Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
The House is now looking forward to the Recess and to taking a holiday. I wish that I could say the same of the international problems which confront us. This is the third debate on foreign affairs that we have had in the course of a few weeks, and we are looking forward to another one on foreign policy aspects on Wednesday and Thursday. On each occasion, the trouble spots in the world have grown in number and there is now a long list—Kuwait, Bizerta, Angola, the Congo, Laos, Berlin and even others, and they are too many for me to deal with in the course of this opening speech. As well one would like to look towards the longer term problem of disarmament and the future of the United Nations and perhaps the Belgrade Conference on the uncommitted countries. My hon. Friend the Minister of State will deal with some of these points later in the debate today.
Whatever these problems may be, they provide us with an opportunity for constructive work, and that is what we are seeking to achieve in the shaping of British foreign policy today. There are many, not only in Europe, but much further afield, who will see in the announcement that the Prime Minister has just made the possibility of a major constructive effort between ourselves and the European Economic Community, the members of the European Free Trade Association and the Commonwealth. Let us hope that this opportunity can be seized with determination and the will to overcome any difficulty which may lie in the path of success.
This is the first opportunity that the House has had of discussing Kuwait and the operations there, and I should like to say a few words about that at the beginning. The action that we took on 1st July to secure the independence of Kuwait was successful. Since then we have been able to reduce our forces there, but the threat still remains. In the face of it, the problem now is to find a long-term solution which is politically acceptable.
I do not wish to go over the whole of the past, but there are two paints that I should like to make. The first is about the independence of Kuwait. I should like to emphasise again that it was not the Exchange of Notes on 19th June which conferred independence on Kuwait. Kuwait was already independent and had been for some time. When I discussed this with the Ruler in Kuwait in January of this year, he expressed the view that the existing Agreement of 1899 was no longer compatible with the independence which Kuwait had achieved, and he suggested that a fresh document should replace that Agreement.
This independence had already been recognised by General Kassem's Government on a number of occasions. Iraq supported Kuwait's candidature for membership of several international organisations and the Soviet Union did likewise. We were under an obligation, and we are under an obligation, to defend Kuwait and we did so successfully, in part due to the help that we had from being able to use the facilities at Bahrain, for which we are grateful to the Ruler. We had no ulterior motive in carrying out that action.
The second point is that we are anxious to continue to withdraw our troops, but we can do so only provided that the Ruler is satisfied about his security. In this connection, we welcome the admission of Kuwait to the Arab League. We will give the League any help that we can in creating an Arab force, the presence of which is satisfactory to the Ruler of Kuwait, but he must be the judge of the security of this independent State.
We have, of course, considered whether the United Nations could help in this respect, but I think that we must wait and see the results of the efforts of the Arab League which are now being carried on. There are in any case difficulties about a United Nations effort in this connection. First, the United Nations is already fully stretched with its operations in the Congo and the Middle East. Secondly, it is over-stretched financially. Thirdly, we have seen the difficulties which face any United Nations' force in the Congo, and, fourthly, the Soviet Union has used its right of veto on the resolution passed on the independence of Kuwait. We now hope that, as Kuwait has become a member of the Arab League, she will also be accepted by the United Nations and that her application will not be vetoed.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to say briefly a further word about the other countries in the Gulf. Kuwait has much greater resources than its neighbours—
Our relations with Kuwait are governed by the agreement which I announced on 19th June. Under the terms of one of its sub-paragraphs we carry out consultations with the Ruler, and under the terms of another he has the right to ask us for assistance. As for costs, in accordance with the Arab tradition of hospitality the Ruler is covering the local costs of the Forces.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say a word about the three British soldiers under arrest? Has he seen the report from Bagdad that they are to be tried for having attempted to commit sabotage? Is anything being done to protect them, and to safeguard their interests?
I have seen those reports. As I understand it, the matter is still under investigation by the Iraqi Government. But there is absolutely no truth in any suggestion that the soldiers were there for a military operation or sabotage, or for any other purpose. The true explanation is that they got lost.
Our Ambassador has been asking to see them. I have not had the latest reports, and I do not know whether this has been possible or not.
As for the other Gulf countries, we want to see them making progress in the same way. Some will have considerable resources in the next few years, although the envious eyes which it is now apparent that their neighbours cast upon them as they reach independence have undoubtedly given them food for thought. A number of rulers of the Gulf States have been in London during the past few weeks, and we have had useful talks with them. Progress is being made. In Qatar a new labour law is being prepared, and when suitable arrangements have been completed we hope to transfer jurisdiction on matters arising under this law to the Ruler.
Unfortunately, there has been no progress towards a peaceful settlement with the Omani rebels. We lent our good offices earlier in the year to try to bring about an agreement between the rebels and the Sultan, so that the rebels could return to Oman with suitable safeguards for their keeping the peace in accordance with the Sultan's offer of an amnesty. A settlement seemed in sight, then the rebels broke off the talks and insisted, quite unjustifiably, that Oman should be allowed to secede from the Sultanate. We remain ready to help again if the rebels' attitude becomes less rigid. Meanwhile, Oman itself is quiet. The development programme which the Government are supporting is making considerable headway.
There is a little progress to report about the Buraimi dispute. The House will remember that Mr. Hammarskjold's personal representative, Mr. de Ribbing, has been examining the problem of the refugees from Buraimi now in Saudi Arabia. Mr. de Ribbing made a report after visiting the area last autumn, and we have now agreed with the Saudis that he should continue with the next stage of his work in seeing whether it is possible to arrange for these refugees to return to the Oasis.
Another problem which, like Kuwait, flared suddenly into prominence, is that of Bizerta. I have already informed the House of the events which led to fighting between Tunisian and French forces, and our support in the Security Council for the resolution which calls for an immediate cease-fire and a return of all forces to their original positions. I said that I hoped negotiations would follow and lead to a settlement between the two sides. Unfortunately, it has proved impossible, so far, to get talks going in Bizerta, and therefore to implement the resolution of 22nd July. So, when the matter came up again before the Security Council, we supported a further resolution, sponsored by Turkey, which called for the immediate full implementation of the resolution of 22nd July.
Perhaps I could describe our position here. It is clear, but it is also a delicate one. The dispute is between two of our friends. It is between France, a major Power of the West, and Tunisia, a young and vigorous country which has shown its sympathy with the West, and whose President we were happy to welcome very recently. It is thus particularly distressing for us to find this conflict between those two countries. We are doing what we think any friends would do in these circumstances, which is to keep in touch with them, to try to keep the temperature down, and to give any help which we can in these circumstances. But in the main it must be for the two sides to work out a solution by direct negotiation.
The Minister must surely be aware that Tunisia has broken off diplomatic relations with France. In that case it is well-nigh impossible for the two countries to come into contact without some mediation. What pressure has the Minister put on either of them to accept mediation? What protests have the British Government made to France about the treatment of the United Nations Secretary-General when he attempted to mediate on behalf of the United Nations, under the terms of the resolution which the Government supported? Finally, if it is impossible to get the United Nations to mediate, are Her Majesty's Government prepared to act?
We have not put pressure on either Government. The position is as I have described it. We have been in touch with both Governments, and we are ready to help them if the position allows it. We want to see a solution, which can only be brouhgt about by negotiation, after the process which the hon. Member has described.
One thing more: it seems to many of us that neither of these countries can have wanted to bring about this position in the first place. Secondly, it seems inconceivable that under two leaders such as General de Gaulle and President Bourguiba they would allow their whole relationship to be broken up over this incident. That would be a tragedy, and therefore we hope in greatest earnestness that they will be able to reconcile their differences.
Is it the proposal of the Government that direct negotiations should take place on the basis of the French troops remaining in the territory from which the United Nations Security Council has asked them to withdraw? If so, the Tunisians are being asked to negotiate under pressure of military occupation of their territory in defiance of the United Nations resolution. Is not the Minister aware of information from Tunisia to the effect that their whole policy of working with the West has collapsed, because in the view of President Bourguiba and his supporters Britain and the United States are taking sides with France in order to preserve N.A.T.O.?
I am weld aware of these difficulties. Our object is to find means whereby negotiations can be started in order to deal with these difficulties. I do not believe that the hon. Member is right in saying that President Bourguiba believes that the whole of his Western policy has broken down because of the circumstances as stated by the hon. Member. That is far from the truth. We in the West will do our utmost to reconcile these two countries.
I now want to turn to the other problem which has concerned us greatly in recent months, namely, the problem of Laos. When we last discussed it a ceasefire had just been accepted, and the Conference at Geneva was beginning. We can at least be glad that the cease-fire is being generally observed. There have been a few incidents, but there is now little serious fighting and the front has become stabilised. Unfortunately, there has been little progress towards a permanent solution.
There are really three sets of negotiations going on at the same time. First, there is the Conference at Geneva, which has been in session for nearly ten weeks and is only just beginning to consider in detail the proposals put before it. These are concerned with two things: first, the nature of the neutrality for Laos and, secondly, the means of guaranteeing and supervising it. There are major differences between the proposals which have been put forward, and it will take a lot of patient work to reach agreement. We have not put forward any proposals ourselves. The cochairman, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, to whom I should like to pay tribute, has concentrated on finding the best way for the Conference to conduct its business in order to find a procedure on which a discussion of these proposals can take place. He has now been successful in that, and this has enabled the Conference to get under way.
The second lot of talks is between the three Princes, the leaders of the three main Laotian groups. When they met in Zurich they agreed that it was desirable to set up a Government of National Unity, and the object of this would be to pursue a policy of neutrality, economic development, and reconciliation internally. It was then left, on Prince Souvanna Phouma's suggestion, that they should meet again in Phnom Penh. This was agreed to by Prince Boun Oum, but unfortunately it has apparently been turned down by the Pathet Lao leader, Prince Souphanouvong. He wants details of these arrangements to be worked out at the third series of talks which I shall describe in a moment, at Ban Namone, the village between the lines where the cease-fire talks took place. The fact that this conference has not taken place at Phnom Penh has lost much of the momentum which was made at the Zurich talks.
The third series of talks at Ban Namone is where the political and military representatives are trying to get agreement on a permanent cease-fire, but there has been very little progress here. This is mainly because of opposition to the work of the International Control Commission, but proposals have now been tabled and we hope that progress can be made. What I think we must recognise is that there is a fundamental difference between the Communist and non-Communist Powers both in Laos and in Geneva about the future of this unhappy country. Everyone says that he wants to see a neutral Laos, but we want to see some guarantee that this will be carried out.
Laos is weak, and unless its neutrality and independence can be protected in some way it could collapse either through external pressures or through internal subversion. That is why we have asked that the International Control Commission should be given sufficient powers to supervise and control any arrangements that we make for Laos. The Communist countries, on the other hand, attacked this as an interference with the internal affairs and the sovereignty of Laos, but they have put forward no other way of dealing with it.
The next disturbing feature to us is the refusal of the Communist Powers to acknowledge the existence in Laos of a considerable number of North Vietnamese technicians and soldiers who have played a considerable part in the insurgency. We could be reassured if the Communist countries would admit that these men were there and would frankly say that they would be gone when an agreement was reached at the same time as military personnel from the West were withdrawn.
Another problem which faces us is the question of aid to Laos in future. We want Laos to be free to enjoy assistance offered by any country, provided that it is not used by the donor country for political purposes; and it should be given only to the legally constituted government who are recognised by all three sides. It must be given in a way which will enable Laos to preserve its neutrality and independence.
It appears from the Communist proposals that what they want is to make it easy for them to influence Laos, and at the same time make it very difficult for the West to do so. We cannot accept this provision, but we agree that we must persevere with the negotiations to get a reasonable settlement which will guarantee the neutrality and independence of Laos. The one thing which could help this and ensure the success of the negotiations would be if the Laotians themselves could agree on one central Government who could then represent them at the conference at Geneva. We hope that the Princes together will be able to form a Government who are acceptable to the country.
The Government desire to see Laos enjoying an internationally guaranteed neutrality status. Do the Government accept that the maintenance of a protective umbrella over Laos by one of the military blocs—the S.E.A.T.O. bloc—would be incompatible with such neutrality?
That is one of the matters to be discussed at the conference in Geneva.
One matter in which I know the House is interested is Angola. We have received a report from the Consul-General at Luanda describing his recent visit to Northern Angola with the military and air attaches from Lisbon. The military attaché has remained in Northern Angola to carry on his tour.
My noble Friend explained in another place at the time when he announced that the Consul-General was going on this visit that it would not be possible to publish the report of the Consul-General, but perhaps I might give an indication to the House of the contents of the report. I do not want the hon. Gentleman to be uncomfortable. I will give a précis, and at no time quote, any document which has been presented to us.
The Consul-General and members of his party visited a number of places in the area of disturbance, mostly by air because road travel was impossible. They were able to talk to Europeans, Africans, Government officials, members of the forces, and to a number of missionaries. The Portuguese Government co-operated in making facilities available to them.
I explained to the House that we hoped that this would give us a better picture of what had been happening and what is now going on. This it has done, but there has been one major difficulty. The members of the party received a great deal of information, but much of it was second hand and hearsay, and on this they formed the best judgment that they could.
In the debate on 5th July I traced the main outline of events, and the Consul-General's report goes over these and comments on them. He points out that the rebellion and the operations to suppress it have passed through various stages. At the outset there were mass attacks by Africans on European settlers in centres of population. We all know that these were savage in the extreme. Apparently they were planned with the object of killing as many Europeans as possible. It was as a result of this, as I think everyone will agree, intense provocation, that there were then acts of lawless and indiscriminate reprisal by armed Portuguese civilians against Africans, and in many cases these Africans had not been connected with the rebellion in any way. The Consul-General believes that the senior Portuguese authorities did what they could to stop these excesses. As I think I mentioned to the House at the time, they were prevented from taking effective action by the small number of security forces in Angola at the time.
As the Portuguese forces have been built up, a new pattern, so the Consul-General believes, has been emerging. The rebel bands are now much smaller and better organised. They are concentrating on cutting roads and communications. They are attacking, in particular, coffee plantations which are now being harvested.
The Portuguese forces are trying to defeat the rebels mainly by getting control of key points and keeping open the roads in between these areas. Some centres have been reoccupied, but there are still large areas which are not yet under control. The Consul-General reports that he saw many signs of the devastation which was caused by these disturbances. Centres and settlements have been destroyed or abandoned. In many places he saw African villages and European settlements which had been burned to the ground. Some of this was caused by military operations, and some by the rebels themselves. There has been severe fighting and harsh methods were used. The Consul-General's view is that the majority of the refugees fled to avoid becoming involved in any way in the operation. If they had stayed, they would have been faced with the choice either of joining the rebels or risking rebel reprisals if they remained loyal to the Portuguese.
All this is not to say that there was no basis of grievance behind the revolt, as I told the House in the last debate. We differ from Portuguese policy in this matter, as the House well knows, and my noble Friend discussed it when he visited Lisbon.
As for the question of the methods used and the allegations which have been made about harsh treatment, I have already pointed out the difficulties in which the Consul-General and his colleagues found themselves in trying to evaluate any particular piece of hearsay evidence. He has little doubt that there have been cases of arbitrary and repressive conduct by civilians and by some members of the police, but he has reported very favourably on the sense of duty amongst senior officials and military commanders whom he met on these visits.
He found that they were attaching great importance to the task of rebuilding racial harmony, of restoring confidence, and of trying to meet the needs of the Africans. Both the civilian and military authorities were trying to create conditions in which the Africans could safely return to their villages, and they were trying to persuade them to do so.
In particular the Consul-General flatly denies the other allegations which have been made, namely, that the Portuguese forces are following a deliberate policy of burning out the Africans. He deliberately denies that they are following a policy of extermination. I brought that denial from the Portuguese Foreign Minister to the notice of the House during our last debate, and the Consul-General has emphasised it.
I have tried to give the House as clear and dispassionate a picture of the situation seen in the Consul-General's report—
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the question of the Consul-General's report, may I ask one or two questions about it? First, was the British delegation, or mission, able to talk to Africans with its own interpreters, and without the presence of Portuguese Government officials? Secondly, was it able to take evidence from the few remaining Baptists and other Protestant missionaries in Angola? Thirdly, what information did the mission collect on the instructions, which the right hon. Gentleman told us in our last debate that he had given, regarding the use by Portuguese forces of British-made arms in Angola? Finally, what evidence did the mission find of the use of forced labour on a large scale by the Portuguese authorities?
I understand that they did. The report, which we have only just received from the Consul-General, says that they were able to talk to Africans and missionaries in perfect freedom. I do not believe for a moment that the report which the Consul-General has given us has been in any way influenced by the Portuguese, by their watching while these discussions were being carried out.
Regarding military equipment, as I said, the military attaché is still in Northern Angola and I cannot say anything about that until I get a further report from him.
I can do that only if the military attaché has reported and we have received his report. There is considerable difficulty about receiving reports from Luanda on account of the distance and air communications. But we shall do our best to inform the House of any material in this respect.
The report which I have given does not justify optimism that peace is likely to be restored quickly in this area. I can only repeat that our view is that we do not think that a military solution will be enough. The best hope, as I have already said, lies in a policy of economic, social and political reform which could produce a rallying point for moderate opinion in Angola. For this reason we hope that the Portuguese Government will soon be able to amplify the statement which Dr. Salazar made to the Assembly on 30th June, in which he mentioned far-reaching administrative reforms and changes in the status of the Africans. We believe that this could make a profound difference to the course of events in Angola.
Before I leave Africa perhaps I may be permitted to say a word about the Congo. We have had little discussion about it or Questions upon the subject in this House in the last few weeks. We have always emphasised that our view is that Parliament should be recalled there as soon as practicable. We are glad that Parliament has been meeting in recent days at Lovanium University and we are glad that Mr. Tshombe is reported today to be meeting President Kasavubu. I greatly hope that this may lead to co-operation between the Katanga and the central Government and that by this means we can ensure the development of a unified Congo within its present boundaries. Again, that has been the object of our policy since the disturbance in the Congo just over a year ago.
I believe that now their number is very small. We have done our utmost, through our own sources in the Congo and by the measures which I have announced to the House about the invalidation of passports, to ensure that British citizens do not remain with the mercenary forces. I believe that they are reduced to a small number.
I understand that M. Spaak, the Foreign Minister, has been co-operating fully with the United Nations in this matter and that a great deal has been done.
I will now turn to what the House may regard as the major problem facing us today prior to the recess of Parliament, that is the crisis aver Berlin. This has arisen in its present acute form since our last debate. I think it necessary again to say that it is a crisis which has been created by the Soviet Union. West Berlin is a free city. Its people are free and its institutions have been freely chosen by them. There has been peace and quiet there for the last twelve years and so from that point of view there is no problem. But even though we see no problem, it is of course perfectly legitimate for the fourth Power involved, the Soviet Union, to raise these matters with us if it wishes to do so.
There have been negotiations about Germany and about Berlin in the past and there could be negotiations again in the future. The three Western Powers have made this perfectly plain and Dr. Adenauer has only recently expressed his agreement with it. What is not legitimate, I suggest to the House, is for Mr. Khrushchev to put forward proposals and then to say that if he does not get what he wants, he will sign a separate peace treaty which will unilaterally bring to an end the rights of the other Powers in Berlin. That is not legitimate and that we cannot, and will not, accept.
These rights in Berlin are a part—only a part, but an essential part—of the rights which we assumed in Germany as a whole at the end of the war. They are sovereign and absolute rights resulting from the German surrender, and not granted by the Soviet Union. Since then we have done nothing to erase or to erode those rights. Nothing that the Soviet Union has done or may do can destroy them either. We and our Allies retain, with the Soviet Union, the right and the responsibility to conclude a peace treaty with Germany as a whole.
It is perfectly true that we cannot prevent the signature of a separate peace treaty with East Germany. But on the other hand neither can our rights in Berlin be affected by the signature of a peace treaty of that kind which has been made unilaterally.
Would the Lord Privy Seal explain why it is not within the competence of one of the war-time allies to make a treaty with a State set up in one part of Germany if the other allies have already made a series of treaties in the other part? Why is one action more wrong than the other?
What I said was that it cannot unilaterally affect our rights, and that remains the position.
Our rights in Berlin, including the rights of access, are the means by which we carry out our commitments to guarantee the freedom of the West Berliners. The West Berliners want us to stay. Every election has shown that clearly, and so it cannot be said that our rights there are outmoded. They have been recognised also by the Soviet Union in agreement that brought the blockade to an end in 1949. That is the position about our rights; and if there are to be negotiations, what is the position then? I suggest to the House that there are two essentials which must be secured in the case of West Berlin.
The first is that the right of the West Berliners to preserve their free way of life must be acknowledged. Secondly, the right of the Allies to be present in the city and to have free access to it so that we can guarantee the freedom of the West Berliners is also essential.
What are at stake here are the security and freedom of the people of West Berlin, and they are the reasons why we intend to remain there. The underlying issues are wider still, and this is the other aspect of this whole matter which I should like to put before the House.
If as Mr. Khrushchev says he wants negotiations, then those two points which I have put before the House Show what is essential to be maintained in any negotiations which might take place. But if adopts the attitude, which I have already described, that we should accept proposals which he has put forward, or, alternatively, that he will sign a peace treaty which will take away our rights, then we have to look at another aspect, which is the underlying attitude, and here, I would suggest, the resolution of the whole free world is being tested.
It is a crisis in this way. It is a test of will between the Communist world and the Western world in which we are not the challengers but the defenders. Mr. Khrushchev, if he takes the attitude which I have described, is the challenger and we must stand up for ourselves.
Let us look at the question from the point of view of motives. Why is it that Mr. Khrushchev wants to put the pressure on Berlin? Is it perhaps because West Berlin is a shop window of the West in the middle of the arid Eastern zone or is it because of the devitalising outflow of refugees to which attention has been drawn this weekend —though, of course, it is perfectly true that Mr. Khrushchev's attitude in creating this crisis has had the effect of making the outflow of refugees very much greater—or is his purpose to bolster up Ulbricht and the East German Government or to satisfy the Party congress at Moscow in October?
Whatever truth there may be in any of these suggestions as an analysis of the motive, there are, I think, two other major ones. First, Mr. Khrushchev believes that the West is unusually exposed in Berlin, and, secondly, he is trying to impose his will on the West just as he has tried to do in South-East Asia, in Africa, in South America and also at the United Nations. So this is not a new crisis.
If the hon. Member will study conditions in South America he will see that there have been attempts to use Communist influence in those States.
This is no crisis about rationalising the status of Berlin or tidying up a few ends left loose after the war. The purpose of this is to consolidate post-war encroachment by the Soviet in Eastern Europe and to try to undermine the Western position in its most crucial point, which is the heart of Europe. Therefore, it behoves us to look at this, not only from the point of view of the immediate problem of conditions in Berlin itself, and West Berlin in particular, but from the point of view of the underlying attitude of the wider field.
We and our allies are not insisting that a change in the status of Berlin should not be forced upon us unilaterally merely because it is suggested that that would be a blow to our prestige or a blow in the cold war and a victory to the Soviet. We are not doing it merely because to do so would be to acquiesce in the betrayal of the people of West Berlin nor because it would mean agreeing to a permanent division of Germany in its present form. We are doing it because Mr. Khrushchev is demanding that we should concede his right to have his own way in Europe regardless of our interests and rights and our responsibilities. If we were to concede this, what conclusions would he draw about our will to maintain our position in other parts of the world and what conclusion would other people in other parts of the world draw from that?
I can sum up in this way. We are prepared, as we have always been, to talk about these problems. At the same time, we must be prepared to deal with any situation which may arise. There cannot be successful negotiations if the other side is convinced that it has a preponderance of physical power and will-power. Her Majesty's Government welcomed the measures announced by the President of the United States for building up the strength of the alliance. We must ensure that there is no doubt about the strength and resolution of the West. There is no question of taking panic measures or of threatening war.
It is a question of ensuring that we can talk as equal to equal. That was the basis of President Kennedy's statement and the moderate language in which he couched it. The West would, in fact, be failing in its duty if it did not take precautionary measures, but they should be unprovocative and designed to convince Mr. Khrushchev that it is too dangerous for him to put his threats into effect. Unilateral action cannot lead to conditions in which a just and peaceful settlement can be reached. As I have already said, we are prepared to go into negotiations and to discuss these problems.
Numerous suggestions have been put forward as to the matters which should be discussed, and various solutions have been proposed. We have, of course, seen and considered all of these. My noble Friend the Foreign Secretary is going to Paris at the end of this week and will be discussing there every aspect of the matter.
Are we not to knew the attitude of Her Majesty's Government on those points? Surely it is their responsibility at this very important stage of developments in Berlin to put quite clearly before the House the alternative to the Soviets making a peace treaty with East Germany. It is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that his noble Friend is going to discuss the matter. I shall not be there, and I want to be told in this House the right hon. Gentleman's point of view.
We are not dealing with these matters alone. We deal with them with our allies. It is only right that we should discuss them with our allies, as my noble Friend is going to do. We shall co-ordinate our policy with them. Therefore, the House will not expect me to say anything in advance about these discussions or about the form or timing of any contact with the Soviet Union which might be made. Of course, we shall listen to the views which the House has to put forward. That is the purpose of a debate of this kind, but it is not the purpose, before we go into negotiations, if there be negotiations, for Her Majesty's Government to put forward views on a whole variety of matters which may be raised either here or elsewhere.
I suggest to the House that in the meantime we have a threefold purpose: first of all, to do our best to ensure that our people fully understand the issues involved; secondly, to make it plain that we are prepared to talk and negotiate about these problems, and, thirdly, to be strong enough to deter unilateral action and to defend our rights in Berlin and all that depends on them.
As the hon. Member knows, that is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, but we are perfectly prepared to discuss with our allies in N.A.T.O., following what the President of the United States has said, what steps are necessary and can be taken by the Government.
I am rather tempted to follow the precedent set by the Lord Privy Seal in our last general debate on foreign affairs by spending a good deal of time now on the Common Market, but as we have two days to debate that question later on this week I think it is quite a good thing to take the opportunity of this debate to discuss other issues, not only because there are many urgent and critical issues which are overdue for discussion in this House, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, but also because it gives us a chance to define the context of global policy within which Britain's European policy must fit.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, barely two months have passed since our last foreign affairs debate, and we must face the fact that there has been a steady deterioration in the world situation in those seven weeks. I think there is no doubt, too, that the major responsibility for the deterioration in world affairs over the last two months is that of the Soviet Government. What the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State once referred to as the "duality of Soviet policy" has been even more marked in the last few weeks than previously. On the one hand, we hear Mr. Khrushchev asking for discussions, for a peaceful settlement of disputes and for negotiations on disarmament, and, simultaneously, we get an all-out propaganda attack on the West and on the neutral countries all over the world, the deliberate heightening of international tension, particularly in Europe on the Berlin issue, and the gratuitous creation of crises.
Mr. Khrushchev warned us last January that he intended to make us jump about like fish in a frying pan. I only wish that he could get it is into his head that one cannot negotiate disarmament or anything else with fish in a frying pan, particular when one is holding them over the fire oneself. I must confess that until the Soviet leaders recognise that there is a fundamental contradiction in their whole approach to peaceful co-existence, the chances of making rapid progress on the big issues which divide us will remain very small.
Most depressing of all, in my opinion, is the current deadlock on disarmament and the breakdown of the talks for a test ban which all of us in this House, on both sides and without distinction of party or even of tendency, have always regarded as by far the most hopeful candidate for agreement between East and West and as by far the best possible first step towards general disarma- ment. What we have seen, instead of disarmament, in the last two months is a new major momentum given to the arms race. I cannot help feeling that Mr. Khrushchev has been trying to provoke the United States into resuming atomic tests in the hope that it would somehow divert the odium of a test resumption from the Soviet Union, and, perhaps, from China, which seem to be very keen to resume tests at the present time. I hope, on behalf of the whole House, that Mr. Kennedy will resist the temptation to resume tests and will stick to the determination which he has shown with us so far to try to force the Soviet Union by the weight of world opinion into finally concluding an agreement for the permanent inspected ban of atomic tests.
Simultaneously, we have seen the Soviet Government flaunting a Whole range of new atomic weapons—rockets and aeroplanes—and a tremendous increase in the Soviet military budget, which has gone up by one-third as a result of Mr. Khrushchev's decision a few weeks ago and the end of the Soviet programme of reduction in its conventional forces.
I cannot blame the United States in this situation for following suit, and I think we must admit that the overwhelming responsibility for this new momentum in the arms race lies unequivocally at the door of the Soviet Government.
Even more depressing in the long run is the new major threat to the survival and the development of the United Nations. We have said before in this House, from both sides, that we regard the Soviet proposal of a "troika" to replace the Secretary-General as a dangerous and perhaps a fatal blow to the whole concept of the United Nations as we, at any rate on this side of the House, cherish it as the foundation of future world Government. But here we must note with sorrow the fact that the United Nations has been defied, not only by the Soviet Union, but by several Western Governments, too; by Portugal over Angola, by South Africa over South-West Africa, and latterly and most deplorably of all by France over Tunisia.
