Orders of the Day — Disarmament

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th June 1958.

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3.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I must confess at the outset that I rise to open this debate with a very considerable sense of inadequacy. The issue that is raised here is so profound and so complicated, involving so many nations and so many aspects of human behaviour, that I feel entirely incompetent to be able to discuss the question in the way that I should like. All I can say in justification is that a very long study of the documents concerned convinces me of the equal inadequacy of everybody who has been dealing with the question before.

It is very difficult indeed to disentangle any sequential thread from the various sub-committees, semi-secret and secret, the various speeches and documents, the discussions in the United Nations, letters from statesmen, speeches in this Chamber and demonstrations in different parts of the country. I would, therefore, ask the indulgence of the Committee if I try for a moment to get away from the documents—though I shall return to some of them later—and to consider the argument as it seems to me to be developing.

There were many discussions and commissions on disarmament before the war and they almost invariably broke down— I think that is the expression—upon a failure to reach agreement as to which in the discussions should come first: the abolition of arms as a means of removing fear, or the abolition of fear as a reason for removing arms. There was what I think was called the "French thesis." that it was quite impossible to expect nations to disarm themselves if they still felt afraid; that the organisations of the world would have to provide a sense of security for the nations before they would agree to give up weapons of defence.

There were those who argued, on the other hand, that the existence of the great war machines in themselves created fear and made war inevitable, and that, therefore, it was essential to try to reach agreement about disarmament in order to bring about a cessation of what many felt to be the principal cause of war—the existence of these great, expensive and growing war machines. But, on the whole, in the years between the wars the French thesis won the day. It did so because of considerations of great antiquity as between citizens inside countries and as between nations themselves.

Arms have never been given up unless people first of all felt that they would be safe without them. The evolution of the legal system inside nations has gone on on the assumption that private citizens cannot be expected to surrender any means of personal self-defence unless the legal institutions could give them protection. Indeed, over and over again, when those institutions have broken down, the private citizen has resorted to private defence.

There has always been the feeling—whether it is based on rational considerations or not it is of considerable antiquity—that until the institutions of law can get behind the backs of individuals and protect them from the assassin, they will try to protect themselves. The same considerations have applied between nations. So long as nations felt that they were not safe; so long as they felt that they might be the victims of aggression, they were not prepared to give up the means of defence.

It is perfectly true that between the war years those means of defence were beginning to generate their own causes of fear. But, nevertheless, as I said earlier, the balance of argument came down on the side of the French thesis. It was not the argument that, by the maintenance of defence weapons, war could be avoided. It was the argument that people could not be persuaded to surrender the weapons until they felt safe. It is my view that the failure to reach agreement within recent years is due to the fact that it has not been recognised that a complete change has taken place in the relations which were reached in the old argument.

I believe that I shall be saying what most hon. Members opposite will agree with when I say that the character of the modern weapon has changed the nature of the argument. I believe it true to say that at present the principal cause of fear in the world arises no longer from ancient antagonisms between nations, but from the deadly character of the weapons now in the possession of the great Powers.

To try to emphasise and to underline that, may I say one thing more? It was possible to say—in fact, it was said—that the arms that nations possessed could, in the last resort, be a means of arbitration between nations. Deadly though they were, expensive though they were, vicious though their consequences were, nevertheless, it was felt that in the last resort it was better to resort to them than to put up with intimidation, or injustice or oppression. In other words, it was still felt that nations could afford to invest in arms for their prestige and protection. Hon. Members must recognise that that is no longer the case.

It is no longer the case that any one of the major Governments believes that any quarrel exists between them that would justify the cold use of existing machinery of war. The means of defence have outrun the need for defence. It is impossible to conceive—I challenge any hon. Member of this Committee—of any difference of opinion, of any injustice, of any cause, that would justify the unleashing of the hydrogen bomb today. It is impossible to say—I confess that it has been said so often that even as I am going to say it I am getting tired of the cliché—that the hydrogen bomb is a means of national defence. No weapon whose use would result in universal destruction can be regarded as a weapon of defence.

I am quite certain that hon. Members opposite take the same view about that as do hon. Members on this side of the Committee. They do not contend now that it is a weapon of defence. Its justification has been that it is a deterrent. But it is no longer a method of defence. Its consequences are too appalling. Nevertheless, though it is no longer a method of defence, it is a method of coercion.

There was a British economist called Hawtrey, a Treasury economist, I think, who wrote a book, in about 1933 or 1934, in which he said that when a nation felt that its diplomatic influence was less than the essence of its own striking power it went to war. For the very good reason that any further expenditure on arms from that point on would be a waste of money, it went to war to re-establish its diplomatic influence. That was the old logic, and it applied.

No one can say that, as a means of diplomatic coercion, the modern war machine is of any use. One cannot very well say to the chap on the other side of the table that, if he does not agree, one proposes to commit suicide—only here it is called universal murder. It is neither a weapon of defence nor a means of diplomatic influence. The old relationships have completely changed. Our thinking has not followed the change. We still adapt a policy which confuses them both, as I shall try to show. In other words, we do not say here that we must consider arms separately from policy. That is what we should say if what I am contending is correct, that the modern war machine in the possession of the great Powers is neither an instrument of defence nor an instrument of diplomatic influence.

We should go on to say that we should consider disarmament on its own merits, quite independently of political policy. If political policy cannot be effected by the existence or the use of the arms, it is confused thinking to imagine all the time that one cannot start to disarm so long as certain political injustices exist. Yet that is precisely where the Western Powers have put themselves. For example, there was President Eisenhower's statement in Paris on Tuesday, 17th December last year, at the N.A.T.O. Conference. He said: We cannot ignore the fact that arms reduction has rarely occurred in the face of acute political tensions and of international injustices. That states the old argument I was putting just now, that people will not disarm so long as they feel a sense of injustice.

President Eisenhower went on to say: One such injustice afflicts one of our N.A.T.O. members, the Federal Republic of Germany. What does the association of those two arguments mean, except confusion? The confusion would not be so important if it did not lead to infirmity of decision or wrong decision. The President said, of course, I should like to reiterate most solemnly our abiding determination that Germany shall be peacefully united in freedom. All right. If that be the case, why talk in the first part about arms in relation to German reunification? Which leg does he want to stand on? Is there not here a clear revelation of the failure to recognise that, the character of arms having changed, we should not seek to think of them as a means of effecting political settlements, but separately? Both are joined in the same mind. Thus, we are left with the assumption all the while that the arming of the West is not only for the purposes of deterrence but for the purpose of coercing the Soviet Union to agree to a solution of the German question.

If hon. Members deny that, I will go on to quote from the letter of the Prime Minister to Marshal Bulganin, in June last year: Unfortunately, your views on partial disarmament appear to differ in certain respects from my own. For example, you propose immediate full-scale reductions in the armed Forces of the major Powers"— Listen to that. The right hon. Gentleman says: You propose immediate full-scale reductions"— What a naughty thing to do. That is what I thought we were seeking to do— down to levels that were originally suggested for the final stage of a comprehensive plan. Apparently, Marshal Bulganin's offence was that he wanted to hurry up; he was telescoping the two stages. However, that is not the main point I wish to make. But you must be aware", went on the Prime Minister, that the United Kingdom could not support these very extensive reductions in Western defences without also being assured of parallel settlements in the political field. This is characteristic confusion.

If the thesis I am trying to lay before the Committee is correct, that nuclear weapons are not instruments of diplomatic influence or effective means of defence, what is the good of trying to associate them with the practicability of political settlements, unless they are considered to be a sanction in the background, in the final resort?

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Scotstoun

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, and I apologise for interrupting him so early in his speech, but it seems to me that his whole approach is based upon a fallacy, in the sense that nuclear weapons as a deterrent are weapons of defence. Take them away, and what happens to one's defence?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

If I may say so, that is an illogical position. One can argue that we should have nuclear weapons in order that the other fellow might be deterred from using them. In that sense, they are preventive weapons. But it is surely a curious use of the word "defence" to say that one can then resort, in defence, to the use of a weapon which destroys everybody. The illogicality lies with the hon. Gentleman. I am always prepared to give way, as, I think, hon. Members know, but I think that interventions ought to be used not for the purpose of continuing the argument—that is the purpose of some other speech—but for the purpose of explanation.

I really want to try to insist upon my main point, which is this. If it be the fact that the existence of the hydrogen bomb or the existence of these great war machines cannot be considered as a sanction in order to bring about a political settlement, why does the Prime Minister associate the settlement of the German problem with disarmament? That is what the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) and his hon. Friends opposite have to answer. What is the purpose of saying, in effect, that disarmament cannot proceed beyond a certain stage unless there is a German settlement, unless the arms are considered as a sanction in the final resort if a settlement is not reached? That is our approach.

Our view is that hon. Members are confused. They are trying to run the two old arguments. They are arguing all the time, if not explicitly then implicitly, that the old situation still exists, that the character of the modern war machines still enables them to bring about political settlements either by war or by the threat of war. They run both together. That is what President Eisenhower did and that is what the Prime Minister did. Our view is entirely different.

We have said—we said it last July in Vienna and we have said it over and over again in the House—that, in our view, disarmament must now be considered as a separate issue, that the danger facing mankind, not to speak of the awful material consequences of trying to maintain these vast war machines, is such that disarmament can now, for the first time—I ask hon. Members to remember that I concede that point—both physically and psychologically be separated from political settlements between the great Powers. I admit that it is the first time. The situation is so novel that we have not adjusted our minds to that fact. We still, therefore, consider the existence of the war machine as a way of establishing the settlement of grievances.

It has been said by hon. Members opposite on many occasions that it is not only for this purpose that we are arming the Germans or insisting upon relating political settlements in Germany with disarmament, but also because we wish to increase the Western defences by joining the German armed forces with them. That is an argument which, as hon. Members know, I do not share. I have never held that the rearming of Western Germany is a source of strength to the Western Alliance. I have always taken the opposite view. I have taken the view that the sense of security in the Western world does not grow as German strength grows—it lessens.

That point of view is shared by many millions of Germans themselves. There was a difference in this country and in our party about that, but, nevertheless. I am quite certain that the overwhelming majority of people of Europe would say that it is criminal folly, in these circumstances, while there is a grievance in existence in the centre of Europe, to rearm the German armies with nuclear weapons.

Why are we doing it, or suggesting that we should do it? It is because we consider that it is not logical for the armies of Britain and France and the United States to have tactical nuclear weapons and for the German armies which are integrated into N.A.T.O. forces to be denied them. Our view is that to supply nuclear weapons to German forces in the present circumstances is an act of criminal provocation at a time when the possibilities of progress on the disarmament front are better than they have ever been. It is provocation to the Russians in the first degree.

I have spoken to very many Russian statesmen and I have been deeply impressed by one fact. Whatever else may be propaganda, whatever else may be deception, nevertheless I have always been deeply impressed by the Russian fear of Western German rearmament. It exists right throughout Russia, from the top to the bottom. Russian statesmen in the highest positions have in their own lives suffered from two German invasions. On two occasions, their homes have been destroyed.

It is not because Russia fears—let us be clear about that, she does not fear—the addition of Western German strength in the N.A.T.O. Alliance. It would be a delusion to believe that. Russians think themselves sufficiently powerful to deal with that situation and, indeed, they are. So are we, all of us, powerful enough to wipe each other out. They are not afraid of the additional German might, but what they are afraid of is German intransigence. What they are afraid of is that if Germany once more becomes militarily strong she will again go out on military adventures and Russia will find herself face to face with a third invasion, or have to surrender unless she suffers invasion. She is afraid that there are elements in German society who are prepared to take advantage of a rearmed Western Germany to satisfy and fulfil German ambitions.

Who can say that those who are afraid of that are wrong? Is civil government on the Continent of Europe so deeply rooted that we can expose it once more to German military juntas? Whatever may be said about recent events in France and the existing situation there, one thing surely can be read by every intelligent observer, that in no circumstances should we encourage the rising of a military junta in Germany.

This point of view, as I have said, is shared by millions of Germans. They believe, as the Russians do, that the safety of the world and the peace of Europe must be predicated not upon rearming Western Germany in present circumstances, but by relying upon the military stalemate which has been reached already without rearmament. It has been said that the reason we have proposed to rearm Western Germany with tactical nuclear weapons—although behind that fond phrase there lurk weapons of the most deadly destructiveness—is that the N.A.T.O. Powers are saying that we must do it because of the preponderance of conventional Russian strength. We have been arguing all along that we must arm ourselves with these great nuclear weapons because Russia has massed armies.

Hon. Members appear to forget that it was Russia, as far back as May, 1955, which offered to reduce conventional forces. In fact, we have never had any explanation from the Government of why the Russians suddenly changed their front. Here I must agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). On 10th May, 1955, the Russians suddenly changed, after years of obstinate delaying tactics, and suddenly brought forward the most ambitious disarmament proposal which has yet been brought forward by anybody.

I had better give the headings to the Committee. It was in two stages and provided:

  1. (a) A freeze of levels of manpower and expenditure.
  2. (b) The establishment of agreed levels for the armed forces of the five main Powers—the levels suggested were 1 million to 1½ million and 650,000.
  3. (c) The reduction within one year of the armed forces and armament of the five Powers by 50 per cent. of the difference between existing levels and the above figures.
  4. (d) A world conference to determine the reductions for other States and also to prohibit atomic weapons.
  5. (e) The discontinuance of tests under the supervision of an international commission.
  6. (f) A solemn obligation not to use nuclear weapons except for defence against aggression
when a decision to that effect is taken by the Security Council.

I accept at once that the argument against that has some validity because, so long as one Power can utter a veto, the definition of aggression can be abortive, but that proposal must be considered in the context of the others and not by itself. It was a part of the general plan and we do not operate in a vacuum. The proposal went on: (g) Basesin the territories of other States to be liquidated in accordance with an agreement to be reached. Then it went on to the second stage. The first stage was to be carried out in 1956. To use the description used by the Prime Minister, it was "too ambitious". The next stage, to be carried out in 1957, provided:

  1. (a) The discontinuance of the production of nuclear weapons.
  2. (b) The reduction within one year of the remaining 50 per cent. of armed forces to the agreed levels.
  3. (c) The complete prohibition on the use of atomic, hydrogen and other weapons of mass destruction to enter into force when armed forces have been reduced by 75 per cent. of the total reduction—conventional as well as unconventional weapons.
  4. (d) The destruction of these weapons and the final reduction of 25 per cent. to begin simultaneously and to be completed in 1957.

Then they went on to discuss controls, because all these proposals may be regarded as academic unless they are accompanied by effective controls. They suggested rights and powers, perhaps of an international control organisation which was to be set up, divided between the first and second stages of the plan. The first was the establishment of control posts at ports, railway junctions, main roads and airfields, the task of which would be to see that there was no "dangerous concentration".

The Russian contention was that no major attack could possibly be mounted without such physical movements taking place that could quite easily be observed beforehand. That, of course, is peculiarly applicable to a nation which is charged with having superior conventional forces. This proposal of the Russians had, therefore, a peculiar appositeness to that. If our fear is, as we have said all along, that if we deprive ourselves of weapons of high technique the Russians would roll their massed divisions to the English Channel, here are Russian proposals that, so long as these fears exist, should, be scrutinised, and warning would, therefore, be given before any considerable movement could take place.

Then there was the right to require any necessary information on the execution of disarmament measures, including unimpeded access to budgetary records, and, for the second stage, the exercise of control to the extent necessary to ensure the implementation of the treaty. There were to be permanently in each signatory State of this international control organisation its own staff of inspectors, internationally recruited, who would have, within the bounds of the control functions they exercise, unimpeded access at all times to all objects of control.

As far as I know, we have never been told at any time why these Russian proposals were not accepted. This is a very serious matter. I hope that no one will accuse me at this time of day of putting in special pleading for the Russians, but I am bound to say with the utmost frankness that, after having studied this history from 1955 onwards, the burden of guilt for no progress in disarmament does not lie primarily with the Soviet Government. It lies elsewhere, and this is one of the charges which Her Majesty's Government have to answer.

Instead of going on, as the Russians wanted to do, in the Disarmament Sub-Committee—I know that subsequently they gat sick of it, and nobody can blame them, but they wanted to go on discussing this proposal when the Western Powers wanted to adjourn, and they did adjourn. We did not know at that time what was happening. This was going on in secret, or in semi-secret. There were leaks, but how far we could trust them we did not know. The facts are only now being disclosed to us.

Although I am neither his consultant nor his publisher, may I suggest that any hon. Member opposite who wants a complete record of the facts, written with extraordinary skill and lucidity, should read a book recently published by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South, which will remain for very many years as the source book on the problem of disarmament and the history of disarmament matters.

We require to hear now, in the House of Commons, from the Government why these Russian proposals, which, I agree, were sprung very suddenly, and were wholly out of keeping with their behaviour before, were never seriously considered, and why they were not implemented. We are not discussing a trivial matter. We are not discussing an increase in Purchase Tax. We are discussing the very future of mankind. We are discussing nothing more or less than the future of the human race, yet it was felt, after having had proposals of that sort from the Soviet representatives, that the Disarmament Sub-Committee could quite safely adjourn, although the authors of these new proposals were begging that the discussions should go on. We want from the Government, before the bar of history, a statement of their case. We want to know what was their answer.

Why is it that these proposals were carried no further, and that all that was left was for the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends to win a procedural victory at the General Assembly of the United Nations? We are getting "fed up" with procedural victories. In disgust, the Russians at the Assembly of the United Nations refused to have anything to do with the Disarmament Sub-Committee, and, of course, a majority was obtained for the Western Powers. Why on earth did we not go on with this Russian proposal in the Disarmament Sub-Committee?

I apologise for talking for so long, but there is one more subject that I must touch upon, and that is the subject of nuclear tests. I have used very strong language in condemning the Government on other proposals. I am bound to say, after having looked at the chronology of nuclear tests, that I consider that right hon. and hon. Members opposite ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves. Perhaps they do not know the facts, so for the purpose of the record I am going to read them out. After all, this is the first disarmament debate which we have had for a very long time, and I think that we now ought to have the record clear. I hope that hon. Members will watch very carefully the development of the argument, and the kind of Madame Bovary career which the Government have been carrying on since, going from one miserable squalor to another. I hope that they will end up in the same way.

On 3rd September, 1957, the Japanese Government protested to the U.S.S.R. against a new series of Soviet atomic and hydrogen tests announced on 27th August, 1957. On 5th September, Professor V. Beloussov, a leading Soviet geophysicist, informed an international scientific conference in Toronto that "many hundreds" of Russian scientists had petitioned the Soviet Government calling for the cessation of all nuclear tests. That is in the "slave State." [Interruption.] Hon. Members will not like it when it is finished. He stated that, The territories of the Soviet Union, like other countries, are widely contaminated with radioactive fall-out from past tests.

That is from the Daily Telegraph.

On 9th September, 1957, the U.S.S.R. announced the testing of a nuclear device of "moderate intensity" in connection with the testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile. On 14th September, 1957, a British atomic device was exploded at Maralinga, in South Australia. On 19th September, 1957, the United States Government announced their intention to resume H-bomb testing in the Pacific in April, 1958. On 23rd September, 1957, Japan appealed to the United Nations General Assembly for a general suspension of nuclear tests to last at least until the 1958 session of the General Assembly. It was not granted.

On 24th September, 1957, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission reported a Soviet hydrogen bomb explosion in megaton range north of the Arctic Circle. On the same day there was the second British atomic test at Maralinga. On 7th October, the Soviet Union announced the explosion of a "mighty hydrogen weapon of a new type." The Sputnik was launched three days earlier. On 8th October, 1957, the United States completed a series of 24 atomic test explosions at Las Vegas. On 10th October, 1957, the third British atomic test explosion took place at Maralinga. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission reported a small nuclear explosion in the U.S.S.R., north of the Arctic Circle.

On 10th—20th October, 1957, the U.S.S.R. proposed two resolutions in the Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, one providing for the multilateral suspension of nuclear test explosions for two to three years from 1st January, 1958, and the establishment of an international control commission to supervise the suspension, and the other calling for a five-year moratorium on the use of nuclear weapons. They were countered by the Western proposals. I beg the Committee to realise that that was a concrete proposal, which was afterwards followed up by the letter from Marshal Bulganin suggesting that there should be no further nuclear tests from 1st January, 1958. Let hon. Members remember that.

The New York Times reported on 14th October that up to then more than twice as many nuclear explosions had occurred in 1957 as in any previous year. In a telegram to Mr. Kishi, on 15th October, the Prime Minister stated that the suspension of nuclear tests would not by itself be a measure of disarmament, as existing nuclear Powers could continue to add to their stocks, thus retaining or even increasing their military advantage over other countries. That has been known all along. That is the reason that people have always talked about suspension in the hope that, suspension having occurred, arrangements could then be made for further steps to be taken, like a cut-off in the making of fissile materials and then, later, under proper inspection, the destruction of existing stocks. We have always said that. The Prime Minister did not say what anybody did not know. All the Prime Minister said was that he insisted that we were to go on having our nuclear tests.

On 16th October, the British Government established an aircraft danger zone around the Christmas Island area in preparation for H-bomb tests. On 27th October, the Minister of Defence announced a forthcoming series of British test explosions in the megaton range. On 8th November, the British Government rejected a Japanese Note requesting the suspension of the Christmas Island tests series and a British nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude in the Christmas Island area. On 28th November, Mr. Nehru appealed to Britain, the United States and the U.S.S.R. to end nuclear tests. On 15th November, President Eisenhower stated, in reply to Mr. Nehru, that cessation of tests must be linked with a ban on weapon production; to do otherwise could increase rather than diminish the threat of aggression. This is very relevant to what the President is now proposing.

On 18th November, the Soviet Academy of Scientists appealed for a world meeting of scientists to discuss nuclear radiation risks. On 29th December, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission reported Soviet test explosions in the Asian northlands. On 17th January, Dr. Libby, of the U.S.A., reported that the radioactive effect of an American atomic test explosion carried out 800 feet underground had been completely contained underground. That was afterwards discovered to be absolutely wrong, because it had been detected 2,000 miles away. On 1st February, the United States decided to proceed with a series of thermo-nuclear tests beginning in the Pacific, owing to the lack of progress "towards a safeguarded disarmament agreement."

On 13th February, the White Paper was issued by the British Government which repeated that the suspension of nuclear tests must be linked with further measures of disarmament. On 15th February, 1958, the U.S. Government announced limits of a danger zone covering 300,000 square miles of sea in the Pacific. The Japanese Government again protested. On 12th March, 1958—here we are beginning to change the story—U.S. atomic scientists were instructed to study whether an effective inspection system can be devised to cover an agreement to suspend nuclear tests. For the first time the possibility of isolating nuclear tests from a general disarmament had come to the surface.

On 16th March, a Soviet atomic test explosion was reported by United States observers. On 18th March, Mr. Lester Pearson stated that Canada should support the immediate ending of nuclear tests. In March, three Soviet atomic test explosions took place in three days. On 31st March, the Soviet Government announced the unilateral suspension of nuclear tests and called on Britain and America to follow suit.

Over and over again, at Question Time in the House, whenever this has been mentioned, there have been jeers from the Government side. Hon. Members have said, "They suggested suspending nuclear tests after they had had their own." In fact, they had suggested suspending them, before they had their own, from 1st January this year, and we failed to follow suit. When the question was asked in the House whether we proposed to follow suit, it was stated by the Home Secretary, speaking on behalf of the Government, that we had to have our tests because we were a small nation, it was necessary for our defence and they would be considered part of a general disarmament agreement.

Up to now—right up to the Whitsun Recess—the British Government's position has been that a suspension of nuclear tests must be included as part of a general disarmament agreement. Is that their present position? I should like an answer. Is that their present position? At the very moment when the Foreign Secretary was telling the House that this was the British Government's position, the Americans had changed their position. The Americans had made proposals for experts to meet to see whether they could not devise a system of inspection.

We have always contended that for all serious explosions inspection is not necessary, but that they can be detected; and up to now, they have all been detected. If, however, there emerged from the conference of experts at Geneva, or from Moscow, proposals for effective systems of inspection and for the detection of nuclear tests, is it the British Government's position that they no longer insist that suspension must be part of a general agreement? We should like to have the answer to that question, because there is a very general suspicion that there has been a greater readiness to suspend tests at the White House than at No. 10.

The whole history shows that the movement of public opinion inside the United States against tests has been growing so strong that the President of the United States has been ultimately compelled to repudiate Mr. Dulles. Although Mr. Dulles had gone on record up to the very last moment that they must be regarded as part of the general disarmament agreement, the President made his proposal for the experts to meet to consider the situation. Are we sending our experts? If we are, do we accept that we shall suspend our tests if we are satisfied about the technical requirements?

