever done, that they were right, I believe that they will vindicate their policy and that it will indeed become more fully justified if the lessons that I have tried to point out are taken to heart and if their future policy is based on the suggestions which I have made.

4.51 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

In the course of yesterday's debate, most of which I heard and the rest of which I have read, hon. Members accused the Opposition of making political capital out of the Suez affair. They really must not complain. To criticise the Government on this issue is no more reprehensible than the criticisms with which the Labour Government were assailed over the affair at Abadan and, indeed, about many other incidents, domestic and international.

After all, we are not children. We are mature politicians—

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

—and we must not be too sensitive and touchy when hard knocks are about the place in the course of our debates.

I must confess that, so far, the whole of this debate has made a most depressing impression on my mind. I am as partial to fun and games as any other hon. Member. I have been guilty of dialectical escapades in the past and, I believe, I have some prospects in the future, but whatever we may think about the Suez affair, about the pros and cons or whoever may be regarded as blameworthy, there is one inescapable fact which at our peril we shall ignore. That is the economic consequences of the Suez affair and the result of what has transpired since October on our economic position.

Indeed, on the constructive aspects of this affair, it appears to me that what has happened in the Middle East and what, I suspect, will happen in the future in that part of the world, reinforces the demand that has been made by many hon. Members, on both sides of the House, in the course of recent debates for a meticulous examination of the resources residing in the Commonwealth.

It appears to me that we can no longer rely on the Middle East for one of our major raw materials. The situation is too fluid and too precarious. The fine phrases indulged in by the occupants of the Front Bench opposite and their convictions, or what would appear to be their convictions, about the possibility of a negotiated settlement less painful than the present situation, are far from convincing. Therefore, it appears to me that this debate should have been concentrated less upon what happened in the past, but rather upon what is to happen in the future.

We have to face the facts. Much as we should like to believe that everything is lovely in the garden, or is likely to be so in the future, it is no use pretending any longer that what has happened is anything less than a complete and utter defeat for this country at the hands of Colonel Nasser.

Colonel Nasser has gained the victory. It is far better to recognise that than to pretend otherwise, because if we do we shall place some reliance, however slender, upon a future negotiated settlement or the good will of Colonel Nasser and the Arab States. I wish it were true, but I cannot believe that it is.

In the course of this debate, hon. Members on both sides have indulged in accusations most of which seem to me to be in the realm of exaggeration. For example, some of my hon. Friends on this side have accused the Government of dishonesty and of hypocrisy and the like. Hon. Members opposite have accused the Labour Opposition of having, by their behaviour, worsened the situation. There is gross exaggeration in those statements.

I do not believe that the Government consist of a collection of crooks. They make mistakes, but that is not unusual for Governments. I have myself belonged to several Governments and I can recall many mistakes that occurred, not attributable to any conduct of mine but due to a concatenation of circumstances over which we had no control.

Take, for example, the background to this Middle East affair. One might well suppose from what we have heard, from both sides, that this Middle East tension only began in October last. What nonsense that is. The Labour Government had to face this situation. We faced it with the Palestinians, with whom we were at war, and we had eventually to withdraw our activities and our forces. Over a period of several years, we sought through negotiation to conclude an honourable settlement with the Egyptian authorities under King Farouk and his then Foreign Minister, and subsequently with a different Egyptian ré gime.

We failed. The fact is that ever since the end of the last war there has been high tension in the Middle East. It may be because of an upsurge of nationalism. If I may say so, in parenthesis, it seems to me that this upsurge of nationalism occasionally receives too high a commendation in certain quarters. Of course, nations want to be independent—as if the Egyptian people are independent. What an absurdity. Of course they want to be independent. We ought to applaud their ambitions; but there is a danger inherent in the upsurge of nationalism if there is an overweaning ambition and if there is no international behaviour which conforms to international standards. That, indeed, is the crux of the problem.

This background did not begin to emerge in October last. It has been there for many years, and so it will remain until we have got in the world a strong, resolute, determined international authority which not only makes decisions but seeks with all the power at its command to carry out those decisions. Of course, we should never "go it alone."

I listened to some of my hon. Friends yesterday speaking—I regret to say this —in somewhat derogatory tones of this country. They talked about this country no longer being a great military Power. It is not. There is no great military Power in the world now, with the advent of the nuclear weapon. They may think they are, but they will discover—I hope that there will be no occasion for it, but if it should unfortunately occur—that no one country standing alone in face of the nuclear weapon can regard itself as a great military Power either now or in the future.

In that sense we are a second-rate, third-rate, fourth-rate, fifth-rate—anything you like—military Power. But when it comes to our economic potentialities, associated with the Commonwealth of Nations, we are still a first-class country with remarkable possibilities. I dislike intensely this denigration of our country. It can do us no good at all.

That does not mean that I ought to like Her Majesty's Government. No one would expect that from me. I dislike Her Majesty's Government intensely, and so do we all on these benches, but we have a great affection for our country. That is a different matter, and I believe that it applies to hon. Members in all parts of the House.

The less we hear about this defeatism, this lowering of our standards, the better it will be. We get no thanks from any part of the world—from the Middle East, the Soviet Union, or from the United States of America—when we talk in these derogatory terms, in terms of defeatism. It is a sign of weakness, a sign of decadence, and we ought to put a stop to it. I thought it necessary to say that.

These are two main points. First, the background to the present situation. Many Governments are responsible—Governments before the war, during the war and since the war—for the situation in the Middle East. The present Government, by their action, rendered the situation far worse than it was. The result is that we are now in a condition of humiliation and defeat, and, as I have said, Colonel Nasser is victorious.

There is a second issue which I believe is just as vital as the one which I ventured to mention. That is the position of the State of Israel. Here I should like to make a confession. I have never been a Zionist. I have always rejected the Zionist philosophy; I am a Socialist. I believed, perhaps in my innocence, that Socialist principles would cultivate over the years a high sense of social behaviour, a better civilisation, a readiness of people to live with each other without regard to race or creed.

That is what I believed. It has not happened just as I anticipated; but this does not apply to one country singularly. We have it in the United States and in the Union of South Africa and in the Middle East—yes, we have it even in our own country, where Protestants dislike Roman Catholics and vice versa, and I believe even members of the Church of England turn up their noses to Nonconformists.

It is not at all surprising that there should be some condemnation of the Jews, of the people who now live in the State of Israel, and that there should be differences, wide divergences, based on various grounds and factors, between Arab and Jew. Nevertheless, I have never accepted the Zionist faith. When Hitler, another dictator—and let us not forget that Nasser is a dictator, one of the same kidney: and there is universal condemnation in the House of Colonel Nasser, as we have heard from the speeches from the Front Bench, which I applaud—

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

My hon. Friend must understand that, even without any encumbrances, I am quite capable of making my own speech.

I note the point for future reference, but when, as a result of Hitler's dastardly acts, millions of people were destroyed in gas chambers, what could one expect? There must be a haven, a refuge for persecuted people, the victims of the pogroms and the rest, and there was the State of Israel.

Moreover, here was a great experiment —the cultivation of soil previously regarded as unfertile. It was a gallant adventure, and I applaud it. In that respect, I support the State of Israel, but I want hon. Members to understand that it is not because I would ask of anybody that they should neglect the interests of the people of the Arab States who require our help, our benevolence and our technical assistance as much as the people in the State of Israel.

I take an objective view about the State of Israel. If there is one thing I reject, and reject contemptuously and with all the strength at my command, it is the vile suggestion that, in all the circumstances of the time, Israel was an aggressor. I refuse to believe that. That condemnation has come from this side as well as from other quarters of the House. After all is said and done, when one country is assailed by another country, which regards itself in a state of war with the other, a state of belligerency, to take action in one's own defence, anticipating a possible attack by a potential enemy—is that to be denounced as aggression? It might have been regarded as unfortunate in the circumstances, but I believe that it was inevitable.

That does not mean that we ought to adopt a policy of force and renounce the policy of referring international disputes to the United Nations or to some other organisation of international justice. It does not mean that we should ignore the rule of law. I said in October, at the beginning of the Suez affair, that the action of the previous Government under Sir Anthony Eden was rendered inevitable because of the past policy of that Government. We refused arms to Israel.

I am sorry to have to say this to the Foreign Secretary. I think that he requires sympathy, in view of what has been said, but he is as much responsible for the situation that developed there as anybody else. In refusing arms to Israel and, at the same time, exporting arms to Egypt and other Arab countries, what did the Foreign Secretary think would happen? It was no use coming along with the tire brigade after the event. The intervention should have occurred before the fire began. The Government were largely responsible, but it was inevitable.

The question is what is to be done about the State of Israel now. I saw something in the newspapers this morning about President Eisenhower. I know that it is offending the traditions of the House to comment adversely on the head of a foreign State, but, really, President Eisenhower says and does some very foolish things. One of the most foolish was the statement that Israel is entitled to put one of her ships through the Suez Canal, but that on no account must she use force. What is to happen? Is anything so absurd as that declaration? Egypt will obviously try to prevent it—that is the assumption—and will use force, but Israel must not use force. Israel must take her ships back and retreat; it is retreat all along the line in the face of a victorious Nasser.

That is not a policy that gets us anywhere. It may well be that Israel will try to force her way through the Canal. This is the reverse side of the penny. What will happen then? Will the United States take action, and, if so, against whom? Will there be another flare-up? That will not do. The responsibility rests heavily, not on this Government—though they must accept a great deal of the responsibility—but on the United Nations. Frankly, I cannot say what the United Nations has done constructively since it was set up, but that does not mean that it is not, in principle, the right kind of organisation. It must develop, and we must support and sustain and nourish it. Of course we must. No one would say anything to the contrary.

But what has happened? Everybody knows, it cannot be denied, it is unchallengeable, that the decision of 1950 that Egypt was violating international law by refusing to allow Israeli ships through the Canal was made and nothing further. Our Government are, of course, as much to blame as any other Government. No one would deny that, but what is now the use of talking about Israeli ships going through the Canal and negotiating a settlement? If Egypt declines, where are we?" Send it to the United Nations"—that is the constant cry and plea. "Send everything to the United Nations." I am all in favour of that if there is any hope not only of a decision, but of firm and resolute action. [An HON. MEMBER: "Make it effective."] I beg my hon. Friends to understand the implications of effective action.

What does it mean? It may well mean the use of force. One cannot inject a United Nations force into the Middle East when circumstances might create a situation where force must be used and then say that force must not be used. The implication of a United Nations police force or para-military force is that at some time or other force may be required to be used to make effective the decisions of the United Nations. The whole crux of the problem is the United Nations.

I should like to say a few words about the American attitude. We are all in favour of Anglo-American co-operation, particularly when the United States authorities do as we wish them to do. It sometimes happens that we do not agree with the United States Government, or with Mr. John Foster Dulles, or with President Eisenhower—it depends on the situation. But let us consider the motives of the United States Government. I do not ask hon. Members to agree with me. I say this because it is a firm conviction, otherwise I would not speak, but I believe that their motives so far as the Middle East is concerned—and they did not engender it in their minds last October, but several years ago—is to obtain control of the oil resources in the Middle East.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Never mind anybody else. I will state my own opinions.

We had a good deal of evidence in the Labour Government of manoeuvres executed by certain people, if not in the pay of the United States Government then in the pay of some of the oil companies, intended to weaken our position in respect of oil control in the Middle East. Now we have the Eisenhower Doctrine. What is it intended to achieve? It is that the United States should be strong in the Middle East where we are weak. To the benefit of the Arab States? Not essentially. The Eisenhower Doctrine means that United States force—we saw it happen with the Sixth Fleet the other day—and United States dollars would be injected into the Middle East, because if one has the money one has all the virtues which appeal to the people of the Middle East.

If the United Kingdom had millions and millions of sterling and dollars, or even only of sterling, and were able to dole out millions to Egypt and Jordan and Iraq and the others, I do not think that we would find any difficulty at all. No, it is the power of the purse. That is what is happening at present. It is the power of the American purse, and that is going to control the situation. We must make up our minds that that kind of philosophy must be rejected. It can only be dealt with through the United Nations itself. One of these days, no doubt, there will have to be a United Nations agency which exercises effective control over the oil resources.

I would not withhold financial assistance from Egypt, or Jordan, or Iraq, or Syria, or the Lebanon. I would not withhold assistance from them, on the understanding that they conform with a high standard of international behaviour. Let us have that. Let them be ready to negotiate. Let them deal in a friendly fashion with Israel. Let them be good neighbours and let them have the assistance, because, in the long run, it will be to our advantage. I do not object to that at all.

I applaud the Motion of censure. I think that in the circumstances it is warranted and highly justified, but after this debate is over it would be an excellent thing for ourselves and, perhaps, for the United Nations and for the Middle East and the peace of the world, if we concentrated more on the constructive aspects of economic development and prosperity for all the peoples concerned and rather less on the acerbities and acrimonious discussions about the Suez affair which have continued ever since October last.

I honestly believe that. It does not mean that we should not criticise the Government. Of course, criticise the Government. I do not know whether it means that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should resign. In any event, that means very little. If he does resign, he will probably get another post, and that will not do us any good either. [An HON. MEMBER: "He might become a Governor-General."] One of my hon. Friends says that he might become a Governor-General, with much higher qualifications than Lord Hailes. But it would be irrelevant to discuss that.

My view, therefore, is that we ought to concentrate, first, on an effective United Nations. We ought to ensure that the State of Israel is properly safeguarded through the United Nations, with all the power we can use at that Assembly. Finally, we ought to render what assistance we can, either directly or through the United Nations, to the peoples in the Arab States on the understanding, as I have said previously, that they conform to a proper standard of international behaviour.

5.22 p.m.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Except in respect of the minor irrelevancies, I do not find myself in substantial disagreement with anything that has been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), and indeed I hope that I shall have occasion in the course of my remarks, to refer to much of his speech. One of my hon. Friends, if called in the debate, will be able to deal substantially with what the right hon. Gentleman said about Israel. It is a subject I do not propose to touch upon this afternoon.

I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) has left the Chamber, because I wanted to tell him that I found his lecture to the House increasingly distasteful as the words and phrases rolled by. There was a kind of calm, intellectual superiority about it which I found quite insufferable. While the right hon. Gentleman was speaking I wondered whether it might not be the Headmaster of Winchester who was addressing the House, until I realised that someone of such intellectual eminence as the headmaster would also have incorporated in his character the natural humility which accompanies great intellect. So I conclude that the only thing that the right hon. Gentleman can do is to return to Winchester as senior prefect—without any offence whatever to the present holder of that office.

The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say—and it is an arrogant assumption for the Labour Party to make—that even today Labour sets the pattern of intellectual thinking in foreign affairs. His words were—I took them down—"We thought our ideas had gained acceptance on the part of Government leaders," as though the Labour Party, in 1951, when they were driven from office, had left a kind of Ark of the Tabernacle behind which had to be observed religiously by everybody who succeeded them.

I must tell the right hon. Gentleman, and remind other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, that ever since 1951 the country has been steadily running away from any prospects of a Socialist Administration. Indeed, the last Election of 1955 was unique in a hundred years, in that the message of the electorate to the country was that they preferred to see governing our affairs at home and abroad a Conservative Administration. They gave us a second run and an increased majority. Hon Gentlemen opposite had better take that message to heart in the formation of their policy in the coming months, because if they do not do so similar events may befall a third time.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Let the hon. Member resign his seat.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I want to say something on the general issue of appeasement and to support, if any support is needed, the eloquent statement made upon the subject last night in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing. South (Mr. Maude). It is a great honour for me at this moment that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) should have entered the Chamber.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I was about to refer to some famous words of his which those who have heard them will never forget: In war: resolution; in defeat: defiance; in victory: magnanimity; and in peace: good will. That, Mr. Speaker, is, I say with all humility, the best and simplest guide to foreign policy that I have come across or am likely to come across.

The purpose of foreign policy is the pursuit of power, and foreign policy must be conducted by diplomacy or by war. There are no other means. The process began—and hon. Members and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, judging by their speeches yesterday, did not seem to realise it—right back in the days of Neanderthal man, and it will go on until an effective world Government is established.

It is no use the hon. Members for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) or Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), all of whom spoke yesterday in the same sense, shouting the out-of-date slogans that they did yesterday about foreign policy by collective security and by acts of appeasement. They merely disclose their fundamental dislike and distrust of the organisation of the world as it now is, and of the historical process by which great nations and small nations rise to new opportunities or fall to low estate, as the case may be.

They disclose, however, something very much more dangerous, and that is the willingness of their party, as we saw on so many occasions between the wars, to argue, and to argue on, long after the enemy has begun to act. Surely, the whole folly of the Liberal-Socialist attitude on war is simply this, that it allows a terrifying build-up to take place. Then, when it is nearly too late policies are rapidly formed which can scarcely provide for the danger.

In 1914 Sir Edward Grey waited too long for the lights of Europe to go out. He should have struck at Agadir in 1911. Only this morning I was reading the brilliant passage in the first volume of the "World Crisis" in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford hints at that. Lord Baldwin, as "Liberal" a Conservative as ever one could find, left the gathering storm to his successor. He ought to have struck in 1936, at the time when Hitler occupied the Rhineland.

I cannot understand the fundamental detestation with which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite regard the so-called gunboat diplomacy when one looks at it historically in those terms. There are very great advantages in that form of diplomacy for a small island like ours. The Prime Minister was fundamentally right yesterday, from the point of view of the historical opportunities for this country, in talking about lancing the ulcer at Suez. But my right hon. Friend believes that the poison was eradicated.

To those of my hon. Friends who have taken a certain attitude in this debate, it seems that the Prime Minister has had, and will have, the very greatest difficulty in substantiating that point of view, because he has not produced, and may not be able to produce, the evidence for us. The evidence which the country sees—the right hon. Member for Easington has just referred to it—is the evidence of defeat following the Suez disaster.

The Prime Minister himself referred to "a setback ", but "setback" or "defeat", we are not showing, as we are instructed to do by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford, defiance. We are showing good will. We are not showing resolution. We may be about to show magnanimity. I must say that I prefer that these exemplary virtues of magnanimity and good will should be evinced not before but after victory.

The military operations were catastrophic. The diplomacy since, in spite of what my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary has said today—a small catalogue of little matters—has been entirely unsuccessful. That is why, not only on account of the immediate past, but on account of our fundamental fears for the future while that type of management continues and that type of thinking continues in the inner recesses of the Civil Service and the Foreign Office, I and my hon. Friends have thought it right, temporarily we hope, to depart from our allegiance to Her Majesty's Government.

I want now to refer to a certain split-mindedness in propaganda and policy. It has been apparent ever since the end of the war, and it is not by any means the fault of this Administration or any previous Conservative Administration. In a major war one must obviously canalise one's propaganda so as to have one effect upon the enemy and another effect upon the home country. It is quite proper during the course of a major war to split one's propaganda into those two major channels. But is it possible for a great democracy, in peace, to do that?

I think that today we are suffering from a kind of backlog of technique in the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office, and the higher ranges of the Civil Service, which has not been properly schooled and conditioned by Ministers to get us into the right frame of mind for a great democracy at peace. Surely a great democracy, if it strikes by military or diplomatic action, must tell all its citizens what it is doing, and must run the risk at the same time of telling the major part of the world.