All these violations of obligations to the United Nations Charter by our friends or allies have passed without protest from the British Government. We should like to know in this debate why the British Government have been so silent on these issues. Many of us believe that it is partly for this reason that the uncommitted countries have been losing confidence in the West. I think we should be failing in our duty if we did not point to the very dangerous developments which have been taking place in Latin America where, mainly as a result of the American Government's policy in Cuba, Mr. Stevenson's good will mission suffered a resounding rebuff in nearly all the countries he visited.
Worst of all, in Africa, we have seen West Africa, including Nigeria, polarising against the West as a whole because of the failure of the West to make any effective protest against Portuguese policy in Angola. We see a grave danger at the present time of North Africa polarising against the West because of the failure of the Western Powers to make any effective protest against French policy in Tunisia and in Algeria. Even in Central and East Africa, though I know that this is not the subject of this debate, we have seen even moderate leaders of African nationalism turning against the United Kingdom—Nyerere in Tanganyika, because of his disgust at the treatment he has had in the economic field in the last two weeks, Mr. Kaunda and others elsewhere in Kenya and in the Rhodesias.
All this presents us in Britain and the West as a whole with a challenge of great gravity, which was hardly recognised, it seems to me, by the rather complacent speech of the Lord Privy Seal, and one of daunting complexity, and I believe that we can only hope to meet the very great challenge facing us at present if we have a strong sense of direction and establish the very clear priorities in international affairs.
Our main complaint against the Government is that it is quite clear that they have no clear sense of priorities whatever. It was almost impossible to see any general coherence in the introductory speech of the Lord Privy Seal. It was a mere collection of briefs read out on one subject after another with no real connecting link. Drift and dither is our complaint against the Government's policy, because we have a feeling that they are improvising all the time and have been at the mercy of the strongest pressures brought against them at any moment.
I agree with some things which the Lord Privy Seal said. I agree, however reluctantly, that whether we like it or not we must accept the fact that Mr. Khrushchev intends to continue the cold war. We must also accept the even graver fact that Mr. Khrushchev may miscalculate his actions in the cold war and run a direct risk of a hot war. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal that one of the most important tasks facing us in the West at present is to make certain that Mr. Khrushchev is not permitted to miscalculate in this way.
We must maintain sufficient unity and strength to convince him that continuing the cold war in this way will not pay, that we will not be bullied or brow-beaten into abandoning our friends. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal entirely that one of our tasks must be to convince the Russians of this, but I saw all too little sign in his speech that he recognises that it is absolutely essential that we in the West must find ways of convincing Mr. Khrushchev of our steadfastness under threat which did not lose us the understanding and sympathy of the uncommitted world.
There is a grave danger that by battening down the hatches to ride out the storm, as the Western world appears to be doing; we cut ourselves off from our most potent source of aid and comfort at present in the United Nations and in the uncommitted world as a whole. Our only hope in the long run is to mobilise the whole of the non-Communist world behind the United Nations, behind general disarmament, so that the Communist world has no alternative whatever but co-operation in a common cause. This must be the end of our foreign policy as a whole.
I agree that it is very desirable, for political as well as economic reasons, that we in Britain should strengthen our ties with Western Europe, but I would add the all-important condition that we must judge the form and the contents of any new relationship proposed with Western Europe by whether or not it contributes to the achieving of our wider end, which is to strengthen the United Nations as the framework of an international order, to achieve general disarmament and an end to the cold war.
I want to apply these double criteria to the major problem now confronting us all, the problem of Berlin. I wholly agree with the Lord Privy Seal that the Berlin crisis has been artificially manufactured by Mr. Khrushchev, that it is impossible to justify his statement that he intends unilaterally to extinguish Western rights in Berlin and the Western right of access in Berlin.
Incidentally, I say to those of my hon. Friends who have always urged us to trust the Russians and not to insist on agreements being too carefully drafted, that the way the Soviet Union has been behaving over the Berlin situation is the strongest possible warning against giving that type of trust, because here the Soviet Union has made an agreement, a formal agreement, with the Western world and suddenly says that it regards the agreement as out-of-date and that it intends unilaterally to abolish it. Because the Western world has no physical means of enforcing the agreement, it is faced with some very difficult and dangerous problems. There could be no better evidence for the justice of Western insistence that disarmament agreements should be subject to physical verification and control if they are to be worth anything at all.
I believe—I think the overwhelming majority in this House believe—that we in the West have a fundamental duty to maintain the safety and security of 2½ million in West Berlin, because if we betray Berlin no one will feel safe. Therefore, we have not only the right but the duty to convince Mr. Khrushchev in advance that we are ready to fight if challenged by force. West Berlin may be, as Mr. Khrushchev once said, a bone in his throat as Cuba is a bone in the throat of President Kennedy, but I believe that if Mr. Krushchev were prepared to plunge mankind into war over Berlin he would do so over anything. For this reason, I think we are right to warn Mr. Khrushchev that we are prepared to meet force with force over Berlin—
—but it is most important also to make clear that we are not going to initiate force ourselves. What I think is the biggest danger of which public opinion all over the world has been becoming appallingly conscious in the last few weeks is that both Russia and the West seem so determined to convince the other of its readiness to fight in case of need that they seem to be fixed on a sort of collision course. Neither is prepared to make the first move to avoid that collision, yet unless someone makes a move they may find themselves plunged into an absolutely unnecessary war.
I think there is very little danger that the Soviet Union will directly present the West with a military challenge over Berlin, but I insist that one of the reasons for this is the West's declared and demonstrated readiness to meet a military challenge with military resistance. I think it pretty clear that what Mr. Khrushchev is likely to do is simply to sign a peace treaty with the D.D.R. and transfer all the control of military traffic to Berlin to officials of the East German Government. I do not believe there is the slightest point in the West pretending it is prepared to fight a thermo nuclear war over that. There is a very great danger indeed in the West couching its declaration of its readiness to fight in case of need so that it appears to cover such a situation, because this indeed creates a danger where no danger need exist.
I agree entirely with the Lord Privy Seal that Mr. Khrushchev has no legal right to transfer control of military traffic to the D.D.R. after signing a peace treaty, but that is not the point. The destruction of mankind cannot lie an whether or not Governments have legal rights to do this or that in themselves. I think Mr. Dulles was right when he said, when he was still Secretary of State in the United States, that if the Soviet Union did in fact transfer control of the means of access to the German Democratic Republic, then the West should treat the representatives of the German Democratic Republic as agents for the Soviet Union.
I see no reason why we should not do that. After all, the whole of West German civilian traffic has always been controlled by representatives of the D.D.R. But, of course, there is grave danger that if we leave it at that it is the thin end of the wedge. We start by accepting the stamping of our passes by D.D.R. officials and then, maybe six months or maybe two years later, the D.D.R. insists that it wants to discuss some new arrangements. Then we get pushed irrevocably a step at a time into closer and more intimate contact with the East German régime without ever having any legal basis on which to deal with it.
The real danger of war over the Berlin crisis arises for a reason which I think has not been sufficiently recognised until now on either side of the Iron Curtain. If the future freedom of West Berlin were not guaranteed before Russia signs the peace treaty with the D.D.R. the transfer of power to Herr Ulbricht would in itself increase the danger of war for Europe. As we know, Herr Ulbricht's approach to international problems is far more rigid—if hon. Members like, more Stalinist—than that of Mr. Khrushchev. He has already made specific threats of action against the West over Berlin which go far beyond anything which has been said by Mr. Khrushchev.
Even more dangerous, Mr. Ulbricht is a frightened man. Whatever we think about Mr. Khrushchev, he is not frightened. Mr. Ulbricht is frightened for a very good reason, because he is not in control of his own country. It has become very clear in the past few weeks, since Russia launched this new Berlin crisis, that the people living in Eastern Germany under Mr. Ulbricht fear that once power is transferred from Russia to the D.D.R. the curtain will go down for ever on Eastern Europe. There is a grave danger that once power is transferred the people of Eastern Germany will try to force their way out of the trap and we shall see a repetition in 1962 of what we saw in 1953—largescale riots, perhaps risings, perhaps revolutions, all through the East German State.
We have already had more than 2½ million refugees from Eastern Germany into the West. They are running at a rate which is rising rapidly and is well over 1,000 a day. The reality of Com- munism in the German Democratic Republic forms an ironic contrast with the Utopia of Communism published in the Soviet Communist Party Programme this week-end.
For this reason, the signing of a separate peace with the East German Government would gravely increase the danger of conflict in Eastern Europe unless access to and from West Berlin were guaranteed in advance. I believe that there is a stronger case for negotiating about this with the Soviet Union before it makes a peace treaty than with the East German Government afterwards, above all because Mr. Khrushchev is master in his own house—he is conscious of the global international implications of what he does to an extent that nobody can feel confident is shared by Mr. Ulbricht—but, even more important, because Mr. Khrushchev has admitted in public that the Soviet Union remains bound by its 1945 agreements with the West on West Berlin and on access to Berlin until the peace treaty is signed.
If we negotiate with them before the peace treaty is signed we are in a very strong juridical position. If we negotiate with Mr. Ulbricht afterwards we have almost no juridical position at all. I agree that it may be wise, for obvious reasons, not to open formal negotiations until after the elections in Western Germany, but in that case we must use the intervening weeks to get allied unity on the basis of negotiation.
I was heartily disappointed, as I think were all hon. Members, by the failure of the Lord Privy Seal to give any hint about what he thought negotiations could or should be about. I know that there is a feeling in some Western circles that if the West takes the initiative in opening negotiations with the Russians on Berlin in some way or other it is giving in to Soviet pressure or weakening its position. I believe that this is utter nonsense. On the contrary, I believe that the side which first opens serious negotiations for a solution of this problem in Berlin will receive overwhelming international support from the very fact that it has taken the initiative to try to break the deadlock. I believe that nothing is more dangerous than this complacent drift of the Western Governments at present on a collision course towards the Soviet Union, which equally is drifting complacently in the direction towards collision.
I should like to say a word or two about negotiations with the Russians on Berlin. Let me say from the outset that there is an infinite number of conceivable positions which we could take, depending on whether we are trying to get a basic change in the status quo in Central Europe as much as reunification of Germany, or whether essentially we are trying to reduce the dangers to peace in the existing status quo.
We on this side of the House believe that the only final and clear answer to the Berlin problem is the reunification of Germany. Berlin is bound to remain a problem as long as it is an island in a Germany divided against her will. But we also believe that the only possible basis on which we could negotiate German reunification would be an entirely new security system in the whole of Central Europe which depended on co-operation between East and West rather than conflict.
I must confess with deep sorrow that I think that there is little chance at present of Mr. Khrushchev discussing any European solution which is based on German reunification. He told my right hon. Friend and myself and Mr. Aneurin Bevan this when we saw him in the Kremlin eighteen months ago; he has repeated it many times to other visitors; and he has said it in public. We must accept that there are also very strong obstacles in the West, above all in Western Germany, to a solution along these lines. It looks as though we have to accept, at any rate for the immediate future, a divided Germany.
What about Berlin? I would say that there must be no basic change in the status of West Berlin without a corresponding change in the status of East Berlin. Of course, if the Russians would concede this, all sorts of interesting possibilities might arise. General Clay suggested some years ago—and this has been taken up by the leader of the Liberal Party, and it is a good idea—that a united Berlin should become the capital of the United Nations and that the United Nations Assembly should meet there every year. Similar proposals were made in the United States by Senator Mansfield. It seems to me that these proposals are well worth consideration, but I must confess that if we look at Soviet behaviour and the speeches of Communist politicians it seems that there is almost no chance of the Russians agreeing to give up Eastern Berlin in its present position as capital of the German Democratic Republic.
If the Russians are not prepared to negotiate about the status of East Berlin, then I think we have to accept the fact that the status of West Berlin must remain as it now is. West Berlin must retain its existing links with the Western world and with Western Germany, and it must rely on the West for its security just as East Berlin relies on the Soviet Union and the forces of the Warsaw Pact for its security.
In that event, we are forced back to the position which we were in when we last negotiated on this issue with the Russians in 1959—the possibility of some sort of what was then called an interim solution for West Berlin pending a settlement of the German problem as a whole. I wish that the Lord Privy Seal had at least told us a little more about this. The British Government took a leading part in the negotiations of 1959, and a great deal of progress was made in the negotiations on the shape of an interim solution for West Berlin. Do the British Government still believe it possible to take up where we left off in 1959? I know that last year President Eisenhower said not, but fortunately he is no longer with us, at least in the diplomatic field. I understood that when Mr. Kennedy in his broadcast and his note to the Soviet Union talked about his readiness to remove irritants in West Berlin he must have been thinking about some interim solution along the lines which were discussed in 1959. I hope that in his reply the Minister of State will tell us something about that.
It seems to me that the basic aim of the Western negotiations for an interim solution must be—and this must be a condition of any agreement—to get solid guarantees of communications between West Berlin and Western Germany which would be written into any possible peace treaty between Russia and the D.D.R. This must be our basic aim in negotiation—to make certain that the curtain does not come down over Berlin as so many thousands of people in East Germany fear and to make certain that the West Berliners can continue to live, as they have lived for fifteen years, in peace and freedom.
But we also have to consider, if we are asking the Russians to make concessions along these lines, what concessions we can make. Beyond the removal of the minor irritants referred to by President Kennedy, there are two major concessions which we should consider. The first—and I believe this long overdue in any case—is finally to settle the Eastern frontier of Germany by accepting the Oder-Neisse Line as a fact. We should not deny the possibility, which even the Polish Government have accepted, of minor modifications in the line here and there. But I believe that major fears in Poland and in the Soviet Union could be laid at rest if the West German Government and their allies declare themselves ready to accept the existing frontier between Poland and Germany as final.
One of the most fruitful vistas opened by the present state of the Berlin crisis is the chance at last of seriously officially exploring in formal negotiations the possibility referred to by the Prime Minister in his communiqué with Mr. Khrushchev two years ago of establishing the control of arms and forces in an agreed area of Central Europe. Whenever we have discussed this in the past—I have raised it in the House repeatedly—the Prime Minister has said, "We put it into the 1959 package deal, but it depends on German reunification and hundreds of other things as well". We have got beyond that now. I was immensely heartened to see that in his last speech Mr. Khrushchev laid great emphasis on the Rapacki Plan, on which he has been strangely silent for the last two years. More encouraging still were Mr. Kennedy's words in his television broadcast to the American people last Tuesday. I want to quote them, because they must be taken seriously. Taken seriously, they demonstrate a major shift in the American attitude to the Soviet Union and the European problem.
This is what President Kennedy said:
We recognise the Soviet Union's historical concern about their security in Central and Eastern Europe, after a series of ravaging invasions …
Both sides of the House have often recognised them in these debates. President Kennedy went on to say:
and we believe arrangements can be worked out which will help to meet those concerns, and make it possible for both security and freedom to exist in this troubled area.
I suspect that this has long been the view of Her Majesty's Government, but for various reasons—some good, some bad—they have been afraid to say so. I believe that the British Government have a wonderful opportunity here to take the initiative and put forward concrete proposals for arms control in Central Europe between N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact Powers so that for the first time in the history of the cold war, almost in the history of the world, two opposing groups of Powers can try to secure their security by co-operation rather than by conflict. Much has been said for such initiative by the formal public statements of the Soviet and American leaders. I beg the British Government to say something and take some public initiative on this issue in the next few weeks.
I believe that we are going to move into negotiations with the Soviet Union. I only hope that they will be along the lines I have suggested. Looking at the Soviet record over the last few months, I believe that if negotiations about Berlin are to succeed the Soviet Government must be under continuous and heavy pressure from world opinion to reach agreement. The West has been far too slow to recognise the advantages of mobilising world opinion behind a negotiation to guarantee the freedom and security of West Berlin. We are wasting, for example, the years of travel by Lord Mayor Willy Brandt, which have produced an extraordinarily widespread understanding of the Berlin problem in countries as far apart geographically and politically as the United States and Indonesia. While recognising the needs for military preparations, by over-emphasis of these we have greatly obscured the strength of our political ease and we must correct that balance now.
Why not, for example, as Lord Mayor Brandt suggested, propose that a 52-nation peace conference should meet to make a peace treaty for the whole of Germany? I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not reject this proposal just because it might embarrass Chancellor Adenauer in his election campaign. As the Guardian rightly said, there is no reason whatever why Chancellor Adenauer should have got himself into the hole of rejecting it when it was made. Again, why not refer the threat to Berlin to the United Nations as a threat to peace? It certainly is the most serious threat to peace that we have had since the Second World War.
The Western position on the Berlin issue is morally and politically unassailable. After all, this is underlined by over 1,000 refugees a day. We have everything to gain by involving others, particularly the uncommitted countries, in this situation, because by so doing we can maximise pressure on Mr. Krushchev to be reasonable. But—perhaps this explains the British Government's reluctance on this issue—if we want to invoke world opinion and United Nations support for a solution of the Berlin problem, particularly if we are thinking perhaps of involving the United Nations directly and physically in Berlin, as some wish, our own support for the United Nations must be much more wholehearted than it has been in recent months. We must show the same understanding of the aspirations of the uncommitted countries as we ask them to show us.
It was here that I found a great gap in the Lord Privy Seal's speech. He made separate little speechlets on Laos, Angola, Bizerta and Berlin, with a passing reference to disarmament. He did not seem to realise how much all these issues are inter-related at present and how far a solution of the Berlin question will depend on maintaining the confidence and understanding of the uncommitted peoples over issues such as Angola and Bizerta.
The record of the United Kingdom in the United Nations has been extremely disappointing. Take the question of personalities and representation. The United States has now appointed a leading member of its Cabinet as its permanent delegate at the United Nations. There is no doubt that Mr. Stevenson has done an enormous amount of good for his own country and for the West as a whole by his activity at the United Nations in New York. Why do not the British Government think of sending someone of equal status?
For example, why do they not appoint Lord Amory, who is going to Canada as High Commissioner, to represent Britain at the United Nations at the same time? Why is the Prime Minister so coy about saying whether he will attend the next meeting of the United Nations Assembly? A year or two ago all of us agreed that it would be a good thing for Prime Ministers to be present at the opening of every session of the Assembly, not only to raise the prestige of the Assembly in the world as a whole, but also to provide an opportunity for Summit meetings without all the paraphernalia of prestige, and so on, which will attend them if they are called ad hoc.
But policy is far more important than people. Here again, Her Majesty's Government's record in the United Nations has been profoundly disappointing. I ask the Minister of State when replying to say something about Her Majesty's Government's policy on the admission of Peking to the United Nations at the next session. It is now almost certain that there will be a majority at the next Session, at least for discussing this issue. Will Britain be in that majority, or will it be dragged along by the rest of the world because it has not got the courage of its own convictions? What steps are Her Majesty's Government taking to reach agreement with their allies on the conditions and modalities of Peking's entry, because there is the grave danger that unless arrangements are made well in advance of a vote in the Assembly the West will find itself confronted with an Assembly decision on this issue which would be profoundly unsatisfactory not only to the American Government but perhaps even to the British Government and other members of the Commonwealth? I ask the Minister of State to give us same information on this issue on which the Government have been for so long and so inexcusably silent.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) will speak on disarmament at greater length later. Why have we not put the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' proposals for disarmament formally to the world through the United Nations? We have the tremendous advantage that these proposals are supported not only by the Western Powers but also by leading members of the uncommitted world like India. Why do we not accept the Soviet proposal that five neutral countries should be represented on a new disarmament commission? If there is no progress—and the outlook at the moment does not seem to be bright in the bilateral talks between Mr. McCloy and the Soviet representative—why do we not this August ask the United Nations Commission on Disarmament to meet again and perhaps appoint a new committee?
The real trouble, and this goes to the root of a lot that I have had to say, is that again and again we are allowing a misplaced loyalty to our allies to override our duty to the United Nations under the Charter, and often on issues on which our allies have not even consulted us in advance of acting.
I must say that the Lord Privy Seal's remarks on Angola were extremely disappointing to all of us. Britain is still sending arms to Salazar, and although we have had two military attachés in Angola for two months now, the right hon. Gentleman still has not the slightest idea whether or not the arms being used by the Portuguese forces are British. That is really not good enough. These military attachés will know at a glance whether the Portuguese troops—they are moving among them every day—have British field artillery, British rifles and British ammunition.
According to the Lord Privy Seal, they were instructed to find this out. Why have they not found it out, and why has not the right hon. Gentleman told us? I warn him that we shall insist on getting some information on this matter before the House rises at the end of the week. I do not know quite what the Lord Privy Seal is sniggering at—
I was not sniggering in the least. As I explained to the hon. Gentleman, the military attachés have, in fact, been there for just over three weeks. We have not yet a full report from them, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that when we do have a report from them we will make it available. There is really no need for the hon. Gentleman to get so angry.
There is reason for us to get angry about this. For three months we have repeatedly asked the Govern- ment for assurances on this matter, and we have been fobbed off with evasions. There is no further excuse for evasions, particularly as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well that if we do not get the information we want by the end of the week we may have to wait another three months for it.
I must say a word or two about the other tremendous problem that is beginning to affect our position on all the other issues—Bizerta. I am using my words as carefully, as I can, but it seems to me that the behaviour over the last ten days of the French Government, not only towards Bizerta but towards the United Nations, has been unforgiveable. It may well be that President Bourguiba's action when he denounced the agreement and threatened the base was over hasty and insufficiently thought out, but, after all, President de Gaulle recognised Tunisian sovereignty over the base in 1958 and offered to negotiate about its future.
I believe that the long delay in negotiations on this issue between France and Tunisia is impossible to excuse. It is impossible to excuse it politically, never mind morally, because President de Gaulle knows what tremendous personal and political risks President Bourguiba has been taking in order to try to maintain friendly relations between Tunisia and France.
I believe, too, that both the scale and the ruthlessness of the French military action were quite inexcusable. The figures speak for themselves: 2,000 casualties on the Tunisian side, as against 125 on the French side; 700 men, women and little children killed on the Tunisian side, as against 25 deaths on the French side; indiscriminate bombing and atrocities, to which the photographs published in the Sunday newspapers bear living witness. And then President de Gaulle congratulates Admiral Amman on the coolness and efficiency with which he carried out his operation.
Finally, we get the British Government, together with the rest of the Security Council, ordering a cease-fire and withdrawal to original positions—and France is still refusing to withdraw. Then France insults Mr. Hammarskjeöld personally and declares she intends to take not the slightest notice of anything that the United Nations may say or do in the matter. Why have Her Majesty's Government been so silent on this question for so long? Why are we skulking in the wings and doing and saying nothing? Is this the moral leadership for which the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have been calling?
It is perfectly true, of course, that both Tunisia and France are our friends, that we would like them to remain our friends and that we want to keep the temperature down, but if our first friend behaves atrociously and the second friend behaves well, do not the Government realise that they will lose the friendship of the second State unless they show some discrimination between good behaviour and bad behaviour?
I do not think that either the British Government or the West as a whole can avoid responsibility for what is happening in Bizerta, and, in fact, they are nit avoiding responsibility. The French have said many times that they are in Bizerta because the base is necessary to the West as a whole, but does anyone believe that in this day and age a small base in hostile territory is worth the effort that is put into it? In any case I understand that President de Gaulle has said that he intended to take the French Mediterranean Fleet out of N.A.T.O. the moment hostilities commenced.
I believe that as long as the French Government go on directly involving N.A.T.O. in their policy over Bizerta the N.A.T.O. Council must take cognisance of it, and I further believe that the British Government should raise the subject at the next meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council. We cannot, for our own sake and that of the alliance, allow the action of one member to blacken the reputation of N.A.T.O. as a whole.
Meanwhile there is real danger that the fighting may begin again. If it does, the disparity of force between France and Tunisia is so great that President Bourguiba, however much against his will, will be bound to accept aid from any source that may offer it. Do Her Majesty's Government really want that to happen? If they do not, what are they doing to make sure that it does not happen? Can the Minister of State at least assure us later this evening that the British delegate will support the Afro-Asian appeal for an emergency session of the General Assembly which, I understand, may be voted on in the next day or two? We want a specific answer to that from the Minister of State later in the debate.
Secondly, is there no way in which Her Majesty's Government can organise—I do not say themselves carry out—some mediation on this issue between France and Tunisia? As I said at Question Time, communications between France and Tunisia are completely broken off, and unless some one is able to mediate between the two countries no negotiations or discussions will take place.
It may be that the Lord Privy Seal will not accept this as a moral duty, but as the Minister responsible for foreign affairs he must recognise that the security of the Mediterranean as a whole is at stake in this issue, and that unless we act quickly it may be too late to act at all—
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman could have heard what I said in discussing the matter. We fully recognise all these dangers, and, as I said, we are in touch with both countries and are ready to help in any way we can. We also recognise the difficulties arising from the fact that diplomatic relations have been broken off, and we recognise the desirability of finding some way to reopen diplomatic discussions. But the fundamental difference between the hon. Gentleman and me—and this is why he so constantly criticises us—is that he believes that the best results can be achieved by lecturing people in public. We do not believe that. We believe that the best results flow from quiet and patient diplomacy behind the scenes.
I agree entirely. I do not try, as the Lord Privy Seal suggests, to establish a general rule for action. There are some cases, and Laos was conspicuously one of them, where quiet diplomacy behind the scenes may obtain a great deal more than public diplomacy, but in other cases—and I believe Bizerta to be such a case—there may be only one way of dealing with an intransigent Government, and that is by mobilising public opinion. That has been the case in South Africa, and the Prime Minister recognised this when he made his speech on the wind of change in South Africa two years ago. I believe it is also the case with Portugal in Angola, and I believe it is the case with France in Tunisia.
I hope, at least, that it is not true, as has been widely said by Arab delegates in New York, that the real reason why the British Government do not express more sympathy in public with Tunisia's tragic losses so far is that they are trying to curry favour with President de Gaulle in view of forthcoming negotiations on the Common Market.
Britain is now entering, thanks to the Prime Minister's decision, some of the most complex and difficult negotiations she has ever entered with six countries in order to find out if conditions can be established under which Britain can enter the Common Market. If the British Government once let it appear to their partners in these negotiations that they are prepared, so long as the negotiations continue, to capitulate to them on any of the other extraneous issues of world affairs in order to have their support in the negotiations, the negotiations will go on for ever.
We shall find ourselves bound hand and foot to those with whom we are negotiating. I would have felt very much happier about the decision which the Prime Minister announced this afternoon if I had felt that the British Government had this point well in view, and if I felt that the British Government had a clear view at all about what Britain's rôle is in the world in the second half of the twentieth century.
My real concern is that the way the Government are handling this issue—and the other issues which we are discussing—shows no real sense of Britain's rôle in the world or a real sense of priority or vision of the vital need for British initiative. As my predecessor at this Box, Mr. Aneurin Bevan, said, the Government's motto might be
if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
I hope that I shall not, through any congenital misfortune or clumsiness of expression, fall into the fault of complacency against which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) warned not only hon. Members, but very nearly everyone else as well.
I want to stick closely to the one topic which, I understood, was to be the principal topic of debate this afternoon; that of West Berlin. I agreed with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal when he began his speech by saying that this is probably what the House regards as the major matter of debate. Indeed, anything must be a major matter of debate when it has been said by a Foreign Secretary, and rather particularly by this one, about that matter that it might develop into a conflagration covering the whole Continent of Europe. I have lived through too many conflagrations to be capable of complacency on a matter of that kind.
One of the arguments adduced by the hon. Member for Leeds, East was that of the uncommitted countries losing confidence in the West because the West was not sufficiently using the United Nations. I really do not think that that one will do. It is not yet a fortnight since Mr. Khrushchev told Mr. Nkrumah that if all the nations of the world were to take a decision which would not correspond with the interests of the Soviet Union and which would threaten its security, the Soviet Union would not recognise such a decision and would maintain its rights by force.
I wonder if Mr. Khrushchev would agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, East that, first of all, to get the support of the uncommitted countries is a matter of first strategic importance and, secondly, that the way to do it is by demonstrating our complete confidence for all international purposes in the United Nations? I hardly think that, if so, he would have made that boast to Nkrumah.
I do not believe that Mr. Khrushchev was showing very good sense on this. The lack of support that he has had so far on this issue in the uncommitted countries is the result of this stupid remark he made to Mr. Nkrumah.
The hon. Gentleman may be right. He is entitled to assume that he understands these matters a great deal better than does Mr. Khrushchev. But the rest of us are not bound to assume that he is right.