I conclude by saying this. We, on this side of the Committee, have always paid very special attention to the suspension of tests—for a number of reasons that I think are now obvious. I do not believe that any country has the right to condemn unknown, unnamed and unborn children to mutilation and torture and death merely by experimenting in weapons for its own defence. I believe that that is a fundamental immorality. I call the attention of the House of Commons and of the country to the fact that the nation that has up to now, and up to the last moment, insisted on this dreadful thing is the nation that has as its symbol the suffering body of Christ, and that the nation dedicated to atheism has suspended the tests. It is an ugly comparison.

When we consider the appalling consequences involved it is very difficult to use hyperbole. When we say, as the Prime Minister has recently been saying in America, that we are trying to uphold the institutions, the standards and codes of free civilisation among the uncommitted nations, what spectacle are we presenting to them? Up to now, it is Europe and the West that has slaughtered people by using atom bombs. Up to now, it is the West that insists upon poisoning the atmosphere in order to make these deadly weapons. Among the uncommitted nations we are faced with the appalling fact that the example of Russia is better than the example of the Western Powers.

That has to be faced. Those who have travelled among Asian people know this very well. Even if our motives are pure, it is of no use imagining that they are understood there. What is being understood there is what actually happens, and what has actually happened is that, up to now, the Western nations have insisted upon continuing with these tests. I believe that the dangers involved are so dreadful that there is arising in the world a will to grapple with them.

I believe that if Governments had vision, if they were prepared, to use Lincoln's classic phrase, to disenfold themselves from the past, face the realities of the second half of the twentieth century and not allow themselves to be confined by orthodox and conventional ways of thinking; if, even now, we set an example to the world—where we still occupy a very high position indeed—we could lead the world out of this dreadful impasse into which it has brought itself. I think that, in this matter of disarmament, the statesmen can cover themselves with far greater glory by acting with vision now than ever anybody could on the field of battle.

4.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) started by expressing a sense of humility when approaching this tremendous problem. I share that sense of humility, though I must say that I observed that the right hon. Gentleman very quickly got over his initial diffidence. He said that we on this side were confused about disarmament. I must say that I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which I tried to follow carefully, left us with the impression of any shining clarity on his side.

I confess that I was a little distressed that the so-called "shadow" Foreign Secretary of the Labour Party should have been wishing to stress all the time that everything the Russians do is right and everything we do is wrong. [Interruption.] I am sorry, but that was the general impression. [Interruption.] I am not trying to quote the right hon. Gentleman, and if he wishes to correct me I shall certainly give him the opportunity.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Really, if that is the standard that the Minister is to adopt, he will not do very well. In the course of my speech I stated, and it is perfectly correct to say, that up to 10th May, 1955, the Russians had been obstructing in every conceivable way any progress towards disarmament, but not after 10th May.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Anyhow, that is the general impression. [Interruption.] The general impression given by the right hon. Gentleman to me is that, at the moment—I am not talking about 1955—the Russians are more sincere and genuine in their desire for disarmament than we are. All I can say is that I do not believe that it is possible for them to be more sincere or more genuine than are we and the other Western Governments.

The right hon. Gentleman also said that the possession of nuclear weapons is not a factor in negotiations. We have certainly never contemplated using nuclear weapons as a means of bringing pressure to bear upon Russia to agree to a political settlement acceptable to us, and I do not think that anybody has seriously suggested that. All I would say is this. If the West agreed to the abolition of nuclear weapons on both sides, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Russians would use their overwhelming conventional superiority as a factor in the negotiations? The possession of nuclear weapons may not be the bargaining counter, but the abandonment of them, without general disarmament, would hopelessly weaken our position and the cause of peace—

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

What about the Russian offer?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to make his speech.

I should like to clear up another point made by the right hon. Gentleman. He said that Germany was being rearmed with nuclear weapons. That is not correct—or, at any rate, it is only half the truth. As he knows, the North Atlantic Council has decided that, where the military command thinks it necessary, nuclear weapons may be sited in N.A.T.O. countries, with the agreement of the Governments concerned. The nuclear weapons that may be operated by German forces will, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, be American nuclear weapons and, in the same way as is being done with the Thor rocket in this country, the nuclear warheads will remain in American custody. Therefore, it is really misleading to suggest that the German forces are being rearmed with nuclear weapons—

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Does the right hon. Gentleman assert that it is not the intention of the Supreme Command in the West to train Germans in the use of nuclear tactical weapons?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The nuclear warheads of any such weapons will, under the American law—and there is no sign that the Americans intend to alter that law—be retained in American custody.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

But I have been accused of a half-truth. Is it not also correct to say that it is admitted that, at any time, the German forces, having been trained in the use of the nuclear weapons, could physically seize them?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

That is up to the American forces. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sorry, arrangements are being made. These warheads will not necessarily be stored on the sites where the troops are, until an emergency arises.

To turn to the broader issue, I would say that the prize we seek through disarmament is the establishment of secure and lasting peace. We must, therefore, in all these discussions apply to any disarmament plan the simple test: Will it make peace more secure or less secure? We must recognise that at present the peace of the world is in one way or another being maintained between East and West through a balance of force, in part nuclear and in part conventional.

Since both sides deeply distrust one another, neither can be expected to agree to any scheme of disarmament which would have the effect of upsetting the military balance to the advantage of the other. We must recognise that that is the basic starting point for any negotiations.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale accused the Government of dragging their feet on disarmament. Public attention is at the moment largely concentrated upon the prospects of the summit talks. We are determined to pursue disarmament by any method and through any channel that is open to us. A Summit Conference is one such method, and we are most anxious to bring it about under conditions which offer some reasonable prospect of achieving progress. But we must not allow the difficulties over the Summit Conference to make the world forget—and I would ask the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale not to forget—the continuous efforts which we and the other Western nations have been making over a number of years to achieve disarmament, and, in particular, the bold and far-reaching proposals which we initiated through the United Nations.

I do not think that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale ought to jeer at the idea of putting forward proposals through the United Nations and say that it is purely a tactical success, or something of that kind. I can remember in earlier debates hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite telling us that we ought to use the United Nations more—that we ought to put forward our proposals there—and asking why we did not make more use of it. When we do so, we are told that it is purely a tactical demonstration.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The right hon. Gentleman really does not understand the facts. The Sub-Committee to which we have referred and to which the Russian proposals of 10th May, 1955, were sent was a Sub-Committee of the United Nations. It was the Western Powers who postponed the Sub-Committee for many months.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I really do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can suggest that the Western Powers have been lacking in their readiness to use the machinery of the United Nations or say that the fact that discussions are not now proceeding in the United Nations is due to our side and not to the Russians, after they and their allies failed to support proposals which were supported by the overwhelming majority of the United Nations.

Nothing short of comprehensive disarmament, with full international inspection and control, can, we believe, really assure the permanent maintenance of world peace. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is worth remembering that in June, 1954, the British and French Governments put forward a plan for disarmament by stages which would have gone a long way towards attaining that goal. In this plan we proposed the total prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, together with major reductions in conventional forces—and the whole to be subject to inspection and control. The Russians refused to accept this plan unless it was amended in a way which would have given them a decisive and dangerous military advantage during the process of disarmament.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Mr. Beswick rose

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I do not want to keep the Committee too long, and there is a good deal which I want to say.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

Mr. P. Noel-Baker rose

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I noted that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said that interruptions should not be used to continue the argument, but only to seek an explanation.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

I agree with all that my right hon. Friend said about the Anglo-French proposals. The fact is that the Russians put forward proposals which embodied these precise proposals about which the right hon. Gentleman is talking. The explanation that we want is why the Government did not then accept their own proposals when they were made by the Russians.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I think the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) is doing what his right hon. Friend said he should not do, that is, continuing the argument.

I propose to deal with the Russian proposals, if the hon. Gentleman will give me the chance. It is quite a complicated subject and I think it is better to try to deploy it in an orderly fashion.

After three more years of continuous discussion in the Disarmament Commission, the four Western Powers—Britain, Canada, France and the United States—put forward in August, 1957, a somewhat less far-reaching scheme for partial disarmament. This included the immediate suspension of nuclear tests, to which reference has been made, the stopping of production of fissile material for weapons, an all-round reduction of conventional forces and the establishment of an international system of inspection and control.

The Western plan, although less audacious than the earlier Anglo-French plan, was designed with two aims in mind. The first was that while reducing the general level of armaments on both sides, the relative military strength of each should be maintained substantially unaltered. The second was that, in view of the state of mutual distrust, the agreement should be confined to matters which could be effectively verified and controlled by inspection. As the Committee knows, this Western plan was approved by an overwhelming majority of the United Nations.

I now come to the Russian proposals. As the Committee knows, the Russians have at different times put forward a variety of counter-proposals of their own. Some were made at conferences, others in speeches or in correspondence. Unfortunately, all these Russian counter-proposals have, without exception, contained two features which make them wholly unacceptable. They have repeatedly proposed the total abolition of nuclear weapons, but without any effective system of control or any corresponding abolition of offensive conventional forces.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The hon. Gentleman will be able to explain to us later the system of control and inspection which the Russians have proposed. I do not know of it, but we shall be very interested to hear details about it.

Since 1955, the Russians have proposed the total abolition of nuclear weapons, but without any effective system of control or the abolition of effective conventional forces.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

That is completely untrue.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

When I talk about abolition, I mean reducing them to a level where they will not constitute a threat to other countries. I am not talking about a reduction to a level which would probably result in the United States having to withdraw all its forces from Europe and leaving Russia with reduced forces, but, none the less, with an overwhelming military superiority in Western Europe.

Since 1955, the Russians have proposed the immediate banning of the use of—and I stress "the use of"—nuclear weapons, even in self-defence. But this proposal—and I would like to draw attention to the fact—would not forbid the possession, or even the further production, of nuclear weapons.

The most objectionable feature in all the Russian disarmament proposals up to date is undoubtedly that they make no satisfactory provision for ensuring that any agreement made is actually implemented. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Uxbridge evidently disagrees with me on that point. After going through the various Russian proposals I am quite satisfied—I am proposing to quote what Mr. Khrushchev has said—that there is no evidence that the Russians are prepared to have an effective system of inspection or control in their country. All these proposals for banning nuclear weapons without any system of control and banning their use without banning their production presupposes a mutual confidence in one another's good faith which clearly does not exist in the present international situation.

Throughout the protracted negotiations the Soviet Government have made it abundantly clear that they dislike the whole idea of international inspection, whether it is on the ground or from the air. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Uxbridge deny that?

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Yes, I do. It has already been quoted by me in the House of Commons that the Russians have given completely detailed accounts of the sort of machinery which they would have applied to nuclear disarmament. They have asked for all-round weighing, measuring and analysing of all nuclear material that went into the country. The Minister knows that perfectly well.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Let me tell the hon. Gentleman what Mr. Khrushchev said in a speech on 10th April. He said: We are in favour of control". [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Uxbridge has already interrupted me. I hope he will give me his attention for a moment. [HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear."] Mr. Khrushchev said that they were in favour of control and went on: … but the Western Powers want the sort of control that would be tantamount to … infringement of our sovereignty. The rulers of the Western Powers say: 'Let our aircraft fly over your country and we will allow your aircraft to fly over ours.' He went on to say: We don't want to fly over their country; and we don't even want the smell of them over our country.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

Mr. Beswick rose

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

Those words do not indicate a great enthusiasm for a system of international inspection. The Russians have hitherto always treated inspection as a matter of secondary importance which should be left over to be dealt with after the disarmament agreement had been concluded. On the other hand, we and our allies have always regarded inspection as an essential and absolutely inseparable condition of any substantial measure of disarmament.

Not only do the Russians dislike inspection but they appear to question whether it is feasible at all. In a speech in Moscow last month Mr. Khrushchev seemed to suggest that the most that really could be done and that was practicable at the moment was what he described as a moral undertaking by States, not to use nuclear weapons. In this connection he went on to say that it was not possible to establish foolproof control over nuclear weapons, and that it would be easy for either side to manufacture these weapons without being detected.

In the same speech Mr. Khrushchev said: Things must be viewed realistically. Under present circumstances, the way to eliminate the threat of nuclear war is by moral condemnation of the use of atomic and hydrogen weapons. Moral condemnation by the peoples of the world would, he thought, provide a most effective means of control. So far as the democracies are concerned, Mr. Khrushchev is no doubt right. If we signed an agreement banning nuclear weapons, public opinion here would insist that we respected it; but I am sure that Mr. Khrushchev, who is a very realistic man, does not seriously expect us to place a similar reliance upon the power of public opinion in Russia.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

This is a very serious statement that the Minister is now making. I ask him this question here in the Committee in order that it might be answered, if not here, then elsewhere. Has Mr. Khrushchev stated that these proposals or generalisations of his are now in substitution of the Russian disarmament proposals?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

These are the most recent expressions of Russian policy.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Is policy expressed in speeches?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

If it were not so, there would immediately be Questions in the House of Commons asking whether my speeches represented the policy of the Government.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

A number of definite proposals have been put forward by the Soviet Union. We would like to know whether the quotations given by the Minister are to be regarded by us as substitutes for the original concrete proposals put forward by the Soviet Union?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

The trouble is that the proposals have not been very concrete. That is the trouble about these proposals for inspection. There is nothing that we would welcome more than to find the Russians suddenly favourable to a system of inspection. I believe that inspection is the crux of the whole of this problem of disarmament. For instance, the way in which the Russians reacted to the recent United States proposal for an Arctic inspection system is a classical example of their attitude. It indicates that they are more concerned with the propaganda effect than with actual disarmament. Having complained to the Security Council that American bombers were patrolling in the Arctic area, the Soviet Union used its veto to defeat an inspection system designed to obviate the very dangers of which the Russians had complained.

We, on our part, have always attached the very highest importance to effective inspection. In fact, we consider that a disarmament agreement without the means of verifying that the other side is implementing it might well do more harm to international confidence and to the prospects of peace even than the continuation of the present arms race, with all its disadvantages and dangers. We have already made it clear, and I repeat it today, that we set no limits whatsoever to the degree of inspection that we are prepared to accept, if others do the same. There is no nuclear plant, arms factory, laboratory, military establishment or airfield, which we would not be prepared to throw wide open to international inspection under a disarmament agreement.

I turn now to the subject of nuclear tests. The purpose of nuclear tests is, of course, to maintain the effectiveness of the nuclear deterrent. On the question of the necessity of the deterrent there is very little difference between the two sides of the Committee; at any rate, between the official Labour Party and us. I do not think that anything which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has said throws any doubt upon that. In his speech at the Labour Party Conference the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale effectively answered those who said that Britain should unilaterally abandon nuclear weapons. I will not trouble the right hon. Gentleman with quotations from his speech. They always cause him embarrassment. All I would remind him of is his final phrase in which he said: Such unilateral action is not necessarily the way to take the menace of the bomb from the world. More recently the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), in his very lucid pamphlet on the H-bomb, wrote: There is no moral advantage in scrapping our own bombs if we keep our alliances and so depend upon American bombs. He went on to point out that there would be no practical advantage either. He said: We should be just as much in the front line in a third world war if we did not have our own bomb as if we did. We entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and we are indebted to him for making the position of the Labour Party so clear on this important and difficult issue.

Once we have decided that we must make nuclear weapons we have, of course, to accept also the necessity for testing them. A year ago, after our first thermonuclear explosion, we were pressed to stop further tests. If we had done so, our knowledge today would be very much more limited. I am not sure whether, in those circumstances, the United States would now be so interested to collaborate with us in the nuclear field.

I cannot, of course, go into detail, but in broad terms I can say that our first test on Christmas Island was to satisfy ourselves that we could produce a thermonuclear explosion. The subsequent tests had two main objects. The first was to reduce the size and weight of the nuclear warhead which, for ballistic rockets, is of decisive importance. The second object is to increase the explosive yield of a given quantity of fissile material. Fissile material is not unlimited. That, again, is of very considerable importance in building up any necessary stockpile of the weapons that we may require. Thanks to the very remarkable ingenuity and skill of our scientists, we have, with very few tests indeed, achieved significant advances in both directions.

Apart from its possible psychological effect upon wider disarmament negotiations, about which I will say something in a moment, the case for suspending nuclear tests rests almost entirely upon considerations of world health. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale referred to the tests at Maralinga in Australia. These tests are, of course, atom or kiloton explosions as distinct from thermonuclear explosions. Nuclear explosions in the kiloton range, as distinct from megaton explosions, are not powerful enough to project fission products into the stratosphere. Any radiation effects are, therefore, largely confined to the limited area around the site of the explosion. Therefore, provided the location of the site and the meteorological conditions are carefully chosen, no adverse consequences need be feared from kiloton tests. On the other hand, the much greater power of a megaton explosion has the effect of throwing radioactive particles up into the stratosphere from which they gradually fall out over a wide area of the earth's surface.

The physiological effects on the human body must be considered from two standpoints—the possible harm to the health of those living at the time and possible genetic effects upon future generations. It is wholly inconceivable that external radiation from nuclear fall-out from weapon tests, as distinct from a nuclear war, could reach such an intensity as to affect significantly the health of the peoples of the world. [HON. MEMBERS: "Significantly?"] I will explain what I am saying; I am talking about external radiation. The possible risk to health could, therefore, arise only from the absorption of certain fission products, such as strontium 90, through eating, drinking or breathing. This aspect must be most carefully watched. [Laughter.] I do not think this is a laughing matter, but it should be pointed out. Hon. Members opposite have said again and again that we were casual or indifferent to this question. Now that we are discussing it they are just rocking with laughter about it.

As I have said, this aspect must be most carefully watched. I am now talking about the absorption into the body of fission products. However, it should be pointed out, I think, that the average amount of strontium 90 in samples of human bone in this country is estimated at present to be only about 1,000th part of the maximum which is considered permissible in industrial occupations where workers are exposed to this risk.

As regards possible genetic consequences, it is known that the effect of radiation on the reproductive organs could produce abnormalities in future generations. It depends upon the intensity and duration of the radiation. This is a matter which we must consider with a great sense of responsibility, but also, I think, with a proper sense of proportion. The radiation emanating from all the tests so far held is altogether negligible in comparison with the radiation to which we are subjected all the time from natural cosmic rays, from medical X-rays, luminous watches, shoe-fitting tests, and so forth, or from living in brick or stone houses, or on a hill, or on certain types of rocky or sandy soil. In fact, I am told that the general radiation produced by the fall-out from nuclear tests is much less than the difference in natural radioactivity between London and Aberdeen.

What is more, we should remember that radiation is not the only cause of genetic mutation or abnormality. For example, a group of Swedish scientists has just completed a study which shows that the unnatural heat caused by the wearing of trousers is likely to have a cumulatively serious effect upon the male organ. [Laughter.] This is a serious medical study. The scientists point out that this mode of dress might well involve genetic hazards of between 100 and 1,000 times greater than those estimated from all the various sources of radiation. Incidentally, they conclude by recommending the general adoption of the Scottish kilt.

What I have said is not intended to suggest that nuclear tests involve no risks of any kind. My purpose is simply to emphasise that they should be looked at in proper perspective against the background of the far more serious radiation and other hazards to which we are constantly exposed in our every-day lives and which we had hitherto accepted without undue anxiety.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale referred to the Russian announcement that they were suspending nuclear tests. I cannot say more than the right hon. Gentleman, but it is impossible to say whether this is a genuine suspension or whether it is merely an unavoidable interval between two series of tests. The suspension of tests is, of course, not a measure of disarmament. We have, therefore, considered that this question should be dealt with as part and parcel of a wider agreement. If, however, the suspension of tests were accompanied by the setting up of some system of inspection for this purpose, this would certainly constitute an event of some importance.

As I have explained we have been much disappointed by the Russian attitude towards inspection. We are, therefore, glad that the Russians have now accepted in principle the proposal that experts should at least discuss methods of inspection for the limited purpose of detecting nuclear tests. We have offered to send British experts to Geneva for this purpose on 1st July. We must sincerely hope that this development, this first step in the direction of inspection, may possibly constitute a first step towards the breaking of the deadlock which now unhappily exists all along the line.

We have so far proceeded on the assumption that any disarmament plan would necessarily have to be carried through by stages, since it would be too much to hope that comprehensive disarmament could be effected in a single step. A central problem of any scheme of disarmament by stages is to maintain at each successive stage the existing balance between the two sides and to provide mutual safeguards and assurances against bad faith. Our experience in the negotiations over the past few years has, unfortunately, shown this to be extremely difficult.

The arms reductions in the early stages are unlikely in practice to be sufficient to reduce appreciably the danger of war. In the subsequent stages, it becomes increasingly difficult to preserve the balance and to avoid one side or the other feeling that its safety is being prejudiced. Nuclear armaments would sooner or later have to be reduced to a point where the deterrent would cease to deter, which would give to the Soviet bloc complete military superiority. Alternatively, the Western anxieties might be allayed by reducing conventional forces to a very low level before reducing nuclear weapons to the point where they no longer constitute a deterrent. Russia, however, would probably consider that this placed her at an unacceptable disadvantage.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

The Minister of Defence has referred to the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954. He will recall that its purpose was to deal precisely with what he is now discussing. Are the Government prepared to adhere to the system which they put forward then in that White Paper?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

What I am about to say has, perhaps, some relevance to the right hon. Gentleman's question.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

That is not an answer.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I think it is, in fact, an answer to it. What I was saying is that we have hitherto assumed that we must try to proceed on the basis of disarmament by stages, because it is difficult to get disarmament all in one step. On the other hand, we have encountered very great difficulties in working out what those stages should be. Nevertheless, we have in the interval, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, put forward these proposals through the United Nations and we have not abandoned our hope that the Russians will seriously consider the Western plan.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

They accepted it on 10th May, 1955.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I am talking now of the 1957 plan. I shall come back to the 1954 or 1955 plan; there are two plans. I have tried to study the book by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), which represents a great work of collection and assembly of vitally important facts, although some of them are not, perhaps, presented in a way which everybody would consider to be completely unbiassed. The right hon. Gentleman has, however, rendered a service to us all in introducing his book.

We have not abandoned our hope that the Russians will seriously consider the Western plan—I am referring to the one adopted by an overwhelming majority of the United Nations not so long ago—and we shall continue to press these proposals, because we think they are fair and practicable. At the same time, we shall be prepared to consider with an open mind any alternative proposals which may be put forward by the Russians or their allies. If, however, it should continue to prove impossible to make progress towards disarmament by stages, one should, perhaps, think again about the feasibility of achieving comprehensive disarmament in a single step, after due preparation.

In what I am about to say—I emphasise this—I am not formally putting forward any new plan of this kind. I am merely examining what such an approach might involve. At the end of the Second World War, the United Nations was set up primarily as an instrument for preserving world peace. The signatories of the Charter undertook to make available to the Security Council armed forces and such other assistance as might be necessary to implement its decisions.

Largely owing to the misuse of the veto by the Soviet Union, which has now applied it on no fewer than 83 occasions, the United Nations has been prevented from discharging its main responsibility for the maintenance of peace; and, in consequence, groups of countries have had to resort to the creation of a series of regional defensive alliances in order to protect themselves against each other. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the failure of the international policeman has made it necessary for the nations to seek other means of self-defence.

Despite this disappointing experience, there would, I think, be every advantage in basing any plan for comprehensive disarmament upon the principles and obligations embodied in the United Nations Charter. The starting point would have to be a general agreement for the prevention of war, by which all the nations concerned would undertake to reduce their armed forces right down to the level where they would not constitute any threat to any other country.

To carry out this agreement, a world security authority would have to be set up under the United Nations. Its functions would be to supervise the process of disarmament, to prevent any rearming thereafter and to deal with any acts of aggression by the disarmed countries. In order to carry out these functions, the authority would need two instruments: an international arms inspectorate and an international police force.

The international inspectorate would have to perform two duties. The first would be to maintain a permanent system of supervision and to report to the authority any infringement of the disarmament agreement. Its other duty would be to provide a corps of observers to report upon any acts of aggression or threats of aggression. The inspectorate would, of course, have to be given completely unrestricted access to any premises or information necessary to discharge its functions.

The international police force, operating under the orders of the authority, would have the duty of dealing with any infringement of the disarmament agreement or any threat of aggression reported by the inspectorate. The police force would have to possess unquestioned military superiority over the disarmed nations. It would, therefore, need to be of substantial strength and equipped with effective armaments.