The deficiency in that respect showed up terribly over Suez. A bad compromise was achieved. We avoided rousing the country so as not to rouse the world. We tried a surgical operation on a small enemy without notice and without bloodshed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Without bloodshed?"] We tried a surgical operation with a minimum of casualties. Instead of what we expected, we got world notoriety and millions of fresh opponents, and we had in the event to withdraw before the operation was concluded.

I suggest to the Government that they should go back into history and study what English form really ought to be. They should go back as far as Henry V, who gave due notice to the King of France, through the Ambassador, of his intentions before Agincourt in these words: Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming, In thunder, and in earthquake, like a Jove, That, if requiring fail, he will compel … There were only twenty-eight casualties at Agincourt. It seems conceivable to me that the Government were over-zealous in their desire to avert casualties at Suez and that they neglected the great public and international purpose of informing the world of the morality of our position.

There is another example of split-mindedness in propaganda which I will pass over briefly, that of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, who was telling us that the use of the Canal was unnecessary at the very moment when currency arrangements were being made in Switzerland for our vessels to go through.

There is a more dangerous schizophrenia apparent in the Foreign Office today as regards the United Nations, and it does Britain no credit at all. It is what the psychologist calls "a love-hate relationship". On 30th October the Foreign Secretary caused the veto to be exercised in the Security Council to deny the United Nations an opportunity of stopping our adventure in Egypt. Within forty-eight hours the split mind came into operation, and the Government allowed a resolution to be moved and passed—indeed they encouraged it—to the effect that we should be ousted from our positions in Suez by the United Nations Emergency Force. So within forty-eight hours they could not make up their minds whether they liked the United Nations or hated it.

Ever since then, statements have been made by Ministers in public, and there have been newspaper revelations of their supposed views in private, to the same effect about the United Nations. Even the Prime Minister said yesterday: It may be said that the United Nations has failed up to now.… I want to know whether it is worthy of a Great Power to keep up this policy of willing to wound and yet afraid to strike.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Rather like abstaining in a critical Division.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I suppose from that remark that my hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) has already decided how he will vote, without keeping his mind open to the arguments which may be adduced in the debate.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

May I say to my noble Friend that I know of only two Division Lobbies? I would rather be a faithful supporter of the Government, or an open enemy, than a disloyal friend.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I was saying that I thought it wrong for a great Power to keep up the policy of being willing to wound and afraid to strike and that I believed we ought finally to make up our minds whether the United Nations, and I say this advisedly, should be used as an instrument of British policy—regarding British policy as in the highest sense a world policy for mankind—and, if so, whether we ought not to overwhelm it with our counsel and send our best Ministers and our best representatives. If not, we should get out and leave it as of no account.

May I now say something about the United States? It appears to be the Government's policy to encourage the United States in the Middle East. Yesterday, the Prime Minister welcomed the revolution in American thinking … which has led to great developments of policy and a closer association of the United States with the Bagdad Pact… "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May. 1957; Vol. 570, c. 434–8.] We must take that to mean that the Government watch with enthusiasm the United States Sixth Fleet sweeping past us in the Mediterranean as we withdraw from Jordan, as we prepare to submit Cyprus to a N.A.T.O. solution, and shortly after we ourselves have withdrawn our own troops and ships from Port Said. I cannot subscribe to that policy, and I do not think that my hon. Friends who are acting with me just now can, either.

If we were in 1950, at the height of the cold war, there might be something to be said for it. The United States took the lead in Korea. It was a mass, upward movement of the free world ranging itself against aggressive Communism which seemed to have the world on fire in those days, and we gave our share of support to that movement. We raced through to those far-distant seas in support of the United Nations. If we were in 1950 today, there might be something to be said, if we had a temporary military withdrawal or defeat in the Middle East, for the United States to race in and take our place and hold the line.

But there are a thousand indications that the cold war has passed its peak of danger. There is strong evidence that Communist military and ideological aggression is now evenly matched by American military and dollar expansion. There are some signs that the latter is gaining over the former.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

My hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) has referred to Hungary, but it seems to me that we have the evidence both in Poland and Hungary that there is a greater sign of hold-back and retardation in this whole business of the advancing cold war than there is, for example, in Saudi Arabia, in Tripolitania, or in Spain.

If the House is at all convinced that the balance in the world is beginning to appear equal between the Communist forces and the forces of the free world, and if there is some danger that the forces of the free world, if they are not curbed by wisdom and counsel and good diplomacy, might tilt over the balance and become more menacing than the former, what is Britain to do? I believe that with our Empire and the cohesion of some, perhaps not all, Western European countries, we are today a force as great as any in the world and perhaps more significant even than the other two, because we are spread across the seven seas.

Therefore, I ask myself: is the United States of America to be encouraged to divide the Middle East between itself and Russia, and, it may be, in so doing split ancient Europe away from all its historical ties of trade and its many associations in the far-distant parts of the world? How, for example, are we in Britain to defend our possessions in the Persian Gulf, in the Aden Protectorate, in East Africa? How are we to communicate directly and easily with Malaya, Hong Kong, the East Indies, Australia, and New Zealand? A perpetual "by-your-leave" may be necessary on the part of one or other of the great suzerain Powers which, at the present rate, will soon have established themselves across the great Afro-Asian arc.

I am convinced that Britain and France, and possibly Germany this time, must seize the opportunity, not by war-making endeavour, but by diplomacy, to inset themselves again in their traditional positions in the Middle East if we arc to keep those gigantic States apart and reduce the risk of war.

I have only one more thing to say, and that is about France. I trust that the recently established Entente Cordiale with France has not been destroyed by the events of the last two days. There are great dangers that it may be, and I trust that Her Majesty's Government will do their very utmost to prevent it. In the 1930s it was fashionable to tilt at France, her curious social patterns, her lax laws, her unstable Governments. That seemed to be confirmed by the Maginot Line complex and the general collapse of 1940, and the agonies that went with collaboration. But since the war a miracle has happened in France. We and the Americans and the Free French re-established that great country: no gratitude was asked for by us, and no gratitude was shown by France.

An amazing change has taken place, as those who go frequently on parliamentary activities in France, or perhaps to North Africa, will, I am sure, recollect and agree. Quite a number of hon. Members went to North Africa last autumn, and we saw some amazing things. I think that France has passed through a phase. In some respects, she is in advance of us in politcal developments. She has had her period of mass democracy, with people shouting for freedom and rights and justice.

Something of the old chivalry is now coming back to France. Some of the words and actions which used to characterise her in former days and have characterised us—are returning; words like "duty", "loyalty" "patriotism", "courage" and "honour." Algeria has been mentioned by an hon. Member opposite. I wish that he could have come with us last October and seen the bravery of those French soldiers—and not only their bravery but what went with it, right up in the front line, their administrators and doctors, financial advisers, and even priests, working as teams together to restore to sanity and sense the villages which have been subjected to baditry.

If the Entente Cordiale is to survive we must, at this stage, draw abreast of France. We must draw abreast of her in matters of high political conduct as well as in personal friendships, ties, trade and commerce, or the world will not long continue to look to us for leadership in great affairs.

I select from The Times today a short extract headed "Paris, 15th May", which states: M. Mollet offered his resignation to M. Coty, the French President, at the beginning of today's meeting of the Council of Ministers because of what is regarded here as the British capitulation to Colonel Nasser over Suez. … M. Mullet's action emphasises the extremely difficult position in which the French Government has been placed by the British decision over Suez. Other and even darker clouds also gathered around it today, and most observers consider tonight that it is in more serious danger of falling than at any time in the past 16 months. In fact, M. Mallet emphasised tonight that his only reason for agreeing to take hack his offer of resignation was because of the internal political situation he did not want to be accused of funking the parliamentary battle ahead by resigning in advance on a matter of honour. For us the Parliamentary battle is not ahead; it is with us now. We are just approaching the end of it. There is nothing whatever to prevent or impede or prejudice—on the morrow of this debate—a resignation or resignations, on a matter of honour.

5.54 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

The noble Lord will not expect me to agree with his speech, or with the nostalgic outlook that he has expressed this afternoon. I am inclined to look forward rather than backwards to the Middle Ages. I find no inspiration in the Battle of Agincourt, although my own countrymen did distinguished service on that occasion. Perhaps the noble Lord will remember that the Battle of Agincourt was won by Welshmen.

We are now holding an inquest into one of the most unhappy episodes in our national story, and it is never pleasant to hold an inquest on any occasion. That it was an unhappy episode is admitted on all hands. It was virtually confessed by the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon, towards the end of his speech, when he said: We must not be defeated by an episode, or cast down by a difficult stage in a long journey."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 439.] That is an exhortation which means, by implication, that we must make the best out of a bad job and extract what sweetness we can out of the carcase of a dead lion.

On Monday the Prime Minister used words which have become famous by now, when he said that: a much longer view will decide the rights and wrongs. This is not by any means the end of the story."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 42.] Our criticism this afternoon is that the Government did not take a longer view last August for, had they done so, this Motion of censure would not now be on the Order Paper; much unpleasantness and inconvenience would have been avoided, and many lives would not have been unnecessarily lost in the Suez episode.

The Government of last August suffered from political myopia, and allowed themselves to be tripped to disaster by a series of minor stumbling blocks which could have been avoided had they cultivated the long view. World tension remains. The international situation is more difficult than before, and if the hydrogen bomb has appeared to some people to strengthen us in a physical sense, the Suez episode has revealed our moral weakness.

Rarely in our island history have we witnessed such mishandling of affairs. Yet the Prime Minister still cherishes the hope that the action of the Government between August and November last—in his own words— will be fully justified by history. But if, as I understand, history never fails to vindicate the truth; if it never fails to vindicate the good and the just, and if it never fails to reveal the hollowness and vanity of self-centred and selfish policies, there is not much hope that the Government will find any justification at the bar of history.

Hon. Members on this side of the House, like hon. Members opposite, admit that there were difficulties last July and August, and also that there were awkward situations. Possibly we were dealing with a statesman devoid of the integrity which is desirable in statesmen but such, of course, are the warp and woof of statesmanship. The task of statesmanship is to solve difficulties; to get round awkward situations, and to manage difficult statesmen. We expect that of statesmen; we have the right to expect it. We admit that it requires skill, courage and integrity, but we expect—and we have a right to expect—statesmanship to extricate us from difficult entanglements.

But we have been bogged down, and that is the burden of our criticism here. As my hon. Friends have said on many occasions, the situation has deteriorated greatly since last July. Britain's prestige has fallen; Anglo-American relations have been strained; Anglo-Commonwealth relationships were strained almost to breaking point. Time is a great healer. We require time, but we need something more, and here I agree with what the Prime Minister said yesterday afternoon. … we need patience as well as courage; resilience as well as resolution."—[OFFICIAI REPORT, 15th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 428 and 439.] But let us divest ourselves of the mantle of self-righteousness. Sackcloth and ashes would become us better at this hour.

The Government have failed to grasp the Egyptian situation from the start. After the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), hon. Members opposite may deny that we are living in a new world, and that is the trouble. That is what is partly responsible for the situation. I know that the Conservative Party clings to the old until very often it is too late.

The old doctrine that the State can do no wrong; that the State, on grounds of political or economic expediency, can ride roughshod over the territories of other people, has gone for good. We hoped that Hitler was the last to apply that doctrine, which has brought sorrow to mankind all down the centuries. Ever since the Boer War this country has never tolerated the doctrine to which we came perilously near in this particular episode which has just come to an end. The new world is a fact. If we deny it, we do so to our own peril.

And so with regard to Egypt. For more than seventy years we occupied that country, although in 1882 we went there only for a temporary stay. That temporary period lasted for over seventy years. It is no use trying to argue with the Egyptians or with any other people whose territories we have occupied without permission; it is no use trying to persuade those people how good we have been to them or how much capital we have sunk in their territory. That kind of argument is psychologically bad and avails us nothing. I believe that as a country—I do not know whether hon. Members will agree with me, but I have been persuaded of this for many years—we should long ago have accepted the inevitability of withdrawal, and we should have withdrawn with grace, dignity and magnanimity. We did so in India, in Pakistan, and in Ceylon, and we retained the friendship of those people.

In Egypt we were unwelcome guests. We withdrew reluctantly, and we have left behind an unwholesome fund of ill will. It is against that background that the unfortunate episode of the Aswan Dam must be regarded. As everyone knows, that project was suggested by Western engineers. It brought hope to the surplus labour on the Lower Nile. Then the offer was withdrawn. I do not hold the present Government primarily responsible for that, although they have to shoulder their fair share of the responsibility. But the position was vitiated by our Middle East policy, and that is the point I wish to emphasise now.

Whether or not hon. Members agree with me, I can only say how I view these matters. We have tried to divide the Arab world by alignment with dynasties which fundamentally need not be in line with their people, and we have been annoyed and surprised when things go wrong. For example, there is our experience in Jordan. The Bagdad Pact brought Russia into the Middle East in the worst possible circumstances. In our efforts to keep out Russia we brought her in. We found that she had outflanked our northern tier in Egypt and in Afghanistan, and had jumped into Syria. That was the disastrous development of that policy.

Russian arms and promises affected Egypt. There was suspicion that Nasser was double-crossing, that Nasser was crooked. Possibly he was. I do not stand here attempting to justify Nasser. I have never done so in public life. My point is that on both sides the diplomacy has been crooked, and the time has come to make it a bit straighter. Thus events were exceptionally fluid last July or a little earlier. The pattern of events, was continually changing. Those were the days when the Prime Minister's words of yesterday should have been spoken and acted upon: Therefore, we need patience, as well as courage; resilience as well as resolution. Those were the days when, again to refer to the words of the Prime Minister, the Government should have judged these matters as objectively as possible.

The offer in respect of the Aswan Dam was withdrawn. That was a slap in the face for Nasser. Some may say that he deserved it, and possibly he did. But I suggest that we can never solve delicate international situations by slapping the faces of other people. After all, we are living in a period when even the backward nations can reply to the so-called advanced nations. We had such a reply at the end of July and the beginning of August when Nasser declared the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Here was a crisis of the first magnitude, when prestige became involved—our prestige, the prestige of France, Nasser's prestige, everyone's prestige—and the peace of the world came to be offered on the altar of prestige.

Faced with that situation, it seems to me that the crisis of last July and August resolves itself into three main considerations. First, what could be done to keep the Canal open as an international waterway? Secondly, what could be done to maintain, and, if need be, to develop the waterway? Thirdly, what could be done to retain a measure of reasonableness about tolls? The House, I think, will agree that had those considerations been met satisfactorily, the main difficulties would have been solved.

That is where statesmanship was called for. Last August or September we saw no evidence of the "patience, as well as courage" and the "resilience as well as resolution" to which the Prime Minister referred yesterday. Instead we heard hysterical cries of "grabber," and of "dictator," and a threat of the use of force. We saw the Government relying on the threat of the use of force—that antiquated, Machiavellian technique which the modern world will not tolerate.

The Government should have fallen back on conciliation. No Prime Minister, no Foreign Secretary, no Government, should be ashamed to use the methods of conciliation. It is sound Tory doctrine, although perhaps it is not sound Tory practice; because we read that on 8th February, 1876, on the Floor of this House, and on that side of the Chamber, Benjamin Disraeli made this statement: The world is governed by conciliation, compromise, influence, varied interests, the recognition of the rights of others coupled with the assertion of our own"—

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Mr. Jones:

Quite right. These words are almost holy script to Government supporters. He went on— and, in addition, a general conviction resulting from explanation and good understanding, that it is for the interest of all parties that matters should be conducted in a satisfactory and peaceful manner. That was Benjamin Disraeli, eighty years ago. How has the gold lost its lustre!

To resume the story of recent events, I would recall that the London Conference was called. It made proposals. They were not terms to be negotiated but proposals. Egypt made proposals and they were not terms to be negotiated. They were proposals explanatory of the position that Egypt had taken up. Last August and early September there were two sets of proposals, of the eighteen Powers on the one hand and of Egypt on the other. The stage was set for negotiation, but no negotiation followed.

What was the position? I have it here now before me in a letter dated 9th September. We find ourselves in agreement", said Egypt, with the 18 countries when they state that the solution must—

  1. (a) respect the sovereign right of Egypt;
  2. (b) safeguard the freedom of passage through the Suez Canal …;
  3. (c) respect Egypt's right of ownership;
  4. (d) ensure the efficient and dependable operation, maintenance and development of the Canal."
They were in agreement on those points. They also said: Furthermore, on August 12, the Government of Egypt announced its willingness to sponsor with the other Governments, signatories to the Constantinople Convention of 1888, a conference to which would be invited the other Governments whose ships pass through the Suez Canal for the purpose… of reaffirming and guaranteeing the freedom of passage through the Suez Canal. Finally, this letter said: The Government of Egypt has announced its full readiness to negotiate a peaceful solution in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. That was the position in August and September last. It is a position identical to what we heard yesterday afternoon on the Floor of this House in the speech by the Prime Minister. The margin of difference between the parties in dispute had been so narrowed that, had negotiations been entered upon, that gap would have been bridged as far back as last September.

I am glad to see present here the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) because I want to refer to a statement which I found in his classical "History of the War" and which has clung to my memory ever since I read it. These are the words: Wars have been won and lost on the narrowest of margins. That is a cryptic statement. I suggest that the good name of this country, the prestige of our country and the relations between our nation and the world have been put into jeopardy; indeed, peace and, what is worst, the lives of innocent people, have been lost, on the narrowest of margins. That is our indictment. We shall go into the Division Lobby tonight confident that it will be counted for righteousness at the bar of history.

6.14 p.m.

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

The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) quoted Benjamin Disraeli just now. It might not be bad if the hon. Gentleman were to send that very quotation to Colonel Nasser. If we could have got the approach to foreign policy that Disraeli outlined on that occasion applied by him, none of what we are discussing today would have happened.

My noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) has made a speech, and all of us must have felt deep sympathy with him in the position in which he finds himself. We were impressed with the sincerity with which he addressed us. I have a particular reason for understanding his position because, on 14th July, 1954, I did the same thing as he has done. I did it to try to show the Government of that day that some of us who had been working together for eighteen months felt strongly that the decision the Government appeared to be about to take was likely to prove disastrous, and that we should use our ultimate sanction in advance of that decision being taken, if only to impress upon the Government how very strongly we felt that it would prove disastrous.

There is some difference in the action of my noble Friend and those who have done what he has done, and what I did then. I read with the utmost care, as well as listening to them, the speeches made yesterday by my hon. Friends the Members for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) and Ealing, South (Mr. Maude). The main burden of their speeches was that what has happened never ought to have happened. I submit that they failed to provide the alternative to rectify all that has gone wrong. If they feel as strongly as they do, then those hon. Members of the eight—I think there are five—who were members of the original Suez Group of 1954 are a little late in the day.

I do not think that the House knows —and I certainly do not claim that I am in a unique position in what I am going to describe—that I claim to have sown one of the seeds which led to the creation of the Suez Group. That seed was sown in 1952. My hon. Friend who is now Under-Secretary of State for War, the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. J. Amery)—I have the permission of my hon. Friend to say this—had a conversation at the end of 1952 when Neguib had just seized power and there was some talk whether or not it was necessary to have a garrison in the Canal Zone. I suggested to him that the time might very well come when some of us might be prepared to take extremely independent action, and if necessary, to sacrifice ourselves, if what appeared to be in the wind ever happened.