Then the hon. Member for Leeds, East suggested that it would be a jolly good thing to establish the United Nations in Berlin. That seems a very odd one to me. So long as the issue is whether Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Ulbricht should or should not control access to Berlin—and this is the issue at present, whether or not one thinks the United Nations should one day be in Berlin or should have been in Berlin in the past—and so long as it is agreed that on this issue one may at any moment have conflagration covering the Continent of Europe—it seems to me highly odd to suggest that: talk about pills for earthquakes, where is the cure for this by removing the United Nations from Geneva to Berlin. That really will not do.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East may be right about the Oder-Neisse line, although if I were a German I do not suppose that I should think so. But I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is not right about the value of a disarmed area, Rapacki, and all that. I shall not show my reasons in this matter because my main line now is not its wrongness but whether it is really wise for the hon. Member for Leeds, East—even one so uncomplacent as is he—to go hawking round the world and finding matters on foreign policy which he thinks we could throw into bargaining with Mr. Khrushchev at this moment. Is that the wisest way of approaching the issue about which the hon. Gentleman was concerned; that our rights in Berlin—particularly West Berlin—are morally and legally irrebuttable and that it would be both shameful and harmful if we did not stand up for them?
The hon. Gentleman went on to say how necessary it was to have strict drafting in these matters and I would particularly draw attention to the words "negotiate" and "guarantee". I do not think that we should be ready to negotiate on this matter in the sense of being prepared to pick up and talk over every matter, however large or small, that is scattered about the international green carpet at this moment. The best meaning of "negotiate" is to give or to get value. Negotiate, in this connection, should mean the agreeing, A and B agreeing, that A should get this and B should get that and in such a way that the world sees that A honestly regards what it gets as the equivalent of what it is that B is getting, and vice versa.
That is what "negotiate" should mean if we are to negotiate about Berlin—unless we are to run the risk of it being considered that we have surrendered wherever it can be shown that we have given anything. Similarly, the word "guarantee". My noble Friend asked the other day what Mr. Khrushchev meant by "guaranteee" and "guarantor". I hope that in any negotiations now about Berlin we shall hang firmly on to the real meaning of "guarantee", which means, somehow, arranging, through persons as sureties, or goods, arms or strategic force independent of the other negotiator, making sure that whatever it is that is agreed upon is to happen—or making sure of this as nearly as is humanly possible. I believe that if we use the words in those senses, we may yet do something about Berlin, which, at least, will not do any harm.
I do not know that anyone would necessarily be a fool who was prepared at the moment to settle for Berlin being no worse a thorn than it has been for the previous ten years; but if we are not using words with that sort of strictness, and if we do not use the terms of reference of negotiators with that sort of strictness, I am sure, as the hon. Member for Leeds, East threatened us about the Common Market, we shall enter upon discussions in which we shall continually give away what we ought not to give away, in which we shall seldom gain anything, and in which there is nothing we can count on keeping, and discussions may go on forever.
I wanted to say a word or two about why Mr. Khrushchev cares so much about West Berlin. We all have ideas about this by now and, on the whole, we have probably all got roughly the same ideas. Mine are very much the same as those of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, but I should like to put them rather differently.
I am sure that one reason why the Russians are so hell-bent on Western Berlin is precisely because they have no right there. It is because of the absence of right that the demonstration of power can there be most effective. It is in Berlin that it can be most effective, it is in Berlin that it is most scandalous; and to demonstrate the irresistibility of Bolshevik power there would slam the Western gate and block out the Western windows, which are all there is in a concrete form of freedom and hope for the Eastern countries of Europe.
When that gate is shut and those windows blocked, Eastern Europe will be immured in the fortress of the People's Social Democracy—odd phrase—which perpetuates Russia's peace-loving empire over Europe and justifies Khrushchev's boast to the Americans, "All your grandchildren will be Communists." I have a rather unusually large number of grandchildren. I do not want them to be Communists.
The second reason why Khrushchev cares so much about Berlin is that it is the one place which enables the East of Europe to see what the human world is like. It is a curious thing that what the Russians cannot stand is co-existence. It is a word, I think, a conception that was invented by the Bolsheviks, but they cannot stand it. They cannot exist in Berlin or East Germany so long as any bits of the West exist there.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East spoke about Khrushchev artificially causing the present crisis, and that, I am sure, is true. To do Khrushchev justice, however—if I, too, may try; I am not sure it was quite so artificial as is generally assumed—Ulbricht must have got very near to the point where his country is not viable. If that is so, Khrushohev has not caused the present crisis only for artificial reasons. It is not for artificial reasons that Khrushchev has to do something. It is the one place where the subjects of the—what is it called?—the peace-loving People's Democracy of East Germany can see what the rest of the world looks like, and so its ruler loses subjects at a killing rate.
One effect is that a quarter of a million of them who have seen prefer what the rest of the world looks like to what they are accustomed to. It is mainly the young who exercise that preference, no doubt partly because the young are easier to move—they do not already have grandchildren, and so on. But it is rather striking all the same that it should be the young when one thinks that it is now thirty, thirty-five, forty years—I do not know how old a man must be now, born and living in Ulbricht's country, if he remembers a world which was not a dictatorship, which was not totalitarian. So that they have had had a full human generation of years in which to indoctrinate youth. Nevertheless, it is the youth that is going away and leaving them.
Another reason why the Russians care so much about Berlin is that it is the one place where a defeat of the West, as I judge, is most likely to bring a break-up of the Western Alliance. I do not see how that could mean anything short of Bolshevik dominance of the whole of Germany. I hardly see how that could mean anything short of Bolshevik dominance of Europe. Whoever here has the courage can explain to us how, if that happens, it will stop short of Bolshevik dominance of the world.
One of the mistakes that we might make here tending in that direction is one not quite so common now as it was, the one of saying that the Communists have changed. Words ending in "ism" and their derivatives are always difficult words to handle. Some hon. Members, however, remember that not long ago, one of the greatest speakers in this Chamber in my lifetime, was rather fond of telling us about how Communism was no longer Communism, how it had become a kind of ritual dance, that one must not really think that it meant anything, and all that. Indeed, in some of the remarks he made in a Fabian pamphlet some years ago, the hon. Member for Leeds, East—I am sorry he has left the Chamber—came rather near to taking that same line. I hope that we all here, at any rate, are secure against that temptation and I hope that whatever we can, we shall do to keep other people secure against that temptation.
World dominance is the aim. It has been the aim throughout. The dogma is still sovereign. It is not merely ritual, it is not merely rhetoric. But we need not credit them with a religion nor discredit ourselves with having less spirit than they have. It is less a religion they have than a magic, a magic for a governing oligarchy: and a magic that works is irresistible, perhaps most especially a magic that works for a governing oligarchy. This is a hypothesis which has worked, or must look like it to any Russian. This is a hypothesis which has worked since 1917. It has to a high value worked both as theory and as the machine of a government which has built the greatest and most feared of all empires—or, I should say, which have built the greatest and the most feared of empires, because it is not only the Government that has done that, it is the Government and the theory. Indeed, that is a part of Marxism that the Government and the theory should be thus inseparable and even unanalysable.
So long as everyone in the East has in Berlin this one window and gateway to the West, so long as the West maintains something like unity—and, I must say, the hon. Member for Leeds, East made it a little difficult. He dismissed the German Government: he did not bother to say why they were dismissible, because the Guardian, apparently, had already explained to Dr. Adenauer that his principles and prejudices were all nonsense.
The hon. Member went on to dismiss Charles de Gaulle—he did not dismiss him in one sense, I know, but to dismiss him as a person of whom one need take any great note. Indeed, all that was implicit in the stuff about the Rapacki plan and all that. We may hope, that somehow, so long, as I say, as this Berlin gate is not quite closed, as this window is not quite shuttered, that somehow, in the not too distant future, both theory and empire may dissolve or evolve or break down; otherwise, we have no hope, except in the very long run, and perhaps long after our own collapse and dissolution.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite are very fond of lecturing us about how Britain should take the lead—generally, a moral lead, I admit. Moral leads are not so easily taken as gentlemen so fond of moralism are apt to assume. Nor are they always welcomed. We can, so long as some window is left open a chink, some door left ajar, hope that under Western—liberal, if hon. Members like, although there are no Liberals here for me to suck up to—under Western or liberal influence we may hope that mere compulsion and fundamental nonsense—for that is what Communism is, mere compulsion and fundamental nonsense—cannot last very very long; but bang the door, black the window, and they can last long enough to be the end of us.
"What has changed? Nothing at all. Russia's policy is unchangeable. Russia's methods, tactics, and manœuvres may change, but the lodestar of Russian policy, world domination, is a fixed star;" and it is now by what happens in Berlin that we have a duty laid upon us to see what happens to that policy.
"Pan-Slavism is a form of Russian imperialism. It is not a movement which strives for national independence but a movement which, directed against Europe, would destroy all that history has created throughout thousands of years. This could not be achieved without eradicating Hungary, Turkey, the major part of Germany … There is only one way of dealing with a Power like Russia, that is by fearlessness."
I hope that hon. Members below the Gangway opposite recognise that. All but one short sentence in the middle came from Karl Marx.
He thought that we did not realise that it was far more difficult to give a moral lead than appeared very often to be the case. I think that he would agree with me that the absence of moral leadership has often brought about difficulties which he and I and everyone in this House would deplore. I think that the more moral leadership we can get, even at the expense of moralism, the better it would be throughout the world.
I share the concern of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) at the failure of the Lord Privy Seal to give us a little more information. I realise that the Government have to consult other Governments, and I realise that it is not always wise to publicise the cards one is going to play when the opportunity to negotiate comes, but the right hon. Gentleman must recognise, as all of us do, the great anxiety which exists throughout our country, and, indeed, in other countries, at the crisis which is looming up and will probably become acute during the next few months. I should have thought that he might at least have given us an outline of the constructive policy which, I am quite sure, the Government intend to propose when the time comes.
After all, the United States Government themselves have not been shy about expressing their faith in the Western peace plan of 1959. I think that it was a very good plan. Paragraph 6 of the American Government's Note says:
that is, the three Western allies—
proposed to the Soviet Government on 14th May, 1959, the Western Peace Plan, which was acclaimed throughout the world as a constructive offer. The detailed proposals in the peace plan were intended as a practical step-by-step approach to the problem of a Central European settlement based on the principle of self-determination".
That is an excellent statement of the case which was put forward by the three Western Governments at the 1959 conference. I cannot imagine that the Government do not take the same view now as they did then. Why could not the Lord Privy Seal have told the House that one possible approach to the settlement would be, without excluding others, further consideration of the Western peace plan?
The Lord Privy Seal will remember that in that year the Western allies on 16th June and the Soviet Government on 19th June each put in a memorandum which I consider, after very close examination of both of them, are not very far apart in their proposals for an interim settlement of the Berlin problem. It might be thought a good basis with which to start when we got into negotiations. That is the kind of information which, I think, the Lord Privy Seal might well have given the House and the country of what our policy is to be.
I now propose to deal largely with the Berlin problem. One of the most disturbing features about the present position is Mr. Khrushchev's threat to hand over the Soviet Union's rights under the various four-Power agreements which were signed in 1944 and 1945. Whichever way we look at it, it seems to me that Mr. Khrushchev's threat to make a separate peace treaty in certain circumstances with the East German Republic and to hand over his rights under these agreements constitutes a repudiation of those agreements, and although it would not be binding upon the other signatories it would, in my view, be action which would be invalid under international law. Moreover, it would create a de facto position which would be fraught with great dangers to European stability. Quite frankly, I believe that such action would take us back to the pre-war days when Hitler cynically repudiated international agreement after international agreement.
Some of us who are sitting in this House today in those days were associated with the great peace movement which existed in the days before the outbreak of the Second World War, and one of the main objectives of that great international peace movement was to urge respect for the sanctity of international agreements, and, indeed, it is today enshrined in the Preamble to the United Nations Charter. For Mr. Khrushchev to treat these various quadripartite agreements as scraps of paper must be, in my view, a retrograde step which could only undermine respect for international obligations and lead to weakening the rule of international law.
On the other hand, the Western Powers should not seek—and perhaps they do not seek—to maintain that these various agreements are to be regarded as unchangeable like the laws of the Medes and Persians. If I remember rightly, the Lord Privy Seal categorically stated that in the Government's view the Soviet Government were quite within their rights in asking that these agreements be, at any rate, looked at again in the light of present circumstances. I hope that I would not be reading too much into the right hon. Gentleman's statement if I were to suggest that the Government would no doubt agree to discuss the possibilities of a new Berlin statute as long as whatever came out of the conference was the product of agreement among the four Powers.
I hope that in this connection the Soviet Government will consider carefully the British Note, which read:
Her Majesty's Government have accepted the possibility of practical arrangements intended to improve the present position in Berlin until such time as an overall solution can be given to the German problem.
Practical proposals of this kind which I consider were not very far apart were put forward at the 1959 conference by both Western and Soviet Governments.
The main problem is not the question of the legality of the 1944 or 1945 agreements. It is not merely a question of preservation of legal rights under those agreements. The main objective of the three Western Governments should be the safeguarding of the freedom of the people of West Berlin. No doubt the military measures announced by President Kennedy and our own Foreign Office, two or three days ago, as the Lord Privy Seal said today, can be regarded as a precaution. Nevertheless, an immediate threat to Berlin calls for diplomatic and not military action.
It is to be hoped, therefore, that the Soviet Union and the United States will not get into the position of vying with one another in demonstrations of armed strength. Both countries are only too well aware of the military strength of each other. I think that the House will agree that our efforts should be directed to obtaining a peaceful settlement and getting round the conference table as soon as possible. But there is a great deal to be said for President Kennedy's preference for informal talks and I should like to ask whether, in the Government's reply to the debate later today, we can be told whether those informal talks have begun.
It seems to me from the way things are developing that the issues are so vital as to constitute a need for a Western summit conference and at a later stage a summit conference with Mr. Khrushchev. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said, if the attempt to secure a settlement by diplomatic means fails, the problem should be taken to the United Nations as a dispute which is a threat to world peace.
Our cardinal aim, therefore, should be a peaceful settlement. To obtain this, concessions may well have to be made both by the West and the Soviet Union. I hope that both sides will realise that hard bargaining is not appeasement. To that extent, I agree with the hon. Member for Carlton in his definition of what he thought should be the basis of any negotiations. I understand that he would wish to avoid any kind of negotiation which savours of appeasement, but if people have to sit round a conference table negotiating on this or that problem and both sides are in a position to make concessions then, provided that it is on a basis of fairness and equity, there is a great deal to be said for negotiation.
I have always thought that it is far better to talk than to fight and in this nuclear age I cannot understand anyone with any intelligence whatsoever or understanding of life who would be reluctant to seek to negotiate even the most difficult problems even with the most difficult people, as I am afraid some statesmen are today. Mr. Dean Rusk stated last Thursday that there were considerable possibilities of negotiating a settlement. I appreciate that the Lord Privy Seal is not in a position to announce his proposals now, but I should like to make one or two proposals, although, to some extent, the ground has already been covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East.
First, it is not realistic to take the view that the reunification of Germany is attainable in present circumstances. The Soviet leaders have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept a reunification of Germany which is non-Communist and is connected or associated with N.A.T.O. They have, of course, completely changed their ground—they frequently do—since the Geneva conference of 1955. One of the tragedies of international relations is that over the past ten years we have moved from one crisis to another every two years or so. We are in another crisis now and it may well be that we shall have to face a further crisis in 1963.
In 1955, Mr. Khrushchev signed the directive of the four heads of Government which was issued at the conclusion of the Summit Conference. It read:
The Heads of Government (France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States of America) recognise their common responsibility for the settlement of the German Question and the reunification of Germany. They agreed that the settlement of the German question and the reunification of
Germany should be by means of free elections carried out in conformity with the national interests of the German people.
Now, in 1961, we have been told on a number of occasions by Mr. Khrushchev and other leaders that the question of German reunification is not practicable in certain circumstances. Yet Mr. Khrushchev was prepared to sign this directive six years ago.
As long as the Soviet Union maintains its position on reunification it seems to me that a final solution of the German problem will have to wait. On the other hand, an interim solution for Berlin cannot wait. Moreover, if we were able to achieve an interim solution it might well lead to a final solution of the major German problem. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal when he suggests that the best course to be adopted by East and West at present would be to maintain the status quo in Berlin.
At the same time, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East, who said that we ought not to object to the stamping by East German officials of passes of Western personnel travelling to Berlin. Indeed, as the Lord Privy Seal knows, that proposal was made in the Western peace plan of 1959. It was accepted that these passes for Western military personnel should be stamped by East German personnel and there was no question whether the East German personnel were agents or what the legal position might be. It might be safer, however, to make it clear on the passes themselves that the West would recognise these East German officials as the agents of the Soviet Union.
If this does not satisfy Mr. Khrushchev, consideration should be given to the creation of a land corridor. Some of us remember the existence in the inter-war years of the Danzig corridor, which connected Danzig with Poland. Its length from the Baltic Coast to the Polish border was about 90 miles and its width varied from 10 to 70 miles. A corridor between Berlin and West Germany would be approximately 100 miles in length and would probably require to be at least 25 miles wide. Anyone who has taken the trouble to look at the map and has seen the three designated routes from the three Western zones will probably agree when I suggest that if we were ever to contemplate agreeing to a corridor it would be best if it were from Hemlstedt into Western Berlin.
The great advantage of a corridor would be that it would end the problem of controls at railway stations, bridges, roads and canals, and I cannot see why the Fast German Government should object to such a corridor, because the land does not belong to them. There is no legal basis for saying that the East German Government have the right to deny other Germans the use of this access into West Berlin. It would certainly provide West Berlin with direct access to Western Germany and would minimise possible interference with access to the city from Western Germany.
As the hon. Member for Carlton said, if we are to have active and fruitful negotiations, there has to be a certain amount of give and take. In return for the agreement to this corridor, I would suggest that the West should agree to a limited measure of recognition of East Germany without prejudice to eventual reunification. Whether we like it or not, East Germany has been in existence for about fifteen years. At the same time, it must be remembered that the four Powers never agreed at any time to the partition of Germany; they merely agreed to the establishment of the four zones which exist today for occupation purposes.
It seems unrealistic to refuse to have any dealings with East Germany other than unofficial commercial arrangements. Even today there are trade arrangements between East and West Germany, and surely it would be sensible to agree to the exchange of special missions which would in no way constitute de jure recognitions, although it would constitute a measure of de facto recognition.
The West should not, however, sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany. This would be evidence of an agreement for the partition of Germany. If the Soviet Union chose to do so, that would be her responsibility, but the Western Governments would be fully justified in maintaining their position of signing only a peace treaty with a reunified Germany.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East pointed out, the problem of Berlin forms only a part of the even more important problem of Germany and Central European security. President
Kennedy, in his recent speech, which my hon. Friend quoted, recognised what he called
the Soviet Union's concern about their security in Central Europe.
There is equal concern in Poland about the Oder-Neisse line. In German circles there is concern over what is in effect the partition of Germany. In my view, there will be no stability in Central Europe until these anxieties are removed from both sides of the Iron Curtain. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Carlton may think that these ideas are a little far-fetched, but when he has lived a little longer he may realise that some of these proposals have a habit of proving a little more realistic later on, so I ask him not to be too frivolous about it.
President Kennedy said that he believes that arrangements could be worked out which would help to meet this concern which is felt; so I am in very good company when I say that one of the greatest difficulties with which we are faced today is the existence of the concerns to which I have referred.
I should like to make these suggestions for the consideration of the Government as a possible way of dealing with these problems of Central Europe. Mr. Khrushchev has repeatedly advocated the signing of a non-aggression pact between the Warsaw Pact Powers and the N.A.T.O. Powers.
I should be prepared to discuss the Baltic States, but that subject is not quite relevant to the topic with which I am dealing at the moment. I referred to the Warsaw Pact Powers and the N.A.T.O. Powers. I was not aware that the Baltic States were members of either, except perhaps, by compulsion. I therefore suggest that the West should consider accepting Mr. Khrushchev's proposals for a non-aggression pact between the N.A.T.O. and Warsaw Pact Powers.
Secondly, the West should be prepared to join with the Soviet Union in guaranteeing the Oder-Neisse line on the Eastern frontier of Germany. Thirdly, both sides should accept some form of disengagement which would greatly contribute to the relaxation of tension in Central Europe.
I believe that agreements on these lines would help towards reunification by removing the fears about a reunified Germany which are very prevalent in many parts of Eastern Europe and, indeed, are not unknown in parts of Western Europe. A reunified Germany taking its place as a member of a European system of security as well as of the United Nations should not constitute a threat to any of its neighbours, especially if Europe is started along the road towards controlled disarmament.
May I now say a word about the United Nations. I very much approve of the action of Her Majesty's Government and of the American Government in inscribing the question of the control of nuclear tests on the agenda of the General Assembly which is to meet in September. In view of the deadlock which has arisen, surely the time has come to mobilise world opinion on this problem. The General Assembly, representing both committed and uncommitted nations, is the only world forum where these problems can be discussed. The deadlock is most depressing and we can only hope that the Soviet Union will reverse its decision and will agree to sign a nuclear test treaty Which would make a very considerable contribution to securing a general disarmament treaty.
I should like to endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East said about the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' disarmament manifesto, which is of the utmost importance. I hope that the Government will go further and, in conjunction with other Commonwealth Governments whose Prime Ministers signed it, representing, as I say, both committed and uncommitted countries within the British Commonwealth of Nations, will seek to have it discussed and adopted officially by the General Assembly as the United Nations Charter on Disarmament. I think that the urgent need today is to get started along the road to controlled disarmament. The technical difficulties are not the obstacle. What is missing is the political will, and I believe that such action by the General Assembly might well provide a necessary impetus.
Finally, may I say a word about the problem of Bizerta? I realise the difficulties in which the French Government have been placed. I do not think that it is an easy problem to solve, merely by expecting that the French Government within a day or two, or a week or a month, can pull out of the base at Bizerta. It is one of those problems that will require time before a settlement can be achieved. My criticism of the French Government is in respect of the attitude they have adopted to the United Nations and the Secretary-General.
Over the past twelve months, Mr. Hammarskjold's position has been made more and more difficult, first, by the hostile criticisms levelled against him by Mr. Khrushchev over the Congo, and now by the displeasure of the French Government following his recent visit to Bizerta, though in both cases he was fulfilling his duties as Secretary-General. In the case of Bizerta, the Security Council had passed a resolution calling on both sides to cease fire and return their forces to their original positions. The Secretary-General was quite within his responsibilities in visiting Bizerta to verify the observance of the Security Council's request.
How can he carry out his functions if he is incurring the hostile criticism of any member of the United Nations which dislikes a decision taken by the Security Council? He should receive, and is entitled to receive, the support of all member states when carrying out a mandate he has received from the Security Council. To sterilise the office of Secretary-General is to sterilise the United Nations itself. But I believe, with others, that a strong United Nations has an increasingly vital rôle to play in the maintenance of peace in the days that lie ahead.
I agree, as I am sure many of my hon. Friends will have agreed, with a good deal of the very sincere speech we have just heard from the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I intend to cover some of the same ground, but picking on only two subjects and thus avoiding the temptation of roving over too wide a field. I want to say quite a lot about Berlin and why it matters, and also about the disengagement question which has cropped up again.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was the chief protagonist of disengagement for a longish time, but I thought that he had dropped it. He raised it again today, however, and I hope that he will be in his place again when I allude to it.
The Berlin question has been made extremely clear to anybody who cares to study in detail the British, French and American Notes which have recently been published in reply to Mr. Khrushchev's aide-mémoire. In the same way, a careful study of President Kennedy's television speech—which was an outstandingly important speech and extremely well phrased—should fill in the gaps for anyone who remains in doubt. But it is unfortunately true that White Papers and Presidents' speeches are not studied by a great many people, and we do, therefore, have a duty in this House to try to ensure that our words reach a wider public in Great Britain.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal about the great importance of its being clearly understood that the Berlin crisis, if it comes to a crisis—as it well may—is not in any way of our making. The hon. Member for Leeds, East said the same thing. Since the defeat of Germany we have made persistent and repeated attempts to enable the German people to reconstruct their lives—and here I quote from the Potsdam Protocol—
… on a democratic and peaceful basis ֵ in order to be able to … take their place among the free and peaceful people of the world.
The fact that they have not been able to do so has not been our fault. The present political and economic division of Germany is entirely the result of the determination of the Soviet Union that unless Germany can be united under a Communist Government it must be kept divided. I think that the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton said almost exactly the same thing in almost exactly the same words.
Always the problem of German reunification has broken down because of the refusal of the Soviet Union to accept genuinely free elections as the only basis for it. The fact that free elections have never been held in any Communist dominated country in the world, and quite certainly never will be, is one of the accepted facts of life that we have to face. So, Eastern Germany is a Soviet satellite, as the Soviet Union always intended that it should be from the earliest days when Herr Pieck and Herr Ulbricht were training in the Soviet Union during the war.
It was obviously never the Soviet Union's intention to comply with undertakings, freely given, at Potsdam for free elections, freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of religion and freedom for trade unions—all of which were mentioned in the Protocol—any more than it ever intended to comply with its undertakings about poor Poland which were freely given at Yalta.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal about the importance of seeing the Berlin problem in its world context, and I was glad that the hon. Member for Leeds, East showed such a clear understanding of just what that world context is. It is quite obviously only in its world context that the problem can be properly understood. I say frankly to the hon. Gentleman that he made an extremely good speech about the Berlin problem, and I can say the same thing—although I did not agree with all his suggestions—about the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech. It is comforting at this very dangerous moment in our history that there should be so much agreement between both sides of the House.
In my opinion, the Soviet Union is mainly opposed to the reunification of Germany on political grounds, but, let us admit it, there may also be genuine fear of a reunited and aggressive Germany. That is something which we should recognise all the time. I believe that that element does exist, and it is not very surprising when one thinks of the ghastliness and of the enormous tragedy which resulted from the German invasion of the Soviet Union. But the Soviet Union cannot afford to sacrifice the Communist leaders in Eastern Germany, since by so doing it would be bringing freedom right up to Poland's frontiers. That it dare not do because of the effect it would have on public opinion in Poland and throughout the rest of the occupied countries.
Thus, Berlin takes on an immense significance, and it is vitally important for the public to understand just how much it matters as well as the fact that, as long as Germany remains divided—as it inevitably must in the foreseeable future—Berlin will continue to be a constant source of danger to the peace of Europe. Just how strongly I and many of my hon. Friends feel about this is clear from the Motion on the Order Paper signed by 120 hon. Members on this side of the House. The Motion is sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew). No special effort has been made to get a very large number of signatures for the Motion, and I have little doubt that it would be extremely difficult to find one hon. Member on this side of the House and hard to find more than a few Members on the opposite side who do not agree with the words of the Motion.
The Motion emphasises what is clearly not negotiable. On the right of the West Berliners to choose their own political system, we cannot and we will not give one single inch, not a single millimetre. It is not because we are concerned about the Germans as such. Indeed, one might even say that it is in spite of the fact that the 2¼ million people living in West Berlin are Germans. Our views would be just the same if they were Hottentots or Eskimos. It is not a question of "risking our lives for the Jerries", about which one hears a lot these days from people who ought to know better.
But there are 2¼ million human beings living on an island of political freedom 100 miles behind the Iron Curtain anxiously watching. In turn they are anxiously being watched by more than 100 million people living in the occupied countries of Eastern and Central Europe, all longing for the day when they can elect men and women of their own choosing to govern them and to be free from Soviet domination.
To give in on the fundamentals of the Berlin issue, therefore, would be to give the Kremlin its biggest single victory since the Russian Revolution. Let the British Government know, therefore, that on this side of the House we stand solidly behind them in their determination to resist any attempt by Mr. Khrushchev to settle the Berlin problem unilaterally. I am not too pessimistic about this problem, because I take some comfort from the fact that Mr. Khrushchev is obviously driving a bus with good brakes and good steering, and not driving a tram that is out of control.
It is one thing to be tough. We feel tough about this aspect of the Berlin problem, but at the same time we have to be realistic and flexible in our approach to the fringe problems. For instance, if the Soviet Union wishes to sign a separate peace treaty with Eastern Germany, we cannot stop it. I, for one, would not worry about it in the least. I quite understand that the Soviet Union should want to put a rubber stamp on the illegal acts which it has performed in Eastern Germany since the end of the war, but that should not and need not lead us or any free country to de jure recognition of the East German régime. De jure recognition would be dishonourable and unnecessary. Furthermore, the admission of Eastern Germany to the United Nations would be to make a worse mockery of the Charter than some have already made of it.
In the same way, unhappily, we could not do anything were the Soviet Union and the East German Government to decide to stop refugees from going to Berlin. It would be beyond our power. We would regret it bitterly and think that a cruel act had been performed, but we could do nothing about it, and Eastern Germany would simply find itself in the same position as, for instance, Hungary.