As a safeguard against bad faith, it would be absolutely essential—this is a point I wish to emphasise—that the authority, with its international inspectorate and police force, should be fully established before the actual process of disarmament began. During this preparatory period, which would extend necessarily over several years, the international inspectorate would report what armaments existed in each country and the authority would issue a list of those to be destroyed. Thus, when the process of actual disarmament was set in motion, it should be possible to complete it in a comparatively short time.

In order that there should be no misunderstanding, I wish to emphasise once again that the ideas I have outlined are not in any sense formal proposals. We are still backing the plan which was adopted by the United Nations. They are no more than thoughts, inspired by the difficulties which we have encountered in the negotiations up to date. They are in many respects a natural development, as, I think, the right hon. Member for Derby, South will recognise, of the earlier Anglo-French proposals.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Can my right hon. Friend indicate in what way this world organisation, armed in the way he has described, would be restrained from operating against what I might call British or Commonwealth interests on the widest possible scale? Would a right of veto be inserted?

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I have given a good deal of thought to this subject, but I am not trying in the course of the debate to produce a blueprint or a charter for this plan. No one should underrate the practical difficulties of any plan for comprehensive disarmament in a single step, but it may be that these difficulties are not any more formidable than those which arise over disarmament by stages. In the end, it will all turn—[Interruption.] It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to sneer at the idea of a world authority. It may seem all very idealistic—

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

—but in the end, unless we create an effective world authority to deal with this problem, we shall get nowhere. In the end, it will all turn on whether the will to disarm really exists. If the Russians desire disarmament, if the Russians—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman has said that four times and if he wishes to say it again, I will give way.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I agree with everything he has just said but, unfortunately, all the actions which the Government have followed with regard to disarmament have stopped the realisation of the proposals which he is now outlining.

Photo of Mr Duncan Sandys Mr Duncan Sandys , Wandsworth Streatham

I was saying—the hon. Gentleman did not desire any explanation or seek any elucidation, so I am not answering his point—that if the Russians desire disarmament as sincerely as we do, the obstacles, great as they are, will surely be surmounted and a workable agreement reached. If, on the other hand, the Russians do not genuinely want disarmament and are merely using the negotiations for propaganda, then no scheme, however ingenious, will succeed.

For the sake of the peoples of all countries, whether they are this side or the other side of the Iron Curtain, let us pray that by one means or another good sense will win through. In the meantime, while steadfastly pursuing the goal of disarmament, we must be careful not to undermine the structure of Western defence by which alone peace is today being preserved.

5.32 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Henderson Mr Arthur Henderson , Rowley Regis and Tipton

The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence, in so far as he attempted to deal with the points made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) as to the shifting of ground on the part of Her Majesty's Government, was not very convincing. He very astutely sidestepped the charge which my right hon. Friend made as to why Her Majesty's Government changed their ground following the publication of the proposals of the Soviet Government on 10th May, 1955. After all, the facts speak for themselves.

In January, 1952, the British representative at the United Nations made, among other proposals, a definite proposal for the ceiling of conventional manpower forces to be fixed at 1·5 million men. That proposal was repeated in March, 1955, in a memorandum put in by the British and French representatives at the meeting of the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee. On 10th May of that year, the Russian proposals, to which reference has been made, were filed at the meeting of the Committee, and on that occasion the Russians, who have quite rightly been accused of obstruction up to that month, changed their ground and accepted the proposal that the manpower ceiling should be 1 million to 1·5 million.

What we have asked is why Her Majesty's Government have given up their proposal for these manpower ceilings and substituted for them the proposals of August, 1957? Until the right hon. Gentleman or the Foreign Secretary, who presumably is to reply to the debate, can justify that change of ground, I think that we are entitled to say that Her Majesty's Government have been guilty of inconsistency.

The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence also, for some reason or another, made a charge from which it appeared that the Soviet Government have always steadfastly and consistently refused to accept an effective system of inspection and control. I am bound to say that I do not understand why the right hon. Gentleman makes that statement, because I have just been looking at the correspondence published recently in Cmnd. 381—correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Bulganin, 11th December, 1957, to 8th February, 1958—and I find that on page 21, Mr. Bulganin makes this statement. This means that the functions and scope of control, and also inspection must be regarded in close relationship to the realisation of measures to lessen tension in international relations and to strengthen confidence between the States, particularly the big powers. He goes on to say: To the extent that agreement is reached on disarmament questions, including agreement on a substantial reduction in armed forces and armaments and on the total prohibition of nuclear weapons, the cessation of their manufacture, their withdrawal from the armaments of the states, and the destruction of the stockpiles of these weapons, the obstacles to the widening of control and inspection will disappear. At the appropriate stage the Soviet Government, for its part, will be prepared to regard such widening with favour. How can the right hon. Gentleman really justify his statement that the Soviet Government have persistently refused to agree to the establishment of any effective system of inspection and control? I think that the Foreign Secretary, if he agrees with the statement which his right hon. Friend has made, should seek to explain away the statement which I have just quoted from the letter of the former Russian Prime Minister.

While I agree with the criticisms that have been made with regard to the responsibility of the Western Governments, at least they must share the responsibility with the Soviet Government for the existence of the present disarmament deadlock. I feel that it will not carry us very far merely to look to the events of the past few years. It is too important, it is too urgent, it is too vital from the point of view of the welfare of mankind to bicker too long as to who is responsible for the present disarmament deadlock. Surely, what we have to do in this debate tonight is to see whether we cannot get a measure of agreement or certainly an indication from Her Majesty's Government as to how we are to end the present deadlock.

I naturally, as the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Defence will know, speaking for myself at least, cordially welcome his reference to the necessity for a world security authority. Some of us have been looked at a little askance by all sorts of people in our pursuit of this ideal which, apparently, is becoming less of an ideal and may perhaps in the not too distant future become a practical reality.

I was not altogether satisfied with what the right hon. Gentleman said. His sentiments, yes; but what are the Government going to do about it? It is not sufficient to say, speaking informally, that we are in favour of the establishment of a world authority with the power behind it to enforce the rules of law, to enforce any disarmament agreement and to have a police force at its call which will have the responsibility of maintaining world peace.

I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary what practical plans he has in mind about the proposal. Does he intend to discuss the proposal with other Governments, or are we to take it that this is merely an indication of long-term policy, a long-term ideal which may or may not be achieved in the years that lie ahead? There is a very big difference between the two. If the Foreign Secretary is merely expressing sentiments, I hope that he and his right hon. Friends will think twice before leading the people of this country up the garden, because that is exactly what they will be doing if, in their own hearts and minds, they do not believe the establishment of this body to be practical politics this year or for a good many years to come.

Many of us have supported the idea of a Summit Conference because we thought that would be one of the means of ending the present disarmament deadlock. I agree with the Minister of Defence when he says that one of the main obstacles to the achievement of an agreement on disarmament is the mistrust and lack of confidence which poisons the international scene and has been poisoning it for some years past. But surely that is no reason for marking time.

Therefore, I suggest certain proposals to the Foreign Secretary. The pessimistic statement made by Mr. Dulles last week certainly does not hold out very much hope of a Summit Conference this year. The recent French Government crisis will have provided General de Gaulle and his Government with political, economic and constitutional problems which may compel them to devote the best part of their time to their solution in the next six months. If that be so, we must face the fact that there will be an interregnum of three, six or even nine months during which talks will be continued about the holding of this conference. But I suggest that this period of time should be utilised to endeavour to make some progress in the dissipation of present distrust and suspicion.

The Committee will recall the Prime Ministers proposal last January for a multilateral non-aggression pact. In view of the fact that Washington seemed to indicate that it was opposed to it, may I ask the Foreign Secretary whether that is one of the matters which is now being discussed by the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower? The Prime Minister also gave a "solemn assurance," as he called it, in January to the Soviet Government that in no circumstances would any British Government condone any act of aggression against the Soviet Government. What a wonderful contribution it would be to the improvement of the international climate if the United States could see their way to assoiate themselves with that solemn assurance.

I understand that two months ago Her Majesty's Government proposed to the Soviet Government that discussions should take place about the jamming of broadcasts and the exchange of information between the two countries. Has any reply been received from the Soviet Government? If an agreement could be achieved on that problem, it would reduce considerably the effect of the cold war which has been going on for so long. Many of us also welcome the news that the Soviet Government are prepared to take part in President Eisenhower's conference on Antarctica to ensure through an international agreement that that great area of the world should be used hereafter only for peaceful purposes. If that area could be demilitarised by international agreement it would help the cause of international confidence.

On the question of working parties, many of us on this side of the Committee have been disappointed that Her Majesty's Government have steadfastly refused to take the lead in proposing the suspension of nuclear tests. I think that the explanation which the Minister of Defence gave this afternoon will not convince the great mass of our people that Her Majesty's Government were right in their policy. Nevertheless, I welcome the news published two or three days ago that the Soviet Government have agreed to take part in the meeting of technical experts. It is only right to say that the credit, such as it is, for the original proposal to have these technical committees appointed must be given to the Foreign Secretary.

I believe that the time has come now to get down to brass tacks and away from the endless political debate that has characterised disarmament negotiations and discussions over the past eight years. Here is an opportunity. I hope that there will be no wrangling as to whether the conference should take place in Moscow or Geneva, or whether it should be enlarged to include representatives from countries like India, Sweden or Yugoslavia. It seems to me of little importance whether it is a small conference or a large one.

One reason why I find myself in cordial agreement with this procedure is that it seems to me to be evidence of intention on the part of both East and West to make progress in achieving practical solutions. But why stop at working parties on tests? My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), in his great book published two days ago, to which reference has already been made, rightly says that while a ban on tests is an essential part of a disarmament programme, it must be kept in mind that a century of tests would do less damage to the human race than a few hours of nuclear war. Even more important than the suspension of nuclear tests is the cessation of the manufacture of these horrible weapons for war and the elimination of all the stockpiles of hydrogen and other atomic weapons which exist in at least three countries today.

I ask the Foreign Secretary, therefore, whether he will not press on with the procedural aspect of this problem of working parties, not only on the suspension of tests but on the cessation of production and the elimination of stockpiles. Many difficult technical problems will arise. The question of inspection and control must be resolved if we are to make progress in this connection.

The Foreign Secretary knows, perhaps better than I do, the importance attached by the Government and people of the United States to the question of surprise attack. They still remember the experience of Pearl Harbour. In my humble opinion, not very much progress will be made in the direction of disarmament unless the United States Government and people can be satisfied on that point.

The people of the Soviet Union have already manifested serious apprehension at the practice of the United States Air Force of sending nuclear bombers on patrol across the Arctic skies. Surely, the only way to make those patrols unnecessary is to agree on safeguards against surprise attack, whether they are safeguards in the form of aerial inspection, as proposed by the United States, or in the form of ground control posts as proposed by Marshal Bulganin.

I put it to the Foreign Secretary that here is another aspect. Could he not press for a working party to consider the question of safeguards? There is already agreement in principle on both proposals, so why not have a working party to consider the technicalities of aerial inspection and ground control posts? I believe that a great deal of practical advance could be made along these lines.

There are those who say that what we need to do, and what would be sufficient for the moment, is to abolish nuclear weapons. I cannot agree with this viewpoint. I believe we must abolish all weapons of mass destruction, both nuclear and conventional. Indeed, I would go further. I am very much afraid that if we were to get rid of all the nuclear weapons existing in the world today, instead of ending the nuclear arms race it would be followed by an even more intensive race in conventional weapons. Therefore, we must try to reach agreement to cover all weapons of war.

I was interested to read that even Lord Russell, one of our greatest living scientists, in a recent debate in another place said that if there were no nuclear weapons at the beginning of a war, it would last a long time and, during that time, whatever agreements there might be to the contrary, nuclear weapons would be constructed. He stated that it was certain therefore that a big war would be a nuclear war and that we are faced with this situation.

Our purpose must therefore be to prevent war, and in order to do that we must abolish all weapons of mass destruction, be they nuclear or conventional. I will not embark upon a discussion of the merits of the ultimate deterrent. I believe it is serving its purpose as a deterrent, even though I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale that it is not a weapon of defence. Although the hydrogen bomb may constitute the ultimate deterrent, in my view it is sheer folly to believe that we can go on living indefinitely in a world in which hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles are accumulating day by day, believing that under no circumstances will these diabolical weapons be used. Mankind just cannot afford to rule out the possibility of a hydrogen war starting as the result of an error of judgment, or in some other way, as long as war is not outlawed and the arms race goes on. Therefore, I support strongly the proposal put forward by the Minister of Defence, even though informally, that we have to face this problem not on a sectional basis but in order to organise peace, just as we have to organise security within any civilised community.

I hope the Foreign Secretary will go even a little further than the Minister of Defence did in his reference to the need for a world authority. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day that Her Majesty's Government were opposed to a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe and are not in favour of a policy of disengagement. I believe there is a great deal to be said for both a policy of disengagement and a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe, although I agree that this of itself would not be the complete solution since it would create a vacuum which might be full of dangerous possibilities.

If there were a United Nations police force in existence it could have been stationed in Central Europe between the Soviet Union on the one hand and the Western European countries on the other hand. It would have been an effective means of maintaining peace, whereas we now have diverging policies. Those diverging policies are as to whether we should rearm Germany, whether it should be rearmed with nuclear weapons, whether it should be rearmed with conventional weapons, whether all nuclear weapons should be taken away from countries contiguous one with another in Central Europe.

I believe that the question of organising peace through a world security authority should be considered now. I do not think we should wait until the world has started to disarm, as the Minister of Defence said. If I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, I hope the Foreign Secretary will correct me. Surely he did not mean we should wait until we have started what the Minister of Defence called comprehensive disarmament before we build a world security authority? If we are to get disarmament by stages, as we progress from one stage to another surely we can start, if we can get agreement, to build a world security authority and a world police force.

The Government have steadfastly refused to accept the proposal made in recent years by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Derby, South and others of us that they should seek to canalise the proposals made at various times and at various stages during the past eight years into a draft disarmament agreement. The fact that some countries might refuse to sign such an agreement does not seem to me to lessen the value of the proposal. Even if the first and, possibly, the second stage is to be confined to the suspension of nuclear tests, to initial reductions in conventional manpower, and possibly to some agreement as to safeguards against surprise attack and so on, why cannot the Government at the same time map out a draft treaty or agreement providing for comprehensive disarmament, and then go to the United Nations and sponsor that method of approach on their own responsibility?

In conclusion, I would therefore ask the Foreign Secretary not to rule out the idea of embodying in a draft agreement the best proposals to be found in the Russian proposals of 10th May, 1955, and the proposals of the Western Governments in August, 1957. They could then go to the United Nations and father such a draft treaty. I believe that if they were to do this they would receive the support of the peoples in every country who want, above anything else at the present time, action to be taken and some progress made along the path of world disarmament.

5.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Richard Bingham Mr Richard Bingham , Liverpool, Garston

It is a great honour, and an even greater source of anxiety, to be speaking here for the first time in this Committee, particularly when I have the honour to follow so experienced and distinguished a speaker as the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). If I have to confess that, although much moved by the views he has expressed I cannot say I am persuaded by all of them, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will recognise, I am Sure, that, though we have different views as to the means, nevertheless we all share the same objective, namely, the problem of how to prevent anyone from dropping a nuclear bomb in anger.

The problem of averting nuclear war is the paramount and overriding question of our time. Sincere minds working towards the same end can travel by many different approaches. There are those—I confess that I number myself among them—who think that strength is the first and best guarantee of deterrence against aggression. There are others who sincerely believe that unilateral disarmament will give the example necessary to reduce tension. If one is frank one recognises that in both those courses and in all that lies in between there are risks which are all the graver if one takes account of the fact that the penalty for failure is such that one will not have the chance to try again.

I agreed with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton when he said that we must go to all and every length to avert the catastrophe of another nuclear war. We must do that in our bounden duty not only to ourselves and our children but to the generations which will follow us, and also in our duty to the whole concept of human civilisation and belief in our progress. The fear of nuclear war surrounds mankind today as surely as in the past our ancestors were haunted by the fear of famine. How are we to get rid of this most potent menace which surrounds us, perhaps the last fear that man has before he can fully account himself civilised? The suspension of nuclear tests and unilateral disarmament may be good, though I believe they are mistaken, but, even if they are good, they would be palliatives only; they could alleviate the symptoms, but they could never hope to cure the causes.

What I believe we should do is to recognise war for what it is, an occupational disease of mankind. The causes of that disease, like cancer, are only imperfectly understood even yet. Until we recognise the causes of war with certainty and apply remedies to them, we shall have as much chance of effecting a permanent cure as, for instance, would a layman faced with an urgent case of appendicitis.

I suggest with all diffidence and humility that there are two, and two only, real causes of war. The first is the want of a proper standard of living, of food and primary resources, in many backward countries today; in other words, their unrequited primary needs. The second cause is the ambition of certain nations, which has existed throughout history, to dominate other nations.

If those are the two real causes of war, I suggest that it would be wrong to look on unilateral disarmament or a lowering of our strength as any remedy for them or a guarantee against them. It would be like disbanding one's police force. Strength as a deterrent will certainly be of value to control the ambitions of nations to dominate others. Strength would also be of some use, possibly, to hold in check the aggressive aspirations of nations with unrequited primary needs, which wanted to obtain by aggression what they lacked. But if one relied on strength or any unyielding formula as the only expedient, one would be only postponing and not averting the ultimate explosion, and the longer the explosion was postponed, the more certain and the more violent it would be when it came. If strength in armaments can be only an imperfect remedy, unilaterial disarmament, unless it preserved for us a balance of strength, would be no remedy at all.

What I believe we should do—I believe the time is ripe for it—is first to maintain, and to make certain that we maintain, a strong balance of strength in order to check and curb the ambition of other States to expand and spread their dominating influences over other parts of the world, and, at the same time, to apply all the energies we have to solving the first major cause of war, which is the disparity between nations in their unrequited primary needs and which, in my humble view, has been responsible for about 90 per cent. of the wars of history.

Here I speak with diffidence, but I am convinced that the magnitude of this aspect of the problem is not fully realised throughout the world. I suggest that there must be some form of institution or institute—there is none known to me in the world today—charged with two specific functions, one of which would be the accurate ascertainment of what the true causes of war are. Those causes having been ascertained with all the accuracy which analysis may make possible, the other function of the institution should be to devise remedial measures which will fully and effectively meet those causes when ascertained.

In the result, I believe that one would have an ideology—for want of a better word—with which the West could sweep the world and in comparison with which the ideology of Communism would soon find itself relegated in the eyes of the whole world to the lifeless snows of Siberia where it belongs. If that were done, the path would lie open to international police forces and world authorities, for there would then be the firm basis on which peace could be built.

If it is not done, it seems to me that the changing conditions of the world and the environment in which we live will within the next hundred years produce tensions from countries having unrequited primary needs, which will with all the certainty of a law of nature result in an explosion, and in a nuclear age it will be a nuclear explosion. If we do not have some such design, I can see no alternative to the certainty within the next hundred years of a nuclear explosion, whatever other measures are taken.

Although I support the maintenance of our strength as our primary aim, that must be the short-term view, and behind that one must have a longer-term view to solve those tensions which are now building up; and I sincerely hope that a design such as I have so briefly suggested will one day come to fruition.

6.10 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

It is with pleasure that I follow the hon. and learned Member for Garston (Mr. Bingham). He has entered a debate which has not been without controversy and yet he did so without in any way offending the tradition of the House of Commons about maiden speeches. He rightly said, and said with force, clarity and obvious sincerity, that we have a community of interest in our long-term objectives.

There is a community of interest between us in some of his immediate proposals and some of his methods of achieving the longer term objectives. I entirely agree that the disparity between the material welfare of one part of the world and that of another part is one of the major causes of instability in our affairs, and I am certain that we must have regard to that fundamental difficulty if we are to find a solution to the problem of securing permanent peace. I am sure that I speak for the whole Committee when I say that we look forward to future debates when the hon. and learned Member is able to develop some of the interesting themes which he put before us this evening.

Having said that, and having had great pleasure in dealing with these non-controversial matters, I now turn to one or two matters of greater controversy. One of the most unfortunate features in the long series of these debates—formally today and in a rather less consecutive fashion at Question Time and on other occasions—has been the way in which some of Her Majesty's Ministers, when cornered and when faced with difficult questions, have impugned the patriotism of those questioning them.

It was most unfortunate that the Prime Minister should have lost his temper the other day when replying to a question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). We had exactly the same thing today from the Minister of Defence—the right hon. Gentleman knew that I intended to try to answer him and I appreciate that he has told me he had to leave the Chamber for a time. It is quite intolerable that when a question is directed to a Minister, when a case is put before a Minister, the only answer given is the sort of thing which the Prime Minister said when answering my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South. The Prime Minister said that my right hon. Friend was always thinking his own country wrong. When trying to reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), the Minister of Defence today said that my right hon. Friend had great pleasure in putting forward the case of the Soviet Union.

That is just not true, and, moreover, it is very dangerous. It is dangerous because many right hon. Gentlemen opposite are now making the charge of a lack of patriotism against some of my right hon. and hon. Friends and are beginning to believe it. Because they are beginning to believe it, they are failing to get down to the basic problems with which it is necessary to deal.

I am about to say, and I get no pleasure in saying it, that our country, my country, has been wrong in its dealings with other countries on disarmament in the last two or three years. Let us take the matter of nuclear disarmament. The Minister of Defence challenged me to say in what way the Soviet representatives had indicated their readiness to have a measure of international inspection and control. I will accept this challenge and say in detail what the Soviet representatives have proposed in this regard.

I claim that this indicates that Soviet Russia has been prepared to have inspection and control, provided that there was some agreement on disarmament. Let me read what the Soviet representatives said, as recorded in page 950 of Cmd. 9652. They said: For the fulfilment of the tasks of control and inspection entrusted to the International Control Commission, the latter shall have the right of:

  1. '(a) Access to any facilities for mining, production, and stockpiling of atomic raw materials and atomic materials, as well as to the facilities for the exploitation of atomic energy.
  2. '(b) Acquaintance with the production operations of the atomic energy facilities, to the extent necessary for the control of the use of atomic materials and atomic energy.
  3. '(c) Carrying out weighing, measurements and various analyses of atomic raw materials, atomic materials and unfinished products.
  4. '(d) Requesting from the Government of any nation, and checking, various data and reports on the activities of atomic energy facilities.
  5. "(e) Requesting various explanations on the questions relating to the activities of atomic energy facilities.'"

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Can the hon. Member give me the date of that publication?

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

It was published in 1956.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

Will the hon. Member say where is the control and where the crunch comes in? All this information is to be made available, but the element of control surely leads to the issue of sovereignty, that somebody must be there to control and prevent manufacture.

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

The Russians have proposed for that exactly the same sort of international disarmament agency to which the Minister of Defence referred earlier. I maintain that it is quite wrong for us to say that our country is white and the other country is black when we are faced with facts of this kind.

There is another example of the way in which the Government have tried to get out of a difficult position when cornered. They have said, "If we have these reductions in atomic armaments, the Russians will have superiority of conventional armaments". This was an argument which we used with great effect for many years until 1955. I recollect Sir Gladwyn Jebb saying in the United Nations Sub-Committee on 28th May, 1952: If we could reach agreement on the levels of all armed forces … I am sure that this in itself would restore international confidence to such an extent that the problem of controlling atomic energy … would present a much less formidable obstacle than it has done in the past. That was the kind of argument which we had time and time again in answer to the Russian demand for nuclear disarmament.

We then reached a position when the Russians said, "We will accept your proposals"—the Anglo-French proposals—"for a reduction in conventional manpower." We then switched our position entirely, and on 7th May, 1956, Mr. Anthony Nutting, who was then Minister of State, told me why we could not accept the Russian proposals, which were in fact the Anglo-French proposals, for a reduction of conventional manpower down to the 1·5 million upper limit. He said that we could not accept the proposals For this very simple reason: to go down to 1·5 million, for example for the United States, would, I am advised, mean that the United States could no longer maintain its commitment within Europe, and that would mean the disruption of the N.A.T.O. defence structure …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May. 1956; Vol. 552, c. 837.] That may well have been the case and that may have been a sound argument, but it is not good enough for Ministers to say that we could not accept the Russian proposals for atomic disarmament because that would mean leaving them with superior conventional forces.

On 25th April, 1956, we were told that we could not carry through a programme involving drastic reductions in forces and armaments until political problems had been settled. We are entitled to say that the Government are at fault in these matters, and it is not good enough for them to say that we delight in putting forward the Russian case. That is not so. I delight in one thing only, and that is trying to get at the truth. So far as my research has taken me—and in my endeavours to get at the truth of this matter I have devoted some time to it—I am convinced that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South is absolutely right when he says that since May, 1955, the guilt has passed to the Western nations.

