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Lords Chamber

Volume 138: debated on Wednesday 28 November 1945

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House Of Lords

Wednesday, 28th November, 1945.

The House met at half-past two of the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR On the Woolsack.


The Earl Of Strathmore And Kinghorne

Patrick, Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne—Was (in the usual manner) introduced by virtue of Letters Patent dated the first day of June, 1937, his father the first Earl (Earl Strathmore and King-home in the Peerage of Scotland) never having taken his seat as Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Lord Chorley

Robert Samuel Theodore Chorley, Esquire, having been created Baron Chorley of Kendal in the County of Westmorland—Was (in the usual manner) introduced.

Gas Workers' Strike

2.46 p.m.

My Lords, I should like to ask the Leader of the House a private notice question of which I gave him notice yesterday—namely, whether His Majesty's Government propose to take steps against the leaders of the recent gas strike under Section four of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875, under which men engaged in the supply of water and gas who break a contract of service so as to endanger supplies are guilty of misdemeanour under that Act and liable to punishments specified therein.

My Lords, I am surprised that the noble Lord should misuse the usual practice of this House by putting a private notice question, in present circumstances, in this form, notwith standing that I pointed that out to him by letter. I received notice of this only last night. I have had no opportunity of consulting the Minister on the matter, and I have no statement to make.

My Lords, while thanking the noble Viscount for his courteous reply, may I say that I did give him notice last night, and that I do not see why I should come under his lash as regards abuse of procedure as what I am doing is perfectly within the practice in this House? I thank him for his answer and I hope we may have further information on this subject in this House or in another place in the not distant future.

The International Situation

2.48 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved yesterday by Viscount Cranborne—namely, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to recent developments in the international situation, and to statements by His Majesty's Government thereon.

My Lords, I feel sure that all your Lordships who were privileged to hear yesterday's debate will be grateful to the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, for putting this Motion down and that you will be especially grateful to him both for the manner and the matter of the speech which he made. With that speech I find myself almost entirely in agreement and it is very satisfactory to think that, although there are many topics which divide this House and afford ample opportunities for the cut and thrust of debate and vigorous Party differences, it is obvious that in the case of the noble Viscount's Motion, this is not one of those topics. His speech was followed by a series of other speeches almost all of which, I think, underlined the gravity of the present situation, and almost all of which gave vent to a sense, I will not say of gloom, but of the anxiety with which we view the present development. The most reverend Primate went so far as to say that he viewed the future with terror, but I am sure that if he were here he would have added that, although he viewed it with terror, he also viewed it with hope; because everything now depends on whether the nations of the world can find the right road and progress along the right road.

I remember reading somewhere a description of a completely ignorant person who had seen the eclipse of the sun for the first time. As he saw the shadow going over the sun, he experienced a sense of terror, and he experienced, at the same time, a sense of powerless inability to do anything. Had he had more knowledge, of course, he would have realized that soon the shadow would pass, and once more he would see the sun to which he was accustomed. So may it be with us and our present troubles. But I agree with the analysis which the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition gave us yesterday. I think there is a feeling of disquietude, a feeling of anxiety, and that it is due to the two causes the noble Viscount enunciated: first, the discovery of atomic power; and, secondly, what he described as the miasma of suspicion which, unfortunately, prevails in some quarters to-clay. He said—and here I agree with him—that, of those two problems, the second is the more important. If we could but: remove that suspicion which exists to-day, the suspicion, which, I suppose, has its roots in history, then, indeed, the prospect would be very much brighter than in fact it is.

So far as the release of energy is concerned, that is, of course, a highly scientific subject on which I am unqualified to express an opinion, but, as a layman, if I understand aright, scientists have discovered from certain atoms how to release energy which, in this case, takes the form of heat. Of course, it may be possible in the future to control the amount of energy released, in which case you may be able to use this power for benevolent purposes; but unless and until you can control the amount of energy released, it is obviously liable to be used for explosive purposes. Though I speak as a novice, I should apprehend that it is very difficult to dissociate the two purposes and difficult to conceive a state of affairs in which mankind has got so far that it is able to control the amount of energy released without, at the same time, having the power to use the energy for malevolent and not for benevolent purposes. This new potential is therefore obviously one which can be used for good or for ill, and the real problem which confronts the nations of the world to-day is what steps can we take so as to confine the use of this energy for what I have described as the benevolent purpose. We believe that this is a problem for the United Nations, and we have suggested that a Commission, under the auspices of the United Nations, be set up to prepare recommendations to the Organization. I need hardly say that the willing and complete co-operation of Russia will be necessary for any such project. We have suggested that the Commission might, in the first place, devote its attention to the wide exchange of scientists and scientific information, and, secondly, to the development of full knowledge concerning the sources of the raw materials.