I think it was in the following winter Recess, 1952–53, that my hon. Friend rang me up and asked me whether I would come to a meeting in his father's house if I was not satisfied with what was happening in Egypt. I went to that meeting, from which was born the Suez Group. I stayed with the group until 1954. It is right to say to all my hon. Friends who have felt it necessary to resign the Whip that I honestly believe that if they had been prepared to do it then there was just a chance that the one fatal step would not have been taken. The one fatal step was the decision to evacuate the Canal Zone. I do not believe that there is anything more ludicrous than to propound arguments which are only relevant before a certain decision was taken, and to go on propounding them long after that decision has been taken.

It also seems to me that we really must try to avoid indulging in the fatuous exercise of trying to pin on one party or another sole responsibility for what has happened. I should like to tell the House something else which I have never said in public until I realised that it had already virtually been said in public by some of the principal people concerned. I happened to he A.D.C. to Sir Miles Lampson, as he then was, in Cairo in February, 1942. In February, 1942, we took certain action with King Farouk, the full significances of which I do not think were realised at the time and which now have only recently been published by the present editor of Al Gournhourya, the official publication of the Nasser régime.

The book has been published in English and is now in the Library. It is under the title of "Revolt on the Nile," and was written by Colonel Anwar el Sadat, who has something rather interesting to say about that episode of 1942. Referring to the action which the then Prime Minister of Egypt, Hussein Sirry Pasha, had taken, perhaps after consultation with us, that relations should be broken off with Vichy France, Colonel el Sadat says this: Accordingly, in February, 1942, the Government of Hussein Sirry broke off diplomatic relations with Vichy France at the request of the British Government … I would question that— but the British did not approve of Hussein Sirry. That is quite untrue. I would say that of all rulers in Egypt in recent years none has been more approved of.

He goes on to say: They requested immediately after that Sirry should be dismissed and Nahas Pasha called to power. Farouk resigned and a crisis resulted. On February 4th, 1942, there was a demonstration against the British in the streets of Cairo. The cry went up, 'Rommel, Rommel'. It made an ideal pretext for the British and they acted instantly … To my personal knowledge, that is a completely false inference to draw— A squadron of tanks and armoured cars surrounded the royal palace and smashed through the gates of the courtyard … That, indeed, happened— Lord Killearn; the British Ambassador, walked into the Palace surrounded by South African officers That is not true because, I was one of them— … carrying pistols. A court official approached them, Killearn brushed the man aside, saying 'I know my way'. That, also, is quite untrue— He walked into the King's study and presented him with an ultimatum. Farouk could either appoint Nahas Pasha as Prime Minister within twenty-four hours or lose his throne. That is the account given by Colonel Anwar el Sadat. What is important is what he said immediately after that: The officers of our revolutionary group met at Zamalak to discuss the possibility of avenging the British insult of February 4th. This latest affront to our country gave a new stimulus to the revolutionary movement. Abdul Nasser and Abdul Hakim Amer determined that Egypt must never again suffer such a humiliation. The real revolutionary conspiracy dates back to this time. The purpose of our action was primarily the defence of Egypt and the assurance that the base there which our troops were defending should not be endangered, but the fact remains that at that time there was a National Government here and every party in this House is equally responsible for what was done, whether it was right or wrong.

What I suggest to hon. Members is that about the most invidious exercise we can indulge in in this debate is to try to pin down responsibility on one party or another for what has happened, because from that moment onwards we could see that the whole impetus of the revolutionary movement in Egypt accelerated. We have Colonel Nasser, in his book, "The Philosophy of the Revolution", saying this: The seeds of the revolution were present within me long before the episode of February 4th, 1942, a day after which I wrote to a friend saying 'What is to be done now that the die was cast and we accepted what happened on our knees in surrender … once the Imperialist realises that some Egyptians are ready to shed their own blood and meet force with force he will beat a hasty retreat, like any harlot rebuffed.' … As for us, as for the Army, the episode had a new electrifying effect on our spirit and sensibilities. Heretofore, officers who had talked only of selfish amusement now began to talk of self-sacrifice and their readiness to die in defence of their honour … Actually, this action… revived the spirit of some of us and brought home to us the fact that when our honour was involved we might be prepared to defend it. It was a lesson, but it was a hard lesson. All parties are equally responsible in this House if, in fact, we did anything wrong at that time.

I go back to Colonel Anwar el Sadat's book in which, talking about March, 1946, he had this to say: These waves of violence.… That was, by Egyptians— had a salutary effect upon the British, The Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, decided to withdraw all troops from Cairo and Alexandria … on July 4th, 1946, the Citadel of Cairo was handed over to the Egyptian Army. On July 30th it was announced that the Middle East headquarters would be withdrawn from Cairo and the Canal Zone before the end of the year, and that all troops stationed in Egypt would be transferred to the Canal Zone before May 1st, 1947. He then says: We should have followed up our advantage immediately. Later, in February, 1947, he mentioned that the British Government of that day decided to withdraw British troops from Greece and Turkey and said this, which is a comment on what was said by the hon. Member for Wrexham about having British forces in the area: The withdrawal of British troops from the Eastern Mediterranean, coinciding as it did with the climax of the Palestine crisis and the rioting in Egypt, left the Middle East dangerously open to a Russian advance. If the hon. Member wants to suggest that it was the latest events which brought Russia into the Middle East, he only needs to go and talk to anyone who lived in Beirut immediately after the war to find what happened to the staff of the Russian Embassy. I think it was multiplied about a hundred times.

So much for those quotations. I say this to my hon. Friends. I have worked with many of them for a considerable number of years, because I believed that we were absolutely determined to prevent a fatal decision being taken. Only one of us on that occasion did take the action which I believe, if taken by a greater number of people, might conceivably have prevented this situation. I think I am entitled to say this. On the night before I did resign the Whip, in 1954, I read over to the Suez Group as it then was the statement I was proposing to make the following day. There was one sentence in what I read that night which was not in the statement I issued the following morning.

In view of what is happening now, think that I ought to read the sentence which I left out from the statement I issued to the Press on the following day. It was: I am, therefore, taking the only action still left open to me which I believe, if taken by a sufficient number, might still deter the Government from taking a step which, I believe, will prove disastrous. I did not put that in the statement to the Press, because I was afraid that it stung very deep. I only mention it tonight with the greatest regret. It is because I think that of all people least entitled to quote the words of Alexander Pope, my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South is the least entitled. He mentioned the phrase, "Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike." I happen to have that quotation in extenso in my pocket. It is an epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot describing Addison, I think, and it is written by Alexander Pope: And he who now to sense, now nonsense leaning,Means not, but blunders round without a meaning: Is the noble Lord quite certain that that could not be used in reference to himself?

When I listened to his speech and studied the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Garston and Ealing, South I asked myself: what are they trying to do? What do they want us to do? What are they now proposing which would undo anything which has been done? There is nothing in anything they say which will undo it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Let hon. Members opposite be a little careful about cheering all this, because my argument has been mainly to try to emphasise that we are all in this together.

What has been done in the past, whether in 1942, or 1946, or 1947, or 1954, or 1956, or whether it is being done in 1957, by a Conservative Government or by a Labour Government, has been done in the name of Great Britain and in the eyes of the world it will be done in the name of Great Britain. What I find so distasteful about the whole of this debate is the apparent complete lack of any awareness that this is so.

Perhaps I had better finish my speech by reading lines which, I think, sum it up better than any other words. They were written by Peter Simple in the Daily Telegraph on 14th May. This is what he wrote: One of the signs of a great people is an ability to retreat gracefully. It is not an easy thing to do; indeed, it is a supreme test of character. It demands a calm generosity of mind, and iron self-restraint. It involves an ability to recognise the inevitable and to accept it with tranquillity; a willingness to admit that if others are to blame for the mess, we are no less so ourselves; a refusal to hunt for scapegoats or bandy sterile recriminations with our friends; a cheerful readiness to pick up the pieces and start again. A querulous bitterness disfigures not those at whom it is directed, but those who direct it. That sums up as well as anything can my feelings on this occasion. I say with the deepest sincerity I can possibly muster to my hon. Friends who feel that they must break away, "I wish you had done it in 1954 if you were to do it at all. I deeply regret that you ever found it necessary to do it, and for heaven's sake come back as soon as you can."

6.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) has been most scathing towards the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), but we must leave them to settle between themselves outside the Chamber the obviously bitter quarrel which at present exists between them. I think we are entitled to look at one or two things which they have said, because some of us have sat here for a long time learning quite a little as a result of the observations which they have made.

The noble Lord told us that the purpose of foreign policy is power. I have always thought that the purpose of our foreign policy was peace, with honour, and that we were determined to create the biggest area of peace it was possible to create. Apparently the noble Lord's view is that it is not our duty to try to co-operate with other nations; it is our job to try to dominate those other nations. Having regard to the language which he used, I believe that it ill became the noble Lord to talk about humiliation. Never were remarks more arrogantly made about those living abroad by anybody. The noble Lord and many hon. Members opposite cannot speak in reasonable decent English about Nasser. They forget that some day, next week or next year or some time, it is men like Nasser with whom they will have to come to terms if we are to have the peace and the tranquillity which is just as essential to Britain as it is to the Middle East.

I believe that a good proportion of hon. Members opposite were intent on a military show-down from the end of July. I should like to refer to a newspaper article by the hon. Member for Stafford.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I apologise. It used to be Stafford. I know the constituency quite well, probably better than the hon. Member. I should like to refer to a newspaper article which he wrote in the Sunday Express on 29th July. This is the language which he used: There is now only one sure way to rid Egypt and the world of Nasser. There is only one way to curb his defiance of international obligations, and that is by force. The use and not just the show of force. For what on earth is the point of our base on Cyprus if it is not for an emergency like this? But what exactly will force mean? An ultimatum? Yes. The declaration that—unless Nasser keeps his hands off the Canal—we will send in warships and occupy Suez with our troops? Yes. Very likely this ultimatum will be sufficient. But if it isn't? What does force mean then? The reoccupation of Egyptian soil? If necessary—yes. Fighting and killing and destruction of the enemy? If necessary—yes.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

I stand by that absolutely. If that course had been taken none of the trouble which we are in now would have arisen.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

It is precisely because we acted on his advice, issued an ultimatum, used force and tried to occupy the Canal in October—precisely because we did all the things in October which he asked us to do in July—that we have had the humiliating spectacle of the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister having to eat everything which they said last September and October.

It is not only the hon. Member far Stafford and Stone who was thinking in terms of using force to settle this issue. We have the testimony of Mr. Dulles, given before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington on 8th January. He recalled that he had left for the first London Conference on two hours' notice without even taking time to pack a bag, after an urgent conference at the White House. He said there were "very strong forces" at the London Conference which had believed that a solution could be found only in terms of an armed attack. These opinions had not proved "dominant" at the conference but, Mr. Dulles added grimly, the world could have no doubt now of their reality, in view of the later conduct of Britain and France in Egypt. Mr. Dulles was saying that at the conference of the Suez Canal users in August certain nations were demanding that this issue should be settled by force. He went on to say, speaking in January, five months later, that no one would then deny it, having regard to the action which France and Britain took in October. In other words, it must have been this country and Her Majesty's Government which had been using their influence at that conference to try to settle this issue by force.

Photo of Mr Konni Zilliacus Mr Konni Zilliacus , Manchester, Gorton

My hon. Friend may recall that, in his broadcast on 1st November, President Eisenhower specifically stated that the British and French Governments had made up their minds to use force.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Yes, and furthermore, in the same testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Dulles went on to say: The path to a peaceful solution could have been found if Britain and France had not invaded Egypt. At the end of October, the Security Council had unanimously adopted six principles for the future regulation of the Suez Canal. The optimism then shown by the Eisenhower Administration was an accurate portrayal of the situation as it then existed. Then, Britain and France moved into Egypt. There have been many reasons given to show why we moved in, but what has been amazing to me has been the way this thing has been bungled from the very beginning. Let me give an illustration. We decided, after some weeks, to withdraw the pilots. I suppose that Sir Anthony Eden and M. Monet thought that if British and French pilots were withdrawn, the Suez Canal would somehow close, because there would be no pilots in any other part of the world who could convey ships safely through that waterway. What happened?

Within forty-eight hours of the French and British pilots coming out, Russian pilots moved in. We had spent millions of pounds in trying to keep the Communists out of the Middle East, and yet we directly took a step which allowed them to go in. They are still in, and they will remain there, and nothing that we can do will get them out. Why were the Government so short-sighted and so stupid as to believe that if we withdrew our pilots that would, somehow or other, cause the Canal to cease to function, and that ships would not in these circumstances be able to go through it? It was sheer and utter nonsense, because both Germany and Russia have waterways quite as difficult to navigate as Suez, and they have pilots quite as well trained. All that that action meant, therefore, was that another British influence was automatically withdrawn from that territory, and other influences which we were so anxious to keep out were allowed to go in.

I turn to another aspect of the matter. When we arrived there, after the Suez expedition had landed, we were told that a great Russian arms plot had been discovered. We were never given any details either of value or numbers, but we were told that a considerable quantity of Russian arms was found in the Middle East. Now, everybody says that they have known for years of the anti-British attitude of Colonel Nasser and the Egyptians, and that they have known for several years of the building up of Russian forces in this area. If that were so, and if we knew that the Russians were supplying the Egyptians with arms, why did Her Majesty's Government continue to supply Egypt with arms right up to last June?

I have here a quotation from the Manchester Guardian from a report of the United Nations, which says: Britain exported ordnance goods worth 2,648,000 dollars to Egypt between January and June, 1956. That was within a month of Nasser nationalising the Canal, and we were still sending the Egyptians weapons of war. In the same period—and we have always talked about keeping a balance of arms in the Middle East—we sent to Israel 659,000 dollars' worth. In other words, we supplied the Egyptians with four times the value of arms that we supplied to Israel. The report goes on: Britain also exported £3,370,000 worth of aircraft to Egypt and 15,000 dollars' worth of boats. The figure for aircraft to Israel was 74,000 dollars, and for boats 11,000 dollars. These are the quantities that were supplied between January and June of last year, when everybody knew that the position in the Middle East was becoming ever more difficult for us. Nevertheless, we continued to send arms to the very nation which, as the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely has just told us, has since 1942 been planning and working for the day when it would be able to throw us out.

I am not one of those who are disappointed because this action failed, any more than I am disappointed because the action of the Russians in Hungary failed. Some hon. Members here seem to think that Russia got away with it in Hungary, while we failed to get away with it in Egypt. Do not they realise the price which Russia is paying today for what she did in Hungary? Do not they realise that there are tens of thousands of men and women throughout the world who, up to that time, had supported the Communist philosophy and who really thought that Russia was the hope of the world? Do not they realise that in England and in every other country tens of thousands of ordinary people who had given devoted service to the Communist Part, have now left it in disgust and abhorrence because of what it did in Hungary?

I am delighted that Russia is having to pay that price. She has lost far more friends than she could have won by giving way; and we did likewise over Egypt. It really is time that we began to recognise that this is the twentieth century. There was a time in our history, and I am not unfamiliar with it, when we were so big, powerful, and influential that small nations such as Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, or any of them, had to submit unquestionably to our will. We had the power to crush them if we wanted to; but what we must recognise now is that nations, like children, grow up.

We all know of parents who have been able to rule their families with rods of iron and who could get implicit obedience from their children at all times because they threatened them with what would happen if they did not show that implicit obedience. When the children begin to grow up, if the strings are not loosened, and if the mother and father do not recognise the right of their children ultimately to make their own decisions, to live their own lives and to go their own way, then they are in for a terrible break and a terrible life. What happens domestically applies equally internationally and in the world.

These nations are growing up. We can co-operate with them, but we shall never again be able to dominate them. Therefore we now have to make a choice. Are we to try to reach the maximum agreement with these peoples on the basis of what is best for both of us, or are we to learn nothing from this episode? Are we to repeat in the future this disaster? Suez will not have been such a terrible crime, and it will not have been such an overwhelming humiliation, if we learn from it that what we were able to do in the 1850's we cannot do now in the 1950's; and if we learn that no nation, whether it be America, Russia, France or Britain, can ever again in the years that lie ahead go about the world as an imperial Power was able to go about the world during the last century. That day has gone, and I rejoice that it has, because I want all people and all nations to have the self-respect and dignity of nationhood.

We have heard a lot about the Suez Canal being an international waterway. Everybody says that it was an international crime for Nasser to have obstructed shipping passing through it. I think that that is right; that a waterway of that character should be made available to the ships of all nations at all times and in all circumstances. The Suez Canal is about 103 miles long, and I very much doubt if its average width is more than three-quarters of a mile. It has, therefore, considerably less than 100 square miles of surface water.

We say that it is wrong that any one man or any one nation should have the power to control and to close this international waterway, but if we take that line I think that it is really just a little arrogant of us to go into the Pacific and close, not 100, but 75,000 square miles of surface water to international shipping for five or six months without getting any agreement about it. [AN HON. MEMBER: "International shipping does not use it."] Whether or not international shipping uses it, the point is that it cannot use it now because Her Majesty's Government have made it dangerous to do so.

When we want to give lectures to other countries, when we want to protect our own rights, because they affect our own economic destiny, we might think twice before making decisions which can affront the dignity and self-respect of other nations; and think twice before giving those who are bitterly opposed to our long-term interests a stick with which to beat us.

We on this side have been charged with having split the country. Apparently, if only hon. Members on this side had behaved as though this were a Reichstag rather than a free Parliament, the Government could have gone on their bloody course, the war would have been won, Egypt would have been humiliated, the Canal would have been freed and everything would have been perfect. I do not accept that. Never in the ten years that I have been a Member have I seen the party opposite so divided as it has been on this issue.

We know full well the price that certain hon. Members opposite are having to pay. The hon. Member for Bournemouth, East and Christchurch (Mr. N. Nicolson) is unlikely to come back because he dared to take a stand for decency. The hon. Member for Norfolk, Central (Sir F. Medlicott) is in a similar position. We had the group which the ex-Solicitor-General led, which was all for accepting the United Nations' policy as distinct from the policy of the Suez Group.

It would be remarkably interesting to be able to read now the history which will be written in, say, twenty years' time. I should like to know whether it was his very indifferent support of the Suez campaign which cost the Lord Privy Seal the Premiership. I believe that had the Lord Privy Seal been in the market-place. standing four-square—[Interruption.] He is here, and I think that it is perfectly true that it was because he was not a strong and determined supporter of this mad policy that prevented him from getting on to the top rung. It was that which prevented him from getting into No. 10 Downing Street. I believe that that was the price that he paid, but I believe that that price is nothing compared with the price which the whole Tory Party will pay at the next General Election.

We shall not recover from this disaster in five minutes. It is not only our prestige, our trading interests or economy that are important, but the fact that it will be a long time before the word of the British Government is trusted in international affairs. Not until we have a change of Government—a Government ready to pursue policies more in keeping with the needs and aspirations, not only of our own people but of those of the whole world—will Britain's good name in international affairs be restored.

We did something when, as a sovereign Power, we—the Socialist Government—gave freedom to India, to Burma, Pakistan and Ceylon. That is something that had never been done before. We relinquished power voluntarily, and by doing so we lost, in a night, millions of enemies and gained millions of friends. When the party opposite and when Her Majesty's Government recognise the wisdom of such a policy, and aim to pursue it in the Middle East and several other spheres where we have interests, they may be returning to sanity, but until then I am perfectly sure that every day they stay in office is a clay nearer to disaster for our country.