Why is it that we take this attitude? I try to understand the explanations about why responsible Ministers can take up this obstructionist attitude whenever we are in sight of some agreement on disarmament. I think the reason is that they genuinely fear that once we get some way towards disarmament, there will be a disintegration of the N.A.T.O. organisation. They are afraid to go forward to any other method of defence than that upon which we have relied in the past. They fear the future if it is not backed up by national defences. This argument was very well put in an article in the New York Times on Sunday, 25th May of this year, from which, with permission, I will quote: The most effective unifying cement in any alliance is fear. It has therefore been American policy to insist on the Soviet military menace as a means of keeping N.A.T.O. together. This was the American line at the N.A.T.O. summit meeting last December when Mr. Dulles won acceptance at least of the principle that American missile bases and nuclear stockpiles should be stationed on European soil. Of course, precisely the same line was taken by the Americans and ourselves at the Geneva talks in 1955. We fell back upon the Soviet menace, and the subject of disarmament, which the French thought was to be No. 1 on the agenda at the Geneva summit talks, was switched to No. 3. We put as No. 1 the possibility of German reunification. Of course, the famous "Geneva spirit" evaporated and no agreement was reached. But there was the possibility of agreement and most of us thought that it would be reached at Geneva. The reason why it was not was that the proposals that the Russians were then putting forward brought disarmament nearer, and, on their own showing, the Americans believe that without the fear of Soviet Russia, the N.A.T.O. alliance will not stand up.

If there is any truth at all in this analysis, we have to ask ourselves how we can break through this barrier of fear. How can we meet the legitimate doubts of those in the Western world who genuinely fear for the safety of their people were any disarmament agreement reached? I agree profoundly with what was said earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale about the very natural desire of individuals not to give up their own personal arms if there is no national police force upon which they can rely for their personal safety. I agree that this has been one of the difficulties in the past which have prevented us from reaching any disarmament agreement. But to some extent I disagree with my right hon. Friend when he says that now there is a new situation.

We have reached this nuclear age, and, as the Committee knows, I cannot bring myself to believe that we get any security at all from stockpiles of hydrogen bombs. I cannot believe that in any situation I should be justified in giving an order to drop a hydrogen bomb in any part of the world; and if I cannot bring myself to give that order, I do not believe that I am entitled to expect anyone else to give it in my name. Therefore, I will have nothing to do with the hydrogen bomb. But I recognise that there is this reluctance on the part of many people to give up any national armaments unless there is some other form of security upon which they can rely.

I think that today the answer is—this is where I agree with what was said by the Minister of Defence in the closing sentences of his speech—that as we dismantle these futile, expensive, tension-provoking national defences, we have at the same time to begin to build up a constructive and hopeful system of collective security. Where, in my opinion, we made a mistake in the past was in confusing collective security with a system of national military alliances. The collective security force of the future must be under the control of a central world authority, the United Nations, and this force should be recruited directly by the United Nations and be responsible directly to that organisation.

The Minister of Defence does not appreciate that when he is cold-shouldering these proposals for disarmament, he is at the same time making it more difficult to build up the kind of collective security system which, apparently, he envisages, and which I certainly envisage. Today the opportunities for building up that kind of collective, peace-keeping system are absolutely immense, and eminently practical. They are bound up with the whole problem of disarmament, and I wish to go on to show in rather more detail what I mean.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Who is to provide this collective force and who is to control it, if not the great Powers who are at present quarrelling with each other?

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

There are a lot of people in this world who will not take readily and immediately to this idea of an international police force. We have to learn to trust an international authority. Therefore, we have to move gradually to the sort of conditions referred to today by the Minister of Defence. I propose to go on to show in some detail how, as a matter of practical politics in the solution of our immediate problems, we can begin to build up this international system.

First, there is the system of inspection which would be necessary if we are to achieve any measure of disarmament at all. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) really believes that all the talk and protestations by his colleagues about the possibility of disarmament are genuine. But it is the case that if we are to get any measure of disarmament, we must have some inspectorate, some form of international control. I believe that these inspectors must themselves be United Nations officers. We cannot allow teams from Britain or from the United States to go round checking and examining in, say, the Soviet Union, or in the territory of some other nation. The organisation must be individually recruited. If the hon. Gentleman has any doubt as to the practicability of this, let him look at the Secretariat of the United Nations which is now working very well and has a strong United Nations loyalty, and a very able and efficient staff. In precisely the same way we should get able, efficient and loyal individuals to serve in this other branch of the United Nations.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Will the hon. Gentleman please answer the questions I put to him? Who is to supply this force to start with, and who is to control it if it is not the great Powers who are today so much at variance with each other? Who is to supply the power and the policy?

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

Before the hon. Gentleman answers that question—I think this follows—would he care to comment on the practicability of his suggestion, in view of what happened in North Korea, where it was shown that a United Nations force operates only as long as the operating great Power wants it to, and no longer?

Photo of Mr Frank Beswick Mr Frank Beswick , Uxbridge

What I should like to do would be to get on with my own speech and make my own points in my own way.

The Korean force is not wholly satisfactory. In the first place, it was not organised on a full United Nations basis. It is not organised or recruited on an individual basis now. We made mistakes, and we can build upon them in the future in the hope of avoiding such mistakes. The Korean force served a useful purpose, but it is not a model for the future.

I tried to make the point at Question Time today, with regard to the suspension of nuclear tests, that if we are to have a system of inspection it must be manned by individuals recruited by the United Nations and responsible to the disarmament agency which I hope we shall set up under United Nations auspices.

Then there is this idea of a zone of disengagement in Europe. In one form or another this idea of an arms-free zone in Central Europe has been supported by almost everyone who matters, with the exception of the United States of America. I am especially surprised that Her Majesty's Government seem to be cold-shouldering this idea, which was originally put forward not by the Leader of the Opposition but by a Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden.

This is a possibility, something which we could now have and to which the Russians, the Poles and the Yugoslavs have given their support. It is something in which the Eastern Germans apparently believe. We could get it if we now worked hard enough for it. As part of the policy of disengagement in Europe we should, instead of leaving a complete vacuum, have to see stationed there United Nations inspectors, or, better still, a police force properly recruited, armed and trained, and responsible to the United Nations.

Then, of course, there is the Middle East. There is another opportunity. I recall that when my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) suggested—in 1956, was it?—that we should have a United Nations force patrolling the frontiers in the Middle East between the Arab countries and Israel, there was, as HANSARD records, an interruption. What actually happened was that several Government supporters, including perhaps the hon. Member for Louth who is now smiling, laughed and said that that was impossible; yet within six months there was in being a United Nations emergency force keeping law and order on the frontier there.

We now have an opportunity to see that kind of emergency force put upon a proper, permanent basis. If the Minister of Defence is serious when he says that he wants an international police force as well as a disarmament agency he should be doing now everything he can to see that the United Nations Emergency Force is put upon a proper basis.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South that it would be easier to inspect and control a thorough going disarmament convention than to inspect and control some small, modest agreement. Nevertheless, whether we make a modest start or get an agreement upon a comprehensive programme of disarmament, it will be necessary at the same time to have this international organisation, a United Nations organisation, equipped to keep law and order, and given the forces needed to maintain law and order in trouble areas.

Our problem now is that of transferring armed force from individual nation States to a world authority. We are very often called "defeatist" or "neutralist" because some of us on these benches object to tagging hopelessly behind the United States in a policy of fear, so admirably described in the extract from The New York Times. I do not see any hope if we tag along in that miserable and sterile way. And I do not consider myself either neutralist or defeatist, but activist and postivist. I want the Government to take a more positive part in world affairs.

I want to see a British Foreign Secretary who can get up here and talk, knowing that the rest of the nations of the world are listening. I want a Foreign Secretary again who can say with authority and influence what ought to be done and to expect people throughout the world to listen to him with respect. I want his authority to be based, not upon stockpiles of hydrogen bombs but upon the wisdom that we have accumulated in the past. We have made a great contribution to the development of national democracy and social progress; our next task is to make a similar step forward in the international sphere. We can take a lead in this connection, but not if we fall back upon the sort of reply that we have heard from the Government Front Bench today.

6.36 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Scotstoun

Perhaps I might start my address by adding my congratulations to those that have been offered to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham) on his maiden speech.

My hon. and learned Friend will no doubt be feeling greatly relieved at having got over that extremely difficult obstacle. I well remember when I got over that obstacle, which we all have to get over, and felt the sense of relief which I hope and believe my hon. and learned Friend is feeling. About a couple of days afterwards somebody met me in one of the Lobbies and asked me, "Have you made your maiden speech yet, old boy?" I then realised the amount of impact which had been made by that great oratorical effort of mine. I am sure that the impact of my hon. and learned Friend's speech will have been very much greater than that. When he mets a friend in the Lobby the question will not be, "Have you made your maiden speech yet?", but "When are you going to speak again?".

Now let me turn to the points which have been made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick). Particularly was I interested in his excerpt from the New York Times which tended to show that a sort of spurious reliance upon the Soviet menace was needed to keep the unity of N.A.T.O. and the West. How can we have become so blind to the menace which is there? How otherwise can we account for the discrepancy between the, let us say, 170 divisions of the Soviet forces and out pitiful 17, which is all that we have effectively in N.A.T.O., or for the tremendous submarine programme of Russia? That programme comprises 600 submarines, which is a far greater number than ever attacked this country in the past. There is the programme of 20,000 aircraft.

How can we say that there is no menace? That is not the only menace; there is the one which will ultimately hit us hardest, the building up of industrial and economic competition. There is no need to introduce the idea of spurious menace into the argument. We would be mad if we did not see it and take steps to deal with it.

The hon. Member for Uxbridge referred to the idea of a nuclear-free zone in the centre of Europe and reminded us that my right hon. Friend the former Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had in fact put forward similar proposals. Quite true; he did, but with the immensely important proviso that it must be accompanied by reunification of Germany. There is no evidence of the Russians being prepared to accept that proviso.

My speech is becoming very nearly a foreign affairs speech, but I would like to expatiate a little on this point. I am not satisfied that a nuclear-free zone in Europe would diminish tension. It seems to be assumed that if we created a no-man's-land in Central Europe tensions would be reduced. That was not the experience in the First World War; when the no-man's-land was wide I did not notice any reluctance of the forces to attack one another.

I suggest that new tensions might well be set up which could be as dangerous as those which exist at present. It is a fundamental error to assume that if we cleared troops out of Central Europe people in those parts would then be quite happy, there would be no jealousy and no new tensions would be set up.

Photo of Mr Arthur Moyle Mr Arthur Moyle , Oldbury and Halesowen

Would not the hon. Member agree that it would have the same psychological advantage in the interest of world peace as the withdrawal of Russian troops from Austria?

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Scotstoun

I do not think that is a complete analogy. Austria is a very small country with limited powers and interests, with little power to do harm and few jealousies. I do not want to stir up antagonisms in Europe, but would the hon. Member say the same would apply in an area which included Czechoslovakia, Poland, a reunited Germany and Hungary, because they think very differently of Communism in those States? I do not want to go further into that because it is a matter for a foreign affairs debate and I want to narrow down my speech to the question of disarmament.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said that we were not dealing with trivia. I could not agree more. These are matters of transcendental importance which are entitled to the most serious thought and treatment we can give them. However impressive a plea may be and however emotionally filled in its presentation, that does not turn it into a good speech if the content is unsound. That, in my opinion, is where the speech of the right hon. Member fell to pieces.

Let us examine three fundamental fallacies upon which the whole of his case was built. He said that fear now arises not from what it arose in the past, but from the very character of the weapons with which both sides are armed. That to me is not the fear. The fear I suffer from and the threat which I am determined to repel is that a foreign nation says openly that it is determined, using any methods at its disposal, to impose its ideological philosophies upon my country, by force if necessary. That is the fundamental fear which divides Russia and the West. Drop that threat and all need for these weapons and armaments would be at once diminished.

That was the first fundamental fallacy in the speech of the right hon. Member. There was another in relation to which I was rapped over the knuckles. It seemed a new line of thought to me that one should only interrupt a speech to clarify something. The right hon. Member said that a deterrent could not be regarded as a weapon of defence. I asked where, if we take away the deterrent, does the defence go? Then he admitted that it could be preventive. It is splitting hairs to say that something is not a deterrent but a preventive of war. That was the second fallacy, that the deterrents of nuclear weapons are not keeping the peace. N.A.T.O. has kept the peace for ten years. People have a great tendency not to notice the disasters they have missed, but up to now N.A.T.O. has done what it was set up to do.

The third fallacy was that the rearming of Germany was regarded by Russia as an act of provocation, particularly the rearming by nuclear weapons. They were afraid of German adventures. I believe that to be a profound misjudgment of Russian mentality, and I want to tell the Committee two stories to support that view. When during the war Stalin was told that the Pope disagreed with some of the things he was doing, Stalin turned to his interlocutor and asked, "The Pope? How many divisions has he got?" That was all that counted.

At a conference between my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and Stalin negotiations had been going on for a long time and Stalin was obdurate and unsmiling. No progress was being made and at that stage Stalin turned to an interpreter and said, "Ask the Prime Minister when Britain is going to start fighting." We had borne the heat and burden of the day for years and the campaign in North Africa was going pretty well. The then Prime Minister reacted as we can imagine he would. With eyes flashing, he banged the table and let Stalin "have it."

For the first time in two days, Stalin smiled. He turned to the interpreter and said. "Tell the Prime Minister I do not know what he is saying, but I very much like the way he is saying it." Again that was the only thing that counted—toughness, strength and determination. When people say that because we bring Germany into the Western forces and arm them with nuclear weapons we are really upsetting the Russians, they are quite misjudging the Russian character and Russian appreciation of what counts.

It was, I think, M. Herriot, that eminent French statesman, who, when talking about disarmament, made the aphorism that the verb "to disarm" was a very irregular verb, with no first person singular and only a future tense. The truth of that sage remark has been borne out in the ten years in which we have tried to make some progress on disarmament, and as we have followed the turns and twists which those talks have taken, the tergiversations which perhaps hon. Members opposite say apply to both sides, but which I think apply to the other side.

When we look at the sixteen proposals, listed recently in HANSARD, which have been made by the West over the past ten years and turned down, we are driven to the conclusion that there is no really serious intention on the other side to come to a full-scale disarmament agreement, but that some other purposes lie behind the near-comedies which have been going on for some years. Perhaps it is propaganda, at which the Iron Curtain countries, Russia in particular, are so adept, but perhaps also it is to keep our eyes averted from the build-up of economic and industrial strength, which they are openly boasting about, and from which I believe the ultimate threat to us will come.

The suspicion that there is no real intention behind the major disarmament programme becomes stronger when we realise that only recently the Soviet have refused to take part in the expanded Disarmament Commission or the Sub-Committee and have proposed in contrast that the United Nations should form a permanent disarmament committee. One hon. Member opposite said it indicated that the Russians were fed up with the whole thing and did not believe that we intended to disarm. If so, how could they make the suggestion that 82 nations should form themselves into a permanent disarmament committee? The wildest optimist could not possibly imagine that progress could be made in a body of that kind, composed in many cases of nations with only the faintest idea of the problems and with even less idea of the psychological background from which the West suffers.

I wish to ask whoever is to reply to the debate why no mention has been made in these negotiations, so far as I can see, of the build-up of submarines. I think those submarines are the most menacing of the Russian strength build-up. What rôle can a submarine play in defence? It seems to be a purely and exclusively aggressive weapon. It looks to me as if the Soviets were calculating on a long war and that, once again, the supply lines of the West would be attacked. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Chelsea (Commander Noble) is a great expert in these matters. I wish to know if the question of submarines has been discussed in these talks and if any proposals have been made.

I am glad, and I believe it is common ground, for there is a good deal of common ground between hon. Members opposite and ourselves, that we cannot, should not, and that it would be extremely dangerous to have a convention on nuclear weapons alone, and that any disarmament convention that is made must make a drastic reduction in the number of Russian conventional troops. Otherwise, supposing that by a process of one agreement after another, we could eliminate nuclear weapons on both sides, there would still be 170 divisions against 17 in the West. It is no good quoting figures of 1 million or 2 million troops in the forces of the West unless they are able to get into the fight. That is a consideration which is so often left out of account. America may be agreeable to reduce her forces to 2 million or 11 million—and such figures have been used—but that means little unless she retains her troops in the West, continuing to play a useful part, in case a war should break out.

I hope, too, that this country will be able to keep the 5,000 troops in the West forming part of our strategic reserve, which has been subject of negotiation and consideration already. I believe that S.H.A.P.E. would accept that, now that we have got some form of payment for support costs, and, therefore, that difficulty is, pro Canto to the 5,000, out of the way. I think it is doing great damage to the reputation of this country in the eyes of some of my colleagues whom I meet in Western European Union that we should go on withdrawing our conventional troops in the way we have been doing. They wonder if we are serious or if we merely threw them into the arena in order to get German rearmament agreed to in Europe, and now we are drawing them all back. I hope the Government will make an arrangement to keep the 5,000 troops in Western Germany, able to be used, and agreed to by S.H.A.P.E., as I am sure it will be, if for any strategic requirements we wanted to move them to another part of the world.

I am also glad that it has been recognised by everybody that an agreement on disarmament without control and inspection is valueless. This is the core and substance of the whole matter, and I am glad that we seem to be making a little progress in the correspondence which has been passing rather fitfully between President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev on the possibility of the study of the control of disarmament, and especially of nuclear tests. If even this minor advance can be made, it might easily start to break up the log jam, if there is a serious intention behind both parties trying to draw up a disarmament agreement.

On this question—and I think this will answer one of the points made by the hon. Member for Uxbridge—there is an international agency at the present time which was set up for the control of armaments. It was set up by Western European Union and is called the Armaments Control Agency. It was set up three or four years ago, and is under the control of Admiral Ferreri, an Italian, who has his headquarters in Paris. Its task, under Western European Union, is to see that the nations of the West do not build up forces in excess of what has been agreed, and, perhaps more important, that the Germans do not proceed to manufacture that list of weapons which they have voluntarily renounced.

I should like to ask whoever is to reply for the Government what lessons have been learned from this international control agency which is charged with doing this international duty. What lessons have been learned and what progress has been made? How far will it be feasible? This can be a most valuable trial run, this international agency set up by Western European Union under Admiral Ferreri, and I am sure that lessons can be learned, and probably have been learned, but I should like to know what they are.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman might like to add that the International Atomic Energy Authority now established in Vienna has a very great deal of practical experience, now applied over a limited field, in the technique of inspection and control of fissile material which could be used for atomic weapons?

Photo of Mr James Hutchison Mr James Hutchison , Glasgow Scotstoun

That is quite true. That is a rather narrower field, hut, added together, we can learn a great deal from the two bodies already set up.

I wish to make a particular appeal for the widening of the infrastructure system of payments. These are long and important-sounding words, and perhaps I had better explain what the system is. It is claimed that it makes for greater efficiency and reduction in costs.

It became evident in the defence system of the West that certain countries would have to provide a large number of airfields, pipelines or defence equipment of that kind. If they had had to pay all the costs themselves they would have suffered an unfair and grievous burden. Therefore, it was decided to set up the common fund, the infrastructure fund, to which the nations of N.A.T.O. would contribute, which fund was to be used to meet the costs of providing such things as airfields, pipelines, certain facilities in the port of Glasgow, in which my constituency is situated, and so on.

It is used only to a very limited extent, in that the regulations lay down that it shall only be used for fixed equipment or fixed assets. Anything that can be moved cannot be provided in this way, Why not? What is there sacrosanct about things that are fixed? Why cannot the fund be used for important articles that can be moved? We can get the pipelines for supplying the petrol needed for defence under this system, whereas the lorries which take it from place to place cannot be provided by the same means.

I believe that the same fund will be used for setting up guided missile bases, and I think that is a very good idea, but I should like to urge—and I am sure that S.H.A.P.E. would be glad to see this—that it should be applied in even further directions, and to things like radar equipment, guided missile launchers and perhaps to some forms of aircraft. If it is true that by combining funds in this way we can get articles cheaper and also achieve greater efficiency, we should lose no chance to promote this efficiency and cheapening of costs, and that is where it links up with the question of disarmament.

Finally, I wish to say a word about the communications which have taken place between our Prime Minister and General de Gaulle. The recent happenings in France could make Europe much stronger; but they could also make Europe much weaker. During the war, General de Gaulle conceived it necessary and his duty to be "beastly to Britain." He thought that if he was not, people in France would think that he was being dragged at the apron strings of Britain. There is no need for that any longer. I do not wish in any way to indicate that he will be, but I hope that General de Gaulle will recognise his responsibility to Europe as well as his responsibility to France.

6.59 p.m.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

I begin by echoing what was said at the opening of their speeches by the two first speakers in the debate—that one approaches any question of arms and disarmament, war and peace, with great humility, for the issues are so immense and the consequences may be so terrible.

Today is a memorable day, made memorable by the speech of the Minister of Defence. For the first time a Government have made the declaration to the world, and made it solemnly at the Box in the House of Commons, that they are prepared in the interests of universal peace and for the sake of all humanity, not only for the sake of the people of this country, to surrender their sovereignty.

Photo of Mr Henry Usborne Mr Henry Usborne , Birmingham, Yardley

I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman remembers it—I expect he does, because he was in the House at the time—but on Friday, 23rd November, 1945, the then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, made a very powerful speech in very much the same terms as those we heard from the Minister of Defence today.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

I was coming to that. I think I am right in saying that this is the first time that the specific declaration has been made. I know that a statement was made by the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, but not in those exact terms. I know, too, that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) has held this view and that it has been a policy which he would have liked to follow for over a quarter of a century. I also recall the statement which was made by the present Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Defence, on 2nd March, 1955, and there is also the statement in the White Paper issued this year, which we know was written by the Minister of Defence. But never has there been such a clear and definite statement before the whole world of preparation to surrender our sovereignty, if the others will do the same, in the interests of universal peace.

It is memorable because all the efforts that have been made to secure peace in the world have failed upon that one point. That was the reason why the two Hague conferences failed, because there were too many Governments, and especially the German Government of that time, refusing absolutely to give up any part of their sovereignty, even though it might bring peace to the world. It was the reason why the League of Nations failed, and it is the reason why the United Nations hitherto has not been the succeses that we all hoped it would be when it was started. Certainly the writer of that great Preamble to the United Nations Charter would have rejoiced today had he been alive to hear the statement made from the Box by the Minister of Defence.

I sincerely hope that now that the statement has been made the Government will not rest with a mere statement but will follow it up. They will find, perhaps partially due to the work of some hon. Members, that in many Parliaments there are those who will be prepared to welcome this statement and to urge their own Governments to adopt it. I can assure the Committee that there are 40 or 50 Parliaments with Members who will say that that is the very policy which they think will bring about peace and that they are prepared in their Parliaments to press their Governments to follow that policy.

In particular, I should have thought that the Government could have appealed to the little nations, for these nations have never been consulted about their position in the great wars. They have never been heeded in the slightest degree. The great ones of the earth have trampled across their countries, destroyed their property and their homes and imprisoned and killed their people. Belgium had no part whatever in the controversies which led to the First World War, nor in those which led to the Second World War. Nor had Holland, Denmark or Norway. But that did not stop the great nations from trampling across them. I should think that the small nations of the world will join together in welcoming this policy, and I therefore hope that the Government will take immediate steps to follow up this statement.

I can also assure them that they will have support amongst even the great nations, for some of us have already been in communication with both the Prime Ministers and the Foreign Secretaries of those nations. Let them not merely stop at consulting these and asking how many will join. Let them take it up with the United Nations and press it forward there. If the free nations of the world joined together in making this solemn declaration, does anyone think that Russia and her satellites could then stand outside? What a wonderful effect it would have upon public opinion throughout the world to know that the free nations of the world, in the cause of peace, are prepared to surrender their sovereignty and to put the future in the hands of an international police force, and that the disputes which will inevitably arise will be settled not by force but by reason in the course of justice.

I should think that for the first time the free nations will have public opinion on their side, supporting them as they have never had that support before. Hitherto they have allowed propaganda to come from Russia, but this is far finer propaganda that they can put forward.

