There will no doubt, as in all foreign affairs debates, be many right hon. and hon. Members who will wish to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. Therefore, I must resist the temptation that always attacks Foreign Secretaries opening such a debate to range over the whole world and touch on every area and every problem.
I believe that it is my task to present the wood rather than the trees. For this reason, I shall refer only to two specific areas, Europe and the Middle East; but I shall seek, in general, to describe the prospects for peace and the reasons for conflict in the world and, in particular, the part which Britain can play in the direction of human events.
We ought not to underestimate what that part can be. We have become accustomed, in all parts of the House, and I think all shades of opinion in the country, to the fact that this country cannot exercise in the world the proportionate power that it exercised in the last century. The growth of populations and the spread of industry in other countries precludes any such supposition. But, having accepted that, we must not fall into the opposite error of imagining that this country's influence in the world and the part which it can play is not still considerable. During the course of what I have to say I hope to demonstrate the part that we are playing to move human events towards the achievement of peace.
In this connection, I think that right hon. and hon. Members will want me to refer to the military withdrawals which we have planned and which are to take place in a few years' time in the Far East and the Middle East and to demonstrate that not so much despite, as actually because of, those withdrawals this country will be in a greater position to play the part which it really can play in this century.
The announcement of our withdrawal in the Far East has led the powers in that region to take steps to begin to co-ordinate their own defences. This was the significance of the conference at Kuala Lumpur.
The announcement of our withdrawal in the Middle East, in the Gulf, has stimulated the rulers of the small States there to closer co-operation in the form of the Union of Arab Emirates. It has long been the policy of this country that these small States should put themselves in the position of being more capable of standing up to the conditions of life in the world today. But it is significant that it was after the announcement of our withdrawal that there was a real move forward by the rulers to create this union.
The determination of the regional Powers in the Far East to co-ordinate their own defence and the movement of the rulers in the Gulf states were both desirable developments. They were developments required by the history of the present time and, as I say, they were stimulated by the decision that we made. But the corollary of that decision of military withdrawal in the Middle East and the Far East is that we now recognise that our political and military influence must be chiefly concentrated upon Europe. This is in line with our general European policy.
I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm the determination of Her Majesty's Government to press forward their application for full membership of the European Economic Community. We are encouraged by the fact that, ever since the second French veto held up negotiations, there have been repeated and insistent requests from five of the six member countries that we should maintain our application. This is a different picture from events after the first French veto which seemed for a time to kill interest in the matter. We now find that on almost every occasion, as I recently found at the meeting of the Western European Union, there is this insistent demand by the Five that the question of the entry of Britain, and of other countries, into the Community shall be kept in the forefront of the Community's affairs. But our concern with Europe is not only entry to the Community; there is also the question of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Before my right hon. Friend leaves that point, does he not feel that the recent French elections and the overwhelming Gaullist victory suggest that it is less likely that we shall have a chance of obtaining French agreement to entry? Also, does not the recent appointment of M. Couve de Murville as Prime Minister of France make it additionally less likely that France will change her view?
I do not think that my hon. Friend will expect me to comment on particular members of another Government. On the general point that my hon. Friend has put to me, it is true that we cannot expect, as a result of the French elections, any change of French policy in this matter. But I believe that the reasons that led this country and the whole House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not whole."]—an overwhelming majority of (he House to support our application are as valid now as they were then. We shall never succeed if we allow ourselves to be put off by immediate disappointment, or if we play false with those of our many friends in Europe who want our application to succeed.
Our policy towards Europe is concerned not only with the E.E.C., but with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. At the recent meeting of N.A.T.O. Ministers at Reykjavik there was particularly demonstrated the dual function which it is now understood the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation performs— the dual function of seeing to the defence of its members and, at the same time, working for détente for better under-standing between Eastern and Western Powers. The development of that idea in N.A.T.O. owes a great deal to the initiative of M. Harmel, of Belgium, after whom the Harmel exercise is named.
These two aspects of N.A.T.O.s purpose—defence and détente—cannot be separated, because we cannot expect the allies—in particular, we cannot expect the smaller members of the alliance— to pursue with any confidence a policy of approach to the East unless they feel sure of their defences. If we are to make progress with the détente, there must be the confidence in each member of the alliance that their defence is provided for.
That is why—and I give here the first instance of a particular part played by Britain in affairs—Great Britain announced, shortly before the Reykjavik conference, a further commitment of certain forces to the flanks of N.A.T.O. During that conference special mention was made of the importance of the Mediterranean and the south-eastern flank of N.A.T.O., to which our new commitment is particularly relevant.
Partly because of the increased confidence which that could give, it was also possible at Reykjavik to speak in more definite terms than ever before of proposals for mutual reduction of forces between ourselves and the countries of the Warsaw Pact. Anyone who reads the declaration made at Reykjavik will see that here is a clear signal to the Soviet Union and her allies that if she is prepared to consider mutual and balanced reduction of forces in central Europe, N.A.T.O. is in a position to do so as well. There are further military examinations of the various model plans for force reductions to be worked out, and we shall have made still further progress by the next meeting of N.A.T.O. Foreign Ministers; but we are already in a position where we can say that a clear signal has been sent to the East that mutual force reductions are something that can now be discussed in practical terms.
In view of the very important events that are happening in Czechoslovakia today, and the possibility of a change in the balance of the Warsaw Pact defence alliance, will the right hon. Gentleman pursue this matter with the Soviet Union to see whether a greater reduction on both sides is not possible fairly quickly?
In his reference to Czechoslovakia the hon. Gentleman anticipates me by a couple of paragraphs or so. My exact point was that we and the N.A.T.O. Powers put ourselves in a position at Reykjavik in which it is possible to pursue with the countries of the Warsaw Pact the possibility of mutual force reduction.
Indeed, this particular N.A.T.O. proposal for mutual force reductions is only one part of the general question of relations between East and West. We in Western Europe rely primarily on N.A.T.O. for our security, but security in a divided Europe is not enough: it is not a permanent answer to the fears that threaten mankind. I want to turn, therefore, to the rather wider aspects of relations between Eastern and Western Europe.
If we look at those relations at the present time we are bound to say that they present an uneven pattern. We are accustomed to say in various countries within our own alliance that there are "hawks" and "doves". There are "hawks" and "doves" in Eastern Europe as well, I believe, and this gives us an uneven pattern in East-West relations. One of the less promising signs is the restrictions that have recently been imposed on traffic to Berlin, and it was necessary, therefore, as was done again at Reykjavik, for the Western Powers to assert quite clearly what their legal and treaty rights are in respect of Berlin, to indicate that they will maintain those rights, and that they cannot be altered by unilateral action.
The pattern is complicated also by the changes and the ferments going on in East European countries. We have all noticed the menacing comments in the Press of certain Warsaw Pact countries, and now the letter from Warsaw, on the internal affairs of Czechoslovakia. We have noticed, also, the tension which those comments, that letter, and the circumstances surrounding those comments and the sending of that letter have created. We should not want our country or any of our allies to be subjected to the like tension, but it is the present existence of N.A.T.O. that ensures that neither we nor they shall be so subjected.
But it is not for us to order the internal affairs of Czechoslovakia—not for us, nor for anyone else, except the people of Czechoslovakia. Nor is it my purpose to try to describe in detail all that is happening in the varied pattern of events in the countries of Eastern Europe, but if the changes that are going on there—political, social, economic—result, as they well may, in greater prosperity of the purse and greater freedom of the spirit for the people of those countries, they will be welcomed by all men and Governments of good will and they will help to relax the tension between East and West.
In this varied and changing situation what is the proper course of action for the countries of the West? It is not, I think, to go round expressing their opinion as to exactly how each country of Eastern Europe ought to order its affairs. It may sound at first a comparatively limited and humdrum job, but I am sure that the right answer is that it is for each of the countries in the West to seek out all the methods of peaceful and normal contact between all countries of the East—the Soviet Union herself, and the smaller countries of Eastern Europe. This—and I claim this again as evidence of something that Britain, in particular, is doing—is what we—I, while I have been in this office, and my predecessor—have been steadily pursuing. We have been able to contribute to an expansion of trade with a number of Eastern European countries.
We have been able to take steps which have facilitated the ordinary travel of citizens from Eastern countries, and the other way. In several instances we have been able to conclude consular and cultural conventions, and this process still continues. It will make possible a wider range of scientific, cultural and educational contacts. We have also sought to see that our Government, and the Governments of Eastern Europe, understand each other's minds and policies. I believe that the short visit that I paid to Mr. Gromyko, some while ago, helped to a better understanding of what his country was concerned with and with what our purposes were.
More recently, I can fairly claim that the visit I paid to Yugoslavia was a useful one in every respect. I shall in September of this year be making visits to Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania. We must hope that, if we and other Western countries proceed to try to bring a bit more normal, human intercourse into relations between East and West, there will be a reciprocal effort by the Eastern countries. There is already evidence that this is so. People who study these matters will have been pleased to notice the part now being played by Eastern European countries in some of the technical work of the Council of Europe.
Is it not a curious paradox that, while the right hon. Gentleman is obviously and rightly trying to get Eastern and Western Europe to unite, the Common Market is the one divisive force that the East would never accept in political and defence terms? After all, the Common Market is aimed at political unity and at unity of defence in the Common Market countries. I would have thought that this is the one bar to the détente. In this context, the Common Market must be beginning to get obsolete.
The hon. Gentleman has got it wrong. No one is suggesting that human events will move at such a pace that we can think of either economic or political unity of all Europe, in the way in which the countries of the Common Market are united. What we want to be certain of is that, although there are certain things that hold the countries of Western Europe very closely together, and certain things which hold the countries of Eastern Europe very closely together, those ties which they have with each other should not be a complete barrier to intercourse between East and West. I am quite sure that the hon. Gentleman, if he acquaints himself with' the trend of opinion in Eastern Europe, will find that people do not see the Common Market in this light, nor—and this at first may seem paradoxical—do they see N.A.T.O. in this light. They know quite well that they will not get a real détente with the West unless the West feels confident.
It is in the degree of western unity we have through N.A.T.O., and to some extent through the Common Market that we prepare the ground for the détente between East and West. But relations between East and West Europe are only a part of a larger relationship between East and West as a whole. If we widen our view eastwards—
Would my right hon. Friend agree, before going on to East and West Europe, that one of the very substantial obstacles still remaining in the way of the improvements of relations which he has described, and which we all desire, is our continuing refusal to recognise the East German Government? Is the time not approaching when we should be prepared to look at this again?
We have to notice that the whole German problem is something to which we are committed by treaty, and which ought to be settled by the negotiation of a proper peace treaty with Germany. One of the reasons why I mentioned events in Berlin is because, if we want to get a settlement, either on the lines envisaged by my hon. Friend or on any other, an agreed settlement lawfully arrived at, we are obstructed in doing so if unilateral action is taken against treaty rights. I hope, therefore, that those responsible for the obstruction to Berlin will reconsider this and so make posible an easier and more relaxed discussion of the whole German problem.
I was saying that relations between East and West Europe are only part of a larger East-West confrontation. If we widen our view to the east, there is the whole mass of the Soviet Union, stretching into the Pacific: to the west there is the Atlantic power of the United States. Much of the prospects of security and freedom from anxiety in Europe must depend on the relationship between those two giants.
Here, despite a number of things happening in the world which might cause anxiety, on this question of the relationship between the two super-Powers we can list certain clearly encouraging developments. There is, first, the signature of the Non-Proliferation Treaty—a document which I regard as important not merely for the particular things which are in it, but for the increased degree of trust which is created by its signature by so many nations—I hope that the number will shortly be increased—and also for the fact that it is evidence that the search for agreement in the disarmament sphere, although it is often laborious, can succeed if there is sufficient skill and patience.
What has been achieved in this treaty is the confutation of a facile and cynical view that disarmament discussions never lead anywhere. Now we have to build on that treaty. Here it is gratifying to notice the agreement upon talks between these two great countries on the limitation of strategic nuclear weapons. I ought also at this point to mention Mr. Kosygin's important memorandum on disarmament.
This memorandum contains its polemical passages; it contains also certain disarmament proposals, clearly so devised as to give military advantage to the Soviet Union. I do not think that we need worry about that. It is an inevitable concomitant of all disarmament discussions that every powerful nation begins its proposals with a proposal which would improve its own position. That is where they all begin, and it would be unrealistic to expect anything else.
If that is the beginning of the argument, it need not be the end. To my mind, the significant and valuable thing about Mr. Kosygin's memorandum is that, in addition to the items I have mentioned, there are certain points of very great interest that have not occurred in Soviet disarmament proposals before. There are proposals for measures of stopping the production of nuclear weapons, and a reduction and elimination of the stockpile of those weapons; there is a proposal for the limitation, and later reduction of the strategic means of delivery of nuclear weapons; there is a proposal for a ban on underground tests and a proposal for regional disarmament in various areas, including the Middle East.
The last proposal is one in which we have long been interested and which it is gratifying to see taken up in this memorandum. If the reference to it is accompanied by an extremely polemical reference to Israel, that one must accept as part of the language in which discussions of this kind always begin.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—I am sure he is—that a number of our friends in Western Europe are worried and perturbed by the Non-Proliferation Treaty and are raising a good many points about it? Could he say whether he has had talks with our friends in Europe, and, if so, what the outcome has been?
I could hardly have engaged in these discussions, both recently and two or three years ago, without being aware of those anxieties. They have been voiced almost universally. But what is happening is that, with a better understanding of the Treaty, the anxieties are being overcome.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who will, I hope, catch your eye at the end of the debate, Mr. Speaker, will take up this and other points on disarmament. He is well qualified to do so. In the task of allaying the anxieties of the non-nuclear Powers and forwarding the drafting and signature of the treaty, my right hon. Friend has played a distinguished part, as is recognised by all who took part in the discussions. We shall, I think, all welcome what he has to say tonight.
I have mentioned the two great Powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, but, taking up what I have just said, I wish again to say something about the special part which Britain is playing in these events. Our part in disarmament in recent years has been both honourable and useful. There is no doubt that our particular position as a nuclear Power, but not one comparable in power to the two giants, enabled us to carry through a certain work of mediation between the nuclear giants and the non-nuclear States. The House will have noted my right hon. Friend's recent speech at the 18-Nation Conference at Geneva. I shall mention only the topics which he there raised; he will develop them in more detail.
My right hon. Friend was concerned with the help which can be given through the International Atomic Energy Authority to implement the important Article 5 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He was interested in a comprehensive test ban treaty and made a proposal which may surmount the difficulties regarding inspection which have so far blocked progress here. He emphasised the need to give priority in the non-nuclear field to a ban on the production and possession of agents of biological warfare and asked for a report from the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the nature and effects of chemical warfare. This is a beginning position. I shall leave the exposition of that subject to my right hon. Friend.
A number of us may wish to comment on those matters if we are fortunate in catching Mr. Speaker's eye. Could the right hon. Gentleman say what reaction there was, particularly from the Soviet Union, to his right hon. Friend's proposal for a committee with five-two majorities to supervise the test reductions?
I understand that they have not made a reply yet. I know that hon. Members are interested, and I hope that they will put their detailed questions during the debate, trusting that my righ hon. Friend will be able to deal with them.
There still remain difficulties and strains between the United States and the Soviet Union. There is the continuing strain over Vietnam. On that, I say only that, if North Vietnam could bring herself to decide that, in view of the substantial reduction of the bombing of the North, she will make a comparable gesture of de-escalation of the war, this would considerably advance the process of peace-making. I find it difficult—indeed, I should find it impossible—to take up the position of saying that she should not be expected at this juncture to make such a gesture.
My right hon. Friend has claimed that there has been a reduction of the bombing of the North. In fact, there has been an increase. It has been intensified, particularly below a certain parallel, and the total amount of bombs dropped has increased rather than decreased in recent times.
Let me put it in this way to my hon. Friend. Between 80 and 90 per cent. of the population of North Vietnam can now be sure that no bombs will fall on them. If North Vietnam would so act that the same proportion of the population of Saigon could feel that security, that would be a step forward.
The tension between the United States and the U.S.S.R. is to be found elsewhere, too. There is a strain between them, and a strain throughout the world, because of the unsolved problems of the Middle East. Since the House last debated Middle East affairs, on 26th March, British relations with certain countries of the Middle East have improved. We have restored relations with Algeria and Iraq. Since recent events in Iraq are so recent, the House will not expect me to comment more than to say that there seems no reason to suppose that the recent change of Government in Iraq will at all adversely affect the relations which we have recently re-establishsd with that country.
The great question in the Middle East is the conflict between Israel and the Arab States. Here, I regret that I cannot yet give the House a report of progress in actual events. There are still ugly incidents on the frontiers. The Suez Canal is still blocked. But there seems on all sides to be agreement with the proposition, which, I think, was voiced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), at Question Time last week, that our wisest course is to encourage Dr. Jarring to get on with his work and not to do or say things which would make it more difficult.
Dr. Jarring's work is being carried out in the framework of a United Nations resolution. Here again, I point out that that resolution arose from a British contribution to the debate in the Security Council at a time when it looked as though the whole way forward was completely blocked. I pay tribute for this piece of work to my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown). Since the resolution was passed, although it has served the vital purpose of holding the situation and bringing people at least into the posture of being willing to discuss if not with one another at least with Dr. Jarring the elements of peace, there have been difficulties owing to different views on what the resolution implies and how it is to be put into effect.
Quite recently, however, we have reached the position that the United Arab Republic, Jordan and Israel all now accept that there must be agreement in advance on arrangements to give effect to all aspects of the resolution. This has always been our conception of what a package or timetable should mean. It was the view which I put some time ago to Mr. Gromyko, that if one speaks of a timetable application of the resolution, it must not mean, as Israel feared it might mean, that Israel is required, say, to withdraw troops, but no one can be certain what will happen next, or when, in the timetable. There must be agreement in advance—as I say, the three Powers now accept this—on the whole package of arrangements which will give effect to the whole of the resolution.
To move forward from there we have still to remove the deep suspicions on both sides which seem to inhibit both from making a move beyond the point which I have just described. It has been my object, in the contacts which I have had with most of the countries concerned, to do what I could to remove those suspicions.
The fact that we have this possibility of progress through the work of Dr. Jarring is the result of the United Nations. If there are any who doubt the value of the United Nations, they should consider how these Middle Eastern events could have developed without the possibility of debate in the Security Council and the authoritative establishment of Dr. Jarring's mediation.
I have been following with great interest the right hon. Gentleman's account, but he did not say what Mr. Gromyko said in reply to what he said to Mr. Gromyko. Has the Foreign Secretary taken into account the fairly obvious fact that the Russians may possibly be saying one thing to him and a slightly different thing to their own people? For instance, it appears that they have recently, both in speeches by Mr. Kosygin and in the Soviet Press, been pursuing a line that the Western Powers are playing up for their own purposes nationalist tendencies among the Eastern bloc. This is a propaganda line that is being put across to their own people. I would be interested to hear what Mr. Gromyko said in reply to the remarks the Foreign Secretary made to him.
I am sure that we both felt at the end of the discussion that it was essential to treat the resolution as a whole. I think that I am right in saying that we were both of the view that when we talked of a "package" its purpose and nature must be to carry out the whole of the resolution and not merely the parts that one side is interested in. In reply to the generality of the hon. Gentleman's question, it sometimes occurs to me that one ought not to take absolutely at face value everything that is said to one in diplomatic exchanges, but I do not fall into the opposite error of thinking only that one can trust nobody about anything; that can sometimes be a worse error.
The real importance of the United Nations—and I am speaking now not of particular problems, but of its general effect in the world—is this. There is a division in the world that is not always referred to. Unlike the division between Communist and non-Communist, north and south, it is the division which lies across national boundaries between those who seek to make changes or to solve problems by peaceful means and those who deliberately seek and enjoy violent solutions.
The importance of the United Nations procedures, cumbrous as they are, is that this institution strengthens the hands of those who seek peaceful solutions, against the mongers of violence. It is basically because of this that this country—and I remind hon. Members again of the particular part we have played—has made, at any rate under this Government, the persistent support of the authority of the United Nations part of its policy. That is why we helped it out of its financial difficulties and why we have offered logistic support to United Nations forces. But always by our voice, our vote and our money we have sought to make it a workable and growing institution.
To pick up the points which demonstrate the important part that Britain is playing in the world today: we have helped to strengthen defence; we have made a valuable contribution to the strength and confidence of N.A.T.O., so making it possible to think of mutual force reductions. In the process of East-West understanding we have been diligent in promoting every kind of contact. I need not repeat or underline what 1 have said about the part we have played in disarmament. In the Middle East the mission of Dr. Jarring rests on a resolution that arose from our contribution to a debate, and over the world as a whole it is, I think, accepted that we are one of the nations which tries to make the United Nations a success.
Before the Foreign Secretary sits down, may I say that he has told us in great detail about countries all over the world, but he has not said one word on China. Would he say a word or two on China? Many people consider that China is the greatest threat for the future, much more so than Soviet Russia. Anxiety is felt about the many British citizens who have been arrested and held in prison in China and who have no communication with their friends and relatives.
With respect, the hon. Member has had several opportunities to discuss this in the House, and the Government have given a great deal of attention to it. If I do not refer to it, it is not that I underestimate its importance, but because I think that a debate is wrecked if the Foreign Secretary tries in one speech to talk about every problem. I thought that on this occasion it would better to prune.
Finally, I refer again to the great confrontation of the two groupings, Communist and non-Communist, throughout the world. This conflict does not spring from the old economic motives and we can set aside the facile accusations of imperialism. It is a conflict which thrives, first, on mutual fear, a fear which patient work on disarmament and détente can help to roll back. It thrives, secondly and chiefly, on a conflict of faiths. Communists, when they are asserting their faith, never hesitate to denounce the social evils of countries like our own, some of which exist, some of which they exaggerate or invent, and some of which have long since passed away.
Likewise, there is no reason why we should hesitate when we assert our faith to make quite plain our detestation of the Communist denial of liberty. But, having said that, I must add this. To see this conflict as a simple struggle between the virtuous and the vicious, between "goodies" and "baddies" as it is sometimes expressed in slang, is the crudest of misconceptions. However inept, however evil, some of the human beings who profess these faiths may be, and however adulterated by bigotry and ignorance the faiths may be, yet we have to recognise that each faith contains an element which responds to a fundamental need of the human spirit.
We assert the right of the individual to think his own thoughts, to speak his own mind, to choose his own Government. We assert these and other liberties not just as human rights, but because the preservation of them is essential to human progress.
Communists protest against poverty, against backwardness, against injustice. It is in the countries where those evils have flourished most that Communism has most easily taken root. They protest, also, against that perversion of the idea of liberty which sees the individual as; free to pursue his own gain without any thought of obligation to his fellows.
Can human beings construct a world in which these two vital elements can be freed from the adulterations of ignorance and bigotry that often surround them? Can they combine without conflict or explosion? Can that be done? Not yet; not easily. Too many present complexi- ties and memories of past wrongs and errors hinder the way. It can certainly not be done by our throwing away defences and allies as if the reconciliation which may some day be achieved were already with us. If it can be done at all, it will be by the laborious process of détente and disarmament, by the increase of understanding, by more freedom to discuss, and by the assertion of the rule of law and the concept of peaceful change. That is the task before mankind.
The prize for success is the deliverance of mankind from fear, and the opportunity for the fullest development of human life. The ultimate penalty for failure will be destruction. It is that prize and that penalty which make the drudgery and the effort worth while, and in that effort Britain can play and is playing an honourable part.
The Foreign Secretary began his speech by saying that he would try to separate the wood from the trees. The trouble is that there is a great deal of wood. But we thank the right hon. Gentleman for the clarity and the point of his analysis, because he chose the situations in the world about which we wanted information and, if he has pruned too hard, we can return to those subjects on another day.