6.57 p.m.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore Lieut-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore , Ayr

I listened to all the, speeches that have been made by the Opposition yesterday and today and the one thing that has astonished me about them all is the lack of either any expression of shame or remorse for their inexplicable conduct—some people would call it disgraceful conduct—last autumn, when during that period and since they gave just that support to Nasser which inspired him with the strength to ignore and resist the United Nations.

There was, of course, one common theme running through their speeches, and that was a sort of half-hearted apology. That includes the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). We all sympathise with him. We know that his heart is more or less touched and afflicted by the wrongs of Israel, whereas his loyalty to his party forces him to take action which he knows to be contrary to the well-being of that nation.

We all understand and sympathise with the Government, and with the people of the country as a whole, at the outcome of Suez. Most of us would have wished another result. Most of us would have wished another decision by the Government, but, in the circumstances, I cannot see what other course the Government could take. To me, it seems inevitable.

The repetition of "I told you so" leads nowhere. It seems rather a folly to spend two days in criticising the policy of the Government unless we are to learn a particular lesson from the event which may be a guide to the future. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) made one or two comments on his late associates and on the fact that they had not produced or demonstrated any alternative to the action which the Government have taken. There are, of course, alternatives. Naturally, we have all searched our minds during the last few days to think of what other action the Government could have taken here.

What other steps could the Government have taken? They could, of course, have continued their prohibition on the use of the Canal by our shipping, but they would, by so doing, have inflicted an intolerable strain on our whole economy, especially when every other user nation would allow the Canal to be used by its ships. We could have sent a ship through the Canal and refused to pay the dues except to the Canal Company. No doubt, our ship would have been stopped; action would have had to be taken, and we should have had the very war which this whole exercise was designed to prevent.

Lastly, of course, we could have manipulated the White Nile waters, which would, in course of time, have starved the people of Egypt; but I am perfectly certain that the conscience of the whole nation would have been so afflicted by that thought that any Government contemplating it would have had to drop the idea. The present decision of the Government, therefore, seems not only feasible, but the only one they could adopt.

I am reminded, in considering the present situation, of the significant words which the Prime Minister used yesterday, to which reference has been made on several occasions during our debate. My right hon. Friend said that this is not the end of the story. Whether that means anything very much, I do not know; but there are events taking place in the Middle East which lend importance to that statement. We are now seeing a new harmony between Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and, of course, the always faithful Lebanon. We are now seeing the two "stooges" of Communism becoming increasingly isolated from their Arab colleagues, and we see Nasser losing every gain in his struggle for Arab leadership. These things are all very important, and it may well be that they were in the mind of the Prime Minister when he used those words.

Nasser will lose still more if we—that is to say, we and the United States—deny him the economic and financial aid which we know is essential to his now crumbling economy. We control the sterling assets accumulated as a charge for the efforts we made to protect Egypt, when the Egyptians were sheltering—I was going to say cowering—behind the defence provided by the "guts" and bayonets of our British soldiers in the late war. I hope that these assets will be devoted to assisting those British subjects who have been expelled from Egypt, who have lost not only so many tangible assets, but also so many intangible assets that the Government will find it difficult to assess their value.

While all these matters are relevant, the really important consideration is this: what are we to do about the United Nations? This question has been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington, the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) and a number of my hon. Friends on this side. How are we to solve the problem posed by the attitude of the United Nations which, through the agency of the United States, made this debate tonight inevitable?

If one studies recent events, they Ell one with despair, since it is obvious that the United Nations is impotent or unwilling to take positive action when a great, powerful, or ruthless nation is concerned, but will, or can, act only when dealing with comparatively small or weakly armed nations, or those who, like France and ourselves, take a civilised view of our obligations under the Charter.

In 1951, as the right hon. Member for Easington reminded us, Egypt was instructed to offer unhindered passage through the Canal for ships bound to Israel. Egypt refused and refuses still. The United Nations did nothing, and does nothing still. More recently, Russia was ordered by the United Nations to cease her reign of terror and withdraw her troops from Hungary. Russia cynically ignored the order and merely tightened her tyrannical control over that unhappy country. Again, the United Nations did nothing. Finally, Pandit Nehru was requested to hold a plebiscite over Kashmir before taking any further acquisitive action there. Nehru blandly continued to absorb Kashmir, careless of the wishes of Kashmir, of the United Nations, or of anyone else.

What a contrast we find when we study what the United Nations did when little Israel was concerned. The United Nations girds up its loins and becomes tough and rough, and, I must admit, finds a very willing instrument in its Secretary-General. What is the charge against Israel?—that, after handing back her 5,000 prisoners to Egypt in return for the 10 Israeli soldiers who, somehow or other, managed to fall in the hands of the Egyptians during the Suez episode, Israel sought, understandably, in my view, to prevent a recurrence of the Egyptian raids which had been taking place from the Gaza Strip and to look after the Gulf of Aqaba to enable her shipping to pass through.

What was the result? She was harshly told to behave herself. She was told that if she did not obey the United Nations order, dire punishment would be meted out to her. I will not mention our own actions in regard to Suez; I do not want to raise further controversy at this time of the evening, but I will say that I am convinced that if we had gone on and finished the job my argument would have been reinforced, because the United Nations would have done nothing then either.

What part did our allies, to whom we had every right to look for assistance, play in these events? The United Nations bears a large part of the blame, but I believe that the American Administration —I mean the Administration, not the people—are to a great extent responsible. In my view, the American Administration have followed a very strange course, which few can fully understand. To take one or two examples of their actions of late, we know that it was due largely to the influence of the United States Government that the United Nations was first created and its Charter approved in its present form, and we know it was largely to meet United States wishes that the State of Israel was formed as a free and independent home for the Jews.

Moreover, it was directly due to the action of the United States in withdrawing her promise to Egypt to provide funds for the Aswan Dam that hit Nasser in the face and forced him, in order to save his face, to nationalise the Canal and so precipitate the whole Middle East crisis. Lastly, the United States, by trying to force the Eisenhower Doctrine on the Middle East, is pursuing a policy which fundamentally, has hitherto been pursued by Great Britain. Yet that is a policy which President Eisenhower so harshly condemned, with, of course, the sympathetic approval of our "faithful ally" Russia.

I do not know whether any hon. Member remembers it, but I have to stress the fact in order to continue my argument about the effect of the American attitude towards the Suez crisis. There was a broadcast by President Eisenhower in February. How he came to do it, and how he came to use the language he did, defies explanation. I will not go into it in detail, because it was quite a long broadcast. He said, in effect, that there must be no sanctions against Egypt—perish the thought. There must be no sanctions, of course, against Russia—in other words, burnt fingers must be avoided; and no sanctions against India —the brother in peace must be protected.

But Israel, provocative, dangerous Israel, menace to world peace—then, indeed, the President became his noble and usually moral self. Israel must be taught a lesson; Israel must be humiliated, not crushed, of course, but humiliated. What a tragedy it all is for this great man, loved by his own people, admired by our people and respected by all people, to have lost so much for such a bad cause.

What can be done about the United Nations? To my mind, although some hon. Members have referred to the police force as a valuable asset created by British pressure, by the pressure of Sir Anthony Eden, many hon. Members seemed to regard that as a solution to the lack of power in U.N.O. I am not so sure. I think that that international force will, for a long time to come, suffer from the very weakness of U.N.O. itself. It will be incompetent or unwilling to attack the big issues or issues in which big countries are involved and will be able to deal only with those that are small and insignificant.

Can the Charter be revised and, if so, who will do it? Will it be the big nations, which already possess the power of veto, and, therefore, can use it really as an article for their own national policy, or the smaller nations which, by their membership of the Assembly, have a voting power quite inconsistent with their population, their strength or their deserts? That is the problem which is facing us. Of course, the Charter might be scrapped. I do not suppose that any great harm would come to the somewhat unstable peace of the world by doing so. But if it were scrapped, it would undoubtedly wreck the hopes and ideals of millions of people who look upon it as one instrument by which wars can be avoided. Indeed, it is the only instrument that has yet been devised that may turn out to be an instrument for peace.

Therefore, I do not think that we can consider that action. Whatever happens, there is no doubt that the organisation must be altered. Even if we cannot alter the Charter itself the organisation should be altered on the following lines. That is my opinion and it does not count for more than that of anyone else. I think that all decisions of the Security Council, even those proposed by the great nations, Russia, the United States and India should be ratified by the Assembly. That would be one safeguard, I think, for a more democratic way of thinking. The veto must be removed and a normal, democratic majority vote substituted. Membership of the Assembly should certainly be revised so as to ensure that votes are held and wielded by responsible member countries only.

Finally, I say this with some diffidence, I think that the functions, powers and responsibilities of the Secretary-General must be examined so as to ensure that he is and also appears to be a servant of its policy and not its author, since many people have doubts as to the complete impartiality of the Secretary-General during recent months.

That is all that I have to say, except that I hope that we will now cease recriminations—I do not think that they lead anywhere—and look ahead. I would also suggest to the Opposition that instead of acting against their better judgment by going into the Lobby against the Government tonight, they should support the Government and give the country, the world and Nasser the knowledge that Britain is united still and is, therefore, still great.

7.16 p.m.

Photo of Sir Leslie Plummer Sir Leslie Plummer , Deptford

I think that the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) will forgive me if I do not follow him down this now classical path of anti-Americanism. We must all, I think, quite properly have the right to be able to say what we think about the actions of other countries and of our allies. I want to make only this comment, that the atmosphere has changed a great deal since my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was literally howled down in this House three or four years ago because he uttered criticisms of the policy of the United States Government which were far less severe than anything we have heard in the last two days. The atmosphere has changed and I am not complaining about that; it is perfectly right. It is only a pity that there has not been shown in the past more tolerance towards independent opinion in this House, as right hon. and hon. Members opposite are now claiming.

I was interested, too, in what the hon. Baronet had to say about Israel—the claims that he made that Israel had been bullied by the United Nations for the action that she had taken in the autumn of last year. It was not only the United Nations that bullied Israel. It was Sir Anthony Eden who bullied Israel. I remember when the ultimatum was issued and we asked the then Prime Minister: does that apply to both sides? He said, "If the conflict goes on, certainly, it does. We, Her Majesty's Government, reserve unto ourselves the right, under this ultimatum, to take what physical action we like against either side."

Was that not bullying Israel? Was that not taking exactly the line of the United Nations? This is the point that I want to make. Apart from whether we have recriminations or not, what is utterly essential is that we learn the lessons of these disastrous nine months so that we do not make mistakes of this kind any more. One of the most distasteful things about the last nine months has been the way in which the Government adopted an absolutely schizophrenic attitude towards Israel.

Over and over again right hon. and hon. Members from these benches asked that Israel should be allowed to purchase the arms which she regarded as being necessary for her defence. This afternoon we heard the Foreign Secretary say that one of our purposes in our Middle East policy before Suez flared up was to prevent an arms race in the Middle East. But we encouraged the arms race in the Middle East. The Government were selling guns, munitions, cannon and aeroplanes disproportionately to the Arabs than to the Israelis. We asked over and over again that in the interests of peace in the Middle East, Israel should be allowed to purchase the arms she required for her defence. Each time, the Government Front Bench refused both the plea of hon. Members of this House and the appeals of Israel.

What was the result? Of course, Nasser got cocky. Of course, Nasser got tough. Who would not? He was getting the arms which he knew were being denied to Israel. He then got himself into a state of powerful xenophobia which was in itself, as we know, a menace to the peace of the Middle East. As a result the tensions that built up in Israel, as any hon. Member who went to Israel before October last year will know, were almost unbearable. One could feel them as something physical after one had been in the country for a little while.

What was the attitude of Israel? The Israelis talked about the fact that they had a secret weapon. That secret weapon was that they had to fight and win if they were to live. Israel, because of her tension, naturally got herself in the position in which she was raiding Arab countries in retaliation and, in some places, was taking what could be regarded—I am not saying that it was, but it could be regarded—as hostile action. The British Government were largely responsible for that. If Israel had been confident in the arms that she had, and in her ability to be able to defend herself from a mass attack by several Arab countries, I believe that the whole atmosphere would have altered.

Our case was that if we continued to pour arms into the Arab States, which the Government were doing, and refused to give equality to Israel, we were stoking up in the Middle East a situation which was desperately dangerous. But that was not all. The Government, who were showing this affection for the Arab countries and hostility towards the demands of Israel, refused to take action when we asked that they should do so against the Arab boycott, not only of Israel, but of British firms which traded with Israel.

The system was well known. A British firm would get a letter asking for the names of the directors, how many of them were Jews, how many of them traded with Israel, how much trade they did with Israel, whether they had a branch or agency there, and whether the company had any connection at all with Israel. If one of the answers was in the affirmative, there immediately began an Arab trade boycott of the company.

I raised the question on many occasions. Over and over again I was told that Her Majesty's Government neither approved nor condoned the conduct of the Arab countries. I asked the Government to stop Arab legations in this country spying on British firms, but the Government refused to do so, saying that they did not have sufficient evidence. So we gave the Government the evidence and back came the cry, "The Government neither condone nor approve this attitude."

Had that spying and intimidation been done by a country on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the man who did it would have been deported from this country. If any of the satellite countries had threatened British firms in the way in which the Arab countries were—and still are—doing, the Government would have taken action straight away and there would have been cheers from the benches opposite. But the Government permitted this action to go on. They refused to take the necessary action to stop this attempt to murder Israel economically.

We asked that something should be done to help in the building of the diversion of the Jordan waters at a time when we still had some influence in Jordan. Such a scheme is necessary if the Negev is to be developed, and it is certainly necessary if anything is to be done for the wretched Arabs who are living a desperate and horrible life as refugees in Jordan. Here is a necessary development to use water that now flows uselessly into the sea to irrigate thousands and thousands of acres, to help with industrial development, research and development of minerals, and the rest. We were told that nothing could be done with Jordan, who said that it would be regarded as a casus belliif Israel took any action over the waters of the Jordan, flowing about 400 yards within Israeli territory.

Why did we not get tough then? If we were wanting to see the development of schemes in the Middle East, to abolish poverty and malnutrition and to do something for the refugees. why were we not taking a definite line? We knew that the Egyptians were not friends of ours. It is quite clear from all we have heard now that the Government were conscious of the build-up of the opposition and hatred which Egypt was showing towards us. The Government, however, could not make up their mind. They would not listen to the pleas of those of us who argued that unless schemes like this were developed, there would be a steady deterioration of the position.

What happens today? Since October, we have had from the Government a verbal demonstration of their affection for Israel. Today, Israel wants to send to this country for reservicing aeroplane engines which it bought here, but the Government will not let the engines be reserviced in this country. The Government see to it that the Export Credits Guarantee Department does not consider trade with Israel as favourably as it regards trade with other countries There is no relaxation of the economic difficulties or barriers that were in operation before the Suez affair occurred.

Industrialists and businessmen, English and Israeli, who are trying to do business together find it just as difficult as it was in 1956, when we were given the argument by the Government that we could not favour Israel because we had to keep the balance of peace in the Middle East. These actions against the proper economic development of Israel do not march hand in hand with the demonstrations of friendship to Israel which we are now constantly getting from the Government side.

I should have thought that hon. Members opposite, who have been attacking us so bitterly for some of the things we have been saying about the cost of the Suez dispute, could have helped some of us to establish a relationship with Israel in the military and economic spheres that would rebound to her advantage and certainly to our credit.

7.28 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Patricia McLaughlin Mrs Patricia McLaughlin , Belfast West

I am sure that we are all distressed at the situation in which our ships have to use the Suez Canal, but all sensible people—despite remarks to the contrary, there are many sensible people about—are determined to support the Government in their endeavour to improve the situation and in tackling the other problems which face them in the Middle East.

Too much has been said about what should or should not have been done. The fact is that we must face the situation as it is and stop harping on things as they have been. All these hypotheses and recriminations do not get us anywhere and only make our future action much more difficult. Many of the Motions of censure and abstentions are interpreted in the outside world as weakness on the part of this country and are taken as a sign that we are divided in a way in which certainly we are not. They tend to give an impression that the people of Britain did not support what Her Majesty's Government did in the intervention in Egypt.

Photo of Mrs Patricia McLaughlin Mrs Patricia McLaughlin , Belfast West

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday that there had been no settlement of the Suez Canal problem at all and that we are not at the end of the story.

The hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) said that he was worried about the end of the story. Certainly we are all worried about the end of the story. But this is not a short story with a swift, happy and easy conclusion. It is rather like a serial in about eight, ten, or a dozen parts, long drawn out, and published monthly or weekly in a magazine. At the end of each part, one is left in a quandary about what will happen next time. As with all serials, the solution will be a simple and straightforward one in the end. However, as with all problems, to reach the solution is very difficult, and the story will certainly have to be worked out in conjunction with the six points put forward by the Security Council.

I believe that, despite what has been said by many hon. Members opposite, our prestige abroad is much higher than we think. There has been a great hardening of opinion regarding this matter, and especially regarding our handling of the situation in the very difficult circumstances in which we found ourselves.

In theory, the resources of the world should be at the disposal of the world. That is a very attractive theory indeed, especially to those countries which have fewer resources than others. There must be organisation to ensure that these resources will be available as widely as possible for the peoples of the world. The Suez Canal is one of our greatest resources or assets, and it must be freely available for all people and for all countries to use, and it must be available under international terms so that its organisation and regulation can be as satisfactory as possible. It is rather ironic that one of man's greatest achievements—the Suez Canal—should be the cause of so much controversy and bitterness in the world.

Our ships have, rightly, been given the all-clear to use the Canal. We cannot expect to stand only with France in boycotting its use, but we do not stand alone in determination to achieve some satisfactory agreement about the international control of the Canal. I believe most sincerely that the bitterness engendered in this House and the vituperative attack on Her Majesty's Government and on the former Prime Minister did much to strengthen Nasser's hand and to make him determine to hold on to the control of the Canal in the way in which he has done. I believe that it gave the nation the impression that this was a House deeply divided, and that it gave countries abroad the impression that this was a deeply divided country, whereas, as a whole, the country supported the Government's action in intervening in Egypt.

So many possibilities have been advanced that I shall not venture to add much to them, but I believe that if we had not intervened as we did the whole of the Middle East—as the Foreign Secretary said today—might well have been aflame, because who knows what would have happened had we allowed Israel to march right forward to the Suez Canal? Were we to expect that Russia would sit back and not act? Were we to expect the other Arab countries to stand meekly by? I believe that our action was courageous, and it was extremely swift and undertaken under great difficulties.

Many people feel that our negotiations in the past were not sincere, but surely the very founding of the Users' Association, the very way in which we carried out our policy right up to the time when we had to take that drastic action, proved our determination to negotiate for as long as we could and as earnestly and with as much determination as we could. All the while there was this crisis, the United Nations and the Security Council were discussing the problem, passing resolutions and making recommendations, and the only real action which was taken to stop anything from going seriously wrong and from turning what was happening into a major war was the action which Britain took when she intervened in Egypt. It is all very well for people now to say "If we had done this" or "If we had done that", but the fact remains that today we might not be in comparative peace in relation to this problem if it had not been that we swiftly and skil-fully managed to separate the two contestants.

As to our helping the United Nations to become a real power in the world—this is where I have a criticism to make—I believe that we have not played our full part in supporting it thoroughly in past years. Our Foreign Ministers and others in our Foreign Service have many arduous tasks to undertake. I believe the time has now come when the Government should appoint a permanent Minister to the United Nations who will be able to relieve the Foreign Secretary of some of his duties—the Foreign Secretary has many responsibilities throughout the world as well as at home—who will there be able to represent Her Majesty's Government and who will at all times be on the spot, not only to care for our interests, but also to help to further the interests of all the countries which join in that tremendous Assembly.

