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Allied Conferences

Volume 130: debated on Thursday 16 December 1943

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government whether they can give any information as to the recent international Conferences attended by the Prime Minister; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to ask the question standing in my name, and to move.

My Lords, in the early days of this war it was the most constant complaint of critics of the Government that there was not enough personal contact between those who conducted the affairs and devised the strategy of the three great Allies, the British Commonwealth, the United States of America and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Why, we were asked, did they not meet, why was there no apparent coordination between the various campaigns which they were waging against our common foes, why was no effort made so to dovetail Allied strategy that the power of the enemy to concentrate their forces, now here, now there, could be thwarted by counter-blows in other areas? I think your Lordships will well remember those arguments being used in this House. I believe that that criticism, though very natural, was never entirely justified.

From the first, except during the year when the British Empire was fighting alone, each Ally in fact was playing some part in relieving the strain upon the others. If they were unable to do more it was because they did not command the material needs. We were all of us in those days short of men, we were all of us short of materials; it was as much as we could do to keep our heads above water, and there was little that we could do to hold out a helping hand to our struggling friends. But within those inevitable limits each, I believe, did enough to avert complete disaster to our combined cause. Even before Russia entered the war our campaigns in the Western Desert and in Greece, though not entirely successful, in their immediate objectives did, I believe, delay the launching of the German attack on Russia for several vital months, and when Russia herself came into the war her magnificent defence, although it entailed appalling sacrifices for her own people, prevented Germany and Italy from deploying overwhelming force in an attack on Egypt or a renewed plan to invade the British Isles. And then, after the entry of Japan into the war, when we were fighting for our very life in the Far East, we still contrived to continue sending munitions of war, tanks, planes and other materials, to the heroically resisting Soviet Armies. Some degree of mutual aid has therefore existed, in fact if not in theory, ever since 1941. But of course it is perfectly true that in those early days, although the machinery existed it was comparatively loosely knit and rudimentary in character. The powerful machinery of Allied co-operation as we now know it was a plant of slow growth.

But one thing I think is certain, whatever critics may have said in the past they can have no complaint about the present. The history of the last few months shows a degree of co-operation, both political and military, on a scale which I suppose has never been equalled in the whole history of the world. There seldom seems a moment when the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary, or both of them, have not been absent from this country for the purpose of personal consultation in the capital of one or other of our Allies. Only a month ago we were celebrating the historic Conference of Moscow and since then my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has returned to this country, has flown back to the Middle East, has had yet more important meetings in Cairo and Teheran, and has already returned again to England. These last meetings, of which he gave so vivid an account in another place last Tuesday, surely have put the crown upon Allied co-operation: I think they have done more, they have inaugurated a new era in the history of the world. That it should be possible for the Heads of Government of Great Britain, of the United States of America, of Russia and of China to leave their countries in the middle of the greatest war in history and fly to the other side of the world, concert plans, reach agreement and return home in the course of a few weeks—that is something at which until a few weeks ago, the imagination would certainly have boggled, and even now I find it difficult to believe that such a thing could have been achieved. At any rate these things have happened, and it is for us, so far as we can, to assess the results.

My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, to whom we owe so deep a debt of gratitude for his untiring efforts in the service of his country, in the speech to which I have already referred, painted a vivid picture of the stirring happenings of the last few weeks. It is impossible for one like myself who has taken no part in these events to emulate him in this. I have not arrived in Cairo just in time for the dinner party to the Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, or taken part in the subsequent discussions with those great leaders. I have not flown across the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Persia, and spent days and nights in intimate conversation with Marshal Stalin. I have not come down in Algiers for a brief moment to continue conversations with the French Committee of Liberation. For me to try at second-hand to reiterate his impressions would be absurd and impertinent. All I can do, in speaking on the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Addison, has introduced, is to make certain general comments on the main results that have been achieved, so far as these at present can be discussed in public debate.

As my right honourable friend explained in his speech, the work of the Prime Minister and of himself and the other national leaders who were associated with them at Cairo and Teheran fell into three chapters. First of all, there was the Cairo Conference, which concerned the prosecution of the war in the Far East. Then there was the Conference at Teheran, which concerned the prosecution of the war against Germany. Thirdly, there was the second Cairo Conference which consisted of discussions with the President and Foreign Secretary of Turkey. About the operational decisions which were taken at Cairo and Teheran, I can for obvious reasons say nothing this afternoon. It is the essence of successful strategy that you do not tell the enemy what you are going to do. It is the core of the whole matter that you keep him guessing, and we may be sure that Berlin and Tokyo are at present engaged in guessing very hard. It is not for us to assist them in that fascinating task. What Berlin and Tokyo do know from my right honourable friend's speech is that the decisions taken will have shortened the war and will have brought final victory for the Allies nearer. That is quite enough for them at the moment. Opportunity was also taken at the first Cairo Conference and at Teheran to examine a wide variety of other problems of interest to the countries represented there, and in particular to carry further the construction of the machinery of collaboration for the postwar world and to ensure that the transition from war to peace shall be as harmonious as possible.

If, for the reason I have already indicated, it is unwise for us to attempt to delve deeper into the actual decisions taken, whether military or political, I think we can say that, by these decisions, the meetings established, once and for all, two great principles, and it is these two principles on which I should like to say something to your Lordships this afternoon. The first of these two principles, as I understand it, is this. It concerns the Far East, and it is of the first moment. As the result of the discussions taken at the first Cairo Conference and of the declaration which was made at the end of it on behalf of the three great Powers concerned, the relationship of the Far Eastern campaign—that is the war against Japan—to the Western campaign—that is the war against Germany and her satellites—has been finally defined. In the past, there has been undoubtedly in various quarters a tendency to dispute the relative importance of the two. Some people were champions of the one, some were champions of the other. In future there will be no excuse for such debate. It has been laid down once and for all, on the authority of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the President of the United States, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, that both campaigns are of equal importance.