I have made a fairly careful study of disengagement since it was first suggested by Mr. Rapacki, if it was he who suggested it before the hon. Member for Leeds, East. I am not sure who suggested it first. I want to make it absolutely clear that no disengagement plan of any kind has ever been proposed by a Conservative Government. I am choosing these words very carefully and I have refreshed my memory by reading the White Papers published in 1954 and 1955 and after the Foreign Ministers' Conference in 1959, and I have them with me. I will call them "disengagement" plans for want of a better word.
I have that as well.
Hon. Members opposite seem to think that the proposals put up by Conservative Governments were disengagement plans. But, in fact, they all have certain common features which no one seems to mention. They visualised only a thinning out of forces in Europe, under strict international control and inspection, after free elections in Germany and after Germany has been re-united and after free elections in Berlin and after Berlin has been reunited. Furthermore, they visualised only—although I admit that this was not made at all clear in the 1959 communiqué, which was rather loosely worded—that this so-called disengagement was something which would follow at least two stages of disarmament. That is clear from the 1959 White Paper which was issued after the Foreign Ministers' Conference. Furthermore, they consider only the possibility of forces being thinned out in Europe East of a reunited Germany. That is something very different from considering the thinning out of forces along a line through Germany. All those are well-established distinctions between the plans which have been put forward by Conservative Governments and other plans which hon. Members opposite have sometimes put forward and which have been mentioned again today.
Would the hon. and gallant Member have the same objection to a proposal for disengagement or limitation of armaments under control in Central Europe if it were part of a package deal, including not only disengagement but the reunification of Germany?
Certainly I would not. That is exactly along the broad lines of the proposals which have been made on successive occasions by Conservative Governments, and I cannot see that disengagement has any possibility in practical politics except in the context of some kind of European settlement.
I also feel very strongly that the disengagement plans which have been put forward at various times by hon. Members opposite, particularly the hon. Member for Leeds, East, have been based on a wholly false premise. The original disengagement plan of the hon. Member for Leeds, East, which he elaborated in a Fabian pamphlet, was based on his view that international Communism as an instrument of Russian foreign policy had decayed. His actual words were:
the decay of international Communism as an instrument of Russian foreign policy is now a dominant theme of world politics.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Today the hon. Member said exactly the opposite. If his original disengagement plan were based on that premise, it was certainly based on a false premise, and I hope later to hear on what premise any new disengagement plans which the Opposition have are based.
I am also made very suspicious about disengagement plans when I find that Mr. Khrushchev believes in them because they will emphasise the status quo in Eastern Europe, which must not be altered, and when hon. Members opposite tell us that they believe in them, as I am prepared to believe that they do, because they will help to loosen the Soviet grip on occupied countries. Mr. Khrushohev cannot be right if hon. Members opposite are right.
I should like to know more about what the Opposition have in mind in any plan which they put forward. I know that they desire to help to try to loosen the tension in Europe, but what reductions are visualised in terms of manpower and armaments, both conventional and nuclear in Eastern and Western Germany, for instance? Western Germany is providing about 40 per cent. of N.A.T.O.'s manpower. Would there be definite reductions in and restrictions on the size and armament of Soviet forces in Eastern Germany, where the Soviet Union has 20 divisions? It is not much good talking about disengagement unless one explains more fully what is meant.
There was another serious deficiency in the original disengagement plan put forward by the Opposition when they even went so far as to talk in terms of "swapping" a neutral Denmark for Roumania, a kind of bargain in neutrality. We cannot insist that Denmark will be neutral, and I cannot understand that anybody could seriously put forward a plan like that.
Connected with all this and not mentioned today was the possibility of an "Austrian solution" for Germany. Superfically, this is a very attractive idea, but the factors which were present in Austria and which made a solution there possible are not present in Germany. First, Germany is large and powerful, economically and politically. Secondly, when Austria agreed to move into a neutral position it was a united country, which Germany is not. Thirdly, Austria had a freely-elected coalition Government, which Germany has not, so that the Austrian Government, on behalf of the Austrian public as a whole, was able to accept the peace treaty terms.
Suggestions far an Austrian solution for Germany do not bear examination. I only wish that they did. In this connection, I must say that if Austria chooses to change from its neutral position—although there is certainly no sign of that—we should be hard put to it to know what sanction we could apply. Some of the solutions for Europe's ills which are put forward in a rather airy-fairy fashion prove on examination to be unworkable.
I conclude my rounding off what I said about Berlin. So long as Mr. Khrushchev clearly understands that the N.A.T.O. Powers mean every word of what they say about the future of West Berlin, there need not be any Berlin crisis. Let Mr. Khrushchev beware of being misled by answers which may be given to the trick question which Communists and others are going around the country and asking—"Would you rather be Red than dead?"
The fact that people who pose such trick questions are mostly Red themselves means that there would be no change for them. Some of the people who reply to it and who say that they would rather be Red have no understanding whatever of what Communism really is. It is a question which should not be asked and which does not deserve an answer.
It was in the 1930s that the British Fascists put about the slogan "Mind Britain's business", no doubt from pro-Nazi motives coining such a plausible slogan with the same object as the "Red or dead" question today. I am glad to say that nearly all of us in the House, leaving party politics completely aside, have learned our lesson since the 1930s. Britain will not make the same mistakes again. Berlin is Britain's business.
I should like to discuss on another occasion the various aspects of disengagement with the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish). I should also be quite happy to examine the Government's virginal whiteness in this respect. But in the few moments that I detain the House I would rather concentrate specifically on the issue of Berlin.
First, I wish to say a word or two about the historical background insofar as it is relevant to the current situation, secondly, Russia's aims in the present situation, thirdly, the Western stake in Berlin, and, fourthly, what we should be doing about it in response. Finally, I should like to say a word or two about our personal responsibility as Members of the House of Commons at this moment in international affairs.
First, as to the historical background, as every hon. Member knows, our position in West Berlin stems from the Lancaster House Protocol of 12th September, 1944, and the amendment to it, which also emanated in Lancaster House, of 14th November, 1944. The present problem in Berlin specifically stems from the division of Germany itself.
The original agreement between the four Powers in 1944 did not go into the question of access to West Berlin because it was always assumed at that time that the four Powers would be in accord at the end of the war. Thereby hangs a tale, because much of it was due to miscalculations and misunderstandings by the American Government of the day; but that is another matter.
The fact is that no proper arrangements were actually negotiated until 1945 when the division of Germany had become an apparent prospect. Then, in 1946, we saw the growth of the communisation of Eastern Germany, and in late 1947 and early 1948 there was the Western decision to set up a separate West German State. It was taken in the absence of agreement between the Foreign Ministers of the four Powers.
That decision to embark on the creation of a West German State was the specific reason for the Berlin blockade in 1948. I know that it has been suggested at various times that it was due to currency reform, but, in fact, it was the Western decision to embark on a West German State that led Stalin to blockade West Berlin.
Stalin's aims then and Khrushchev's aims today are basically the same. What Stalin was seeking in 1948 Mr. Khrushchev is seeking today is to close the gap in the curtain that not all the doctrine and not all the doctrine's policemen have been able to close up to now. Secondly, Stalin was seeking then and Mr. Khrushchev is seeking even more patently clearly now, the recognition of Communist conquests in Eastern Europe, which Stalin had achieved at the end of the war. Recognition of Eastern Germany is, in fact, an attempt to get Western ratification of the Communist domination of what the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes called the occupied countries.
Every hon. Member who has a spark of democratic objectivity about him knows perfectly well that not one of the Communist Governments and Eastern European satellites would survive for a single week if it were not for the imposition of the Red Army. We have to take that clearly into account when considering the recognition of Eastern Germany and its relevance to the position in Eastern Europe.
If we recognise the Eastern German Government, we shall get no thanks from the ordinary people of the satellite States, and we shall certainly get no thanks from the people of Eastern Germany, who are showing an ever-increasing repugnance to a Quisling régime in East Germany. Is it then proper, even if we do not recognise East Germany, for us to take some other steps to make it easier for the Ulbricht régime to survive in East Germany. Is it not an arguable case that it might be said by some hon. Members that the East German Government exists as the Chinese Government exists, for instance? I submit that it is no valid parallel, because the Chinese Communist Revolution was an indigenous revolution. The Government is Chinese in every sense of the word. The East German Government is not an indigenous Government in any sense of the word. It would be wrong and improper for us to bolster up the Ulbricht position in these circumstances.
It might be asked whether we cannot do something that might make it easier to close the gap in the Iron Curtain that is draining away the lifeblood of East Germany—the young people who come from the universities and go to the West as quickly as they can. I say, in answer, that it is no part of the function of a democratic society to try to bolster up an authoritarian society. The West's objective should be to try to get Russian troops out of East Germany, and it would be a dereliction of our duty to those people seeking freedom if we took any steps which might make it more difficult for them to achieve that freedom.
This brings me to the issue of the Western stake in West Berlin. In my submission, the West's position in West Berlin is germane to the whole Western position in Europe. As the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) said earlier, if West Berlin were to go, the Western position in West Germany would crumble, and if that happened Europe would crumble. For 900 years we have not seen the camp fires of the invader in these islands, because of a 20-mile ditch, but that 20-mile ditch is no longer a bastion against danger, because of modern technological developments. That is the basic reason for the Prime Minister's historic statement this afternoon. If one thing is clear from that statement it is that from now onwards Britain's frontier is not Dover but the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin.
In these new, grave circumstances, what should we do about the situation? The first thing that we must do is always to be prepared to negotiate, and not to use force. As my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said earlier, there are a number of things that we can give away in our negotiations. There is the Oder-Neisse line, which is only the recognition of the reality of a situation in which people have been deported and removed, populations have shifted, and so an. There is also the question whether the East Berlin authorities, and not the Russians, should stamp the passports of Western people travelling up the autobahn from Helmstedt. In my view, this is not something to start throwing hydrogen bombs about.
But, if we accept this approach, we must also be absolutely clear that at no stage do we accept the authority of the East German Government themselves; that we accept them only as agents of the Soviet Government, and hold the Soviet Government responsible. It is a question not of whether the East Germans stamp the passports, but of what steps they may take to find reasons for not doing so, which is the real problem, and the nub of the whole matter.
Before dealing with the practicalities of that situation I ought to say a word about a matter on which I entirely agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes. We must be quite clear that the freedom of the people of West Berlin is not a negotiable subject in any of these discussions. We must be absolutely, utterly clear that there can be no compromise. I would defend the freedom of West Berlin exactly as I would that of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) or anybody else. It is not negotiable.
In the light of that analysis, what should we be doing? Let us suppose that negotiations break down. Let us suppose that a very dangerous situation arises in the autumn. It could arise from three possibilities. First, it could arise from miscalculation, secondly, from insurrection and, thirdly, from deliberate provocation. I want to say a word about provocation first. By that, I mean provocation by the Ulbricht régime, as I have already implied. Herr Ulbricht, on the Communist side, is very largely in the same position in Europe that Chiang Kai-shek is in, on the Western side, in the Far East. He is the Communist Chiang Kai-shek. He has many of the same objections to gain and all of the same things that he cannot lose if he involves himself in military engagement with the West, in exactly the same way as Chiang Kai-shek, unleashed, would be able to capitalise the American support that he would receive in the Far East.
The analogy is close. Mr. Khrushchev's task is to see that Herr Ulbricht is not unleashed to any greater extent than the Americans have unleashed Chiang Kai-shek. He must see that East Germany can never in any way be responsible for provocation in circumstances requiring the support and endorsement of the Russian Government. That is his task.
I turn now to insurrection. This may stem from a variety of reasons. All of us should be only too conscious of the turbulent and dangerous revolutionary situation existing in East Germany today. We all ought to be only too clear that false hopes engendered in the West may create a tragic situation along the Elbe, in which the West would be forced to stand powerlessly aside, in a situation in which there would be every incentive for the West Germans to go to the aid of the East Germans. This is something about which we must be very, very cautious. We must be careful to see that it does not arise, because it would not be like Hungary. It would be much more dangerous than that. It could be upon us this autumn. Not only must we be firm in our words; we must also be temperate, in order to ensure that no false hopes are engendered or any revolutionary situation is inflamed.
Finally, there is the possibility of miscalculation. My view is that the wise and temperate form of words used by Mr. Kennedy last week went a long way towards removing any chance of miscalculation by Mr. Khrushchev. But if it had been left to this Government it would have been a different situation. The Lord Privy Seal, in his lamentable answer today to my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who asked him what we would do about military support, and the whole implication of the Government's defence policy, showed that the British Government's words can mean one thing; and its actions something entirely different.
If any conflagration arises in East Germany which calls for physical action, Her Majesty's Government will have nothing of any real importance to contribute to the Western military position. This has been made quite clear already by the Kuwait operation, to which the Lord Privy Seal referred earlier. Everybody knows that this operation might have been a very different story if the troops concerned had been put in under hostile fire. The Government and the House would have had to bear a very heavy measure of responsibility for allowing our troops to go in without the tanks and armour which would have been essential for their functioning in hostile landing conditions.
The Kuwait operation led to the cancellation of the much-vaunted proposal of the Government to send troops to Portugal. This was because there were not sufficient transport aircraft available to cover the two operations. This, in turn, further exposed the deficiencies of the Government's defence programme, evidence of which had already been provided from the day when the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations—then Minister of Defence—produced his appalling Defence White Paper in 1957.
In addition to that, there is a much more dangerous implication of Government statements in the last few days. Only last week the Chancellor of the Exchequer talked about cutting down the British commitment in Germany. It is true that he was talking about finance and not about the actual number of troops involved, but if we started getting the West Germans to pay for our troops we should diminish our political influence in discussions which took place. We would be acting exactly as would be the case if Mr. Khrushchev's firm words were coupled with some remarks by Mr. Mikoyan saying that Russia was not able to sustain the military burden of Soviet troops in East Berlin, Poland or Eastern Europe.
That is the parallel. If anything happens in these circumstances the whole of the Treasury Bench will be every bit as culpable as were the Chamberlain Government in 1940, for placing Britain and British troops in an indefensible position, in impossible circumstances. There is no disagreement about what hon. Members in most parts of the House feel, whatever may be the lack of resolution of the Government.
Perhaps I might illustrate it most clearly by a personal story. Not long ago, I spent a day in the country with a friend of mine. He happened to be one of the small select band of people who flew with the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) to try to put some fight into France in those dark days of June, 1940. As we sat on the lawn in the sunny countryside, looking at a country which for a long time has not known what it is like to be occupied, he recounted to me the circumstances of one of the last meetings, which happened to have been on 10th June, 1940.
The right hon. Member for Woodford and his party flew to France to meet the French Government led by M. Reynaud. It was also the day on which Italy declared war. There had been a contingency plan between Britain and France whereby, on the first night that Italy declared war British bombers would bomb Milan as an illustration to Mussolini that he would not have it all his own way.
The first subject the French raised in the course of the conference in the late afternoon—it was done rather shamefacedly by M. Reynaud—was whether the British Bomber Command could put off its raid on Milan because it would lead to the bombing of Toulon as a reprisal on France. The right hon. Member for Woodford answered that British Wellington bombers from 3 Group, in East Anglia, were already in the air and the operation could not be put off.
Later in the evening Air Marshal Barratt, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force in France, telephoned to say that the French commander in his sector would not allow his bombers to take off to bomb Milan because the French were convinced that they were to be bombed in return. It was finally cleared with M. Reynaud that they could go, but, later, Air Marshal Barratt rang to say that it had been impossible because the French had driven farm carts on to the runways and pulled the wheels off and made it impossible for any of the planes to take off.
That happened in 1940, in another country. It did not happen here, because of the spirit of the people. Some people might think that it could happen here. They could look at the nuclear disarmament marchers; they could look at the irresolution of the Government; they could look at the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and at the hesitations and vacillations of the Prime Minister and say that it could happen here, but I do not believe that that is consistent with the people of Britain and their mood today, whatever may be the view of the minority in this country, or whatever may be the view, or the lack of view, of the Government. I believe that the feeling in this country—and it is certainly my feeling—is that freedom is something for which one must be prepared to risk one's life, otherwise there is no freedom.
We exercise the right of free speech in this House tonight because right down the centuries people have been prepared to risk their lives for freedom. I hope that the message which will go out from this House is that we mean this stand on Berlin, and that we mean it not only in words, but in our hearts.
Anyone who read the debate on foreign affairs held in another place on 19th July could not fail to have been impressed by the sense of urgency in all the speeches, by the moderation with which the noble Lords spoke, and the way in which it was clear that great trouble was taken to see that nothing was said which might embarrass the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during his negotiations in the near future.
I do not think that the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) tackled the debate in the same spirit. It seemed to me that he felt that he had to oppose because he was a Member for the Opposition. With the House due to rise shortly and with this possible crisis being stirred up round our heads, we should try to show a completely united front and support my noble Friend all the way.
I am not being pompous. The hon. Gentleman should know that; he is much more adept at it than I am.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East started by accusing my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal of complacency, of having no sense of priority, and of having no coherence in his speech. There then followed a catalogue of items on which he said that he agreed with my right hon. Friend.
The hon. Gentleman then said that the two great forces, Russia and the West, were hurtling flat out towards each other and that a frightful collision would result if no one made a move to get out of the way. He said that the Government should try to make a move, but he did not say what that move should be.
The hon. Gentleman then went on to say that one thing about which we should not get excited was acceptance of the East German régime by a treaty declared unilaterally by Russia; that it did not matter whether East Germans were stamping West German passes instead of having them stamped by Russian officials, but, of course, we have to be careful because if it starts there it might go on to other things.
Having said that we in the West must produce a united front against the Russians, the hon. Gentleman went on to castigate my right hon. Friend for not attacking in public all our N.A.T.O. allies, or at any rate a good number of them when he had an opportunity to do so. There used to be an advertisement, "How to win friends and influence people". He was advocating a policy of, "How to lose friends and not to influence people".
One thing which is clear from the speeches so far, including the interesting and impressive speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), is that there is no difference between the two sides of the House about the rights and wrongs of the Berlin position. We know that on the right side the West has allowed the West Germans to have free elections, and that West Berlin is a free city. This carries with it certain rights for the West Berliners. I was glad that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) stressed the point about not yielding an inch or a millimetre, and that the hon. Member for Pembroke made the point about making it clear that we were not prepared to negotiate on the freedom of the West Berliners. We have these rights in the city, and the right of access. These rights were conveyed to us by the agreement mentioned by the hon. Member for Pembroke, but, in addition, we are there because the West Berliners want us to be there. That is equally important.
The wrong in this case is that these considerations do not apply to East Germany. They have not their own freely elected Government. East Berlin is not a free city. It was put under Communist control, and is merely supported and maintained by the Soviet Army.
It is unsatisfactory, and, indeed, anomalous, that sixteen years after the war no peace treaty has been signed with Germany, but this is not because of anything the West has done. It is simply because Russia has insisted on dividing Germany and has imposed an iron rule on East Germany and put her behind the Iron Curtain with a puppet Government in control. It is, therefore, clear that the East German Government are not qualified to speak for the German people when it comes to treaty negotiations, and the corollary is that the only Government who can be qualified to speak for the Germans is a freely elected all-German Government.
So it seems to me that if there is any change desired at all in the position of Berlin and Germany, it is in the direction of restoring the right of self-determination, about which so much is spoken by the Russians in relation to other people. It would be in the direction of restoring the right of self-determination to the East Germans, and, of course, to the East Berliners, so that a peace treaty may be finally negotiated.
This is not the change suggested by Mr. Khrushchev. First, he says that we should form a confederation of the two Germany States and that then there should be a peace treaty signed with that confederation and that West Berlin should become a free city. To start with, that is quite an unrealistic approach. There is no possibility whatever of the Germans in West Germany accepting a confederation with East Germany so long as there is a Soviet puppet Government in charge which is Communist inspired. Of course, they take the view—I think that I should, too—that for this to happen would be merely to perpetrate a division of Germany. One cannot imagine West Berlin remaining free for very long once it was surrounded entirely by a completely Communist-controlled East Germany without the presence of the Western allies.
We have been told that failing such a peace treaty with the confederation of the two German States, Mr. Khrushchev would negotiate a unilateral peace treaty with East Germany. That means annexation so far as the Germans are concerned. We have been told that once that has been done we shall have to negotiate any question of right of access to West Berlin, as well as anything else, with the East Germany Government.
I ask myself what chances there are of our getting those rights if a treaty between Russia and East Germany became a fait accompli. We heard Herr Ulbricht on 15th June making quite clear that one of the first things he would do after a peace treaty had been signed would be to close the refugee camps of West Berlin. He said, further, that the next thing he would do would be to close the Tempelhof airfield from which 80 per cent. of the refugees—who have been spoken about today in such moving terms—take off to fly to West Germany. We can, of course, realise why the East German régime wishes to stop this flood of refugees which has been increasing constantly over the years. Until recently the number was 250,000 a year, but with this additional threat the figure has been stepped up to well beyond 1,000 a day and is close to 2,000 a day.
We have, I think, been warned of what sort of treatment we may expect if such a treaty were negotiated between Russia and East Germany. In these circumstances, I am quite certain that hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree that my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary was right to insist in all the speeches he made on certain principles upon which any negotiations must be based. The first is the maintenance of international law and order. The second is the observance of the sanctity of all agreements and treaties. The third is the principle that we can have change only by consent, and that no unilateral change in a treaty can take place.
I believe that these principles represent the only sound basis for a peaceful settlement of world problems. Any unilateral peace treaty signed by Russia with East Germany cannot possibly affect our legal right to be in Berlin. Therefore, in the absence of any new all-German peace treaty signed by the four Powers with a united Germany it seems to me that we must, as has already been said, insist that we secure those three main rights—the right of Berliners to conduct their own life in the way they wish; the right of the allies to be in the city so that they may guarantee that freedom for the West Berliners; and also their right to unrestricted access to the city.
There are those who say that by adopting this position we are being too rigid and that we should not state these principles as being the prerequisite to any negotiations. I can understand people being somewhat unnerved by Mr. Khrushchev's sabre rattling of late. We have seen illustrations of him photographed in military uniform for the first time for many years. We had the film showing the might of the Russian air force, and we have heard of the remarks reported to have been made by Mr. Khrushchev to our Ambassador in Moscow, when he boasted that he had all Europe at his mercy, that only six bombs were needed to wipe out Britain and nine more would take care of France as well.
One can understand people being uneasy about it, and that is exactly what was intended by Mr. Khrushchev in playing upon the feelings of those who fear the possibility of a world war. But, I ask myself, what would these people have us do? Are they suggesting that we should allow Mr. Khrushchev to deny us the right to be in Berlin purely by unilateral action and cut off the people of West Berlin and take away their freedom and thus break the four-Power agreements of 1944 and 1949? If so, I maintain that they are asking us to take the first step an the slippery slope leading to world war.
Believe me, if Mr. Khrushchev found that he could secure the control of Berlin by mere threats that is not where he would stop. We should soon find that he would rapidly proceed to pick various vantage points throughout the world until such time as we found ourselves faced with the choice of making a belated fight for our own freedom, which it might then be too late to wage, or surrendering to Communist domination. That is a position in which we have been before with people like Mr. Khrushchev. We saw it with Hitler. Once we let people tear up treaties and abrogate them unilaterally, it is not long before we find ourselves against the wall and we have to attempt to fight our way out from an impossible position.
Mr. Khrushchev has put out a new blueprint and in which he talks of his desire to establish permanent peace. At the Russian Exhibition, in large letters an the wall we saw a quotation from Lenin:
Above all we treasure peace.
But what sort of peace? Are not we entitled to ask that? Is it the sort of peace we want, the sort of peace which enables people throughout the world to live without fear and threat and to carry on in their own way? Is it peaceful coexistence which we are told about and which seems to mean something quite different? Or does it mean just peace in Russia for the time being while Mr. Khrushchev will go round stirring up trouble wherever there is a likelihood of his being able to exploit it in various parts of the world by infiltration and subversion and by gaining control of strategic points all over the world and thus imposing his way of life on us all? I think we may be forgiven for thinking that on present showing that latter type of peace is the type about which Mr. Khrushchev is talking rather than the one we normally think of.
There is peace in Berlin now. There is no threat to that peace from the West. The only threat which exists at all comes from Mr. Khrushchev himself and his determination to try to provoke a crisis. It is difficult to know what Mr. Khrushchev can hope to gain from all this. He must realise that the West is not prepared to give way to these threats to the freedom of Berlin and our right to be there. I have tried to think what he really hopes to gain and I find it difficult to imagine. Of course, he may think that we are complete idiots or that we are prepared to climb down on all that we have said in the past. He has some difficulties. A large number of people each day lock their doors in Eastern Germany on everything they have ever owned and are prepared to flee with whatever they can carry in their pockets to escape the Communist régime.
I wonder whether there are certain fringe concessions which he wants which would make his life easier and which would not affect the vital rights about which so much has been said this afternoon. If there are, we must try to negotiate. Most important of all, in the meantime we must state again and again, not only in the House but throughout the world, especially wherever it is possible to do so on radio programmes in the uncommitted countries, the rights and wrongs of the present position. We must make certain that everyone throughout the world who is watching this crisis develop knows exactly why there is a crisis, who is promoting it and who are doing their best to prevent it.
Above all, we in the House should send a message of loyalty and united support to the Foreign Secretary. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is cheek."] Are hon. Members opposite prepared to sit here and to suggest that they need not be loyal and united supporters of the Foreign Secretary when he is perhaps negotiating for the safety of the world and the future of their sons and daughters? That is fantastic, and it is exactly the point on which I started my speech. There is a feeling among hon. Members opposite that they have to attack all the time and can never give the Government any support. Hon. Members opposite have been told time and again by the Foreign Secretary, if they bothered to read, that if we are to have a strong foreign policy we must have a strong economy, but the moment it is necessary to take measures to put the economy right they squeal and fight here as if the future of the country did not matter. I am appalled to hear such an interjection from hon. Members opposite at such a time as this. Let it be known outside the House that, although there may be a few hon. Members below the Gangway who feel as they feel, the vast majority of hon. Members and people in the country will give their loyal and united support to the Foreign Secretary when he goes into the delicate negotiations which lie ahead.
The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) has enunciated an extraordinary constitutional doctrine—that it is the duty of the House and the object of Parliamentary debate not to embarrass the Government of the day.
But at the beginning of his speech the hon. Member said "not embarrass the Foreign Secretary in any way". No doubt that is a very convenient idea for any Government, but it is a recipe for a Reichstag, not for a free Parliament. It was an outrageous suggestion. The hon. Member apparenty wants a one-party State. He must grow up.
If the hon. Member can bring himself to read his own speech in HANSARD tomorrow morning, which will not be a very agreeable exercise at breakfast-time, he will find that I have not misrepresented him in any way.
There is only one other point in his speech worth mentioning, and that is his remarks about the problem of Berlin—the problem of a free city in the middle of a Soviet-controlled zone. One possible solution worth considering, I believe, is contained in a Motion put down on the Order Paper by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) and signed by about 70 of my hon. Friends. This proposes that Berlin should be neutralised and that United Nations headquarters should be transferred there from New York. It suggests that Berlin should then be regarded as
international territory, policed and administered by the United Nations.
Obviously, this is a drastic idea, which needs careful consideration. But it would overcome the difficulties, which the hon. Member for St. Albans mentioned, of Berlin as a free city hemmed in by more or less hostile territory and unable, therefore, to hold out for long against the surrounding pressures.
Has not the hon. Member read what Mr. Khrushchev said recently about the United Nations? He said that if at any time he found that all the other nations of the world were united against him in some action, and he considered that action to be desirable for the security of Russia, he would be prepared to fight the United Nations and to use force.
If Mr. Khrushchev said that it sounds as if he were speaking in rather the same vein as that of some of the speeches which we have heard today, turned upside down on their heads. But Mr. Khrushchev has also spoken of the possibility of transferring the United Nations from New York—perhaps to Austria or Switzerland. He did not suggest Berlin. I merely say that the suggestion in the Motion is worth considering, since the future of Berlin is obviously a difficult problem for all of us.
The hon. Member also criticised my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) because, after attacking same parts of the Lord Privy Seal's speech, my hon. Friend went on to express agreement with other parts of it. Apparently the hon. Member for St. Albans resented that, despite his plea for unanimous support of the Foreign Secretary. I cannot understand why he cannot understand that it is possible, without inconsistency, to agree with some parts of a speech, but to disagree with other parts of it, or to think, perhaps, that a speech contains some good things, but is not very well delivered. However, the hon. Member will learn in time.