In all our debates on international affairs in recent years, as the Foreign Secretary has said, we have had to record that, for the majority of people in the world, it is a very unhappy and very insecure place in which to live. Today, as we have our debate, is no exception. Africa is fragmenting into the old tribal rivalries. Within Indonesia, there is disunity. Between Indonesia and Malaya there has been war, and this is an uneasy abeyance. There is conflict still in Vietnam, in which the United States, Australia and New Zealand are directly involved, with the Soviet Union and China involved at second-hand. In the Middle East, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, there is no peace.
Is Europe safe? In so far as direct aggression is concerned, I would think that the answer is yes, so long as N.A.T.O. keeps its cohesion and its will. But in Europe as a whole, nerves have been set tingling again by events in Czechoslovakia in the last few weeks, and there is a reminder to everyone how thin is the veneer of co-existence and how very close below the surface is the crude use of force for political ends.
The Foreign Secretary spoke carefully about the events in Czechoslovakia, and I shall try to do the same. But there is something here more than a battle of dialectics. It is extremely serious and dangerous, and it is profoundly to be hoped that the Soviet Government will accept the counsels of the nations which must be pouring in on them through the various channels of public relations to show restraint. Any attempt to dragoon the Czechs into submission and to resurrect force in any part of Europe would set back for generations the prospeot of really serious constructive co-existence and do lasting damage to peace.
However much we may wish it otherwise—and it is a sad commentary on man that in this civilised Continent of Europe we should be thinking in terms of weapons and war—Britain must give the first priority in her defence policy to the defence of the Western world which, of course, coincides with the defence of our own island.
The right hon. Gentleman was right when he said that, to retain confidence, each member of N.A.T.O. must be certain that its defences are in order. In passing, perhaps I might suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he tells the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence that there should be no more cuts in our defence securities, otherwise he will be left with no foreign policy at all, either in Europe or anywhere else.
There is a broad identity of purpose between both sides of the House in support for the Government's policy towards N.A.T.O. and support, too, for furthering economic and political unity in Europe as far as we are able to do so. Incidentally, both those objeotives serve our own British interests.
At present, and for the immediate future, it is only realistic to realise that our application for partnership in and membership of the Treaty of Rome can make no progress. What is more, all the plans for interim association which have been put forward have not so far been favoured by the French. Therefore, there is, in effect, a position of stalemate. Although there is no harm in looking into any possible alternatives, on the evidence which has been collected so far there does not seem to be any alternative grouping which is either practical politics or of comparable economic or political value.
Therefore, I would think that the judgment of the majority of the House, although there is a minority who are not admitting this, is right to stand by the policy that we have agreed by a majority, and that is to keep in our application for membership of the Treaty of Rome, though there is no denying that, in the circumstances, it is right to concentrate on our own economic recovery and efficiency and pick up trading advantages, bilaterally and multilaterally, where we can.
I was glad to see within the last few days, for example, that we have been working with the Germans and other European countries in the production of a new bomber. We are, of course, co-operating with the French in the production of the Concorde. Wherever we can do these things and, therefore, reinforce European co-operation, that is good. On the other hand, there is no valid substitute for the Common Market for efficiency and productivity, and I only hope that the first tentative signs of a recovery in our own economy will show a strengthening trend, because, without it, foreign policy is bound to falter.
Further afield, the most valuable of all the international commodities is undoubtedly political stability, and here the Opposition cannot quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman's rather rosy picture of Her Majesty's Government's policy outside Europe in other parts of the world.
It is quite true that it is a legitimate objective of foreign policy to seek to help create areas of collective security and co-ordinated defence, for example, by Arabs for Arabs and by Asians for Asians.. That is sensible. However, I would suggest that it is quite another thing to withdraw British presences which were helping to preserve stability before any adequate alternative security arrangements have been made.
This is really the gravamen of our charge against the Government. The only one who profits from that is the international mischief maker—and there are plenty of them about—and the saboteur of peace who thrives on political confusion. It seems to us that the Government, both in the Gulf and in Singapore, are indulging in hasty improvisation. Given their own purpose of creating these collective security arrangements among Arabs and Asians, there ought to have been deliberate planning with those persons within an ample timetable for an orderly transition from one security system to another. In my opinion, neither in the Gulf nor in Singapore does the 1971 time scale make sense. We shall not find in either place a collective security system organised in anything like that time which is comparable to the situation today.
In the context of British security—I will not harp on this, because I have spoken about it outside, but I would put in on record inside the House— taking into account the new Soviet interest in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, taking into account the forward naval oceanic strategy of the Soviet Union, which is new in the history of the Soviet Union, based on the longdistance submarine, and is something which will occupy our attention for many years ahead, and taking into account the fact that eventually all of the oil of Western Europe and Britain from the Gulf is bound to come round the shores of Africa, this, in our opinion, points directly and definitely to co-operation with South Africa in the defence of those sea routes.
It is a prime British interest and the Simonstown Agreement will be seen in future as an extension of the defence system of Western Europe. It will remain a bilateral treaty, but, nevertheless, this is how it will appear, and this will be the reality of the matter.
The British Government are ready enough to proclaim the value of the Simonstown Agreement, but what they are unwilling to do is to carry out the necessary planning with the South African military authorities to make sure that that agreement serves our defence needs in the future. This seems to be wrong, and, therefore, we ask that the refusal to sell arms to South Africa, and the refusal to talk to South African Ministers, be reversed. I think that probably the majority of the House feels that that is a sensible thing to do.
In the general picture of the insecurity of nations there is one factor which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman recognised is common to three of the theatres where tension persists. In the European and Atlantic area it is the Soviet Union which really holds the key to a measure of disarmament. These disarmament talks have been going on for many years. I took part in a number of them, and I shall say something more about that in a moment, but it is the Soviet Union which holds the key.
In the Middle East it is the Soviet Union which could do most towards pacification, joining ourselves and the Americans, and perhaps the French in this task. I was glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that in Mr. Kosygin's proposals there is a suggestion that this process might be begun. In Vietnam, it is the Soviet Foreign Minister, acting as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference, who could act to end this war and to organise a cease-fire and a peace conference.—[An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Americans?"]. I am saying that in three areas where there is tension the Soviet Union holds a key position to act if it chooses to do so.
In the Atlantic and European area it seems that some hopes may be based first, on the Soviet Union's support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and, secondly—and I regard this as much more important and put on it a different emphasis from that put by the right hon. Gentleman—the possible application of a ceiling on the expenditure on nuclear weapons so that the next generation of nuclear weapons may be stopped and particularly the anti-missile-missile.
Before our own Parliament ratifies the Non-Proliferation Treaty, I wonder whether the Minister of State can give us some help, because there is information which the House ought to acquire. Are countries like India, Israel and Sweden, if they sign this treaty, relying on an automatic guarantee given to them against attack by a nuclear Power by the other nuclear Powers, or, to put it more positively, and particularly, is Britain, as a nuclear Power, pledging herself in advance to an automatic guarantee even in a case where frontiers are in dispute, where the origin of aggression may be in doubt, and in advance of any evidence that nuclear weapons are intended to be used?
It can be argued that such action, if it is intended, is justified because the penalties of proliferation would be worse. I find the agreement rather difficult to interpret in those respects, and if the Minister of State can help us I shall be grateful. If it is argued that there should be automatic guarantees in circumstances which nobody can foresee, in areas where frontiers are ill-defined and incidents can take place on either side, the House, if it has to face that situation, should do it with its eyes open. I hope, therefore, that the Minister of State will be able to give us some information and explain precisely what obligations the signing of the treaty implies if the signatory, like ourselves, is a nuclear Power.
The Soviets' interest in containing expenditure on nuclear arms could be—and this could be consistent with the Communist book—because they have concluded that conventional strength and a greatly expanded navy would serve their purpose better, whether that purpose was to underwrite comparative political stability in the world or to work round the flanks of the free world. It is extremely difficult to say exactly which point of view the Soviet Government take, and which policy they are pursuing. Perhaps for the time being they hope to get the best of both worlds by causing confusion to their capitalist opponents, and, at the same time, where they are left areas in which they can step without opposition, taking advantage, getting a presence and thereby hoping to contribute to their own internal economy and political power.
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that Soviet delegations have frequently offered very drastic conventional disarmament, far more drastic than the West would accept, and that in 1957 they even offered to reduce their forces down to one million men, a reduction of 75 per cent., without any nuclear disarmament at all.
If the right hon. Gentleman will forgive my saying so, he is a little too simple. I went through those negotiations. The Soviet proposals cannot be put in quite such simple terms as that. They neglect the question of the Soviet's refusal of inspection, and they neglect too, the fact that recently the Soviet Union has stepped up its budget enormously on conventional arms. I have an open mind. I am not sure which way the Soviet Union will jump, but I should want much more evidence before I should feel justified in saying that it would sign a disarmament agreement.
By all means let us probe. The right hon. Gentleman is probing. The Minister of State is in Geneva. I hope that we shall arrive at mutually agreed levels of conventional nuclear arms, but I must say that on past experience I shall want much more evidence that the right hon. Gentleman has been able to give before I believe that we can lower our guard. I was not sure from the Foreign Secretary's speech whether I could detect any shade of emphasis to indicate that the mood of the Soviet Union might be changing, but I profoundly hope so.
The Foreign Secretary turned then to the Middle East, and shortly to Vietnam. Mr. Jarring is showing exemplary patience in an attempt to bring the parties in the Middle East war to the table. I hope that he will succeed. I hope that he will be given every chance of doing so. He is working against heavy odds, and it is as well to recognise that, because at least one of the hard facts of life in this area is that the Israelis will not surrender their new-found physical security unless they obtain comparable guarantees of immunity from attack, and the right of unimpeded passage through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba.
At some time—it may not be yet—I think that Israel will have to decide whether her long-term safety is best secured by consolidating her present military position, or by stating her minimum territorial requirements in return for demilitarised belts of territory in Sinai and Syria, and an international administration of some kind on the west bank. It is along those lines that there lies the only way to peace—and they are consistent with the resolution passed by the United Nations—which will break the psychological barrier between Jew and Arab. Unless that is done, peace will not have much attraction for the Israelis. That must be the aim of all who are concerned in this matter.
I have said on previous occasions in the House that I cannot see the great Powers guaranteeing frontiers in such an area as this, but I can see them accepting responsibility for an international police force in a demilitarised zone, and being ready to guarantee that that international police force is neither by-passed nor overrun. That is rather a different thing from guaranteeing a frontier. It is possible that the Soviet Union, if it is beginning to think in terms of joint action in this matter, would be willing to join in some such scheme.
I am saying that there must be some international management of the west bank. The point of view of the Arabs must be taken into account, otherwise there will be no peace, but I would have thought that it would suit Egypt and Syria, as well as Israel— if they want to put an end to this conflict —to have demilitarised zones, and international forces in those zones. That is as much in the interests of the Arabs as of the Israelis.
In Vietnam, a dent has been made in the deadlock by the talks in Paris, although no agreement can be expected until the United States elections are over. Here again, the real test of genuine peace will be the nature of the force to police a cease fire and a truce while the political machinery is set in motion for a permanent settlement, which must be on the lines of the political settlement of 1954.
I do not see how any President of the United States could withdraw troops from Vietnam unless he is satisfied that there is a substitute force which will fairly hold the political ring. Until now it has suited the Russian book very well to keep the United States entangled in Vietnam, but shortly the truth will appear that the war is costing too much, first, to North Vietnam and South Vietnam and, secondly, to the Soviet Union and the United States. It is likely then—or certainly it is possible—that the "combatants" will seek a way out, after the American elections, and accept international help in doing so. If so, the great Powers must be ready to respond and act in concert through the United Nations,
I have criticised the United Nations often and strongly—and I believe rightly —for not doing the things it should have been doing and for employing double standards. I shall go on criticising it for that. But there are now three world situations which cry aloud for an international force. The first is in Nigeria; the second is in the Middle East; and the third in Vietnam. I was, therefore, glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that active steps were being taken— I hope that others are taking them with the same urgency—to see that when the demand is made for these forces they can be supplied. That has been my doubt up till now. I doubted whether the question was being treated with anything like the urgency required.
One criticism I have of the United Nations is that in the past its forces, extremely foolishly, have been restricted to forces from countries who are not members of any alliance—either N.A. T.O. or the Warsaw Pact. In other words, the Americans, the British and the French have been disqualified.
There is the example of Cyprus, where we have forces, but by and large it has not been possible to employ the forces of the great Powers. This must be stopped. Forces from the great Powers should be sent to Vietnam or elsewhere where they could have a contribution to make. It is in everybody's interests that the previous practice of the United Nations should be reversed.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is essential that China should be included in the United Nations and have a seat in the Security Council as soon as possible?
When China is included in the United Nations, yes, but that is not so at the moment.
I hope that the necessary urgency is being injected into this matter in order to demolish Soviet resistance to collective responsibility, worked as the Charter intended.
The Foreign Secretary ended his speech by saying that the task of Her Majesty's Government was a twofold one. The first part was to maintain sufficient strength to support and sustain the necessary alliances which we regarded as vital to our own physical security—the main one of which is N.A.T.O.—and the second was reconciliation. I agree that there is nothing inconsistent between the two. In fact, if the Russians understand that we intend to remain firm members of N.A.T.O. and will make our contribution to it, and that nothing will push us from defending our own security and that of Western Europe, they will conform to this provision and understand it. We shall be much more likely to make progress if we are absolutely firm and have strength enough to back our purpose.
The second thing is reconciliation and diplomacy, in which we can say without arrogance that as a country we are skilled. In this debate we have inevitably had to move around the world at some pace. But if, as the Foreign Secretary says, there are just the signs of reconciliation beginning to make a mark on the Soviet Union, we shall all rejoice.
Although I warmly agree with what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said about the United Nations and several other topics, I thought that when he told us that a year ago the whole House voted for our application to join the E.E.C., by equating the majority of this House with the whole House, he was taking a somewhat Gaullist view of Parliamentary democracy. Nevertheless, in the belief that my right hon. Friend and the Government still wish to listen to all sections of opinion in this House I would remind him that the Government have been frequently urged, at Question Time and on other occasions in recent months, to be a little more constructive in their foreign economic policy and not simply go on repeating, parrot-wise, that our applica- tion to join the E.E.C. is on the table and that meanwhile nothing else must be even explored.
This parrot-cry, which my right hon. Friend repeated today and called a re-affirmation, seems to be to have become both futile and undignified. It is now eight months since General de Gaulle's veto, and I ask my right hon. Friend how much longer we have to wait in this paralytic posture. Will it be another six months, another year, or another five years'? How long will it be? After all the time already wasted, the Government should now at least seriously study the possibility of the sort of open-ended free trade group of nations which has attracted so much influential support in recent months in this House and outside it, including the support of authorities like Sir Eric Wyndham White, the previous Director-General of G.A.T.T. Mr. William Roth, for the United States Administration, announced as long ago as last February that this proposal was being studied by the American Administration. Why should we not occupy the interval between now and the election of a new American President next winter in doing the same?
I know that at Question Time my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has more than once said that the possibility of this sort of free trade group was studied by the present Government before the E.E.C. application was made a year ago, and that objections were found to it. I am, therefore, I think entitled to say that what all such studies have shown is that there would be considerable economic advantages to this country in such an arrangement and that the doubts were political ones—concerning the question whether the Canadian or American Governments would be sympathetic. That seems to be not a reason against finding out. I should have thought that it was a reason in favour of finding out whether they are sympathetic.
For all that has happened in the past year, since we discussed these topics exhaustively eight or nine months ago, has greatly lengthened the odds against any economically acceptable terms for membership of the E.E.C. being obtained by this country in the foreseeable future. French opposition has hardened, both politically and industrially. Not only has General de Gaulle's position been markedly strengthened by recent events, but the new French Prime Minister is not exactly one of the warmest enthusiasts for British membership of the E.E.C. Indeed, French industrial opposition has also intensified powerfully as a result both of the British devaluation and of the steep rise in French industrial costs which resulted from the recent disturbances in France.
What I was arguing, and what I think that my hon. Friend has not yet quite grasped, was that the competitive position of the French industrially as compared with British industry has greatly deteriorated in recent months; and, therefore, they are more disinclined than ever to accept British membership. Not for many years has French industry been so unable and so unwilling to meet British industrial competition. British confidence in French political stability has not been greatly enhanced in recent months, either.
At the same time, the economic cost to this country of the dear food policy of the EE.C. has been further magnified by recent events. Our devaluation has widened still further the gap between food prices in the E.E.C., on the one hand, and those in the United Kingdom, on the other hand.
Secondly, those advocates of our joining the E.E.C.—there were quite a lot who used this argument—who maintained that world food prices would rise and that, therefore, the gap would disappear anyway, have proved to be totally wrong. World food prices have shown little or no tendency to rise; and the very recent discovery, which may prove very important, of new types of wheat and rice with very high yields, which has already dramatically altered the food prospects for India, for instance, make it just as likely —in my view, more likely—that world food prices will fall rather than rise over the coming years.
What practical objection can there be, then, to the Government's at least exploring in depth, together with other countries, the possibilities I have men- tioned? The sort of open-ended free trade group which has been proposed would not be an alternative to closer association with Western Europe—which the right hon. Gentleman rightly urged this afternoon—in the sense that one would preclude the other. If a wider free trade group could be formed, not merely would it be possible for the E.E.C. as such to join it—that, in my view, would be the best solution of all—but it would be exactly as possible as it is now for the United Kingdom, if anybody wished this, still to join the E.E.C. The two policies are really only alternatives in the short-term sense that, if we do not probe these policies now, we shall in fact have to wait and do nothing for quite a number of years ahead.
The sort of free trade group suggested would not be merely free for the E.E.C. to join as well as for E.F.T.A. It would in no way be geographically limited. The phrase "free trade area" in recent discussions of these subjects has perhaps been misleading, because it has created the impression that such a group has to be geographically limited and contiguous in some way in order to conform with G.A.T.T. In fact, to conform with G.A.T.T. such an association needs to cut industrial tariffs over a major part of its trade, but it need not be geographically limited. That is why the term "N.A.F.T.A.", which has got into current language, is also somewhat misleading if used to describe what should become a world trade group, free for all to join, and not a regional bloc; though no doubt the North Atlantic nations might well take the initiative in launching such a project.
The benefit to the world as a whole from such a widening group, particularly if the E.E.C, Japan and, at some stage, Australia and New Zealand were to join, would be immense. First, freer trade, a greater international division of labour and, therefore, higher living standards—I think that this should appeal to the Liberal Party in particular; I hope that it does—over a far wider area of the world than has ever been contemplated before, would be achieved.
Secondly, if it were made a condition, as in my view it certainly should be, that the poorer nations were granted the right of non-reciprocal easy entry into the markets of the group, as recommended by U.N.C.T.A.D. at the recent conference, we should do more than any amount of aid is ever likely to do to raise living standards in the poorer countries. Indeed, with that condition, the group, so far from being a rich man's club, would be a club which poor men could enter without paying the subscription. That might be a very happy arrangement.
To the United Kingdom, membership of such a group would surely offer enormous economic advantages. We should at one and the same time retain the right to import industrial materials and food as cheaply as possible from anywhere in the world, and we should enjoy the widest practicable tariff-free market for our industrial exports. Those are the two essential conditions of our earning our living in the world in the long run. Our balance of payments would be in an immensely stranger position than it ever could be if it were burdened with the agricultural policies of the E.E.C.
We should also, if North America belonged to the group, have the best chance of rapid technical advance in industry, because we should be trading at a very high level with the technically most advanced nations in the world. In addition to all that, we should not be forced into any economic or political breach either with E.F.T.A. or with the Commonwealth, because we should not have to place any new restrictions or barriers on their trade.
In addition, such a free trade grouping has the immense advantage over either a customs union or a so-called economic community that one member cannot be dominated by others; for such a group would have no supra-national bodies with power to interfere in other people's internal policies. Members would retain the right of operating their own commercial policy vis-à-vis the whole world outside the group.
My right hon. Friend talked, rightly, about the importance of developing our trade with the Eastern European and Communist countries. We have done that successfully in the last three or four years because we have had the right to conduct our own commercial policy and make all the trade agreements we like with those countries. That would still be possible in a free trade group. In the E.E.C. we hand over the whole of this power to the Commission in Brussels. Therefore, no one country in such a free trade group could dominate the others any more than Britain has been able to dominate Switzerland or Portugal since the foundation of E.F.T.A. Indeed, the picture of the Zurich bankers being dominated by British Chancellors as the result of the formation of E.F.T.A. is not a very accurate record of events.
Some may say that the chance of achieving even the first nucleus of such a group that has come to be known as N.A.F.T.A. is no greater in political probability than that of our joining the E.E.C. Yet, if the facts are dispassionately examined, what emerges is this, I believe. If both the United Kingdom and the United States were to propose such a strategy, it is highly probable that Canada and the rest of E.F.T.A. would support the venture. If a group of those dimensions were formed, it is even more probable that Japan would wish to come in as well. In that case Australia and New Zealand, which are already forming a bilateral free trade area with one another, might well be exceedingly interested, too. If that is so, it follows that Anglo-American agreement might break a major log-jam and open up tremendous opportunities.
At the same time, there is growing evidence that, given a British initiative or at least British activity in this matter, much influential opinion in North America would be favourable to exploring its possibilities. The attitude I have found in recent months—hon. Members can judge for themselves—among Canadians and Americans is that important policy decisions are bound to be taken after the coming Presidential election in America; that the United States does not wish to exert any sort of pressure on Britain; but that they would respond sympathetically and actively if there were an initiative taken by Britain. On this front, both Governments are waiting for the other, and letting the other take the responsibility for heir inaction.
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that recently in the United States he has found serious and influential people waiting for a British initiative to view sympathetically?
Yes, Sir. There is a great deal of evidence of this and I would be glad to explain it to the hon. Gentleman at greater length, particularly on the evidence of public conferences which have recently been held in both countries on this subject. There is a great disinclination among Americans to appear to be putting pressure on this country. They would rather the initiative came from here.
One can at least say, however, that the American Administration is studying the various possibilities. In these circumstances, the case is surely overwhelming for Her Majesty's Government to do at least the same, to waste no further precious time and to examine these alternative policies thoroughly, in consultation if possible with E.F.T.A., the Commonwealth and the North American Governments, and so be ready with really positive proposals by the time a new American President comes into office next winter. New policies of some kind arc bound to be formulated then, both in America and many other countries, and particularly trading and commercial policies.
Let us also remember that if we remain totally inactive, purely regional blocs may be formed elsewhere from which we may be excluded; for example, a Pacific free trade area, which has been much discussed in recent months. Let us be abreast of events this time, and not get left behind once again.
I have the deepest respect for the judgment of the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) on many matters, but I would be chary of taking his advice on foreign affairs, although this is a subject on which his high and rising reputation stands highest.
The right hon. Gentleman advocated that we should treat South Africa as an outpost of the Western European defence system. I suggest that to do that might have disastrous effects on our reputation in Africa. And, to put it in terms of the crudest self-interest, the suggestion should be repudiated.
I understood him to say that we should support the Government in South Africa —now that that country is out of the Commonwealth I do not feel the urge to interfere with it internally, but it is practising a serious form of apartheid— because of the danger of long-range Russian submarines attacking our shipping going round the Cape. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be envisaging a situation of total war, in which event our support of South Africa would be of minimal utility and might have some serious drawbacks.
I agreed with much of the Foreign Secretary's speech. However, I thought that, in general, it contained an air of unreality. Listening to the right hon. Gentleman, one would have thought that Her Majesty's Government were pursuing a consistent and successful foreign policy which was having a wide and beneficent effect throughout the world. In fact, the Government have had to abandon all the main objectives of their foreign policy, and I regret to say that I doubt if Britain, which is heavily in debt, among other things, can at present exercise much influence in the world. I give the Foreign Secretary the highest marks for trying to get disarmament. But I doubt whether the course of disarmament would have been altered very much, even if we had not existed.