Victory in the two spheres is equally vital to the peace of the world, and the two campaigns are all part of one vast struggle. If victory over Germany, as our aim, comes first in time, that is only because it is the essential precursor of victory against Japan. This clear declaration will be warmly welcomed throughout the world, and it will be nowhere more warmly welcomed than in the British Commonwealth itself. For we, the countries that, together, comprise the British Commonwealth—the aspect of our affairs for which I am at present responsible in your Lordships' House—in one respect differ from the other great Powers. Even such vast and powerful nations as the United States of America and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics have all their territories, great though they are, concentrated in one part of the earth's surface. It might appear to them that what happens outside would not immediately affect them. But the situation of the British Commonwealth has this essential difference, that we are, in the fullest sense of the term, a world Power.

Our territories straddle the whole globe, and we are directly affected by war wherever it rages. Just as the Dominions of Australia and New Zealand recognized at once the threat to them which was represented by the German invasion of Poland, so we here on this side of the world, in the United Kingdom, must recognize our immediate interest in what happens in the Pacific. We must all be glad that this opportunity has presented itself of declaring our interest in the Pacific in such clear and unequivocal terms. Until Japan is finally and utterly defeated, there is no peace for us, and we shall therefore be willing, ready, and determined to play our full part in securing that defeat. If the Cairo Conference had achieved only that result, it would have been well worth while; but in fact it did far more. It was symbolic of the united determination of the British Commonwealth, the United States, and China to maintain peace in the Far East after the war is over. That is equally a fact of the utmost importance for, as your Lordships know, before the war the Pacific represented the main gap in the world peace system. It was the area in which aggression originally broke out. We may have the confident hope that henceforth that gap is closed. That is to my mind the first encouraging conclusion we can draw from the meetings which we are celebrating to-day.

The second principle established at these meetings, to which I draw your Lordships' attention, is of a more general character. It derives from the wide range of subjects which came under discussion at Cairo and Teheran. These meetings were not merely war conference or postwar conferences; they partook of the character of both. Indeed it proved impossible to separate these two aspects of many of the questions which were discussed. They had to some extent to be considered together. To my mind this means that the leaders of these great nations are pledged to found their future policies on the wise and realistic basis that war and peace cannot be separated into watertight compartments, but that they are really a continuing process, if I may so describe it, in human affairs. The Western war, the Eastern war, the transitional period, as it has come to be called, and the post-war period, are indissolubly linked together and if the peace system is to have any chance of enduring, if indeed it is to come into existence at all, we must lay the foundation stones now. That seems to me an essential principle and it derives directly from these two Conferences which have been held.

In fact that principle is already, I think, being put into effect. First of all, as your Lordships know, we had the Atlantic Charter, which laid down the broad principles of post-war policy. That document was agreed to between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States, and it has since been adhered to by the remainder of the United Nations. Since then, there has been a series of consultations with the object of setting up practical machinery for giving effect to the principles enshrined in the Atlantic Charter. Some of this machinery has been created to deal with early developments in the situation before the war comes to an end as well as after. Into that category, I should put the Advisory Committee for Italy and, to some extent at least, the Advisory Committee for Europe, which have already, as your Lordships know, begun their labours. Then there is other machinery which is devised to deal with the situation which will face us immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Into that category I would put the organization which is being set up under the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration as the result of the session at Atlantic City. And there is yet further machinery of a long-term character. Into that category, of course, we should include the four-Power Pact.

Thecommuniqué which was issued in Teheran, stated:
"As to war our Military Staffs have joined in our roundtable discussions and we have concerted our plans for the destruction of the German forces. We have reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of the operations which will be undertaken from the east, west and south."
After saying that, it went on to say:
"And as to peace we are sure that our concord will make it an enduring peace. We recognize fully the supreme responsibility resting upon us and all the United Nations to make a peace which will command the good will of the overwhelming masses of the people of the world and banish the scourge and terror of war for many generations."
By those two statements, included in the same communiqué, the three Powers concerned have linked the war and post-war aspects of the situation together into a closely woven texture, and by doing so I think they have given much greater hope that order and not chaos will follow this great conflict in which we are engaged.

So much, my Lords, for the two main Conferences in which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been engaged. There was, as your Lordships know, a third meeting on their return to Cairo, between them and the President and Foreign Secretary of Turkey. Of this there is little that I can add to what has already been said by the Foreign Secretary. I will quote the most important passage in his remarks on this subject to recall them to your Lordships. My right honourable friend said this:
"I clearly cannot, at this stage, give details of these confidential discussions, but I can say that I have good hopes that they will be found to have established a sound basis for future co-operation between the four countries."
And he added that he felt justified in saying that the Prime Minister and he regarded the Cairo Conference as encouraging. That is as much as it would be right or proper for me to say to your Lordships on that subject to-day. This is, as you know, a delicate question and I think that more words would probably do harm rather than good at the present stage.

Nor do I intend to dwell this afternoon at length upon the situation in Yugoslavia and Greece to which he also referred. My right honourable friend, in the speech which your Lordships will have read, has already told Parliament very fully the position that exists in those two countries. We have all watched, with profound admiration, the unquenchable courage with which those unhappy peoples have resisted, and continue to resist, their brutal invaders, and we are all anxious to give every help in our power to them in their heroic fight. It would be, however, as my right honourable friend in effect said, unwise for those of us in this country who are inevitably ignorant of the exact position obtaining there, to indulge in too vociferous advocacy of this or that element which seems to approximate to the colour of the Party which we ourselves favour in this country. There is a tendency in that direction, as was revealed in the debates in the other place, and as I think has been shown also at times in your Lordships' House. But to do that could only make confusion worse confused.