In the meantime, I should like the Government to proceed with other matters. I know that they have been in the forefront in pressing for the best means of obtaining effective inspection. Let them also press forward with that and with the establishment of an international police force. If this cannot be done at the moment for the universe, lot them at least try to establish such a small force as may be necessary in such disputes as have recently arisen. The force which was used when the Suez dispute arose was not a proper police force. What is needed is that there should be individual recruitment and responsibility entirely to the United Nations, with the force ordered by and paid for by United Nations. Will the Government follow that up and take that as one of the steps towards the great policy which they have enunciated?

I do not know why they still want to carry on with tests of the hydrogen bomb. There was a time when they were prepared to give it up.

Reference has been made time and again to the changes that have taken place in the proposals put forward by the Government and the proposals put forward by Russia. It is just as well that we should refer to the Resolution of 14th November, 1957. It followed very long discussions. It would be as well if I read it. Recalling the Resolution of 4th November, 1954, the Resolution said: Emphasising the urgency of decreasing the danger of war and improving the prospects of a durable peace through achieving international agreement on reduction, limitation and open inspection of armaments and armed forces,Welcoming the narrowing of differences which has resulted from the extensive negotiations in the Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission,Believing that immediate, carefully measured steps can be taken for partial measures of disarmament and that such steps will facilitate further measures of disarmament,1. Urges that the States concerned, and particularly those which are members of the Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission, give priority to reaching a disarmament agreement which, upon its entry into force, will provide for the following:(a) The immediate suspension of testing of nuclear weapons with prompt installation of effective international control, including inspection posts equipped with appropriate scientific instruments, located within the territories of the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Pacific Ocean areas, and at other points as required: We voted for that, and so did 55 other nations, but I would remind the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that nine voted against it—Albania, Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Roumania, Ukraine and the U.S.S.R.—

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

. The right hon. and learned Gentleman read out paragraph 1 (a) of the Resolution, but there are also paragraphs (b), (c), (d) (e) and (f). It would be most valuable to have that on the record, because there was very much more to it than that.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

Of course there was, but I thought I was right in pausing there for the moment and pointing out that at that particular moment Her Majesty's Government were in favour of stopping these tests, and rightly, for I agree absolutely with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale. I do not think any country has the right to inflict damage upon other people—it happens during war, but this is damage that can be done and may be done and, as far as scientists tell us, is being done to innocent people today.

Very rightly at that time Her Majesty's Government were prepared to stop these tests—

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

Perhaps I might make the position quite clear. I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman would wish to mislead the Committee. What he is quoting is part of a long Resolution. Therefore, if we voted for that part we did, in fact, vote for the whole of the Resolution. We have not changed our minds since then.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

But, in the mind of Her Majesty's Government, is the stopping of the tests really dependent on the acceptance of these matters, when the tests may be an evil in themselves, causing damage to perfectly innocent people who have no way of stopping it, or of entering an effective complaint or anything else? Why not stick to that, quite apart from the other conditions?

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I understood the Minister of Defence said today that the Government were prepared to stop tests if a satisfactory system of inspection were agreed upon, independently of wider agreement.

Photo of Sir Allan Noble Sir Allan Noble , Chelsea

I do not think that that is what he said.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

Whether that be right or wrong, I submit to the House and to Her Majesty's Government that it is wrong to continue with these tests when it is possible that they are doing harm to quite innocent people hundreds and even thousands of miles away—and that quite apart from all the other conditions contained in this Resolution.

I do not know whether it is right that I should take up the time of the Committee in reading the rest of the Resolution, but perhaps I had better rapidly go through it. It goes on:

  1. "(b) The cessation of production of fissionable materials for weapons purposes and the complete devotion of future production of fissionable materials to non-weapons purposes under effective international control;
  2. (c) The reduction of stocks of nuclear weapons through a program of transfer, on an equitable and reciprocal basis and under international supervision, of stocks of fissionable materials from weapons to non-weapons uses;
  3. (d) Reduction of armed forces and armaments through adequate, safeguarded arrangements;
  4. (e) The progressive stablishment of open inspection with ground and aerial components to guard against the possibility of surprise attack;
  5. (f) The joint study of an inspection system designed to ensure that the sending of objects through outer space shall be exclusively for peaceful and scientific purposes;"
We voted for that, and so did 55 other countries. Why, then, do we not press on with these matters?

Incidentally, perhaps I might make this point. That Resolution provided only for partial disarmament, and yet it was thought that one could set up a machinery to see that the partial disarmament that had been agreed upon would be observed by all the nations. It is much more difficult, I should have thought, to set up a machinery to safeguard a partial disarmament than to set up a machinery to see that there is no armament at all. I should have thought that it would be so easy to extend the use of a factory that is thought to be manufacturing only so much, and thereby carrying out the agreement; but to abolish all these factories altogether I should think would be very much easier.

Why do we at this present moment still continue to manufacture hydrogen bombs? Do we in any way add to the strength of the West? Do we add in any way to the power that is already possessed in the shape of these weapons by the United States of America? I should say that the answer is quite definitely not; we are adding nothing to it. What we are doing is to encourage other countries to say, "Well, if Britain can do this, so can we."

How long will it be, now that Germany is allowed to be rearmed and when her men will be trained in the use of nuclear weapons, before Germany will do what was done, in spite of the Treaty of Versailles, between the two wars? How long will it be? And would anybody say that the French Government, especially now under new guidance, will be content to play a sort of inferior part to us? Will there be any guarantee that France itself will not also start on the manufacture of these weapons? Where is it to end?

What an opportunity we have. The Government having made this declaration today to the whole world of how they are prepared to give up our sovereignty in the interests of international peace, what a wonderful thing if they would also say, "We ourselves will begin now by not manufacturing another hydrogen bomb," I do implore the Government not to rest content with the mere declaration. There is great work that they can do. They can give that moral lead to the world that is so much needed by the nations today. There has been very little initiative coming from the West ever since the beginning of the war. In fact, there has been very little initiative from the West towards general peace since 1918. Let the Government follow up the very great statement they have made today.

7.18 p.m.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

A great deal has been said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) with which I greatly agree, and so I do not wish to refer at the very beginning of my remarks to those parts of his speech with which I disagree. I want rather to emphasise, as he has said, the very high importance that ought to be attached to what the Minister of Defence said towards the end of his speech. It is, potentially, a really epoch-making event. It is true that, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), Sir Anthony Eden, the present Prime Minister, when he was Minister of Defence, and the Foreign Secretary, as well as our present Minister of Defence, have said a great deal, in principle, in this direction, but this does seem to be the first time that an absolutely open and unequivocal statement, with all the necessary practical implications that follow it, has been made; a really definitive statement of the objective and how to get at it, and of the intention to reach it.

After all, what is now being proposed is the total abolition of national armaments and—and this is even more important—the abolition of the possibility of rearmament. In what he has precisely said, the Minister of Defence is departing completely from the doctrine of disarmament as it has been discussed at Lancaster House, and as it has been discussed amongst the nations, certainly during my lifetime.

I was particularly disappointed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) should have derided it and have said "Boloney". It is a practical and idealistic step forward, and it is the disarmament which we have been discussing over the last 50 years that is the boloney. Disarmament, after all, is nothing else than a deception which is boloney. I make a distinction here between disarmament which allows the ability to rearm and the total abolition of national armaments, which is what was discussed earlier this afternoon. There is a fundamental distinction between these two very dissimilar proposals.

When I say that disarmament is boloney, it is in the sense in which we have been futilely discussing it at Lancaster House that there exists the element of boloney. Disarmament in that sense does nothing better than produce a cheaper peace. We lay off a few battleships and we lay off this and that expenditure; we have a longer period which is really a "phoney" war period in which we prepare for war after the actual declaration of war. It does not stop war. It only makes for a cheaper peace. Again, it fails entirely to deal with the question of the inherent right to rearm. Any nation which agrees to disarm inherently, by the fact that it is agreeing to do so, has the right to rearm. We have not been facing that issue at Lancaster House.

Finally, it is basing the issue on the supposition that law can be enforced by a small quantity of black ink on white paper. Fundamentally, the element about which we are deceiving ourselves is that talking about disarmament at Lancaster House could ever give us peace—that by a small piece of black ink on that white paper we have achieved peace.

Let us face it. No Government whatever could possibly, without any reservation at all, sign such a disarmament document, because it is the function, and rightly so, of the Minister of Defence and the Foreign Secretary of every nation to protect their nation. If they think that rearmament is at any time essential in the interests of the protection of their nation, it is their duty to ignore that tiny little bit of ink on that paper. Moreover, historically, is not that exactly what we have seen at every period of history? How on earth at this stage can we suppose that by entering into Lancaster House and coming out again with a piece of white paper which is rather dirtier by reason of having more ink on it than when it went in, we have solved the problem of world peace?

It is by the sort of world security authority about which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was talking this afternoon that we alone can achieve anything in that direction. As my right hon. Friend said, it must be an undefeatable police force and it must have a monopoly of all the major weapons that there can be so that it shall be undefeatable.

I was glad that my right hon. Friend did not say anything about world government but spoke only about security, and an authority for security. It is a function of Government to give security by arranging insecurity for others in a palpably insecure world. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was perfectly right. In the old days, a battleship could bombard from no more than 20 miles away. Now, we can be bombed at any place in the globe from any distance on the globe. We are far more insecure. It is the function of a Government at present to try to give insecurity to the other people. I maintain that, apart from the function of giving insecurity, the function of government can still go on—there is plenty to govern—if this insecurity is removed and if the giving of insecurity to others is no longer a duty for every nation.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was absolutely right. The setting up of the new world security authority must precede the abolition of national armaments. I hope to have my breakfast tomorrow morning and I thank God, as I have done for many years, that we have the British Navy, which ensures that our breakfast reaches us truly and safely with regularity. I am not giving up the British Navy or anything that protects my breakfast until I know—and I mean know—that I have an even better instrument for securing my daily breakfast. That goes for everybody—father, mother, son and daughter—in this and in every other country.

My right hon. Friend has said that his suggestion is not a formal proposal or solemn declaration at this stage but that it is a new approach. I hope that in time he will make it a formal and really good weight-carrying proposal tabled in the right places as well as made here in the House of Commons. I have, however, a greater appeal to make to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who I am sorry is not in his place. The right hon. Gentleman is, I think, having trouble with his trousers. If he cannot get a Member from Scotland to lend him a kilt, I hope the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) will oblige him with one to enable him to think straight over what is an idealistic proposal that ought to appeal to him.

It is no good the right hon. Gentleman sneering, as he did, at this proposal. It is no good his calling it boloney, because this is the practical point that will give a bit of unity particularly to his party and, I submit, also unity to the East and West. Each side is truly frightend and would, I believe, warmly welcome something which was a real solution.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is out of character. I would like him to have listened to Lord Attlee in the David Davies Memorial Lecture upstairs in a Committee Room of this House of Commons when he advanced a proposal of this very kind and did not call it boloney. Lord Attlee, like the late Ernest Bevin, has spoken earlier on this question, as the hon. Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne) has recalled. The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel Baker) is also, I believe, in favour. There are many people on that side of the Committee who will rally behind the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale if he treats this as a sensible suggestion instead of deriding it and calling it "boloney".

I have listened to a series of speeches by the right hon. Gentleman for Ebbw Vale. He has been trying to build a bridge between two very different elements. One is the genuine pacifist element. I respect it. Pacifists do not want any gas, any bacteriological warfare or any high explosive or other even worse stuff. The genuine pacifist would not even take up a poker to defend his house in such a situation. It is a perfectly logical and unassailable situation. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is trying to make a gap between that element and the practical people on his own side who say, "Right. If I have to be in this wretched boxing ring, although I do not want to be there at all, I am going in equipped with everything, including the determining weapon. The one thing I will not go into the ring without is the one determining weapon the lack of which would completely sell me down the river." In speech after speech, the right hon. Gentleman is trying to use as a foundation this bridge across this unbridgeable gap, an attempt to draw a woolly distinction somewhere in the hydrogen bomb area which nobody on this side of the Committee or on his side has ever understood.

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give up this shilly-shallying and trying to justify a position in the middle which does not exist. He has a really good position that he can justify: namely, that his party has said that it wants to be strong in defence until there is a better set-up to take the place of it.

We have to work for both these things in parallel. We must work for a world security authority which will thus be created as a new institution. When we hear the cry "Who goes home?" at night, we do no longer draw our swords to protect ourselves, because we have the London police. When England and Scotland meet one another friendlily, they know that they have put an end to the centuries of internecine wars because there has been created a new institution, the British Government. We are no better people now than then; we are just luckier people because we have those two institutions. What we need in this world today is this new institution, the world security authority, and I believe than in years to come we shall be not better nations but just luckier nations that can thereby live in peace together.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

All of us on both sides of the Committee know the sincerity with which the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) has expressed his views. I only wish that I could agree with him in believing that the Minister of Defence was animated by the same spirit when he made the closing remarks to which the hon. Member referred.

In the first place, if we look at what the Minister of Defence said, we find that he suggested that if the present line of approach to disarmament breaks down, we should say to the Russians, "First establish an absolutely comprehensive all-embracing control system, so that we know exactly what you have got and you know exactly what we have got, and only if we have this shall we start even the first step towards disarmament." In fact, this is a more extreme, unbalanced and one-sided position than any Western Government has so far taken in the disarmament talks.

The Russian argument right through these talks is that its one great defence is the ignorance of the West of precisely what military resources it has and where precisely it has them. If we say to the Russians that we will not even start disarmament in any field until we know exactly all the strategic secrets of the Soviet Union, we are, in fact, saying that we are not serious in moving towards disarmament at all.

I am afraid that the way in which the Minister of Defence presented the final section of his speech suggested simply that he wanted to distract attention from what is urgent and possible today by presenting the Committee with a completely unrealistic picture of what might be possible years hence. What depressed me most of all about the Minister's speech was the terrifying complacency which he displayed about the present trend in the arms race. He talked throughout his speech as though he really believed that the form of security which we now enjoy would last for ever, and he defined the present form of security, as so many of us have done, as a balance of terror. Therefore, he seemed to suggest that it did not really matter whether or not we made much progress towards disarmament because at least the sort of security that we have enjoyed through the balance of thermo-nuclear terror on both sides would last indefinitely.

I suggest that this complacency is totally unjustified because there is every reason to believe that the balance of terror which he described, and to which I think we have owed much of our security in the last ten years, is going to be upset. It is going to be upset not because of an accession of strength either to the Soviet side or the Western side of the balance. The balance of terror will be upset because, instead of having only two weights in the balance, before long we shall have three, four, five or six, a dozen, a score of independent thermo-nuclear Powers, and when we reach that position the possibility of constructing a stable and secure balance of power or of terror in the world will, I believe, have gone, perhaps for ever.

It is in view of this prospect of the disintegration of the present world system, which with all its faults has protected us from major war over the last fifteen years, that I believe disarmament and immediate progress towards arms limitation and control is vitally necessary for the security of our own people and indeed for the security of all the peoples in the world.

It is already clear that other members of the N.A.T.O. alliance are going to demand atomic weapons for themselves, and they will use exactly the same argument as the Minister of Defence used when he presented his White Paper to us two years ago, namely, that we cannot rely on the cover of the American thermonuclear deterrent once the Americans are able to mount their deterrent from bases in their own territory or at sea, and when implementation of the threat means destruction of the United States as well as Russia.

The argument that the Minister of Defence used, perhaps rightly, to justify his own defence policy is now being discussed and developed in France and Germany and above all in neutral countries. If countries cannot get these arms from the United States then they will in fact, as the British Government have done, cut their commitments to the alliance so that they can construct these arms for themselves. Plutonium is certain to be produced in the civil reactors, outside the present three atomic Powers, which will by 1970 be enough to produce 100 hydrogen bombs. This is the real threat to the whole world system which makes some form of agreement on arms limitation and control so urgent for all of us.

France may explode her first atomic weapon this year. We know that she has already enough plutonium to make half a dozen H-bombs. Sweden and even Switzerland are likely to produce atomic weapons as soon as they have produced enough plutonium in their civil reactors. The balance of terror, with all its weaknesses, was a fairly stable thing so long as the countries which had the terror were widely separated and basically satisfied with their world position as, I believe, Russia and the United States are.

I suggest that this balance cannot possibly be stable when the terrible weapons of mass destruction become available to countries which are by no means satisfied with their present position, countries such as those in Africa and Asia which are rising against their domination by the white peoples, countries nearer the dividing line between the Soviet Union and the Western bloc, and countries like Germany, which finds the division of its country intolerable.

We saw only a few months ago how a few French airmen, without the authority of the French Government, could bomb a city in a friendly State and cause the deaths of women and children. The very men who carried out that bombing have recently changed the character of the French State in Paris, and within a year they may be in a position to commit similar acts of irresponsible folly with atomic weapons too.

I believe, certainly after what we have seen in the last few months and indeed what we have seen in the last generation, that an irresponsible group of people in some country, if it has atomic weapons at its disposal, will not be held back by the rational considerations which, I think, would influence this country, the United States and the Soviet Union, and might commit an act which would plunge us all into thermo-nuclear war.

Photo of Sir Isaac Pitman Sir Isaac Pitman , Bath

That being so, I cannot understand why the hon. Gentleman does not rejoice at what the Minister of Defence says about getting this new authority, which will have this supervision and powers of enforcement.

Photo of Mr Denis Healey Mr Denis Healey , Leeds East

I am grateful to the hon. Member and I hope to answer his question immediately. The question is: can we stop this process? What I think is clear is that we cannot possibly stop the process of the distribution of atomic weapons on one side of the Iron Curtain alone. It became clear, for example, during the attempt to operate the tripartite agreement for arms control in the Middle East that so long as there was a Power outside the system which could offer a country under control the weapons denied by the Western Powers, the whole thing must break down. I suggest that the time might well come in the not very distant future when some country or other inside the N.A.T.O. alliance, if it were denied atomic weapons by Britain and the United States, might be tempted to go to the Soviet Union and obtain them from her.

It is only by co-operation between the two camps in the cold war that we can hope to halt this trend and establish a more suitable and secure basis for international peace. I believe that such co-operation will be possible so long as it is based on a sense of over-riding common interest, and I believe that the behaviour so far both of America and the Soviet Union and of Britain, shows that they recognise a common interest in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, which is even greater than the tremendous conflicts of political ideology and policy which divide them in the cold war.

For do not America and Britain at the moment deny to their own allies the weapons which we know our enemies already possess? Is not this equally true of the Soviet Union which is just as unlikely to provide Poland, East Germany, Hungary and, above all, China with their own atomic weapons, if there is any alternative, as America and Britain are to provide France and Germany with their own atomic weapons under their own control?

However, I agree very much with the Minister of Defence that any first step towards disarmament must be based on mutual recognition of mistrust. It is no good expecting the Russians to trust us, and no good their expecting us to trust them. The history of the last forty years gives too many grounds for suspicion. Therefore, the first step towards co-operation can be made only in fields where the common interest is obvious to both sides, and where there is a possibility of 100 per cent. effective supervision and control, and the possibility of withdrawing concessions made if violation of the agreement is detected.

That is why I believe that my party has fixed on the two fields in which immediate progress towards arms limitation in this sense might be possible this year. In the first place, we should go all out for agreement with the Soviet Union on a general, balanced limitation of armaments, conventional and nuclear, in Europe. What are the facts? In spite of the talk by the Minister of Defence about immense Soviet superiority in manpower, the latest American study in the New York Times two days ago shows that Soviet and United States military forces are roughly equal in number today at 2,500,000. And in Central Europe, the most dangerous area, the most encouraging thing of all is that the Soviet Union has met a unilateral withdrawal of Western troops by a unilateral withdrawal of its own troops, so that intelligence estimates published in the United States Press suggest that by the end of this year N.A.T.O. and the Soviet Union will both have roughly 350,000 armed men on each side of the Iron Curtain in Germany.

Moreover, in Central Europe an effective system for verification and supervision already exists through the intelligence apparatus of the two sides. We know in substantial detail exactly what the Russians have in Eastern Europe and even in Western Russia, and they know, probably in greater detail, what we have in Western Europe and Britain. What is needed urgently is to ratify this secret knowledge of both sides by submitting it to authoritative investigation by some United Nations organ, and I agree very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) on this point.

I believe that agreement now in fixing the military situation roughly as it is in Central Europe would make possible a later reduction in the balance of conventional and atomic armaments on both sides of the Iron Curtain and lead to the general disengagement which we on this side of the Committee have so long supported. I cannot, however, feel that immediate progress is possible if Britain continues its stand on the question of a ban on atomic tests. Here I consider that the Minister of Defence wilfully evaded all the issues involved in this question. He said a certain amount about the dangers to health of the continuation of tests. What he did not tell us was that, according to the latest findings of the Medical Research Council, tests already carried out will lead to the deaths of between 10,000 and 100,000 people over the next thirty years—that is, of people who otherwise would not have died.

I agree that 10,000 or even 100,000 are not many out of the total population of the world over the next thirty years. They are probably not more than the number of people who will be murdered over the same period, but does the Minister of Defence think that the murderer can justify his crime by the argument that millions more people die from natural causes? Yet this is precisely his argument today—that because people die of natural causes it does not matter if one kills people as well.

On the relation of the ban on atomic tests to disarmament, the Minister skil-fully concealed the real issue but yet revealed it unwittingly in the earlier part of his speech. It is, of course, that it is impossible for a country which cannot test atomic weapons to build its own defence system round those weapons, and that is why Britain and France refused to ban the testing of atomic weapons last year, unless it was tied to an agreement on a large number of other things as well. If, as I believe, that is the fact, why did not the Minister admit it in his speech?

The position today is that the Prime Minister is in Washington to discuss, among other things, whether he can persuade the Americans not to agree to a ban on atomic tests being separated from other measures of disarmament. This is a shameful position for a British Government to have to place our people in. I agree with the Minister of Defence that if a ban on tests were introduced today, even an effective ban, it would gravely handicap our own atomic programme. But I believe that this handicap would be well worth bearing if, as a consequence, we could prevent the indefinite spread of weapons of mass destruction to all other countries of the world. I beg the Minister of Defence to remember what the Leader of the Opposition said at the time of Suez—that if one is really going in for jungle law one should remember that there are far more dangerous animals in the jungle than oneself.

I believe that the possibility of a general control of nuclear tests is already proven. It may be that some tests can be carried out on small field weapons in secrecy, in areas where there are earthquakes and the tests get mixed up with seismic shocks, but I think that the Minister would agree that it is impossible for any country to build a defence system around atomic weapons if it is not allowed to test them or if it has to rely solely on the kind of tests that can be concealed. If the Minister of Defence so wishes, let him tie this step to the "cut-off" of production by saying that if agreement is not reached on a "cut-off" within five or ten years we shall go on testing. But for heaven's sake do not let us put ourselves in the position where the British Government is preventing an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States which would be the first real step towards general disarmament and would be a major step towards preventing the sort of thermo-nuclear anarchy to which I referred earlier.

I would agree with the Minister if he argued that there is no absolute security in any system of arms limitation and control and that the possibility of evasion and of a technological break-through which would make existing systems of control irrelevant would always be there, but I implore him and his colleagues to realise that if we continue the arms race on the present lines not only will it not give equal security but it will risk plunging us all in a catastrophe which could be the end of mankind.

I hope that when the Foreign Secretary replies to the debate he will contrive to be a little more realistic in dealing with this problem and will try at any rate to recognise the force of the arguments put from this side of the Committee—that an attempt today to achieve security by some sort of co-operation with the Soviet Union may well succeed. If we miss the opportunity this year, in five years' time it may be gone for ever.

7.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Much as our people in all parties desire disarmament, I believe we deceive them and ourselves if we promise them that we can provide it. I believe that only an agreement between Moscow and Washington can effectively give world disarmament, and that this is a fact which we must face.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) started his speech by saying that the means of defence have outrun the need for defence. Therefore, he argued, abolish the means of defence. But if we were to abolish the means of defence the need for defence would reappear. Then he went on to argue that we should set an example to the world by stopping nuclear tests in the hope that the rest of the world would follow. It seems to me that if we were to do this we would be gambling with the peace and security of our own people, and I want to explain why I think so.

This could succeed only if both Washington and Moscow followed our lead. It seems to me that if we were to act unilaterally inside N.A.T.O., instead of Washington following our lead, this would tend to drive the Americans more into themselves or to depend more and more upon Western Germany and Japan, which in my opinion would not be to the advantage of our people and our country. How far would that example be followed by Russia? Would it have any influence on Mr. Khrushchev? I do not think it would have any influence on Moscow, for my impression of Mr. Khrushchev was that he regards us largely as a satellite of the United States. In his view, we are no longer one of the three great world Powers.