For the last 30 or 40 years the handling of British foreign policy has been extremely unhappy. The conventional wisdom as expounded by the Foreign Office has nearly always been wrong on virtually every major issue. It was wrong over appeasement and over Suez. The timing of our European policy has been deplorable. When we could have got into Europe, the whole of the Establishment was against it. As soon as it became apparent, even to the most ill-informed back bencher such as myself, that it would be impossible to get in, the whole of the Establishment became converted in one great wave to the possibility and desirability of entering Europe.
No, I would not. In any event, it is curious, to say the least, for a member of the Conservative Party to be talking about rearmanent and prewar policy.
Over E.F.T.A. Her Majesty's Government seemed oblivious to the resentment created in that organisation, both by the surcharge and the smelter. These may have been necessary projects but they were not consistent with any policy of good will among the E.F.T.A. countries. We were told that sanctions would bring Rhodesia to its knees within six weeks. That was some years ago. In the Far East Her Majesty's Government were forced to withdraw for economic reasons within a few months of the most explicit undertakings that we would be staying.
One of the most curious passages in the Foreign Secretary's speech was that in which he took credit for withdrawing from the Far East. He said that this would greatly improve the situation. If that is true, why did not we do it long before? We know very well why we are withdrawing. It is because we are forced to do so, particularly for economic reasons. If the Foreign Secretary thinks that our present policy in the Far East is so much better, he must accept that it should have been put into operation a lot earlier. I feel that this is another example of the methods introduced into this country by Mr. Macmillan who, after Suez, went about pretending that nothing had changed and that that disastrous expedition had been a great British success.
We have the continued supply of arms to Nigeria, even today. This, even remembering Suez, is the most shameful act of foreign policy to be conducted by a British Government since the war.
We are now in the position of having no foreign policy at all. Nor have we a trade policy. No hon. Member need be inhibited from speaking in this debate. He need not be an expert on the subject because it is obvious that amateurs have in the past done no worse than the experts. Our present position has been reached as the result of employing deplorable methods. They have involved a vast waste of resources and they have done great damage to our economic interests and our good name.
We should at least face the fact that we no longer have a global rôle to play, and that we shall not have one again. One corollary is that we should no longer have global debates on foreign affairs. Such debates may be appropriate to a great world Power, but it is inappropriate to the House of Commons in the present situation.
Would the right hon. Gentleman suggest also that we should cease to be a permanent member of the Security Council, because it seems to me that as long as we are a permanent member we have a responsibility in world affairs which any Government would have to put before the House?
If we were debating explicitly our rôle with the Security Council, I do not disagree, but I think that the Foreign Secretary agreed that general debates on foreign affairs are getting to be of more limited interest. We must give up conducting our foreign affairs with a close eye to the effect of what is said on affairs at home. Instead of looking for electoral advantage or otherwise in our own country, we must look at our methods of formulating both foreign policy and trade policy.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) asked for an inquiry into the subject of a North Atlantic Free Trade Area. Who should conduct it? We were told that there were six inquiries in depth made into entry into Europe by the Foreign Office. If the result of those inquiries was the handling of our application, I must say that my trust in the Foreign Office as being a suitable instrument for this suggested inquiry has been somewhat weakened. It may be that some combination of Departments should conduct the inquiry. I doubt whether the Foreign Office as now set up is equipped directly to conduct the technical and economic type of inquiries that are becoming more and more important in formulating, not general policies but particular initiatives.
I absolve the right hon. Gentleman from mentioning the Foreign Office in this connection, and I take his point, but this House has the right to inquire occasionally into the methods by which policy is implemented and decisions are come to.
Let me now turn again to the proposed N.A.F.T.A. First of all, N.A.F.T.A. is intended as a free trade area. The objection now to a purely free trade area is that since in all countries Governments intervene more and more constantly in the economy, a division of interests arises between a free trade group as a whole and the needs of the particular countries. This we see very clearly in E.F.T.A. Unless we have some machinery for harmonising general policies it will become more and more difficult to run simply a free trade area. But even the right hon. Gentleman does not claim that N.A.F.T.A. would be a political association of any sort, so there would be no machinery for harmonising internal policies. This is not an insuperable objection, but it is worth noting.
What about the position of Japan? The right hon. Gentleman mentioned a possible regional grouping in the Pacific, but I should have thought that America would find it exceedingly difficult to have Japan in anything of the nature of a free trade area and equally difficult to leave her out. I do not know what those who recently went to America found was the feeling there on the subject.
I see no objection to having inquiries into the possibility of N.A.F.T.A. I suspect that as one gets nearer to the matter, the possibility of it tends to recede.
I do not think that in this we should rely on any special relationship with America, because I believe that that has disappeared. Secondly, and this was made clear by the right hon. Gentleman, the proposals should not be put forward as an alternative to eventual membership of the E.E.C. If I may say so without offence in any way many of the distinguished people who support the project in America are those who have been most favourable to our entry into the European Community, but the same cannot be said of the leading members of the idea in this country, and I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he did not put the idea forward in any way as a stalking horse to prevent us from getting into Europe.
It is difficult to see what would be the position of the E.E.C. in N.A.F.T.A. I think it very unlikely that it would simply join. All the things that the right hon. Gentleman said about the attitude of General de Gaulle to us would be equally valid against the E.E.C. joining N.A.F.T.A., and I should have thought that such inquiries as one has been able to make show that there are political implications attached to the E.E.C. that are not relevant to N.A.F.T.A.
I think that a great deal that the right hon. Gentleman wants, and rightly wants, should be obtainable through G.A.T.T. and the United Nations, but I agree that there is a perfectly good case for a further inquiry, if it is necessary, and I have no doubt that during this debate the Government will tell us what their intention is, and how it will be carried out.
I was glad, however, to hear the Foreign Secretary say that the Government have not altered their policy in regard to Europe. They start out late but, having started, I hope that they will continue. Of course, at the moment our chances of getting into Europe are nil, but President de Gaulle will not be with us for ever. Although he had a come-back at the election, I think that Gaullism has had a very severe shock from the events of the last few months, and even if French industry is not at the present time frightened of British industry the time may come when it will see the real benefit to France's future if we are in, and we will, of course, add very much to the available market.
I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary stress our membership of the Security Council. The United Nations is certainly faced with its old problems, but it has one new one of importance to which it should give attention. Here I pick up something said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire. He said that there were three places in the world in which there was a great need for an international force. I agree, but to the old difficulties about an international force and general operations of the United Nations there seems to be added a further difficulty in that so many disputes have an element of civil war in them. That is certainly true of Nigeria and Vietnam. That makes it more difficult to put a force into a country. It is bad enough putting a force between two countries, but to supply a force which would take an active part in stopping civil war in a country is more difficult.
Again, I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he thought that some of the major powers should contribute to the force, because I remember being astonished some time ago when the Prime Minister expressed dismay at the thought of the Red Army, under the United Nations, entering Rhodesia. I thought, like many people, that we wanted the Red Army to operate under the aegis of the United Nations. If the Foreign Secretary wants an international force to take part in international operations, the Russians will presumably be included, and, in due course, the Chinese. That makes it still more difficult for such a force to operate within one country, because I cannot see many countries welcoming the presence of such foreign forces.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that when the United Nations Charter was originally signed the intention was that the Security council should handle these problems of dispute? Surely the Security Council consists of the great Powers. It was originally intended that the great Powers collectively should take action first.
I do not deny that, but I am saying that it presents difficulties in this new situation. The United Nations was originally supposed to operate between sovereign States, and when it comes to operating within a so-called sovereign state like Nigeria we have a new situation of great difficulty.
I am glad to hear it said that the international force plays an important part in Cyprus and the Middle East, and a part that no other organisation or country could play. Whatever else is said about the United Nations, it is fulfilling an important rôle in some parts of the world about which we are apt to forget.
I see that the Czechs have sent a rather surprising and extremely courageous reply to the representations made to them. Nevtherless, I believe that the situation there is extremely disturbing. One lesson we have to learn is that optimists are always discovering signs of liberalism in Russia. But it is an illiberal country, not only by nature but, as far as the ruling classes are concerned, by conviction. They have the same conviction about enforcing what they think right as the medieval Catholic Church or John Knox. It will take some time before liberalism as we understand it will make any impression on the ruling régime of Russia. Those who are sympathetic with some of the aspirations of the U.S.S.R. should not delude themselves or other people about the beliefs and general policies of the Soviet Government and the system they represent.
The same is not true of the Eastern European satellites. There is now very little, obviously, that the West can do, but—as always—one is inclined to feel that we might have done more about Eastern Europe. I have always regretted that we made no answer to the proposals for a European conference. After all, the proposals came from Eastern Europe. We should have said, "Make them more precise". This would have been an effective way of keeping in close contact. I agree with the Foreign Secretary that we want to keep these contacts country by country as well as between Western and Eastern Europe.
I do not agree with him, however, that N.A.T.O. is a suitable instrument for détente. Eastern Europe has never considered it to be so but has looked upon it as a military organisation. I do not think we can make it fulfil a different rôle as the bearer of olive branches. We should keep the closest collaboration as far as we can with countries in Eastern Europe which are not imbued with the same view of Communism as are the Russians. I believe that sooner or later there will be a split and that split could cause turmoil within as well as between countries. It will be vital how we handle it.
In the short run we have the situation in Berlin which is extremely important. The West must be constantly discussing and improving its policies towards the East. It looks at the moment as though reaction is winning its way in Europe. The Russians have seceded from such liberalism as they showed a short time ago. Gaullism is succeeding in France. But I think this is temporary. I do not think the events of the last few years in the East and West will be forgotten. I only hope that we understand them aright. A blow for freedom and change against forces in Europe which are too often now employed in defending out of date positions no longer relevant to the chief problems of the modern world, must be all to the good.
One aspect of foreign affairs which will take more and more of our time is certain questions, not between countries but within countries. These are questions of migration, questions of aid to undeveloped countries, questions of colour and questions of the whole relationship between government and government. There are new aspects of liberty and self-expression. The time is coming when these will need joint action and they may have a very powerful effect in breaking down at least some of the old antagonisms. Although these are not strictly questions of foreign policy, Britain may find a certain rôle to play in them in place of the world rôle which in my opinion she has quite rightly given up.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was very severe on the Government for having arranged this debate on the Adjournment and for not having concentrated on one subject. He immediately flitted off gaily and made comments on 27 different subjects without making any serious contribution on the two subjects which the Foreign Secretary picked out in order to remedy the effects of having the debate on the Adjournment. The right hon. Gentleman was no example for correcting my right hon. Friend but, far worse, he made an after-dinner speech or an Oxford Union speech with nothing in it. It was a few general comments leaving nothing worth reading tomorrow when we look at his speech.
My right hon. Friend, although he has not acted on the advice received from many parts of the House to have a debate on one specific subject of foreign affairs, to leave it at that and allow the House to concentrate on it, has at least allowed us to concentrate attention on two major fields of policy. For that I express my limited appreciation. The fields on which my right hon. Friend concentrated are very important. I want to speak about Vietnam, then the Non-Prolifera-tion Treaty, disarmament and Europe. Those are the subjects which my right hon. Friend discussed. I do not want this debate to be turned into a debate on the Common Market again. It would be better to concentrate on the subjects which my right hon. Friend picked out.
The position in Vietnam is not so simple as my right hon. Friend made it appear. I very much regret that after the limited amount of progress which has been made he should be returning to the simple Foreign Office formulation which has blocked a proper analysis of the subject for more than two and a half years. Again, he was putting all blame for lack of progress in the Paris negotiations on the attitude of the National Liberation Front and the Government of Hanoi. In fact what American diplomacy hoped for for such a long time—that Russian diplomacy would come into play—has occurred. Whenever one has discussed the situation with American statesmen in the last two and a half years one has found that Mr. Rusk and others wanted to bring Russian influence into play.
I say without fear of contradiction that without Russian diplomacy there would never have been a Paris conference. We should express appreciation for this encouragement by the Russian Government. Now the situation is very difficult because a solution which could occur internally in Vietnam is difficult for a United States President to present to the American people. It is difficult also for the policy to be presented by a Russian leader to the Russian people. There is the possibility of a Maoist-oriented Government at the end of the fighting.
All these are reasons why neither of the two major powers is in any haste to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion. It may well be, although it is regrettable that it should be so, that we shall have to wait until the end of the American election campaign and a decision in American politics before the two major Powers will be prepared to move ahead seriously in bringing about a solution to this dreadful conflict. This is the real situation. I am not trying to teach my right hon. Friend what it is, but I deplore the fact that he has put forward an over-simplified explanation as if the National Liberation Front were guilty of everything.
The contribution which ought to be made now by America is two-fold. My right hon. Friend should press the American Government to cease all bombing operations in Vietnam. This is a demand which certainly has majority support among most nations. On a recent visit to Sweden I found the Swedish Government—through one of their diplomatic representatives—not long ago in Hanoi were having discussions with the Government of Vietnam. He came away convinced that it is still an essential pre-condition of serious progress to stop all bombing operations. It is not clear to me why the plea of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to bring this about should not be regarded as of some importance by Her Majesty's Government. Although it may be true that there are large areas in North Vietnam which are not now subject to bombing, there is also clear evidence that there would be no serious strategic danger for the United States if the bombing were discontinued altogether.
I believe, and I have often expressed this view in previous debates, that there can be no real solution brought about between the United States and Hanoi unless there is parallel advance in Saigon. There have been some hopeful signs recently: a number of independent South Vietnamese politicians have come forward with precise proposals for the opening of negotiations between Vietnamese and Vietnamese—that is among the Government in Saigon, the Government in Hanoi and the National Liberation Front. Every one of those South Vietnamese politicians is now in jail. They have been put into prison either the day after or several days after they made those proposals. It cannot possibly be a comprehensive description of the situation in Vietnam if no mention is made by my right hon. Friend of these events.
It is true that one of the organisations which have come forward with these proposals is very close to the National Liberation Front, and I can understand the American Government being suspicious of it, but there are three other groups and other individuals—I will not rehearse the names for my right hon. Friend, who has all the information of the Foreign Office at his disposal—who have also come forward independently and who have been imprisoned and are now in prison without trial. Others have been condemned to death in absentia because they have put forward proposals for negotiations with Hanoi.
Until and unless the American Government are prepared to see that the people who are in the American-supported régime in Saigon move towards serious negotiations with the National Liberation Front, as well as with Hanoi, the conflict cannot be resolved. This was the wisdom of the late Senator Kennedy, now, so tragically removed from the scene. He saw this 12 months ago and outlined it in a famous speech, and I am certain that he would have returned to it in his Presidential campaign had he lived.
There is the beginning of wisdom among other Presidential contenders and a beginning of understanding of this. Surely, with our concern with these matters, it is my right hon. Friend's duty to move in this direction and get together with the American Government to see that there is some movement in their policy in Saigon.
I turn now to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the position in N.A.T.O. I thought that my right hon. Friend was right to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) on his work in this field and I completely disagree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland when he so curtly dismisses any effort and contribution which this country has made and can make. He would probably talk differently if he were a Member of a coalition Government, as he would urgently like to be, and had responsibility himself for our foreign affairs. He would not speak with such supreme contempt then about the contribution of the United Kingdom. But we will let that pass.
This country's contribution is important and I believe that we should say to the Government that their work, together with the American and Soviet Governments, in preparing and working out the Treaty on non-proliferation is a major event in recent diplomatic affairs. This cannot be denied and I believe that it will prove in future to have been very fruitful.
I take issue with the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), who, in talking about this, said that the Soviet Government supported this treaty. That is not doing justice to the Soviet Government, who were one of the pioneers of this treaty. They have not just supported it; they have worked for it very hard. Apart from their general reasons, they have one specific interest in working for it, and I believe it to be a legitimate interest. They do not wish Germany to acquire nuclear arms and, therefore, do not wish either a Common Market community or any other association of West European and Central European States to have an in-dependent nuclear command. This is a legitimate demand and one which our Government support. Therefore, the contribution of the Soviet Government, along with the American and British Governments, has been equally important and very considerable.
However, where do we stand at present? We face considerable dangers over the ratification of the Treaty by a number of important countries which are not nuclear powers. I want to mention some of the fears which I have about the attitude of the West German Government. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the East German Government were recently wrong in putting restrictions on access to Berlin, I am convinced that they were defaulting on treaty rights and accepted conventions, and I too can see no reason why they should have done this.
But I also think that it was right for the British Government to react as calmly as they have done. There is everything to be said for the cool and calm approach, in spite of many demands for a different kind of response, which my right hon. Friend has accepted and followed consistently. Other hon. Members will know, as I do, that our own diplomatic representatives in West Berlin have for years been counselling prudence, have never been easily provoked, have always carefully examined the situation and have served us well there. That also is worthwhile recording.
But I now come to a very important and dangerous aspect of the matter. Unfortunately, this action of the East German Government, is now being used by the Federal Government, and in par- ticular by Herr Strauss, the Minister of Finance and in many ways the most powerful Minister of the Federal Government, to urge Dr. Kiesinger and Herr Brandt not to ratify, not to accept, not to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
I produce some of the evidence for that statement very briefly. Last Sunday, in Munich, there took place the Conference of the Christian Social Union, which is the Bavarian wing of the governing party in the Federal Republic, and the chairman of which is Herr Strauss himself. The party plays a very important part in the present Coalition Government, because it was its group of 52 members of the Federal Parliament who proposed Dr. Keisinger as Chancellor. Without its support, he would never have been Chancellor. It was that kingmaker, and is therefore in a powerful position with the Chancellor.
At its annual conference, last Sunday, in the presence of Herr Strauss and of Dr. Keisinger himself, who both addressed the conference, almost unanimously—I think that there were four against and three abstaining, which is very good figures for any political party at its annual conference—the Christian Social Union passed a resolution practically forbidding the West German Government to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The party put down a number of severe conditions, of which I have time to mention only one, but it is the crux of the matter. At one point, the resolution said that there could be no question of the Federal Government signing a Non-Proliferation Treaty unless the absolute right and possibility was maintained for an association of West European states to have their own nuclear force and their own nuclear command.—
That is a decision as the hon. Member knows as well as I, which contradicts one of the main purposes of the Non-Proliferation treaty which is that there should not be a third nuclear command in Western Europe. This is in complete agreement with the policy of Her Majesty's Government, as expressed many times by the Prime Minister. But this is now completely contradicted by his party, by their leader and in the presence and obviously with the consent of the head of the West German Government—
I know that, three times out of four, the hon. Member always makes frivolous contributions when anyone gives way to him. I thought that I would be lucky and that this would be the fourth time, but, obviously, I was mistaken.
Turning again to the serious aspects of the debate, without aid from the hon. Gentleman, I would say that what matters here is that, prior to this conference— the hon. Gentleman may take this as his answer—the West German Government had officially intervened in Washington and asked the President and the Secretary of State to give an interpretation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty so far as this aspect was concerned. Not in response to that, but certainly taking into account that these international questions had been asked, Mr. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, proposing and supporting the Treaty before the Foreign Relation Committee of the United States Senate, concentrated part of his evidence on this aspect of it.
Mr. Rusk said that if at any time in the future there were a European State —this is the way he put it—holding most, though not necessarily all, of the functions of a unified State, the treaty had no provision which would for all time preclude such a European State from having among its forces some nuclear force at its disposal.
I am glad to see that I carry my right hon. Friend with me in that reference. Obviously, he has seen the official report.
The position now, however, is that, in the presence of Herr Strauss and Dr. Kiesinger, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria has completely contradicted that view. Here and now, that party is asking for a door to be left open for the Federal Republic to be associated with a nuclear command although not in the context of a Western European State in the sense in which Mr. Rusk spoke of it. This contradiction has been noted in the United States, and some American newspapers have expressed concern about the situation.
When he winds up, will my right hon. Friend the Minister of State tell us what the Government are doing in putting pressure on the West German Government to support and sign the treaty? Make no mistake about it—without a German signature and with the door kept open for the Federal Republic to have a finger on the nuclear trigger, the treaty immediately becomes worthless to the Soviet Government, who will then have no further interest in it.
Will my hon. Friend answer three questions? First, will he make clear that the Christian Social Union is not the governing party in West Germany and certainly not the Government? Second, will he make clear that Germany is the only country which has unilaterally abandoned any claim to have nuclear weapons at any time in the future? Third, will he say what he means when he suggests that pressure should be put upon any sovereign State to sign a Treaty the signature of which is, I understand, a matter of voluntary decision, not pressure?
First, I have already made clear that the Christian Social Union is the Bavarian wing of the party. I shall not go into that again, but the fact remains that its members are the king-makers who put Dr. Kiesinger into office. Second, when I use the term "pressure", I use it deliberately and quite legitimately. I have in mind one of the fundamental fears in Eastern Europe.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire that at this time one should choose one's words carefully in speaking of these matters, but it should be emphasised that one of the reasons for fear in Eastern Europe is the danger of a nuclear-armed West Germany. There are many who are now using this fear to the detriment of more liberalisation and democratisa-tion in Eastern and Central Europe. I deplore what they are doing. The way to play into the hands of those who want to maintain the old Stalinist dispensation in Eastern and Central Europe is to allow the fear to grow that there may be a West German hand on the nuclear trigger.
I was asking my right hon. Friend to tell us what efforts the Government are making to urge the West German Government to sign the Treaty. Second, I should like him to confirm that Her Majesty's Government's policy as expressed by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has not changed in this important regard and that the Government are firmly opposed, now as hitherto, to the setting up in Western Europe, either in the Common Market or any future association of States, of a third nuclear command or any independent nuclear force.
Finally, I think it essential in this debate not to fail to emphasise that all legitimate security interests of the Soviet Union are a matter of importance to the Soviet Union and to world peace, just as all legitimate security interests of this country are of importance to our people and to world peace, and the same goes for all other countries, while at the same time saying a word about what is happening now in Central and Eastern Europe.
I speak as one who for many years, though I have had my criticisms of Soviet policy in the past and will have them in the future, has always firmly believed that it is essential for the security of the people of this country to be in good relations with the Soviet Government and to supplement our alliance with the United States and with other countries by ever growing friendship with the Soviet Union and the East European countries.
Precisely because I have taken these friendly and positive views about the Soviet Union for many years, I earnestly hope that it is clear to those who make policy in the Soviet Union that any attempt, for whatever reason and on whatever pretext, to coerce the people of Czechoslovakia, the Communists of Czechoslovakia and the Socialists of Czechoslovakia, and to prevent them from ordering their own affairs in whatever manner they think fit would be regarded as utterly disastrous by all who are working constantly for better understanding between East and West.
The security of the Soviet Union is not involved. The question of co-operation between East and West is the order of the day and is constantly improving. Security relations among the Warsaw Pact countries cannot be put forward on every possible occasion as a ground for a veto against changes which people desire in their own countries, in East or West. Some time ago, at an international conference in Warsaw—the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) attended it with me —the editor of one of our Sunday newspapers said that the most difficult task of the next 20 years will be to make it possible for internal change to occur in countries of the East or the West without upsetting the balance between the major blocs and without, therefore, producing a pretext for preventing such internal change in either Eastern or Western countries.
We have here a case in point, and I hope that it will be clearly understood by all concerned that the best path is to allow people to run their own affairs and to seek international security in cooperation between the two sides.
I hope that I shall not upset the assurance of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) if I say that I found myself in considerable agreement with much that he said in the closing part of his speech. As he said, he and I were together at the conference in Warsaw to which he referred, and we were pleased to find a great measure of unanimity on both sides about affairs in Europe and the approach to our internal domestic affairs. If I may say so, I thought that the hon. Gentleman put rather too much stress on activities inside Germany and in one German party, although these are matters which we shall all watch in each other's countries as time goes on.