There is, I believe, only one safe line for all of us, whatever views we hold, in a situation of this character, and that is to support those, whoever they are, whatever their political views, who are actively resisting the enemy. That is the only safe line to take and we must make it clear, so far as we have any influence in the matter, that what influence we have will be used to ensure to the peoples of the countries concerned that they may have a chance of freely choosing the Governments they desire when the day of liberation comes. If we can achieve those two objects we shall not go very far wrong. That is the policy which is being followed by His Majesty's Government with the full approval of the United States and Soviet Governments, and I hope it will receive united support from noble Lords in this House.

Now, my Lords, I have finished what I have to say this afternoon. I recognize that my remarks have been necessarily fragmentary, disconnected and incomplete. I did not wish to weary the House by repeating, in almost identical-words, what has already been said from his own personal experience by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. What I have said must be regarded as a commentary, if an ineffective commentary, on the tale that he has told. But I would, in conclusion, like to return for one moment to the Conferences, in order to pay a tribute once more both to the Prime Minister and to the Foreign Secretary for the notable parts which they have played in this historic episode. This country, I think, has been singularly fortunate to have to represent it two men so well fitted, both by their character and their courage, to deal with the great issues which face us in these dark and difficult times. Of the Foreign Secretary I have already spoken. About the Prime Minister I find it almost impossible to find words to express the debt we owe to him. If we are be-ginning, as we are beginning, to pass out or the dark valleys of doubt and anxiety up into the sunny uplands of victory, we owe it very largely to his leadership and to his gallant heart that never failed us even when things were at their worst. Your Lordships and the country, I know, will have heard with deep concern the news of his indisposition which I announced at the beginning of business this afternoon. We send to him, my Lords, our sympathy and our good wishes and it will. I know, be the earnest prayer of all of us that he will be rapidly restored to health, so that he may carry through to the end this great task to which he has set his hand.

My Lords, I feel indebted to the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, for putting before us so concisely and forcibly a summary of these great events. He placed them in their sitting and made us feel a sense of their greatness, and also of their nearness, because I think these great things will be appreciated much more hereafter in history even than we can appreciate them to-day We are too near to them. We can, however, recognize their immense importance and we must be relieved beyond measure that these Conferences have been held and, above all, that they have been held successfully. I do not think it is possible to-day to discuss in any adequate way the issues which are raised. At all events I do not propose to undertake such a task. The importance to the war and to the after-the-war period of this promise of close co-operation between the United States, the Soviet Republic and ourselves is of such immense importance and so vital to the future of the world that one can scarcely pay adequate tribute to it.

So far as the war is concerned I have one comment to make. We recognize—I am sure gladly—that this is a first and very conspicuous example of a united Staff consultation of the three great Powers and I do not think that anyone can say that it would have been possible to bring it about sooner. We may, however, have great hope. I trust that the Staff co-operation which the Conferences in Moscow—I refer to the two Conferences —brought into existence will be continued as closely as possible and that machinery for securing that continuation so far as geography enables it to be done will be kept working as actively as possible. I have a hope that perhaps this united Staff conference may give a greater degree of elasticity to the execution of some of our plans than recent events have indicated to exist now.

I am not making any critical comment except to say that one dots get the impression that the proceedings after the invasion of Sicily seemed to be so much according to plan that they were not quite capable of taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We had a discussion here on the by-pissing of the Island of Rhodes with all its consequences. The noble Viscount gave us an explanation about the invasion of the scattered islands of the Dodecanese, but I do not think we were very effectively convinced of the accuracy of the explanation. I put it no higher than that. One felt that there had been an unreadiness to grasp an unexpected opportunity, such as the capitulation of Italy offered in this sphere of war, which indicated (shall we say?) a rigidity of Staff planning which might have been unfortunate. It is one of the maxims of war that every great leader should be able rapidly to take advantage of the mistakes of his opponents, which may not of course always fit into predetermined plans. I refer to that only because one has a real hope that with Staff co-operation provided for we may perhaps be in a position, whilst equally well prepared, to be a little more elastic in our ability to take advantage of any mistakes the enemy may make.

Of equally great importance and of more enduring consequence to the world is the promise of co-operation in peace. One knows that the two Committees that have been set up, to which the noble Viscount referred, are only a beginning, and that these Committees will gradually develop their working machinery and gradually focus the necessities of the times as they present themselves to the Governments and call for proper steps to be taken. They are just the beginning of co-operation which will be carried into the post-war period in Europe and elsewhere. We cannot expect them to develop quickly, but I hope that, as in the war consultations, we shall see gradu- ally an active development of the machinery for post-war collaboration between these three great nations following on the lines of the statement of principles enunciated at Moscow with which I am sure we are all in hearty agreement.

There is one danger to which I think reference might be made. I am sure we all accept the necessity to which the noble Viscount referred towards the end of his speech, about which all we can say with regard to the difficulties which may arise in different countries is that we shall secure for them freedom to say what form of Government they want when they are able to do so. I think, however, that we are all conscious that some of the troubles that afflicted the world after the last war were due to the too great allegiance to the rights of nationalities. A super-nationalism grew up after the last war which had very harmful results. While we recognize, in some countries where there are, unfortunately, disputants in evidence, the justice of the case made that they must be free to choose their own form of Government, I hope that this machinery for world co-operation wall bring gradually into the forefront the necessity of international co-operation if we are going to get peace in the future, which in itself may mean some surrender of national rights—or of national practice, anyhow. I feel a little apprehensive about the tributes paid to the rights of nationalities because of the possibility of their creating danger to that international co-operation which is absolutely essential if we are going to get security in the post-war world. We cannot all be a law to ourselves if we are to co-operate. That is a fact from which there is no escape.