I also believe that we could have done more in the past to ensure that the delegates whom we sent to the United Nations were the very best representatives that we could send from this country. I am not criticising our delegates in the past, for I believe they have done their job well, but we need to look about more widely in the future in selecting the people to represent us at the United Nations if this country is to give of its best to this great international ideal, which I believe will work for the peace of the world.

We have listened to a great deal of constructive and destructive criticism, and criticism of people, of Governments, and of actions. Tonight, we shall be asked to vote in the Lobby on something which amounts to a Motion of censure against the action which Her Majesty's Government took. I believe most firmly that the more we have such Motions of censure and the more that the outside world watches us and listens to what we say here, the more it feels that we are not as a nation determined to support British policy, which is of the highest quality and which is based on the determination to ensure that the Canal shall be free for all.

Tonight, when we go through the Lobby, the eyes of the world will be upon us. The people of the world will also have heard or read the words which have been spoken here. I hope that the debate has been worthy of them. I hope that some of the very distorted and recriminatory remarks which have been expressed here will not gain so much publicity that they distort the general truth, which is that Britain did the right thing at the right time and that our task now is to support Her Majesty's Government and urge them to do the utmost in their power to ensure that the situation is sorted out slowly, carefully, and satisfactorily, so that this great resource and asset of the world shall be free for use by all.

7.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Lady the Member for Belfast, West (Mrs. McLaughlin) said about our representation at the United Nations. But I feel that the view that it is wrong for a democratic assembly to divide on an important matter because it may go out to the world at large that there is a difference of opinion cannot be supported.

I have not been in this House very long, but I have been here long enough to know that that sort of thing is very often said by whichever party forms the Government. The closing speaker in a debate on some such subject as pensions regulations says, "Think what will be said all over Africa tonight. Think what the newspapers will say tomorrow about the terrible state of the Biritish nation unless we unite." There is a disagreement about what happened at Suez and, as a democratic country, we must face it.

I understood when the present Prime Minister's Government was formed that there was to be a new departure in foreign policy. It seemed very difficult to combine in the Government certain members of the Suez Group, who disapproved very much of the outcome of certain events in the autumn, and also certain people who had resigned for exactly the opposite reason, equally strongly disapproving certain other events of the autumn. It seemed impossible to combine both in the Government and continue pursuing a policy which both groups thought entirely wrong.

However, from the course of the debate, it appears that on the whole the Government are defending the same old policy and, indeed, have brought very little new thought to bear on matters since the new year. Like the hon. Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude) I was aghast when I heard the Prime Minister say "This is not the end of the story." The whole story is going on, rolling on. This is not even a still out of it. This is a stream of events broadening down from Suez crisis to Suez crisis almost indefinitely in the future. I believe that when the Government were formed people looked to them thinking that some new thought would be brought to bear on the problems which led us to our troubles last autumn and did not expect a repetition. on the one hand, of the knife being turned in the wound all the time and, on the other hand, of the public licking of their wounds by the Government every few weeks.

There seems to be one important point which has been hardly mentioned in the debate. That is the fact that last autumn the country was taken into war—because war it was—without any consultation with the Commonwealth or Opposition and without any information being made available to the Commonwealth, or to hon. Members. That is a disturbing factor, and some examination of the constitutional position should be made. Though I quite agree that the ultimate responsibility lies with the Government of this country, it seems entirely wrong that a situation can arise in which neither the Commonwealth, nor the Opposition, nor even the House, is fully informed of the situation, which in this case led to war.

There are other matters which in the last two or three weeks have given me cause for concern. One is the growing view that it would have been all right if only we had gone on. I do not know how far it is said that we should have gone—probably to the end of the Canal. If we had done that, it is obvious that we should certainly have gone bankrupt and possibly have had a world war. It may be said that those are risks which we ought to have taken. But the other aspect of this argument is that even when we had 90,000 troops on the Canal banks, we could still not obtain free passage for Israeli shipping. That was not in the days of the present Government, and no one is suggesting that that was the fault of the Opposition. That was when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was Prime Minister. Why anyone should think that by putting troops back on the Canal banks we could have done more than in those days, I do not know.

The other tendency is for people, the Prime Minister in particular, to make speeches in language which would be much more appropriate to the victory of Alamein than to those sad events which took place last November. These speeches have referred to the "greatness of the country", and "the triumph we have been through together", and told how we "faced the future as a united nation," and so forth. The speeches are 'then coupled with the rather pathetic protest that we had to agree to Nasser's terms; that we let our ships go through the Canal under protest; and that a good deal of credit is attached to the Government that they have agreed to the terms only under protest. It would be better to leave out the protest. I cannot think the protest is ever very dignified. We have to let our ships through the Canal and the less we say about it, and the less protest we make, the better.

I have said before that I do not believe that we will get any quick settlement in the Middle East, unless it is by war. Certainly if we are prepared to allow the Arabs and Israelis to fight it out, we will reach a settlement; but that is something which the country could not do and which would be extremely dangerous, not to say inhuman.

What we have to work for is not a quick settlement of the Middle East or of the Canal problem, but some continuous policy which will have at any rate some chance of achieving some minimum success. That is one of the difficulties which faces all the groups in the House. I do not believe that any group is able to put forward a constructive, total policy for the Middle East—certainly not the Suez Group, which does not seem to have any long range aim at all.

One of the difficulties about it is that we all tend to ignore the realities of the situation on the one hand, and aim far too high, on the other. For instance, it was said yesterday, with some justice, that Nasser was a dictator, that all dictators are untrustworthy, and that sooner or later they are led into aggression. I agree with that, but I cannot agree that in the foreseeable future in the Middle East we will be able to deal with a soundly constituted Western-type democratic Government. We will have to deal with very unstable Governments and, from time to time, with people who will be in the position of dictators—whatever they may he called.

It seems to me, therefore, that we should narrow the main issues as far as we can and sort out which are the really important ones. Over the Canal, the most important issue by far is that of free passage. I should leave the rest of the principles to be played down to the commercial level. So long as we have free passage through the Canal, that is the main thing. The questions of what dues should be paid, whether the Canal is to be widened and deepened, and so on, are important, but, as one of the main users of the Canal, what we have to achieve is agreement among the others using the Canal to insist on free passage. The other problems concerned with it are many, but they should be treated primarily as commercial problems. I should like to see an agreement on that negotiated, certainly through the United Nations, but I do not know how far that may be possible and I shall return to that topic a little later.

I think that the same policy should be pursued over oil. At the moment we are apparently concentrating on the carriage of oil, but the first essential is to be quite certain that we can get the oil. The next crisis may be when some of the producer countries deny us the oil, whether we can carry it or not. We should try to get a treaty between the Arab countries and the purchasing countries that there shall be access to the oil.

Once we have that, I should be prepared to leave it largely to the oil companies to negotiate the size of the concession. We may be in difficulties in Persia if that country begins demanding more than 50 per cent. of the profits from oil. We may be in difficulties of one sort or another with the other producing countries, but these are commercial difficulties which can be dealt with on a commercial basis. On the political basis we should try to get firm agreement with the Arab countries for access to the oil.

We have heard a great deal about bigger tankers and improved pipelines, but what is the good of building more pipelines unless there is some agreement, some treaty, by which the flow of oil through the pipelines will be protected? Without such a treaty, we may be in exactly the situation which we face over the Canal and we may have to pay even more heavily. Before thinking of pipelines, we have to face the political questions and arrange treaties with the countries through which they pass, and we may have to pay heavily for rights of passage.

On the subject of Israel, I was astonished to be told this afternoon once more that the Tripartite Declaration is still in force. That seems to be like the Germans, after the 1914–18 war, saying that of course their foreign policy was based on the sanctity of Belgium. It is inconceivable. Suppose that the State of Jordan breaks up, as it may do, and suppose that in those circumstances the Israelis move into the Jordan Valley; if the Tripartite Declaration is in force and Jordan is being partitioned, do we go in to protect its frontiers against possible aggression by the Israelis?

Are we still maintaining a balance of arms in the Middle East? I ask that because I think that it is now time to drop this Declaration and to try to get a more sensible treaty with our allies, and —possibly through the United Nations—to deal with Israel. We should now drop the attempt to maintain a balance of arms. What is necessary in the Middle East is disarmament, because the piling up of arms on one side and the other is almost bound to lead to war.

Those are the sort of international agreements which I should like to see negotiated as properly constituted treaties. One great trouble over the Canal has been that no one has really known in the first place whether international treaties were violated. We had to bring in international lawyers to tell us whether they had been violated. If we clarified the main issues and got them covered by treaties, we should be taking a step forward. I know that it is no good merely calling for a common policy about this and no good calling indefinitely for the United Nations to carry out such a policy, because a common policy requires agreement at least between two people and we might not be able to get that.

Nevertheless, surely we could find some basis of policy within the Commonwealth as a start. How far will that matter be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? Presumably it is high on the agenda, but there has been very little sign since the end of last year of any attempt to build up a Comonwealth policy in the Middle East. On these issues we could get such a common policy and get the Indians, Australians and Canadians to agree to it.

In his admirable speech, the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) drew attention to the importance of world opinion and discussion in the General Assembly. I agree, but he did not tell us how far he thought the United Nations could tackle the sort of practical problems arising at the moment in very troubled areas like the Middle East; nor did he tell us what he thought would happen if countries disputed the ruling of the United Nations.

We heard a little from the Foreign Secretary about what has been going on in New York, at the United Nations, but I hope that before the debate ends we shall hear a good deal more. The Prime Minister keeps on saying that the United Nations is seized of the problem. I should jolly well hope it was; the effects of the crisis have been going round the world for six months and if the United Nations is not seized of the problem by now it is a sorry look-out. Parliament is always seized of all sorts of problems, with Motions on the Order Paper, but unless some pressure is brought to bear nothing happens. How much pressure are we bring in the United Nations?

What are we doing about making the international force permanent? We are told that the Government like the force now very much. They did not like it at first, but now they do, and they are glad to see it on the Israeli frontier. Are we making any contribution to make it more effective, or to put it upon a permanent basis? What steps are we taking to see that some method is introduced in the United Nations for making changes? A police force cannot enforce the status quofor ever.

Great changes are needed in the United Nations between the Assembly and the Security Council. I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) say that he thought the veto should be abolished and power given to the Assembly. The Assembly is full of people of whom I do not honestly think he approves—people from many different continents. I shall not go further. I do not know whether he realises what he is up to.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

He has been born again.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I have never taken the view that because the United Nations approves or disapproves of something that thing becomes right or wrong. Clearly, the United Nations has a limited view of the world and we must face that fact.

I fully agree that if the United Nations cannot succeed in dealing with free passage through the Canal, or the question of oil, or the Israeli frontier, we have a right to go out to try to conclude other forms of treaty to cover these matters outside the United Nations. Are the Government still confident, in their heart of hearts, that they can work through the United Nations? If not, what steps are they going to take to achieve some treaty protection, let us say, in respect of oil, which will make it quite clear where we stand—and also in respect of free passage for all nations through the Canal? What steps are we taking to obtain some treaty to replace the Tripartite Declaration?

If we are to have even a hope of settlement in the Middle East we must pursue a reasonable political policy towards changes in Middle Eastern countries. I know that we have every reason to be grateful to the Hashemite dynasty, and I support those who say that it is probably the best thing for Jordan, at present. But there will in time be a great change there. Clearly, the Gulf sheiks will not be able to go on ruling in their feudal States. It is possible to help in this development. Some form of federal system for the Arab States may be right in the long run.

If we can achieve a common policy either through or outside the United Nations, how shall we enforce it? I cannot share the view of those who say that the days of force in the world are over. It is very difficult to say that in the face of what has happened in Hungary. Masses of people have resigned from the Communist Party because of events in Hungary, but in Hungary itself force has succeeded, and it is liable to succeed elsewhere. I do not share the view that Communists are as little able to use force as we are.

What I do think is true is that if we, as a democracy, are to use sanctions, which are a form of force, we must comply with certain conditions. We must be absolutely certain of the issue in respect of which sanctions are being used, and absolutely sure that the issue is one the rightness of which will commend itself to the electorate and public opinion throughout the world. We can use sanctions for the maintenance of a treaty or for the maintenance of international good faith, but not to further or to back private nationalist aims.

We have also to make certain that the sort of sanction proposed to be used is proportionate to the difficulty we are facing. What are we doing in this regard? I would say that we should at least examine whether we can re-negotiate the Nile Treaty if free passage through the Canal is denied to us. It would seem to be perfectly reasonable to examine in more detail some of the other suggestions which have been made.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

This is not genocide; it is an appreciation of the fact that we have an international treaty which can be re-negotiated. If it can be re-negotiated, I think that is perfectly fair.

Some extraordinary views have been expressed about the use of cruisers. There are other forms of sanctions which could be undertaken, but ultimately we must rely not upon those sanctions which smack of brute force—the kind of force which does not benefit us—but a rational and consistent policy. What has been totally lacking in our policy in the Middle East, and conspicuously absent since the new year, is a consistent, rational policy. We have never pursued the same policy from one year to the next. An hon. Member on this side of the House went over the various stages in our relations with Israel—and what he said was all too true. We have at one time tried to make ourselves agreeable to Nasser, and then turned round and attempted to use the big stick.

We must pursue a policy which will commend itself consistently to some part of Arab and Jewish opinion, and also gain the support of the majority of our people and those in the United Nations. I do not say that we shall be able to do everything through the United Nations, but we must have a policy which is in keeping with the modern outlook of the twentieth century.

7.57 p.m.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

This debate has revealed two fundamentally different approaches to foreign policy and two fundamentally different principles inspiring the two parties. Having heard the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Lord Hinchingbrooke), I would say that if I held his views I hope that I should have the courage and the consistency to take the action which he has taken. My disagreement with him is based not upon the course which he has taken, nor upon the sincerity or the honour with which he has pursued it, but upon the views which he holds about foreign policy and our relations to other countries in this modern world.

The appalling thing about the Government is that they hold the same views as the noble Lord but do not take the course which he has taken. Had the Government come to this House and said, "Yes, this was a mistake, we recognise that it was a mistake. This was an odd aberration in Conservative philosophy and in our policy, and we shall now pursue an entirely different course", no doubt there would be something to be said for their staying in office. But they still persist in repeating that they would do again precisely as they did before, and nevertheless stay in office, when the only honourable course for them is to abandon the position that they now hold.

The Government have adopted a familiar technique. The Prime Minister has sounded the advance in order to cover his retreat. He has made loud noises about having made protests, and he says that this is not the end of the story. Let us examine that for a moment. The right hon. Gentleman is protesting, but he is acting under the terms that are imposed. What is the excuse? I cannot understand the Government saying that we are in such a weak position that, willynilly, contrary to our will, we have to act on the terms unilaterally imposed by Colonel Nasser; and then at the same time say to this House that if we say that the terms are imposed by Colonel Nasser, then it is a solace to Colonel Nasser.

The leader of the Government protests against the acceptance of the terms imposed. By doing so, he himself automatically declares his own impotence. It is said that this is not the end of the story. I should like to know what that means. If it has any meaning at all, I suppose it means that the Government contemplate getting some terms other than those imposed by Colonel Nasser. Is there any reality or any hope in that at all? Is that anything more than just a cover for the retreat of the Government?

The Foreign Secretary referred to alternative routes and matters of that kind. That has nothing to do with the alteration of the terms which Colonel Nasser is imposing. Alternative routes, tankers round the Cape, etc., are not they all required owing to the increasing demand for oil from the Middle East? It would mean no more than that we should require precisely the same volume of traffic through the Canal as is going through at the present time. Therefore, to talk about alternative routes and other matters of that kind merits the contempt which was poured on it by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South.

If we could not get any united action from the Canal Users' Association before we resumed our use of the Canal, what hope is there of having effective united action after we have done so? The truth is, and the reality is, that for the last five months the Government have done nothing at all to obtain better terms than those actually imposed by Colonel Nasser. The position is that during those five months the one thing that we did about the terms imposed by Colonel Nasser was to negotiate in secret through the Bank of England with the Egyptians in order to carry out the terms which Colonel Nasser was imposing, and to call the currency sterling though convertible into dollars instead of calling the currency dollars. It is humbug to talk about the validity and virtue of protesting. It is humbug to talk about this not being the end of the story. This is the end of a most ignominious story and it is a miserable end which heaps shame on all the people of this country.

The one thing about which the Government might conceivably do something which would be effective about these terms is with regard to Israel. That is the one thing about which their knees are knocking, and they promise no effective action at all. I propose to examine that. Israel is important, not just because of Israel itself; Israel is not only important just because we were in honour committed to her creation and preservation—

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

Certainly—but also because Israel is the test case in relation to the Suez Canal. She involves the matters which go to the root of the Suez Canal problem; first, the free use of the Canal, and, secondly, the recognition that there must be action upon the Resolutions of the Security Council. If we are not to ensure, as far as we can ensure, the free use of the Canal and the enforcement of those Resolutions, what hope is there of devising some new, some other, contraption in order to enforce some control or other of the Canal? There are methods of dealing with the free use of the Canal and with the Resolutions, and I intend to examine what the Government propose to do about them.

On the question of the free use of the Canal and on the Resolutions there is no weak case. It is clear that Israel is entitled under the Convention—the Government take this view—to the free use of the Canal, as is every other nation. As was said by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond)—I completely agree with him—what matters here, the substance of this Canal issue, is not nationalisation at all. The substance of it is the free use of the Canal, and here we have the test case to ensure the free use of the Canal.

There is the Resolution on this Canal and the use of it by Israel, the 1951 Resolution, from which, if the House will bear with me, I propose to read in some detail, because during all the debates on this matter I have never heard it read. It is not on the record, and I think it important to realise how very clear and express are the terms with regard to the Canal in that Resolution. The Resolution recites, that the Egyptian Government has not complied with the earnest plea of the Chief of Staff made to the Egyptian delegate on 12th June, 1951, that it desist from the present practice of interfering with the passage through the Suez Canal of goods destined for Israel. Then it states, in paragraph 5: Considering that since the Armistice régime, which has been in existence for nearly two and a half years, is of a permanent character, neither party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent or requires to exercise the right of visit, search and seizure for any legitimate purpose of self-defence. May I pause there for a moment?

The armistice is of a permanent character, and no party can reasonably assert that it is actively a belligerent. But the Egyptian case against Israel's use of the Canal is based entirely upon the thesis that Israel is a belligerent. But it is because of this Resolution and the principle of this Resolution—

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I apologise for interrupting the hon. and learned Gentleman—

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

The hon. Member can go on apologising. I will give way in a moment.

I say that the armistice is permanent and that neither party is a belligerent. It is for that reason that the United Nations stepped in and stopped Israel from attacking Egypt and imposing her own terms on Egypt.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I was not in the least trying to score off the hon. and learned Gentleman or to interrupt—

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I wanted to get on the record—I apologise if I have not heard him—but I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not state specifically whose Resolution it was, and I think that that is an important point.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. It is the Security Council Resolution of 1st September, 1951. I am sorry if I was discourteous to the hon. Gentleman. Then it goes on —[Interruption]—does the hon. Member wish to intervene again? If not, perhaps he would not mind not "rumbling", and I will carry on.