The hon. Gentleman commented on what my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said earlier today about the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Soviet Government's approach to it. In fact, my right hon. Friend paid a tribute to the part played by the Soviet Union in coming to the conference which is now taking place. Perhaps the Soviet Government's motives were rather different from those of this country. I am one who believes that, perhaps, they have decided that there is no future in nuclear weapons and that it would be a good thing to stop their spread before China is at the back door with them herself; and that the Soviet Union may well be turning to the sea which Britain at this point in our history seems to be abandoning.
Before coming to the main part of my speech, I express a welcome to the speech of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). For many years, I have admired his clarity of vision and eloquence—indeed, I have often wondered why he was on that side of the House— but on the question of a North Atlantic free trade area I have been unhappy that he seemed to be anti-European about it.
I look to the consolidation of Europe as a step towards something greater, and I believe that N.A.F.T.A. is a concept to which we can look now not as second best but as a second step beyond the consolidation of Europe. If we cannot enter the Community now—and I share its political as well as its economic aims —we have to start a debate on N.A.F.T.A. itself. If we had done this about E.F.T.A. four or five years before it came into being, we might have achieved an E.F.T.A. for the whole of Europe.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) condemns the Foreign Office in general. He ought to be condemning Foreign Office Ministers because, as documents of the last 40 years and more are beginning to be published, it is being shown that on many occasions advice tendered by the Foreign Office was disregarded by Ministers who got us into so many of our troubles. I will not go beyond mentioning Lord Vansittart as one who found himself out of favour and out of his high office.
Thanks to the travel and other tax restrictions of the Government it is not so easy to get round as it used to be, but my own feeling is that most responsible people in South Africa, of whatever race, want to try to reach a settlement. Apartheid is getting better, not worse, and as time goes on South Africa will play an important part in the stability of the world. Many who work and live in Southern Africa have been warned by the chaos in the Congo and elsewhere. We would be well advised to work with South Africa particularly in the defence of the freedom of those parts of the world which are still free.
I do not wish to criticise officials who may not be able to answer back when Ministers may be entirely responsible. My criticism over South Africa was that the right hon. Gentleman for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) regarded is as an outpost of the Western European defence system, which seems to be dangerous.
The cliche about defence and freedom being indivisible is still true, and South Africa will play its part in maintaining freedom, particularly with the Canal closed and likely to remain closed for a very long time. Even when it is reopened it is not likely to carry the volume of oil traffic that it used to.
Does my hon. Friend recall that on at least two occasions Government spokesmen have stated from the Treasury Bench that they have delegated increasing responsibility for the naval security of the Cape route to the Republic of South Africa? That is Government policy and we should be grateful for at least that much.
The hon. Gentleman was referring to the contribution that South Africa might make to freedom. Does he regard imprisonment of people without trial as a contribution to freedom?
No, and nor do I approve of everything that is happening in the Soviet Union, but I do not say that we should not carry out the good work which the Minister of State is carrying out in attempting to reach stability, and some sort of agreement through N.A.T.O. I would congratulate the Minister of State on being back in the House. He addressed the British-American movement yesterday and since then he has made a major speech in Geneva, yet is back here for this debate.
The right hon. Gentleman, in his final paragraph of his Geneva speech, said:
In this Committee"—
that is, the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee—
we are engaged upon the most important work in the world.
From time to time we devote some of our time to foreign affairs in this House. Most of our time we spend on domestic affairs. There are some major activities of which too little is known. I speak not only from my experience as a Member of this House but also, in the last three years, as a member of the Defence Committee of the Western European Union Assembly. Three months ago, with the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. R. W. Brown), I visited defence establishments in North America. Our briefings were unclassified, so we probably learned nothing more than could have been obtained from the Library of this House. A lot of the information available has fundamental importance for future technology and for the freedom of the country.
As Rapporteur of a report on the tactical use of nuclear weapons I was obliged to deal in some detail with what was happening in armaments, thereby leading, we hope, to disarmament throughout the world. In starting upon that report I reflected that it was important to note that it dealt with "the tactical use of nuclear weapons" and not "the use of tactical nuclear weapons". One does not sit down and say "This is a tactical or a strategic nuclear weapon" when they start falling.
I would like to pay tribute to those who helped me write my report, because it is impossible for a back bencher of this House to write such a report himself. The officials of W.E.U. and N.A.T.O., particularly Mr. Michael Palmer, were most helpful. We are also given excellent help by the Clerks from this House who go to Strasbourg and elsewhere and play such a major part in these assemblies. I know that hon. Members who attend such occasions find them highly educational.
After a fairly intensive study of this subject one feels that the modern jargon of "nuclears" and "disarmament" is like a medieval theology. A close study of nuclear weapons reveals rapidly that only a madman such as Hitler would ever use them. I am sure that our American friends understand this, and I do not believe that the present Russians in power are mad in that way. So if one concedes that the use of nuclear weapons is inconceivable, the deterrent loses its credibility. Yet I cannot accept that. Conventional forces are not enough against the forces of the Warsaw Pact countries. Despite what we have been told, these forces are as powerful or more powerful than they have ever been.
I am sure that the whole House welcomes the proposals of the Government following the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I have some reservations about our hands being tied in certain ways, but one cannot form a final decision until one sees how many other countries sign, and what the position is outside N.A.T.O. I believe that the aim of Her Majesty's present advisers is still as it has been since the war—complete disarmament under effective international control.
Among the things that will be found engraved on my heart are the words "control and inspection". They are words which dominate the thinking of any Minister concerned with disarmament negotiations. We have to work out our policy in order to remove the danger of a nuclear war. This can be done "by general and complete disarmament, under effective control," to use the words of the right hon. Gentleman speaking in Geneva.
Today, with better detection devices, I hope that we can proceed to a comprehensive test ban, including underground tests, to prevent the development of more sophisticated and extremely expensive weapons systems. I hope, too, that the plan the right hon. Gentleman put about "on-site inspection" may prove acceptable to others. I believe that it is a constructive proposal to have a special committee to investigate only if there is prima facie evidence that the treaty has been infringed.
Then there is the old target of many of us—that there should be nuclear-free zones. My right hon. Friend, for many years, as Foreign Secretary and as Prime Minister, used to talk about "thinning out" in Central Europe. The Rapacki and Gomulka plans could be used as part of a general approach to the problem. Of all peoples, our Polish friends have the greatest interest in thinning out and having a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe, where, for over 50 years now, Poland has been the modern cockpit of Europe.
That brings me to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman at Geneva about international arms sales. Tragically, since the war, we have seen greater and greater expenditure on arms all over the world and not just in Western Europe and Russia. The tragedy in Nigeria brings this into focus and shows up the dilemma facing the West. One may be forgiven, I hope, for pointing out that, whatever may have been the demerits of colonialism, it largely limited warfare over large areas of Africa and Asia to conflicts which resulted from civil wars between the European tribes.
The Middle East has suffered most of all areas from the arms race. This has been the result of over-hasty British withdrawal in 1947–48. One hon. Member has referred to the United Nations and the Middle East. Without the Labour Government subjected to the United Nations in those days, we might not have had the Middle East problem in this form for the last 20 years. But, whatever happened in the past, we have the problem today and constructive suggestions have been put forward from this side of the House and at Geneva.
The Middle East has vast resources which are needed for development, but so much of them are used for armaments instead. I must return to the charge, with regret, that the Government are again proposing to withdraw too hastily from the Arabian Persian Gulf, with the possibility of creating another problem at that end of the Middle East, leaving a vacuum there, especially in relation to the air and sea communications around the entrance to the Gulf. We are inviting thereby a conflict between our Saudi and Iranian friends. What is happening in Iraq we do not yet know, but since our declaration that we were to withdraw from the Gulf there has been a Russian naval squadron there. That is a sign of strength, and it is taken as such locally, by those who are capable of helping their friends.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that our proposed run-down will not proceed, in view of these recent developments, before there has been some local agreement with our friends and allies? It might take time for the Federation there to take shape—more time than many people may think, as it always does. It went forward well at the start, but it is not going so well now, I understand. I hope and pray that those concerned will see where their interests lie and will work more closely together. I hope that, until there is a balance locally, we will maintain a sea and air presence in the area and continue to support our friends and allies until there is stability.
Since the six-day war—and again I say this in the context of Western European Union—there has been more interest in Western Europe in what is happening in the Middle East. After some of us had spoken about it without much effect over a period of two years, there was a resolution in W.E.U. by Franz Goedhart, who is such a good friend of many of us on both sides. This pointed to the threat to the N.A.T.O. Alliance in the Eastern Mediterranean—Italy, Greece and Turkey—and to oil supplies which come from further east. The Assembly of W.E.U., last December, in Resolution No. 160, made eight recommendations and I want to refer to three of them.
It recommended that there should be a Middle East development plan on the lines of the Colombo Plan, which, after the war, did so much to stabilise, reconstitute and develop the Far East. I am aware that such a plan would have to follow political agreement, but I believe that we could do some work in contingency planning with our friends in Europe, and beyond in the N.A.T.O. Alliance, so that an organisation would be ready when the political decisions had been taken. There is great interest not only in the stability of the Eastern Mediterranean but in the free flow of oil from beyond. We should be ready to take advantage of the settlement which we all pray may take place.
Recommendation No. 8 recommended
That an International Armaments Register should be established, under the auspices of the United Nations …
and Recommendation No. 8 also said
That a Mediterranean Development Organisation should be created through which the United States and the industralised countries of Western Europe would contribute economic and technical aid …".
This would be to the benefit not only of all of us in Western Europe, but of all those who live in the Middle East who wish only to live in peace and freedom with some more food and shelter to help them.
In complying with your request, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I shall be unable to follow the thoughtful and constructive speech of the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker)—I would like to call him my hon. Friend— to which we all listened with appreciation. The only point on which I disagree with him is that I do not believe that to announce a delay in the date of withdrawal from the Persian Gulf would have the effect of accelerating agreement between the successor States there. I believe that the effect would be to the contrary.
I want to make a rather difficult and rather personal speech about a subject on which I feel very strongly—Greece. What I say is based on frequent visits, both before and since the revolution of April, 1967, and on conversations with a wide range of friends and acquaintances, including members of the present Government, opponents of it, foreign observers and, recently, businessmen who are working on or negotiating for large British export orders, as well, of course, as the country people on the Island of Euboea, on which I grew up as a child and where my family has lived since 1832.
I have always done my best as a Member of this House to keep out of Greek politics, although I and my family are almost as much Euboean, by adoption, as most of the Greek inhabitants of the island. I have done so because, in my opinion, there are limits to the extent to which any Member should concern himself with the internal politics of a friendly country and obviously my position is particularly delicate.
I have decided, after careful thought., that the situation in Greece has been so misrepresented, that the reports reaching the public are so distorted, that I have a duty to this House as well as to my Greek friends to speak my mind as frankly and as truthfully as I can, however unpopular my conclusions and opinions may be in some parts of the House and outside it.
It is generally known, I think, that for much of the time when the House is not sitting and when I do not have to be in my constituency, I live and work in Greece. Not all my time is; given to the charitable foundation which I set up in Euboea some years ago. I also try to keep my family in the home which we have over there, and so I should, I suppose, formally declare that interest.
I do not think that the House would expect me to trouble it with comments on some suggestions which I have seen about my motives concerning Greece. But I would like to say for the record to the ignorant, impertinent and anonymous gossip writer who had the effrontery to insult my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) in last Sunday's Sunday Times that his facts are as in-accurate as his comment is idiotic.
Some hon. Members may remember that I was somewhat similarly placed during the Cyprus emergency, in which I first became personally involved at the request of Sir Anthony Eden and with the approval of Mr. Attlee during the early Harding-Makarios negotiations. I should like to say, in passing, how delighted, I am sure, every hon. Member must now be that at long last, thanks to great statesmanship in Nicosia, Ankara and, not least, in Athens, it now looks as if Cyprus is, at last, entering a well-deserved era of prosperity and peace.
Some hon. Members may remember the violent reactions that were aroused by some of my speeches during the Cyprus emergency, certainly no less violent than those aroused by the controversy about Greece today. Looking back, however, I find that the arguments which I used then, the predictions which I ventured to make and the conclusions I reached are now all generally accepted. No one is astonished now that Lord Colyton's famous "Never" has become a joke, that Cyprus is free and independent and that Archbishop Makarios is a respected Commonwealth leader.
No hon. Member of this House, whatever his views about the strains and defects of our Parliamentary system, can welcome the overthrow of parliamentary democracy in another country, although we have seen it in all parts of the world and in one former British territory after another until, now, Parliamentary Governments are a minority even among the Governments on the Continent of Europe.
There is a background to the Greek revolution of April, 1967, which was the culmination of a long period of corruption, instability and a gradual breakdown of law and order. Behind all that loomed, and still looms, the deep fear and loathing of civil war. Many other hon. Members, like myself, visited Greece during the time of the civil war, which killed and wounded more Greeks and wrought more destruction on their country than the whole of the Second World War and the occupation by the Germans, the Italians and the Bulgarians put together.
If there was no public support whatever for the attempted counter-coup on 13th December last, when not a single civilian lifted a finger against the present Greek Government and waves of relief swept over the country as soon as the danger of bloodshed was averted, this was because of the vivid memories of the horrors and atrocities of the civil war which ended only 18 years ago.
That war began, it lasted as long as it did and it finished when it did because of foreign intervention and then because of the ending of intervention by Marshal Tito in 1948. The Greeks are well aware of what the implications of another civil war in their country might be, and so, significantly enough, are their Communist neighbours and the Soviet Union.
I think that today's information about Czechoslovakia vividly illustrates the Soviet Union's deep preoccupation with maintaining the status quo and the existing balance of power in Europe. This goes for Greece, too, where, as one senior Communist official recently assured me, "We do not want another Vietnam in South Europe. One Vietnam is quite enough."
That is why, despite the occasional fulminations of Communist propaganda and the insidious activities of Communist front organisations—some of them in this country—official Soviet and East bloc policy is non-interference in Greece, normal relations with the present Government, including incidentally formal recognition of the Regent, and expanding trade relations.
Here, may I interpolate a word about British-Greek trade relations, which received a sudden shock three weeks ago from which, I hope and believe, they are now recovering. Politics are politics, but the balance of trade between Britain and Greece is about three to one in favour of the British. Last year, it was worth over £30 million in British exports, and at the moment large contracts worth many millions of pounds more are being negotiated by British firms. I hope that these negotiations will be successful and I believe that the Greek authorities, in spite of the resentment which was felt throughout the country by critics of the Government and by British residents as well as by supporters of the Government, share this hope.
This point raises a whole matter of outside pressures on Greece.
Clearly, my hon. Friend and I cannot ventilate our differences tonight, but would he agree that if human rights are at stake we should not be deterred from commenting on them because of the implications to the economy?
I certainly had not suggested that. Possibly the particular comment in question is better left now where it was.
This raises the whole question of outside pressures on Greece. That in turn raises what is, in my opinion, the fundamental question that any Greek, or any friend of Greece, has to ask himself about the present situation. In my view, there are only two alternatives: the overthrow of the present revolutionary Government, with all the consequent dangers of upheaval, bloodshed and international intervention; or peaceful evolution to a more representative system.
That the Greek Government is today totally in control of a peaceful and orderly country is not in doubt. There is no effective organised resistance, no effective opposition of any kind. No doubt the Communists are more efficient at clandestine activities than others, but they are split into at least three different factions and there is no co-ordinated direction from outside.
Other emigrés have very little influence in Greece today. In passing, I am sure that the Greek Government did not only a humane, but a wise thing in releasing Mr. Andrew Papandreou and allowing him to go abroad—a course which I ventured to urge on them and which I continue to urge in respect of others. I will say a word about detainees presently.
Of course, there are some people— perhaps even in this House—who are not alarmed, and were not in 1944, at the prospect that Greece might join the Communist bloc. I did not agree with them then and I do not now, not because I am a negative anti-Communist. I fully accept peaceful co-existence with existing Communist Governments and I would apply the same criteria of non-interference in their internal affairs as they do in the affairs of Greece, because, among other reasons, like the hon. Member for Cheltenham, I believe that that attitude is the one best calculated to help the Communist countries to evolve and develop freer systems themselves.
I do not, however, think that a Communist system would suit Greece, which has reached a much higher state of development than that in which her neighbours found themselves when the Communists took them over. Nor do I think—and here I agree with the Russians —that for Greece to join the Communist bloc would be in the best interests of European security and peace.
Having excluded the violent overthrow of the present Government—of which, in any event, there is not the slightest prospect at the present time—I should, perhaps, say a word about the calls from Sweden and elsewhere for an economic boycott and attacks on the Greek tourist trade. I hope that they will not have any effect—they are having very little effect so far—not only because Britain stands to lose much more than Greece by disruption of trade relations, but also because tourists benefit, not the Government of Greece, but employers, big and small—and there are thousands of small employers—and workers in the tourist industry, who have no responsibility whatever for political developments. On the contrary, for those who believe that the Greek people are deprived of freedom, there is everything to be said for more rather than less contact with the outside world.
We have already had one debate on the horror stories with which the British and Scandinavian newspapers, in particular, are regaling their readers about alleged police brutality against detainees. I would like to draw the attention of the House, once again, to the recent report of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which does not substantiate the allegations of, for example, Mr. Marecco and his colleagues of Amnesty.
No. I think that the Greek Government have followed the normal procedure on this, but it would be wrong to pursue that subject in this debate, because it has already been dealt with fully.
I would only add that the Greek Government publicly and privately reject any responsibility for such actions. I am glad to say that they are now considering a new way to answer these allegations, and, if it can be arranged, it will make impossible further distorted propaganda on this issue and will clear up once and for all whether such actions have been committed by any police officers and enable action to be taken if need be.
On the subject of propaganda, I should like to say one word about the B.B.C.'s Greek broadcasts, which have caused considerable concern to many people, and on which I am in the process of preparing a report for the British-Greek Parliamentary Group, of which I am Chairman. I have been given certain facilities by the BBC. at Bush House to look through scripts. I have not completed the task, but I have already reached two conclusions. The first is that these programmes were devoting more attention to Greek internal politics than, in my opinion, is compatible with the proper functions of B.B.C. external broadcasts. The second is that the tone and content of them is extremely partisan.
In a short speech, towards the end of which I am getting, I do not think that the House would expect more than a brief reference to the new draft constitution which was published in Athens last week. It has been made clear that the Greek Government envisage the return of King Constantine if he is prepared to accept strictly constitutional functions. It is very important for him and for Greece that, in the meanwhile, he should not in any way be involved in political controversy of any kind.
Hon. Members will have noticed that the public debate on the draft constitution was yesterday joined for the first tion by three opposition ex-members of Parliament. I hope that this may be an important breakthrough, a sign that the Greek revolution will soon be ready to enter a period of national reconciliation, and that the constitution will be a step towards the introduction of a new, healthy system of representative democracy, a democracy of which Athens, as in her glorious past, can once again be proud.
I will follow your request, Mr. Speaker, and keep my remarks short, and, therefore, I will not follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker), though I must say that even if I had time I do not think I could do it, because I am not an expert on Greece. I was extremely interested in what he had to say and I hope that the House and the Government will have listened to his views on that subject. I hope that his speech, the first one about Greece that he has made, does not mean he will leave the House so quickly as all that, and that it is not his last speech which we shall hear from him in this House.
I wanted to make a remark about Suez and the ships which are trapped in the Suez Canal, because they have been there now for over a year and, as far as I can see, they will stay there quite a time yet. Obviously, we in this House are not privy to what is going on behind the scenes of the Jarring mission, and so on, but I wish the Government would try to separate a setttlement in the Middle East and the reopening of the whole canal, on the one hand, from the question of the ships which are stuck in the Lakes, on the other.
I believe that this might be possible, because, I cannot see, however long Dr. Jarring takes in his mission, the Israelis really giving in very early over this matter. They have a wonderful card in their hand, they are on the canal, and I believe that they will demand East Jerusalem, they will demand recognition of the State of Israel, and that they will demand free passage for Israeli ships through the canal as part of a settlement which might lead to their withdrawing from the canal and, therefore, its reopening. I simply cannot see their giving in over this very quickly, despite all the work which Dr. Jarring is putting in.
Therefore, could not the Government, somehow, get together the nations whose ships are stuck in the canal and suggest that the United Nations send in a force, quite peacefully, to clear and dredge the southern end of the canal and let those ships out? Clearly, this is something quite harmless but useful which the United Nations certainly ought to be able to do. It is something we really ought to separate absolutely from the opening of the canal as a whole. Letting the ships out at the south has nothing to do with opening the whole canal up to the north. Even if we did get the ships out at the south, the Egyptians or the Israelis could block up the canal again by sinking another ship and put the situation back to where it was. I wish that the Government would proceed along these lines.
Another matter I would take up was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), oil from the Middle East. I wonder whether this is regarded seriously enough by the Government, but 90 per cent. of the oil which European industry and the people of Europe consume comes from the Middle East. If anything happened to that supply —even, I would say, marginally, so that it were denied to us—I think that it would mean tremendous difficulties for Europe.
It is, perhaps, not often realised that the Russians are now exporters of oil, but that in about two years' time they will be importers, and that, therefore, they will look, so I believe, to the Middle Eastern area from which to import oil. So we have got the situation where the Russians are in the Eastern Mediterranean, they are taking a great interest in Aden, the Russian Navy is in the Indian Ocean and going up to the Persian Gulf.
Indeed, the Russians are taking a great interest in the whole of that area, and it saddens me that we are to withdraw JO early from the area before local forces are built up to protect the vacuum which we shall leave when we go. That vacuum, undoubtedly I should have thought, will be filled by Russian influence, and once Russia gets influence with the Governments of those oil producing countries, as, undoubtedly, she will in the long run if we withdraw, then I believe that those Arab Governments will take steps to nationalise our oil installations and so on, and deprive us of our investment in the Middle East. I believe that it is calculated that British investment in the Middle East is worth about £2,000 million.
Not only is it a matter of the supply of oil to Europe, and of the importance of our keeping it, but the argument really applies also in the Far East, too. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, who was over here the other day, told us that our investment in the Malay Peninsula is worth about £1,000 million, but worth £1,000 million only if the area is stable. Once we withdraw, before local forces are built up, the area will become unstable, and the value of our investment will drop very severely, if it does not dis-appear altogether.
So I hope that we shall have a General Election fairly soon so that this party can get back and, I hope, put some of this right. Obviously, it would not be able to restore the situation to what it was, but what we should aim at would be to delay our withdrawal, as my right hon. Friend said, till such time as local forces are built up strong enough to protect their own areas.
The other point I wanted to make is in following up the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Batter-sea, North (Mr. Jay) on the question of the Common Market. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) queried whether we were right to go back in this debate to the question of the Common Market, as we were dealing with non-proliferation, and so on.
Exactly. There is not much difference in that.
The Common Market issue is relevant because the Foreign Secretary was dealing with the question of a détente. He dealt with it through the Common Market and through N.A.T.O. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) said N.A.T.O. was not really the vehicle for a détente. So I think that all this structure of Europe is relevant.
I understand that entry into the Common Market is the policy of the three main political parties in this House. But I must remind the House of a remark by Mr. Harold Macmillan who when, opening the Common Market negotiations in 1961, said:
if it"—our application—"fails then I think that we ought to be quite clear ourselves … that major changes may have to be made in the foreign policy and the commitments of Great Britain."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st July, 1961; Vol. 645, c. 937–8.]
Our application did fail. Then the present Government came in and they made another application to join the Common Market, against which I am proud to say that I voted. The present Prime Minister said:
again, there will be those who.. will urge upon us the acceptance of new economic groupings. I do not discount the possibility of such groupings for the future if our present application were to fail, or to plough into the sands."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 1097.]