I only propose to call attention to these two matters, the one affecting Staff cooperation during the war and the other the building up of machinery to bring about permanent security for peace after the war. I am sure the right form of beginning has been made. It would be wrong, however, for me to conclude without paying a tribute to the Foreign Secretary. I think that Mr. Eden's skill, patience and diplomacy, which must have been exercised for months past in helping to bring about these Conferences and these agreements, prove him to be worthy of a very high place indeed among British Foreign Secretaries, and I am sure that the whole nation recognizes the debt that we owe to him. I quite agree that, as the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has said, we really do not feel able to put into a suitable form an acknowledgment of what we owe to the inspiration and the leadership of the Prime Minister. To do so at present is quite impossible. But he has been our leader in these matters, and gradually there has been brought about this effective co-operation between these very powerful States, with the promise not only of cooperation in war but, better still almost, co-operation in peace. I am sure that every member of this House, and all the citizens of Britain and of the Dominions, when they know of the bulletin to which the noble Lord has referred, will join with him and us in our expression of intense anxiety and earnest hope for a rapid recovery and the happy return of him to whom we owe so much.

My Lords, we meet in the shadow of a great anxiety owing to the news of the state of health of the Prime Minister, and I hasten to say— before I add a word or two to this debate —how cordially we on this Bench agree with what has been already said so eloquently in wishing our Prime Minister a speedy recovery. We trust that he will realize that every one of us and every person of every sort and kind in this country will hope and pray that the same fighting spirit which has made him win through so many troubles in this life will bear him up and bring him through this illness, so that the happy day may not be far distant when we shall see him back among us in full health and vigour.

May I also add a tribute, as we in this quarter of the House would always wish to do, to the services rendered by the Foreign Secretary? Personally I never knew that he had it in him, either in the matter of health or in capacity, to give such outstanding service to the nation. I knew, of course, that he was a man who enjoyed good health and that he possessed great abilities, but I had not realized that he could rise to such remarkable heights. He has done marvels in getting all these people together in the way that he has done, and we must all admire the wonderful skill and determination with which he has achieved his end.

And now I desire to make a few remarks concerning the Motion of my noble friend Lord Addison. I will be brief for we are all waiting anxiously to hear a speech from he most reverend Primate. One matter with which I want to deal is this. I wish the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, if he can to-day or at some appropriate time in the future, to say something to dispel a very dangerous murmur that is getting about, not only in the Press but wherever men and women move around. In my view fuel has been added to this dangerous flame by the announcement made in another place by the Foreign Secretary, in which he said that agreement had been reached and was complete—I took down his words, but I realize hat one must not quote at length from what has been said in another place—as to the scope and timing of the attacks to be made on the enemy. Now I know full well, and I think that most of your Lordships know also, that the Prime Minister who is the man who takes the leading part in these Conferences, is bitterly opposed to putting us into a strait-waistcoat, as my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition has told us, and so preventing the master mind who will direct affairs at a critical moment in the battle from acting wisely in accordance with the events of the moment. The saying is attributed to Napoleon, who was, I suppose the great captain of war, that war would be very easy if it was a game of chess in which you could move your opponent's pieces as well as your own. That, of course, was simply a way of pointing out that if the enemy knows that you have a definite fixed plan his task of defeating you is made a thousand times easier.

When I say this I say what I am sure is true. The thing has happened in our own experience and with tragic results to hundreds and thousands of people whose relatives are still mourning their loss. A plan was made for Passchendaele. Those of us who were there will remember the terrible results. The slaughter went on and on and on—and why? Because we were bound in the iron grip of a previously conceived plan agreed to by the different Powers on our side. It was dreadful, it was tragic, it was folly. Now throughout the length and breadth of the country they are waiting—I can assure the noble Leader of this—for a word to dispel the idea that there is going to be another Passchendaele. They think that they can see a symptom of it in the difficulties en- countered by our troops, including the famous Eighth Army, in Italy. Our forces there, as we know, are having to overcome a terrible obstacle in the shape of the mud. I know that it is probably not true that another holocaust of the kind to which I have referred is coming. Probably the plan, if made, is a very good one, and it may be that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House can tell us that what these great men have agreed together in the matter of scope and timing is not the actual moving of ships, men and planes at a critical moment of the battle, but a half dozen or so plans which may be dovetailed together into one great plan which can be put into operation by the supreme commander at the requisite moment, so that he will have the chance to secure speedy and overwhelming victory. If matters were otherwise the supreme commander might indeed be in a strait-jacket. It may well be—and I most earnestly hope that it is so—that the noble Leader will be able to give us that assurance.

The other thing to which I wish to refer is this. We have come so far together in war. We here are the last people to wish to indulge in the futile process of trying to back the claims of people on such a ground as that one man is a democrat while another is not, but prefer instead to go by the simple rule that whoever fights the Germans the hardest is our friend. It is, however, perhaps right that we should look forward to the future when we have won this battle in the hope that we may make a stable world. It may well be that the plans which these four great nations have made now will follow us into the times of peace. Of course there is this danger, Governments come and Governments go, while the people continue, and if there is no natural bond between the peoples who are told they should be friends it may well be that by degrees—it happened not so very long ago—they drift apart and whatever pacts have been made come to nothing. And so I would humbly draw your Lordships' attention for a moment to the question of how we can find a group of people who Ere naturally drawn together.

Here may I refer for a moment to the wonderful speech made by Field-Marshal Smuts? Everyone here admires, respects, and is grateful to the Field-Marshal for the services he has rendered to the country and to the Empire and for his services to abstract thought. And of all the people who are grateful to him for what he has done there are none of us so grateful as those few of us here who were in the Liberal Government before the last war, for he, with Botha, was the man who made such a great contribution to the success of our South African plan. So we start with every desire to agree with him, but I think I speak the mind of most of us here—I know I speak the mind of my noble friend Lord Samuel—when I say we do not agree with Field-Marshal Smuts in prophesying that France in any sense will be down and out after the war. And the fact that we have agreed with him, and do agree with him. in almost everything else, makes it more easy to say this without offending him or his South African colleagues. We believe that there are elements in France to make that country again a great country, whether she be rich or poor, and that without her we cannot hope to have a happy and peaceful Europe. We can only hope and pray that a spirit of wise toleration among all Frenchmen will enable them to bring that about soon after the declaration of peace.