But I find myself in complete agreement with the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition in saying that what is necessary, beyond everything else, is the growth of confidence. You cannot make up for the growth of confidence by paper pacts. That is not the way to do it. The noble Viscount gave us a useful warning against the use of long words ending in "ion." Nothing can be achieved unless the nations of the world are prepared to collaborate with each other in full and willing confidence. In that connexion, let me say something about two suggestions which have been made. The noble Viscount himself suggested that it might be well to consider a scheme whereby we should alter the present voting system—the imperfection of which I do not hesitate to say I readily recognize—to something more nearly perfect in return for a concession by ourselves that we should reveal the full secrets—if there are secrets —or the full, what is called the "know how," in regard to the atomic bomb. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, suggested that if we did not do that, at any rate we should make it plain to everyone that this country would, under no circumstances, use the power of veto.

These suggestions, coming from such quarters, obviously cannot be lightly disposed of, vet I venture to think that we may be making a mistake if we go at this too quickly. After all, it is common knowledge that we had the very greatest difficulty in getting the Charter and the veto arrangements, imperfect though they are. It is common knowledge to your Lordships that every single word was carefully weighed. We have now obtained the agreement and the ink on it is hardly dry. The organs of the United Nations have not yet started to operate. Had we not better start with what we have got, and try to develop confidence so that something better may come, rather than to suggest these alterations at the very outset? Where you have had a hard deal and you find it difficult to reach agreement, is it desirable, when you have reached agreement, at almost your first meeting to suggest—no doubt for very good reasons—that the agreement come to shall be altered? Is it not wiser to stick to that agreement for the time being and let the nations work together in confidence so that in the near future they may be able to develop something which is better than the imperfect organization we have to-day?

I hope that as file confidence of the member States increases in efficacy so the organization itself will correspondingly increase in efficacy. That leads us to the problem, to which there is no short cut, of how to increase confidence among the nations of the world. Various suggestions have been made. A greater exchange of information is obviously something that would lead, and lead rapidly, in that direction. Understanding of each other's point of view, after all, can only come from a greater knowledge of each other's problems. One noble Lord referred to the Nuremberg trials. That is a most interesting essay in new international collaboration. It is satisfactory to think that all the Powers concerned there were able to agree among themselves upon a Charter, and were able to settle, notwithstanding the differences of their legal systems, a form of trial which, so far as those of us who have not yet been there can see, seems to have been conducted with the dignity of an English trial and, at the same time, to be revealing most formidable facts. I would like here to express a debt of thanks which I feel to the Americans for the immense trouble they have taken to marshal the facts and put together all the necessary information. It is, as the noble Lord pointed out yesterday, the first time that the nations of the world have assembled together to try people for the crime—which is now recognized to be a crime—of instituting an aggressive war.

The growth of confidence is essential. I hope it can be helped by visits — Parliamentary visits, trade union visits, visits of all types and conditions of people. I welcome such incidents as the Dynamo football team coming over here. I have always been very keen on the idea of the interchange of children. I believe it is often said that the British Tommy is the best ambassador we have ever had. I am not sure that the British child may not be an even better ambassador, and certainly with regard to some countries—with regard to France, our near neighbour—I very much hope that a scheme for the interchange of children, so as to get over the language difficulty, will be evolved in the future. Speaking of the language difficulty, it is satisfactory to learn that in the Russian schools English has replaced German as the second language. I very much wish that more children in our schools could learn the Russian language and thus open to themselves the storehouse of one of the greatest literatures of the world.

The Leader of the Opposition said that he wanted to encourage more meetings of Foreign Ministers, and that it was desirable, from time to time, to have these meetings, even though they might not be successful. Up to a point, I agree. It may be a good thing that the air should be cleared, even though you cannot reach agreement. But I do not want to see a succession of meetings of Foreign Ministers which do not end in agreement. I do not want, as it were, to institute the habit of disagreement. My own view is that many of these International Conferences depend upon the spade-work which is done beforehand, and I am sure that at the appropriate time, whenever it is considered that that time has come, we shall be very willing and ready to resume at the point at which we left off.