I asked the Prime Minister the other day whether he did not think that it had ploughed into the sands. His reply was "No", that it had "hit a road block." I should have thought that was more definitive than ploughing into the sands.
So we have two very respectable precedents, one from Mr. Harold Macmillan and one from the Prime Minister, that if the negotiations really broke down, as they have, we would have to consider alternatives. But the trouble is that the Government, so they tell us, are not considering alternatives. The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed on the Order Paper a Motion, signed by over 100 Members, urging the Government to consider an alternative to the Common Market.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire said today— and I was delighted to hear him say it— that he had no objection to studying alternatives. Here at last we have a difference between the two parties. The Conservative Party does not object to studying alternatives. That is splendid. However, the Government so far have said that they object to studying alternatives. Here is a clear division. I am glad that the division has been made official by our Front Bench spokesman on foreign affairs. There is now a clear division between the two parties on this issue.
My hon. Friend may not have noticed that I was here. He must not make too much of this, because I went on to say that I did not think there was any alternative. However, I have no objection to looking at alternatives.
This is an important point. I understood the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) to say that he saw no alternative to Europe that had any practical political attraction, or that was likely to provide anything like the same economic and political advantages. I should like to get that straight, because this could become an important issue.
This is an important point. I do not think that I misquoted my right hon. Friend, because he said that he had no objection to a study of alternatives. My right hon. Friend's opinion may well be that it will lead to nothing, and there is no future in it, but, with respect, I am not concerned with his opinion at this stage. I am concerned that he sees no objection in an alternative study being started. This is what I urge the Government to do.
There are one or two alternatives. One is the well-known alternative which any Government of the day announces. They stand up bravely and say, "We have not been allowed into Europe so we must put our own house in order." I hope that they are putting their own house in order regardless of going into the Common Market or not. That is the classical non-policy—something we should be doing anyhow.
There is the alternative of association under Article 238. I think that all parties agree that that is no good as such, but there has been a movement to suggest that we might get temporary association under Article 238 of the Treaty of Rome on the understanding that at the end of a certain fixed period we should become members of the Common Market. But that presupposes we can get agreement now that we shall enter at some future time. I do not believe that we could get an agreement of that nature.
Some people say that when General de Gaulle has gone it will make all the difference, but it will not. If one goes to Paris and meets the French, the politicians, the Establishment, the bankers, the financiers, the industrialists and the civil servants, nearly all take the same view as General de Gaulle. Others say that we should turn to the Commonwealth as an alternative. Desirable as that is, I do not think that is nearly enough of an alternative.
If we take the proposition, such as that put forward by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), of studying the Atlantic free trade area, I think that there is some reality in this or the beginning of an alternative. I do not know enough about it to say whether it will work or whether it is right, but I think that we should set up an examination of it. One argument for going into the Common Market was that great economies of scale would be made because the market has a population of 300 million. But how much bigger it would be if the Atlantic free trade area came about. We would have a much bigger scale and market.
Another argument was that the Common Market had a vast growth rate, and so on, but the growth rate is slowing down from 4·3 per cent. to 39 per cent. per year.
There is also the question of the balance of payments. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North forecast a balance of payments deficit of about £600 million a year after the transitional period. It might be different. It might be less or more, but certainly of that order. But in the Atlantic free trade area there is a surplus created on going in of about £250 million. These are factors which have never been thrashed out before in White Papers, and so on. The country has never been given a chance to compare the Common Market, on the one hand, and an alternative such as this, on the other.
During the Foreign Secretary's speech I raised the question of European unity. I believe in European unity. I am not anti-Common Market or anti-European. However, European unity will take much longer to come than some of the pro-Common Marketeers think. I believe that they are forcing the pace unnaturally. To me, Europe is not just the Six plus a few of the other rich countries of the West. It essentially means Rumania, Czechoslovakia and all the other countries of Eastern Europe. Therefore, I submit that I am a better European because I want those countries in, whereas those "half"—I will not say half-baked—"Europeans" want only to divide Europe through the Common Market.
I hope that I have said enough to illustrate that there is a case for the Government waking up, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, and saying that they do not object to having a study made of the alternatives. I hope that the Government will get on with it. The Americans are studying it. I once asked the right hon. Gentleman at Question Time, or it may have been one of his hon. Friends, whether the Government were studying it and I was told no. I have since probed and discovered other sources of information indicating that they are studying it amongst other studies in the expansion of trade which will have to take place after the American elections are over.
I hope that the Government will look into this matter, because I believe the Common Market may be getting a little obsolete. It was set up in the aftermath of the war. The thinking started then. I pose the question: does not the whole concept of the Common Market need to be looked at again in terms of what is happening in Eastern Europe and of the real unity of real Europe? I believe that if we look at it in that light we may find that the advantages of going in are not so great as trying something else.
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) has inspired us with his vision of a Europe which many of us did not suspect that he nourished, a Europe consisting of Eastern Europe as well as the present one. However, the hon. Member made a remark about opinion in France which cannot be allowed to pass without something being said on the other side. I have had dealings with France, though perhaps not so many as the hon. Member for Banbury. The dealings that I have had show an extraordinary degree of opinion in France which, while supporting General de Gaulle, for one reason or another is absolutely against him on this point. I do not think that he is right about that. However, I will not follow him further into it, because I want to fly in the face of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), who thought that in a foreign affairs debate we should not be discussing global affairs. It is true that he confined himself to comparatively parochial matters, but I shall not do that because I want to follow the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker), who had a much wider perspective than did the right hon. Gentleman.
I turn at once to disarmament, which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised and which the hon. Member for Cheltenham rightly said was part of a very much bigger problem even than reductions in armaments, were we ever able to bring them about.
When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister formed his first Government, I ventured to express the hope in this House that, when they had settled down, they would do something explicitly for the establishment of a world authority capable of keeping peace by the imposition of world rule. The Government have received a great increase in public support, and it might reasonably have been supposed that that would have been followed up by some positive action in this regard. Instead, they preferred in their wisdom to concentrate on certain matters of arms control, feeling with a great deal of justification that, if these measures were brought successfully to a conclusion, they would undoubtedly create a lessening of tension in the world which, in turn, might well result in some measures of positive disarmament.
Now they have their treaty against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and I congratulate them sincerely on the considerable part that they played in achieving that result. There is the partial nuclear test ban. There is the agreement not to pollute outer space. There is the nuclear-free zone in Latin America. These they have. Is it too much to hope now, with these positive achievements behind them, that they will attempt to make some real advance towards obtaining agreement amongst the Powers for positive acts of disarmament, as distinct from arms control?
It will not have escaped the Government that in October, 1967, U Thant published the report of what was surely the highest-powered scientific committee ever. The Committee comprised acknowledged experts from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Our own representative was Sir Solly Zuckerman. The representative from the U.S.S.R. was Vasily Emelyanov, Chairman of the Commission on the Scientific Problems of Disarmament in the U.S.S.R.
The Committee set out in the clearest possible terms the result of various degrees of nuclear explosion. It noted sadly that the world tended to sweep these horrors under the mat, even talking of learning to live with the bomb. Yet it went on:
It is quite certain that the arms race between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. alone has resulted in the production of weapons whose cumulative destructive power is more than sufficient to eliminate all mankind … If nuclear conflict were to erupt, however started, not a single State could feel itself
secure … The ultimate question for the world to decide in our nuclear age … is what short-term interests it is prepared to sacrifice in exchange for an assurance that survival and security … Security for all countries of the world must be sought through the elimination of all stock-piles of nuclear weapons and the banning of their use by way of general and complete disarmament.
Those are not very fashionable words in these days, but they were written by that Committee at the end of 1967.
The conclusion of its report contains these words:
The threat of the immeasurable disaster which could befall mankind were nuclear war ever to erupt, whether by miscalculation or mad intent, is so real that informed people the world over understandably become impatient for measures of disarmament … The United Nations has an overriding responsibility in this field. The more effective it becomes in action, the more powerful its authority, the greater becomes the assurance for man's future. And the longer the world waits, the more the nuclear arsenals grow, the greater and more difficult becomes the eventual task.
The findings of that Committee add up to this. We have absolutely no right to expect that there will not be a nuclear war by accident in the foreseeable future. Further, the only hope of avoiding it is by general and complete disarmament. Thirdly, there is the rather pathetic lay plea—lay from the point of view of politics but not from that of expertise in science—for the development of the United Nations into a real world authority.
My only criticism of the report is that, in its conclusions, it seems to attribute to the United Nations an entity which it does not possess. It has no existence in terms of peace-keeping apart from the sovereign States which are its members. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the United Nations means you and me and all mankind acting through our Governments. The responsibility to avert the disaster which that Committee sees so clearly as being likely to happen to mankind rests with us. It is ours and, unless we do something about it, the United Nations, for all its excellent qualities, will remain a mythical entity quite incapable of keep ing the world's peace. I imagine that almost every hon. Member agrees with the main conclusion that only by general and complete disarmament of the sovereign States of the world can we save the situation.
I would say a little more about the last words that I quoted with reference to the United Nations. There is no good reason to suppose that sovereign States will disarm unless they are given a credible system of security as an alternative to the possession of arms in their own hands. Hitherto, all disarmament conferences have, to use an Irish expression, foundered on the absence of that rock. There has been no genuine suggestion of an alternative system of security to that which is thought to be provided by arms. To ask Foreign Offices to adopt a new, still more an imaginative, solution to the problem of security looks to me rather like crying for the moon. Mr. Abba Eban, the Foreign Minister of Israel, has said:
I see no hope of progress unless there is a search for innovation in diplomatic thinking similar to the conceptional change which has made this generation so creative in science.
Yet we must hope for a change, and I suggest that the only way individual members in various Parliaments can help to bring about this change is to win the confidence of the front benches of the world and persuade them to speak, not with the conventional wisdom of their own Foreign Offices, which has been mouthed so drearily by a succession of Ministers of both parties over the last 12 years, but from their hearts and minds and proclaim what I am sure they believe to be true, namely, that until we have what Harold Macmillan had the courage to say amounted to world government we have not the remotest chance of disarmament and stable peace, or, indeed, of prolonging the existence of the human race for more than a few years— if we happen to be lucky enough to avoid a nuclear war by accident.
Now surely is the time for some Government, or group of Governments, to stand up in the United Nations and proclaim their faith in the establishment of a world authority which can do two things: first, to keep the peace by imposing world law; secondly, to channel a sizeable proportion of the £40,000 million per annum which the sovereign States at present spend on armaments to the development of the less developed parts of the world.
This is world government in a strictly limited sense, and it will involve agree- ment by all States, or a great majority wealth and population-wise at any rate, to five propositions. First, to a world law against violence. Secondly, to the establishment of courts, arbitration machinery, and conciliation machinery to try to settle disputes before they come to law, or to settle them at law if they do go there. Thirdly, to the setting up of a representative Parliament and an Executive. Fourthly, to a reduction of each category of arms by, say, 10 per cent. per annum, until they go out of existence. Fifthly, to the building up pari passu with the disappearance of national arms of a world force capable of carrying out the agreement. I submit that this is the package deal which could be the alternative system of security, of which there has always been a great lack in all disarmament discussions which have hitherto taken place.
If our Government, or, better still, the Commonwealth Governments as a result of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, were to make such a declaration in favour of world government in this strictly limited sense and say, "We believe in this now. We will agree to start it and to work it as soon as all the other members of the United Nations agree to it, and we invite others to make a similar declaration now", the whole situation of the world might be changed, perhaps even immediately, but certainly in a short while, as more and more people rallied to this standard.
The foreign policies of this and the more important countries of the world are not necessarily wicked—and I am not suggesting that they are—for not having made that declaration hitherto. The sadness of the situation is that so often these policies are completely irrelevant to the global questions of stable peace. of security, and of a continuation on this planet of the human race. I believe that if our Government took a lead and made the declaration which I have suggested they would bring back hope to humanity now. They would certainly establish peace within the lifetime of many Members in this House. If someone does not soon take the necessary steps in the direction of setting up this world government, as Lord Atlee used so often to say so pungently, there will soon be no world to govern.
The hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) made a very interesting and wide-ranging speech. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow what he said, so that I can comply with Mr. Speaker's direction and try to keep my remarks as brief as possible.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) castigated my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) because he stressed the importance of the Simonstown Agreement. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong in his castigation, because that agreement is highly significant for the purpose of protecting British interests, and an important aspect of foreign affairs, if they are conducted wisely, is to protect and safeguard the interests of one's country.
The right hon. Gentleman castigated my right hon. Friend's attitude because of the internal policies of South Africa, and because of apartheid. I find it rather strange that the right hon. Gentleman's attitude to South Africa should be so bitter and unrelenting, when his attitude to Israel is so committed and sympathetic. A couple of weeks ago I watched the right hon. Gentleman on television as the advocate for the Israeli case, when I thought he showed more charm than historical knowledge of the problems of Palestine. The right hon. Gentleman's attitude is strange because Israel also pursues a policy of legal racial apartheid. I cannot for one moment see why it should be acceptable to treat Arabs as second-class citizens in Israel, and it should be morally repugnant to treat Bantus as second-class citizens in South Africa. I disapprove of both those policies.
I should like to deal with that part of the Foreign Secretary's speech which related to the Middle East. I feel that the right hon. Gentleman was a little too complacent in his review of the situation there. He seemed to take this attitude entirely because of the mission of Dr. Jarring, on the assumption that this would succeed, and would succeed relatively soon. I can see no evidence at the moment that the mission is succeeding, or indeed that it will succeed relatively soon.
I am very impressed, and the Foreign Secretary rightly referred to it, by the single-minded commitment which Dr. Jarring has shown in flying from one part of the Middle East to the other obviously doing his utmost to bring about a settlement, taking his stand on the United Nations resolution sponsored by this country and unanimously passed in November, but unfortunately there is no evidence that any progress is being made. Where I believe the Foreign Secretary could be making a mistake is in assuming that the situation will remain static indefinitely, and that if Dr. Jarring's mission does not succeed relatively soon it still has a fairly good chance of succeeding in the more distant future.
In my view a number of things could happen meanwhile which would make it very much more difficult to succeed, and indeed I think it is possible that the situation could get out of hand. Of course we should like to see the United Nations resolution implemented. It would mean the withdrawal of Israeli troops from all territory occupied after the June war; recognition of the State of Israel, the right of free transit through the Suez Canal for Israeli shipping and indeed, many of the objectives which the Israelis have been demanding for years, but most important of all for Israel is the acceptance of the State of Israel as part of the Middle East.
If the resolution is not implemented we shall continue to have a situation in which the Israelis remain on the Suez Canal and Egypt is dependent upon economic assistance from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; where Britain continues to lose a great deal of money because of the closure of the Suez Canal and moreover the possibility that another war will break out, or at least, that serious incidents will take place. If there were another outbreak it is quite likely that the Israelis would win again and if this should happen the Arab countries might turn against Western economic interests in the area to which the hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred— especially our oil interests, which are essential to us although not to the United States.
It is because of all these factors that I believe that an element of urgency should be introduced to try to bring about a settlement quickly. The situation is not static. When the Minister replies I want to hear what the British Government are doing to put pressure on the United States and to consider possible alternatives to the Jarring mission.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire referred to the possibility of having demilitarised zones which would include the west bank. If such a west bank zone included the City of Jerusalem and a period of time was allowed under international control which enabled an independent Arab-Palestine authority to emerge which could then negotiate direct with Israel, we might have something new which was worth looking at.
I remember asking the Foreign Secretary a question about this after a very interesting article had appeared in The Times on, I believe, 17th May. The right hon. Gentleman replied much on the basis of his speech today, namely, that we must wait and see what happens to the Jarring mission. It is this lack of a sense of urgency which leaves me concerned and perplexed. I should like to know what the Government intend doing and what contingency plans they have investigated as alternatives to the Jarring mission, which seems to be making such little progress.
I, too, shall be very brief, in deference to the wishes of Mr. Speaker. I wish to associate myself with the words of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters). I am appreciative of the fact my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has given us a slight glimmer of understanding of what the Jarring mission has been talking about and what it is attempting to achieve. Until now we have been very much in the dark.
I also associate myself with the congratulations expressed to the Government for securing the adoption of Resolution No. 242 last November at the Security Council—the resolution which gave birth to the Jarring mission, but in my view, too, the Foreign Secretary was rather complacent about the mission. He expressed his enthusiasm that the mission had operated successfully as a holding operation in the Middle East. I wonder whether he was not a little too optimistic. Would it not rather be true to say that a holding operation has been achieved because neither side is at present prepared for any other kind of confrontation?
However, I hope that my right hon. Friend is correct, and that the Jarring mission has, indeed, operated in a holding capacity. If so, there is more hope for United Nations action than I had previously thought possible. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the alternative to a holding operation in the Middle East would be frightful. But the existing situation there is terrible, especially for the refugees.
Since the June war, more than one United Nations resolution concerning refugees has ben adopted. Another was adopted on 14th June, last year—Resolution No. 237—which seems to have been overlooked. This alarms me. That particular resolution called upon Israel to ensure the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants of the areas where military operations had taken place, and to facilitate the return home of those who had fled from those areas.
The Foreign Secretary made a remark which worried me. He said that as a result of the Jarring talks Israel, Egypt and Jordan appeared to be willing at least to consider the prospects of talking about a timetable but only in relation to Resolution No. 242 as a whole package deal. I do not know whether that means that Israel is now reaching a stage where she is at least prepared to talk about the implementation of Resolution No. 242. All the Arab States have accepted that Resolution, but Israel has not.
Are we to be allowed to hope that what the Foreign Secretary said implied that there is a possibility of Israel's accepting the Security Council's November resolution. It is vital to a solution of the problem. Perhaps that is not the case. Perhaps I have been over-optimistic in my interpretation of my right hon. Friend's remarks. It may be that we are a long way from any kind of talks on the basis of Resolution No. 242. In that case, I hope that Resolution No. 237 will still express the policy of the United Nations—that the refugees should be permitted to go home and that this aspect of the problem will not necessarily have to wait for agreement to the whole Resolution No. 242 package deal.
The conditions of the refugees are frightful, but in spite of this, Resolution No. 237 has not been implemented. Indeed the position is even worse, because Israel has pursued a contrary policy. I ask my right hon. Friend to forgive my introducing some ugly facts. I feel a little guilty about this, because my right hon. Friend's statement set a high moral tone. Nevertheless, in my view it did not represent the realities and the ugliness of the true situation. Although mention of them will destroy the high sentiments of this debate I feel that we ought to be a little more realistic about the subject.
The policy of Israel has been not only to fail to implement that resolution, but to depopulate the occupied areas of local Arab citizens and to clear those areas for eventual resettlement by Jewish immigrants from abroad. Harsh administrative and economic measures have been employed against the Arab peoples in the occupied areas. These have threatened their livelihood and denied them their rights. As a result, they are still fleeing from the west bank and other areas.
The refugee problem is infinitely worse than it was a year ago. In the first three months after the June war, 240,000 people either fled or were expelled from the west bank. From September last year to April this year another 40,500 fled, of whom 16,000 were from the west bank and about 25,000 from the Gaza Strip.
At present, about 35,000 people have fled from the Gaza Strip alone and about 150 refugees a month from Sinai and the Gaza Strip are still fleeing to the east bank of the Jordan. I wonder whether I should remind the House of the derelict and destitute conditions in which these refugees are living in the desert. I can talk about this with passion, since I have seen it for myself and have been shaken that, in modern life and in a country so near Europe, human beings should be living in such conditions. Their diet, if they are lucky, is at the mere subsistence level of 350 calories a day, and there are 30,000 refugees with no shelter at all.
There are reasons for this. First, for all the hundreds and thousands of refugees, only 12,000 tents were ever provided and 7,000 of these, as other hon. Members who are present can confirm, were simply nylon picnic tents of the kind which one puts on top of a car to take for a day in the woods. But these few tents for these thousands of people have been in use for over a year or for many months and they are dropping to pieces. I recall the type of winter which Jordan suffered last year, when refugees on the hills outside Amman faced gales, storms and floods, when the camps were washed away and babies drowned.
The authorities removed the refugees from the hills into the warmer valley of the Jordan. There, in the Jordan, shelling began from the other side. There were incidents both ways, but it was the refugees and the agricultural areas which were attacked by Israel. There was deliberate shelling of wells and water installations so that the agricultural produce of the most fertile district of Jordan was destroyed, and, also, the camps themselves were attacked. Karameh was twice attacked and refugees were killed.
It is terrible to see the refugees in the camps; but to see them huddling under these nylon tents, with slit trenches dug beside them for the children to hide in during the shelling is one of the most inhuman sights on earth. Having been driven by the weather from the hills, the refugees were then driven out of the valley by the shelling. As a result, 10,000 tents were immediately required. I apologise for concentrating on tents instead of human beings, but this illustrates the point. A thousand tents a month are required to replace tents which have deteriorated and to find accommodation for all the people who are still coming in as refugees from abroad, and there are none available and 30,000 people are absolutely shelterless.
I ask the House and the Foreign Secretary: can these people continue to wait for talk, talk, talk from missions around the world? In view of the propaganda which has been put about, that these refugees do not want to go home, I would remind the House that they do. I took a risk last September by crossing the Jordan River with a returning refugee group to see for myself the risks which the refugees ran, the danger to their lives in their attempts to get home, and these were very real. Now, such attempts are impossible.
But what was the policy of the Israeli Government? Of the refugees who fled immediately after the war, by August over 170,749 had applied to go home absolutely, unconditionally, and without stipulation. Despite this vast number who wanted to go home under any régime, just to go home, only 17,749 were processed through by the Israeli authorities. They were officially permitted to return, but not even all of those who were actually permitted to return did so and they anyway were only 10 per cent. of those who applied. The numbers who were allowed to return home by the agreed date were, in fact, only 14,027—
We all appreciate the appalling conditions of which my hon. Friend is speaking, but what is the policy of the Arab Governments on this? Is she saying that not any Government in the Arab world can resettle any of these refugees?
The Arab Governments' policy is to accept and fully implement Resolution No. 242 of the United Nations, which Israel has absolutely refused to do. That makes it the only country in the world which has refused to accept the resolution which requires a just settlement for the refugees.
There was also the much-publicised Israeli plan of November last, the great family reunion scheme. I recall the broadcast on the programme "Witness", and I support the remarks about it, that the truth was not clearly put across on that programme about the family reunion scheme and the refugees. The theory was that, between November, 1967 and April this year, separated families would be allowed to be reunited. In fact, only 1,336 people were allowed under the scheme—back to their own homes, in their own ancient lands, under Israeli occupation—whereas, during the same period, no fewer than 40,634 Arabs were driven out of the Israeli-occupied territory to the East bank of the Jordan.
It is, therefore, obvious that Resolution No. 237 is being absolutely defied by Israel. Is it not possible to take a greater initiative, to have a little less complacency, about the continual and long confrontation proceeding under the Jarring mission? It is possible for Governments and for us in the abstract to be objective about long-winded months or years of confrontations, but the confrontation of the refugees is with death.
Having seen the conditions under which the refugees were living in the camps last winter, and in face of an even more terrible winter ahead—and it is not only the tents, but the refugees themselves that are deteriorating, and with the danger of mass deaths this coming winter—I must say that, though I hope and pray for a political solution and that it will not be too long before some more obvious steps towards a solution are visible, if this is not forthcoming, some of us in the House—I speak not only for myself —will feel impelled to start a campaign for action through the United Nations. This may be even to the extent of calling for economic and other sanctions to be recommended against Israel to ensure that she will at last fulfil her obligations, in this Human Rights Year, as a member of the community of the United Nations, and accept and implement the Security Council resolution.
If not, if she remains absolutely obdurate in the face of world opinion, then, at last, although I hope that it will not be so, we shall feel forced to demand the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations.