I think—I have thought this for many years and think it more than ever now—that the grouping which we can most easily secure is the grouping of what I may call the Northern seafaring peoples. You will find that it is there that you have a natural sympathy. Twice I have taken my little boat to the Baltic studying this question. You find that you get a welcome there. The British flag that you fly is acclaimed by all those seafaring people, not so much perhaps in Germany two or three years before the war, but even there they were slower to acknowledge the evil ideas of Hitler than any other branch of the German people. A famous German seaman said to me: "Well, you cannot help seeing when he goes on board a battleship that he is a fish out of water." That was at a time when it was not a very safe thing to say. Another said to me: "Well, in my village the fishermen and I met and we decided unanimously that we would not say 'Heil Hitler'." No, there is a spirit of independence among all seafaring people that I think will enable them to co-operate with us in days to come. Think of all the others— the Norwegians, who are fighting with us now, the Swedes, the Danes, above all the Dutch, and especially the Bretons, the men of the Bay of Biscay. If you try to combine with those sea-going people of Northern Europe, I am sure you will form a great block which will stand against all the attacks that may come upon it. I present this thought with all humility to your Lordships as the contribution of an idea not altogether remote from a suggestion made by Field-Marshal Smuts in his speech.

But, of course, though we meet here to-day under the shadow of a great anxiety, we also meet in the glow of the dawn of battle. We want to say nothing that will not help, everything that can help. It seems to me that the stage is set for a glorious victory. I wonder how, if one were to make a peroration on an august occasion, though I am all unworthy to do it, what that peroration should be, and I thought the only one worthy of the occasion would be the words of Nelson just before his death. Before the Battle of Trafalgar—your Lordships will all remember it, but the words are so apposite that I venture to repeat them— Nelson used these words:
"May the great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious victory, and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it, and may humanity, after victory, be the predominant feature of our arms."
It is in that spirit and with the sure hope that God will protect the right, that I have ventured to quote these words.

My Lords, I venture to intervene in this discussion for a few moments because, as has already been pointed out, the Conferences which we have in our mind were concerned not only with the conduct of the war—about which, naturally, I shall not say anything—but with the prospects when the war is over; and indeed one of them, the Conference at Teheran, very notably added to the content of the outline that had been given previously in the Atlantic Charter and otherwise concerning our hopes. My reason for speaking is that I am in touch with groups of people who are considering these matters on behalf of Christian Churches both on the Continent of Europe and in the United States, as well as among ourselves, and there has been a good deal of intercommunication in spite of the difficulties of the times.

There can be no doubt of the great desire of the peoples of Europe to know more about the hopes which we entertain concerning the days after the war. We all realize what has made it impossible to give a fuller outline of these till about this time. It is also certainly true that there would have been an encouragement given had it been possible to describe them in more detail, which may still be given now whenever the opportunity comes, if it is amply taken. The Conferences have, of course, reaffirmed the Atlantic Charter, but they have gone a good deal further, especially at Teheran, in filling in that sketch, and I am sure that we all welcome the additional terms.

In these discussions to which I have referred, it has seemed to us necessary in the first place to try to clear up a good deal of confusion which exists in the minds of many peoples, and which I think did great damage to the movement for organizing peace after the last war—the confusion about what people call power politics. The Machtpolitik of Germany, from the time of Frederick the Great onwards, and in developing volume, has so alienated people who have any hope of seeing politics based on a moral foundation that they have become unwilling to recognize any permanent place for force in the organization of the world, and there has come to pass a desire to regard power as a passing factor which the progress of the world will dispense with. Therefore it seems to some of us of very great importance if we disagree with that, to lay the foundation clear that power, though it is not an aim to be rightly accepted as the governing principle in our policy, is none the less a fact in the world, and will continue to be a fact in the world, which must be recognized and controlled. And one of the first necessities of the co-operation which has been sketched for us will be not only the recognition but the control of power on behalf of the civilized world, or of those various groupings into which, by consent, the world may be divided for the practical purpose of maintaining peace.

In a similar way the balance of power which this country has steadily desired to maintain in Europe is not a worthy goal of policy if it is really an end at which we are aiming, but it is an indis- pensable condition for the achievement of any worthy goal because, if there is any one nation which is liable by its great strength to overawe its neighbours, there is no possibility that they will in fact devote themselves whole-heartedly to the tasks of peace in a co-operative spirit. There will be constant nervousness and anxiety about what, from time to time, may be the intentions of this over-strong Power amongst them. If there is to be, in fact, a balance of power which is to be the foundation upon which we build the whole edifice of peace hereafter, then it is indispensable that the whole British Commonwealth of Nations should be united in taking its part in that, and should be strong for the purpose. It seems to me that one of the first duties those of us have who recognize the responsibility that victory will lay upon us, is to insist on the obligation of this people to maintain its strength in order to serve the cause in which it believes. There is anxiety among our friends in Europe as to whether we shall really do that. It is felt by many of them that we rather deserted them after the last war, that our intentions were excellent, that we had high hopes of the League of Nations and so forth, but that we surrendered the means of making these hopes effective. I am afraid that is in part true, and it becomes an absolute obligation, which we should be facing as early as possible, to be ready for the sacrifices involved in maintaining real strength in the service of the cause in which we believe. So we may contribute to the balancing of power which will supply the equilibrium in which the tasks of peace may be undertaken, and there may be some hope of building a co-operative system among the nations. Surely the great Powers that are involved in these Conferences and in the leadership of the world are very fortunately distributed for that purpose. If we consider their position upon the face of the globe we see how easily, if there is the necessary spirit of good will and readiness to take an adequate share, the United States of America, Russia, and China, with the British Empire, may combine together in such a scheme.