I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal himself was not particularly proud of his rather scrappy speech. None of us wishes to follow him all through his tour d'horizon, or in all his chamois-like leaps from plateau to platitude. But I should like to say something, as he did in his speech, about Angola. I do not think that one can go as far as to accuse the right hon. Gentleman of complete complacency. He said, as he has said before and as the Foreign Secretary has said, that our colonial policy and our attitude to the nations of Africa is different from that of Portugal. That can hardly be called a resounding, forthright rebuke, can it? The Lord Privy Seal spoke with almost academic disinterestedness of what is going on in Angola: faults on both sides … the boys get a bit rough sometimes ֵ but now that our splendid Consul-General has been up-country, there is a "better picture" altogether. That was his rather too cheery approach to what is in fact the extreme horror of the repressive measures still being carried out, with the utmost brutality, by the Portuguese.
Significantly enough, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the original provocation in March by the rebels. I know of nobody on this side of the House or outside who condones the brutalities which were committed by the rebels—though some of the missionaries have said that, without condoning them, one can at least try to understand them and to remember the centuries of oppression and deprivation which culminated in the horrible events of 15th March. He did not refer, however, to that long-term provocation, but only to provocation by the rebels.
He also went on to talk about "rebuilding racial harmony" in Angola—as if there has ever been any racial harmony there. I know that the Portuguese make a great song and dance about not having a colour bar. I believe that that is to some extent true, but how tiny a percentage of the people of Angola have been "assimilated", as they call it! Certainly the Portuguese cannot collaborate in "rebuilding racial harmony."
We all want peace to be realised in Angola, but it never will be realised until the Portuguese start learning some of the facts of life in the twentieth century—until they climb down, pack up, and get out. Theirs is the next empire due for liquidation, and they had better take notice of that. This is what the Foreign Secretary should be telling them, not merely saying—mildly, meekly, and amiably—that we have quite a different sort of colonial policy from theirs, but perhaps one may be as good as the other.
Meanwhile, the arrests of Portuguese democrats in Portugal continue, as a report in The Times today shows. I was a little surprised that the Lord Privy Seal did not tell us anything—I hope that the Minister of State, who is to wind up the debate, will tell us something—about Dr. Cecil Scott, the Protestant missionary liaison officer. What answer has been received to the protests of a week ago by Her Majesty's Government, about which we were told? I hope that note will be taken of this question, and that we shall be given definite information on this.
The Lord Privy Seal also, anxious as ever to whitewash the Portuguese in Angola, repudiated strongly the suggestion of genocide, of calculated extermination of the Angolan people. I wonder if he noticed the proclamation of 18th June by the now Governor-General of Angola, who announced:
The only alternative we offer to the terrorist hordes is unconditional surrender or annihilation.
As the Secretary-General of the Baptist Missionary Society has pointed out, the so-called "terrorist hordes", as often happens in such circumstances, include large numbers of perfectly innocent African men, women and children. Perhaps we can hear a further word tonight about the Portuguese innocence of genocide?
Then, what about the Portuguese refusal to allow the United Nations Commission to make an impartial investigation? Is it not a little suspicious that the Portuguese should refuse that, when they have agreed to allow our Consul-General and two other officials to go upcountry—under close and friendly surveillance by the Portuguese authorities, with full co-operation by them, as we were told this afternoon?
On the question of the report from the Military Attaché, who is still out of touch, apparently, is it really impossible to get in touch with him? Are there not any radios or cable facilities or any means of communicating with someone who is, after all, only a few hundred miles from Luanda, at the most? I had a Question on the Order Paper today; it was not reached, and I have just received the Written Answer—which is about as evasive as even a Written Answer ever is, even from this Government.
My Question was:
To ask the Lord Privy Seal if he will instruct the military and air attaches from the British Embassy in Lisbon to include in their report from Angola as full an account as possible of the nature of the arms in use or held in reserve by the Portuguese forces there.
There has been a good deal of interest in the House about the arms, possibly supplied from this country, that are being used in Angola. The House will
note that I asked the Lord Privy Seal to instruct the military and air attaches to include this information in their report. The Lord Privy Seal's reply is as follows:
The purpose of Her Majesty's Consul-General's visits was to gain as much information as possible, commensurate with the requirements of military security, about the situation in Northern Angola and report back.
That is all. There is nothing whatever about the military and air attaches, who presumably can quite easily see what sort of weapons and equipment are lying around there. This is treating the House with contempt—an attitude which one has come to expect from Her Majesty's Government. They should try to be a little more forthcoming when they give Written Answers to Questions, instead of not answering the Question which is put down—just on the eve of a Recess, when, as they know full well, there is no point in postponing the Question.
One other point about arms. The Lord Privy Seal remarked on the very small numbers of the forces originally in Angola. I take it that more and more reinforcements have been coming from Portugal, because we know that the fighting is still going on and that the situation is regarded as serious? Presumably, therefore, there are more troops coming from Portugal. Presumably, they bring their arms and equipment with them. Is the right hon. Gentleman absolutely sure that none of these arms and equipment was supplied to Portugal for N.A.T.O. purposes? How can there be any guarantee that arms and equipment so supplied to Portugal, exclusively for N.A.T.O. purposes, will not be exported again to Angola for use there? I do not believe that there is any guarantee at all. Whatever assurances the Portuguese Government may have given the British Government, if the Portuguese find themselves in a corner and get really desperate they will throw everything in—napalm bombs and everything else, and whatever they can get from N.A.T.O. resources, too.
However, Angola is only one of the areas of conflict and crisis. The Lord Privy Seal devoted the main part of his speech to West Berlin, that meretricious shop-window of the sort of society which this Government were so proud of having started to build up in this country, until the Chancellor's statement the other day. In this part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, as in others in this debate, we had all the usual clap-trap about the "unity and resolution of the whole free world". The right hon. Gentleman boasted, I thought rather like the frog in the fable, that we have what he called "sovereign and absolute rights in West Berlin". Absolute balderdash! There is no such thing. No human or social rights are absolute and invariable. All are qualified by circumstances and by the rights of others. Why did the right hon. Gentleman, and why do other hon. Gentlemen, exaggerate so rhetorically when they get "steamed up" in this sort of crisis?
As August approaches, the Government have the inestimable advantage and relief of getting rid of Parliament, sending us away for several months. I imagine that the hon. Member for St. Albans thinks that this is a very good thing, since he believes that Parliament exists only to support the Government of the day. He probably thinks that it would be a good thing if we were in permanent recess—[An HON. MEMBER: "He has gone away."] That is why, probably—or perhaps summoned for just a few weeks in the year, as in some one-party States. It is curious how often at this time of year the hot wind of war seems to blow round our planet, and how often it seems to blow from the direction of Germany.
However, I do not entirely share the pessimism that has been created to some extent artificially, about the Berlin situation. So far as one can judge, neither Mr. Khrushchev nor Mr. Kennedy has taken up a position from which he cannot move without real danger or real loss of face. President Kennedy, of whom many of us have still got some qualified hopes, despite the abominable aggression in Cuba, has shown himself aware that negotiation is essential in this situation.
I wish that the hon. Member for St. Albans were still in the Chamber, because I shall now quote some extraordinarily wise words spoken by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Lords debate the other day. He said:
… we are in danger of becoming prisoners of our own pronouncements and of a rigidity growing up from which no one can escape and which might possibly lead us into war." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 19th July, 1961; Vol 233, c. 680.]
It is extremely important that no absolutely rigid and undeviating attitudes
should be taken up by either side at this moment. That is why I rather regret the tub-thumping flamboyance of some of the speeches we have heard—about this or that item under discussion being never, never, never negotiable, and so on.
It is a truism that Mr. Khrushchev, and the Soviet Government and people, do not want war. For proof of that we have only to consider the extraordinary programme announced in Russia only yesterday—an almost chiliastic programme which, should therefore, be acceptable to many in the West who are sickened by the false values of the so-called affluent society and by our universal cash nexus, and acceptable, too, to more primitive peoples, in the under-developed areas, who are confused and alarmed by the imperatives of a cash society.
Khrushchev does not want war, Kennedy does not want war, but Kennedy—perhaps both of them, I do not know—is under heavy pressure from some people in the Pentagon, and from all sorts of other people. He is under pressure to restart nuclear testing, for instance, from men like Senator Dodd, the greatly respected Senator from Connecticut, to whom the B.B.C., in a grim recent edition of "Panorama", gave a British audience of many millions for a lecture on the necessity of the resumption of tests.
I must say that I watched that programme with a certain hopelessness and a sense of nausea, especially when Senator Dodd, speaking of the Soviet leaders, asked, "Why should they not cheat? They have no scruples." Senator Dodd's own scruples are no doubt more tender than Mr. Khrushchev's—but I thought it odd, just after hearing him hold forth on this high moral level, to learn that it had been officially admitted, in the Congressional Record of the United States, that Senator Dodd was himself a paid foreign agent.
In two years he was paid a sum of about 65,000 dollars by the Guatemalan Government—25,000 dollars of it in the year after he had campaigned successfully to raise the defence support allocation to the Guatemalan Government from the 5 million dollars originally asked by the Eisenhower Administration to 15 million dollars. Actually, it was only a small cut that he got—but he really should not lecture the whole free world about the unscrupulousness of the Soviet leaders.
Mr. Kennedy is also under very heavy pressure, of course, from Western Germany. There is a tremendous propaganda campaign going on, largely conducted by old Germans with long memories—and there are many of them in the West—who will never, until they are really made to, agree that the Eastern frontiers of Germany are not open to revision. They must be told so firmly by Kennedy, or by the British Government, or by both. The Minister of State knows as well as I do that they are constantly hammering away on that subject.
There is pressure about other things, too. Here is a sentence or two from the Münchener Merkur of 24th June, a newspaper with which Her Strauss, the Defence Minister, is associated. Its editorial says:
The Federal Republic ought to receive a nuclear deterrent potential corresponding to her political and strategic value in the balance of nuclear terror. The provision of nuclear warheads to the Bundeswehr by the Americans is technically possible at any time, and should be seriously considered in an emergency. It is necessary, however, that the United States Government should let this be known unambiguously to the Soviet Union, and should inform the latter that, in the event of any threat to the life and existence of the Federal Republic, the second key of the store-cupboard would be placed at the sole disposal of the Germans.
No question of a N.A.T.O. deterrent there! It is a pure West German deterrent: "the second key of the store-cupboard" solely at the Germans' disposal.
I am sorry that I have gone on rather longer than I meant to, but most of the speeches in this debate have been in a vein rather opposite to what I have been saying. All the rhetorical comparisons with 1940 seem to me to be futile, since the very fact of the nuclear potential has brought a new dimension into war, and makes utterly impossible any idea that there could be a "just war" in a nuclear age. It was arguable that previous wars were, in the classical sense of the phrase, just wars, but the conditions under which a war may be so defined are such that this simply cannot be said of a nuclear war or a potential nuclear war. One of our curses is what Professor Butterfield, in a recently published lecture, has called the course of "melodramatic myth-making". Despite all the propaganda that I have mentioned, I believe that the people of this country are not willing to die for the myth of West Berlin.
I believe that more and more of them are coming round to the view that fear is a bad master; that the strategy of the supreme deterrent, being based, obviously and explicitly, on a balance of terror, increases, rather than lessens, our danger—and the danger to the people of West Berlin, incidentally; and that, consequently, all Governments—I wish that the first of them could be a British Government: it obviously will not be this one—all Governments will, in the end, have the sense and imagination to repudiate solemnly the ownership and the potential use of weapons of mass destruction.
When the House debated foreign affairs about two months ago, I had intended, if I had the good fortune to be called, to speak on the subject of the danger to British interests in the Persian Gulf and, in particular, in Kuwait. I intended to do that, not because I claim any special prescience about what has since happened; I chose that area simply because at that moment it was one of the few areas in the world where there is a major British interest at stake but where virtually nothing whatever was happening.
The point I had intended to make was that the success of foreign policy consists not in the skill shown in dealing with crises when they arise but in the skill shown in forestalling crises so that they never do arise. I chose the Persian Gulf because that was true there at that time. There was, and still is, an enormously important British interest there, but there was no particular immediate threat.
The threat was bound to come, because there is, I would say, nowhere else in the world where there is a greater disparity between the importance of our interests and responsibility, and the precariousness of the foundation on which we base ourselves to carry out that responsibility and defend those interests. My moral was to have been that it is very sad that a Foreign Secretary never has time to think about anything except crises, because if he had then possibly some of the crises need never have occurred.
This lesson is still valid, but I cannot use the Persian Gulf to illustrate it. In fact, I cannot use anywhere in the world to illustrate it now because wherever one looks—whether in the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America, Africa, Europe or Berlin—there is nowhere where there is not a serious threat to British interests at the present time.
It is possible that Berlin might again become a point from which this lesson could be illustrated. At least one of the possibilities in the Berlin situation—I do not say a probability—is that the crisis could simply die down, just as it did in 1959, possibly because, as in 1959, the purpose of Mr. Khrushchev stoking up the crisis might be now as I think it was then, namely, to accelerate the very slow progress that was being achieved towards a summit meeting to which at that time, and perhaps at this time, he attached great importance.
Even if it dies down it seems vitally important that we should not again carry on as we did before, as if nothing need be done until the next crisis, because there is bound to be a next one. The status quo in Germany, whatever else may happen, cannot go on unchanged for ever. It is extremely unlikely that the crisis will die down. If, as is more probable, Mr. Khrushchev is not bluffing about his intention to sign a peace treaty with Eastern Germany—as has been said before in this debate—we must negotiate. We must negotiate because there is, quite simply, no alternative whatever. Nothing can stop Mr. Khrushchev from signing this peace treaty, however illegally, with Eastern Germany if he wants to.
May I resume by thanking the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) for calling that count and increasing my audience, however temporarily. I was going to say that there is simply no alternative to negotiation because nothing can stop Mr. Khrushchev from signing this peace treaty, handing over the remaining powers to the East German Government and then, as the hon. Gentleman for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) pointed out, the only consequence of refusing to negotiate with Mr. Khrushchev would be that we should have to negotiate—or at any rate to deal with—the East German Government.
It needs saying again by the Government, and frequently, because through no fault of the Government or of President Kennedy, or anyone else on our side, unfortunately the Press in recent weeks has been giving the misleading impression that we are mare interested in sabre rattling than we are in preparing for negotiation. I am sure that this is not true, but it is impossible to say it too often and it needs to be said in a way which even the most sensational newspapers can take in.
If we must negotiate, on what basis are we to do so? The Government have stated the three minimum conditions from which they will not retreat. The three essential minimum conditions are the right to be in Berlin, the right of access to Berlin and the right of self-determination for the West Berliners.
My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal was pressed to say what was negotiable. He was entitled to refuse to say, because a Minister cannot be expected to show his hand in advance in public before entering negotiations. Hon. Members have, however, a right to put forward ideas of matters on which, in our view, negotiation is possible. Some things are obvious and some would not cost very much. They would cost us very little, but they are seemingly extremely desirable to the other side. They are so desirable to them that we are apt to overlook how much they would cost us and to insist that they are not negotiable simply because they are so desirable to the other side. I should like to indicate two or three of the points I have in mind.
There is, first, the possibility of a reduction of the scale of our presence in Berlin. I speak only of a reduction of scale; I do not mean the combat troops which are in Berlin. They are no more than a token force already. They could stand up to a coup de main by the East Germans. They certainly could not stand up to a war in defence of Berlin, and they should not be reduced further. Behind them, however, or perhaps above them, there is a large superstructure of chairborne staff and administrative civilians who are looked upon by Mr. Khrushchev as nothing more or less than a basis for espionage and a reduction of which would, in my view, be a small sacrifice on our part. It is intensely resented by Mr. Khrushchev that there should be so many of these people on top of and behind the combat troops. We could do a little good to our balance of payments by reducing their numbers, but we could do a great deal of good psychologically in our dealings with Eastern Europe.
My second and third points go together, and at least one of them has been mentioned already. The second is a reiteration in, perhaps, a more emphatic and more convincing way than has recently been done of our guarantee against placing nuclear weapons under exclusive German control. The third point concerns the recognition of the Eastern frontier of Germany, the so-called Oder-Neisse line. I take these two points together, because it is impossible for any honest person to visit Eastern Europe without coming back with an impression of the sincerity of the fear, however mistaken it is—and, I believe, it is mistaken—on these two subjects. Neither of them would involve us in any major concession in things which we either have the power to withhold or that in the long run we would want to withhold. The guarantee concerning nuclear weapons is already written into the W.E.U. treaty, and nothing more is necessary than to reaffirm it as emphatically as possible.
Chancellor Adenauer has already stated that he would never use force to alter the eastern frontier. Since it is inconceivable that that frontier could ever be altered in any way except by force, that is tantamount to recognition of it. That implicit recognition should be made explicit on the part of all of us.
These are small things, but in Eastern Europe it is believed that these would be new commitments on our part. It is not true that they would be new commitments. They are things we are already committed to, but if the East does believe that they would be new commitments, why should we boggle at giving them?
The fourth and last point I want to make concerns the possibility of some further degree of recognition of the D.D.R., the East German State. I do not mean diplomatic recognition; I do not mean signing a peace treaty with the East Germans; I do not mean admitting them to the United Nations; but they are already in fact recognised by us and even by the West Germans for all sorts of practical purposes, administrative purposes, commercial purposes, sport and so on. Their Foreign Minister was even present as an observer at the Great Power Foreign Ministers Conference in 1959. There are undeniably today two German Governments just as there are two Chinese Governments. Despite the objections of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), I think the Chinese case does provide a parallel in that we have today in the China we do not recognise consular representation as well as diplomatic representation in the China we do recognise.
If that were considered going too far in the case of Eastern Germany, again I cannot see the objection to our being willing to treat them as agents of the Soviet Government for the purpose of administering and controlling transit to Berlin. In any case, there are many kinds of intermediate status between full diplomatic recognition and totally declining to acknowledge the existence of a people, and I feel sure that it is possible to find some position along that spectrum a little further forward than we stand at present.
It may be said that this involves abandoning all hope of the reunification of Germany. I am not sure that that is a valid argument for two reasons. In the first place, there is no hope of reunifying Germany in the present situation: there is no hope to abandon. In the second place, it seems to me conceivable that reunification might eventually be brought a step nearer to the kind of degree of recognition—"acknowledgement" let me say rather than "recognition"—which is implied in what I have said. It may indeed be that this new degree of acknowledgment is the only way of getting the reunification of Germany, and the fact that Mr. Khrushchev says this is so is not, in my opinion, sufficient reason for our saying that it cannot be so.
None of these four points I have made involves conceding anything which we intend to hold in the long run or to withhold in the long run or that we could withhold in the long run. The first is a mere token, the size of our presence in Berlin; the second, nuclear weapons, merely affirms an existing treaty; the third is the Oder-Neisse line; the fourth, the acknowledgment of Eastern Germany; which are things we could not alter without war, and obviously we do not want to.
I have many times asked those who should know, why are we not prepared to concede any of these things, any one of them? The answer always is that they must be held as bargaining counters so that we could get something in exchange. It seems to me that now is the time to get something in exchange, now is the time to cash some of these bargaining counters, none of which is in itself substantial to us, but which are apparently extremely substantial to the East. Why should we not take the opportunity to bargain them for something which is substantial to us, the security of West Berlin and peace in Europe?
It is no good saying, as will be said, that the Russians would not keep their word, because if we say—and I think that even the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East made this mistake—they will not keep their word there is no point in entering into any kind of bargain with them at all, and we are left simply with either retreat or war as the only possibilities.
If we believe that the Communists always break their word—and I might say in parentheses that I have some experience of negotiating with Communists—we cannot negotiate with them at all. We can only ignore them or fight. I do not believe that it is the case that they always break their word. What I believe is the case is that very often they mean totally different things by their words from what we mean.
The answer is to draw each agreement in the tightest possible form, in such a way that they cannot be broken or misinterpreted, and to eliminate from these agreements all ambiguous words like "peace", "coexistence" and "democracy" which are bound to be misunderstood. Above all, the essential thing in drawing such agreements is to take absolutely nothing whatever on trust. As far as Berlin is concerned, it was precisely because we took things on trust in 1945 that we are in the mess that we are in today.
I hope that the Lord Privy Seal was present at the beginning of the speech just made by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse). I am not sure that he was, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will read the speech very carefully from the beginning which was as good as the part which I know he heard. It was advice given in all sincerity and from great knowledge which might very well be followed by the Government.
I appreciate what the Lord Privy Seal said at the beginning, namely, that he cannot go into any negotiations saying exactly what he is prepared to give away. We on the back benches, on the other hand, have a rather freer rein in this respect and it is our duty, as it seems to many of us, including the hon. Member for Oxford, to suggest to the Lord Privy Seal what should be done in this matter. Every summer since I can remember there have been these war scares. I do not know whether it is because the statesmen of the world want their summer holidays so badly, and have been overworked, or whether it is because the European harvest has been gathered. I do not know what the reason is, but this war scare always comes up every summer. I believe that we should take this Berlin scare seriously but by no means tragically, because as has been pointed out before, almost all the things which are in play in this crisis are negotiable.
I wonder whether we had better not consider even some more serious concessions, as they might be called, to the other side, than those mentioned by the hon. Member for Oxford. He mentioned a whole gamut of stages of recognition. I want to tell the Lord Privy Seal that I would not regard it as a complete tragedy even if we recognised the East German State. I am well aware that if one gives any concessions at all, people in West Germany, at any rate, even in high places, and I suspect that it goes the whole way down, are apt to say, "This is the last straw. The whole of Eastern Europe will disappear if you give any concession at all to the Russians. They will merely use it as a jumping off place to the next." So they may, but surely it all depends upon the quid pro quo for that concession.
I could not agree more with the hon. Member for Oxford than when he said that we must negotiate. We simply have to, and we must make plain that we shall negotiate. It is not enough for the Lord Privy Seal to give us a tour d'horizon which is very interesting. He must make plain that our hands are clean, that we are reasonable, and that we want to negotiate.
What are we going to negotiate about? I suggest that even if we were prepared to go the whole way in recognition of East Germany—and I know that there are different opinions about this—there might be concessions which the other side would be prepared to give which would make even that concession worth while. It has been referred to before that we might possibly have some completely new corridor constructed, a wide corridor, which would be the sovereign territory of West Germany, going to Berlin.
It would not be capable of being arranged along the existing corridors, but that is a minor detail. It might have to be somewhat north of Helmstedt; but wherever it was, with flyovers constructed so that there would he no serious obstruction to any East German internal traffic, that would be a very small expense indeed to pay for absence of friction. That should he considered very seriously by the Government.
The suggestion has already been made that the United Nations should be brought in much more seriously than hitherto with regard to the Berlin problem. One of the suggestions has been that the whole of the United Nations headquarters should be brought into Berlin. That does not seem to me to be an entirely unreasonable suggestion. But whether that be accented or not, I submit that the presence of the United Nations, at any rate in Berlin, is very desirable when all the scare has died down and when we have been prepared to give and take on both sides.
I would add, in parenthesis, that if it so happens that the Russians are not prepared to accept our proposals in this matter—I hope that there will be proposals, and that we shall not wait for the Russians to make the running all the time—the battle will have been nearly won if the uncommitted world, the third parties in this matter, think that we have been reasonable. How important it is, therefore, that we should be reasonable.
To come back to the United Nations point, I believe that there should be a United Nations presence in Berlin when all this is finished. I should like to see it in the whole of Berlin, West and East, but certainly in the West. Does this not show how necessary it is that there should be established at the earliest possible moment a United Nations security unit, so to speak, a force in being with a staff, its plans already made—not just little contingents coming from various countries, including the smaller Powers, though all honour to them for their willingness to do it, ad hoc when each crisis arises, but a United Nations emergency unit to go where it is wanted in different parts of the world. The Congo is the latest example of where we had to improvise at the last moment.
I should like Her Majesty's Government to follow up something which I regard as one of the most important things which have happened in the last year at any rate, and that is something for which they must bear a heavy share of the praise, for once, namely, the declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers with regard to what was necessary in the way of a security authority under the United Nations, and all that flows from it, in order to provide that modicum of security without which no sovereign State can or has any right to disarm.
I should like to see the Government follow up that marvellous suggestion which was made by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers from a multi-racial and multi-continental Commonwealth, by suggesting that as a first and immediate step there should be this United Nations emergency unit with its staff, with its judiciary, if need be, to deal with the emergencies which are bound to continue to crop up in the world until we have a sensible world Government in whatever form it might come.
I say this to the Government: if our hands are clean and our intentions are not hidden away in the minds of Ministers, including the Lord Privy Seal, but manifest to the uncommitted part of the world, our right arm is immeasurably strengthened when we go into the councils of the world.
In the short time in which I have been in the House I have become a devotee of the short speech, and I hope that the few remarks which I make will indicate my devotion to this cause. As expected, most of this debate has been dominated by the question of Germany, and it is concerning Germany that I wish to address a few remarks to the House in a moment. There are however, other matters of a general nature which range over foreign affairs as a whole which have been raised.
I want, first, to refer to Kuwait which was, perhaps significantly, not mentioned by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). The hon. Member attacked the Government because of the drifting character of the way in which they were conducting our foreign affairs. Yet I think that he should have paid tribute to the speed and efficiency of the action which the Government took to protect our friends and our vital interests in Kuwait.
The speed and efficiency of the Government's action in this operation have not been fully realised by the country as a whole or, I believe, by this House. Here was an operation conducted with the utmost speed and efficiency. We went straight to the assistance of people who are our friends and who, indeed, are bound up with our own interests as well—let us concede that. Throughout this country, however, the Government have not had nearly sufficient credit for this excellent operation, and I think that they deserve to have that said tonight in no uncertain terms.
The question of Germany has dominated the debate. As I see it, there are two particular headings under which fear is generated about Germany. The first is one which has not been dealt with at any length by many speeches, but I think it appropriate that it should be. It is the fear, which is ruling in the breasts of many people in this country and throughout the world, that there might be a third world war generated by German action.
It is appropriate that it should be mentioned in the debate. It was mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish). This fear exists in many parts of the world, including this country. I think that all of us have had letters indicating that it is real—very understandably so, because, as is only too well known to us all, twice in half a century Germany has caused there to be a world war which has brought desolation to millions of people. We would be failing in our duty if we did not face up to the fact that there is fear among our people that this might happen again. We should do all we can to deal with this question and we must be vigilant.
I believe that there can be words of comfort which it is possible to say to those who have these fears. I believe that these fears are fortunately not as well-founded as they otherwise might be because of several factors. The first is the overall alteration in the nature of war. Any German, East or West, who was minded to have a war of aggression or agrandisement, would realise that to create a war would be to create a suicide. This is a fundamental fact of the whole of our affairs of war and peace at the moment and is as fully recognised throughout Germany as in the rest of the world. It is our great hope for the future.
My second word of comfort for those with especial fears on this score is the fact that in the last war Garmany was fought over and destroyed and desecrated in a way which did not happen in the 1914–18 war. I and many others saw the desecration of Germany immediately after the war. We saw the ruins and the horror, a horror with which, thank God, what happened in England was small by comparison. It was a lesson which Germany could not have failed to learn, and it had an especially profund effect on the womenfolk of Germany.
Further, there is the conduct of the German State since the war, conduct which has been excellent, all things considered. There are now in high places in Western Germany those who suffered most under the Nazi tyranny. I hope that my words will do something to allay the genuine fears about Germany. They are words of comfort which ought to be uttered. But they must be accompanied by vigilance.
The second heading under which there are fears generated by Germany is that a third world war might be generated because of the violation of allied rights in and relative to Germany in general and Berlin in particular. I reiterate what has been said by many hon. Members—that all hon. Members on this side of the House and most hon. Members opposite, especially on one side of the Gangway opposite, will agree that there must be no appeasement. By appeasement we mean that which my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes meant—that there must not be given up a single inch of soil which is now free, nor a single soul transferred, as it were, from the West and freedom to the East and a Communist régime. That is absolutely basic to our thought and belief on this subject. We must defend Berlin, and we will.
As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes has said, we may have to defend Berlin in spite of the fact that Germans are involved. But the Berliner is in a category somewhat different from that of the rest of the Germans because the Berliner and ourselves and the rest of the Western allies have fought something in the nature of a battle together, Berlin alone and the allies. We and the Berliner have fought the blockade. I was stationed in Berlin during the blockade and I saw the effect of our decision—for which we give credit to hon. Members opposite. In the Berliner we have the staunchest and the firmest friend of the West. Like the Cockneys, the Berliners are sceptical and cynical and they were not sure that we would stand by them at the time of the blockade. When they found that we would, they became as staunch friends as any of this country and of the allies in general.