Not only Arab children have had to take shelter in slit trenches in the Middle East in recent years. Hon. Members who have visited the Arab refugee camps will echo many of the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Clapham (Mrs. McKay) about the appalling conditions in which they are living. I share her scepticism about the Jarring mission, and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters).
I also share her scepticism about the United Nations Security Council resolution of last November. The trouble with that and other, more recent, U.N. resolutions —for example, the one calling for intensified sanctions against Rhodesia—is that certain provisions of them mean different things to different Governments. This ambiguity figures largely in so much that is done at the U.N., an organisation of which the Foreign Secretary spoke in glowing terms.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we were relying primarily on N.A.T.O. for our security. Today N.A.T.O. is somewhat disarrayed, largely through the defection of France; and the Warsaw Pact is not all that it used to be. Europeans in both East and West are in revolt against the partition of Yalta.
We think today of Czechoslovakia. Czech friends have asked me why Her Majesty's Government have made no official gesture of solidarity with the forces of change. The official answer that would probably be given in the Foreign Office jargon is that to do so would be "counterproductive". Nevertheless, the people of Czechoslovakia, and all the peoples beyond the Berlin Wall and what was called the Iron Curtain need not doubt our sympathies for them in their desire for personal freedom and fuller national sovereignty.
The ferment in East Europe, the difficulties of France and the problem of Britain's relations with the Continent suggest that the freer and larger Europe which we seek must find more flexible forms of unity than a strict interpretation of the Rome Treaty. Developments on both sides of the Atlantic may require the preparation of a new structure of European defence when the North Atlantic Treaty comes up for revision next year.
The aim of British policy should be reconciliation with Russia without forfeiting American friendship, and an agreed European policy towards the outer world. But that is looking far ahead and, meanwhile, the Soviet Army still bestrides Eastern Europe and the Soviet Fleet is in force in the Mediterranean, and has shown the Red Flag in the Red Sea and the Gulf. That is the present threat to the supply routes of Europe.
A remoter threat may be the Chinese. They already occupy Zanzibar. Some years ago President Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, stated that Africa was an underpopulated continent and would have to become an extension either of an overpopulated Asia or of Europe, and he preferred Europe.
The Russians expected much of Nkrumah's Ghana. They thought of it as linking their positions in the Mediterranean with West Africa, and linking both with Cuba. The Yugoslav-designed naval port at Sekunde and the Soviet-built air base at Takorade far exceeded the needs of the Ghanian forces.
Then, Ghana was redeemed from its "Redeemer." The centre of West African subversion is now at Conakry, but one territory only in West Africa remains in the possession of a Western ally. I speak of an ancient ally of Britain and a member of N.A.T.O. That territory is Portuguese Guinea. It is little known and seldom visited from this country. I have been there three times since guerilla activities began in 1962. It is a steamy, tropical enclave, hemmed in by the Republic of Guinea and Senegal. It affords few valuable resources, but it contains two excellent ports, at Bissau, the capital, and at the old capital of Bolama. Imperial Germany coveted both of these ports and the Reich Colonial Office rated them as second only to Bathurst.
When one considers this territory one must also consider the Cape Verde Islands. They were once administered as a single entity. Since the Arab and African air barrier was erected against the West, a new and magnificant airport has been built on the Island of Sal. It is an unsinkable aircraft carrier. It has become indispensable to Western strategy and the Cape route. Beyond the Cape Verde Islands are the Azores, where United States bases still exist, no longer under treaty but by the grace of the Portuguese.
Soon after the discoveries, the Portuguese assigned this part of the Guinea coast for settlement by Cape Verdians. In Portuguese Guinea they form an administrative élite. The leader of the main revolutionary party, Amilcar Cabral, is the son of a Cape Verdian father and his mother comes from that cultured and intelligent tribe of the Man-dingo. Amilcar Cabral's movement is the P.A.I.G.C, which means the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands. The C in P.A.I.G.C. is not without significance. Cabral is, perhaps, the most notable of the revolutionary leaders of Portuguese Africa. He is highly intelligent and served with great distinction in the Portuguese Administration in Guinea. Then he defected to Conakry. He attended the Tri-Continental Conference, where he met Ché Guevara, and he is highly regarded by Fidel Castro. The popular army, the guerilla army and the teen-age militia forces composing the Popular Revolutionary Armed Forces, of P.A.I.G.C. are engaged in a messy, unpleasant war in Portuguese Guinea. Indeed, it is a minor Vietnam.
It is strange how little is known about this conflict, considering that more than 20,000 Portuguese troops are deployed in a territory less than 14,000 sq. miles in area. The area is less at high tide because this is a land of tidal rivers, navigable by frigates—the war is amphibious—and of a myriad lesser streams Portuguese Guinea has been described as a country of more water than land. The war is mounting in intensity and casualties. For this there is a number of reasons. The first is that the arms in the hands of the guerilla forces are excellent: Chinese, Soviet, Czech, bazookas, mortars, heavy and light machine guns, recoilless guns and even ack-ack cannon. In some ways they are better armed than the Portuguese.
The second is that they now have the services of Cuban—dare I use the word? —"mercenaries", who serve as advisers, doctors and wireless operators. We should not forget that Cuba had its "Gulf of Guinea subversion plan", as revealed by the defecting diplomatist, Dr. Leonel Alonso. Another factor that has made for a more intense conflict is the decision of the Organisation of African Unity to give all its backing to the P.A.I.G.C.
There are other revolutionary movements, but now the policy of the O.A.U. is to support one movement in each of the African territories to be liberated: the M.P.L.A. in Angola, Frelimo in Mozambique, and the P.A.I.G.C. in Portuguese Guinea. Senegal has, like the Republic of Guinea, now abandoned support of the rival movement known as F.L.I.N.G. President Senghor himself is a Francophile whose "African Socialism" is a moderate philosophy, but all the time he is under fire from the Marxist P.A.I. and its pro-Chinese competitors. So he has allowed the P.A.I.G.C. freedom of movement within Senegalese territory, and the use of bases there.
One might compare his predicament in certain respects with that of another respected African statesman, President Kaunda, who is now with us. This peace-loving statesman feels compelled to praise and give transit to Communist-trained, Communist-armed and Communist-in- doctrinated "freedom fighters" who infiltrate across the Zambesi, although they may well in the future prove more dangerous to him than the ostensible white enemy.
One reason why I have made it my interest to visit Portuguese Guinea is that I sometimes read in such distinguished organs of the Press as The Times or The Economist that perhaps two-thirds of the province is now in the hands of P.A.I.G.C. forces. I find that not to be the case; I find such claims to be fantastic. The story goes that Amilcar Cabral held a Press conference in Conakry, and a naïve or naughty reporter asked him: "You say that you control two-thirds of Portuguese Guinea: Why, then, are we having this Press conference here"?
Terms such as "control" are misleading in a country where there is guerrilla warfare. It is quite easy to infiltrate this small territory either through the thick bush or by canoe. It is comparatively easy to lay mines, ambush roads and river convoys, and to make tip and run raids on villages and posts. One can always retreat to inviolable bases in Senegal or the Republic of Guinea.
To me, there was a simple test whether most of the country was in the hands of revolutionaries, this was to find out who was collecting the taxes—an important test in African countries. I found that the Portuguese were collecting them. As I saw for myself, they are arming the people for their own defence and that of their villages. They have a policy, which is familiar to other countries, such as our own, which have fought counter-subversive wars, of resettling tribes people in new villages near roads and rivers where they can be protected. This facilitates what we would call a "hearts and minds" campaign. Civil and military and African chiefs combine to sink wells, run cooperatives, and build and staff dispensaries, schools and mosques. About 40 per cent. of the population are Moslem, and the Government now take the trouble not only to fly serious cases to hospital but pilgrims to Mecca.
This is not, in my view, so much a popular revolt as a movement from outside. My authority for saying that is
President Sekou Touré himself, who said in a speech at Brazzaville:
If these people do not want to be liberated, we, who are free and conscious, have a duty to liberate them.
I say that it is not a popular revolt. There is plenty of land, there is plenty of rice. There is no "hungry season" as we knew it in the Gambia. As has happened in other overseas territories of European Powers, an emergency has brought overdue reforms. Fair prices are now fixed and paid for crops, and the dockers of Bissau, a thriving port and growing naval base, who used to be shamefully exploited, are now well paid by African standards, and have excellent canteens and rest rooms.
Above all, this may be said for the Portuguese, who have many faults, as do we all—they are colour-blind. There was a negro Governor of Portuguese Guinea more than a century ago. According to the Portuguese it is a province just as the Algarve is a province, with as little democracy or as much democracy. Both send members to the Parliament in Lisbon.
We should approach the Portuguese theory and practice with a little humility after all that has gone so terribly wrong in Africa, where millions have been liberated to misery and massacre. It is the theory and practice of Eurafrican integration.
It is most regrettable that U Thant has repeatedly refused invitations to visit these territories and see them for himself because, after all, the World Health Organisation—and United Nations organs are not particularly sympathetic to the Portuguese—has praised Portuguese Guinea's conquest of leprosy and sleeping sickness as an example to Africa. It is rather like South Africa, although the racial policy there is the direct opposite. We are happy to benefit from South African defence of an area vital to our strategy, but, at the same time, we do not want to be contaminated by providing her with the arms she needs to do so. Having a sense of guilt about the premature relinquishment of African responsibilities, we seem determined that the Portuguese should do likewise. If we failed, why should a little backward country like Portugal be allowed to try to succeed?
All I say is that her case should be dispassionately examined. In any event, having toured her African territories over the years since the guerrilla warfare began, and having repeatedly read in reputable organs of the Press of imminent collapse, my prediction is that Portugal will hold. Given time and a modicum of international understanding of the position, she might repeat on the African side of the Atlantic the achievement of Brazil.
The Foreign Secretary dealt with a variety of subjects, but I want to comment on only one, and that the most important—disarmament. I start by answering what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said earlier in the debate about the Russians. With respect, I follow the negotiations, the documents, the speeches with very close attention. I have quoted the right hon. Gentleman's speeches in the Committee of 18 much more often than he has quoted them himself. I assert with complete assurance that he is wrong when he says that the Russians offered no inspection in the draft treaty which they put forward in 1962. In fact, they offered so much inspection in the first stage of their treaty that if we had taken them up and had accepted the disarmament they proposed, they would, in my profound belief, have been quite powerless to cheat.
When I speak of disarmament I mean a drastic, all-round reduction of world armaments, and the total abolition of all stocks of nuclear, chemical, biological and other weapons of mass destruction. There is a lot of current nonsense being spoken about H bombs being the real guarantee of peace. There are militarists in every country who argue that it is large armaments which prevent the outbreak of many dangerous wars; that they deter aggression. An interesting essay on that theme has just been published by the Institute of Strategic Studies. It lists all the armed conflicts which there have been in the last 70 years, inter-State wars, insurgencies, civil wars and the rest. Some were trifling, but most of them very serious indeed.
During the first 41 years of this period, from 1898 to 1939, there were 44 such conflicts—very slightly over one a year. During the last 28 years the number was far greater, 84. During the last decade, 1958–1967, it was 36—close on four a year. Such information may seem of doubtful value, but it permits of one valid deduction. Great armaments do not prevent the outbreak of wars.
The armaments in the world, the number of men in uniform and under arms, the quantity of weapons and ammunition are all vastly greater now than they were in the period before 1939, three, four, five times as much. The number of nations with great armaments is far greater in nearly every continent. The destructive power of the weapons is incalculably greater. I do not mean only H bombs, biologicals and poison gas, I mean rockets, napalm, tanks and the rest. The assumptions of our old disarmament campaigns are true. In the words of Sir Edward Grey:
The moral is obvious; it is that great armaments lead inevitably to war.
Sir Winston Churchill, in this House, repeated in 1936 what Sir Edward Grey had said 10 years before.
I quote these men who lived through different phases of the arms race only because we are now in a far more acute and far more dangerous phase of the arms race than we have ever been before. In 1960, when President Eisenhower left office, the United States defence expenditure was 43 billion dollars. In 1968, it is 81 billion dollars. Next year, if the Vietnam war goes on, Mr. Clark Clifford tells us, it will be 90 billion dollars. The Russians have made a corresponding increase. It is much more difficult to assess, but we are assured that in 1968 they have added 13 per cent. to their defence budget. Countries all over the world are doing the same. In 1960, we used to say that world expenditure on armaments was about £36,000 million a year. Now it is certainly over £50,000 million, and probably approaching £60,000 million.
Take another index of what the arms race means. In a recent book entitled "Unless Peace Comes", Dr. David Inglis, of the Argeune National Laboratory, in the United States, estimates the increase in the nuclear stockpiles of the world. In 1945, mankind's conscience had been blunted by the bombings of the war, but even so a shock of horror went round the world when one bomb, the equivalent of 2,000 Berlin block-busters —equal to 20,000 tons of T.N.T.— destroyed Hiroshima. Less than 10 years ago, says Dr. Inglis, we were talking of stocks of 10,000 megatons as "almost unimaginably destructive". They were unimaginably destructive, because 10,000 megatons means half a million Hiroshima bombs, while one megaton, as Sir Solly Zuckerman has so vividly described, can destroy a great city like Birmingham.
Today, says Dr. Inglis, the total of nuclear stockpiles is over 1 million megatons. It has increased by a hundredfold in less than 10 years and it is still very rapidly increasing. He translates this into language we can all understand. An ounce of T.N.T., he says, exploded close to a person can kill him; but in the nuclear stockpiles there is an explosive power equivalent to more than 100 tons of high explosive for every man, woman and child in the whole wide world today. Of course, it is not the explosive power of the nuclear bombs that is the greatest danger; it is the fall-out.
In 1962, one of the greatest authorities in the world, a man who had himself made the most powerful H-bombs, told me that if the then existing stocks were used in a general nuclear war life in the Northern Hemisphere would be extinct. Today, if any significant part of the 1 million megatons were used, no one in any continent, not even in the Antarctic, would survive. Dr. Inglis, with Cuba in mind, added a political comment which I quote. He said:
The world situation that we have been lucky to live through these last few years is an awfully unsafe one, in which no sane race of beings would choose to live if it could help it. Our having been lucky does not mean that we are safe, even though most of us have permitted ourselves to become unaware of the nuclear threat under which we live.
I come to the major question which I put to the Government tonight. Until they came to power in 1964, it was the general assumption, which hardly anybody dared to dispute, that in an early future a world treaty on general disarmament would be made. Resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly had pledged the Governments of the member countries every year from 1945 to the making of such a treaty, and to the total abolition of all the weapons of mass destruction. The General Assembly passed its famous resolution on general
and complete disarmament in 1959. The Camp David communique by President Eisenhower and Mr. Krushchev endorsed that resolution.
In March, 1961 the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, after a long discussion, set out in a long statement precisely how this policy of G.C.D. should be carried through. They said that an opportunity for an early start had then arisen. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office and at the Foreign Office when that happened. In September, 1961 President Kennedy endorsed it and destroyed every argument against it in a scintillating speech to the General Assembly of the U.N. In March, 1962 the Soviet Government, and then the Government of the United States, laid lengthy and detailed draft treaties for G.C.D. before the Committee of 18. Our Tory Government claimed that they had helped to draft the U.S. Treaty.
In December, 1963 the General Assembly, with British and American support, adopted another resolution which reaffirmed the resolution of 1959 and gave a most emphatic instruction to the Committee of 18
alas, the word was already "resume"—
with energy and determination its negotiations on general and complete disarmament under effective international control".
The Assembly declared that G.C.D. was
'the surest safeguard for world peace and the national security ".
In January, 1964, the present Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Opposition, gave a memorandum to the Foreign Office in which he set forth detailed proposals for a compromise between the U.S. and the Soviet draft treaties. In November, 1964, three weeks after he took office, he said this at the Guildhall —I heard it and I remember it most vividly:
Disarmament must remain in the forefront of international affairs. It cannot be shunted into a siding.
I want to ask the Government, as Mr. Robert Neild asked in a recent lecture in a Committee Room upstairs: what has happened to disarmament? I do not trouble to ask the Opposition. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire made some very strong commitments to the policy of G.C.D. when he
was in Geneva, but as Prime Minister he very quickly threw them over and tried to win a General Election on an independent British nuclear deterrent instead. So far as I know, he has never mentioned the two draft treaties for G.C.D. again.
I ask the Government what has happened to disarmament, and I put to them some facts which have caused me some anxiety and alarm. Since they came to power I do not recall that the British delegate has ever really tried to make the Committee of 18 carry out the General Assembly's instruction of December, 1963
to resume with energy and determination its negotiations on G.C.D.
On the contrary, the Committee has devoted all its time—two mornings a week, three or four working hours a week— to collaterals of various kinds. So far as I know, there has been no reaffirmation on the part of the Government of our belief that the negotiations on general and complete disarmament should now be resumed.
I speak further about their attitude towards these two draft treaties. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, when he was in charge of the matter, made a speech in December, 1964, in another place in which he said this:
It seems to me clear beyond a doubt that the arms race has now passed into a phase of near lunacy …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 17th December, 1964; Vol. 262, c. 581.]
A little later—it was in February— implying that the two draft treaties of 1962 were not what was required, he said this:
It is up to us,"—
the British Labour Government—
to put forward a completely new plan which will shake the two super-Powers out of their entrenched position and to start everyone thinking once more of comprehensive disarmament … as an urgent and imperative necessity.
That was nearly three and a half years ago. Since then, I have seen no reaffirmation of the two draft treaties, in which I, for one, still most unhesitatingly believe. We have seen no sign whatever of any new dynamic plan which might take their place.
Third, there is the matter of the salesman of arms. I understand that his salary and the salaries of his principal assistants amount to about £80,000 a year. I doubt whether there is any other single line of exports on promoting which we spend so freely and give such vigorous embassy and consular support.
I am no unilateralist. I know very well that, if we do not get the orders, some other arms-producing nation will; but I confess that I think it lamentable that Governments—not only ours, but others—should now try to balance their payments by exporting arms. I can think of very recent British examples—Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, among others— which make me hang my head in shame.
Every time defence material is exported, hunger for the children is being exported. You are exporting the postponement of productive schemes, fertilisers, irrigation, electricity, railways, schools or roads, which might mean very much to our British economy within a measurable time. Above all, you are exporting a new impulsion to the arms race in the regions to which our shipments go.
Fourth, there is the report of U Thant's experts on the effects of nuclear war, on which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) spoke so eloquently just now. It was presented to the U.N. General Assembly in October last. I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that by all odds it is the most important Government paper of the year. U Thant hoped, the Assembly hoped, the experts hoped, that the result of their long and arduous labours would so shock the world that real disarmament would shortly come.
What has happened in the event? The report has fallen like a pebble in the sea. It has hardly made a ripple in the ocean of world opinion. Every proposal which I have made to the Government for giving it wide publicity at home, in the Commonwealth, and elsewhere, has been ruthlessly turned down.
There is the language of the Secretary of State for Defence about nuclear weapons. I speak with respect, and I am sorry that I have not been able to warn my right hon. Friend that I should raise the matter this afternoon. It seems to me that he follows very closely what is said about nuclear weapons by the leaders of the Pentagon. Not long before he gave up his office, Mr. McNamara said that every age henceforward would be an atomic age; that mankind must live for ever with the shadow of thermal nuclear holocaust hanging over its head; that there was no way to stop the Soviet Union from having the means totally to obliterate the people of the United States; and that the only answer was to keep superior power, very greatly superior power, to obliterate the whole society of the Soviet Union.
I say, with all respect to the United States, that that is not the language of a statesman. It is the language of someone who, under long strain and long conditioning, has become in some way mentally deranged. I had a horrid feeling when on 5th March last, in our defence debate, our Secretary of State for Defence told us that N.A.T.O. exists to ensure that tactical nuclear weapons would be used in Europe if the Russians should attack.
Sir Solly Zuckerman and his colleagues say that tactical nuclear warfare in Europe would destroy the Continent and that almost certainly it would lead to the general nuclear exchange which might exterminate mankind. Our Secretary of State did not mention that, and in his two speeches in that defence debate the word "disarmament" never once appeared, although disarmament, as he is Secretary of State for Defence, is much the most important of all the matters with which he ought to be concerned.
I shall now sit down. Of course we all hope that the Non-Proliferation Treaty will do well, even if many of the important signatories did not sign. But I hope that we all reject the McNamara thesis that the number of nuclear bombs which we have is with us for good and all. I hope that we all reject his G.C.D. —general and complete destruction—as the right guarantee for peace. I hope that we all deny that there is no way by which we can prevent the Russians from having the power to destroy us all.
There is a way—real disarmament under international control. All the technical difficulties can be solved. This is not a policy for some distant decade. It is a policy for now. As Mr. Khrushchev said when he was still in power, disarmament is the question of questions in international affairs, and its solution would completely change every other problem with which the world is faced.
No one knows how long my right hon. Friends will hold their present offices. We do know that they now have the chance to try to change the course of history and secure the survival of mankind. Let them take it, before events sweep them into the oblivion which, if they do not take it, they will most assuredly deserve.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) was rather hard on a succession of British Foreign Secretaries from both sides of the House. The two milestones in disarmament so far reached have been the limited Test Ban Treaty, with the signature of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) upon it, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with the signature of the present Foreign Secretary upon it. Neither of those right hon. Members deserves strictures for his efforts towards disarmament.
The hon. Gentleman has missed my point. Important as the test ban is as a "Clean Air Bill", and important as, I hope, the Non-Proliferation Treaty will be, they do not begin to keep up with the increase in the dangers of the arms race going on from year to year.
I shall not pursue the argument. I believe in one step at a time.
I shall speak about what I regard as the most important and potentially the most hopeful fact at the centre of world affairs, namely, that the United States and the Soviet Union, after close on 20 years of trigger-point hostility, may now be groping their way towards an agreement to live and let live. If that be so, it is a development which dwarfs into insignificance the wrangle over Rhodesia or the latest coup in Iraq. If—and it still is a big "if"—the Americans and the Russians are now crossing the threshold, or at least approaching the threshold, of a breakthrough from cold war to cold peace, this development, with all that it means for the level or armaments and the reduction of tensions, could transform the world scene.
I believe that the process has started, and that it began in Cuba there, in one hideous moment, both great Powers came close to the edge of catastrophe and both drew back appalled. Ever since, there has been developing a bilateral relationship replacing the old four-Power conferences of the post-war years.
An important milestone was passed at Glassboro where, for the first time, Mr. Kosygin and President Johnson met á deux. Britain, I am sorry to say, was left out, and I fear that we shall continue to be left out, with France, until—as I hope to see—there is one Europe.
It is in short, an America-Soviet twosome, or, to use the rather ugly and infelicitous phrase which, I gather, is now in vogue in the State Department, a global duopoly.
Whatever it be called, the ingredients of this American-Soviet duet are not hard to identify. There is the "hot" line between Washington and Moscow. It is used, and used successfully. There was the recent signing of the Non-Prolifera-tion Treaty, which President Johnson rightly called "the most important international agreement since the beginning of the nuclear age." Since then, we have had Mr. Kosygin's nine-point proposals and President Johnson's immediate and welcoming response. I shall have more to say about that in a moment; for the present, I merely cite it as evidence that the Americans and Russians are soon to get down, as they promised, to detailed technical talks on cutting back the further deployment of nuclear-armed missiles.
Third, there is the evidence of mutual restraint. Only a few years ago, the United States Congress appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars for subversion—that is what it really was—in Eastern Europe. Yet today we have the conspicuous fact that the United States refrained from over-reacting in the recent Berlin crisis. The United States is carefully avoiding any exploitation of the Soviet Union's present difficulties in Eastern Europe, notably in Czechoslovakia.
Similarly, the Russians, though they still, as the Foreign Secretary said, use exceptionally violent language, have nevertheless, in my view, shown a new willingness to treat. For example, when an American troop carrier bound for Vietnam violated their territory in the Kurile Islands, the Soviet Union immediately released the aircraft and allowed its passengers, all of them troops, to continue on their way to Vietnam. It is not 10 years since the world held its breath when American planes violated Soviet air space.