Then, if the balance of power is not to be regarded as an end of policy, but as a means, we must make it quite clear that beyond that our hope is that from a balance of power which will eliminate anxiety concerning a possible relapse into aggressiveness of any nation that is over-strong, a good neighbour policy for all nations may be built up—a good neighbour policy which must at least, before very long, include all nations, even our present enemies. It is necessary to take whatever steps may be required to render the world safe from a repetition of German aggression. About that we are all agreed. I am not sure we are equally agreed in recognizing that, if the settlement is one under which a new German generation grows up with the feeling that it is relegated to a position of permanent inferiority, or is in any way excluded from the opportunity of fullness of life, there will be a source of irritation and an increasing feeling of soreness which will bode ill for future peace. While making future aggression impossible, we want a freedom which will enable all nations to feel that it is to their interest to maintain the good neighbour relations which are being established.

There is some importance in the order in which our aims are stated, and I venture to think that if the clauses of the Atlantic Charter were to be drafted now, the order would perhaps be rather different, though the content might be the same. Surely we must put first this, to provide for all nations security against aggression. That must come in the first place. To that we must give our first energies, and for that we must be ready to devote our strength, even to surrender, as the noble Lord has said, some of our national sovereign practice, our independence of practice, if not of right. Then second, in face of the desperate need in which the world will find itself when the war has ended, must we not put the social welfare of all peoples, the securing that the wealth of the earth, which modern science enables us to turn to man's use in such abundance, is in fact available for all people of all nations for the purpose of the fullest possible human life? Therefore to that end there must be planned economic co-operation. We all recognize now that one of the main reasons for the comparative failure of the League of Nations was that it was too exclusively political and did not sufficiently embrace the economic field. It has seemed to me that in some of the contributions we have received in the discussion of which I have spoken, there is still in some countries a notion that while no State should pursue a policy which could be regarded as economic warfare, the various business houses within that State should be given complete freedom of action which would enable them to levy economic warfare on their neighbours. In fact the result is the same whether it is undertaken by the State or by a private house within the State. If we are to have a planned economic co-operation, it must be one that covers the whole ground, and at least one which concerns the necessities of life.

Surely the third aim must be to diminish that excessive significance of political frontiers which has been so conspicuous a factor of the last period, not only between the wars, though intensely then, but even from a much earlier period, perhaps from the Congress of Vienna onwards. It is one of the curious and unexpected by-products of democracy that it does in this way heighten the importance of frontiers because, if you proclaim the sovereignty of a people, the next thing you must do as a matter of political necessity is to delimit the people whose sovereignty you have proclaimed, and in this way you make people supremely conscious of the dividing line between themselves and their next-door neighbours. That is inevitable in political matters. When it is carried into the realms of culture and commerce, and every political frontier is also an economic frontier without variation, the situation becomes one of sheer anarchy, leading almost inevitably to disputes and probably war. So one of our aims, as we think, should be to diminish this heightened national self-consciousness by trying to effect a distinction in all cases possible, and even perhaps making a separation between political and economic structures.

The working of the American-Canadian Economic Board is a quite admirable example of the kind of thing one might hope to see gradually develop in other places. That, no doubt, was an easy place to develop it, and therefore the right place to make such an experiment first. We are all familiar with the proposal of the group known as the Political and Economic Planning Council for some international control of the region of North-East France, West Belgium, and the Ruhr—a region which, by its endowments in nature, should be worked as an economic unit, not under three separate political sovereignties. Now if that were proved feasible—I do not know whether it would be—it would go very far towards mitigating the particular sort of threat to the peace of Europe which is constituted by the coincidence of the warlike tradition emanating from Prussia being associated with the immense war potentialities of the Ruhr district.

So we arrive at this kind of outline, that cultural autonomy should be as complete as possible. There should be the least possible interference with cultural autonomy, but the cultural units need not be political units. There is a good deal of difference between the cultural tradition, say, of Scotland and of England, but we are one political unit. Economic autonomy should be limited by regard to the needs and interests of the weaker groups so that we do not pass from an age of military imperialism to one of economic imperialism. And political autonomy should be as great as it can be compatibly with security against aggression, but it must rigidly be kept within the limits set by the needs of that security.

And not less important but put last among these points, because in the long run it is dependent upon the other three, we must do our best to secure full human rights, the essential human rights or freedoms, in the countries that are in this way co-operating. No doubt freedom cannot be imposed. That is a contradiction in terms. But we must desire to work for this and use our influence for it. Rights of freedom of speech, freedom of meeting freedom of association—all those freedoms which together build up the life of a country that is free in its self-government and also free in the lives of its citizens under that government. And this must include freedom of religious belief and worship and propaganda, for if a man cannot form his own conception of God and then express that in the worthiest and fullest way it means that he is enslaved at the deepest point of his being from which in the long run all his aspirations will arise.

My Lords, would your Lordships permit a humble denizen of the Back Benches to say a very few words in this debate? I hesitate after the speeches of the giants we have heard already this afternoon to intervene and I would not dare to follow the reasoning of the most reverend Primate except, perhaps, if he would allow me to do so, to suggest that a great deal more consideration, as he no doubt knows, is required before we can define this difficult problem of power. It is not so much armaments to-day or in future that we have to consider, as I am sure the most reverend Primate will agree, as industrial potentialities, the war potentials for waging war in the future. With regard to Japan and Germany for example we must find a way to curb, at any rate, their heavy industries and their chemical industries while at the same time not causing the new generation to grow up with a sense of grievance. I suggest that is one of the great problems which will have to be thought over with much care and attention. I am sure the most reverend Primate has it in mind and I look to him to give us a lead in that as in other matters. Might I also venture to make a comment on what fell from my noble friend Lord Mottistone? Lord Mottistone is a great sailor and also a great Soldier, but when he speaks of the great seafaring peoples he must not forget that the Japanese are a great seafaring people.