We must stand by the more than two million people who are in Berlin, but we must also be prepared to negotiate and, as the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) said to adopt flexibility in our
negotiations. The hon. Member quoted the Foreign Secretary's speech when my noble Friend said that we were in danger of becoming the prisoners of our own pronouncements and of rigidity from which no one would be able to escape. My noble Friend went on to say:
… I should like to revert to the quiet, serious patient techniques of diplomacy, free from the threat of force or from the use of force."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 19th July, 1961; Vol. 233, c. 680.]
Those are words which should carry the whole House with them. What is needed is patient negotiation on the basis that we will have no appeasement, but with either side prepared to offer fringe considerations which would be concessions.
It is my profound hope that neither America nor Russia will indulge in posturing and in taking up positions from which it might later be difficult to retreat. Let us keep the position flexible, but on the firm basis that we will have no appeasement.
The contrast between the attitude of hon. Members on this side of the House and that of some hon. Members opposite is shown by a contrast of two Motions, one in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) and the other headed, "Neutralisation of Berlin" and put down by several hon. Members opposite. The future of West Berlin, as seen by hon. Members on this side of the House, is that it is essential that West Berliners should have the right to preserve their own way of life and the allies the right to be present in the City to guarantee West Berliners their freedom. That is the foundation from which negotiations will take place.
I believe that the neutralisation of Berlin would not be at all a practical idea. I am convinced that we cannot neutralise that which is not neutral by its very nature and the Berliner is not neutral in this struggle. He had to sustain the acht und vierzehn Stunden by the Russians When they came in. He is anti-Communist to the nth degree and cannot be a neutralist immediately because hon. Members opposite want to neutralise him.
How dangerous it would be to have the United Nations in Berlin, of all places. One of the dangers of having the United Nations in a place like Berlin is that it would have to be surrounded by people Who are almost militant anti-Communist, and we should have precisely the sort of complaint which there is against New York as the headquarters of the United Nations being levied against Berlin. New York may not be the ideal situation for the United Nations headquarters, but there we had trouble because of the virile action taken by the local population against certain delegates of the United Nations. How much more trouble there would be if the United Nations headquarters were to be in an anti-Communist Berlin surrounded, in turn, by East Germany. I submit that this is not a practical solution.
On the question of Berlin, I am sure that all of us in this House wish to see the Government remain firm in their negotiations and that we shall be true to the Berliner, that we shall be true to our own interests and see that the ugly head of appeasement does not rise again to plague us.
It may be convenient for me at this moment to comment on the debate that we have had. The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) began by saying that, since taking his seat in the House, he had become a devotee of the short speech. Whether I can be regarded as having given great evidence over the years of equal devotion to the same cause, I do not know, but I hope tonight to try the patience of hon. Members for a little less long than I have sometimes done. I am helped in that by the excellent, thoughtful and impressive speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) when he opened the debate.
My hon. Friend's speech today was well up to the highest standards that we have come to expect from him. The contrast between my hon. Friend's opening speech and that of the Minister could not have been more marked. I have heard many Foreign Office briefs delivered from the Government Front Bench. We get used to these great tours d'horizon which Foreign Ministers or their spokesmen often think they have to make, but I have seldom heard a more perfunctory approach to various matters than we have heard today. There were a series of separate, unlinked references to quite big issues, pretty well each one simply consisting of telling us the facts that have appeared in most of the newspapers in recent days, with no Government comment and no additional news at all. Seeing that we are rising at the end of this week and may be away for quite a time—unless there is some development in Berlin or elsewhere—I thought it was coming rather near to treating the House with contempt to give us that kind of speech as the Government's major comment on foreign affairs at a time of considerable danger.
The debate has tended to concentrate round four issues. The issue of developments in and around Berlin and the course they may take worries us all. Then there have been references to Kuwait, Angola and Bizerta, which, although in very different places, have an obvious connecting link which is of concern for us.
Thirdly, there are the prospects of getting real progress towards general disarmament and negotiations on the question of nuclear tests. One of the outstanding omissions from the Foreign Minister's speech was the virtual—indeed, I believe the absolute—absence of any reference to disarmament prospects. There was not even a passing genuflection in that direction. That we could be concerned to discuss foreign affairs without having any comments made to us upon the thoughts of the Government about the urgency of this matter, or the way in which we could get talks going again in a better climate, or in a better form, struck me as very surprising.
I propose to say a word about each of the three areas of concern, and the Minister of State may be able to fill in the great gaps in his right hon. Friend's opening speech. On Kuwait, we are getting used to hearing hon. Members opposite pay tribute to the speed and efficiency of the operation. It is no part of my purpose to deny that, on the whole, it was a little better done than Suez. But having given the Government that pat on the back, we ought not to carry things to the lengths that some hon. Members opposite are now doing. It is true that we got there reasonably quickly, but it was a great stroke of luck that H.M.S. "Bulwark" was available at the time. Apart from what we could take on her, not much else was taken that would have been of use if we had had an opposed landing, or if our troops in the early days had had to look after themselves against air attack or an armoured attack on the land.
I want to enter some reservation about the enthusiasm with which we are assuming that this operation showed that we are now in a position to do this sort of job in hot, shooting war conditions. I take leave to doubt whether the operation showed that.
I advise the hon. Member not to press that point too hard. If he does, he should address it to the Minister. I should love to hear his reply. Meanwhile, I am standing by my own judgment of how H.M.S. "Bulwark" got there.
Without going further into the background of the operation, I want to ask again two or three questions which were not answered earlier. The first is a purely personal point. It worries me; I do not know whether it worries my hon. Friend as well. I keep hearing the Minister refer to our obligation to provide for the defence of Kuwait now, since the recent exchange of correspondence, just as before. The Minister always refers to its being our duty to provide the defence. He said that the Sheik is the judge of when it is required, and of when we can go away again. This is stating it in about the most grotesquely exaggerated form possible. We cannot have it laid down that our association with a sovereign State under which we provide her defence leaves us with an obligation and him with a right, and presumably all that we do is to come in when we are asked for and go away when we are not required.
There ought to be some situation in which we are partners to the decision of whether we go there or not. We ought to have this stated more carefully, otherwise we shall end by not only putting ourselves in a ridiculous position but by causing a great deal of harm, because the relationship there will seem so ridiculous that people will think that we are overstating it this way round to cover up the fact that he is not as independent as he says he is. I do not think that we will do him any good by overstating the case as we repeatedly do.
That raises the question of costs. The Minister of Defence said that the operation cost something of the order of fl million. Today the Lord Privy Seal said that the Sheik, in a true sense of traditional Arab hospitality, was going to pay the local costs of the operation. I thought that that was a rather interesting way of putting it, but can we be told what proportion of the costs he will bear? We have had it driven home to us just how weak our economic position is. I understand that the Sheik is a wee bit embarrassed by references in this country to his wealth. Without wishing to add to his embarrassment, there is a notable difference between his economic position and ours.
If we are not to get a substantial part of the costs of the operation, which he was entitled to request us to carry out and for which he is in a far better position than us to pay, people will think it peculiar. I hope that the Minister of State will tell us more about the proportion of costs which the Sheik will bear, and whether we have not the right to ask him to pay for some of the costs of moving in and out as well as for whatever is meant by the local costs.
The Minister said nothing about the wider problems which worry us in the Middle East. After all, Kuwait is but one aspect. It is linked to many others. Merely staying there until Arab League forces arrive, which is what we hope will happen, or until some other arrangements can be made for protecting the independent State, is not enough.
There are much bigger issues in the Middle East. The whole question of how we get the vast wealth which exists in some parts of the Middle East used to a larger extent for the raising of standards in the whole area is relevant to how we get over some of the political difficulties, because it is the extreme poverty of some of those countries and their virtual inability to do anything about it which is part of the problem, and will continue to be an irritant. I should like to know more about our attitude to the idea of a development bank, or an oil bank—it has been given a number of names. It is said that the Sheik of Kuwait is almost the only oil Sheik who has indicated a willingness to support such a bank in certain circumstances. What steps are the Government taking to try to help that idea along among the other countries?
I turn now to Bizerta, which in a sense is connected with oil, because by what is happening in Bizerta, by our apparent reluctance to put pressure on the French, by our apparent reluctance to say or do anything which might embarrass our Western N.A.T.O. ally, we tend to land ourselves in the position of being assumed by the Arab, Africa and Asian peoples to be more tender when it comes to the point about Western friends than we are about those whom we proclaim on other days to be our new friends. I met a young British civilian businessman back today from Kuwait, Who told me just how strong a talking point that has been there in the last two weeks while he was there and haw much it was being used by propagandists in Kuwait to show what kind of friends the Sheik has in us as the friends of the French who are doing these things in Bizerta.
Although, as I can understand, we cannot expect the Government all the time to be cracking down on our N.A.T.O. allies about everything—there is a limit to this—[HON. MEMBERS: "Well done."]—nevertheless the fact is that the Government never seem to be willing to do it over any one of these difficult colonial issues where great repressions or mistakes are being made. That is equally as silly as it would be to go beyond the limit in the other direction, and I urge the Government to reconsider the matter and the feelings which they have, or I hope they have, on the subject. In the case of Bizerta, I understand a decision has been taken about a special emergency session—if I am wrong about that, may I frame the question in another way: may we be told what attitude Her Majesty's Government have taken or are to take to the demands for a special emergency session?
I wish to turn to Angola because of the connection between these matters. Here we have got ourselves a really bad name because of our apparent reluctance to criticise one of our Western friends Two issues came up in my hon. Friend's speech which I think the Lord Privy Seal shuffled off in a remarkable way. One is the question of British arms. We ought to know, after the three weeks the military mission has been there, whether British weapons have or have not been used in the repression which has gone on. Otherwise we are left wondering what the mission was doing. We ought to have that information, and I ask the Minister of State to be more forthcoming than was his right hon. Friend.
The second question relates to the freedom enjoyed by the Consul-General and the mission. The Lord Privy Seal made a great deal, as he was entitled to, of the report which the Government have had from the Consul-General. The right hon. Gentleman told us it could not be published, but he gave a pretty full precise of it; obviously he was relying a good deal upon the report. On the basis of that report he went a long way to exonerate the Portuguese from a number of allegations which have been made against them about the extermination of Africans, the burning out, and about repression in general. It is very much a matter of the credit of the mission. If one is to believe and give weight to that report, one has to know whether the mission was free to take its evidence without the people it interviewed, particularly Africans, feeling that the Portuguese were there all the time overlooking the inquiries.
I was astonished that the Minister did not seem to know whether the Consul-General and his colleagues who interviewed local people were provided with their own interpreter and were able to make their inquiries independently of any Portuguese officers or other people. It is incredible that he did not know, but clearly the Minister did not. He had not asked that question. I ask that the question should be asked and that we should be told. If members of the mission were doing their work with Portuguese, and particularly military personnel, at their elbows, it would have a great effect on the answers that they were likely to get from the people who were being interviewed.
I wish now to turn to the issue which the Lard Privy Seal left out altogether, the question of disarmament prospects. Mr. McCloy has left Moscow and we ought to have an appreciation of what is now the position. We have had the virtual breakdown of the nuclear test talks at Geneva. Last year the Russians walked out of the general disarmament talks, although if one looks at the situation one sees that there is astonishingly less difference between the position which the Americans were adopting—at the point at which the talks were broken off by the Russians—and the position which the Russians were adopting than one might imagine. It is arguable that the Americans should have moved sooner. On the other hand, there is no doubt that they met the Russian position in the general disarmament talks on a considerable number of issues, which ought to have made it much easier for the talks to continue and for some progress to be made.
We seem to be in a rather suspended state in both these related talks. We ought to be told by the Government what their intentions are. We on this side of the House have made it plain that we think that there is a good deal in the argument that we should go from the ten to the fifteen and bring in the neutrals, with a neutral chairman. Do the Government agree with us about this and are they making efforts to bring it about? We ought to know what they feel are the prospects of advance in the nuclear test talks, because it seems to us extremely important that at all costs these talks should be kept going so that we maintain the moratorium on tests and make it much more difficult for tests to be resumed.
We ought to have had from the Government at the beginning of the day, and we certainly ought to have it now, a much greater indication of what their position is on this matter, what they are seeking to do and what they think is likely to happen, during the two or three months while we are away, on this general issue which is so much more important than all the rest of general disarmament.
Like all other hon. Members, I want to turn to an issue which, because of its closeness and its obvious flashpoint possibilities, worries us all as we rise for the Recess—the question of Berlin. There are certain things which it is customary for everybody to say. It is nonetheless important to say them, even though they have become customary. We, like most people, have no intention of seeing the rights, the liberties and the freedom of the people who live in Berlin abolished by arbitrary action by the Russians. We have no intention of being a party to the abrogation, again by arbitrary action, of the rights which we have to be there and to be able to supply and maintain ourselves while we are there. I hope, therefore, that having asserted this—
I find the prospect of looking at the hon. Member so attractive that I am looking in that direction at the moment.
Having made that assertion, which I hope will be accepted, in order not to spend a lot of time proving that I feel as passionately about this as everybody else, I think that we must get clear what we are talking about. It is easy to drift from such a statement into a loose regard for the possibilities of force or armed action so as to get our whole way of outlook and our minds into a not very useful condition. There could be circumstances in which the only reaction to some action would be the use of force to restore our rights and to prevent a tragedy from occurring, but let us not get the impression that that will be a very easy or very attractive operation.
I read the other day that Herr von Brentano, the German Foreign Minister, had been talking about being allowed to use nuclear weapons in order to maintain Berlin. Without setting myself down as an authority who could decide whether this could or could not be done, I find it extremely difficult to visualise the circumstances in which a nuclear weapon, even the so-called tactical nuclear weapon, would help very much to maintain the freedom of the Berliners or our rights in Berlin. One has only to think about it, to have been there, as I have, and driven on the autobahn from Bonn to Berlin up past Helmstedt to realise how difficult a military operation would be.
One problem is that we have such a tenuous form of access. We have the road but we have not the ground around it. A military operation to open the road, leaving out all possibilities of sabotage—the road has many bridges—would involve invasion, because there is no other territory we could use if the road were down. Therefore, our situation would be militarily not at all an easy one if it came to that. I do not rule out the possibilities of air traffic and air lift.
The possibilities of air supply are now very much better in one sense, although worse in another sense, than they were at the time of the airlift in 1949. The kind of aeroplanes then flying were different birds from the ones flying today. Paradoxically, having faster and larger aeroplanes makes an airlift more difficult, not more easy, to organise. On the other hand, the supplies of foods and materials in Berlin are very much greater now than they were then. Even a very limited airlift maintained over a time would mean that both the city and the military could hold out for a very long time. It will not reach that degree of panic stations in such a short space of time as it did in 1949.
I raise this question of military difficulties not only to warn hon. Members against the enthusiasm with which it is mentioned but also to raise this very obvious point. There is something which we also would like to get on a short-term basis, namely, better, more easily maintainable and defensible means of access. We talk too much about the Russians' desire for negotiations and too little about our desire for negotiations, because we have a negotiating position here. It is not true, as one or two hon. Members have assumed, that if we enter into negotiations over Berlin it is necessarily in order to concede. It could easily be in order to win something.
Since we all know, no matter what it may be necessary for the Government to say or not to say, that nobody is going into a big war and risk an even bigger war over the replacement of Russian uniforms by East German uniforms for the stamping of military traffic, when they already do it for all other traffic, we must envisage in the end some additional de facto recognition of the D.D.R. We may not call it such; we may not write it down on a piece of paper, but that is what it would be. Since it is fairly logical to say that that is what will happen, because we cannot stop the Russians signing the peace treaty if they want to, it is all the more reasonable for getting ourselves out of this force complex and into a negotiating one.
That brings me to the question of when we offer negotiations. Like many others, I cannot see that there is a much greater advantage to be gained from waiting until the Russians have made this move with the East Germans than there would be by offering negotiations some time between now and the end of August. We should be in no worse position and probably would be in a much better position. For reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) gave, we should be dealing with authorities which would be much more likely to be advantaged by the kind of bargain being offered. I hope that we will use all the influence we can with our American friends to press this upon them, because I think there is much less realisation there of the importance of this than there is amongst us.
I have been really frightened once or twice lately when talking to American friends of mine to hear them talk about the military preparations that we either are or should be making. When I have asked, "Yes, but what is the political obiective—what is the policy?" they have gaily replied, "Oh, that—we will settle that later on when the Foreign Ministers meet. In the meantime, let us get the military posture right." I believe that to be all back to front. One really wants to know the operation one expects to face. One wants to know what one's political policy is and then have a defence policy to back it up.
I sometimes rather feel that the Americans have it the other way round, and I should like the Government to be quite blunt about this and to tell them clearly that there are arguments in favour of earlier negotiations, and that there are things in our hands to negotiate about in the short term—and I have been talking about the short term. There are, of course, the long-term questions, but I shall not take up the time of the House discussing them as they have been discussed excellently earlier in the debate.
It is absolutely true—and I say this because I listened with interest to what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish)—that, in the end, whatever we do on a short-term basis about Berlin now, negotiated or in any other way, to protect ourselves and the Berliners, there will be a remaining problem. This problem can be brought up as an irritant to international relations any time the others like as long as the division of Germany remains, as long as the conflict remains, as long as the position of Berlin remains a difficulty.
The other side can raise it for no better reason than that they want to irritate, or for reasons that my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke gave—the worsening of their own economy and the tremendously debilitating passage of thousands of refugees every day out of East Germany, which is not a prospect which they can view happily for very long. If one believes that such a possibility will be there as long as there is the division, some day we have to face again the question of what we are to try to do—however long a time it may take—to provide an answer to the basic issues.
It clearly is not realistic to think that we, the West, will ever agree to the reunification of an independent Germany if she were then to choose to join the Communist side. By the same token, it is not realistic to think that the Russians will ever agree to an independent, reunited Germany that will choose to join the Western side. It just is not realistic. That is not to say that Germany should not have that freedom—I am not discussing that.
The division is the problem. That is why the case for what has been called some farm of disengagement—although that blessed ward, like so many others, has come to have meanings of its own and now messes up every sensible discussion—is so very much stronger than the arguments of those who seek to knock it down.
It is, in fact, only by getting a zone of limited arms, controlled and inspected, with the opposing Power forces limited, in the first place, and then drawn apart from that area, with the four-Power inspection and control that it would in-valve, that we can ever, it seems to me, provide a climate in which the division of Germany can be brought to an end and, in bringing that to an end, bringing to an end the special position of Berlin, and thereby bringing to an end the basis of the trouble. One has to get there some time, and although that case appears to be knocked down in a variety of ways, it is very often Aunt Sallies that are being knocked down, and not the idea itself.
For example, one hon. Member today tried to make fun of us by suggesting that what we were talking about was the West getting out of West Berlin and the Russians getting out of East Berlin. After all, we have not talked about that. We have talked about a zone which would include West and East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and, one would hope, Hungary. It would mean a bigger problem, but unless one is looking ahead one can never hope to reach a point where this problem will be settled. If one does not look forward one cannot face up to the problem.
These are the essential foreign policy matters the House should be debating before the Recess. We have been debating these topics, with the solitary exception, for the most part, of the Lord Privy Seal, and I hope that on this we shall have much fuller comments from the Minister of State before the debate comes to an end. I realise that answers cannot be given to all of these questions but we do require same fuller comment.
I cannot find it in my heart to apologise to the House for seeking to continue the debate for a short time, although one always seeks, as a back bencher, to meet the convenience of the House. The timing of this debate has been curtailed by a little over one hour.
As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. Brown) and other hon. Members have rightly said, this question of Berlin is of transcendental importance at this time. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was speaking after the death of Sir Kingsley Wood, he said that a good party man is a man who puts country before party and party before self. I have always thought that they were fine words for any hon. Member to bear in mind.
I have been extremely struck tonight by the note of unanimity which has been followed by many speakers. It is a great thing that at a moment of crisis the national interest is put before party or any sectional interest. The dominant consideration in foreign affairs at the present time, and since the war, has been the bitter economic rivalry and political fight between Communism, on the one hand, and, on the other, the ideas, ideals and traditions for which we have fought and defended over the centuries. All other issues, however imnortant—Bizerta, Angola, or whatever it may be—are secondary by comparison.
The problem of Berlin is perhaps now moving to a climax. We in Britain now have an opportunity to take positive steps to ameliorate the position and I hope that we shall give that lead. We are in an ideal position between West, in the sense of the United States—one of the most powerful powers in the world—and the Russians. We take the view that not all that the Russians do is bad, and not all that the Americans do is good. We take a fair view of the situation and, as I say, we are in a unique position to give a lead and to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Berlin problem.
What has been the history and development of this struggle between Communism and the free world? At the end of the war we all remember the vast good will that existed towards the Soviet Union and Communists, born, if you like, from tremendous admiration for their remarkable sacrifices. After the war came the realisation of what is, perhaps, their sinister purpose; their idea of world domination.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) said in an impressive speech, nothing has changed. Then came the attempt to put into effect counter-measures to slow up that advance and, as we know, those measures were successful. Today, we live in a sort of uneasy co-existence. The Communists believe that victory for them is certain and that there is no need for them to hurry and, certainly, that there is no need for them to risk a major war. They believe that they must win in the end and that this is a fundamental thing.
The Russians are rather in the position—although in this House we get tired of analogies about drivers—of a man who is driving his car along an open road. So long as the road is open, he proceeds, but when he comes to traffic lights, or when anybody says, "Stop"— as we said "Stop" in Korea, or over Berlin at the time of the airlift, or as we said in Europe when we became a full member of N.A.T.O.—he stops his motor car. He keeps the engine running, however, and perhaps he even puts it in gear to be able to move forward again when the lights turn to green. Similarly, if there is any slackening of our purpose or resolve, the Russians will advance again.
It is for that reason particularly that we need to be firm in dealing with any potential advance wherever it may arise, whether it is again in Korea, in Laos or, indeed, whether it is part of the Communist conspiracy here at home in Britain. Let us not be blind either to that danger. Berlin is just such another situation of potential danger and difficulty.
It has rightly been said during this debate that Mr. Khrushchev is very much to blame for having raised the subject, because he is now attempting to abrogate firm treaties to which he should pay proper respect and attention. The suggestion has been made that this is a situation comparable with that existing before the war when we were having to deal with Nazi Germany. I deplore the Russian conduct in that regard. None the less, I believe that a crisis over Berlin was, perhaps, inevitable; and, as it is immediate, we have now to deal with it.
It is, however, a subject which is bedevilled by complication, of which I will endeavour to give a concrete example. A constituent said to me during the week end, "I do not trust the Germans and I am damned if I want to fight for them over Berlin". I think that this is typical of the views of many English people, no doubt encouraged by Communist propaganda of one sort or another. That is a point on which one should be clear.
But the very real fears—let us recognise them for what they are and discuss them, because if we know what they are and discuss them, perhaps we will be in a position to deal with them—are twofold. The first is that Germany may make war. There are many English people who believe that Germany has not changed since the days when Clause-witz wrote of her. Indeed, with the examples of the wars of the late nine- teenth century and of the 1914 and 1939 wars before us, that is a reasonable fear to hold. The second fear is that others may make war over Germany, That, again, in the context of current bellicose statements on either side of the Atlantic, is a reasonable fear to hold.
What is Berlin? As John Gunther said in his latest book, it is that Sodom and Gomorrah where the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church are now a memorial to the city's wartime agony and a reminder to us of the destruction of the foul breed of Nazism. When I was in Berlin, fourteen days ago, it seemed ironical that the greenest grass growing there was on the ruins of what used to be Hitler's bunker.
Berlin is an Alice-in-Wonderland city. Every day, 40,000 East Berliners travel to West Berlin to work. Every day, 7,000 West Berliners travel to East Berlin to work. Hundreds of East Berliners prefer to travel to the Western sector of the city to read the free Press. Similarly, on occasion, hundreds of West Berliners travel to East Berlin by night to attend the excellent, cheap and well-produced theatre. Even two of West Berlin's deputies who sit in Bonn reside in East Berlin. It is an open gateway between East and West, through which a quarter of a million refugees annually flee to freedom, and yet in 1959, for example, 50,000 of those same West Germans returned to the Eastern sector.
It reminds me very much of the first motor car I ever owned. It was after the war, when I came out of the Navy. It was a 1928 Austin Seven with real glass in the windows and, I fancy, almost solid tyres. To my friends it was an object of derision, but the extraordinary thing was that it worked.
That is the point I wish to make about the division between East and West Berlin, for the division works. It is, on the whole, a happy arrangement. It is fraught with difficulty, fraught with danger, as we know, and I shall say a little more about that in a moment, but there are many agreements between East and West, agreements about the administration of the railways, agreements about the underground trains; there are agreements for the administration of the roads, and so on.
Berlin is a massive prize. It is a massive prize industrially, for it is still the most important industrial city in Germany. Psychologically, it is an even greater prize, for if Berlin were to fall it would be swamped in the Communist group and the people of the satellite countries would surely lose all heart, and that is something which we dare not risk. While West Berlin stays free the Communist structure is not complete. For all the Communists' promises of a higher standard of living—we have read a lot about that in the newspapers lately—free West Berlin is a living example, in my opinion, of the superiority of free life, with all its in-adequacies, over life under a dictatorship.
No one who has visited East and West Berlin can fail to be struck by the contrast between the two sectors of the city, the West thriving, vital, genuinely wealthy, the East apparently spiritually dead, derelict, drab, and comparatively poor. No one who has seen anything of the refugees coming over—as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, in such large numbers at the moment—and heard their stories can fail to be impressed by them.
To hear a mother say, "I have come to the West because I have been unable to get milk for my children during the last two months," to hear a middle-aged man who has come over say, "I learned from my children a fortnight ago that they were taught at school that the duty of all good Germans is to be members of the Communist Party and subsequently they were taught at school that it is their duty to spy upon and report upon their parents' political opinions," to hear another refugee say that the children were told at school that they might not believe in God, is to make one realise that in being an implacable enemy of Communism one is standing up for right, for truth, and for justice, and for all that we hold dear in the United Kingdom.
For that reason I shall oppose Communism by every means in my power, and for that reason I believe it is right to do our utmost to defend the right of the people of West Berlin to live their own lives in their own way as they decide for themselves.
What should our objectives be in Berlin? Three, I suggest. First, to defend the way of life of the 2¼ million free people of West Berlin. Secondly, to obtain free access to the city. Thirdly, our right to keep troops there if we wish to do so. The question simply now is: how are we to achieve them?
As we know, Mr. Khrushchev is committed to signing a peace treaty with the Eastern Germans during 1961. So, in effect, we shall then have to treat with the East Germans whether we like it or not. There come with that situation dangers and difficulties of all sorts, particularly if, for example, there is difficulty over transport, and the West endeavours to force supplies through and engages in clashes with the East Germans. Of course, there are substantial advantages in all this for the Russians, for if they can ever find someone else to do their dirty work for them they take that opportunity, as was done by the Communists in Korea, for example. Here they are able to create difficulty for us without direct involvement for themselves.
One can, therefore, say that it would be wise to resist recognising the East German régime for as long as possible, and I think that that is probably true. On the other hand, Berlin is, clearly, militarily indefensible, and anybody who does not recognise that simply does not recognise the facts of the situation. It is as indefensible as Poland was in 1939, and to talk about going to war for Berlin at this stage is just as unrealistic as going, to war—it is a bitter thing to have to say—to save Poland was in those days.
We start, then, from a position of weakness, and it is as well to recognise this. I believe that the present policy of bluster which we have is totally wrong and should be completely abandoned. At the very last, when all the cards are on the table, we must retreat because our fundamental position is so weak. Indeed, I would suggest that there is a worse danger. If we continue to cry "wolf" then when we really with to cry "wolf" no one will heed us, and that is a serious position indeed. In this game of bluff and counter-bluff it is most unlikely that Khrushchev will back down first. Why should he? He holds all the cards.
As has already been said, the United Kingdom' frontier at present is in Berlin, but if we are suggesting, as I believe we may do and as some hon. Members have recommended, that we Should endeavour to settle everything in the current negotiations, that would be quite wrong. We cannot settle everything and we should not try. We can settle some things.
In this situation there is one especially remarkable feature. We have said that we propose to defend the right of West Berliners to live in the freedom which they choose for themselves, but Mr. Khrushchev has not denied them this. We have some common ground to start upon and I suggest that it is our duty by negotiation to hold Mr. Khrushchev to that. We shall find great advantage in negotiating with the Russians rather than with the East Berliners. There has been some discussion in the course of today whether or not we should declare our hand, so to speak, before we go into negotiation. There would be advantage in that, as we all recognise, but, in general, I believe that it would be completely wrong.
Mr. Khrushchev is very good at taking rural analogies. As a country Member, perhaps I can try to do the same. If I go into negotiation in the market in my constituency I should be a foal if, in treating with serious-minded and shrewd Somerset farmers, I declared my hand in advance and said exactly how I wished to negotiate for a cow, or a herd of cows, or a farm. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal is absolutely right not to disclose his hand in this situation.