Why have there been these quite portentous changes? I identify several reasons. One is, perhaps, political and personal I do not believe that President Johnson stepped down for nothing from the possibility of succeeding himself. I believe that the President is determined, in the weeks and months which remain to him, to make progress towards peace. I had the privilege of speaking to Mr. Dean Rusk some months ago, and he foreshadowed precisely what is now happening.
Beyond those factors, which are, perhaps, personal, lie bigger reasons. The first is the fact, the somewhat old-fashioned fact, that between the two super-Powers there has now been achieved an approximate balance of power. In the past 18 months, the Soviet Union has achieved parity or near-parity with the United States in land-based nuclear missiles. And for the first time, the United States Government, if not the United States Congress, accept this parity.
The United States is giving up the idea of a vast numerical supremacy in nuclear weapons. They and the Soviet Union have both now accumulated so massive a level of over-kill that it is fruitless for either to continue piling up more. One of the hopeful facts today is that they have both begun to recognise this.
Another reason for better American-Soviet understanding is that both are coming to appreciate, the Americans much more than the Russians, that there are limits to their power. Both have stumbled badly in their relations with the rest of the world. In the Middle East the Soviet Union stood by and watched helplessly while its military vassal, Egypt, was ignominiously defeated, with the loss of billions of dollars worth of Soviet military equipment. What a smack in the eye that was for a super Power!
Similarly in Vietnam, all the great power of the United States has not sufficed to win the victory against North Vietnam. The United States in my view has been fighting for the cause of world security, but for all that it has suffered in Vietnam a blow of far-reaching importance to its own self-confidence.
There is another factor common to both Russia and America—both have seen their respective alliances falter. In the West, France has rebelled against American leadership of N.A.T.O. The United States remains, and I hope it will long remain, the undoubted leader of the Western World. But she is face to face in Euroope with what I would call a declaration of independence, but this time in reverse.
Russia's difficulties with her flock are incomparably worse. China is now a declared enemy. The Soviet position in Eastern Europe is, if not crumbling, at least in difficulty. I do not find this surprising. While the Americans on the whole have bent over backwards to avoid imposing their ideas on Western Europe, the Soviet Union, where her security has been concerned, has often behaved as a bully and a military occupier.
Now comes the reckoning. Yugoslavia was the first to break loose. Hungary rebelled and had to be crushed in 1956, Albania has become pro-Chinese. Roumania has declared her economic independence.
Now we see the Russians ganging up on Czechoslovakia. The letter sent today to Premier Dubcek is by any measure an arrogant intrusion into Czechoslovakia's internal affairs. The Premier's reply is one of dignity and courage. I have no wish at this delicate moment to make any further comment on Czechoslovakia, except to say that, having watched the revolution of Budapest, I devoutly hope, and I believe there is reason to hope, that the Russians will see sense and call off their unjustified pressure.
I return to my theme and the third reason for Russian and American convergence. I place this under the heading "financial". Both the United States and the Soviet Union have come to a financial turning point in the development of nuclear weapons. They face two crucial questions. The first is: should they escalate the arms race by introducing nuclear weapons into outer space, which would be illegal, and on to the sea bed? Secondly; should they also construct antimissile defensive screens?
It is of cardinal importance to the world that while both countries have made a tentative start on A.B.M. screens, both are now stopping to think before committing themselves to going all the way. Both have been daunted, not only by the danger or by the possible futility but above all by the prodigious expense that such stupendous developments could involve. Both sides have far better uses for their money. The Soviet Union needs to expand its economy, to open up its eastern provinces, to improve, as I believe its leaders now wish to improve, the standard of living of the Soviet people. The same applies even to the mighty economy of the United States. It, too, needs to restrain military expenditure in order to damp down inflation at home, to reduce its balance of payments deficit, and above all to tackle the problem of the ghettoes and the negro revolt.
For all these reasons I believe, as the Foreign Secretary implied, that there is a new impetus towards progress on disarmament. This is very welcome. I do not think this progress will be very rapid. The President was right to warn of the "fears, suspicions and anxieties that still need to be overcome."
But there are hopeful signs, in particular the Non-Proliferation Treaty. I wish that we could have debated this Treaty in rather greater detail, because there are a large number of questions that we on this side would have liked to put to the right hon. Gentleman. He knows that. I should nevertheless like to congratulate him on the speech that he delivered to the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee in Geneva this week, and to thank him for having courteously made his text available to hon. Members today. I am glad that he spoke with what he described as intemperate passion on this subject, and I welcome very much the various constructive suggestions he had to make. I have some questions which I hope he will be able to answer.
First, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about "Exercise First Look"? This seems to me a most useful experiment in the techniques of arms control and verification, and I hope that there will be a full statement on the Floor of the House at some stage about what lessons are learnt by the Anglo-American forces and by the foreign observers who come to our country.
Secondly, what response did the other nations, notably the United States and the Soviet Union, give to the suggestion for a seven-man committee to supervise on-site inspections? What response does the right hon. Gentleman expect to the proposal for majorities of five to two? That is a key point and one which I hope the Soviet Union will not reject.
Thirdly, what was the reaction to the suggestion for an agreed quota system of nuclear tests with a tapering to zero over four to five years? That is an extremely constructive suggestion which again the Soviet Union should recognise.
The fourth question concerns the possible introduction of weapons, whether nuclear or conventional, onto the sea bed. It may sound H. G. Wellsian but such is the world in which we live. This danger was referred to in Mr. Kosygin's nine points, and both President Johnson and the right hon. Gentleman have welcomed his remarks on this matter. I would like the Government, if possible tonight, to give some idea of British policy towards the introduction of weapons to the sea bed.
I want to sum up this convergence of the United States and the Soviet Union. I do not think that the storm clouds with which we have lived for a generation are about to roll away. What I think is being created is the beginning of a new beginning. If the United States and the Soviet Union can now agree little by little to work together, then I think that, for the first time, the United Nations could be made more effective because the Security Council could work. I have two quotations with which to sum up. The first is from a Soviet diplomat, who said:
To create a real détente"—
between the United States and the Soviet Union—
something still must be done in the Paris talks on Vietnam. But there is no question that a new climate in American-Soviet relations is in the making. This can go far, very far.
The American newsmagazine Newsweek, with which I was once associated had this to say:
What seems to have been created is a basis for some of the most excruciatingly complex and sophisticated negotiations in history … The talks may, quite literally, go on for years. They foreshadow an ebb and flow which may degenerate at times into hostility or even crisis, then be revived and broadened to include other issues … a profound shift in Soviet-American relations is obvious … a series of continuing intimate discussions made routine by time and habit could provide the forum for wide-ranging negotiations between Moscow and Washington.
I believe that in this prospect—difficult, untidy, ebbing and flowing—there lies ahead hope for the world.
I conclude with a thought about Britain. One thing is certain—that in the short term we shall not sit at the high tables of two-Power diplomacy. I regret that. I would like to have lived in an age when Britain sat at the top table by right. For all that, we should—indeed, we do—welcome these developments wholeheartedly. Anything which brings progress towards Soviet-American understanding is bound to be good for Britain.
We must also do all in our power to ensure that our own and Europe's interests are adequately represented at any and all bilateral talks which may take place. As of now, I think that we can rely on America, but he would be a brave man who would forecast what some future and unknown American President might conclude, and certainly the Russians would not scruple to ride roughshod over British and certainly German interests if they can get away with it.
Thirdly, we must recognise something which the Government have lost sight of from time to time, namely, that Britain's capacity to be listened to at the top tables of world diplomacy depends not on how loudly we shout, and not on how self-righteous we claim to be. In the end it depends on how much of a contribution, economic, political, and military, the British people still are willing—and, I believe, able—to make to the peace of the world.
One comment of the hon. Mem- ber for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) which I certainly echo is his wish that we might have had an opportunity for fuller discussion of a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty outside the confines of this debate. In his informed and well-argued contribution, the hon. Member made a number of comments which I am tempted to follow. If I resist that temptation, I hope that he will understand that it does not reflect a lack of interest, but simply the fact that time is running on and other hon. Members are still waiting to speak.
Despite the monumental attempt of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to give shape to this debate, it is inevitable that a number of topics run through a debate of this kind and we must resist the temptation to answer back. I wish to confine myself simply to one theme. I listened carefully and with profit to the speeches from both Front Benches. I listened for any suggestion of a common theme, linking their attitude on the various situations which we are considering, but I failed to find one. I hope that I am not asking for too much.
Clearly, we cannot impose on the various and shifting facts of international life any rigid and detailed policy. But is it too much to ask that we should not appear—in common with international chancelleries the world over—as though we are perpetually reacting to situations after they have got out of hand and are always struggling to shut the stable door with the animal halfway through?
There were occasions when I thought that I detected a theme in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, but when I attempted to trace it to the next situation it immediately went underground and disappeared. I got the impression from both Front Bench speeches of a fire brigade which rushes out enthusiastically whenever the alarm bell goes, but which never applies its mind to the general problem of fire prevention.
If I may humbly make a suggestion, I would suggest a theme which we might with profit attempt to follow through the vagaries of international relations. We might aim to create a situation in which Governments behave according to a system of law and order, where selfish and unreasonable behaviour is not excused by quoting some distinction between individual and collective morality and where the people of the world, expressing themselves through their inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, may pass judgment on the almighty nation-State.
What I am suggesting in a nutshell is that, where possible, every opportunity should be seized to give encouragement however slight, to the development of the rule of law, and in that I want to follow the theme of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). I believe that as within the national community civilisation developed with the recognition of the rule of law, so international civilisation rests upon the recognition of international law. I appreciate, of course, that that depends upon the capacity of international law to adapt itself to the changing needs of the situation.
Our present international law is built on the concept of national sovereignty, an important concept which embodies the recognition that a country is entitled properly to conduct its affairs without interference from other countries. That served a useful function at a time when the major problem was to prevent a succession of blatant wars of aggression and when many nations were struggling for their independence.
I believe that now that concept is a stumbling block to further progress. It is the justification by which some attempt to persuade us that South Africa should be entitled to escape international inquiry into the way in which it treats a majority of its population; it is the justification by which some have sought to persuade us that we are excluded from inquiring into the way in which the Greek Government treat some of their subjects. I believe that we cannot buy oft our conscience from asking these questions by the plea that the Government concerned are acting in the exercise of national sovereignty, though I say at once that tonight I propose to keep off the troubled waters of what the facts actually are and what it is we ought to do about them; I am merely pleading tonight that these questions are important and that they are our business.
I believe that the development of the rule of law depends on two factors, the readiness of international lawyers to adapt their concepts to changing needs. Law is not an exercise in academic logic. It is a system of securing peaceful acceptance of just solutions of problems. I believe that the failure of the International Court of Justice to give a clear decision on South-West Africa, on a ground on which it had not even been invited to reject the application, not only set back international law for a decade but condemned a whole people to further oppression. I also believe that progress in this direction depends upon the readiness of national Governments to subject their conduct to international adjudication, to abide by decisions even when they are against them, and to make use of the institutions which already exist and which have been hammered out with great trouble and difficulty for that purpose.
I suspect that I am on a sticky wicket in arguing this case, not because there is any difficulty in persuading the House of the truth of all this, but of persuading people that it is important. I believe that decisions in this field, unremarked in the papers, unnoticed by the public, may transpire to be more important than many of the other more publicity-worthy decisions made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State during his term of office. I believe that when some of these other issues which we have discussed tonight remain as either tragic or hopeful episodes in the history books, decisions in this field will still be influencing the lives of ordinary men and women.
I want to suggest three areas in which I think some progress might be made towards this kind of situation. The first is in the peaceful settlement of disputes. If we could make some real progress here then the necessity for peace-keeping operations, expensive and not always effective, would arise much more infrequently. Ideally, of course, we might try to persuade national Governments to accept an international judicial procedure, but I believe that if we did that we would perhaps be going a little too quickly, and that we should be a little less ambitious and, at least for the moment, persuade them to accept the use of conciliation and arbitration machinery. If we have just had a disappointing experience in this field in the Nigerian conflict we have had some successes such as in the Rann of Kutch dispute.
The Government raised the question in the Political Committee of the United Nations in December, 1966. Our representative pointed out that police activities, if wars had broken out, were usually too expensive and too later, and he suggested that we should try some of the proposals that already existed in the United Nations Charter to eliminate the underlying causes of those disputes before they give rise to war. He suggested that there should be set up a committee to study the whole question, with particular attention to improved fact-finding procedures, of improving procedures of mediation and reconciliation and increasing recourse to international arbitration and judicial settlement. But the discussion was deferred on the ground that there was insufficient time—perhaps a reflection of the unfortunate scheme of priorities in the Political Committee and the irrational dislike of the United Kingdom which existed among some of its members.
I appeal to my right hon. Friend not to give up hope. On 20th November last year the Minister of State, in answer to a Question, said that there was no proposal to revise that suggestion in the current session. By patiently working away at this kind of prejudice and opposition, my right hon. Friend may one day make a very real contribution to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The second area that I have in mind is the international control of areas outside the territorial jurisdiction of any state. This all began very quietly in the late 1950s. This is certainly not a political point, because at that time right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office. It was a time when the newly discovered resources of the Antarctic threatened to give rise to a colonial rush similar to that which took place in Africa last century. There were endless opportunities for crises, any one of which, had it materialised, I believe would have given this House ample material for discussion for months, if not years. Fortunately, none of them materialised, so they all passed unnoticed. The reason they passed unnoticed was that in 1959 the Antarctic Treaty was signed. That provided for peace and co-operation instead of a bonanza type gold rush, and it passed in this country virtually without notice.
The lessons that we learned in producing that treaty were later applied to outer space. The United Nations established a Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. That committee set up a legal sub-committee and, quietly and without fuss, the legal sub-committee thrashed out some of the problems disregarded by politicians, Press and public. The result was the treaty of 1966, proclaiming the freedom of outer space without territorial restrictions, and ensuring that outer space would not be used for military purposes. More detailed work resulted, last September, in an international agreement for the return of astronauts landing back on earth to their homeland, and for the return of objects projected into outer space to their country of origin.
A third example appeared last year when we learned, to our cost, of the need for some kind of international control against pollution on the high seas. The cost of the "Torrey Canyon" incident, both to the national economy and to the unfortunate individuals whose livelihoods were endangered, ought to have convinced us that it should not happen again.
The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds referred to the ocean floor. Work is now proceeding to ensure that the ocean floor shall not be used for military purposes, but shall be exploited for peaceful purposes, and that the enormous resources there shall be used to solve the problems of famine and the dearth of raw materials in the world. I hesitate to criticise the attitude of the United Kingdom Government on the matter, but in the Ad Hoc Committee which is working on this, the United Kingdom delegate gives the impression of being more impressed by the difficulties than by the possibilities. His last contribution included such comments as:
We do not consider that Governments should be regarded as committed, at least at this stage"—
My delegation believes that we must consider this matter carefully.
Could he not at least then say, "But we are in favour of it"? If my right hon. Friend wants to know the feeling in this House, I refer him to Motion No. 271 on the Order Paper, which has the signatures of 123 hon. Members who think
that we should explore the matter further and more enthusiastically.
Time is running out, but I should like to invite the assistance of my right hon. Friend in the sphere of the international protection of human rights. International law used to be concerned with national Governments. What a national Government did to individual men and women was not the concern of anyone else—that was the feeling—until at Nuremberg we established that some kinds of conduct, even of a national Government towards its own subjects, are the concern of the whole world, and we set out to give individuals the right to appear as plaintiffs before the bar of world opinion. That is what International Human Rights Year is about, and I believe that there are four things which my right hon. Friend can do about it.
The first is to give more support to the proposal for a United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights who could hold a torch light to what is going on in many areas of the world and make the public aware of it.
Second, I believe that the measures of implementation which have now appeared in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are matters to which we should give more attention. The Covenant set up a committee to consider these matters, but only in relation to complaints made by a nation state. There is a provision for the consideration of complaints made by private individuals, but only against a Government who accept that optional jurisdiction.
In 1965, the corresponding provision in the European Convention was accepted by Her Majesty's Government, to their eternal credit. Many of us were delighted that they set that example. Now we learn that the corresponding provision in the United Nations Covenant is not for the moment to be accepted by the United Kingdom Government. Is the argument that, if it were some people would abuse it? If that is the argument, it is one which could be advanced against every step which has been taken to encourage the rule of law. If there is some other argument, may we know what it is?
Third, where these provisions are in existence, may we set an example by using them? I make no judgment one way or the other of whether some of the allegations made against the Greek Government are true, but that they were made is beyond dispute, and there existed in Europe the machinery for investigating them. However, it was left to the Scandinavian countries at a late stage to refer the matter to the European Commission. Some of us were disappointed that a lead was not given by Her Majesty's Government.
Finally, may we give a lead in implementing some of the specific conventions on human rights which already exist? There is already a convention against racial discrimination. Some countries have ratified it. We were told not long ago that the United Kingdom Government would consider ratification when we knew what our own legislation on racial discrimination was to be. Now we know. The convention requires eight more ratifications before it becomes effective. Is it too much to hope that, during Human Rights Year, one of them will be that of the United Kingdom Government?
Like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg, I believe that our ultimate salvation lies in extending respect for international law until we have what can be properly called world government. If that sounds visionary, I believe with my hon. and learned Friend that in the lifetime of some of us here it will be so obvious that people will wonder why it ever needed saying. It is the policy of the Labour Party since we adopted the policy statement in 1961 entitled "Policy for Peace".
I do not believe that world government will be achieved by constitution drafting. It will be achieved functionally. Where there is a problem, we ought to set about solving it within the framework of the rule of law. Then will we wake up one day to find that we have world government. On that day, people will discover that they are living in a happier world.
Unfortunately, I must be brief and, therefore, I am sure that the hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the details of the very interesting speech to which we have been listening Instead, I intend to restrict my remarks to what has been one of the most startling omissions in the debate.
Among other hon. Members, the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) referred to the scope of a wide debate like this on foreign affairs. However, I find it surprising that no mention has been made of the situation in the Far East, especially as it affects China.
The Foreign Secretary referred to Czechoslovakia and to countries in the Middle East, where I agree that the situation is important. However, in China we have a country with a population of over 700 million, which is more than a fifth of that of the entire world. It is a country which is potentially larger and more powerful than the Soviet Union, yet the Soviet Union has been referred to for a great part of this debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) and others have referred to the situation between America and Russia and welcomed the lessening of tension between these countries, but is it not possible that in spite of that another tension might arise, tension not only between the free world and China, but between the Soviet Union and China? The way in which the world's population is expanding—it has now reached 3,000 million, and we are told that by the year 2,000 that figure may have doubled—presents unique problems in connection with world peace and world trade.
The militancy of the present régime in China has grown markedly worse since the cultural revolution. I feel that we cannot have a wide-ranging debate on foreign affairs and, while dealing with the situation in Vietnam, neglect the position of China.
On 13th June, I had an Adjournment debate in connection with a constituent of mine. Besides Mr. George Watt, as the House knows, many other people are detained in China—Anthony Grey, Norman Barrymaine, Mr. Crouch, Captain Will who has recently been imprisoned by the Chinese, Eric Gordon and his family, Mrs. Epstein, Michael Shapiro and David Crook, though I believe that he is no longer under restriction. All those people were living peacefully in China, yet they have been imprisoned by the Chinese for many months and in some cases for a year. With the exception of one brief contact with Mr. Anthony Grey, there has been no contact between the British diplomatic staff in Peking and these persons, or between these persons and their families in Britain.
Many British and Continental companies have accepted contracts to erect plant in China for the benefit of the Chinese. Vickers Zimmer appear to have been extremely badly treated by the Chinese. Work on the plant has virtually been stopped by the cultural revolution. The firm itself has been fined £650,000, and the employees of the firm who were erecting a polypropylene plant at Lanchow, similar to one they erected in Russia, have been deported. If that is how China treats commercial concerns which go there at her request to help her, I think that some counter measures should be taken.
I am complaining not only on behalf of British citizens, because I believe that China restricts the movements of many other Europeans living there. If this is how she behaves, surely this is a threat to world security and peace? Our charge d'Affaires, Sir Donald Hopson, was disgracefully treated by the Chinese. The British Mission itself was sacked on 22nd August last, and severe restrictions were placed on the movements of our diplomatic staff. They were at first confined to their compound. All this goes far beyond normal protocol. It is completely uncivilised.
I believe that the withdrawal of British forces from the Far East in these circumstances is a rash step indeed. We appear to be leaving behind a vacuum by moving out of Singapore. Our withdrawal will invite the Chinese to inspire further trouble both in Malaysia and Singapore, and I see the situation there as an eventual threat to Australia and New Zealand if the Chinese continue with the kind of conduct of which they appear to be guilty at the moment.
I feel that much stronger action is required. We trade with China, and here I see the possibility of action. Perhaps retaliation is too strong a word. but, certainly, some counter measures are needed to show China that she cannot be allowed indefinitely to get away with this kind of provocative conduct. I suggest that Britain can earn nothing but contempt in China by appearing to neglect this conduct—by appearing to bury her head in the sand and pay no attention, merely hoping that things will improve. Instead of the situation improving, the Chinese may be tempted to go further if she is allowed to believe that she can get away with this type of conduct. There must be further action to restore the situation.
Good relations can be restored with China if Britain acts in concert with the Commonwealth and other friendly countries. We must act in concert with Australia, Canada and other members of the Commonwealth, as well as with the United States, who do some trade with China.
I ask the Minister to tell us what the Government are doing and to give a reassurance about the further action that is being considered, especially in dealing with our diplomatic staff in China and British citizens who are being held in such shocking conditions there today.
We have had a most interesting debate. It began with an unexceptionable lecture from the Foreign Secretary. It was so unexceptionable that it was difficult to find anything to cavil at in it. He talked to us a great deal about mutual trust. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) described it as being rather rosy.
But the best description of the right hon. Gentleman's speech came from the hon. Member for Clapham (Mrs. McKay). She said that she wanted to get down to the ugliness of reality, because it seemed that her right hon. Friend was skating over the surface of everything unpleasant in an endeavour to show that things were better than they really are.
My right hon. Friend followed. It must have been very difficult for him to follow the Minister, because there was so little in the Minister's speech that one could take hold of and concentrate on. However, there were some points which my right hon. Friend raised which I hope will bring forth answers tonight from the Minister of State. My right hon. Friend referred to Simonstown. We should like some elucidation of Her Majesty's Gov-ment's policy on this matter.
This is the proper time to congratulate the Minister on the work that he has been doing in Geneva. The results have been satisfactory, although much remains to be done. One or two points arise— especially those brought up by my right hon. Friend—which should be elucidated tonight. My right hon. Friend asked what sort of guarantee had been given to countries who had signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is a question of exceptional interest.
Both Israel and India have been uncertain about the degree of protection they could expect, and Israel, in particular, until this moment has believed that her safety depended upon the strength of her armaments, including nuclear arms, with which she has been pushing ahead. We should like to know why Israel has suddenly declared herself satisfied that she does not need to push ahead with nuclear development and should open all the doors to inspection. This must limit her future nuclear development.
I am not suggesting that, but there can be no doubt that she is moving towards getting nuclear weapons. If this Non-Proliferation Treaty were observed by Israel, that would surely deny her that opportunity. Why, then, has this volte face occurred? To say the least, this must cause us to wonder what sort of blanket security has been offered. Surely, a wholesale offer to whoever might call for it, whenever they might call for it, must be carefully considered and is surely a subject on which no snap decision should have been made.
My right hon. Friend made three definite points which I hope will be answered. Has any sort of pledge been given that we will come to the aid of a country whose frontiers are invaded? What happens if it is uncertain who began the war and if there is an invasion of a country to whom some guarantee has been given, without use of nuclear arms? We will want to clear this up tonight.