I do not think geography matters in this very much. There are pirates as well as honest seamen. There used to be a great brotherhood of the sea which included the Germans, who are in Northern Europe, but the way the Germans used their powers in the last war at sea in the submarine campaign was a reproach to the name of German seamen.

When my noble friend warned the Foreign Secretary that the people of this country are alarmed when they recollect what happened at Passchendaele, I do think that observation is rather open to misunderstanding. I am sure my noble friend did not mean it in the sense in which it may be taken. He is a very great soldier and I hesitate to question anything he says on any such matters. But I am sure he will agree, and certainly the Leader of the House with his experience will agree, that you cannot make war on the principle of limited liability. If you go into war you have to be prepared to wage it, whatever the cost. If you plan so as to make war without loss I think you lengthen the struggle and add to the losses which otherwise will occur. That is the interpretation which is possible if you remind people of what happened at Passchendaele. I am sure my noble friend would guard himself against any suggestion that there was some kind of parallel between that and what is going on now in Italy.

I do not want to detain your Lordships after this most important debate but I would remind my noble friend the Leader of the House that when he says there will be no more criticisms because of the Teheran and Cairo Conferences, I think he is a little optimistic. Whether there is criticism in this or in the other place will depend on the conduct of the Government and their conduct of the war.

This place exists for criticism. Then we are in agreement. rose because I wanted to make a suggestion and it is this. I have not come here on this occasion with any idea of criticizing anything that has happened recently, but I am a little anxious about the future with regard to the political warfare which is being waged on behalf of the United Nations and which I presume has been more closely co-ordinated as a result of this meeting at Teheran. My noble friend Lord Addison says he is satisfied this Three-Power meeting could not have taken place before. If he is satisfied so am I, but I think we might have had earlier Staff conferences between the Three Powers.

It is surely of the greatest importance at the present time to detach as rapidly as possible the satellites of Germany, the lesser Powers of the Axis, Finland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and one or two others. I am informed that there have been misapprehensions in those countries, very naturally so considering the difficulties they are under and the most powerful and most unscrupulous influence of German propaganda. There have been misunderstandings as to the meaning of what I may call the Casablanca formula of unconditional surrender. Unconditional surrender applied to Hitlerite Germany is acceptable and accepted I believe by all of us. It is quite obvious that it is the only formula that we can put on the table there. But surely there should be some clarification when we come to deal with the situation in what I have called the countries of the satellite Powers of the Axis. The declaration after the Moscow Conference was referred to in terms which I endorse by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. That declaration referred to Austria and contained an invitation to the Austrians to revolt against Nazi Germany. We all hope that they will do so. We have no real quarrel with the majority of the Austrian people and I do not see any reason why we should not allow them to assist us in destroying this menace to civilization of Nazism. But it was not unconditional surrender for Austria and Austria is a part of the Reich, willingly or unwillingly. Surely a similar declaration could be made, perhaps it will be made in the future, with regard to the satellite States. I am not criticizing on this occasion, but I suggest that another declaration should follow with regard to the countries I referred to as satellite States of the Axis. If we could induce those satellite States to withdraw from this war it would undoubtedly have a great effect in hastening the end of the war and saving further bloodshed and destruction.

No one knows better than the noble Viscount the Leader of the House how necessary it is for the sake of Europe to shorten the war before the whole structure of civilization in that Continent is destroyed. The effect of our landing and success in Sicily was far more important than the mere military results. It was one of the causes of the downfall of Fascism and the withdrawal of Italy from the war. If we could, by any means, hasten the withdrawal of the satellite Powers of the Axis, from Finland to the Black Sea, every one of your Lordships knows quite well that that would be not only a military victory of great importance, but a political victory of even greater importance. I do not know if the noble Viscount has direct responsibility for political warfare—I presume he has a say in it—but I hope this particular aspect is being attended to and that the bare formula of unconditional surrender, laid down for Hitlerite Germany at Casablanca, will be clarified and explained with reference to the satellite Powers of the Axis.

My Lords, I think the task that remains to me this afternoon is a comparatively light one. The debate has shown a very general measure of agreement about the progress of events and a warm welcome for the further steps taken at Teheran and Cairo. There are one or two points which have been raised about which I may say a few words. First of all there were the remarks of the most reverend Primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think we shall all be in agreement with almost everything he said. In the course of his speech His Grace made some definite points. He said it was desirable to make clear to the peoples of Europe what were the aims of the United Nations. My Lords, that was one of the purposes of the Atlantic Charter and of the Four-Power Pact. I have no doubt that it will be possible later, as we progress, to clarify more and more how these documents should be interpreted in practice. But I do not think it would be helpful if we all tried unilaterally to do that. Everyone would give slightly different interpretations, and that could only cause confusion. Hut broadly speaking, of course, it is right that we should let the people of Europe know as far as possible what is our aim for the post-war period.

The second point the most reverend Primate made concerned the proper function of power, and I was delighted to find that on that point, too, he and the Government are in exact agreement. If the most reverend Primate had been here on Tuesday he would have listened to a debate on a Motion by the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, who raised exactly this point. Lord Darnley does not approve of power in any circumstances and it fell to me, on behalf of the Government, to reply to him. I should like to be allowed to quote a few sentences from what I said on that occasion. I said:
"Let us recognize that mankind is not perfect. There will always be bad men and ambitious men in this world and we must take all steps necessary to restrain their ambition. That is not power politics. Power politics is the domination of the weak by the strong. This that we propose is the protection of the weak from the strong, and its object is justice to all alike. It is the preservation of all those things which are comprehended in what we means by the word 'civilization'."
That is almost exactly the point of view expressed by the most reverend Primate this afternoon.