Your Lordships did not conduct what is called a political travelogue through Europe and Asia, but I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Hutchison, certain specific questions with which I should like to deal. He asked me to say something about France. I am sure I speak for all of us in this country when I say what a close feeling we have in our hearts for France. After all, just think what humanity owes to France, for its literature, for its music, for its art, and for its knowledge of the art of life and the art of living. The debt civilization, and this country in particular, owes to its near neighbour is immense, and therefore we all rejoice to see that France is, I hope, in a fair way of getting out of her political difficulties and of constituting a strong Government which will bring her into happier times than she has gone through in the past.

Our friendship for France—and when I say France I mean also our other near neighbours—does not imply any lack of friendship for anybody else. We have—we inevitably have—the closest historical and cultural relations with France, with the Low Countries and with our near neighbours, but the idea of a Western bloc, which rather connotes some other kind of bloc—an Eastern bloc—is not one which finds favour with us at all. We have put our trust not in a bloc but in the United Nations, to which all blocs belong. If I were asked to express sympathy with France, I would say this. We shall always feel the keenest and deepest sympathy with France, and we shall endeavour in everything we do to remove every possible source of disagreement between ourselves and the French, so that we may work together in the future as we have worked in times past.

Then the noble Lord asked me to say something about Greece. This is, of course, a more controversial issue. Unfortunately, the institutional question, the question of the monarchy in Greece, hr. been the bane of Greek politics for many years past. If only all monarchies could be like our own monarchy, if only all monarchs were constitutional monarchs, then problems like this would never arise, for I cannot imagine any sensible, intelligent person who would be willing to alter our system for any other system in the world. But I suppose our system is one which only comes by growth, and it is difficult to implant. It is a fact, regrettable though it may be, that this question of the monarchy in Greece has been a serious bone of contention for many years past.

Now what happened? The Regent of Greece—and may I say, speaking on behalf of His Majesty's Government, how glad we are to see that His Beatitude has withdrawn his resignation and is taking the courageous and difficult course of going on?—suggested that this question be postponed until 1948; and surely there was every reason why it should be postponed. Let us look at the situation to-day. Here you have a country which has only just recovered, if indeed it has recovered, from a terrible civil war. You have a country whose communications have broken down. There are the hardships of lack of food, lack of shelter, and lack of clothing, which are still being most acutely felt. You have the problem of the fantastic rise in the drachma exchange. You have all those things. Is this the moment at which to embark upon the determination of a long-term problem? No. Surely the task before the Greek statesmen today is this: to act like a Caretaker Government, to try to get their economy going again, to try to get the simple things people want—food, shelter, communications, and so on—and then, when those primary necessities have been satisfied, when law and order has been re-established, when civil war has faded into a far distant past, to put the matter to the test. This is a matter upon which we have no desire whatever to dictate. It is one for the Greek people to decide for themselves, and to decide for themselves, I pray God and so do all your Lordships, without a further outbreak of civil disturbance.

I was asked another question by the noble Lord with regard to the Nile Valley, I assume his remarks to have been promoted by the recent demands, voiced in both official and unofficial circles in Egypt, for the withdrawal of foreign troops from that country and for the unity of the Nile Valley. I can only at this moment repeat what has been recently said in another place—namely, that His Majesty's Government are ready at the right time to approach these questions with the same friendliness and appreciation of our mutual interests as have animated the utterance in which these demands have been made, but I can also repeat that we have no wish to dominate Egypt. We wish to develop mutual understanding with her and the other Middle East States on a basis of partnership, and we wish to collaborate with Egypt to the best of our ability in a programme of social advancement in the interests of the whole Egyptian population.