Paragraph 6 goes on: Finds that the maintenance of the practice mentioned in paragraph 4 above"— that is interfering with Israeli shipping— is inconsistent with the objectives of a peaceful settlement… In Paragraph 7 it refers to an abuse of the exercise of the right of visit. search and seizure… It goes, in paragraph 8, to state, that practice"— that is the practice of Egypt interfering with Israeli shipping— cannot in the prevailing circumstances be justified… It goes on in paragraph 9 to refer to the …unjustified interference with the rights of nations to navigate the seas and to trade freely with one another, including the Arab States and Israel. So there we have repetition after repetition of the clearest kind that the Egyptian action in stopping Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal is utterly unjustified. Finally the Resolution Calls upon Egypt to terminate the restrictions on the passage of international commercial shipping and goods through the Suez Canal wherever bound and to cease all interference with such shipping beyond that essential to the safety of shipping in the Canal itself and to the observance of international conventions in force. So there we have the Security Council making it perfectly clear that Egyptian interference with Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal is entirely unjustified. Egypt herself was a beneficiary of that principle by reason of United Nations' action last year.

What do we do in the face of that? The position is, of course, that under the Charter Egypt is bound to observe this Resolution. What is needed therefore is not to find out what the legal position is but to enforce the Resolution, which is here as clear as any judgment could possibly be. What perturbs me about the Government's attitude is the answer given by the Foreign Secretary a couple of days ago and the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister—although it was somewhat better—yesterday. The Foreign Secretary said: Our view is that under the 1888 Convention, Israeli ships are entitled to go through the Canal "— We agree with that— The Government of Egypt, I understand, take up the position that Israeli ships are not so entitled under that Convention. I think it would be very much better if we could get the problem legally determined as soon as possible."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 15.] Really, when we have clear terms in the Convention and clear provisions in the Security Council Resolution, I should have thought what was wanted was not another long reference to a court in order to decide rights which are absolutely clear, but the enforcement of those rights themselves. I admit that the Prime Minister was a little better in his approach to this problem, although even he seemed to contemplate some long holdup by reference to the International Court to find out the position. I very much prefer the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, who says that we should start, on this issue, with the Security Council.

It may be that at some later stage some reference to a court may be decided upon, but in the meantime this Resolution should be observed and enforced. I should like to hear a categorical statement from the Government that they regard Israel, ourselves, and all other users of the Canal, as entitled, as of right, to the free use of the Canal, and that they consider that, as of right, the Resolution of the Security Council should be enforced; and that they will themselves take steps in the United Nations to see, to the utmost of their ability, in conjunction, it may be, with other Canal users, that this Security Council Resolution and the terms of the 1888 Convention giving free use of the Canal are enforced against Egypt. If they took that course they would be acting in accordance with international law instead of taking the course which has been taken over the last twelve months, contrary to international law, for the purpose of imposing their own policy.

What has shocked the country is not the use of force but the use of force in pursuit of selfish action. What has cut so deeply in the country and has produced these divisions is the use of force as an implement of national policy. That has been condemned by Lord McNair, who is perhaps our greatest authority on international law. It has been condemned by people in all parts. Talking about the behaviour of the Government, the Ottawa Journalsays, of the use of force and the ultimatum, that this is disintegration of the British thing ', that mysterious prestige which has arisen vaguely from Britain's being so long associated with so much that the world has been proud to call its best. That is the greatest wrong of Suez. It is a betrayal of our own standards and of our own faith. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) that if the Suez adventure had been successful it would nevertheless have been a blot and a shame on our country. I believe that it is for that reason that the Suez issue has cut so deeply.

This is, of course, a day of national humiliation. Do not let the Government run away by saying that it is a national responsibility. We have opposed this policy right from the start. It is a national humiliation, not because we shared responsibility for it, but because, in a democratic country, we are responsible for the Government of the day. And the Government of the day are responsible to the democratic country. When they act contrary to the principles which have been upheld in this county for years, the Government should take the only honourable course and emulate the rebels in their own party.

8.17 p.m.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I am anxious not—if I can avoid it—to be unnecessarily controversial. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] If the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) had felt it his duty, as I, perhaps mistakenly, felt it mine, to sit here throughout a two-day debate, he might have thought it not impossible that a moment of inattention would cause one to miss a word. All I was doing was trying to make quite certain what the hon. and learned Gentleman was saying. If we want to score off each other I have much larger matters on which we can try to do so; but though it is almost impossible to try to debate without trying to score debating points, I want to avoid that as far as I can.

Since I am the only speaker left on my side of the House, apart from the winding-up speakers, perhaps I can address a few words to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-East. I am not a lawyer and still less an international lawyer but I do not feel convinced that his very cathedral exposition is beyond challenge. I am grateful to him for telling us that Egypt could not claim to be an active belligerent because I have not hitherto understood the difference between a state of war and a state of belligerency. I begin now to sec how a difference might arise.

When he told us that the Security Council had passed a resolution as clear as any judgment could be, he was using a technical term which might well kill his argument. Let me remind him of the words used on a recent occasion by another right hon. and learned Gentleman, whose absence from this House we all deplore, especially hon. Members of the Opposition who look for guidance in the law. I refer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman who was Attorney-General in the late Socialist Government. He said: Not only are the rules of international law often vague and uncertain; their enforcement depends upon a purely political body whose action can be frustrated by a single vetoing vote. I do not think it is proper for a lawyer to advise the House that the vote of such a body is a judgment.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

I did not say anything of the kind. I said that the statement was as clear as any judgment could be. If the hon. Gentleman will read HANSARD tomorrow he will find what I said.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I do not think the House got the impression that this was a statement by a purely political body but that it got the impression that a lawyer was expounding to it a judgment. That is the impression which I hope I have now corrected.

Although I do not complain of it in the least, I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) has now left the Chamber, because I wanted to say a word about one phrase of his. Last time I intervened in these debates was in November. I am rather ashamed of speaking today, but I had forgotten that until someone reminded me. I looked up my speech and saw that I finished by saying that I hoped everyone, and that certainly I, felt some responsibility for what I felt was a matter of immense regret, and might be a matter of even mare immense regret, however much in the not so very long run it might be seen, as I think it may yet be seen, to have been inevitable.

I know it is almost always a useless thing to do, and perhaps it is a silly way of debating, but I appealed to hon. Members opposite to think also whether even they, or some of them, might not feel some responsibility. They did not, apparently. It was illuminating today to see how it is that they can go through life without any sense of guilt in these matters. The Leader of the Opposition yesterday said: There are those, I know, who talk nowadays about us—I repeat us—searching our consciences and standing in white sheets. If those who talk this way are serious, they utterly fail to understand the point of view of the Labour Party."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 425.] They do not search their consciences, apparently. The right hon. Member for Grimsby today told us that the great charge against Her Majesty's Government—which, I admit, has a very heavy responsibility to carry in this matter, and I have never doubted that for a moment from last August, still less a little later —that the principal charge against the Government was that they have stood against the main current of history and that that was proof that their action was immoral. I do ask hon. and right hon. Members opposite not to be quite so Marxist as that.

If I may, to the younger among them, say this, as I think one of the few professional historians in the House, I do not claim it has taught me much—studying history and being paid to study history—but it has taught me two things. One is that almost all you think you know about the history of the past is wrong and, the other, that all you think you can guess about the history of the future is nonsense.

Hon. Members opposite really ought to have the sense to know that the more important things are, the less fashion matters. It may matter, even if you are masculine, to wear the hat of a given year, but, whether you are masculine, feminine, something in between or both at once, it does not matter in the least whether your intellectual and moral assumptions are those of this year or last year. As for looking at politics and morals in the light of the future, there is only one objection to that. That is that the light of the future is not here yet.

I detected—rather more yesterday than today, but on both days—some resentment opposite at the fact that some people on this side of the House and some out side the House have indicated that there might be some responsibility on hon. Members opposite. I have alluded to that already, but I want now to say a word about it, and only really very few words because I wish to talk of something else too. If we look at the terms of this Motion it seems very oddly drafted. It really is drafted to compel the House to vote on something which is not in the Motion. It is as near as it could be like one of those rare, but not unknown, votes on the Adjournment when it is well understood that the Government will fall, or at least be much shaken, if the vote goes very much wrong. On such occasions sometimes it is agreed that the Government will vote for the Adjournment and sometimes it is the other way round. It does not matter much which way you vote so long as you all understand which is going to be taken as the censure. This seems to me to be a form of words of exactly that kind.

I think it is a great weakness of the Opposition that at such a moment when they are alleging this unexampled wickedness and this immeasurable disaster—I agree that of course there is some human weakness and wickedness in the thing and some measure of disaster—when they are unmeasuredly asserting the badness and wickedness of this, and have the power to draft a Motion, they should draft a Motion which asks those who wish to censure the Government to express some concern at the outcome. I cannot imagine that anyone has not some concern at the outcome. And then: …deplores the damage to prestige and economic interests…. I cannot imagine anyone, even anyone who is most convincedly sure that the action was right and even anyone who was most convincedly sure that the action in a not very distant future will have proved on balance to have been remunerative, that any such person would not admit that there has been some damage to deplore.

There is a great deal of resentment on the other side at the suggestion that they also might perhaps have some responsibility in this matter. There is a great change because hon. and right hon. Members opposite may remember the phrase, "Labour has won the first round". They were quite pleased with that phrase at one time. If I remember right, it was the phrase of the Leader of the Opposition. They were so pleased with it that when the Daily Heraldpublished the account of the great meeting at the Albert Hall on 6th November they used the same phrase—only, of course, with their usual modesty and, not having yet joined the News Chronicle,they said it was the British people who had won the first round—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear hear."] That is all very well, but it will not do to say that then, and say now that nothing the Opposition did or could have done, as the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, would have made any difference to the reaction of foreigners, Americans, Russians or anyone else. It will not do.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I did not hear his intervention.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I said that my right hon. Friend did not say that nothing we did had any effect. He said that we were not responsible for starting the trouble but were responsible for assisting in getting it stopped.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Carlton

He may have said that, although I do not think he did. He said what I have just asserted—that nothing the Opposition said at that time could have affected the reaction of foreigners and particularly of the Americans. I feel sure that I can say that. Incidentally, on the same day the American papers were saying that the first American interest was to refrain from moral judgment.

The second reason why there might reasonably be criticism of the attitude of the Opposition was an apparent, at least, pleasure in the absence or the comparative absence of British power and an overuse of noisy derision and Pharisaic assumption in order to blanket the Government's case and to anticipate and make general a matter-of-course condemnation. I do not think these things can be denied.

I want to say something on the question of compensation to British nationals who have suffered. This has been mentioned by more than one hon. Member. I hope it is not impertinent to think that something might be added by saying another word. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister spoke of fully realising our responsibility in these matters, but he did not think it wise to go into any further detail. He said that anyone who knows anything would fully agree with him on that. I do not pretend to know much about these things, and plainly the Prime Minister knows a great deal more about them than any of us, but I do not feel convinced by the argument that the less we talk about the necessity of fully making good what has been lost by this action to the individuals who have lost it, the better. I do not feel certain that the less we talk of it the better.

I think it necessary to remind ourselves that protection is the essence of any kind of power. If the British State wishes to see its power revived and extended, it must at least be ready, where it cannot protect, to make certain that there is no permanent loss. I think, therefore, that some further assurance that compensation is felt by Her Majesty's Government to be a duty upon them would still do good and not do harm.

The first of the last two things I want to say is something about the form and manner of the United Nations organisation. Hon. Members can convince themselves, if they like, that all they do and all they stand for is democratic, or they can convince themselves, if they like, that all they do and all they stand for is virtuous because it is within the authority of the United Nations; but they cannot convince themselves of both things unless they can do more to make plain the way the machinery works so that it is understood by people in general.

One of the lessons to be learned out of the last nine months has been that certainly most politicians, and I believe most people outside politics, have completely lost track of the relations between the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretary-General. I think it is very 'probable that we are overdue for some kind of revision of the United Nations organisation. I am quite sure that we are a long way overdue for a much fuller exposition of it.

The last paragraph of what I want to say is this: I agree with people who state that politics must necessarily be about power. I do not think that is necessarily in contradiction with the view that the highest aim of politics must be peace. I do not think I am exaggerating, and if I am exaggerating I am sorry for it and I apologise, but a good many speakers on the other side of the House have spoken, some of them as though all power is wicked and some of them as though at any rate the less British power became, the better they were pleased.

I want to make this suggestion. The Prime Minister told us that we are going to make our oil supplies safer by having more pipes and larger ships. I am very glad that we are going to have more pipes and larger ships, but what is the first duty which this will put upon us, especially at a moment which, if not so disastrous as it has been held to be, is still, we must admit, a moment of misfortune and anxiety?

I am quite sure that the most important thing of all is one which has not been mentioned over these last two days. Although it is a fallacy to speak of politics as in the last analysis being economics, it is true that no politics can last or for long be very successful unless the economics are right; I believe that by far the chief task of Her Majesty's Government, whoever is in office, now must be so to act as to diminish to the minimum the risk of further inflation.

I believe that that is not irrelevant to the matter before us now and to capital expenditure. On the contrary, I believe that there will be neither any real United Nations, nor will there be any chance of maintaining full employment, nor will there be any chance of increasing the incomes of those past the age of full work—I believe that none of these things can come unless both sides of the House agree upon what is the most important immediate objective; and the most important immediate objective, which seems to me to be more important than everything else in politics put together, is that whatever may technically seem to be the most likely way of stopping inflation should be that part of policy to which all other parts should be subordinated.

8.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pick-thorn) is probably the last back bencher to speak from the Government side of the House, if the debate follows its usual course, and his speech was in harmony with the first Front Bench speech which we heard from that side of the House. It was a speech which gave the impression that the opposite side has not even learned its lessons now, and that even the political, economic and social disasters that have overtaken the British people under the leadership of that side of the House during these past years have not brought their lesson to the Government.

We have heard the Foreign Secretary address the House as if he is not aware that the whole nation holds his present attitude in contempt. I understand the deep feeling of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinching-brooke), when he referred to the fact that honour should have driven certain hon. Members off the Front Bench opposite. Some hon. Gentlemen have taken the painful course of resigning the Whip, having made it perfectly clear to the nation that they expect to pick it up again. They are saving their faces at present, because they were bound to do something. There is only one test of a revolt in this House, and that is in the Division Lobby. Words do not count: it is the way in which a man casts his vote which indicates where he stands.

I have shared in a number of revolts myself. I am an expert on this side, and I can give advice. I would tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that they will find that they will get no thanks for abstaining, because people will ask them whether they could not make up their minds which side they were on. Only once did I abstain, and I shall never forget an old and faithful member of my party asking me if I could not make up my mind. While it is difficult, and I realise that there are only two Lobbies here, as our good friends the Liberals long since discovered, I say to hon. Gentlemen opposite that it would be far better to do the honourable thing and go all the way and cast a vote with a mind of their own against the unfortunate and tragic conduct of Her Majesty's present Government.

We have heard right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides ask themselves what has brought us to our present plight, and what shall we do to get out of it—assuming that we are to have the same leadership. Be it remembered that this is a Government that has never faced the electorate. Today, we have a Prime Minister who got into power with the nation believing that the old policy would be condemned, but the Prime Minister is not a man who had a vote of confidence from the nation as a leader of the Government at all. He is clinging to office because he knows the feeling in the country.

It was my privilege to be in the Middle East a short time ago, and I was in America at the time when we moved into Suez and bombed the Egyptian people. I will not easily forget the wave of horror that swept across the United States. While all of us have strong feelings about the United States moralising to the rest of the world, we cannot forget that the American people were aghast at the conduct of a Government that preached such high morality to the world and proclaimed high standards for international conduct.

We have bemoaned the fact that Russia has become interested in the Middle East, but we had undisputed authority in the Middle East for a very long time, and we thought of the Arab peoples only for political purposes. The tragedy of the Middle East is that it provides the classic conditions for Communism to come in, and we are not innocent partners with regard to those conditions. We have found that as a direct result of Her Majesty's Government's policy in Suez, the American Government have announced a new doctrine for the Middle East called the Eisenhower doctrine.

Let me say at once that I do not like the Eisenhower doctrine for the Middle East. I do not accept it. To me, if America is entitled to take her military might into the Middle East, so is the Soviet Union. This is asking for trouble. If aid is to be given to the Middle East, it must still he given through the machinery of the United Nations. One of the tragedies of these times is that the United States look like by-passing the United Nations when it suits her purpose to do so, and only using it, as other nations, I suppose, have done, when it suits her.

To my mind, the Eisenhower Doctrine is inadequate because, although the economic aid is offered to the Middle East, it will be given only to those nations that accept the terms of the United States. I much prefer that it should be realised that there is no political remedy to be found in the Middle East without a United Nations economic assistance programme on a much bigger scale than we have had; for I remind myself that there is no Power in the world that has a moral right to play with the basic needs of people, the hunger and the illiteracy of people, merely to suit its own political purposes.

We did it in respect of the Aswan Dam. That is why there was such a nasty, sharp reaction. We were not playing in the cold war with something unimportant to the poor people of Egypt; we were offering something which was very close indeed to their everyday lives. I believe that we created great hostility for ourselves because we tampered with their needs; we offered help in this basic problem and then afterwards changed our minds.

I have listened to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides ask: what are we to do now about the passage of ships through the Suez Canal? I should like us to think again of linking the future of the Suez Canal in our discussions at the United Nations with the other waterways of the world. We might return to this suggestion for the internationalisation of the key waterways of the world, for the days of the old sovereignties are passing. If peace is to be maintained in the world, everyone must give up something. I should like us to approach the United States on the subject of the Panama Canal, and we might link that question also with a consideration of other important straits, because it will be easier to reach a solution in the Middle East if it is part of a world solution which we are together seeking to reach.

I have promised to sit down in a moment or two so that my right hon. Friend, who is to wind up the debate for the Opposition, may begin his speech in good time, but before I do so I want to say this. In this House, according to my experience during the years I have been here, we expect people to be honest with us and with the country. We had a speech this afternoon from the Foreign Secretary which was unworthy in its competence and unfitting his office in its attitude towards the House itself. Only a man with a thick skin and a thicker skull would stay in office in the circumstances in which the Foreign Secretary finds himself today. I hope that, for the sake of the good name of the House, he will find the moral courage to do the right thing and clear out.

8.48 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Where are the Government Front Bench? Have they all resigned?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I have sat throughout most of our debate during the last two days, and I must say that I have not taken very great pleasure in it. If I may be allowed to say so, without even a tinge of an appearance of condescension, it seems to me to have been an excellent debate. Many remarkable and courageous speeches have been made. But I take no pleasure at all in it; it has been like seeing the concluding stages of a film which one has seen made being unfolded.

It was quite clear to most of us last year that at some time or another we had to reach this stage. Therefore, we are not at all surprised at the situation in which we find ourselves. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are quite wrong if they imagine for one moment that the embarrassments into which the party opposite has fallen reconcile us to the humiliation to which they have brought the country. Whatever Government are in office we would prefer that their policies commend themselves to the rest of the world. We take no pleasure whatsoever in the fact, as is universally admitted it not in public at least in private, that Great Britain has, during the last nine months, received a series of humiliating setbacks.