There are now only two great world Powers, America and her followers and Russia and her followers, and therefore what we did on our own would not influence Mr. Khrushchev. I am convinced—and this the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said clearly—that Russia really fears American capitalism as much as America fears Russian Communism.

Like the right hon. Gentleman, I have talked to many of the Russian leaders when I was out there six months ago, and I was struck by their real fear of a strong, reunited Germany. They do not for got that Germany has overrun their country time after time. Mr. Khrushchev said to me directly that he was in the Ukraine when Hitler's armies swept across it and 6 million people were killed there. He is entitled to be frightened of them, and, as I see it, he is entitled to defend his own country and to do what he can to protect his own people. I came back convinced that Mr. Khrushchev wants peace because he thinks that in a few years' time, given peace, he will so complete the industrial revolution which is taking place inside his own country that he will give to his own people a higher standard of material comfort than we enjoy in the West. If he succeeds in doing that, he argues that he will be successful.

I am convinced that if we set him an example of a Gandhi-like, Quaker-like, pacifist-like type of peace it would make no impression upon him because he is interested in power and strength, in who is the boss, who is to rule, who can carry out these things. That is why, when I hear hon. Members on both sides of the House pleading for a United Nations police force, I want to know who will supply the power and how there is to be sufficient power to resist either the will of America, if she should wish to exercise it as occasionally she has exercised it in, say, Latin America, or the will of Russia, as occasionally she has exercised it in, say, Hungary. I do not think that the world peace group have their feet on earth. They are living in a world of fantasy. Therefore, I think that if we gave a lead to the two great Powers it would produce no result.

What is the alternative, for obviously we cannot live under this awful shadow of annihilation for ever? What can be done about it? I will suggest an alternative to my right hon. Friend. As things stand I do not think that the Summit Conference, on which so many of us based such high hopes a few months ago, will produce results at the present time. The moment, the mood, has been lost. Until there is greater mutual confidence between the Russians and the Americans, this shadow will never be lifted from us, so the most important thing to do is to get the Russians and the Americans to agree that both systems can exist without interference from each other. At present, there does not seem any possibility of this being achieved.

This is what I wonder. If, as I fear, the summit talks will not take place, would my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister consider honouring the promise made by Sir Anthony Eden to Mr. Khrushchev when he visited London two-and-a-half years ago to repay that visit? Will my right hon. Friend go to Moscow, without an agenda and without experts, to see if he cannot create an atmosphere of confidence, without selling the Anglo-American alliance upon which our safety depends? Because there must be created such an atmosphere of confidence before disarmament talks can produce any results.

Otherwise, no matter what bit of white paper we take into a conference and bring out smeared with ink, as my hon. Friend said, it will become what Kaiser Wilhelm called a mere scrap of paper unless the will is behind it. It seems to me that it is mere wishful thinking on our part to say that we will produce peace for our people and lift the awful threat of annihilation by the H-bomb if there is not first a willingness to live and let live between Moscow and Washington. So I stress that first things must be done first. If the Americans feel they cannot move and the Russians will not go any further, I suggest that the Prime Minister should honour the promise made by Sir Anthony Eden and go to Moscow to see if he can create the atmosphere in which real disarmament talks can take place between the two Powers which really could implement such a policy.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

The arms race has now reached such a pitch that it has gained its own momentum. Each side is bent on being one step ahead of the other in methods of destruction of civilian populations. If the summit talks are to succeed the "Big Three" Powers must give some earnest of their intentions by stopping nuclear tests immediately.

This pessimistic point of view is borne out by the history of the last forty years. Ever since 1922 disarmament conferences have come and gone and they have agreed on precisely nothing. More recently there have been the meetings of the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee. It held 171 sessions without reaching agreement on a single point. I feel that this will be the result of future conventional disarmament conferences. Why? Because the Governments of all the great Powers, East and West, are not genuinely seeking disarmament so much as a formula which will give them some advantage in arms over their rivals, or they are seeking some excuse on which to blame their so-called enemies for the breakdown of the talks. I do not think we shall reach disarmament in that way.

What are we to do, then? Are we to sit back and let the nuclear arms race take its course when we know that it can have only the same result as all previous arms races in history? I do not think any decent, self-respecting man or woman can do that. Even wild animals struggle to save their offspring from extinction.

I have been driven to the conclusion that the world is waiting for one great nation to have the courage and sanity to say, "Whatever you are doing, we are contracting out of this suicidal race in H-bombs. We will test no more bombs, we will manufacture no more bombs, and we will transfer to peaceful atomic purposes the fissionable material in the bombs already made." I am convinced that this would have a dramatic psychological result in lessening the tension between the nations, cutting the vicious circle and producing the atmosphere in which agreement becomes possible.

While I would go further than stopping the tests, I must say that I should be deeply relieved if we could stop them. The Prime Minister frequently speaks about his grandchildren, to whom he is attached. I have children and I care for them as other men and women in this country care for their children. I feel that we could all have greater hopes of our children growing up to enjoy manhood and womanhood if the threat of the tests were lifted from us.

The hope of unilateral action proving successful has now become a reality. It has become a much more practical proposition ever since 31st March, when the Russians announced that they were unilaterally suspending their tests. We are told, "Ah, the Russians had already had their tests.", which is perfectly true, and I wish they had not had them. But we are in no position to talk. According to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), whose book I have just read, the British and American Governments have held 143 tests and the Russians 41. Leaving that aside, suppose we resume our tests. In a few months' time, on the same argument as the Minister has raised today and as the Prime Minister has raised on previous occasions, the Russians will feel justified in saying, "Ah, but the British and the Americans have just held their tests, and, therefore, we must resume ours."; and so on ad infinitum, or, rather, until the final catastrophe.

I believe that it is false to say that if we stopped our tests it would not have any effect at all. I think that the fact that the Russians have acted unilaterally has already had results. The fact that tonight the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower are meeting in America is very largely due to a lead having been given by another country.

Secondly, may I draw the attention of hon. Members to a very significant and so far unexplained announcement by our Government on 3rd May of this year, that the area around Christmas Island, which had been banned to shipping, was now freed; in other words, the ban was lifted. Does that mean—I hope that we shall have a reply this evening—that Britain has now suspended her tests? I profoundly hope so. It is a most unusual announcement. We were to complete a series of tests at Christmas Island, and we held one test at the end of April, and then on 3rd May came the announcement that the ban on shipping had been lifted. Does this mean that our Government have responded to the Russian action by suspending our test? If so, people of all political parties will heave a sigh of relief and welcome the Government's action.

I believe that it is possible by unilateral action in this way to turn the armament race into a disarmament race. A short while ago my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) referred to unilateral action with regard to the reduction of conventional forces by both Russia and America, a reduction in numbers. I repeat that I think it is possible to turn the arms race into a disarmament race, a competition in disarmament, in this way.

My second argument for stopping the tests is that there is a real danger of mankind poisoning itself even without a third world war taking place. The report prepared after two years' work by fifteen nations is to be published by the United Nations on 1st July. There has been a fairly reliable leak," according to which there are two outstanding conclusions in the report. The first is that, as a result of the tests which have already taken place, the danger point to mankind from radioactivity has already been reached. The second is that, if the tests continue, as a result of the strontium 90 released into the atmosphere there will be approximately 30,000 additional cases of leukaemia or cancer of the blood every year, plus up to 120,000 cases of major genetic defect every year. Hon. Members will remember the statement by Dr. Schweitzer recently about those who have attended at the birth of a deformed child and witnessed the anguish that it means to the individual parents. If we multiply that by 120,000 times a year, we get an indication of the threat to mankind from continuing the tests. I believe that in no circumstance whatever and for no excuse have we the right to damage our children's children in this way.

I believe that something sensational is taking place under our noses. Recently a friend of mine was debating the hydrogen bomb, and he asked, "Would you, personally, be prepared to drop a hydrogen bomb on a city of a million men, women and children? Secondly, would you be prepared to drop a hydrogen bomb on a city of a million men, women and children if you knew that the immediate retaliation would be a similar bomb dropped on your own population?" His opponent was a senior retired R.A.F. officer who had himself been engaged on many bombing raids during the last war. At first he said that it was an unfair question, but then he said that he had thought it over and had been driven to the conclusion that he could not undertake such a raid because the H-bomb was something new, something completely different.

Another friend tells me that he recently attended a gathering of senior officers who were talking like pacifists, because they realised that it was no longer possible to defend our country in the normal way. There are millions of people who have never called themselves pacifists who have come to the view that in a world in which both sides possess nuclear weapons violence no longer works.

I conclude by saying that the world has reached a turning point. If we can force our Government to stop the tests now, then I believe that we can improve on mankind's present fifty-fifty chance of avoiding extinction.

8.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

If I do not follow the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun), it should not be taken to mean that I agree with him. It is simply that I, too, have taken this self-denying ordinance about the length of my speech. However, there is one point which I must take up, his suggestion, which has so often been repeated on the benches opposite, that if we give an example the Soviet Union is likely to follow it from a sense of moral shame.

There is no evidence to support that thesis. The only recent time we have had a classic example was after the Suez episode when Russian troops were in Hungary and when time and again at Question Time hon. Members opposite said that the best thing we could do to get the Russian troops out of Hungary was to get out of Suez and allow United Nations forces to go in. Now, hon. Members opposite like to forget that we allowed a United Nations force to enter Suez, but Hungary is still occupied by Russian troops, and Russia has not yet given permission for even a United Nations observer, let alone United Nations forces, to enter Hungary. Let us have no more of this theory, because there is not a scrap of evidence to support it and it is a very dangerous thesis.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said one thing which I was glad to hear. It was that although he criticised and condemned the H-bomb in many of its aspects, he did not deny that it had been, and to some extent at least still was, a deterrent. That is my belief, and the purpose of my remarks tonight is to lay stress on this one chief aspect of the H-bomb.

Because of the very frightfulness of this weapon, partly because of propaganda and partly because of a genuine belief of the damage that might be done to generations to come, and partly because its use is absolutely horrific to consider, we sometimes neglect to realise why we have the H-bomb at all. It is precisely because it is so frightful that it serves as a deterrent and so helps to avoid a third world war, something which surely we ought all to abhor. The H-bomb may be evil in itself, but it is a welcome addition to the armouries of the world if it can prevent a third world conflict.

Speaker after speaker has admitted that at least in the last ten to twelve years the H-bomb and the A-bomb earlier have played their part in preventing a third world war. Incidentally, I cannot follow the idea that because in due course other nations will get the H-bomb that will lead to a lowering of its deterrent value. The more countries which realise that it is crazy suicide to go to war because to do so can lead only to their own destruction, to quote the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, the less likely is a third world conflict.

I can remember at least two occasions since the last war when, but for the existence of the H-bomb, we might very likely to have had a third world war. The first occasion was the Berlin blockade. He would be a very bold man who would deny that but for the nuclear deterrent then, chiefly in the hands of the Americans, the Berlin blockade might have led to a third world conflict. The other example is that of Hungary. I shall not argue the moral case. Everyone knows that we all condemn what the Soviet Union did in Hungary. Nevertheless, but for the nuclear deterrent in the hands of both sides, that incident might well have led to a third world conflict, which could hardly have helped the Hungarians.

Because we talk so much of the horrors of the H-bomb and what it can do now and possibly in the future, we seem to forget the horrors of what is cheerfully called conventional war. I remember going after the war to Cassel in Germany where 35,000 people were killed in twenty-five minutes in an air bombardment and where weeks later they were still burned and buried under the ruins. I do not suppose that it made a great deal of difference to those people whether they were killed by a conventional bomb or by a nuclear bomb. We have had further figures of 6 million, 7 million and 8 million—we do not know how many—who were killed and who died as a result of the last war with conventional weapons.

I cannot think very lightly of conventional weapons—flame throwers and high explosive—having, by the way, been a minor victim of one of these weapons. I do not take the view that the world would be better off if we managed to abolish H-bombs and return to those halcyon days when we could blow each other to pieces with simple T.N.T. and other conventional things.

If there is evidence to show that the existence of the H-bomb decreases the possibilities of a dictator or other Power launching an aggressive war, then the longer we keep nuclear weapons the better. I have no hesitation in saying that of the two evils I know which I very much prefer. No one has gone on record as denying that the existence of nuclear bombs helps to deter aggression. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale admitted that the existence of the H-bomb has made everybody sit at the conference table realising that it is not worth having a war because no one can win—it is mutual suicide.

The other issue with which I want to deal is whether the United Kingdom ought still to possess the bomb and test it. Firstly, I find it intellectually unsound to talk about possessing the bomb but not testing to find out if it works. That has always seemed to me to be a particularly nonsensical criticism. There is, however, the arguable point whether the United Kingdom should possess its own bomb or whether it should, in the terms of a recent Liberal Amendment here, rely on the Americans. I agree with the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) who said recently that it was morally unsound—nauseating, he said—to argue that it was a vile and wicked weapon and one which Britain as a Christian nation ought not to possess and that we did not need to possess it anyway because we could rely upon the Americans.

Morals apart, there is a very good case why the United Kingdom, as a European Power within N.A.T.O., should possess its own H-bomb. World stategy and the enemies and friends of today and tomorrow are constantly varying, and again and again we have seen in a very few years how strategic positions which have been absolutely vital in years gone by have lost their importance because of a change in world circumstances.

I can envisage the time arising when intercontinental ballistic missiles will be so powerful that the Americans will be able to defend their continent and cities from their own land. In such a situation, America might no longer need the European alliance for its safety and security. In such a situation the liberty of Europe and Britain could become expendable compared with the destruction of American cities.

It is horrible to contemplate such a situation in which Britain and Europe might wake up to find themselves in the same position as certain other past strategic outposts which for one reason or another we have had to abandon because they have been no longer necessary or vital. Without our possession of the ultimate deterrent, there would be nothing then to stand between us and conquest by an aggressive Soviet Union.

Referring to disarmament generally, I wish to endorse the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne), who made one of the most valid points in the whole debate when he said that it is unrealistic to think of genuine and continued disarmament unless we have first, if not a political settlement, at least some political relaxation. I have always maintained that armaments are the effect and not the cause of tension. Simply to lower the number of weapons will not reduce the danger of conflict, but is an argument of the utmost folly. Therefore, let us concentrate on the realities of the situation. Simply because the H-bomb has been turned into a "bogey man", do not let us minimise its qualities as a deterrent against war.

Mention has been made of the possibility of 10,000 people yet unborn dying in the next decade because of the effects of H-bomb tests. Frankly, horrible though it may sound, if the continuation of H-bomb tests means that the H-bomb will continue to act as a deterrent and help to prevent a third world war in which at least 8 million or 10 million more people might die, conventionally or otherwise, I should consider that those 10,000 who might die as a result of the tests would have died in a good cause. Let us then concentrate on realities and not be led astray by the hysteria over the H-bomb which has developed in the minds of some people.

8.22 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Usborne Mr Henry Usborne , Birmingham, Yardley

No one would deny the probability—no one can be certain about this—that the existence of the atomic weapons in the hands of States on either side of the Iron Curtain has prevented a catastrophe during the last decade. I am not convinced that more than two States, one on either side, needed to possess these weapons, but I do not deny the possibility that their existence has acted as a deterrent and saved mankind from catastrophe. The hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) fails to realise that if this spreads, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey)—and it is likely to do so—a position valuable to the human family becomes intensely dangerous. There is a grave risk of that happening within the next decade, and that is something which we must avoid at all costs.

It seems possible that while America must maintain deterrent weapons so long as Russia possesses them, it might be our contribution to the salvation of the human family, not to attempt to match America or provide for our own security for the reasons advocated by the hon. Member for Torquay—because if what he said applies to us, it applies to all the other nations—but to combine with other nations which do not now possess these weapons and to form a system of enforceable collective security.

The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) said—I think correctly—that this debate marks an epoch. It has been an exceptionally interesting debate. In the past 20 or 30 years Parliament has discussed one kind of disarmament, but today we are beginning to discuss another. There are two completely different kinds of disarmament and I am in favour of trying to get either or both of them; but I wish to make clear that there are these two kinds. While I believe passionately in the possibility of one, I cannot be convinced that there is any future in the other.

The two kinds are entirely different. The old-fashioned type of disarmament supposes that substantially all the nations will make some solemn agreement collectively to decide somewhat to limit and somehow to control the armed forces which each commands. But under this system each nation will still retain its sovereign rights and in the last analysis has to retain its bounden duty to defend itself if attacked. It seems to me that if a sovereign State signs an agreement to reduce the number of weapons it possesses, and at the same time has to rely on its own strength to defend itself if attacked, it is, in effect, signing a document which it must be prepared to tear up if there is any fear of it being attacked by another nation.

Incessantly for the past forty years statesmen have discussed this kind of reduction of the armaments which each sovereign State carries. Millions of words have been written about it and scores of lengthy conferences held, but nothing has ever been achieved. It may be that, by some strange alchemy, what has failed in the past may yet succeed. If it can be achieved, if multilateral universally controlled disarmament of this kind can be achieved, then God bless those who can "work the oracle".

There is another kind of disarmament which is what we are beginning to talk about. To me it is very exciting, and it is entirely different. It presupposes the complete surrender to a supra-national authority of the power and the right of national self-defence irreversibly. In this kind of system there is a chasm. There is a moment in time when the sovereign States have to give up the duty and right of self-defence irreversibly and for ever.

Were this to be achieved, the nations concerned would abrogate their sovereignty entirely and become, as it were, provinces inside a world federal State. I must admit that nothing has been achieved along these lines either, but this is a proposal which we are only just beginning to discuss. I think it merits attention by being logically sensible. Were it achieved, it would work, whereas the other kind of disarmament, even were it achieved, would not work, because nobody could rely on it. I believe this kind of disarmament, through the creation of a world authority and a world police force under a world government, will have to come in the end, that is to say, if there are any human beings left to want it. The problem is how to get the process started. I admit that there are all kinds of difficulties. I want to make one little point about this which has struck me very forcibly in the last few weeks.

A while ago I had the good fortune to join a number of colleagues from the House in being chosen as a Member of the inter-Parliamentary delegation to visit Yugoslavia. The authorities there treated us kindly and generously. They were very helpful and candid in the way they answered all our questions. In the course of our visit I came across a problem which I had not observed or noticed before, and it now seems to stand out very obviously.

The Yugoslavs are very frightened of only one danger, the possibility that Russia might exert military force to crush Yugoslavia and destroy their State completely. Yugoslavs set their sleep at night only on the assumption that, if that did happen, N.A.T.O. would be activated and the third world war would take place, and because they judge the Russians know that too. I am not certain that this is a valid calculation. I have a feeling that if the Russians did decide—I do not think they will and I hope to God that they do not—to run the Red Army into Yugoslavia and crush Tito, many people in the Western world would say, "This is just one Communist State eating another Communist State and it is not an event that justifies world war III and the destruction of the human family."

Something else ought to be done, and Yugoslavia is in the unique position to do it. We may remember that just after Suez the United Nations equipped itself with an emergency force and that the only Communist nation that supported the resolution which was passed—in fact contributed to the force—was Yugoslavia. In that respect the country was unique. We all know that what is necessary is the eventual creation of some kind of permanent United Nations force, and that it will have to start gradually.

Suppose that Yugoslavia, which has already contributed to U.N.E.F., thought that this was the right moment to try to make that force into a permanent United Nations police force of about 20,000 men, recruited by the United Nations and contributed to by many nations. Suppose Yugoslavia invited that force to take up permanent bases in that country. One cannot conceive of a permanent United Nations police force which has not some permanent bases. Suppose Yugoslavia offered one or two permanent sites for a United Nations police force, she would do two things at the same time. She would quite certainly activate the balance-of-power mechanism in the event of a Russian invasion. It would be more certain, as seen from Moscow, that if Russian tanks drove over the borders into Yugoslavia and a United Nations force were there, the United Nations would be activated and the balance-of-power mechanism would swing into action.

Secondly, if the United Nations force in Yugoslavia were seen by the inhabitants as a much more sensible and economical mechanism for maintaining their independence and security than their own armed forces, the Yugoslav taxpayers might say, "Why do we need expensive national armed forces when the United Nations police are achieving security for us?"

Many speakers in this debate have recognised that the first necessity in achieving disarmament is the creation of an instrument that will provide a feeling of security. Now is the opportunity to get that kind of solution in Yugoslavia. I can see such an instrument also being useful in the European area of disengagement, in which so many of my hon. Friends believe, and which is a practical proposition if there is an effective United Nations instrument which can take care of it. Once we had made a success of a United Nations police force in those countries many of my colleagues, and I for one, would say, "If it works in the middle-European nations and provides them with security why do not we in Britain accept it?" It could also be applied to France and West Germany.

Here would be the beginning of the instrument the world needs. Let us make use of it. In the next few months Yugoslavia might very well begin to develop it and sow the seed which, if it germinated in due course, could grow into the desired United Nations security force. The final stage, the creation of a democratic world authority which could control that force when it is developed into the paramount all-powerful world force, would not be a difficult final step to take.

I have lots more to say, but I have already reached the time at which I promised to end my speech.

8.35 p.m.

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

I think the Committee has had a wonderful treat this afternoon in the number of kites which have been flown. The hon. Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne) has flown a highly individual and most interesting kite which I am sure we shall watch with the greatest of interest and which will be noticed with great interest elsewhere.

It is far from my intention to follow too closely the future of Yugoslavia and a world police force, but I think the hon. Member was dealing with the point in this debate which has most closely and properly engaged the attention of the Committee.

Before developing my theme I should like to suggest to the Committee that we cannot possibly consider the question of disarmament unless we see it in the perspective of the United Nations Resolution of 14th November last year. In putting forward the point of view of Her Majesty's Government, it is essential to point out on every possible occasion, and it is essential that the public should never lose sight of the fact, that we are committed by proper, reasonable stages to total nuclear and conventional disarmament with international inspection and control. We have been supported in that proposition in the United Nations by 55 fellow member nations and were opposed only by the Soviet bloc. We have to start to consider the whole question from that point of view.

One cannot make any comment in this debate without referring to the two speeches made from the two Front Benches and to the marked contrast between them. Whereas we had a quite exceptionally boring and pettifogging speech from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who I am sorry is not now in his place, it was most stimulating to find that by contrast he was followed by my right hon. Friend who brought to bear on the problem a vision and sense of urgency which the Committee on both sides found most refreshing. It has been encouraging to find so many of the points made by my right hon. Friend—the main one having been hailed by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale as boloney—taken up by hon. Members opposite, and I welcome what has been said.

I think the doctrine of my right hon. Friend of a world authority and police force is the right one and the only solution to the problem. It is no new conception. It has been put forward consecutively from 1950 when it was first put forward in Denmark by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and later by the present Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of Defence and Sir Anthony Eden when he was in this House. Now we have had it put from the Front Bench as the long-term objective of the Government. I hope the rather discouraging noises made by the noble Lord who spoke for the Government in another place will now be discreetly buried. I am sorry to introduce this note of disharmony, but I am glad that there has been a welcome change of heart on the part of my right hon. Friend.

There is a risk in carrying out this conception, but there is also great hope. I think the risk of it going wrong is not so great as what undoubtedly will go wrong if those frightful weapons are left indefinitely in the control and single sovereignty of different powers. That is a totally unacceptable long-term conception, but in the meantime we are saddled with it.

There are two questions which we have to ask ourselves. One is what, if any, is the danger which this country has to face, and the other is what is our reaction to the danger? The answers to these questions are matters of judgment, and each one has to make up his own mind. In my judgment, in the free world we in fact genuinely face, particularly in Western Europe, the threat of the long-term objective by the Communist Powers to overrun and dominate the Western world. I may be wrong, but I believe that is the risk, and, accepting that, as I do, I have to ask whether it really matters and whether it is really worth while doing anything about it. Some people do not think so, and I know that Commander Sir Stephen King-Hall is one of them. He says that it is far better to sweat it out, and that everything will come out all right in the end. He may be right, but it is not a responsibility that I should like to take upon myself.

I take my stand on the conception that there is a very real danger to something which is irreplaceable and is in our trust, and that we must do something about it. In the meantime, therefore, with very great reluctance, I am bound to accept the theory of the nuclear deterrent, that we should have the bomb, that we should test it and keep it, and that we should be be prepared in the last resort to use it in the defence of our way of life, because without the preservation of our way of life, life would not be worth living or worth preserving. If one is not prepared to go that far, it would easier to take the King-Hall line and say, "Let us have life at any price." I think that is a decision that one has to take. It is an unpleasant one to have to take, and it is still more unpleasant to have to face it in public. It is only right that we should face this decision if we do not accept surrender as the only possible ultimate answer. If we do not, then all the rest flows from it.