I conclude with this reflection. I think that not the least of the lessons one can learn from political life is that the growth of institutions depends on the confidence that is placed in them. Some of our most cherished institutions were regarded with great suspicion when they first ap- peared. Cabinet government was considered the mere development of a cabal; the idea of a Prime Minister, any Prime Minister, was regarded with horror; but eventually with experience came confidence and we now regard both the Cabinet and the Prime Minister as indispensable instruments of our democracy. So, I believe, it will be with international institutions. If we can establish confidence in the United Nations Organization it will develop and grow in a way in which we, at the present time, can hardly imagine. The way to show confidence in the institution is, of course, first to show confidence in one another. As the Foreign Secretary said, let us put all our cards on the table, face upwards. He is only following one of the maxims of the Iron Duke, who said:
"With nations, depend upon it, the only way is to go straight forward without stratagems or' subterfuges."
If this wise maxim is made the motto of statesmen to-day, the United Nations Organization will be able to develop itself as the centre of the international life of the world; and, if that takes place, some recent fervently expressed wishes for its progress may be realized far sooner than some of us to-day expect.

3.13 p.m.

My Lords, the Lord Chancellor has added another speech to the long list of impressive speeches which has characterized this debate. Speech after speech has shown a fact which must be very satisfactory to the members of the Government, and indeed to every British citizen—namely, that in this crisis in the world's history there are no Party issues compromising the foreign policy of the nation. If I do not follow the Lord Chancellor in detail along the lines he has sketched to-day, it is not that I disagree with him (although I might enter a caveat as to the danger of postponing plebiscites); it is rather because I find myself in general agreement with -the main theme of his speech and because I feel I can best serve the convenience of this House if I deal with certain other phases of the foreign policies of the world which have not yet been covered in detail in this debate.

When we look at Europe we cannot but be struck with an amazing and depressing contrast. On the one hand, we see the great progress that has been made under the stress of war in large-scale production, in technical development of every kind, in transport and in scientific invention and discovery; we see the success with which the Allies dealt with the great problems connected with the organization, the feeding and the transport of multitudes of men and women. On the other hand, we see Europe suffering to-day as the Continent has never suffered before, even at the end of the thirty years' war; we see Europe suffering from just those calamities and dangers which our great war organizations were so successful in averting. What a subject for a satire upon the vanity of human wishes! What a subject for a new Voltaire to write an up-to-date Candide!

The problem for the leaders of the world to-day is somehow or other to make a contact between the great resources that are still available in the world and the sufferings which the world in general, and Europe in particular, are undergoing to-day. Do not let us assume for a moment that it is inevitable that millions of men and women should die this winter in Europe. I have done what I can to study the actual position. I believe my: self that there is enough food in the world to avert a calamity. I believe there is a sufficiency of wheat. I believe that although meat is scarce there yet is a certain standard of meat that could, at any rate, mitigate the sufferings of the Continent. I believe there is a sufficiency of sugar. And I believe that there is a much greater quantity of transport than is at present available for the needs of Europe but that an unnecessary amount is held up by the inflated Armies that are at present covering the Continent. I believe, further, that although there has been very great damage to the factories of Europe there is still a sufficiency of plant in areas like Northern Italy, Belgium and Scandinavia, the production of which could go far towards averting the calamity with which Europe is faced.

What, then, are the reasons why we cannot mobilize these potential resources of the world and avert perhaps the most terrible calamity that in modern history has ever threatened Europe? I suggest there are two reasons. I suggest that the first reason is the extreme lengths to which nationalist feeling has gone on the Continent. I suggest that the second reason is Russian suspicion, a subject to which every speaker so far in the debate has alluded. Let me say a word or two about both those reasons; first of all about the extreme lengths to which nationalism has now gone in Europe. It is nationalism in this extreme form that is responsible for one of the greatest misfortunes that is at present threatening Europe: the huge displacement of men, women and children. I have discussed this question with more than one of the experts who are dealing at first hand with the problem of displaced persons. They tell me that at this present moment there are upon the Continent no fewer than 30,000,000 people either wandering about without homes or in camps awaiting to know what their destinations may be. I need not linger upon the theme of the terrible suffering that those figures involve. In no way would it be possible to show more clearly the evil which this extreme form of nationalism is at present inflicting upon Europe. How profoundly and sincerely I echo Mr. Bevin's words in another place, and how profoundly I pray that a new order will curb this barbarism and enable once again the fundamental rights and human liberties of European citizens to be respected!