But we have to recognise East Germany de facto. I do not suggest de jure. If we do not recognise East Germany de facto we shall put ourselves in an impossible position, for Mr. Khrushchev is able to arrange just what he likes and there is nothing that we can do about. Recognising East Germany de facto does not in any way imply approval of the East German régime. Very far from it. We all take the view that any administration which dares not risk free elections is an appalling example of the way for any administration to behave.
Some people say that if we enter into de facto recognition of the East German régime we shall be saying for all time that we recognise that Germany will be divided. I shall lose no sleep of nights if Germany is divided for years to come. Nor shall I lose any sleep if Berlin continues to be divided. That situation works at present. We have to live with a divided Korea and, appalling to all Christians, with a divided Jerusalem. To say that we recognise that situation does not mean to say that we anticipate that for the whole of the rest of the life of even the youngest in this House there will be no free elections or freedom in East Germany.
It means very far from that, but it means that we are endeavouring to remove one cause of potential war from the international scene. If the Government do that, they will deserve the full thanks of the House and of the nation.
I broadly agree with the conclusion of the remarks of the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), even if I do not entirely agree with his reasoning.
There have been many speeches in different tones, and they make one wonder exactly what. this crisis is about. Mr. Khrushchev has simply said that he is about to make a peace treaty with East Germany if we are not prepared to consider the question of a general peace treaty with Germany. He has said that he is prepared to negotiate on all these issues and he has invited counterproposals. He has said, further, that he does not propose to do anything to prevent the people of East Berlin from having the form of government that they choose. In addition, he has said that he does not propose to do anything to prevent access between the West and the West Berlin administration. Indeed, he has gone further and has said that he has no objection in principle to having units of allied forces, or even units of the United Nations, in Berlin. All this makes one wonder what all this sabre-rattling and talk of military expeditions is about.
I have read with interest a Motion on the Order Paper signed by 120 Conservative Members. What surprises me is that this Motion is not merely something on which everybody in the House is agreed, but it is something to which Mr. Khrushchev himself could subscribe. In those circumstances, all this talk about standing firm and about using force even if it involves us in complete and total war seems to be so much nonsense. One should face the realities of the situation and try to reduce the temperature, even if it is true that the temperature has been raised by statements and postures from both sides.
What is all this business about East Berlin? What are the motives of Russia in raising this matter at the present time? It has been suggested that it might be something to do with keeping open the shop window in West Berlin. If it is true that the people of East Berlin are seething with discontent, that the régime is in decay and is bolstered up entirely by force, what is the object of keeping open the shop window in West Berlin? What are we going to tell East Germans that they do not already know?
It has been said that perhaps this is a move to close the Iron Curtain and prevent the emigrés from leaving East Germany. But, as I think the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) has already said, if the East German Government and if Mr. Khrushchev wanted to stop the emigrés leaving East Germany, they could do it tomorrow. There is nothing that we could do about it, and nobody would dream of going to war about it.
The reason for Mr. Khrushchev's action is obviously based upon the history of the Soviet Union in relation to Germany. Several hon. Members have already spoken about the fear of Germany. So far as the Russians are concerned, that fear is very real. I had the experience of travelling through the Soviet Union not long after the war had ended. People talk about the destruction in Germany, but the destruction in Germany is nothing compared with the destruction in the Soviet Union. In Germany the large cities were destroyed by our bombers, but one could travel between the large cities and see that the small towns and villages in the countryside were intact. In the Soviet Union there was complete and total destruction for hundreds of miles. Every railway station, every village, every farmhouse was destroyed. Over an area more than the size of Europe, there was almost unimaginable devastation.
Recently, there was a census in the Soviet Union. The figures would seem to indicate that probably somewhere between 25 million to 30 million people lost their lives in the Soviet Union in the War, because today above the ages of 33 or 34 there is a disparity of that number between men and women. Indeed, there is hardly a family which did not lose one or two members in that dreadful war.
It was not only the Soviet Union which suffered. Poland and Czechoslovakia and the Jews also suffered, and the fear is among them as well. That fear is real. It is true that the balance of military power in Europe has changed, and such is that balance of power that the Russians do not fear the Germans on their own. But their very real fear, which we must not discount, is that the Germans may embark upon an adventure into the East for the purpose of recovering their Eastern territories, and that in doing so they will drag the Western Powers with them.
I do not think that that fear is baseless, but even if it were the fear is real and we must bear in mind the Russian experiences during the war which make it real. If anyone doubts the reality of that fear, he need only read the reports of the emigrés, or so-called "expellees", who are still, to a large extent, treated as a separate community in Germany. One hears their claims and clamour for the lost territories. One reads of the support given them by German Ministers in authoritative positions.
Their claims do not merely comprise the territory which was Germany before the war but even the Sudetenland, which these Germans say they are entitled to as well. One reads in the German Press—one or two references have been made to it today—such articles as this one in the KöInische Rundschau of the 10th July:
Whether the Berlin crisis is war-dangerous depends on the Russians and our Allies; on the mightiest among them and also on the Germans. If the Germans were determined to do in Berlin, what the Poles did in Warsaw and the Hungarians in Budapest, Khrushchev would probably ponder the situation
The West must not only threaten with the strategy of the deterrent but make itself able to use all means—Cold War, war of nerves and 'shooting war'—which the Soviet Union has got.
To these means belong not only conventional forces and armaments but also subversion, the stimulation of the internal resistance, work in the underground, disruption of authority, disruption of transport and the economy, disobedience, revolt and revolution.
Emigration is only an extreme compensation for this. It is even a safety valve which weakens the counter-pressure. After the rebellion in Budapest the Free Powers were accused of having remained in the rôle of observers, so that they could not hope for a repetition.
This accusation has weight. One could be put forward as half an excuse that there was no Bundeswehr at all in those days.
The Kölnische Rundschau carries, I believe, considerable weight in Germany. Another newspaper is the Münchener Merkur which, I believe, is close to Herr Strauss, the West German Defence Minister.
It said, on 10th July:
The strongest means of deterrent, which is available for the West for the defence of the Federal Republic (has it not been incredibly neglected) is a very modern, typical political weapon of the extended strategy of Cold War…The internal situation of the unhappy Middle Germany"—
that means Eastern Germany; Germany is intended to go far beyond the Oder Neisse line—
is marked by the latent despair of the population, by constant social political tension, by difficulties of supply…In case of war these circumstances would be strengthened to the point of explosion, even more so, because in addition there would come the feeling that this would he the hour of the last chance for liberation. With corresponding political, psychological, propaganda and riot least also organisation and subversive preparation by the West these factors could be of catastrophic consequence for the Soviet Union, in the German sphere itself, and conflict in the whole satellite sphere, and in the uncommitted world. They could extend from the sabotage of production and traffic through a wave of strikes to complete passive resistance, from mass desertion and from street demonstrations to the complete dissolution of the People's Army and full-scale uprisal of the people against the Soviet troops.
Those are completely irresponsible statements, for it must be obvious to anybody that war would result not in the liberation but in the destruction of Germany, and possibly of Europe. Any rising in the East would undoubtedly be bloodily put down, as was the rising in 1953. At the same time, these encouragements and these incitements are repeated. That is why, based on what is happening in Germany and on the increase in the German armed forces and on same of the people who lead them, and whom I hardly trust, there is much basis for the Russian fears.
There is plenty of scope for agreement between East and West. Khrushchev has said that he is prepared to concede to us that which we demand as a matter of principle—the freedom of the West Berliners to choose their own Government, access to West Berlin, and even the right of units of the Allied Forces to remain in West Berlin. If we were also prepared to make a concession to meet the genuine fears of the Russians, there is ample scope for negotiation and no reason why negotiations should not be successful, provided that we do not accept the veto of the Federal Republic.
We have rights and we have obligations, but no German Government, East or West, should bar our way to progress towards relieving the tension and to towards trying to take the first step towards peace.
I have heard most of the speeches during the debate. As my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) observed, there has been a degree of unanimity between the opposing Front Benches on the issue of Berlin itself. At the same time, whenever Berlin and Germany are discussed, a number of old hobby-horses are taken out of the stable and walked round the yard. Today's debate was no exception, and I want briefly to refer to one or two of them.
One is the suggestion that West Berlin should be made a "free city". Senator Mansfield, of Montana, is one of those taking that view. Mr. Khrushchev himself wants it. The idea is that West Berlin should become a neutral area, with French, American, British and Russian troops to guarantee its neutrality. How far the West Berliners would relish having Russian troops in their streets, I do not know.
But my main objection is basic. I do not like "free cities". Anything given the official designation "free" makes me rather suspicious.
I consider part of the world free.
Reference was also made to a city a few hours' flying time north-east of Berlin, Danzig. We ourselves created the free city of Danzig—Freie Stadt Danzig. No sooner was it created a free city, than it became an object of constant controversy which wasted much of the time of the League of Nations and earned for it the name of the powder barrel of Europe. In its last years, the "free city" was, in fact, ruled by the Gestapo and then, as the House knows, the opening shot of the Second World War was fired at Danzig by the German warship "Schleswig Holstein", which happened to be there on a courtesy visit.
I am not keen, in principle, on "free cities". What goes for "free cities", goes equally, so far as I am concerned, with corridors. We had the Polish corridor and two hon. Members opposite during the debate have tried to sell us the idea of the corridor. I would have thought that the majority of hon. Members on whichever side they sit would have had about enough of corridors in the last twenty years.
Another hobby-horse has been taken out during the debate and exercised. It was referred to by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown). It was the idea of a great neutral belt stretching across the centre of Europe. That was dealt with by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish). This horse has been run under other names and various colours, but it has generally gone by the name of disengagement. The basic reason for its poor performance is that it calls for an area of neutrality, and I personally believe that in this revolutionary world it is not possible to remain neutral. That is why I think that disengagement can never be a success.
Between ourselves and the Russians, I maintain that we have a perfectly good frontier, and I am not anxious to exchange it for some uncertain no-man's-land. Each side knows that the frontier cannot be crossed in either direction. For over ten years it has been the most peaceful frontier that one could wish for. Never a rifle has been fired within miles of it. I am told that it is still one of the finest bird sanctuaries in Europe as a result. I prefer the devil I know and the frontier which is recognised by both sides.
I am not one of the disciples of disengagement. It was, of course, tried out —I was not in the House in those days—in Korea. There was peace in Korea between the two zones. The idea of disengagement was tried out and within months war broke out and there were three years of fighting, 1 million casualties, and I understand that it ended up with a military stalemate on more or less the original zonal frontier. I think that that principle has very few attractions.
One other hobby horse that has been given an airing in the debate is that when Mr. Khrushchev or Mr. Ulbricht makes some intemperate remarks the moment calls immediately for diplomatic initiative. It is curious how many people back this horse. It is argued that some change in. Western policy is called for, and that some new departure is needed. It is suggested that it is up to us to find the solution. There is a remarkable belief that it is better to do something than to do nothing, and that a short cut must exist somewhere.
It has been suggested in this debate that we should move the United Nations building to Berlin, and to hurry to get round the table. The possibility of a 52-nation conference has been referred to—which heaven forbid—and that there is a new card to be played, a new principle to be adopted and a new contrivance to guarantee peace. This horse runs largely in blinkers. It does not see that a policy of strength demands tenacity, patience and a long period to work out. It does not remember how admirably, in earlier days, the technique of masterly inactivity served our diplomacy. It still imagines that there is a simple trick which will carry it effortlessly past the winning post.
These ideas are very attractive and tempting, but they are also very dangerous and escapist. I believe that we must go on paying the bill and sitting it out. It is not a very glamorous process, but it is not wholly unrewarding. We are all agreed that if we want to win in the long run we have to show by example that our way of life is the better one. An encouraging aspect in the problem of Germany is the fact that we are succeeding in this.
We are making progress; that is what this trouble is about. Mr. Khrushchev is behaving as he is because he does not enjoy this competitive co-existence, and this proximity of freedom in West Berlin upsets him. He has clearly failed to turn East Germany into a Communist State. Dictators do not thrive on failure. East Germany is running out on him. It is like sand running out through his fingers. We have heard in the debate how teachers, doctors, professional and other qualified people, and young people more than half of whom are under 30 years of age, are fleeing from East Germany, to the extent of 250,000 or 300,000 a year. In that part of Europe Mr. Khrushchev is failing to compete with the greater attraction of a free society, and the failure must be covered up. It is humilitating for him. It is hardly surprising that he should want to stop the channel, through which all this is going on.
The three Western Foreign Ministers are to meet in a few day's time. We wish them well. It is tempting for each of us to give his personal views as to what line they should take in their negotiations and what stipulations and concessions they should make. I have resisted that. All I have attempted to do is to point to certain things which I regard as hobby horses, and, at the same time, to suggest that our present policies in Germany have not paid too bad a dividend. Our reply to the Russian memorandum was admirable. It was brief, it was clear, it was reasoned, it was to the point, and yet it left room for negotiation. It has given greater confidence in the ability of our Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to influence these negotiations.
If I understood the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. M. Hamilton) aright, he dismissed any alternatives to the present policy as being hobby horses, which he treated with contempt. I would have said that the present policy is a dead horse and that its decomposition is becoming noisome and dangerous to public health.
We have to do something about the arms race and the cold war. There are people who are saying that N.A.T.O. and the piling up of nuclear arms are the way to preserve peace, and they point in proof of that to the indisputable fact that there has not been a war since the last one. But to argue from that that therefore we must go on preparing for war in order to preserve peace, is not merely post hoc, ergo propter hoc as a piece of reasoning; it is about on a level with one of the Gadarene swine telling another as they proceed at a hand gallop to the steep places, "At any rate, this proves that the only way to keep from falling into the sea is to keep going."
I remember what the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) said about the last arms race, which ended in the Second World War. On 23rd April, 1938, he said:
I cannot believe that, after armaments in all countries have reached a towering height, they will settle down and continue at a hideous level…and that that will be for many years a normal feature of the world's routine. Whatever happens, I do not believe that will. Europe is approaching a climax…Either there will be a melting of hearts and a joining of hands between great nations, which will set out upon realising the glorious age of prosperity and freedom which is now within the grasp of the millions of toiling people, or there will be an explosion and a catastrophe the course of which no imagination can measure, and beyond which no human eye can see.
What policy have the Government for bringing about this reconciliation and for settling the issues which divide the Western and Eastern alliances? What policies have they for putting an end to the nuclear weapons race which threatens us at any moment with universal death and destruction? According to the Note of the 19th July to the Soviet Government their policy is to stick to the offers they made in 1954, 1955 and 1959 on the question of Germany. But
those offers, every one of them, began and ended with the contention that Germany should be united by free elections and should then, in the name of the right of self-determination, be allowed to join the military alliance of N.A.T.O.
On the first point, there was a rather good letter from Sir John Slessor in the Sunday Times of 10th July in which he dismissed this aspect in the following words:
In our view German reunification can come only by the gradual evolution of arrangements between Bonn and Pankow in circumstances in which direct Soviet control is removed from Fast Germany, and we regard continued talk about reunification through free elections as the language of cloud cuckoo land.
Of course the Government know that it is the language of cloud cuckooland. If they are so keen on free elections as the way of reuniting Germany when they know that it is an absolute obstacle to settlement and that the continuation of the situation may at any moment run us into a world war, why not display the same zeal for the reunification of Vietnam by free elections? We had a treaty in 1954 for the reunification of the country by free elections under international supervision. But Mr. Dulles at that time said that he opposed this on the ground that the Communists would win the elections. Instead, he proceeded to divide the country in disregard of the 1954 settlement and sot up a reactionary dictatorship in South Vietnam so oppressive that it roused the population to revolt. President Kennedy, and so far as I can understand the Government statement on the subject, with British support, said that he is determined to support that policy even at the risk of starting a nuclear war.
There is so much humbug talked about freedom in this connection. President Kennedy's t.v. message, with which the Foreign Office says that this Government agree, talks about defending freedom in South-Easa Asia—e.g. in South Korea, where there is a military dictatorship, 30 per cent, unemployment and a standard of living of £35 a year for the peasantry. There is no freedom or social justice there. It is an abominable régime. The same is true of South Vietnam, and of the military dictatorship which the U.S.A. have tried to impose on the people of Laos, after overthrowing half-a-dozen neutralist Governments. There they have had to beat a partial retreat, but it is only partial.
The Lord Privy Seal talked of the danger in Latin America. What is the danger? Reactionary dictatorship kept by American big business and backed ultimately by American marines, are being opposed by the peoples who have been encouraged by the revolution in Cuba and by what the Castro régime has accomplished far its people, and by the fact that an attempted U.S. military intervention and hypocritical aggression was defeated and thrown back. So now, I suppose, we shall wade in there to help those abominable policies and régimes at a tremendous risk to world peace.
The comic thing is that the people who do this think that they are combating Communism. In fact they incubate Communism. Two or three years ago I said that if we persisted in giving to the Communists a monopoly of the appeal to the three strongest motives in the modern world, the desire for social justice, the desire for national independence and the desire far peace, the minds of men would increasingly turn away from us in the countries of Africa and Asia and in the under-developed Countries. That is what is happening.
In order to preserve N.A.T.O. we lose Tunis and the whole of North Africa by siding with France. In order to preserve N.A.T.O. we turn a blind eye to and empty buckets of whitewash on the attempts of Portuguese Fascists to commit genocide in Angola. In order to preserve N.A.T.O. we let the Belgians get away with reducing the Congo to a shambles, setting up a puppet régime under Tshombe in Katanga, and letting him murder Patrice Lumumba. That is why the countries of Africa and Asia and Latin America are turning away from the Western Alliance. I do not know where the Government keep their brains, if they have any. It is clear to me that this policy, apart from being suicidally dangerous, is utterly mad! Let us see what it has done in relation to Germany.
The note of 19th July is exceedingly complacent about it. It says that the
authorities in the Western sectors of Berlin are
not disturbing public or international order in any way, nor is there any reason to suppose that they will in the future.
There are over 200 sabotage, subversion and propaganda agencies in West Berlin, conducting hostile campaigns against the surrounding territory of the D.D.R. There is also the habit of the West German Government and others of holding meetings there with inflammatory propaganda for recovering the lost territories of Germany. These things create bad feeling and tension.
As long ago as 4th December, 1958, the late Aneurin Bevan spoke of the status quo in Berlin. He said that he did not believe that the present position was acceptable
because so long as Berlin is in its present anomalous situation it will always be a source of trouble in Europe…It must be obvious that we cannot go on as we are and in his Note Mr. Khrushchev is perfectly right when he says that incidents might happen there at any time. Anybody who has been to Berlin knows that the sentries are so near to each other, the frontier lines are so absurd, the contiguity of enemy forces is so serious, that anything can happen at any time. As the situation deteriorates the possibilities of conflict increase.
Apart from that and the political difficulties which I mentioned, there is also the flourishing black market and smuggling, stimulated by the wholly artificial exchange rate, by which one West German mark is exchanged in West Berlin for four East German marks. That does not correspond to the difference in purchasing value the difference should be less than two to one. It creates very serious difficulties and complications.
The note is equally complacent about the present German régime. It says that
the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany cannot reasonably be accused of causing tension in Europe or of provoking a crisis over Berlin.
On the contrary, I accuse the Federal Government of Germany of causing tension by their obstinate refusal to accept any form of disengagement, or to recognise the existence of a second German State, or to agree to any negotiations to change what even President Eisenhower at Camp David described as the anomalous and dangerous status quo in Berlin, or to abandon their ambition to carve up Poland again. They obstinately refuse to recognise the present frontier between Germany and Poland.
The note goes on to say that the German Government
does not aspire to a nuclear force of its own, nor is it trying to secure national control over nuclear warheads.
But the ex-Hitler generals in charge of the German forces last summer created an uproar by demanding nuclear weapons for Germany. That demand has been endorsed by the Defence Minister, Mr. Strauss, who has justly been described as the most dangerous man in Europe. It has been given the blessing of Dr. Adenauer, and the propaganda is proceeding apace. They talk about the international control of German forces. The German Government have never ratified the W.E.U. Treaty with the system of control. Such controls as exist are perfunctory and farcical and on a purely voluntary basis. Finally it says:
The Federal Government has undertaken never to have recourse to force to bring about the re-unification of Germany or the modification of its existing boundaries.
I will deal with that point, because it is important. On this point the German Government's policy and Dr. Adenauer's pronouncements have been remarkably consistent over the years. We thought that in arming Western Germany we would use Germany as a glacis to protect the West; the Germans would be wiped out, but they would take the first shock. That was the idea. Not unnaturally, the German Government wanted to rearm for purposes of their own, which they identified as defence, since defence in the régime of power politics for which N.A.T.O. stands means "negotiation from strength", it means imposing your will under the threat of force.
It began as early as December, 1951, when Dr. Adenauer addressing a meeting in Hamburg said:
'Our object in joining the European Army is to obtain a position where we can recover our lost territories.
A few years later, on 18th July, 1955, Walter Lippman, the well-known American political commentator, testified in the New York Herald Tribune that Dr. Adenauer on his visit to Washington that Spring had made it clear that
his policy is to be armed by the United States, and then, with the loyal support of the whole Western Alliance, led by the United States, to negotiate a German settlement with the Soviet Union. Dr. Adenauer believes that in two or three years, when there is a German
army in N.A.L.O., his position will be strong enough to obtain re-unification with frontiers that are much better than Potsdam.
Mr. Lippman explained that for that reason Dr. Adenauer did not want any negotiations yet, because it was too early to raise the question of frontiers.
A few years passed. On 3rd December, 1958, Dr. Adenauer made a speech to a meeting of his party, the C.D.U., in which he repeated the point that he was against negotiations with Russia for a settlement because Germany was not yet in a position to raise the question of a revision of the frontiers. On this Aneurin Bevan, speaking from the Front Bench here in the foreign affairs debate on the following day, commented as follows:
What is he"—
that is, Dr. Adenauer—
waiting for? Is he waiting until Germany's armed forces are stronger so that they can take a more independent line?…When is the time ripe? Is it when all the German formations are established and the Americans are there with nuclear warheads ready to provide them with them should the need arise?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1958; Vol. 596, c. 1385–6.]
Time passed and the situation developed. The irredentist propaganda, which was first unofficial and confined to the refugee organisations, became official and was being peddled hard by the leaders of the German Government and also, I am sorry to say, by Mr. Willy Brandt, the Leader of the Social Democratic Party. Some of these meetings took place in West Berlin and were regarded as a provocation in that part of the world. The situation got so bad that in the debate on the Loyal Address on 1st November of last year the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Sir O. Prior-Palmer), who I believe is chairman of the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians' Defence Committee, animadverted as follows on the situation:
I am getting extremely worried about the irredentist movement in West Germany. It causes me and, I am sure, many other hon. Members deep concern. We have heard of heavily attended public meetings—for example, at Dusseldorf on 10th July and 28th August and at Berlin on 4th September—when Dr. Adenauer, Professor Erhardt and Herr Willy Brandt addressed vast, excited gatherings. The gist of what they were saying was that if Germany stood fast with the West, one day the West would see that East Prussia was freed…That sends a cold shiver down my spine. Are they not just the sort of noises we heard in 1936, 1937 and 1938?
He concluded by hoping that
…one member of the Government will make it clear that we would never dream of supporting Western Germany in any form of either attack or pressure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1960; Vol. 629, c. 52.]
I would be very grateful if the Government would make it clear at the end of this debate that they have no intention of letting this country be made a catspaw for German irredentist ambitions, on the pretext of defending the freedom of Berlin, or on any other pretext.
This brings me to the most sensational development of all, and the most recent. It is important, because it is an article in the big, West German, radical, independent weekly, Der Spiegel of 12th July. The fact that such an article appears in such a quarter shows how strong the opposition is to the present cold war policy of the Adenauer Government, because the constructive side of the article is to demand the recognition of the Polish frontier, to give up the vain territorial ambitions, and to accept a policy of disengagement very much on the lines put forward by our Opposition here.
As to what is happening in the German Government, the author sums up a blistering criticism as follows:
The era of Adenauer who, on the whole, has been a pretty obedient satrap of the West, is coming to an end, and the era of Strauss is beginning. The psychological warfare of the Minister of Defence to get atomic weapons has started. Without tactical atomic weapons in the front line, is his astonishing argument, the American power of resistance to the Soviets would be undermined. One must realise that the Soviets understood straight away what the Americans have only recently begun to understand, and the West Germans have so far failed altogether to understand, that at latest by 1965 the Bundeswehr will be powerful enough to involve the whole Western coalition in a spontaneous or provoked conflict about frontiers that have not yet been settled. The maintenance of Soviet positions in Germany and Poland as a whole will then depend on the will of Bonn, and the Germans will be in a position to challenge the Soviet war time gains. The Soviets do not believe that the Germans will for long lye denied the right to dispose of atomic weapons. They do not believe in assurances, so long as the atomic potential is being accumulated on German soil. They have, to be quite honest, very little reason for believing German assurances on this point.
This comes from a very prominent writer in a prominent West German newspaper.
The Soviets are menaced by a situation in which they may be deprived by the Germans of the fruits of their victory over Hitler, and
their whole position in Europe may be challenged. What is threatened is a revision by force of their victory of 1945, by those whom they defeated.
That is a very serious warning from a German source. I have a lot of friends and contacts in Western Germany, and I know that there is a most grave preoccupation and anxiety on the part of a large section of opinion which is afraid to come out into the open. The writer of this article has had the courage to do so. In those circumstances, it is more than ever evil and wrong to encourage German militarism and German irredentism, instead of encouraging the sensible and sane elements in Germany who want a negotiated settlement.
A settlement is not difficult if we really mean business with a negotiated settlement, because the issue is not the freedom of Berlin. Nor is it that of access to West Berlin. It is whether we are prepared to extend some form of recognition to Eastern Germany, in exchange for obtaining a settlement with the Soviet Government which will put the freedom of Berlin and access to Berlin under international guarantees agreed by both sides, and which will do something to remove the anomalies and dangers of the status quo in West Berlin—and I would willingly see that extended to East Berlin.
That is the real issue, and to try to speak of it in terms of something for which we are to risk nuclear war seems to me not only nonsensical politically but morally abominable, insane and suicidal. As for the rest of Germany, this would be a pilot scheme for an ultimate settlement.
The lines of a settlement for Germany have been propounded for years by the Opposition. They were put forward at one time by the German Social Democratic Party and after their defeat in the coming election they will no doubt revert to it. They are also being advocated by the German Peace Union, newly formed, which will I believe get 40 to 50 M.P.s in the election of 16th September. There is a strong body of opinion for this settlement, which would unite Germany outside the rival alliances, within an all-European collective security treaty, based on the Charter of the United Nations, and accompanied by measures of disengagement and disarmament which, eventually, would involve the winding up of both the rival alliances and their replacement by the all-European security system, accompanied by disarmament and joint controls.
Within that system, agreed and guaranteed by the powers, Germany would be united by the efforts of the Germans on both sides. At some stage there would be free elections to ratify or reject the agreement reached. The effect of such a settlement in Western Germany would be the triumph of those forces who are against German militarism and nationalism, and who want Germans to behave like good Europeans.
In the East—as the two German states worked together and their association developed into some form of loose confederation—there would be increasing freedom in the formation of political parties and in the flow of ideas, publications and people across the frontiers. I do not see how the present political régime in Eastern Germany could survive those winds of change and liberalisation coming from the West. I believe that the net result of a settlement on those lines would certainly be to strengthen the case and the demand for some form of Socialism in West Germany, or, at least, for measures of public ownership and planning, to take up the economic slack reulting from the end of the arms race. It would, however, also be a powerful influence for democratisation in East Germany.
Those are the only lines, I believe, on which we can negotiate an agreement with the Soviet Union. They are the only lines on which we can wind up the cold war and lay the foundations of peace in Europe. I believe that unless we take an initiative and do something about it, this situation will get out of our control in a few years and we may find an irreparable catastrophe caused by some mad adventure in Germany.
It is the winds of change from the East which bring so many refugees into the Western area. When the hon. Member asks what is the difference between the East and the West, I would say that the first difference is the standard of living, as is obvious when one goes from the West to the East. The second is the number of refugees who choose to come to the West, knowing full well the penalties which they are liable to bear if they are caught.
I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is not now in his place. He taxed my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal with spending too much time on Berlin. I consider that a proper thing to do, since Berlin is the most important topic that we are discussing today. I should like, however, to take up a paint made by the right hon. Member about Kuwait. He led the House to understand that the operation was not a success. A large number of hon. Members—the majority in this House—are deeply grateful for that operation and are grateful to the troops, who have suffered such great privations in undertaking it.