I think it incumbent upon us, therefore, to justify that conception in the face of the real objections that are put forward by many sincere people in the country at large, whom one meets in one's own constituency and who also come here to lobby hon. Members. They express themselves in public with great sincerity and conviction. I have come to the conclusion, after seeing these people and talking to them about their point of view, that these are genuine pacifist objections that we have to meet. The economic, strategic and highly immoral suggestions that we might get away by letting the Americans have it are comparatively trivial objections, but one of the most difficult arguments to meet is the straightforward Christian pacifist view which says: "What hypocrisy. How can you possibly say that you are aiming to preserve Western civilisation and Christian values when you are proposing, in the last resort, to resort to force?"

That is something which we have to meet, and it is this fundamental spiritual dilemma which faces all temporal powers. I do not think myself that there is an answer to it. I am not satisfied that any answer I have heard given, either by the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury or by the Moderator of the Free Churches, meets that dilemma at all. I do not think it is possible to answer that objection, and the only comfort one can offer is simply to say that if Roland had blown the horn of Christian pacifism at Roncesvalles, there would be no Christian values to defend today. We should all be following the way of the sword of Islam and bowing to Mecca.

With that rather unsatisfactory compromise, one has to make up one's mind that one will not sell the pass. If that is any comfort, it is only comfort in so far as one believes that the way of life of the Western world is unique, that it is destructible, that it is in our keeping and that, if we do not keep it, it will be gone for ever. Otherwise, why not let us say, "Communism in the long run is only one movement in the great evolution of the human race through history. Truth will out in the end. Why not let us compromise with Communism? Humanity will be no worse off in the long run, whereas if we attempt to stand up to it there is always the threat that humanity may be annihilated."

One has therefore to decide whether what we are determined to defend to the ultimate is worth defending and one then has to face this further challenge which is put: "It is all very well for you to say that you and others who think like you are prepared to accept and to bring upon others annihilation in defence of what you think so valuable, but what about those who do not want to be annihilated in defence of what you think is so valuable but what they do not think is so valuable?" It is very difficult to answer that question, but I do not feel that we in the House are entitled to try to dodge it. I think that we have to say that if one is charged with the responsibility of leadership one has to take these decisions for people. If they do not like it, fortunately in this country they have their remedy.

With great humility and with every sense of the horror of the responsibility, I submit that that is the position. I think that it is right occasionally in the House that one should try to face these fundamental issues, because they are things deeply thought about and canvassed in this country today, and I do not think that it is right that we should concern ourselves solely with comparatively technical political questions. We should be prepared to tell the country why it is that in the end we are prepared to accept the ultimate threat and the ultimate challenge and what it is that we are defending.

We believe in any case that it is a temporary measure. All bad things are hoped to be temporary. Communism cannot be an eternal and lasting system. I do not believe that a civilisation which is capable of producing the kind of thought which can put a satellite into the earth's atmosphere, which demands the discipline of truth, is capable of maintaining indefinitely a régime which cannot face the wind of truth. I therefore think that, ironically, whereas it has always been the Communist creed that capitalism has within itself the seeds of its own destruction, in fact, it is Communism which has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

I think that the holding operation which it is encumbent upon us to undertake is one which has a term to it, and in the long run we shall be judged by the world and the outcome will be decided on whether or not the way of life which we are prepared to defend is worth defending. That will be judged as worth defending or not by the kind of people we are and the kind of life we offer to the rest of the world. Our objective in the holding operation that we have to undertake is that in the fullness of time it should be possible to give an opportunity to the rest of the world to make that judgment upon us.

8.49 p.m.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

I should like in beginning, to congratulate the hon. and learned Member for Garston (Mr. Bingham) in his absence on a very successful maiden speech. The House will hope to hear him often again. I should also like to congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), and others of my hon. Friends on their speeches in what, I think, has been the most useful debate on disarmament we have had for many years. I hope that the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) will forgive me if I do not follow him. I want to deal with one point which will take me all my time—what, I believe, is the widespread misunderstanding that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) brilliantly began to clear up this afternoon about how the present disarmament deadlock has arisen. I believe that clearing up the facts is really the first and vital step to breaking the deadlock.

I ask hon. Members opposite to believe that I shall try not to give a party angle to anything I say. I know that they will think that I shall fail, but I hope that they will not think that I am hoodwinked by Russian propaganda. In fact, no one has condemned in stronger language than I have the many lamentable mistakes on disarmament which, in the past, the Russians have made. I want only to sift the propaganda from the rest and to assess the Russians' policy as revealed in the verbatim records of the United Nations, and I ask the Foreign Secretary to interrupt me if he thinks that I am getting things wrong.

In trying to understand the origin of the present deadlock, it is necessary to start, as did my right hon. Friend and the Minister of Defence, from the events of 1954 and 1955. The Minister of Defence referred to the Anglo-French Memorandum drafted by the Foreign Secretary and M. Moch in 1954. In that Memorandum they stated the objectives which the first disarmament treaty should attain: the total abolition of all weapons of mass destruction; the conversion to peaceful uses of all existing nuclear stocks; a major reduction of all armed forces and conventional armaments, and a system of control to guarantee the effective observance of the treaty.

The major reductions in armed forces meant the acceptance of the manpower ceilings which the Western Governments had proposed—a million or, at most, 1·5 million men for the United States, Russia and China; 750,000—reduced later to 650,000—for Britain and France; 1 per cent. of the population for the rest. The reductions of conventional armaments were to be proportionate to the manpower cuts.

That would have meant a pretty substantial measure of conventional disarmament. At the lower figure of a million— which we could have got had we wanted it—it would have meant, in 1955, 69 per cent. of the forces of the United States and nearly 80 per cent. of those of Russia. Coupled with the total abolition of nuclear, chemical, biological and incendiary weapons which the Memorandum proposed, it was a programme to which we on this side gave full support.

From 1954 to the date on which my right hon. Friend dwelt, so rightly, 10th May, 1955—the dates are very important to the point—the Western Governments went on urging the Russians to accept this programme. The Russians kept on saying that we were not serious about nuclear disarmament. We gave them, constantly and repeatedly, the most categorical assurances that we were. To convince them that we would accept both the cut-off of new production of fissile material and the total abolition of existing nuclear stocks, on 19th April, 1955, we put forward the so-called 75 per cent. arrangement. The cut-off was to start when 50 per cent., the abolition of nuclear stocks when 75 per cent. of the reduction of conventional armaments had been made.

That was on 19th April, 1955. From then on, the pressure on the Russians to accept our programme was sharply increased. The American, British and French delegates all made appeals, and all said that, unless the manpower ceilings and the 75 per cent. arrangement were accepted, there would really be no use in going on. The arguments, and the threats of rupture, continued until 10th May. And then, as my right hon. Friend described, the Russians answered. They accepted the manpower ceilings—70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of their armed forces and of their conventional weapons. They accepted the 75 per cent. arrangement for the cut-off and the abolition of nuclear stocks. They said that military budgets should be correspondingly reduced, corresponding to the conventional reduction and the nuclear abolition. They went very far—I shall return to the point later—in accepting international Inspection and control.

The Western delegates expressed great satisfaction in the Disarmament Sub-Committee at what the Russians had done. I will not weary the House with quotations from their welcoming speeches. I cite only what the British delegate, the then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told the House of Commons after the Government had had four weeks of mature reflection. The Russians, he said, had adopted several of the key proposals which my Western colleagues and I had for many weeks been urging the Soviet delegate to accept. He listed seven major points on which the Russians had agreed with what we wanted and he ended by saying that the Government regarded this change of attitude on the part of the Soviet Government as an important step forward in our discussions on disarmament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th June, 1955; Vol. 542, c. 271–2] He had already told the Disarmament Sub-Committee that he was anxious to continue the search for a draft disarmament treaty without delay; but, alas, that was exactly what he was not allowed to do. Even before he had made his statement to the House, the Sub-Committee, as my right hon. Friend recalled, against the expostulations of the Russians, had been adjourned for a period of three months. When it met again the United States delegate declared that his Government "placed a reservation upon all the substantive positions taken in the Sub-Committee or the Disarmament Commission in relationship to levels of armament." In other words, all the Western proposals—the manpower ceilings, conventional arms reductions, the cut-off and the 75 per cent. arrangement—which had been pressed with such persistence and vigour for so many months, were incontinently withdrawn. That is what has bedevilled the situation ever since. That was when the Russians began to say, "The West goes back on its own proposals as soon as we say 'Yes'."

The reason given for this volte-face by the West was the difficulty, to which the Russian paper had drawn attention, of detecting a clandestine nuclear stock. This was a genuine difficulty, but it had long been familiar. It was considered when the 75 per cent. arrangement was put forward. M. Moch spoke of it as late as 5th May. When it was used as the reason for the volte-face, the Russians, understandably, at first assumed that it was a mere excuse.

Then, however, there followed what I think was a very significant episode. The West went on arguing for many months that nuclear disarmament was impossible because of the danger that a disloyal government would keep a secret stock. But various spokesmen, including our present Prime Minister at Geneva, hinted that conventional disarmament might be attempted first. In February, 1956, our Defence White Paper set out that policy in terms. Five weeks after the White Paper the Russians laid a new proposal before the Sub-Committee suggesting that nuclear disarmament should be postponed but that a first treaty on conventional disarmament should be made. They accepted the basis which we had proposed—the 1 million manpower ceiling, the proportionate cut in conventional armaments and budgets and all the rest.

Let hon. Members consider the real significance of this forgotten offer. For a decade, Western spokesmen had been speaking of the vast superiority of the Russians in manpower and in conventional arms, as hon. Members have done today. They had been saying that only the United States' nuclear stocks had saved the world from Communist domination. They had complained that the Kremlin always started disarmament discussions by saying "Ban the bomb," intending simply to disarm the West. Yet here was the Kremlin spontaneously proposing the reduction by 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of their conventional forces; accepting parity in conventional forces with the U.S.A.; proposing a level at which the risk of Russian aggression would have been enormously reduced; and they proposed all this without asking in return for even the smallest reduction of the nuclear armoury on which the West relied.

Perhaps conventional disarmament by itself might be a great mistake, as some contended and as some hon. Members have said today. But I think that the facts I have cited are at least evidence that the Russians did then seek some agreement by which the burden of armaments could be reduced. Their offer was immediately turned down, and there were no further discussions of importance until 1957. Let hon. Members compare the proposals put forward by Russia and the West in that year 1957, the proposals which led to the Russian walk-out and to the total deadlock in which we find ourselves today.

On 18th March, the Russians put forward again the full programme of the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954. They renewed it later in October. They made one addition which was very significant in March, 1957. They suggested, six months before they had launched their Sputniks and I.C.B.M.s, the total abolition of all kinds of missiles, inter-continental, I.R.B.M.s and short-range missiles as well, all missiles by which nuclear warheads could be delivered to an enemy target.

On 29th August, the Western Governments put forward their so-called "package" plan of "partial" measures, which the Minister described, if I remember his words, as "bold and imaginative." Let me take the leading points in these two proposals and compare them. Manpower: the Russians proposed 1½ million, or 1 million if we wanted it; the West 2·5 million, with no further reductions until undefined political conditions had been fulfilled. Conventional armaments: the Russians proposed a reduction proportionate to the cut in manpower, for Russia 70 per cent. or 80 per cent.; the West, the storing in depôts on each nation's own territory of an undefined list of weapons. No hints of what weapons or of quantities were given.

Military budgets: the Russians proposed a reduction proportionate to the reduction of manpower and conventional armaments and the abolition of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction; the West proposed no reduction in military expenditure at all but an exchange of undefined Budgetary information.

Nuclear weapons: the Russians proposed the unconditional stopping of tests under control, to be followed by total nuclear disarmament, the cutoff and the abolition of stocks to be effected by the West's 75 per cent. arrangement proposed in 1955; the West proposed the stopping of tests under international control but subject to the acceptance of the cut-off, to be followed by gradual reduction of nuclear stocks by what the "package" plan called "equitable transfers, in successive increments" to peaceful use.

The crux of the difference between the Russians and the West, the point on which the Russians walked out, relates to these provisions about the cut-off and the nuclear stocks. Let me put to the Committee what I believe to be the Russian view. The cut-off, they say, is of significance, indeed absolutely vital, if there is an abolition of stocks as well. But by itself it is irrelevant, if stocks are not abolished, to the disarmament problem. It is five years since Admiral Strauss' predecessor, Mr. Gordon Dean, said that in several years, that is, by now, the United States would figuratively have atomic bomb material "running out of our ears." A few weeks ago Mr. Anthony Nutting, speaking from a background of official knowledge, said that the United States had reached saturation and could destroy the whole world several times over; they could not need more bomb material than they had got.

Nor under the Western "package" plan would the cut-off prevent "fourth countries" from getting nuclear bombs. Mr. Stassen made it abundantly clear in the Sub-Committee that the United States must retain the right to store nuclear weapons on the territories of its allies, to train its allies' troops to use them, and to provide its allies with the missiles and other means of delivery which they require. And the Russians do not forget that the United States have more than 30 allies situated, in General Norstad's phrase, on a perimeter of 360 degrees around the Soviet Union.

But the Russians' strongest objection, the one on which they broke, related to nuclear stocks. At first, everyone warmly welcomed Mr. Stassen's "equitable transfers" to peaceful use. M. Moch, for France, suggested that the transfers should be 20 per cent. per annum, so that in five years total abolition of nuclear stocks would be achieved. On the instant, Mr. Stassen repudiated what M. Moch had said. He declared that "for decades ahead" the United States must keep a substantial part of its existing nuclear stocks for use by itself and by its allies.

On what basis did Mr. Stassen propose that the "equitable transfers" should be made? His final firm suggestion was that the United States would transfer 53 kilograms of bomb material for every 47 transferred by Russia; that is to say, virtual parity of transfers. But everybody knows that the United States stocks are far greater in quantity than Russia's. Mr. Gordon Dean says so. Admiral Strauss says so. Mr. Nutting, who is unlikely to be misinformed, says that the United States' stocks are three times as great as Russia's. President Eisenhower said last November, Our scientists assure me that we are well ahead of the Soviets in the nuclear field, both in quantity and quality What does that mean? If the United States' stocks are only twice as large as Russia's, then with every transfer the Russians would be approaching zero while the United States would be approaching half its present stock, keeping quite enough to blow up the whole world. I am very certain that the Russians will never accept a system of transfer such as that. I go further. I believe that the abolition of nuclear stocks is a point to which the Russians attach a greater importance than all else.

I come to the vital question of inspection and control. Hon. Members say that the Russians have been very backward and that it does not matter what they may have proposed about disarmament in 1955, 1956 or 1957 if they mean to make it all a farce by refusing effective inspection and control. I quite agree, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale read out what they actually proposed in their paper of 10th May, 1955. They proposed an international control organ", which should have staff selected on an international basis, permanently resident in every State, having unimpeded access at all times to all objects of control. It was to have unimpeded access to records, related to budgetary appropriations"— a very important clause—and have rights and powers to exercise control, including inspection, on a continuing basis, to the extent necessary to ensure implementation of the above-mentioned Convention by all States. Could there be a more sweeping acceptance of the principle of international control than those words imply? On top of that the Kremlin proposed, as a separate measure, to have all the ground control posts at ports, railway junctions, aerodromes and motor highways to prevent surprise attack. My right hon. Friend emphasised its great significance in Russia. All this would have meant a major breach in the policy of the Iron Curtain. It would have meant the admission of hundreds, if not thousands, of U.N. inspectors, chosen by the United Nations, permanently, as of right, in Russia, with these very sweeping powers. And it applied to nuclear plants—it still applies if nuclear stocks are to be abolished.

The Foreign Secretary will remember, my right hon. Friend recalled it, going through all that with the Russians in the Sub-Committee in 1954. They agreed that U.N. experts should have their own right to make chemical analyses, to check the records, and all the rest. The Foreign Secretary found a grave defect. They proposed periodical and not continuous inspection, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman rightly said that with nuclear plans periodic inspection gives no control. But in 1955 the Russians put that right. They accepted continuous inspection for nuclear plants, and they accept it still.

There remains, of course, the difficulty about the secret nuclear stock. The Minister quoted Mr. Khrushchev. Of course, the Russians have never blinked the fact that, if there were total nuclear disarmament, an intending aggressor might try to break the treaty by keeping 10 per cent. or even 20 per cent. of what he had as a clandestine stock. But there are lots of things than can be done to meet that risk. The Russian ground control posts are one. "Open skies" are another. Another, and by far the most important, is to abolish the means of delivery of nuclear weapons. President Eisenhower has said that a stockpile of bombs is useless without the means of delivery. This means the missiles and the bombers and the atomic guns. Last year the Russians proposed the total abolition of the missiles and the atomic guns. I wish the Government had backed them up and had proposed the abolition of bombing aircraft too. That is the way to deal with the danger of the secret nuclear stocks, and it is incomparably safer than leaving nuclear stocks in national hands.

It is not my purpose to attack the Government or to whitewash the Russians, but only to state simply and objectively what has happened in the last few years. I have thought of little else except this problem for many months, and it has seemed to me essential to clear away the present widespread misunderstanding about these events. I think that is the first and vital step towards the ending of the deadlock. That is what I have tried to do. I venture now to draw some personal conclusions from the facts.

The Government often say—I believe the Minister said it today—that they would prefer a comprehensive treaty to the partial measures discussed a year ago. I think the record shows that it was not the Russians who decided to abandon a comprehensive disarmament plan and to seek for partial measures instead. It was a Western decision in which the Russians had no share.

I believe that last year's partial measures will never be accepted, and I doubt profoundly whether they would be worth while, or even workable, if they were. The Minister said they were accepted by the United Nations Assembly by a vote of 56 to nine. That vote could never have been obtained if the Canadian Prime Minister, as a sponsor of the resolution, had not said that it was only a basis of discussion, and that it could be freely changed. It would never have been accepted if an Indian amendment recalling, and thereby endorsing, the full disarmament programme of the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954 had not been inserted. The Indian amendment was a fundamental change in the resolution. It restored all the objectives of total abolition of the nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction which Mr. Stassen and the Western Governments had thrown overboard.

We all heard with the deepest interest, and some with real excitement, what the Minister of Defence had to say about total national disarmament, a world police force and the rest. We shall study his words with close attention. I did not myself regard them as a Government commitment. We shall wait for the Government White Paper in which the Minister will set out in writing the proposals which the Government are going to make.

I know that the Minister has been profoundly moved in the last eighteen months by the unmitigated horror of the duties which he is called on to fulfil. We all want the full objectives which he has described, but for my part for over thirty years and more I have never believed that that immense transformation of world society could be achieved by a first treaty in a single step. I should feel far more certain that the deadlock would be broken if the Government went back, for the first treaty, to the programme of the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954. I wish they would take the Russians up on their acceptance of it, and, if it is bluff, call their bluff by offering to negotiate a detailed treaty with provisions that are fair and safe for all. Until we do that, we leave the field clear, as we have so lamentably left it, for Russian propaganda.

I do not ask the Government to trust the Russians. I ask them to test the Russians by proposing concrete mutual guarantees from which trust might grow. If the Government really want the kind of disarmament of which the Minister of Defence now always speaks, then something far more drastic than last year's partial measures is required. The arms race is not standing still. Year by year, as the Minister knows so well, its dangers are growing more and more acute. Is it unrealistic to believe that the Kremlin understands these dangers as well as we do and knows that all nations have a common interest in ending competitive armaments and war? I beg the Government not to cling to what history will call the inadequate proposals of 1957. I beg them to face the big decisions which the destiny of man today requires.

9.19 p.m.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I should like to begin, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) did, by congratulating my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham) on his admirable maiden speech.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who opened the debate for the Opposition, began with some words about the philosophy of disarmament, about the conundrum, if I may so put it, as to whether it is the arms which create the fears or the fears which create the desire to retain the arms.

I think there is a genuine dilemma in this. I have never believed that disarmament by itself will dispose of all the causes of tension, and I do not believe that disarmament will proceed very far until these causes of tension are disposed of. So I think there must be a relationship between the progress of disarmament and the solution of the various outstanding problems. I have always said, and I say again, that I believe that a beginning in the process of disarmament would of itself contribute to a reduction of tension which would make the settlement of the other problems easier.

I do not propose to go into as deep an analysis of the situation as did my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger). There are two premises which have been unchallenged by the majority of those who have spoken in the debate. The first is that the West should have the nuclear deterrent; that because of the conventional superiority of the Soviet Union, without a nuclear deterrent by the West, and with conventional armaments at their present levels the West would be very much worse off and very much more insecure. The second premise is that the United Kingdom should have part of the deterrent. I do not propose to go any further into those matters.

The reason for those two premises was set out in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I subscribe to what his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South said of that speech. It was a remarkable speech and I only wish that it had been made to a very much larger attendance. The right hon. and learned Gentleman indicated that in these things the enemy is war and not a type of weapon and that if we do not keep that objective constantly within our sights, then we are misappreciating the situation.

The first main issue of the debate has been whether we have done all we could and whether we are now doing all we can to achieve the disarmament which everybody wants. The right hon. Member for Derby, South referred to this business of clearing up the facts. At the beginning of his speech, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talked of his competence to discuss these matters. The right hon. Member for Derby, South said that he would simply and objectively try to put the facts before the Committee, and I will try to do the same.

The allegation made against the Government is that on 10th May, 1955, the Soviet Union suddenly accepted the substance of the Western disarmament proposals and that Her Majesty's Government thereupon did a volte-face and withdrew the main objectives of the Anglo-French plan of 1954. The right hon. Member for Derby, South indicated that it was the United States representative who committed this volte-face and who reserved his position three months later.

This is becoming one of the great myths of history. It is completely incorrect and completely untrue and I will now proceed to tell the Committee why I have said that. The Russian plan of 10th May, 1955, required a ban on the use of nuclear weapons before any conventional disarmament had actually taken place, with this qualification, that nuclear weapons might be used in self-defence if the Security Council so decided. In view of the veto which the Soviet Union would have in the Security Council, that provided no additional protection to the West.

Next, the Russian proposals involved the banning of tests from the beginning of the programme and the dismantling of foreign bases within two years. During the whole of the first stage, which included 50 per cent. reductions in conventional armaments and which included the ban on the use of nuclear weapons, the only control—I say again, the only control—was to be anti-surprise attack posts at ports, railway junctions, main motor highways and airfields, the right to ask for information and the right to have access to records. The only people of the control organ to be on the ground were those people at the so-called control posts—we have had a great deal of experience in North Korea and know exactly what that means. In addition, all that the control organ was to have access to was records and it was entitled to ask only for information.

During the process of 50 per cent. reductions in conventional forces—there was a reference to the total being 69 per cent. of the United States forces—which would have made an end of N.A.T.O. and involved the United States forces leaving Europe, there was to be no control agent anywhere where he could supervise what disarmament was actually taking place.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Nonsense; it is not true.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that it is not true. If he will look at the plan again, he will see what stage one provides for, what stage one of the control is. He will see that I am absolutely accurate in what I have said.

That seems to me to be the basic factor in considering this Russian plan. The question of control is the essence of the problem. I have referred to the North Korean experience. The allegation that we suspended the proceedings of the United Nations Sub-Committee is quite untrue. I think that, in fact, the Sub-Committee was suspended on 19th May. Some hon. Members may remember that there was a General Election proceeding in this country at that time. Then there was the summit meeting in July at Geneva. It is true that the Sub-Committee did not meet again until some time after the summit meeting had taken place.

This idea that we have withdrawn from the Anglo-French plan of 1954 is just untrue. In his book the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South, if I may say so, pays a generous tribute to the merits of the plan of 1954 which I drew up with M. Moch. Unfortunately, I did not get an advance copy of his book. I got my copy yesterday. I have been given a task of some difficulty in reading the whole of it during the intervening time, but I have read portions of it. That plan was simple and comprehensive. It must be read in conjunction with the United States study paper of 25th May of that year on control, and also our own memoranda as to the nature of the weapons to be prohibited and those to be limited in production.

My hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) today raised the question of submarines and whether any attempt had been made to reach agreement regarding them. In these deliberations of 1954 I suggested to the Soviet representative that the thing to do was to draw up a list of the weapons to be prohibited and a list of those to be limited and regulated, and I particularly mentioned submarines. I agree with my hon. Friend that it would be a good thing if we could now get down to brass tacks on certain particular weapons from time to time. I put that proposition forward again in 1957, but it did not prove to be acceptable.