The next point on which we should like more information is the manner in
which we are moving towards a comprehensive test ban treaty. We should like to know how optimistic the Minister is. In his speech at Geneva, he put forward the interesting claim that the Soviet Union has consistently opposed the whole principle of on-site inspection and went on to say:
We can understand fears that such inspections might provide opportunities for espionage, but we think that they might be dispelled if arrangements could be made whereby on-site inspection could take place only if there were strong seismological or other evidence that the Treaty had been infringed.
One wonders what this means, whether it leaves loopholes and whether there is an intention to compromise on this. I hope that we will get further elucidation.
Then, the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) began by criticising the Foreign Secretary for over-simplifying. But his own main contention was that all would be well in Vietnam if the Americans would stop bombing the North. This was such a simplification that it seemed to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. One wonders whether the hon. Member will ever be satisfied with any action by the United States of America, since whatever progress they make towards conciliation, he always seems to want to push them further—
If the hon. Gentleman looks at the history of this conflict, he will find that, when I was putting forward the demand for the cessation of the: bombing two years ago, not so many Congressmen agreed with it. Now, more than half of the United States Congress do, and the number is growing. If that is over-simplification, then the majority of the United States Congress are guilty of the same fault.
The actual point is very simple, that America has stopped bombing and has not met with a compensatory reaction from the North Vietnamese. That is precisely why they are now continuing the bombing. If there were a compensatory reaction, I have no doubt that there could be a great stride towards the sort of peace which we all want.
The hon. Member was followed by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) who put forward the proposal which he has long been known to hold, that Europe is not the ideal future for this country. He suggested that the time had come for us to turn from Europe and look towards a North Atlantic free trade association and he put forward various arguments in favour of this. My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) adduced the same argument and made much of the fact that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire had said that we should look into the alternatives to Europe.
Is it sensible, at this stage, to consider such alternatives? There must now be a period of delay while the American elections are held, because nobody knows what the policy of the next President will be. He may favour a North Atlantic free trade organisation, but until the United States has made a decision on this matter, it is impossible for us to consider any such alternative. Only when that decision has been made will an alternative exist. There is no point in our considering a hypothetical situation.
They may be so, but until they have made up their mind about whether they accept the alternative to which reference has been made —remembering that they may turn it down—we cannot take the matter further. We cannot call the tune. Only when they have made up their mind will we be able to do something about it.
Is the noble Lord saying that any attempt to reconsider the position by us would lessen our credibility in Europe and give strength to those who have said that we were not interested in a European concept in the first place?
If an alternative exists, we should look into it. But until there is such an alternative, we should be wasting our time if we considered it.
The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) made a curiously bitter speech. In the years that I have heard the right hon. Gentleman speak, I have never heard him in such an attacking mood. He made a savage attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire and then he turned on the Foreign Secretary. Indeed, he seemed to have little use for any political party. Although I missed the middle of his speech, in neither his opening or closing remarks did he praise anybody, not even his own hon. Friends.
I am left wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman is rather sick of the three main parties in the House and has perhaps considered transferring his allegiance to another party which has such a small, feminine, representation in Parliament. Then it would have been ungallant for him to have criticised that party. As to what he has in mind in this connection, only the future will tell. Suffice to say that it was a curiously bitter speech from a right hon. Gentleman who has always seemed so genial and good natured.
There was a curiously brave speech from the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker). He declared frankly his association and that of his family with Greece. It has obviously been a very considerable association indeed. He put forward what was, in a sense, an apologia, which was not popular with his hon. Friends, for some of the occurrences of the last few months in Greece. I have visited that country several times and, while I do not wish to make this a contentious matter, I agree with much of what the hon. Gentleman said.
We should look carefully at what is happening in Greece before overwhelmingly criticising it. If the present régime there decides to hold elections and if, as a result, there is a democratic government and an opposition, then that régime will have done a great service to Eastern Europe. We can only wait, and hope that in these coming months they will announce an election, put into practice the constitution and will once again become a democracy. If that happens, I can only repeat that the present régime will have done a very great service.
From the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) and the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) we had speeches on Israel. This is a subject that raises strong views in various parts of the House, but it will be totally unrealistic for any hon. Member to be- lieve that Israel could accept any sort of settlement which did not guarantee the tactical gain which she won outright last year. It is all very well to talk about what Israel should do, but we might for one moment reflect on what Egypt would have done had she won the war last year. Although we all hope for a settlement, it is idle to pretend that it could be one with which Israel could agree unless there was a guarantee of the frontiers round her which overshadow the country, and unless she had guaranteed exits to the Sea of Akaba and through the Suez Canal as well. One must be realistic about that situation.
I turn to what I called earlier the ugly realism of the situation in other parts of the world. It is rather curious how little has been said today about the great threat overhanging Czechoslovakia, because it is perfectly possible that there could be a repetition of the terrible slaughter of a nation that occurred when Hungary was put down a few years ago. One should stress that this is something which could occur again although we all hope from the bottom of our hearts that it will not happen.
It is impossible to look from Europe into the Middle East without some feelings of trepidation, for it is a curious result of the seven-day war that there has been a great change in the balance of power from Morocco to the Persian Gulf. It is easy to exaggerate, and I do not want to overplay the new roôe being played by Russia in that area, but it is of such significance that it ought to be discussed. We now have an extension of Russian influence in Algeria, in the Sudan and in Syria, while such is the extension of Russian power in Egypt, both in the number of officers used to retrain the Army and the number of technicians present, with the general dependence of Egypt upon Russian trade, that there can be little doubt that the dependence of Nasser on the Soviet Union is very real. Indeed, it must be doubted whether Egypt now retains a full measure of independence.
I do not know how many hon. Members saw the recent reports on the situation in Algeria which have come from Mr. Drew Middleton. They seem factual, and bear out everything that one has heard. It is worrying that there should now be in Algeria some 4,000 technicians and although the Government there continue to assert that no formal base facilities have been granted to the Soviet at Mers-el-Kebir, the visit last week of Marshal Grechko to discuss military cooperation should make this Government consider all the implications of the change of power in the Mediterranean.
It now must be conceivable that in the Mediterranean there could be Russian bases, or at least installations and stores, in Syria, Egypt and Algeria. If that were to occur it is no exaggeration to say that we should ask the Government whether the whole defensive strategy of N.A.T.O. would not be undermined, for the presence of the Russians in strength at Mers-el-Kebir could make it possible for them to close the Mediterranean at the Straits of Gibraltar. We should ask whether these possibilities are considered at present and whether the Government are happy to continue at present to reduce our Forces and to talk, as the Foreign Minister did, about mutual faith and reductions.
It is worth emphasising that one of the results of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty could be that while the likelihood of nuclear war is decreased the possibility of conventional war is correspondingly increased. If we go further afield to the Persian Gulf and the Saudi Arabian peninsula, we see further signs of Russian intervention with arms supplied to the Government in the Yemen and interest in subversive parties in Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
If we consider the value to us of the oil in this area, we must wonder whether the Government should intend to stick to their time-table of withdrawal by 1972. I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite sincerely hold the belief that our military presence in the area was a waste of time and money, but reaction to the announcement of our withdrawal would seem to confound the argument of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) who said that our presence in the area to preserve peace was that of a policeman rather than a soldier.
We have seen a change in the attitude of Iran. We have seen the visit of the Russian Fleet. There are many signs of the inevitable results which recur after creation of a vacuum. The Government would earn praise if they announced at least elasticity over the time-table for our withdrawal.
We welcome the federation of many of of the smaller States in the Gulf, but can we be hopeful that this Federation will survive? It consists of States whose rulers have long been antipathetic to each other. They have been put together into what one might call a shot-gun Federation. Although one wishes it every success we must feel that it is likely, considering our knowledge of Federations including Arabia, that this one will fall apart. Then there will be the danger, if we withdraw, that we shall be in no position to provide any alternative.
I have tried to mention some of the most depressing aspects of the foreign scene which the Foreign Secretary avoided. We live in an age of violence. Is this the time for us to withdraw? Is it not surely the time when we should face unpleasantness? We are going along, as we did in the 1930s, averting people's eyes from the difficulties which face us. At some date, which may be sooner than we expect, it could be that we shall have to provide forces in Nigeria, the Middle East and Vietnam. Are we in a position to do so? If not, who will be to blame except the Government? I therefore look for reassurance from the Minister of State.
I thank the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) for the kind references he has made to my efforts towards securing disarmament. I regret that I cannot give him the kind of reassurance that he wants, that we shall, during the course of the next half hour, reverse the whole of the Government's defence and foreign policy.
The Opposition must face up to the gravity of the things that they say. Already, during the few months since we announced our intention to withdraw from the Far East and the Gulf in 1971, there have been some encouraging developments. There has been a getting together of the States concerned to prepare in the next three years for their own collective defence. I greatly doubt whether they would have done that if we had undertaken to carry the burden indefinitely on their behalf. Their resolve is not strengthened by talk such as that which we heard from the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) and from the noble Lord, to the effect that it is the Conservative view that all this should be reversed.
The Opposition also have a duty to the British people to explain, if they intend to reverse the whole of our defence policy, including the enormous savings in defence which we have made in the last four years, where they would get the money from. Would it be raised by taxation? What social policies would they reduce to pay for this re-emergence of an imperialist rôle in the world?
(Isle of Thanet): Will the right hon. Gentleman answer this question straight? It has been indicated time and time again by the Middle East States concerned that they would make substantial contributions towards meeting the cost of the defence forces which are necessary. We would be able to play our part. Are the Government still maintaining the view that they are not prepared to accept that those parties shall employ our forces in conjunction with their own on terms that they meet part of the expense?
I should think it satisfactory that these States have the money to buy their own weapons and train their own people in their defence. If the hon. Gentleman had come to the debate a litle earlier, he might well have been better informed.
I would also strongly disagree with the noble Lord's rather cavalier references to my right hon. Friend's speech. If the noble Lord will do us the courtesy of reading the speech tomorrow in the OFFICIAL REPORT, he will see that, far from saying little, my right hon. Friend, by, as he put it, concentrating on the wood rather than on the trees, presented us with a really broad view of British policy and gave us the basis for what in my recollection has been one of the best foreign affairs debates that we have had for a very long time. Although it has been quiet and restrained, I think that it has been very constructive. Inevitably, it has covered a very wide canvass of philosophy as well as of geography. The task of replying adequately is, as always in these general debates, very formidable, if not impossible.
I start in the knowledge that I cannot do justice to the many important issues which have been raised in the time at my disposal. I am certain that I shall fail to satisfy every right hon. and hon. Member who has spoken.
A number of speeches have been made about the Middle East, the ships in the Canal, and the Jarring Mission. I thought that my right hon. Friend put our position in the Middle East extremely fairly this afternoon. It is completely wrong at this juncture for people already to despair of Dr. Jarring's mission and to talk about it having failed. We are convinced that Dr. Jarring's mission is the best means of achieving progress towards a political settlement of the Arab/ Israel dispute. This confidence was borne out by the very long conversation my right hon. Friend had with Dr. Jarring last week.
No solution to these difficult matters is likely to be quick, and anyone who thought otherwise, after the events of last year, would be rash indeed. But it does not help to strengthen the hand of a man who is doing his very best to solve this difficult problem if we announce that we are already planning things to do when he fails. That would be the worst way of trying to help him in his task.
As for the ships in the Suez Canal, as the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) has been assured before, we are doing all we possibly can to bring the ships out, whether at the north or at the south end of the canal. As the House knows, not only our ships are involved. Other nations are concerned, and in conjunction with them and the United Nations we shall do all we possibly can to get them out at the earliest possible date.
Several hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)—who has explained that he has an urgent and longstanding commitment which prevents his being here now—the hon. Member for Banbury and the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), raised questions about Europe and the North Atlantic free trade area concept. I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said when he reaffirmed our position regarding Europe. The question of the alternative of a North Atlantic free trade area and other possible alternatives were, as has been explained in the House many times, fully explored by the Govgmment before they took their decision last year to apply to join the European Common Market. Opportunity to explore the arguments further is available to the House next week, I understand, as a debate on the North Atlantic free trade area is to be initiated by private Members.
The hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Me Master) referred to the position of British subjects in China. There are five British subjects under detention or in enforced residence and another half dozen are unaccounted for. We deplore the way in which these people have been treated, in particular, the lack of response to our requests for consular access and for information about them. The position of the British diplomatic mission also is unsatisfactory. Since the Chancery was set on fire by a mob and the residence of the charge d'affaires was ransacked in August last year, there has been some improvement in the conditions in which the mission is allowed to work, but of the senior staff of the mission only two first secretaries have been granted exit visas, both on medical grounds.
Applications for exit visas are outstanding in respect of four members of the senior staff, nine members of the junior staff and nine members of families. The outstanding applications include that of Sir Donald Hopson himself. The withholding of these visas is in total violation of long-accepted diplomatic practice under which treatment of diplomatic representatives is not used as a means of political pressure. Her Majesty's Government earnestly desire an improvement in relations with China. In our view, the first prerequisite for such an improvement is that British subjects in China should be treated in accordance with the norms of civilised behaviour between nations. As for the charge d'affaires, his staff and their families, they should be allowed to leave China freely whenever they wish to do so.
The Foreign Office is often criticised in the House, as it has been again today, although, as the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) said, usually the criticism ought more properly to be directed at Ministers. When we hear or make such criticisms, we should recognise that our Diplomatic Service often serves in difficult posts. It is not all a matter of duty-free whisky and cocktail parties. None is more difficult than the post in China, and I am sure that I shall represent the views of all right hon. and hon. Members in sending a message from the House of Commons tonight saying that we admire the courage and fortitude which all have displayed in their exemplary discharge of their duties in China during the past year.
My right hon. Friend said that I would try to develop some of the points that he had made about disarmament. Understandably, a great number of points have been raised and questions asked about disarmament policy. This is the first foreign affairs debate that I can remember for many years when so many Members have raised disarmament questions. Since I still think that the House of Commons is a barometer of the opinion of the nation, it is encouraging that we are beginning, as I tried to put it in Geneva earlier this week, to put disarmament back on the map. I say to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) that I hope it will not be possible in the succeeding months and years for anyone to ask the question, as I know was asked earlier this year, because I attended the same lecture, "Whatever happened to disarmament?"
The Government's policy remains to work for the objective of general and complete disarmament, under effective international control. We may sometimes disagree about the best methods of achieving this. Every arms control or disarmament agreement that we achieve is a step in that general direction. In a sense the 18-nation Disarmament Committee this week, and in the preceding weeks, has been concerned with drawing up its agenda for the work to follow the conclusion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
I can assure my right hon. Friend that I used words similar to his when he complained about its activities tonight. I told the Committee that it would not do for it to meet just two mornings a week and pursue at a leisurely tempo one topic at a time. Equally, it is only right to say that there is no evidence to suggest that one would make any progress in arms control or disarmament by calling a world conference and imagining that technical and complicated matters could be dealt with there. Not only Ministers but officials, scientists and the military are involved before there can be a satisfactory disarmament agreement.
I would like to pay tribute to the dedicated work of my own Department in the Non-Proliferation Treaty developments and the proposals that I hope to develop in Geneva. There is the problem of each nation being concerned about its security and the very real problem of verification. One cannot expect countries to accept disarmament measures unless they are satisfied that the other man, whether their neighbours or the alliance against whom they are ranged, is carrying out his obligations too. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, as my right hon. Friend said, was not only important by itself—it is the biggest step forward in arms control since the beginning of the nuclear age—but it is important particularly as a step in the direction of further and I hope faster progress to disarmament. I formed the view when I took on this responsibility that we would get nowhere in any direction until the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed.
The treaty in its final form is a very different treaty from that presented to us last August by the United States and the Soviet Union. Without undue lack of modesty we can claim to have made some contribution to these developments. In particular for the first time in a treaty of this kind, there are very far-reaching multilateral commitments to make progress towards disarmament, and it is on that basis that we are proceeding.
If I could commit an unforgiveable parliamentary sin and quote from one of my own speeches, I would like to quote to the House what I said when it was not clear that we would get the Non-Prolifera-
tion Treaty. On 1st May this year, in the General Assembly of the United Nations, I said:
We meet against a background of a world in tension, at a time when the development of anti-ballistic missiles threatens increased impetus to the nuclear arms race, not its cessation. It is a responsibility for all of us to do what we can to abate the temperature. But it is, of course, particularly a responsibility for the two major nuclear Powers … I believe that they recognise their special responsibilities, and that this draft Treaty is a manifestation of their concern to do something positive to reduce the dangers of nuclear war.
I cannot prove their sincerity. An act of faith rather than objective data is required. I accept that when they pledge themselves to pursue negotiations in good faith to end the arms race at an early date they mean what they say. Equally, it is the duty of the rest of us to do all in our power to play our part and see that these pledges are fulfilled.
I see the recent very satisfactory agreements between the Soviet Union and the United States, to have talks and nego-tions over the whole range of limitation and reduction of strategic missiles both offensive and defensive, as a further manifestation of their sincerity to try to reach agreement in this very important field.
I feel certain that the other aspect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that one cannot stress too much—and I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) stressed it again—is the accord between the two major nuclear Powers in the arms control and disarmament field at a time when their attention is on almost every other aspect of international policy. It is only against that atmosphere of greater confidence and trust that we can hope to make the progress we all require.
My hon. Friend asked me about the position of Western Germany and, in particular, about how the Non-Proliferation Treaty affects the possibility of nuclear weapons in Europe. The text of the Treaty cannot now be changed. It has already been signed by over 60 nations and the text makes it clear that a federated State would not be barred from succeeding to the former nuclear status of one of its components, because such a federated State would have control of its external security functions, including defence and foreign policy. That was the answer I gave to a Question in the House last week.
As to what influence one brings to bear on the German Government, I can tell my hon. Friend, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already made clear, that we are and have been in close touch with the Federal German Republic throughout the whole of the Non-Proliferation Treaty period, and I would add that I am going to Brussels on Monday to take part in a North Atlantic Council discussion not only on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but on new steps to disarmament.
A large number of questions were asked in the debate about the security assurances. I want to try to explain just what is involved. It is a little odd. Here, I get accused of having promised too much. In the General Assembly, not only I but the United States and the Soviet Union get berated for offering the Afro-Asians and the rest of the world practically nothing. The fact is that there is no automatic agreement to come to the aid of anyone with nuclear weapons.
I should stress, because of what the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire asked, that there is no question of a commitment to use nuclear weapons in a frontier dispute or anything of the kind. The undertaking, clearly set out in the White Paper issued as soon as this was agreed, is that the three nuclear signatories to the Treaty will take to the Security Council for urgent action either nuclear aggression or the threat of such aggression. This arises not from the treaty, but from the undertakings and the resolution of the Security Council, because we thought it right that that undertaking should be given within the United Nations itself.
We have not gone beyond that because one cannot go beyond it except by a specific defence agreement. We have, however, reserved the right under Article 51—the right of individual or collective action—if the Security Council is not able or willing, perhaps because of a veto or something of that kind, to take the urgent action that may be necessary.
The text of the resolution and of our statement at the time of the undertaking are in a White Paper which is available to the House. In my view, the Soviet Union, the United States and ourselves have made a contribution to enhancing the peacekeeping abilities of the United Nations and I would have thought that all Members of the House would not want us to lag behind the Soviet Union and the United States in a matter of this kind but would want us to take the lead.
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to Article 51 of the Charter reserving the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence. This applies, of course, to members of the United Nations. The difficulty of the Germans is that they are not members of the United Nations. I would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would say now that in the British Government's view, that inherent right of collective self-defence applies to the Federal Republic, although not a member.
I do not know why the Federal Republic should be in any way concerned on this point, because it is a member of the N.A.T.O. Alliance, where it has the greater protection of the collective defence arrangements of the Alliance. I do not know on what authority the hon. Member speaks as a spokesman of the German Federal Government. It is rather amusing that in these debates I am asked, for example, to give assurances on behalf of the Israeli Government and to explain why they have changed their minds, and so on. I can speak only for my own Government. Certainly, I have always taken the view, and I thought that the German Federal Republic took the view, that they were amply covered by the N.A.T.O. arrangements, which, I have explained, are not affected as a result of the treaty.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for elucidating this matter. Do I understand that if a country like India, for example, is threatened by China with nuclear weapons, the obligation lies jointly on the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union to go to the Security Council and act together?
It is a joint undertaking to take it to the Security Council. The right hon. Gentleman properly raised the point that one would need to get the evidence and the facts right. He asked about what evidence there might have been, and so on. It would, therefore, mean going to the Security Council, reserving the right for us to act jointly in the event of the Security Council being unable to act. I hope that that deals with the points that have been raised.
I agree with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) that it would have been better if we could have had a full debate on the whole of this subject. I hope, therefore, that I can take away the feeling that the House approves the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that it would be the wish of the House that we should ratify it at an early date.
During the remaining minutes, I would like to say what we hope to do in terms of disarmament following the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The first priority in the nuclear sphere for me is the comprehensive test ban treaty, for two reasons. First, I do not think that it is appropriate or likely that the 18-nation Disarmament Committee will at this stage be able to do much concerning strategic nuclear delivery missiles. This is essentially, to start with at least, a bilateral matter between the Soviet Union and the United States, but although the comprehensive test ban treaty is comprehensively linked with this field, I think that we could, or should, try to make progress in Geneva in this way.
I made proposals to try to get rid of the on-site inspection problem. There has, I think, been an enormous development on seismological science since the 1963 Moscow test ban treaty and I think that we are fairly close to being able to distinguish in all significant directions between an earthquake and an explosion without having to have on-site inspection. There remains, however, the problem of what we do if there is a suspicion or a complaint that someone has breached the treaty.
My proposal, therefore, was to have a committee which would examine the evidence and, by a five to two majority, decide whether there was a prima facie case for an on-site inspection there and then. I have not had any reactions from either the United States or the Soviet Union, because I made the propo- sal only last Tuesday, and I think that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds is familiar enough with diplomatic procedures to know that two days is a very short period to get answers from Moscow and Washington.
My second point in the context of the comprehensive test ban treaty was that I suggested we should look at the idea of an arrangement under which there could be as many tests as were wanted up to a certain date and then none at all, and I thought that it might be workable to have a quota diminishing every year over a three to five-year period coming down to zero. All these other disarmament measures, including the general and complete disarmament proposals my right hon. Friend spoke about, are all on the basis of phased operation. I myself would like to get an absolute treaty quickly, but if we cannot why should we not look at this in a phased way, too?
I also supported the suggestion of regional disarmament, conventional as well as nuclear.
The question of the sea bed was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. Archer) as well as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, and that is also, I think, to be discussed next week.
On international trading in arms, I give to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheltenham who, like the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, made, I thought, a very constructive speech on this matter, the assurance that when we discuss international trade in arms I will see that the W.E.U. Assembly resolution is brought before the Committee.
The other proposal I made myself was that we cannot, I think, at this stage go beyond the Geneva Convention in the chemical field, but I think that biological weapons, even more than chemical, are a threat to the civilian population. I gave notice—a declaration of intent, if hon. Members like—to put this on the agenda, and that I want to produce a working paper which could be the basis of consideration and negotiation for an absolute ban on possession and production of means of biological warfare, which goes beyond the Geneva protocol, which is a ban, but under which most nations still have the right of retaliation and production and so on.
I think that throughout the debate it has been clear that, although we cannot claim the status of the two great Powers in any of the fields we have been discussing, there is a legitimate area for British influence, and that we have been exercising that influence. It is certainly the case in disarmament.
I should like to conclude now with words with which I concluded my speech in Geneva. Disarmament is the most important work in the world. We have got to put disarmament back on the international map. I gave the pledge, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, that we would do all in our power to assist the work of the Committee to make speedy and substantial progress.