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to be unfair. He must realise that those of us who criticise the Kuwait operation are criticising not the troops but those who undertook the responsibility for ordering the troops there in the circumstances in which they did. It is a totalitarian argument, to which, I am sure, the hon. Member would not normally lend himself, to suggest that those of us on this side who have criticised that operation are in any way animadverting or discussing the courage of the troops or the way in which they have carried out their duties.
That is the very point I wanted to make. The way that the right hon. Member for Belper said it possibly gave the wrong impression, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for what he has said.
The right hon. Gentleman questioned our obligations to the Sheik of Kuwait. They are obligations arising under the recent treaty. The right hon. Gentleman also spoke of an oil bank in the Middle East. We all want to see an oil bank of some sort in which the wealth is pooled. I remind him, however, people are often generous with their own advice and with other people's money.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) said that the situation in Berlin was serious but not tragic. I would say that it was serious but not lost, for the simple reason that all along the line we have adopted an attitude of strength, and from that strength we are capable of negotiating. Berlin may be a long way away, but, as the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) pointed out in his lucid speech, the people of this country are cognizant of the importance of Berlin for the future, not only for West Berliners, but for the Western world.
The reasons why the Russians wish to do away with our hold on West Berlin are clear. First, it forms one of the most important information centres that we have of the Eastern world. The refuges who come in provide a valuable source of information. Not only does West Berlin serve as a great show window for the West, illustrating the great differences between the two worlds, but there is an important point concerning the refugees.
When I was in Germany six months ago, I took the opportunity of going privately and talking with refugees. The almost unanimous reason why they came over to the West was not so much the lower standard of living and the vexations of the East, but the feeling that they wished to live in a world of liberty and were fed up with the irksome restrictions and the feeling that all the time they were being observed, watched and controlled, just as they were in Nazi Germany.
A great deal has been spoken about the corridor, the road from Helmstadt to Berlin. As I see it, it is vital to keep this route open. There are two forms of supply to Berlin. One is by air. The air lanes are unlikely to be disturbed, because a disturbance of the air lanes would be achieved only by shooting down aircraft and would be an act of war. What is not fully recognised is that a change of status of the road from West Berlin to East Berlin could be accompanied by great physical difficulties. For example, there is not only the question of passes, but it would be easy for the East Germans, with whom we have no treaty whatsoever, to put every physical obstruction in our way. For instance, one day the road would not be usable. Another day there would be a crash, and so on. There are innumerable ways in which that road could be made absolutely useless for the supply of goods to West Berlin, short of an act of war. That is the one difficulty which is in our way in changing the terms of the present agreement.
It has been suggested that it should be a corridor and part of Western Germany. That may or may not be possible, but I should have thought that the present arrangements were probably the most satisfactory because we have same measure of treaty and agreement, and the Russians would be well advised not to obstruct the road, but this would not apply of it were in the hands of East Germany.
When we are discussing international affairs we should keep matters in perspective. During this debate mention has been made of Bizerta, Algeria and Angola. There are times when undoubtedly we do not agree with the policies of the French and the Portuguese, but it would be absolutely tragic if these small pin pricks in our international affairs were to affect our general relationship and the strength of N.A.T.O. It is so easy to quarrel with one's allies, whereas what we need in Europe is a combined effort and the ability to see in perspective the issues in the world.
One of the greatest difficulties which we shall face in Eastern Germany, and which has been mentioned in this debate, is the possibility of an Eastern German revolt. It would be extremely difficult for the Western Germans, with their Germanic principles and their feeling for their brethren on the other side, to refrain from co-operating. I am sure that we should make it clear to the West Germans that anything of that nature would not be backed up by N.A.T.O. because it would only precipitate another war.
The necessity for strong effort and united council when dealing with the Russians has been mentioned on many occasions in this debate. I submit that we must negotiate from strength. There is no reason why some form of negotiation should not be arrived at, but we must do it from strength.
This brings me to my last point. We in Europe have a unity in N.A.T.O. and it is up to Europe to help us in another field which is equally important—that is to say, in commerce. Today one cannot entirely separate commerce and the armed forces, because out of commerce comes the money to pay the armed forces, and it is not unreasonable for Europe to look at the matter in this way: If we were to enter into the Common Market it would be of great assistance to Europe because we would be united not only commercially but militarily, and it is not unreasonable to ask the other European countries to give us every possible assistance because they must know that if we are not commercially successful it could possibly result in us having to reduce our arms commitments.
I hope that perhaps one of the results of Berlin may well be that the nations of western Europe will realise the danger that faces them from communism and will help us to unite Europe, Britain, the Commonwealth and the other E.F.T.A. partners in a greater association of commercial interests which will also help us in our efforts to maintain western Berlin free and the Western world free at the same time.
I have listened with interest to the hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn), and there is one point I would like to seize upon. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that it would be dangerous if we let our allies in N.A.T.O. down over their attitude to Angola, and I suppose he also had in mind Algeria and Bizerta. The fact of the matter is, if the hon. Gentleman knew anything about the subject, that at present France's attitude in North Africa is forcing a Government in Tunisia which was pro-Western into the Eastern camp. After nearly seven years of bloody war in Algeria they are also forcing a Government which was pro-French, and which still believes in French culture, into the Eastern camp. We should be doing a great service to N.A.T.O. and to Western culture if we stood up to France and told her where she has gone so far wrong.
What I was trying to illustrate was that to have these differences in public with our allies does not have a good effect on N.A.T.O. The proper way to deal with these differences is privately to put every possible pressure on our allies, but not publicly to chastise them.
But in the United Nations we abstain or vote with France, and the whole of the non-committed world realises that we side with reaction, and this, too, is forcing people, against their will very often, into the Eastern camp.
Portugal has been reactionary all the way along. The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. M. Hamilton) made a remark to which I want to take objection. He said that there was no room in the modern world for neutrals. He seems to have gone back even beyond the Eisenhower régime. He disregards President Kennedy, the present Pentagon policy and the last Eisenhower policy, and has gone back to Dulles. I believe that the only hope for peace in the world is to build up more and more neutrals, and I hope that we soon will be in that camp.
I should like to know what the Government's attitude is, for instance, to the Rapacki Plan, the neutralisation of Central Europe. This was a constructive plan of vision to remove all atomic weapons from Western Germany and Poland and Czechoslovakia and to create a neutral zone. It was once the policy of the Labour Party, but I do not know whether it still is. It is one of the things on which we should seize to establish peace in that area.
I do not want to spend long talking about Berlin, because I want to speak about other subjects, but I must say that there has been much hysteria talked about Berlin. It is true that East Berlin is drab—I have been there and in West Berlin and in West and East Germany. But is also true that the further one gets from it and into Eastern Germany the happier are the people and the better the situation becomes.
Let us not "kid" ourselves about the refugees. It has been said that many refugees from the East are doctors and teachers and technicians. That is true, but there is also a flow from the West to the East of people who want to become doctors and teachers and technicians. Education is free in the East and there are those who go there to get their education free under a Socialist system and then return to sell their knowledge to the West Germans because remuneration in the West is higher.
The present status of Berlin cannot be continued, and the sooner the Houses face that the better. It is only a temporary situation and we cannot have this citadel of capitalism in the centre of a Socialist State. The Berlin situation cannot remain static, but the major issue is that the Oder-Neisse line must remain static. Everyone who has travelled in Eastern Europe knows that the major fear of the people of Czechoslovakia and Poland is the fear of a resurgent militarism in Western Germany, using N.A.T.O. and West Germany's other allies to help in a struggle to break the Oder-Neisse line. If we are to get peace Berlin is not nearly so important as the Oder-Neisse line.
I want now to turn to three subjects which have been hardly mentioned and about which I know something—Laos and Vietnam, Algeria and Iraq. I have been in all those countries, and I returned from Bagdad only last week. In Laos the danger of war is as great as it is in Berlin. In his last statement, President Kennedy spoke of the danger of war in South-East Asia and linked it with Berlin. But the position in Laos is the logical continuation of United States policy in South Vietnam. The House knows that in 1954 in the Geneva Conference there was agreement that there was to be no infiltration of military forces either north or south. But that did not happen. There was infiltration. The French withdrew and the Americans took over their responsibilities, and they infiltrated forces of all kinds under all kinds of names into South Vietnam. They are now infiltrating into Laos to carry on the same policy. But they are losing the battle there, and I am glad that we are not involved. Ideologically, the mass of the people are more closely linked with North Vietnam than with South Vietnam.
South Vietnam has recently complained to the Control Commission that there has been subversive activities in South Vietnam, although at one time she refused to recognise the Commission. She now suggests that these subversive activities have been organised by North Vietnam, and I believe that the Control Commission is to investigate the position. This is completely outside its terms of reference, unless it can prove that there has been infiltration from North Vietnam. There has not been. This is a spontaneous uprising of peasants and ordinary people in South Vietnam, who want to see their country united and to take part in the free elections which they were promised in 1956 and have never had yet, because of American pressure.
I want to ask the Minister of State whether he has seen the report in The Times of 17th June which states:
The United States is to increase its military and economic aid to South Vietnam under agreement reached
The aid is to include the equipment, maintenance, and pay of 20,000 troops to be recruited to increase the Army to 170,000 men; and the supply of arms to the 60,000 National Guard who defend villages from guerilla attacks. The United States military aid and advisory group
which was sent there only as a temporary measure, but has been there ever since 1955
now 685 strong is to be increased and American officers are to accompany anti-guerilla forces in the field.
Is this so? If it is, what is the Foreign Secretary going to do, as co-Chairman of the Geneva Commission, to see that it is stopped? It is no good his trying to shelter behind the Chair any longer. On 19th December last year I raised this matter and warned the House of the danger of war. On the advice of the Foreign Office, you, Mr. Speaker, tried to tell me that there was no longer a Geneva Commission and that therefore the Foreign Office could not reply to my charges. A few weeks later the Geneva Conference was reconvened, which proved that I was right and that the Foreign Office was wrong.
I hope that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as co-Chairman, will look into this charge published in The Times of 17th June, that for the first time American officers are to accompany South Vietnam troops in the field. President Diem of South Vietnam holds his position only because he imposes terrorism with the support of the Americans. If the Americans were not there, Vietnam would be united within a few weeks and Laos would be free to remain a neutral state.
Recently I have been a guest of the Foreign Secretary of Iraq. I was rather shocked at what had happened. It is a military dictatorship of the right—there is no question about that. Yet Iraq has a long historical claim to Kuwait. Under the Ottoman Empire Kuwait was part of Basra Province. Under Nuri Said Iraq claimed Kuwait as part of her territory, and she has continued to make that claim. It would be wrong if the oil revenues of Kuwait were sent to Iraq, but I believe that the Gulf Sheikdoms are completely out of date—an anachronism. Our Ambassador in Iraq is a fine and able man, and the sooner he and the Foreign Office realise that we can no longer sustain these oil Sheikdoms as separate entities, the better.
The late lamented Nye Bevan once said that we should be willing to buy oil at commercial prices from the Middle East States, but that the revenue should be shared among all the Arab nations. I listened to General Kassem claiming that Kuwait belonged to Iraq. I discussed the position with the Foreign Secretary, and he agreed that there was a need for a complete reorientation of the approach to the oil position in the Middle East.
The main danger is Egyptian expansionism, not Israeli expansionism. Egypt needs the extra revenue more than any other country in the area. I do not think that it is beyond the wit of man for these States to get together to formulate a policy which will enable them to share the oil revenues and build up the resources of their countries, and in turn bring happiness to their people. I am saying this after having talked with almost all the leaders in Irak.
I wish finally to speak about another area in which I am greatly interested, Algeria. It is not part of the British Commonwealth. It is French territory, and for that reason a lot of people may think it is of no interest to us. I have watched our record in the United Nations and we have either voted with France or abstained. So far as I know, we have never voted with Algeria. For nearly seven years there has been a terrible war going on in Algeria. If hon. Members went there and saw what is going on, they would come back and support what I am saying.
Over 500,000 refugees have been forced out of their villages and have fled to Tunis and Morocco. They are living in hovels and many of them are dying. Apart from that, there are resettlement camps inside Algeria where a large number of people have been regrouped. So far as I know, no one has been allowed to visit them and we do not know what is the position regarding them.
I shall not refer to the torture which goes on all the time, with parachutists torturing what are very often innocent people. It has been the most bloody war since the Second World War. That is the position in Algeria, and yet the leaders of the Algerian nationalist movement, the F.L.N., are almost all pro-French. Most of them were educated in France and they respect French culture. So long as they get their sovereignty they want to work with France and they have been denied that right.
I recall the biterness which exists there. In one refugee camp I met an old man and I wanted to take his photograph. The interpreter said, "Yes. He is blind." I spoke to the old man through the interpreter who explained that I was not French but English. The old man said, "I know England, it is beyond France across the sea. But all Europeans are the enemies of the Algerians." That feeling of bitterness is growing, and if we do not get peace in Algeria soon it will be very dangerous for the whole of North Africa.
Now we have Bizerta as well. As I said earlier, Bizerta and Algeria together are forcing people who would have liked to work with France into the Eastern camp. They wanted to be neutralists. Bourguiba was pro-West, but certainly the Algerians want to be neutralists. But more and more they have been forced into the Eastern camp. When Tunis and Morocco got their freedom so easily why was there this terrible war in Algeria? It is because Morocco and Tunisia have few natural resources but in Algeria there is oil and there are metals of all kinds which have not been developed, and the French want them for their own economy.
I know all the Algerian leaders. They have told me that all they require is that France should recognise their sovereignty over their country. Algeria was not a nation until recently. It is only because of this war and the terrible hardships which they have suffered that they have been welded into a nation. Algeria says, "We must have our sovereignty first, and then we will accept French capital and French technicians to develop the Sahara". Yet the war goes on and the talks at Evian have broken down again—on the question of sovereignty. This megalomaniac de Gaulle—and he is a megalomaniac—is ruining any possibility of peace.
I do not think that there is much more that I want to say. I have covered the three areas about which I know a lot. But I hope that the British Government will look at the Algerian question in a new light and will take a more active position in the United Nations about it. I have seen young men with their hands and faces burned so that they could not be recognized—burned by napalm bombs dropped from French planes which had been supplied to France by N.A.T.O. We must face this. The sooner we stop this kind of thing from going on the sooner we shall build up friendship between the Arab world and ourselves. We had a more enlightened policy in India, Burma and Ceylon. Let us try to convince the French that just as they failed in Vietnam, so they will fail in Algeria. Let us try to convince them that our way in India is the only way to build up a healthy federation of North African States
We started our debate rather late because of extraneous circumstances, but I think the House feels that it has had a good innings. Normally I should not wish to inflict a long speech on the House at this hour, but there are certain things to which I should reply. I will be as brief as I can.
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) was kind enough to explain that he could not remain for the reply, but I take issue with comments which he and his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) made about the Lord Privy Seal's speech. I thought that their comments were wholly uncalled for. They must recognise the difference between a speech at the Government Dispatch Box and a speech at the Opposition dispatch box. The Government, being in power, are always to some extent inhibited in what they can say in relation to a foreign affairs debate, as the hon. Mem- ber knows, and he should have made more allowance for that. I was amazed by the naivety of some sections of his own speech, just as I found myself compelled to agree with other sections of it. When he adjured us to gain friends and influence people, as one of my hon. Friends characterised it in a later speech, mainly by public criticism of our present allies, it seems to me that, whether or not we gained friends, we should certainly lose all the allies we now have. He must face up to that aspect of the problem.
It was inevitable that the problem of Berlin should have occupied a leading part in the speeches of practically all hon. Members who have spoken. In his opening speech my right hon. Friend reminded the House of the basic position of this country and of our allies in N.A.T.O. on this issue. I want to make just one or two comments on the problem. First, just to get the record straight again after some of the things which have been said, if there is a crisis in Berlin at present it is certainly not of our making, nor that of our allies. The position and status of West Berlin is artificial, but who has made it artificial? The whole basis of the division of Berlin and the division of Germany itself was on the assumption that, when the Occupation could be terminated, Germany would be a unified state. If that had been achieved, and indeed if we could achieve it now, the problem of Berlin would solve itself.
The Russians have chosen—I shall not argue about the reasons which have led them to choose—to enforce the continued partition of Germany. So long as East Germany is refused the right to free elections, its people cannot say whether they wish to join with West Germany or to remain a separate country; there cannot be a peace treaty, and the position of West Berlin will remain abnormal. Any agreement Mr. Khrushchev may choose to make with the East German régime is his own affair. That r6gime is, after all, one of his creation and he is in a position to make such arrangements with it as he chooses. But nothing he does can prejudice the right of the West Berliners to remain free and nothing can justify him if he tries to end allied presence in and access to the city, because these are the real guardians and guarantors of the free way of life. That was accepted by the majority of hon. Members who have spoken. If Mr. Khrushchev would only drop the threat to freedom, we could talk business.
It is certainly no wish of ours to raise tension or to make unnecessary military dispositions, but if we and our N.A.T.O. allies are threatened we obviously have a duty to perform. Quite a number of suggestions have been made today by hon. Members on both sides about means of negotiation which could be invoked to solve this problem. I assure the House that all these suggestions will receive the most careful thought. We have always been and remain ready to negotiate, if a satisfactory basis exists. President Kennedy's speech last Tuesday has been quoted by a number of hon. Members, but there was one passage which has not been quoted which is worthy of comment:
In short while we are ready to defend our interests, we shall also be ready to search for peace, in quiet exploratory talks, in formal or informal meetings. We do not want military considerations to dominate the thinking of either East or West.
I remind the House also that my noble Friend has already stated, and the notes sent by this country and our allies in reply to the Soviet aide-memoire also made it clear, that we are willing to meet round the table and discuss these matters with the Russians. All we have got set dawn clearly are three essentials—first, the right of the West Berliners to maintain their free way of life; secondly, the right of ourselves and our allies to maintain our presence in the city as a guarantee of that freedom; and, thirdly, the right of unrestricted access to the city. Those are the three pre-requisites.
As the House knows, my noble Friend leaves for Paris later this week to discuss with his fellow Foreign Ministers the steps that we must take over the next few weeks and months to meet the Berlin problem as it develops. The will to negotiation clearly exists on the Western side and, if it does on the Eastern side, a solution should not be impossible to find. I will not go into the various suggestions which have been made by hon. Members. I have said that these will all receive the most careful consideration.
As the House will be going into the Summer Recess in a few days' time, can we take it that, apart from the difficulties there may be in the way of immediate, formal negotiations, it is the intention of the three Western allies to get into the consultations as preferred by President Kennedy as soon as possible?
I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we are not unaware of the advantages that he suggests. I would not wish to take the matter further than that, but the point is taken.
There is very much more that one could say about Berlin, but I do not think that the House would wish me to do so at this hour. I will, therefore, touch very briefly on one or two other matters. Various comments have been made, in particular by the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg), about the situation in Angola, and several questions have been asked, particularly about the sale of military equipment to the Portuguese.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister informed the House on 27th June that supplies of equipment to Portuguese territories overseas are in suspense, and that remains the position; no arms or ammunition are being authorised for export to those territories. My right hon. Friend further explained on 4th July that this suspension did not apply to certain supplies being delivered to Portugal which were suitable to her in her position as a N.A.T.O. ally. I know that it has been said that it is very difficult to differentiate in that manner, but I believe that, by and large, it is possible so to differentiate.
We have been repeatedly pressed by hon. Members on the question of whether Portuguese troops are using British arms. At the moment, I have no direct evidence of that at all. As my right hon. Friend said, the military attaché has not yet returned; it is not so easy as some hon. Members opposite may think to get in touch at these distances in this very primitive territory. We only got the report over the weekend—I myself spent the weekend reading it—and it did not include the military attaché's report, but as soon as we get it we will give the information.
But, when we do get it, what use will it be to the House? I do ask people to grow up in this regard. What use will it be if they do find some British arms? Whether or not there are any I do not know, but the fact is that British arms have been supplied to Portugal over the years. They were supplied to Portugal when the party opposite was in power. How can they say whether any rifles that may be found were supplied by the Labour Government or by us? Hon. Members opposite really must not overstress this—
Can the hon. Member give one assurance? We have never had a clear statement on whether we are seeking assurances from the Portuguese Government that equipment now being supplied will not be exported with the troops it is intended to serve for use in Angola. Could we hear from the Minister of State whether in fact we have had an assurance of that kind from the Portuguese Government, and whether the possible supply of equipment is subject to such an undertaking?
No, we have tackled it in a different way, which is the way I have explained and the way it has been explained by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It is the way by which we ourselves can decide whether anything is suitable to go, in the light of whether we believe that it is possible to use it in those territories. I honestly believe that that is the most effective way and that, in fact, supplies that have been sent have not been sent on since this particular policy has been developed.
The point I was making was that, clearly, there must be supplies that have been provided by the United Kingdom in previous years over which, of course, we have no control, and I merely say in relation to the requests for this information that, whatever the information, what it would prove would seem to be extremely problematical.
I was asked about Dr. Scott. Further representations have been made to the Portuguese authorities. We are informed that Dr. Scott is being properly treated, and was visited by his wife on 25th July, and again on 28th July. I have no further information on that case—
The hon. Gentleman says that he has no further information than that, but what else are the Government intending to do about it? Do they intend to let it drag on in the Recess, if he is kept in detention month after month?
I would not say that they have been ignored, but by their law, the Portuguese are not compelled to bring a person up before a court within the time that Dr. Scott has been kept in custody. They are operating under their laws. We made approaches, but there are limits to what we can do in this regard. As I have said, we made representations, and we have repeated them, about the conditions in which Dr. Scott has been detained.
I was also asked questions about the position of Bizerta. I can inform the House that the Security Council met on Friday and Saturday, but it adjourned without adopting a resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper was under the impression that a request had been made convening a special meeting of the General Assembly. My information is that no formal request has so far been made, but it is clear that a number of Member States are anxious to convene one. If a majority of the Member States do so, then it will take place and, if it does, we shall participate.
We have very little to add to the views which we have already expressed at the Security Council. The Council is seized of the matter, and while we recognise that some Member States may wish to have a General Assembly, we hope that if this takes place the debate will concentrate on the first essential, which is to bring the parties together. We believe that the important thing is whether any proposal is calculated to advance a solution and to facilitate negotiations or to retard them.
I now turn to a matter which was particularly raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper, who was critical of my right hon. Friend for not dealing with it. My right hon. Friend dealt with a great many subjects and it is unreasonable to have expected him to cover every item. In any case, it had been arranged that I should deal with other points. I refer to the question of the Geneva Nuclear Tests Conference.
I regret that, despite our unremitting efforts, I cannot tell the House of any progress towards agreement on a treaty banning nuclear tests. From the Western side we have attempted to build a bridge across the gap which separates our position from that of the Soviet Government. But I am sorry to say that the Soviet Government have not only failed to join with us, but during recent months have actually widened that gap. When so much progress has been made, it is bitterly disappointing to find that the Russians now wish to draw back. Having agreed in 1958 on the details of a control system, the Soviet Union now equates control with espionage.
Any reasonable person who reads our draft Treaty can see that it contains every possible safeguard against abuse of control measures for espionage. As regards the administration of the control system, we thought we had met the Soviet Government's wishes by agreeing to equal representation of Western and Communist States on the Control Commission, but now we are faced with the Soviet "troika" proposal in the actual administration which, if we accepted it, would mean that the conflict of ideologies would be introduced into the control system itself.
In spite of these set-backs, we have not abandoned our efforts to reach agreement on a nuclear tests treaty. Such a treaty would be the first step on the long road towards a disarmed world living under the rule of law; and we think that it would be a vitally important step.
That is why we continue to hope that the Soviet Government will revert to serious and constructive negotiations at Geneva. It is also our reason for having placed on the Agenda of the United Nations General Assembly the question of nuclear tests. I was, of course, glad to hear on several occasions from hon. Gentlemen opposite the view that if only the Soviet Government would help us in achieving this agreement it would do much in the disarmament field as well. I believe that there is unanimity in the House on this.
Our view—I am sure that it is shared on both sides of the House—was set out in the declaration made by the Common- wealth Prime Ministers after their meeting in London last March. We are most anxious to make progress for renewed negotiations on the basis of the aims and principles set out in that declaration. I remind the House that in the discussions during the last General Assembly, it was agreed that to facilitate progress in disarmament, there should be discussions between the Americans and the Russians this year in the hope of finding an agreed basis for the resumption of multilateral negotiations. It was further agreed that meanwhile, the various resolution relating to disarmament should be held over for the next session of the General Assembly, which is due to begin on 19th September, to which progress on the discussions between those two Governments would be repeated.
A first stage of those discussions took place in Washington in June. Further discussions in Moscow have been going on for the past fortnight. Mr. McCloy, who has been conducting them on the American side, has now returned to Washington to report to the President. We hope that those discussions can be resumed in the United States after a short interval. We have been in the closest possible touch with the Americans throughout and we are in full accord with the attitude they have taken.
It is premature to say what the outcome will be, but I earnestly hope that some basis will emerge on which full multilateral discussion can be resumed. We, for our part, would lose no opportunity to promote the early tabling of proposals to this end, whether in the General Assembly or in any other forum in which progress is likely to be made. There has been reference today to various forums—for example, the Disarmament Commission and the ten-Power disarmament discussions at Geneva. Whatever the forum, we are willing to obtain those discussions and to make progress if we can.
One aspect which has been only touched upon in the debate but which is extremely important is the question of the "troika", which is a serious one and is probably not sufficiently considered in the world. In the past year, although we have had a number of discouraging developments in the international field, this is probably essentially the most harmful to international co-operation which has come forward. It was first introduced in a speech by Mr. Khrushchev at the last session of the General Assembly. Since then, we have seen how it has been a material factor in frustrating progress at the nuclear tests conference, while in further speeches Mr. Khrushchev has made it plain that he wishes to adopt this concept in all international negotiations.
The original proposal was that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be replaced by a triumvirate representing the three blocs into which, the Russians claim, the world is divided and that this triple structure should be reproduced throughout the United Nations and its Agencies. Under this arrangement, decisions or action would require the concurrence of all three and could, therefore, be vetoed by any one.
Behind this doctrine are two basic assumptions, each of which, in my view, is completely and utterly wrong. The first is that no one person can hope to be neutral in any international matter and that everybody is bound to show bias to one side or the other. The second is that the world is to day split into three roughly equal camps—the Communist States, the Western alliance and the uncommitted neutral States.
The first assertion—that no man can be neutral—violates the essential principles on which the United Nations is based and it casts a slur not only on Mr. Hammarskjöld himself, who has served, and is serving, the United Nations loyally and impartially, but also on the whole team of the Secretariat and its subsidiary bodies. There is no hope whatever for the future of the United Nations if we envisage it as a body staffed by people whose object is to serve their own national interest alone and to see that they neutralise or, indeed, obstruct any action taken or proposed by their colleagues drawn from some other faction or bloc.
As for the concept of these three-Power groupings in the world, it is a gross distortion of fact to pretend that the neutral or the unaligned States act or think as one cohesive unit. They themselves utterly reject this unreal concept. It is clear that they have no desire or intention to be regimented into any bloc.
This proposal of the Troika is reactionary, narrowly nationalistic in outlook and entirely at variance with the spirit which should activate member States of the United Nations. Unhappily, we have had to face the fact that since the inception of the United Nations, Soviet Russia has too often sabotaged the work of that body in its efforts to promote a world order of international peace and justice. Her vicious use of the veto has brought to nothing many genuine efforts to resolve problems affecting peace. The most recent example in the minds of hon. Members will be her veto of our resolution on Kuwait a week or two ago. It is worth noting that in the 966 meetings of the Security Council up to date Russia has used her veto on 95 occasions, almost 10 per cent. of the total. During that period the United States has never used a veto, the United Kingdom only twice.
These are harsh facts that we have come to live with, but this latest proposal of the Troika is something which is much more far-raching and evil in its possible effects. It is our duty to expose it for the wrecking device it is, to lead others to reject it and urge the Russians to drop it. Only by so doing can we hope to assist forward the United Nations in the very difficult tasks that lie ahead of them.
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves this point, whilst I sympathise with his feeling about the "troika", may I ask him what Her Majesty's Government propose should be done, in view of the time table, about the resignation of the Secretary-General, his replacement and so on?
When he comes to retire we shall naturally support an individual candidate once more. As I have indicated, it would destroy the whole effectiveness of the United Nations if we were to do other than support a single person for this post.
I have spent some time on this matter, but it is so important that I do not think too much time could be devoted to it. However, I apologise for keeping the House so long. I think this debate has shown the diversity of problems afflicting the world, and indeed they are grave and anxious and we should do a disservice if we sought to belittle them. On the other hand, we should not forget that some problems look a little less critical and present less danger of an immediate armed conflict than they did some time ago. Perhaps this will encourage us to hope that firmness and patience will help to solve these problems. The Government can, I am sure, count on the support of the House in our continued efforts to this end.