However that may be, the plan of 1954 had in it some of the ingredients of this idea of a world security authority. In that plan, having declared the objectives which the right hon. Gentleman has read out—the total prohibition of the use and manufacture of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction of other types, the conversion of existing centres of nuclear energy to peaceful purposes, a major reduction in armed forces and conventional armaments and the establishment of a control organ—having said that, we did in the plan say that when the control organ had been set up, it should decide how we should proceed from stage to stage of the plan. It should decide when it was capable of controlling the next stage and that would mean that once the treaty had been signed, the contracting Governments had lost the power to influence this process of disarmament. I think that in itself it had there the elements of a world security authority to control this process of disarmament. I do not accept that we have withdrawn from the main objectives. The phrase of the right hon. Gentleman was that we have withdrawn from the main objectives of the plan. They remain our objectives.

In all of the right hon. Gentleman's speech and, so far as I can see, in his book, he makes practically no reference to the Anglo-French plan of 1956. In his speech today he completely ignored it and, so far as I have been able to study his book in the time at my disposal, the only reference I can find to the Anglo-French plan of 1956 is a footnote referring to the Memorandum of 1954: See pages 15 to 16. This must not be confused with the Anglo-French Memorandum of March, 1956, from which all the objectives were dropped. That, as far as I have been able to see, is the only reference to the plan of 1956.

It is a most monstrous injustice that anyone purporting to give a factual account of this story should completely eliminate from his book one of the major initiatives of the West in its endeavour to get agreement upon this matter.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

Mr. P. Noel-Baker rose

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Perhaps I might deal with the plan of 1956 before the right hon. Gentleman intervenes. That plan, put forward on behalf of the British and French Governments, was an endeavour to bring up to date the plan of 1954 and, in particular, to deal with some of the matters which had been raised in the interval, particularly the Russian statement of 10th May, 1955, to which the right hon. Gentleman has just referred. In that statement, the Soviet Union indicated that complete control of nuclear weapons was impossible. The sentence there was: … recognises the possibilities of organising a clandestine manufacture of atomic and hydrogen weapons even if there were a formal agreement on international control. The Anglo-French plan of 1956, set out in Cmd. 9770, provided for three stages. It amplified the procedures for passing from stage to stage. The third stage in that plan concluded with the prohibition of tests, the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons, the prohibition of the manufacture of nuclear weapons and the completion of the whole of conventional disarmament. To say, therefore, that we have dropped all our objectives and that the plan of 1956 was not even worthy of mention, is a complete distortion of the story.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

The crucial point between the Russians and us always was, as I said tonight, the abolition of nuclear stocks, which was dropped from this plan and was never mentioned in the Paper of 1957. Nor was the abolition of the other weapons of mass destruction mentioned in the Paper of 1957. I regard the Paper of 1956 as a very great retrogression from the Paper of 1954, because the Paper of 1954 set out a procedure which was workable and which would have led from one stage to another without difficulty. The Paper of 1956 was so complicated with so many checks and vetoes that it would have been utterly impossible to put it into operation.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I am interested to hear the "Hear, hears" coming from a certain number of hon. Members who have probably not read the Paper at all and do not know what was in it. [HON. MEMBERS: Oh."] I am quite content to be judged by the document. The right hon. Member has just said that these objectives were dropped from the plan of 1956. I have said that in the third stage the prohibition of tests and of the use and manufacture of nuclear tests as well as the whole of conventional disarmament would take place. [An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that once."] I have said it a second time, and I will say it a third time because it is proof positive of my case.

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that that Paper left over the elimination of the stocks of nuclear weapons but that was because of the statement in the Russian proposal of 10th May, 1955, a view which was then shared by our own scientists about the difficulty of ascertaining that all the stocks had finally been eliminated. We then said that when we reached the end of the third stage the question of the possibility of eliminating the other stocks should be referred for scientific investigation.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the complications of the plan. It covers in fact two-and-a-half pages of this Command Paper, so it cannot be as complicated as all that. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the Annexe he will see all the procedures for trying to get the plan into operation and that they do not greatly differ from those of 1954. It is quite true that there was an ultimate sanction given to the Security Council in the case of no progress being made.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

I must ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman two questions. If the nuclear stocks problem was to be studied after all this had been done, why was the committee not immediately set up in 1956 to get on with the study then? Secondly, why was there inserted the creation of an executive committee which had unanimously to decide if any move could be made from one stage to the next, so that there was a veto for every member on that large body?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

That was put in in an endeavour to get great Power agreement on the matter. Certain procedures were laid down in case the committee did not agree. For the world control organ's procedure there would have to be an agreement as to the steps to be taken. The right hon. Member is being less than fair by completely obliterating any reference to the scheme in his speech, or indeed in his book.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

I accord to the Foreign Secretary all the credit he desires to take for that scheme.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

From one who has given me such a generous measure of praise for my 1954 scheme, I thank him very much indeed. It is quite untrue to say that we have abandoned any of the objectives set out in the 1954 scheme. I think that on reflection the right hon. Member will see that he has been less than fair. The idea that the Russians have ever accepted a comprehensive plan put forward by us is wholly inaccurate. That is why in 1957 it was agreed to discuss partial disarmament. I have heard of people choosing quotations to suit themselves, but in this case I think the right hon. Member has chosen the plans which suit his thesis. The Soviet Union in 1956 turned down our 1956 plan just as firmly as they had turned down our 1954 plan.

Now we come to the question of a partial disarmament agreement. The right hon. Member does not consider that the proposals put forward would have taken us very far. I must again point out to him what I think is a substantial unfairness in the book he has written because on page 25 he has carefully compared our partial disarmament proposals with the Soviet proposals for total disarmament. If he looks at that page he will see that he is not comparing like with like.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

I am comparing the proposals which the Russians were ready to accept in 1957 with the proposals which the Western Governments were prepared to accept in 1957. If that is not fair I should like to know what is.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The right hon. Member omits the very important point that we said at the beginning of these 1957 discussions that we were still prepared to accept our plan of 1956. Therefore, that is the fair comparison. I am surprised at the mirth of the right hon. Member about the idea of a plan which ended in a ban on nuclear weapons and provided for the suspension of tests and complete conventional disarmament. When it became obvious in the early months of 1957 that a comprehensive agreement was not possible because the Soviet Union would not accept ours and because we thought the control elements in the Soviet plan were not adequate, we considered what steps we should put forward by way of a partial disarmament agreement. That was not done by abandoning any of the objectives of the total disarmament scheme. If one cannot get a complete scheme one should try to get a partial scheme. I thought that was the contention of hon. Members opposite about the tests—if we cannot get a whole scheme we should accept a part of it. I will come to the question of tests in a minute.

A good deal of scorn was poured by the right hon. Gentleman on the partial agreement. May I remind the House what would have happened had our partial proposals been accepted? Tests would have been suspended, agreement would have been reached on the cut-off of the manufacture of fissile material for weapon purposes, the first stage reductions would have been made with regard to conventional forces and with regard to some limitation of conventional armaments, anti-surprise measures would have been inaugurated, with control posts at certain places and a certain amount of aerial inspection, and a study would have been begun of the problem of the control of outer space.

The argument is used against us that if we had accepted the Russian offer about the suspension of tests, the latest series of tests would not have taken place. I think we for our part are entitled to say that, had our proposal been accepted, not only would the latest Russian tests not have taken place, but we should have been on the way to other measures of real disarmament. I cannot understand why the Opposition have throughout failed to give any support at all to the proposal for partial disarmament. They seem to me to be much more interested in trying to pick holes in the Government's policy, although 56 countries against 9 voted for partial disarmament proposals in the United Nations.

We have never had anything from the Front Bench opposite more than tepid commendation. Suppose it had been the other way round. Supposing that we, as the Government, had refused to do that which 56 nations against 9 had voted. Suppose that had happened. [HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."] Exactly, but let hon. and right hon. Members opposite remember the kind of transports into which they delivered themselves at that time over the majority figures in the United Nations. I should have thought that they would have seen the advantage of that and would have accepted it, though I must add, and I hope I do him no harm in saying this, that the right and hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton was a notable exception to this tepid commendation of our proposals.

The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talked about procedural victories. I should have thought that there was a substantial case for pushing on with this proposal and seeking to have it accepted. The right hon. Gentleman a moment ago asked me about tests. I think that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence dealt this afternoon with the reasons for tests and with the medical consequences. I want to add that the reason for our refusal to limit nuclear tests was this. Our position is that it will be much better to link the suspension of tests with the cut-off and the relationship between conventional and nuclear disarmament. That is what we shall try to do at the summit talks.

I cannot understand why the importance of the cut-off is not realised, because that really is a limitation of armaments. Once we have secured—and we are advised that it is possible to secure it—that no more fissile material is being manufactured for weapon purposes, we are beginning to limit armaments, and that is a very relevant consideration. It may easily be said that certain countries have got so much that it does not make a real contribution, but if this goes through, they cannot come along and manufacture more. So long as there is an arrangement, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, which is called the "key to the cupboard" arrangement that removes certain dangers about other countries manufacturing.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Perhaps I can anticipate the right hon. Gentleman's question. No doubt he was about to ask me what would be our position if we could not get an agreement on the suspension of tests linked to the cut-off and maintaining the relationship between conventional and nuclear disarmament. I think it would be very foolish for anyone embarking upon negotiations to announce beforehand what he will do if he cannot get what he wants. Not even Mr. Cousins has told as that. It would be quite unreasonable to expect—

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

We understand that what is anticipated is not negotiations. We understand that President Eisenhower's invitation is for the experts to meet for the purpose of finding out whether or not it is possible to have a system of inspection so that tests can be suspended without reference to a general disarmament agreement. If such technical decisions come out of the discussions at Geneva or Moscow, or wherever they are held, will the Government agree to suspend tests independent of a general disarmament agreement?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to get me to declare a position which I have just said that I will not declare in advance of negotiations. I was not referring to the technical discussions in Geneva about an inspection system. I am dealing with negotiations. I do not believe that a summit meeting or a Foreign Ministers' meeting is any good unless it leads to negotiations. I think that that is the purpose. At those negotiations, I repeat, what we shall try to get is an agreement on the suspension of tests linked with the cut-off.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I have not often interrupted him and this is a very important matter. Why is it that President Eisenhower has invited the Russians, the British and the French to have discussions about the policing of hydrogen bomb tests? Is it not that they might be stopped if they can be policed" If they can be policed, will the British Government still insist that they go on until we have a Summit Conference?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Replying to the question about the invitation, this meeting of experts, which I hope will take place in Geneva, arose out of a proposition which I put forward on 2nd July last year. We suggested that there should be this meeting as soon as the Russians said that they would accept an inspection system. Obviously if we are to have a suspension of tests which is supervised by an inspection system, the sooner that we agree about the system, the better. I repeat that we shall go to the meeting to which I referred endeavouring to get what we believe to be the best bargain.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

Bargain about what?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

We shall try to get suspension of tests coupled with the cut-off. We shall try to get the best bargain about nuclear and conventional disarmament that we can get and we shall try to get a bargain in which the suspension of tests is linked with the cut-off and in which nuclear disarmament bears a relationship to conventional disarmament. I do not think any hon. Member dare say that he would not like an agreement of this sort. We shall try to get the best agreement that we can.

One of the suggestions which has been put forward from time to time in the debate is that the United Kingdom is in some way the odd man out. That is quite untrue. It has been suggested that we are trying to prevent the Soviet Union and the United States from making an agreement upon this matter. In fact no control system has yet been agreed upon, nor have the United States Government said that they are willing to separate tests from the other matters. It is quite false to suggest that we are in some way trying to stop the other two from making an agreement which they want to make.

One other argument which is sometimes used is that we ought to delay further tests and delay other defence measures until the summit talks. I think that would be the worst of every world. There have been two occasions in the past when it has been suggested. One classic occasion when that argument was used was by Mr. Attlee, as he then was, as Leader of the Opposition early in 1935, when he suggested that because Sir John Simon was going to Berlin to discuss a pact on the subject of air arms it was a great mistake for the Government to present the White Paper of that year which dealt with modest proposals for rearmament, some of which were of supreme importance some years later. Fortunately, that advice was not heeded.

A more recent occasion was when the right hon. Gentleman himself, in 1954, suggested that it was a mistake to agree to German rearmament pending the same sort of conference. He prophesied, I think, that if we did so, the Russians would not go to the Summit Conference and would not negotiate on any matter. In fact, they went to the Summit Conference, and within six months they also made the Austrian Treaty.

There is, I know, in the controversies between the right hon. Gentleman and myself a certain element, one might almost say, of the party knock-about. I must say that I think, in spite of many of the tributes that are paid to this book, for its intelligence and so on—"back to the book"; that is what was suggested; it was to be the book for the future—that there is really a certain element of the party in it. But I think that, leaving on one side these matters of party disputation, it is of importance that we should try to give, as a result of this debate—which I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South described as one of the best disarmament debates there has been—a message to the people outside the House who are more interested in the future.

My position, and the position of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the future is this. We want to come to some agreement with the Soviet Union. We believe that, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, there has never been a time when the common interest of both sides lies so much in making some agreement. I do not believe that it is good tactics in negotiating with the Russians to give way without extracting the equivalent concession.

One of the difficulties is that we have different methods of negotiating. We ourselves prefer the method of informal talks. They much prefer the method of the 20-page memorandum. That does involve certain difficulties, but I do believe—and this has not always been said by representatives of the Western Powers—that the Soviet Union will keep agreements if the agreements are sufficiently precise. For that reason, I want agreements, but I want precise agreements; not ones that are capable of being interpreted in several different ways.

I think that this meeting of experts about the inspection and suspension of tests is a most hopeful sign. The United States' answer has been given today. I think that the whole House will commend it, and I hope for a useful meeting in the very near future. If there is agreement there, I think that it will be a most promising sign. I agree also with what was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton about other working parties. He referred to one to deal with the question of anti-surprise measures. I proposed just that in July of last year, and again on 20th February of this year. I entirely agree with him on that topic. I think that this is the way to get down to brass tacks and see the possibilities of practical agreement.

That is the first hopeful factor. The second one, I think, is the discussions in Moscow. I know that we are criticised because it is said we have excluded Poland and Czechoslovakia from those discussions. The Times newspaper criticised us, I see, for having done that. That is a very odd criticism, because what we did was to accept the Soviet Union's first preference, which was to conduct these discussions in this way. So I hope that that is not another myth that will grow. The discussions in Moscow are, of necessity, going somewhat ponderously because of the procedure, but I do not think that they are without promise, and I think that a worthwhile attempt is being made to demarcate areas of likely agreement.

The next steps are for the Foreign Ministers and Heads of Government meetings to be arranged. We want them as soon as we can get them, on conditions that seem to give a chance of success. We are anxious for those talks, and want them to produce results.

Sir Charles, I understand that the Opposition are to vote tonight against the Government. Of course, for

domestic reasons, they are perfectly entitled to criticise the Government, no matter how unfair or incomplete are the versions of their written authorities, but, from a national point of view, Her Majesty's Government have to conduct these negotiations, and we have to make the best deal we can for the country. I think that a decisive phase is opening up—I certainly hope so—with the talks in Geneva between the experts. I should have thought that the Opposition would have hesitated to prejudice the position just now. Nevertheless, the Opposition apparently intend to divide. Well, we will face that challenge in the confident knowledge that our policy is one that any responsible Government would follow.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

In view of the record of the Government over recent years—[Interruption.]—and in the hope that the Government will face the challenge in the country, I beg to move—[Interruption.]

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

Order. An Amendment is being moved but I cannot hear it.

Photo of Mr Francis Noel-Baker Mr Francis Noel-Baker , Swindon

In the hope that the Government will face the challenge in the country, I beg to move, That Item Class II, Vote 1 (Foreign Service) be reduced by £5.

Question put:

The Committee divided: Ayes 249, Noes 308.

Division No. 143.]AYES[9.55 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W.Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)
Albu, A. H.Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Carmichael, J.Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Castle, Mrs. B. A.Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Champion, A. J.Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)
Awbery, S. S.Chapman, W. D.Fernyhough, E.
Bacon, Miss AliceClunie, J.Finch, H. J.
Baird, J.Coldrick, W.Fletcher, Eric
Balfour, A.Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)Forman, J. C.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Corbet, Mrs. FredaGaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)Cove, W. G.George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Gibson, C. W.
Benson, Sir GeorgeCronin, J. D.Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.
Beswick, FrankCullen, Mrs. A.Greenwood, Anthony
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.
Blackburn, F.Darling, George (Hillsborough)Grey, C. F.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Blenkinsop, A.Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Griffiths, William (Exchange)
Blyton, W. R.Davies, Harold (Leek)Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Coine Valley)
Boardman, H.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Hamilton, W. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Deer, G.Hannan, W.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)de Freitas, GeoffreyHarrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)
Bowles, F. G.Delargy, H. J.Hastings, S.
Boyd, T. C.Diamond, JohnHayman, F. H.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethDodds, N. N.Healey, Denis
Brockway, A. F.Donnelly, D. L.Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)Herbison, Miss M.
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Dye, S.Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)
Burke, W. A.Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Holman, P.
Burton, Miss F. E.Edelman, M.Holmes, Horace
Houghton, DouglasMellish, R. J.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)Messer, Sir F.Skeffington, A. M.
Howell, Denis (All Saints)Mikardo, IanSlater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Hoy, J. H.Mitchison, G. R.Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Hubbard, T. F.Monslow, W.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Moody, A. S.Snow, J. W.
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Sorensen, R. W.
Hunter, A. E.Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Hynd, H. (Accrington)Mort, D. L.Sparks, J. A.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Moss, R.Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Moyle, A.Stonehouse, John
Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Stones, W. (Consett)
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)Strachey, Rt. Hon. D.
Janner, B.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.O'Brien, Sir ThomasStross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C).
Jeger, George (Goole)Oliver, G. H.Summerskill, Rt, Hon. E.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)Oram, A. E.Swingler, S. T.
Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)Orbach, M.Sylvester, G. D.
Johnson, James (Rugby)Oswald, T.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Johnston, Dcuglas (Paisley)Owen, W. J.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Padley, W. E.
Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)Paget, R. T.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Jones, David (The Hartlepools)Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Palmer, A. M. F.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)Thornton, E.
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Parker, J.Tomney, F.
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Parkin, B. T.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Kenyon, C.Paton, JohnUsborne, H. C.
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Peart, T. F.Viant, S. P.
King, Dr. H. M.Pentland, N.Warbey, W. N.
Lawson, G. M.Plummer, Sir LeslieWatkins, T. E.
Ledger, R. J.Prentice, R. E.Weitzman, D.
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)West, D. G.
Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Probert, A. R.Wheeldon, W. E.
Lewis, ArthurProctor, W. T.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Lindgren, G. S.Pursey, Cmdr. H.Wigg, George
Lipton, MarcusRandall, H. E.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Logan, D. G.Rankin, JohnWilkins, W. A.
Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonRedhead, E. C.Willey, Frederick
McAlister, Mrs. MaryReeves, J.Williams, David (Neath)
McCann, J.Reid, WilliamWilliams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
MacColl, J. E.Reynolds, G.Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
MacDermot, NiallRhodes, H.Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
McGhee, H. G.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
McGovern, J.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
McInnes, J.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Winter bottom, Richard
McLeavy, FrankRobinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)Woof, R. E.
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Ross, WilliamYates, V. (Ladywood)
Mainwaring, W. H.Royle, C.Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. D.Zilliacus, K.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)Short, E. W.
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Silverman, Julius (Aston)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mason, RoySilverman, Sydney (Nelson)Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.
Mayhew, C. P.
NOES
Agnew, Sir PeterBishop, F. P.Cooper-Key, E. M.
Aitken, W. T.Black, C. W.Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Body, R. F.Corfield, Capt. F. V.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Boothby, Sir RobertCraddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)Bossom, Sir AlfredCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Arbuthnot, JohnBoyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)
Armstrong, C. W.Boyle, Sir EdwardCrowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Ashton, H.Braine, B. R.Currie, G. B. H.
Astor, Hon. J. J.Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Dance, J. C. G.
Atkins, H. E.Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Davidson, Viscountess
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr, J. M.Brooke, Rt. Hon. HenryD'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Baldwin, A. E.Brooman-White, R. C.Deedes, W. F.
Balfour, A.Bryan, P.Digby, Simon Wingfield
Balniel, LordBullus, Wing Commander E. E.Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Barber, AnthonyBurden, F. F. A.Donaldson, Cmdr, C. E. McA.
Barlow, Sir JohnButcher, Sir HerbertDoughty, C. J. A.
Barter, JohnButler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)Drayson, G. B.
Beamish, Col. TuftonCampbell, Sir Daviddu Cann, E. D. L.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Carr, RobertDugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Cary, Sir RobertDuncan, Sir James
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)Channon, Sir HenryDuthie, W. S.
Bennett, Dr. ReginaldChichester-Clark, R.Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn
Bidgood, J. C.Cole, NormanErrington, Sir Eric
Biggs-Davison, J. A.Conant, Maj. Sir RogerErroll, F. J.
Bingham, R. M.Cooke, RobertFarey Jones, F. W.
Birch, Rt. Hon. NigelCooper, A. E.Fell, A.
Finlay, GraemeKerby, Capt. H. B.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Fisher, NigelKerr, Sir HamiltonPitman, I. J.
Fletcher-Cooke, C.Kershaw, J. A.Pitt, Miss E. M.
Forrest, G.Kirk, P. M.Pott, H. P.
Fort, R.Lagden, G. W.Powell, J. Enoch
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Lambton, ViscountPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)Lancaster, Col. C. G.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Freeth, DenzilLangford-Holt, J. A.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Leather, E. H. C.Profumo, J. D.
Gammans, LadyLeavey, J. A.Ramsden, J. E.
Garner-Evans, E. H.Leburn, W. G.Rawlinson, Peter
George, J. G. (Pollok)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Redmayne, M.
Gibson-Watt, D.Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Rees-Davies, W. R.
Glover, D.Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Remnant, Hon. P.
Godber, J. B.Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)Renton, D. L. M.
Goodhart, PhilipLindsay, Martin (Solihull)Ridsdale, J. E.
Gough, C. F. H.Linstead, Sir H. N.Rippon, A. G. F.
Gower, H. R.Llewellyn, D. T.Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Graham, Sir FergusLloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)Robertson, Sir David
Grant, W. (Woodside)Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. (Nantwich)Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Green, A.Longden, GilbertRoper, Sir Harold
Gresham Cooke, R.Low, Rt. Hon. Sir TobyRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Russell, R. S.
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Gurden, HaroldLucas-Tooth, Sir HughScott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Hall, John (Wycombe)McAdden, S. J.Sharples, R. C.
Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.Macdonald, Sir PeterShepherd, William
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)Mackeson, Brig. Sir HarrySmithers, Peter (Winchester)
Harris, Reader (Heston)McKibbin, AlanSmyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Speir, R. M.
Harrison, Col J. H. (Eye)McLaughlin, Mrs. P.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnSpens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMcLean, Neil (Inverness)Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Hay, JohnMacleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.)Stevens, Geoffrey
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelMacmillan, Maurice (Halifax)Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Henderson-Stewart, Sir JamesMaddan, MartinStudholme, Sir Henry
Hesketh, R. F.Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Summers, Sir Spencer
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Markham, Major Sir FrankTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMarlowe, A. A. H.Teeling, W.
Hirst, GeoffreyMarples, Rt. Hon. A. E.Temple, John M.
Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)Marshall, DouglasThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Holland-Martin, C. J.Mathew, R.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Hope, Lord JohnMaudling, Rt. Hon. R.Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Hornby, R. P.Mawby, R. L.Thompson, R. (Croydon, s.)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Horobin, Sir IanMedlicott, Sir FrankThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame FlorenceMilligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Molson, Rt. Hon. HughTurner, H. F. L.
Howard, John (Test)Moore, Sir ThomasTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Morrison, John (Salisbury)Tweedsmuir, Lady
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesVane, W. M. F.
Hughes-Young, M. H. C.Nabarro, G. D. N.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hulbert, Sir NormanNairn, D. L. S.Vickers, Miss Joan
Hurd, A. R.Neave, AireyVosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)Nicholls, HarmarWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Hyde, MontgomeryNicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir HarryNoble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. AllanWall, Patrick.
Iremonger, T. L.Nugent, G. R. H.Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Webbe, Sir H.
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Osborne, C.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Page, R. G.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Jones, Rt Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)Partridge, E.Wood, Hon. R.
Joseph, Sir KeithPeel, W. J.Woollam, John Victor
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir LancelotPeyton, J. W. W.Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Kaberry, D.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Keegan, D.Pike, Miss MervynTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Wills.
Orginal Question again proposed.
It being after Ten O'clock, THE CHAIRMAN left the chair to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.