I should like to point out to hon. Members opposite that they really must keep their sense of proportion and, also, a certain sense of humour. So many of them have complained in this debate about speeches from this side of the House. It is the habit of hon. Members opposite to identify themselves with the nation and to imagine that when we criticise them we are, at the same time, criticising the country. They are, therefore, asking us today to avoid what they call recrimination. It reminds me of the prisoner who, when asked what he thought of the summing-up of the judge, said that he thought that there was far too much recrimination in it.

It is, of course, natural, when we consider this story, that we consider the whole of the story. That is to say, we must consider the story right back to last August, because the fact that Sir Anthony Eden resigned has not purged the guilt of hon. Members opposite. In fact, the Prime Minister made it quite clear yesterday that he did not want it to be done that way; that he wanted the present Government to carry the load of guilt of the previous Administration, and he even went so far as to disclose Cabinet secrets. He told us that his colleagues were unanimous in everything that had been done. It is not usual for us to be told that. It is probably the complete unanimity of the Government which is responsible for the fact that the Home Secretary has been silent these last two days. After all, it does not matter who speaks so long as they are all of one mind.

So we have to understand that there is complete unanimity about the present action of the Government and that there has been complete unanimity throughout. Therefore, any indictment that we bring against the previous Administration we bring also, by the same definition, against the present Government. I am not going to spend any time whatsoever in attacking the Foreign Secretary. Quite honestly, I am beginning to feel extremely sorry for him. If we complain about the tune, there is no reason to attack the monkey when the organ grinder is present.

We on this side have not been able to understand from the very beginning the motives that have inspired the Government. Last August, there was a very considerable degree of unanimity in the House. As far as I recollect, no one supported the action of Egypt in summarily seizing the property of the Suez Canal Company. If the sending of one's police and soldiers into the darkness of the night to seize somebody else's property is nationalisation, Ali Baba used the wrong terminology. No one believed that that was the right thing to do.

It is quite true that many of us on this side found it difficult to work up a great deal of indignation about the Suez Canal Company. Our experience is that international property can usually look after itself. Nevertheless, we all agreed that here was an action that was to be universally deplored, which might have consequences which were very serious for Europe and the rest of the world. There was unanimity there.

I always thought myself that President Nasser, in a fit of pique, had laid himself open to a very weak position indeed. Hon. Members opposite seem to have thought that he had strengthened his position. I thought that he had weakened it. Hon. Members opposite did not seem to realise the armament that they carried. They did not seem to realise that that bit of temper which led the leader of the Egypt an nation to do what he did —as a consequence, I think, of the sudden withdrawal of finance for the Aswan Darn—had laid him open to a very considerable rejoinder. It required only time for reflection to cause Colonel Nasser to realise the significance of what he had done. It is because hon. Members opposite failed to develop the correct kind of strategy that I have no confidence whatsoever in their handling questions of this sort.

What was the weakness of Colonel Nasser's position? Anyone who tries to understand what is happening in the world at present surely will agree with this. New nations are coming into existence. Most of them are exceedingly poor, nations comprising hundreds of millions of people enjoying independence for the first time and living under standards of living which everybody here agrees to be deplorable, in India, Ceylon, Indonesia, Indo-China, the Middle East, China and elsewhere.

It happens also to be true that hon. Members opposite do not appear to see the significance of the fact that the Soviet bloc comprises some of the poorest areas in the world. Although Russia has succeeded in building up her economic strength substantially, the Soviet bloc, the Eastern European countries and China, are nevertheless among the poorest areas in the world. This is a fact of the utmost importance.

The other areas of the world, those areas euphemistically regarded as belonging to the free areas of the world, are also suffering from dire poverty. India, Ceylon, Indonesia and other places are trying to maintain the institutions of representative Government, and will be able to do so and will be able to make progress themselves only if they are able to share in the technical achievements of the Western world.

This, also, is a fact of the utmost importance. Its dramatic implications have not yet, I believe, been realised. If those peoples are to be able to enjoy representative democratic institutions, and if they are to be able to build up their industries without appalling sacrifices, they can do so only by entering into amiable relationships with the Western world. In other words, if Europe and the United States of America are to find finances for the development of the backward parts of the world, they will do so only if the backward parts of the world reciprocate in kind.

India understands this. India knows very well, and the other countries to which I have referred also know very well, that if they are to have help from the rest of the world, if, under one classification, private capital is to invest itself there, it can only be under conditions which will secure the repatriation of private capital afterwards.

It is also true to say that if the Western world is to invest large technical apparatuses in those parts of the world, it will do so only if they are secure when they are established. Therefore, Nasser's action in suddenly seizing the Suez Canal shocked large numbers of people who realised that it was undermining the credit of the underdeveloped parts of the world.

We had all that on our side. We had to wait for it to develop. We had to educate it. When I was in India recently I met large numbers of responsible people who deeply deplored what Egypt had done and the manner in which she had done it, because they felt it would undermine the possibilities of their part of the world receiving technical and economic assistance from Europe and North America. We had that on our side.

We also had on our side the fact that not only Great Britain but other countries depend upon the passage of commerce through the Canal, and that when once Nasser had seized it and raised the possibility of traffic being discriminated against we had allies all over the world. All we needed to do was to exercise the arts of diplomacy and education and rally them to our side for Egypt to see that Nasser had made a great mistake.

But what did we do? It is clear that Nasser's two main assets in the Middle East are the fact that he is the champion of the Arab world against Western imperialism and that he is the leader of the Arab world against Israel, and by making our armed attack upon him we consolidated both positions in the eyes of the Arab world. In fact, we made it quite clear from that side of the House that we were as much concerned all through the last autumn with the fate of the Suez Canal Company itself as we were with the Suez Canal as a means of international commerce.

We put ourselves in an exceedingly weak position. When Sir Anthony Eden made his speech on 8th August, he misdirected the whole of British energies on this problem, because he used language which was not consistent with attempting to settle the issue by negotiation. He used such belligerent language as made it quite clear that he and his colleagues were seeking a cause for attacking Egypt. I consider, therefore, that we lost an opportunity of using our resources in a much more sensible fashion. From then on we got ourselves into difficulties.

I have been trying to understand why the break took place in October last year, In trying to understand it, I have been reading some of the documents and I must tell the House that the one document which has impressed me more than any other is the exchange of letters between Premier Bulganin and Sir Anthony Eden. This has hardly been mentioned in the course of the debate, yet it is a very remarkable correspondence. Unless I am told otherwise, I shall assume that this correspondence was known to the Cabinet throughout. If the Prime Minister wishes to contradict that, he can do so now. Is that so? Then I assume that. I assume that this correspondence, which was published during Easter, was known to the members of the Cabinet from the beginning.

On this occasion, it is not necessary to make the usual attack that it is intended for propaganda by the Soviet Union, because it was kept a secret until Easter. This is what Premier Bulganin said on 11th September last year: Presumably the British and French Governments intend to seize the Canal. which runs through Egyptian territory and is under Egyptian sovereignty. But Mr. Prime Minister, I ask you to give a thought how it might end. It can scarcely be doubted that such action would result in tremendous destruction on the Canal itself. No less would be the destruction caused to the oilfields situated in the countries of the Middle Arab East and to the oil pipe lines through those countries … Seeing that times have changed, and the peoples of Asia and Africa have changed, any military measures directed against sovereignty and territorial integrity—in this case of Egypt—can end only in failure. This is not hindsight, but foresight. It is a type of correspondence conducted in remarkably friendly terms in which Premier Bulganin refers to the private conversations he had with Sir Anthony Eden, wishing to exert the influence thus created on British policy.

There is another remarkable paragraph on which hon. Members might like to reflect: One cannot ignore the fact, although the U.S.A. speak in favour of a peaceful settlement of the question but do not protest against the concentration of forces and the threat of their use, which clearly encourages supporters of the use of force against Egypt in Britain and France. Here, in the mind of Premier Bulganin, was an apprehension which has been mentioned on several occasions and at which hon. Members opposite have jeered. The Russians could not understand action of this sort being taken by Britain and France unless there was secret connivance with the U.S.A.

Then, Premier Bulganin adds: I must declare to you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Soviet Union, as a great Power which is interested in the maintenance of peace, cannot stand aside from this question. We have been told all along that one of the reasons why Her Majesty's Government took the action they did in Egypt was to avert what might become a third world war. Here, Her Majesty's Government are told by a great Power that the action we took might result in a third world war—yet they took it.

Premier Bulganin, in the same letter, goes on to say: I think you will agree with me on the point that at present as in the past minor wars can grow into large ones, with all the grave consequences resulting from this to States and peoples. He then adds this paragraph: This by no means signifies that we underestimate the interests of Britain and France as maritime Powers. We fully understand and have stated so many times. But we proceed from the irrefutable premise that recognition of these interests must not be to the detriment of the sovereignty of the Egyptian State. In face of that correspondence, and of the warnings and the premonitions of the Soviet Union, the action of Her Majesty's Government in declaring war on Egypt last November can only be described as an act of criminal, frivolous lunacy.

But the correspondence does not end there. On 23rd October—a very significant date, if hon. Members will recall—following the exchange of correspondence, Premier Bulganin sent a further letter. In the meantime, we had been prevailed upon to send the issue to the Security Council. In the course of his correspondence, Premier Bulganin had been asking us to do so all the time, and in this further letter he says: … my colleagues and I were satisfied with the fact that an agreed decision concerning the principles which provide a basis for a final settlement"— of the Suez Canal issue— has been reached at the Security Council, with the participation of the representative of Great Britain. One can only welcome the establishment in the course of the work of the Security 'Council of a businesslike contact among the representatives of the sides concerned as well as the fact that the application of the methods of negotiations in the Security Council has already brought about its first results. Here we have for the first time, on 23rd October, the six principles which were adopted unanimously by the Security Council considered by the Soviet Union in private correspondence as having marked a significant advance and providing a basis of further negotiation—only a few days before we launched our attack upon Egypt. Only a few days.

What excuse for the attack did the Prime Minister give yesterday? He said that the pronouncement of Egypt of the six principles, even after the letter of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, was so vague and ambiguous as not, in the belief of Her Majesty's Government, to form a proper basis of negotiation—the difference being that Egypt was still insisting upon her overriding rights on the Canal and, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, the fact that no treaty had been negotiated but a unilateral declaration had been made by Egypt which might be modified or rescinded at any time. What right hon. and hon. Gentlemen must now answer is this, that, first, we went to war because we did not trust the Egyptians—

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Yes. That was the Prime Minister's statement yesterday.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that he did not think that the Egyptians were going to negotiate in good faith. That is exactly what he said. We might have found out by further negotiation whether they were going to negotiate in good faith. At least, whether the Egyptians were going to negotiate in good faith had to be established. What is established is that Her Majesty's Government did not negotiate in good faith with the Security Council; because, by 23rd October, 16th October had come and gone—[Laughter.] Yes, and 16th October is the date when the arrangement between France and Britain for the attack on Egypt was clinched.

Hon. Members opposite must face this fact, that we went to war at that time because, although we had obtained the six principles by the unanimous decision of the Security Council, there still remained between us and Egypt two points; and we have been seriously told by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that they regarded those two points as of such importance as to risk plunging the whole world into a third world war—[HON. MEMBERS: "Non sense."] That is it exactly. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite really cannot have it both ways.

As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend yesterday, there was no reason at all why we should have taken this precipitate action. As he said, time was on our side. We were in the strong position. Egypt was in the weak position. Our industries were not being undermined, our lives were not in jeopardy. We still had time for the agencies and influences to which I have referred to mature and bring their impact upon Egypt. There was no reason at all why we should not have met the Egyptians and found out how far they were prepared to go. Therefore, am I not entitled to say that these grave risks, these perils, were all involved for us because Her Majesty's Government had not the patience to go on to the next stage in these negotiations?

Of course, we shall be told that the real reason was because we wanted to stop a third world war, that because Israel had made war on Egypt we went into a war with Egypt to stop the war between Israel and Egypt from spreading; and that in face of the fact that we had already been warned that that very intervention by us might result in a third world war—[Laughter.] It is all very well for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to jeer. They have been saved from that calamity not by themselves, but by the action of the conscience of the world, exerted against them. In face of those facts there is very little that Government supporters can say in their own defence.

We have been told in the course of the debate, by the Prime Minister yesterday for instance, that the Commonwealth has not been destroyed because the Commonwealth Prime Ministers will be meeting in July. I am very glad they are to meet; but do hon. Members imagine that the Commonwealth would still be in existence if our action had succeeded? I have never known such obtuseness as that. Do hon. Members really think that an action of this sort, conducted against Egypt in those circumstances and in the present mood of Ceylon and India, would not have disrupted the Commonwealth? The fact is that the Commonwealth has been saved by the action largely of Her Majesty's Opposition in restraining the Government. It is only necessary to read the pronouncements of Prime Ministers abroad and of representative public men to realise that.

If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who support the Government believe that the Commonwealth can be held together by a repetition of the conduct we have witnessed in the last nine months, it is a very had prospect for the Commonwealth, unless there is a rapid change of Government in Britain; because there is a gulf between opinion in the Commonwealth and in the present House of Commons. If that is the mood that is to prevail here, and unless we can bring our policies more into accord with the new mood, structure and composition of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth will dissolve and be even more fragmented than the Conservative Party is at present.

The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) made what I thought was an extremely courageous speech today. He told us that he thought we ought to go right back as far as Henry V and he referred us to what happened before Agincourt. I want to remind the noble Lord of what happened at Agincourt. When King Henry V was walking by himself he uttered a prayer. What was it? … steel my soldiers' hearts!…take from them now The sense of reckoning"… Henry did. He did it last October: part of the reckoning is to come this evening. The final bill will be paid at the General Election and, of course, the self-confidence with which Government supporters approach the Election is shown by the fact that they are hastening the day.

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

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of another quotation in Act I, Scene I, of that same play, in which the Bishop of Ely says to the Archbishop of Canterbury: The strawberry grows underneath the nettle; And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality. Which is which?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I will give the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South another quotation. Hon. Members will recall that when Henry, in disguise, was walking around the camp fires before the day of the battle, he had a discussion with some soldiers. These words, I am sure, are familiar. When right hon. and hon. Members opposite begin to reflect on what might have been the consequences of their actions, they might consider these words. Michael Williams says: But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs, and arms. and heads, chopped off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day, and cry all—We died at such a place; some, swearing;…

Photo of Brigadier Terence Clarke Brigadier Terence Clarke , Portsmouth West

The right hon. Member never risked his neck.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

some, crying for a surgeon; some, upon there wives left poor behind them; some, upon the debts they owe; some, upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing when blood is their argument? But hon. Members did last October, and now what they are having to face is that for no just cause, for no policy that lies at the heart of the British people, for no purpose that commends the general good will of the British people, for the avoidance of nothing at all of any importance, they brought this nation to the edge of war. They were restrained ultimately from the full consequences of their action by other people outside and inside this House. If hon. Members opposite had any sense of honour left they would now resign and give way in this country, for all over the world people are asking, "When will Britain have a General Election and clear out the Tories?"

9.27 p.m.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak again in this debate.

Photo of Mr William Hannan Mr William Hannan , Glasgow Maryhill

We hope that it will be better than yesterday.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I cannot hope to join in this galaxy of Shakespearean quotations and counter-quotations, but there are a number of things I think it right for me to say at the end of this debate.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Is the right hon. Gentleman going to resign after all?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) never disappoints the House. It is true we are never quite sure on which side he will come down, or which role he will adopt. Throughout this affair he has sometimes been the serious, patriotic statesman looking to the future with a deep sense of the responsibilities which he hopes may soon be entrusted to him, and sometimes he reverts to his older nature and the demagogue takes charge of him.

Characteristically enough, in the whole of this Suez story the right hon. Gentleman has played both roles, and he has played both again tonight. He has been Jekyll and Hyde. At one moment in this period he was addressing a crowd in Trafalgar Square and marching down Whitehall in quite an alarming manner. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] Hon. Members had better wait for it. It is coming to them. At another moment the right hon. Gentleman was rather carefully dissociating himself from the more rancorous and hysterical speeches of the Leader of the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Reading."] Tonight he has shown us both phases.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

The right hon. Gentleman has read that bit.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

But I am bound to say that I think he was very unwise to rely to such a large degree tonight in his arguments upon the correspondence which he read out from Premier Bulganin. He was particularly unwise, I think, to rely upon Premier Bulganin's assurance of the enormous movement towards a solution made by the Resolution of the Security Council, having regard to the fact that the only operative part of that Resolution was vetoed by the Russian representative.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The six principles were not vetoed.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

But the only way of making them effective was. The trouble is that I have a great deal of advice from both right hon. Gentlemen and I find it difficult to reconcile it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] Hon. Members had better listen, although they do not like this.

After Bermuda there began to develop a more realistic American attitude towards the problems of the Middle East. It has been called, I think, sometimes, the Eisenhower Doctrine. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition welcomed the Eisenhower Doctrine. He described it as "a valuable contribution to peace". The President's request to Congress to use troops if necessary was described by the Leader of the Opposition as "a very wise and courageous step". But the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale condemned it as loudly as his Leader applauded it. This is what he said about the Eisenhower Doctrine: It doesn't add up to any coherent policy at all. He went on, in a radio statement, to say that the main attack on the British Government by himself and his hon. Friends had been that they had acted outside the United Nations; and then he said, The President seems to be inviting the American nation to do the same thing. The two right hon. Gentlemen must try to get on better terms. In the Government's view, the Eisenhower Doctrine is a most important contribution to the peace of the Middle East and one whose value can perhaps best be measured by the reaction which it has elicited from the Russians.

Altogther, this has been rather conflicting advice which I have received, as indeed has been a good deal of the debate. Indeed, although it is supposed to be a censure of the Government, for most of the time it has been the Opposition who have been in the dock. The major part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech has been to excuse himself and his colleagues.

Before I come to the main theme which I want to develop at the end, there are one or two points, some of them raised by the Leader of the Opposition which I could not earlier answer in sufficient detail, to which I should like to refer. The first is on the financial question. I want to dispel any idea that we have agreed to any general relaxation in the restrictions on the Egyptian sterling which we hold. Of course, that is not so. If British ships are to use the Canal again, it is clearly better that they should pay the tolls and any other outgoings in sterling. I think that everybody agrees with that. The same, of course, applies to ships of other countries in the sterling area. That is better for us than if they had to sell their sterling and buy other currencies for the purpose of these payments. The same applies to ordinary trade.

Therefore, so far as Egypt is concerned, she does not get any money out of this that she would not have got anyway. She will merely receive it in sterling, instead of receiving it in some other currency which the foreign holders of sterling would have had to sell in order to make those payments. That is in regard to foreign holders of sterling. They can now sell the sterling and obtain currencies to make these payments, and it is really much better for us that that should not enter the market and that they should pay through this No. 1 (Special) Account. That is in regard to foreign holders.

As regards British residents, whether the use of the new No. 1 (Special) Account should be extended for current trade transactions is a question that we shall now consider. We must also weigh what is the balance of advantage from the arrangements which we have agreed to consider for transactions entered into in good faith before the beginning of July.

These are the only two points which I wanted to clear up, but I do want to make it clear beyond any doubt that, apart from this, the existing No. 1 Account, and, of course, the No. 2 Account, remain blocked. As I originally stated, any relaxation or any modification of the restrictions on the No. 1 or No. 2 Accounts must depend upon satisfactory arrangements covering the financial claims which we have against Egypt. I wanted to clear up that point, because I think there has been some misunderstanding about it.