He said there was a certain scepticism in Europe as to whether we should put these fine ideas into practice. This is natural. We failed before the war. But I think we are all determined that that shall not happen again. It is, however, necessary that it should be made clear to the British people that that involves sacrifices on their part. One of the main reasons for the failure of the League of Nations, as I think my noble relative Viscount Cecil of Chelwood said recently, was that the nation was not told what the League entailed, that it meant large armaments, great sacrifices—perhaps the postponement of improvements in Social Services—in order to maintain peace. They must not fall into that illusion this time. Whatever sacrifices are necessary to maintain peace must be made by all. And what I say about this country applies also to every other country. One further point was made by the most reverend Primate. He said that nothing was more important, as I understood him, than that we should modify any excess of nationality.

Of nationalism. We shall all agree with him in that. A sense of nationality in itself is not a bad thing. It is a form of local patriotism which is helpful in maintaining people's esprit de corps, their pride in themselves and their country and so on. We know it best on a very small scale in the type of patriotism which exists in the English counties. The people of Sussex think they are better than the people of Kent and the people of Hampshire think they are better than the people of Sussex. But that does not lead the people of Hampshire to build up tariff walls against the people of Sussex. That seems to me to be a microcosm of what we must hope the new world may eventually become, though the peoples of Europe alas are very far from it to-day owing to their tragic experiences and their heritage from the past.

Now I come to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, and I think also by the noble Lord, Lord Addison. Lord Mottistone said, as I understood, that there was a dangerous impression getting about that our strategy was becoming too rigid, as it did in the last war. And he emphasized the importance of keeping strategy supple. The same point was made in another form by Lord Addison. I hope that noble Lords will not expect too much elasticity in strategy. I was a little alarmed by the one example which Lord Addison gave, the example of Rhodes. He asked: "Why did we not switch our attack to Rhodes?" The reason was that Rhodes was held by 30,000 men fully armed and it would have needed an elaborately mounted amphibious expedition: and a fully mounted amphibious expedition under conditions of modern warfare is a very formidable operation. It means that landing craft have to be assembled, tanks, guns, and every form of mechanized armaments taken across the sea and landed on a defended beach. I do not say that is an impossible thing to do, but it is not a thing one can do by merely pressing a button.

Therefore, when we talk about making strategy elastic we must recognize that it cannot be elastic beyond a certain point. We must remember also that the experience of Germany in this war might seem to lead to the opposite conclusion. The prepared strategy of Germany was probably first an attack on Poland, then an attack on Norway, then an attack on Belgium and Holland, and finally an attack on France to be completed by an attack on England. Later in the day—at least, so it would appear—it was decided to switch the attack from England to Russia. That was probably the greatest mistake ever made by any great nation in the history of the world. I do not say that is necessarily an argument for rigid strategy but it is certainly not an argument for perpetually changing strategy.

It was very much easier for Napoleon to switch his strategy than it is for us, because war has now become such an elaborately mechanized operation. You cannot switch about as you used to be able to do when you were only concerned with men and horses. I am not arguing against supple strategy, I am only trying to make it clear that we cannot say that strategy should always be supple in all circumstances. But broadly speaking, we should no doubt all agree that strategy must not be too rigid. To have a strategy that could not be altered by any circumstance, would be a counsel of despair. I do not however think your Lordships need fear a too rigid strategy in the present case. After all, to review our plans is one of the main objects of the type of Conferences that have just been taking place and have taken place, at intervals, since 1941. Why did the Prime Minister go to Quebec except to discuss the situation which had then been reached and to see whether alterations of strategy were necessary? Why did he go to Teheran six months later except to review the situation which had then developed and to see whether further modifications were required? This is one of the main objects of all these Conferences, and I can assure noble Lords that that kind of procedure will be followed in the future, though whether it will always be the Heads of Governments who will take part in the Conferences I am most doubtful. Meetings of Heads of Governments are not possible very often. But there will be exchanges of views between the Staffs. Of that the House may be quite certain.

Finally, there was one point made I think by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, about political warfare. He raised again the hare which he has raised before about "unconditional surrender." I really do not think there is any misunderstanding now about the nature of unconditional surrender. I thought that I had made it absolutely clear myself in this House. Unconditional surrender does not mean that there are no conditions; it means that we impose conditions and the enemy accept those conditions. The nature of those conditions and the degree of their severity is a matter for the United Nations to decide. No doubt that must depend to a certain extent on the behaviour of the nations concerned. For us now at this late hour, at this late stage of the war, to depart from the policy of unconditional surrender would surely be absolutely impossible. I do not believe that it would have any advantage so far as the Axis satellites are concerned, and I feel certain that it would strike terror and despair into the hearts of all our friends in Europe. I cannot therefore agree that we should alter our policy in this matter; but I hope that Lord Strabolgi will find that as now interpreted it is not quite so unacceptable as he feared.

That, I think, is all I have to say to-day. On the whole, I think the debate has been extremely useful. It has helped to clarify our minds as to the events of recent weeks, and it has shown—what we cannot show too often—the essential unity of all Parties in this country with regard to the war. I believe that we can go away for Christmas with the knowledge that things are moving in the right direction, and with the confident hope that if we all play our parts and in no way relax our efforts 1944 will take us far along the road to victory.

My Lords, I do not think it is necessary for me to do more than to express my appreciation of the reply of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, and to state that I—and also, I think, my noble friend Lord Mottistone—have derived satisfaction from the fact that we have been enabled to call attention to the dangers inherent in inelasticity of plans. We fully recognize of course that you cannot do the impossible. All we have been pleading for is a sufficient elasticity in our plans to enable us to take the fullest possible advantage of any mistakes or oversights on the part of our opponents. I am not for one moment suggesting that the requisite elasticity is not provided for by the means that the noble Leader has described. We, on these Benches, would all wish most heartily to associate ourselves with the concluding sentences of the noble Leader's speech, especially with what he has said about Christmas and our hopes for 1944. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.