Foreign Affairs

Part of Orders of the Day — Queen's Speech – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington 12:00 am, 2nd November 1967

I accept what my right hon. Friend says, and of course we want diplomatic relations with all countries. Of course we do. It is the proper thing. But what is to be the result of resumption of diplomatic relations with Egypt? Do they want more money? Or do they want equipment?

They have been getting plenty from Russia. And, by the way, that is one of the most tragic things that has happened in recent times. I should like to know what the Russians are up to. I have a suspicion of what they are up to. There is a great deal to be said about that in the debate; perhaps in the next foreign affairs debate we may be able to analyse the Russian situation, and what their game is—and we ought not to be afraid of speaking up to them. I know it is difficult for the Foreign Secretary, but it is not difficult for some of us.

Let me deal with one other point. It has been argued—my right hon. Friend has argued this in the House or outside—that the Israelis must abandon the occupied territories It is remarkable this argument that it is immoral, if one has won a victory, to occupy the territory one has gained. If that argument is sound we should never have had a British Empire. [An HON MEMBER: "Have we?"] I hope what I have said is not regarded as offensive. [Interruption.] It is a bad argument? If my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr Mendelson), with his authority, says this is a bad argument, I withdraw it at once. All I say is that I hope, whether it is a good or a bad argument, the Israelis will not give way. That may be regarded as a bad argument, but I mean what I say, because they will gain nothing by showing any sign of weakness—not in the face of the United Arab Republic.

But there it is. I leave it at that. I have only one final word to say, and it is about the Gracious Speech itself.

I read the Gracious Speech with the utmost enjoyment. Every item was agreeable to me. There was an omission to which my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr Will Owen) has already directed attention, namely, that there was no reference to a national fuel and power policy. We must deal with that later on. Generally speaking, however, I accept all the items contained in the Gracious Speech.

The only question I venture to ask is, are they going to be implemented? I say that if by mid-summer of 1968 there is no diminution in unemployment, if there is no evidence of growth and industrial expansion, if the balance of payments has not been corrected, if that is the position by mid-summer, the economic crisis will remain but, just as serious, there will be a political crisis. I do not think this country will stand for it. There is far too much disquiet already, a feeling of depression, almost of melancholy, among our people: apathy.

I am not blaming the Government for the present situation. I am not going to waste any time attacking the Opposition for the last 13 or 15 or 20 years. Most of our troubles derive from the last war. We were bankrupt at the end of the last war. That was not the fault of the Labour Party. We, in 1945, inherited a condition of bankruptcy. We have never recovered from that. We have been living on borrowed money all the time, borrowed either by the Tories or by us. That is the position. There is no use denying it. When we indulge in acrimony, imputing blame to one side or the other, we are not realistic. Let us face the fact.

But the people in this country are beginning to be worried about the situation, and I beg my right hon. Friend to use all the influence and the power he possesses—and I know that much power and influence reside in him, and he has humanity: that is the one certain thing he has—to use all his power and influence in the Cabinet to ensure that those items contained in the Gracious Speech are implemented as rapidly as possible, and so give us reassurance, and implant some confidence in our breasts. We need it badly. If that is done it will be all the better for the Government and, what is even more important, better for the country.