There is another urgent question, that of the transit of oil. I think it is only fair to pay some tribute to the extraordinary efficiency of the management of all concerned in the transit, purchase and distribution of oil products during the last six months. They have done a very fine job in every part, including, of course, the civil servants who have been employed in operating the necessary restrictions.

As soon as I took office as Prime Minister, I set up an inter-Departmental Committee to look into the whole question of the future of the transit of oil and to make a report to me. When I read that Report, I came to the conclusion, as I told the House yesterday, that there are so many diverse interests concerned and so many different Departments that have to be brought into line that the only way we could get the job done was to entrust the co-ordination of it to a man and to a team, and that is what I have done. I want to emphasise once more the great importance which the Government attach to this matter, and to undertake that we will do all we can to press it forward with the greatest sense of urgency.

Now I come to the general situation. On that, the right hon. Gentleman tried to place what was, I think, a complete misinterpretation on what I said yesterday. He tried to say that I had argued that we had launched these operations because we wanted to get better terms than those available to us. I argued nothing of the kind, and made no reference to anything except the following argument. There had been put up the case that if these events had not happened in November we could have got better terms. I was trying to argue and, I hope, argue successfully—[Interruption.]—whether successfully or unsuccessfully I want to say to what my argument was directed.

I was trying to argue that the terms suggested after the meeting of the Security Council and the letter written by Mr. HammarskjÖld, and the situation at that time, bore no promise at all, and no certainty at all of any real settlement upon a multilateral basis. It is quite a travesty of my argument to say that I was giving that as a reason for, or as a defence of, what took place subsequently. I was merely trying to answer the argument that we would have got better terms had those events not taken place. The right hon. Gentleman had no right, and he knows that he had no right, to misinterpret my argument—

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The right hon. Gentleman, in fact, used this phrase in denigration of the Egyptian position. He said: Those phrases cannot be construed as an acceptance of the six principles. It was a tentative approach to a conditional consideration of a hypothetical proposition for an exploratory exercise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th May, 1957; Vol. 570, c. 429.] War was made on Egypt to justify that.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

Once again, the right hon. Gentleman is being, as he so often is, too clever by half. That is the kind of slippery side of his nature which we do not like. We know that he has a more honourable side which we do like. He is trying to draw a false deduction from a false premise. I believe that everybody on his side of the House, as well as most on this, would agree that the sole argument that I was trying to put was that I did not believe that if these events had not happened we should have got a satisfactory multilateral settlement.

I come to the general situation. It would be foolish to deny that we have had a setback, but it would be equally foolish to exaggerate it either at home or, especially perhaps, overseas, and I think that we ought to make a balance sheet of gain and loss, and see what strength lies in our hands, and the best way to use it.

Let us take first the position of the Egyptian Government. Let us take their political position, and especially that of Colonel Nasser. That position has been much weakened. They have lost great prestige over much of the Arab world. Many countries whom they seemed before to be able to attract by their propaganda have been only too anxious in recent weeks and months to try to extricate themselves from the influence of Colonel Nasser. The story of Egyptian military prowess has been much exploded. That is why I said yesterday, and I venture to repeat it now, that it would be wrong to represent the present situation, from Colonel Nasser's point of view, as an unequivocal success.

Then let us look at Egypt's economic situation, apart from her political situation. Nasser has pinned his hopes for the future on large-scale developments both of the Canal and of the waters of the Nile. Those plans involve vast sums. Why, the High Dam schemes themselves amounted, I think, altogether to about £475 million. The plans for the development of the Canal made by the old company involved some £120 million. Therefore, these two items alone amount to some £600 million.

Where is Colonel Nasser to get such a sum? From his Russian friends? We know that the Russians have shown themselves very ready to hand over to their satellites obsolescent arms on a large scale, and often at a high price. They have never shown themselves disposed to produce large sums in cash. Can Colonel Nasser hope to get the money from the Canal dues? In 1955, the total sum paid by way of dues for the use of the Canal was about £32 million, and from that, of course, had to be deducted the expenses of management and operation of the Canal. It is, therefore, not out of Canal dues that he can hope to pay for these works which, as he said, are vital to the economic future of Egypt. The only source from which Colonel Nasser can hope to find this money is the West, and certainly the Western Powers are not likely to show great confidence in the prospectus which has been issued to them.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is not the Prime Minister perfectly well aware that, instead of spending £470 million on the ridiculous Aswan High Dam, Nasser can perfectly well get all the water he wants by the expenditure of £140 million?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

In that case, I am surprised that it has been the argument of the party opposite that it was the withdrawal of the provision for the Aswan Dam which precipitated the crisis.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

The right hon. Gentleman may have learned wisdom by going up higher, but he has got no nearer the party line.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

That is the sort of ridiculous observation which carries no weight. What I want to ask the Prime Minister is this. Does he not perfectly well realise that the consummate mistake over the withdrawal of the money for the financing of the Aswam High Dam was that made by his right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, when he precipitately withdrew our own support at the wrong moment?

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

I am bound to say that I find the right hon. Gentleman's argument is now becoming very confusing. First of all, he says the Dam is no use, and then he says that we ought not to have withdrawn our support from it at the wrong moment.

So much for the Egyptian side of the account. It is a very great error to believe that, either politically or economically, they stand much higher as a result of these events.

What about our side of the account? As I said yesterday, nearly all the gloomy prophecies have been proved wrong. The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), in a very interesting and effective speech—he always speaks effectively —devoted a large part of his speech to indicating his agreement as to the improvement in our affairs. As he was one of those who took the most pessimistic view about them a few months ago, he is in a sense a kind of Cassandra come to judgment. But, of course, with his natural characteristic, he suggested that all this amelioration was in spite of the Government, not because of the Government. In fact, his whole speech could really be summed up in this way, that everything that goes wrong is the fault of the Government and anything which goes right is due to somebody else.

Anglo-American friendship is now based on a far better understanding on both sides, and I am persuaded that we are in for a period not of less good relations but of far better relations. If I may say so, I think that one of the reasons is that, in the past, perhaps, statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic have not spoken as frankly to each other as they should have done. I have found sometimes in international negotiations that there is a danger of avoiding awkward questions and of trying to make the meeting a satisfactory one. If I may say so, I have this advantage, that, from a very long friendship with the President, formed in very dark times, I have the opportunity of speaking to him in very frank terms.

The American situation is far better. Let us take the other prophecies. The Bagdad Pact has not been destroyed, as the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) promised us. He has left us tonight. I suppose that he thinks that things have got better, so he is too pessimistic to come. On the contrary, the Bagdad Pact has been fortified, not weakened. The northern tier Powers look like being a source of attraction rather than of disruption. As I said yesterday, the whole pattern of the Middle Eastern countries is changing, and the forces of order and anti-Communism are recovering their strength.

A great point was made by the right hon. Gentleman about the effect on the Commonwealth. It is quite true—I do not deny it; how could it be otherwise?—that events of this magnitude put considerable pressure upon it. But I am persuaded that the Commonwealth will emerge all the stronger, and that in spite of the efforts of the Opposition. I look forward to the meeting of Prime Ministers which will take place in a few weeks' time, and I feel confident that that meeting will be constructive and fruitful.

Therefore, I have tried to cast up the balance sheet, I hope fairly. [Interruption.] At any rate it is the point of view I am entitled to put to the House. But there is really an assessment of it made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale himself to which I should like to call attention. This is what he said on 1st November last. This is the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. It was said in one, I do not say altogether of his Dr. Jekyll moods, but tending to a Jekyll mood. He said: I am not one, therefore,"— this is quite an interesting passage— who is going to say that the British Government are themselves reacting with complete guilt towards this situation, because I think it is one which is shared by everybody, and every public man ought to have a sense of humility in face of these intractable problems. I therefore think that it would be a profound blunder if any party in this State tried to mislead the people of the country into imagining that there is any simple or quick solution to these problems before us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1710.] There is a good deal of sense in that and, indeed, I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman follows his better intincts, if anyone abstains in the Division it ought to be the right hon. Gentleman. He called them, and rightly called them, intractable problems. But they were not created by the intervention. [HON. MEMBERS: "They were made worse."] These problems had been growing all these years in the Middle East. Colonel Nasser's threats to Israel last year were clear threats of aggression to come. [Interruption.] These are not my words, they are the words of the Leader of the Opposition, so they must be right. I will repeat them. They were clear notice of aggression to come. These are the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.

All was not peace and calm last October. Russian arms and Russian propaganda were coming in all the time. The mounting tension between Egypt and Israel, the incessant border raids had erupted into open hostilities. The Arab States around Israel were being incited, poised into a position ready to attack. The freedom of the Middle East was slipping away and the whole position deteriorating into one in favour of international Communism.

In considering the results of the action that we took, the House should remember what would have been the result had we taken no action at all. This is the point which the Opposition can never get into their minds nor have ever been willing to admit; but, curiously enough, the British people as a whole sensed it. That is why, as the right hon. Gentleman knows—better, perhaps, than some of his friends—during those months they instinctively gave such strong and popular support to Sir Anthony Eden.

The Motion which the House has now to deal with in the Lobbies expresses its concern at the outcome of the Government's Suez Canal policy.…

Whatever the outcome may be—and no one yet can know what the final outcome will be—that really is not the issue before the House tonight.

This is a Motion of censure. It raises, therefore, as all Motions of censure must do, the one simple but over-riding issue, upon which I hope the House will ponder, of whether, in the opinion of the House—

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Bromley

—the prestige and economic interests of Britain would be in safer keeping if they were transferred to the hands of the party opposite. That is the only question upon which we shall be voting.

I quite understand the views of right hon. Gentlemen opposite on that subject. No doubt they feel that they could manage our affairs very much better. But what the House has to settle tonight—and I use the words again, for this is really what we are deciding—is whether the prestige and economic interests of Britain are better entrusted to a Socialist or to a Conservative Administration. That is what we shall be voting upon, and await the verdict of the House with confidence.

Question put:—

The House divided:Ayes 259, Noes 308.

Division No. 104.]AYES10.0 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W.Balfour, A.Blyton, W. R.
Albu, A. H.Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)Boardman, H.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)Bowles, F. G.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Benson, G.Boyd, T. C.
Allen, Scholefie'd (Crewe)Beswick, FrankBraddock, Mrs. Elizabeth
Anderson, FrankBevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Brockway, A. F.
Awbery, S. S.Blackburn, F.Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Bacon, Miss AliceBlenkinsop, A.Brown, Thomas (Ince)
Burke, W. A.Hynd, J B. (Attercliffe)Pryde, D. J.
Burton, Miss F. E.Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Butler, Herbert {Hackney, C.)Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Randall, H. E.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Rankin, John
Callaghan, L. J.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Redhead, E. C.
Carmichael, J.Jeger, George (Goole)Reeves, J.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)Reid, w illiam
Champion, A. JJohnson, James (Rugby)Rhodes, H.
Chapman, W. D.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Chetwynd, G. R.Jones, Rt. Hon. A.Creeoh(Wakefield)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Clunie, J.Jones, David (The Hartlepools)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Coldrick, W.Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Ross, William
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJones, T. W. (Merioneth)Royle, C.
Cove, W. GKenyon, C.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Cronin, J. DKing, Dr. H. M.Short, E, W.
Crossman, R. H. S.Lawson, G. M.Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Cullen, Mrs. A.Ledger, R. J.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Skefflngton, A. M.
Darling, George (Hillsborough)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Lewis, ArthurSnow, J. W.
Deer, GLindgren, G. SSorensen, R, W.
de Freitas, GeoffreyLipton, MarcusSoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Delargy, H. J.Logan, D. GSparks, J. A.
Dodds, N. N.Mabon, Dr. J. Dicksonsteele, T.
Donnelly, D. L.MacColl, J. E.Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)MacDermot, NiallStokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)
Dye, S.McGhee, H. G.Stones, W. (Consett)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.McGovern, J.Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)Molnnes, J.Strauss, Rt. Hn. George (Vauxhall)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)McKay, John (Wallsend)Stross, Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E,
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Swingler, S. T.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Mahon, SimonSylvester, G. O.
Fernyhough, E.Mainwaring, W. H.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Fienburgh, W.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Taylor, John (West Lothlan)
Finch, H. J.Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfd, E.)Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Fletcher, EricMann Mrs. JeanThomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Forman, J. C.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Mason, RoyThornton, E
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Mayhew, C. P.Timmons, J.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)Mellish, R. J.Tomney, F.
Gibson, C. W.Messer, Sir F.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Gooch, E. G.Mitchison, G. R.Usborne, H. C.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Monslow. W.Viant, S. P.
Greenwood, AnthonyMoody, A. S.Wade, D. W.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Watkins, T. E.
Grey, C. F.Morrison, Rt. Hn, Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)Weitzman, D.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mort, D. LWells, Percy (Faversham)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Moss, R.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Moyle, A.West, D. G.
Grimond, J.
Hale, LeslieMulley, F. W.Wheeldon, W. E.
Hall, Rt. Hn, Glenvil (colne Valley)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)White, Mrs. EIrene (E. Flint)
Hamilton W W.Noel-Baker, Francis (swindon)White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Hannan. W.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)Wigg, George
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)O'Brien, Sir ThomasWilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Hastings, S.Oliver, G. H.Wilkins, W. A.
Hayman, F. H.Oram, A. E.Willey, Frederick
Healey, DenisOrbach, M.Williams, David (Neath)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)Oswald, T.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Herbison, Miss M.Owen, W. J.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hewitson, Capt. M.Padley, W. E.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)Paget, R. T.Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Holmes, HoracePaling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Holt, A. F.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wills, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Houghton, DouglasPannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)Parkin, B. T.Winterbottom, Richard
Howell, Denis (All Saints)Paton, JohnWoodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hoy, J. H.Pentland, N.Woof, R. E.
Hubbard, T. F.Plummer, Sir LeslieYates, V. (Ladywood)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Popplewell, E.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Zilliacus, K.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Hunter, A. E.Probert, A. R.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Proctor, W. T.Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson
NOES
Agnew, Sir PeterFisher, NigelLambert, Hon. G.
Aitken, W. T.Fletoher-Cooke, C.Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Forrest, G.Langford-Holt, J. A.
Alport, C. J. M.Fort, R.Leather, E. H. C.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Foster, JohnLeavey, J. A.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Leburn, W G.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir WilliamFraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Arbuthnot, JohnFreeth, DenzilLegh, Hon Peter (Petersfield)
Armstrong, C. W.Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Ashton, H.Garner-Evans, E. H.Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Astor, Hon. J. J.George, J. C. (Pollok)Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Atkins, H. E.Gibson-Watt, D.Linstead, Sir H. N.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Glover, D.Llewellyn, D. T.
Baldwin, A. E.Godber, J. B.Lloyd, Rt.Hon.C.(Sutton Coldfield)
Balniel, LordGomme-Duncan, Col. Sir AlanLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Barber, AnthonyGoodhart, PhilipLloyd, Rt Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
BarloWj Sir JohnGough, C. F. H.Longden, Gilbert
Barter, JohnGower, H. R.Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.
Baxter, Sir BeverleyGraham, Sir FergusLucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonGrant, W. (Woodside)Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Green, A.MoAdden, s. J.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Gresham Cooke, R'McCallum, Major Sir Duncan
Bennett, Dr. ReginaldGrimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Macdonald, Sir Peter
Bevine, J R. (Toxteth)Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)McKibbin, A. J.
Grosvenor, Lt,-Col. R. G.Meekie, J. H.(Galloway)
Bidgood, J. C.Gurden, HaroldMcLaughiin, Mrs. P.
Bishop, F. PHall, John (Wycombe)Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Black, C. W.Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.Maclean, Fltzroy (Lancaster)
Body, R. F.Harris, Reader (Heston)Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfleld, W.)
Bossom, Sir AlfredHarrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold (Bromley)
Boyle, Sir EdwardHarvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)
Braine, B. R.Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Harvey-Watt, Sir GeorgeMaddan, Martin
Brooke, Rt. Hon. HenryHay, JohnMaitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Brooman-White, R. C.Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMarkham, Major Sir Frank
Bryan, P.Henderson-Stewart, Sir JamesMariowe, A. A. H.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Hesketh, R. F.Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.
Burden, F. F. A.Hicks-Beach, Mai. W. W.Marshall, Douglas
Butcher, Sir HerbertHill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Mathew, R.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.
Campbell, Sir DavidHill, John (S. Norfolk)Mawby, R. L.
Carr, RobertHirst, GeoffreyMedlicott, Sir Frank
Cary, Sir RobertHobson, J.G.S. (Warwiok & Leam'gt'n)Milligan, Rt. Hon. w. R
Channon, Sir HenryHolland-Martin, C. J.Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Chichester-Clark, R.Hope, Lord JohnMoore, Sir Thomas
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir WinstonHornby, R. P.Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Nabarro, G. D. N.
Cole, NormanHorobin, Sir IanNairn, D. L. S.
Conant, Maj. Sir RogerHorsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame FlorenceNeave, Alrey
Cooke, RobertHoward, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Nicholls, Harmar
Cooper, A. E.Howard, John (Test)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'oh)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Hughes-Young, M. H. C.Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan
Corfield, Capt. F. V.Hulbert, Sir NormanNugent, G. R. H.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Hurd, A. R.O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. 0. E.Hutohlson, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.
Crowder, Sir John (Flnchley)Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir HarryOrr-Ewing, Charles lan(Hendon, N.)
Cunningham, KnoxIremonger, T. L.Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)
Currie, G. B. H.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Osborne, C.
Dance, J. C. G.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Page, R. G.
Davidson, ViscountessJennings, J. C. (Burton)Partridge, E.
D' Avigdor-Goldsmid, sir HenryJennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)Peyton, J. W. W.
Deedes, W F.Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Digby, Simon WingfieldJohnson, Eric (Blackley)Pike, Miss Mervyn
Dodds-Parker, A. D.Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Doughty, C. J. A.Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)Pitman, I. J
du Cann, E. D. L.Joseph, Sir KeithPitt, Miss E. M.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir LancelotPott, H. P.
Duthie, W. S.Kaberry, D.Powell, J. Enoch
Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir DavidKeegan, DPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. (Kelvingrove)Kerby, Capt. H. B.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Elliott,R.W.(N'castie upon Tyne.N.)Kerr, H. W.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Errington, Sir EricKarshaw, J. A.Profumo, J. D
Erroll, F. J.Kimball, M.Ramsden, J. E.
Farey-Jones, F. W.Kirk, P. M.Rawlinson, Peter
Finlay, GraemeLagden, G. W.Redmayne, M.
Rees-Davies, W. R.Spens, Rt. Hn. sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H
Remnant. Hon. P.Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardTweedsmuir, Lady
Renton, D. L. MStevens, GeoffreyVane, W. M. F.
Ridsdale, J. E.Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Rippon, A. G. F.Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)Vickers, Miss Joan
Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Robertson, Sir DavidStorey, S.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Robson-Brown, W.Studholme, Sir HenryWalker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Summers, Sir SpencerWall, Major Patrick
Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardSumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Russell, R. S.Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)Waterhouse, Capt. R. Hon. C.
Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.Teeling, w.Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Temple, John M.Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Sharpies, R. C.Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)Wilson, Geoffrey (Turo)
Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. B.(Croydon, S.)Wood, Hon. R
Soames, ChristopherThorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.Woollam. John Victor
Spearman, Sir AlexanderThornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Spier, R. M.Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Spence, H. ft. (Aberdeen. W.)Tilney, John (Wavertree)Mr. Heath and Mr. Oakshott