I come now to the other reason which I suggested to the House, the reason of Russian suspicion. Like other speakers, I do not intend to go into the history of the reasons for its existence, nor do I wish to say a word that will make Russian co-operation with ourselves more difficult. I believe as sincerely as any noble Lord that the future of Europe depends on the closest co-operation between the great European Powers. Unfortunately, however, there is the fact that what amounts to an Eastern bloc has been created in Europe. As long as these divisions persist, as long as across the Continent of Europe there is this iron eurtain, there can in my view be no hope for the complete recovery of Europe. The complete recovery of Europe depends upon the unity of Europe. Somehow or other, the problem of the next generation is to gather up these fragments into which European civilization has now fallen, and to re-create—I say "recreate," because there was a time when to all intents and purposes it existed—the unity of Europe. The essence of European recovery is European unity.

What are we to do in the face of these two obstacles? Shall we do nothing? Shall we succumb to the temptation of saying that these problems are insoluble, that Europe is an impasse filled with mines, and that we should clear out of it? That would mean abdication, and abdication when we are offered one of the greatest opportunities that has ever been given to us. It would be disastrous for our prestige. Our prestige still stands very high in Europe. Moreover—and this is a fact which we are sometimes apt to forget—our prestige is based upon certain very solid factors. Our industrial resources are very great. I have not the knowledge to compare them with what they were at the beginning of the war, but I should say that they would stand the comparison very well. If we take the test of military power, our Air Force is to-day much the greatest European Air Force, and our Navy is more pre-eminent to-day in Europe than it has ever been since the Battle of Trafalgar. In view of those facts, what a, futility it would be if we adopted a policy of abdication and of isolation! Rather, it seems to me, these facts point to our giving an even clearer and bolder lead to Europe than we have been able to give up to the present.

Let me with deference suggest to the House two lines along which I think we should advance. First of all, I think we should persevere in every possible way to foster a spirit of unity and to break down Russian suspicions. I am inclined to think that we should succeed more effectively if we approached the problem more empirically. I do not disagree with what my noble friend Lord Cranborne said about the need for frequent meetings of Foreign Ministers; at the same time, I believe that for this purpose of removing suspicion in the immediate future the best line is to proceed with concrete problems and to advance step by step. I do not know whether your Lordships have read three very interesting articles upon the subject of Germany that have just appeared in The Times. If so, perhaps you have been struck' by the fact that the writer insists upon the urgency of certain problems that effect equally all three zones and that cannot be avoided. There is, for instance, the problem of finance and of the Reichsmark. I quote that as an example of the way in which I would try to break down this wall of suspicion. I would concentrate our efforts upon concrete questions, such as the question of finance, the question of transport and so on, and I would hope to build up a spirit of cooperation not by international agreements from the top but step by step from the bottom

Secondly, I would so administer the zone for which we are responsible as to make it a model of wise and successful administration and of the fullest possible publicity. There have been criticisms during the course of the debate of the secrecy in which are shrouded great parts of the Continent. I would suggest to noble Lords opposite that we should set an example to Europe in giving the greatest possible publicity to what is happening and to what our intentions are in the zone for which we are directly responsible.

Let me finish my argument. I think that the noble Lord will see that there is still a great deal to be done. Fortunately, our zone is one of the key zones of the Continent. It covers, indeed, the most important industrial centre upon the whole Continent. Noble Lords will remember that some weeks ago I ventured to draw the attention of the House to the great potentialities of the Ruhr Rhineland, to the fact that more than half of the hard coal of Europe comes from it, to the fact that almost all coking coal comes from it, to the fact that it produced, in the past, more than half the steel of Europe. I hope that we shall make an intensive effort to obtain from this area the utmost production possible for the purpose of European recovery, by all means with the co-operation —if that be the best way to do it—of other countries, particularly those other countries that in the past have been dependent upon the Ruhr Rhineland. An intensive effort to step up this production for European recovery should, I feel, be made.

It is necessary also that we should have fuller information than is at present at our disposal as to what is actually happening in our zone. I know that our zone is regarded as being better adminis tered than any other zone upon the Continent. I know also that there are a number of officials, military and civil, who are doing a very fine piece of work. I believe, however, that both for the benefit of the British public here and for the purpose of convincing Europe as to our intentions, we need much fuller information than we have at present. Let me suggest to the members of the Government the kind of information that we need. Take first of all information connected with the numbers of the population. What now is the permanent population of our zone? How many refugees have come into it since we took it over? How many displaced persons are in it at the present time? How many refugees are we ready to absorb into it? I ask the last question for this reason. On October 9 the Russian-controlled radio in Berlin announced that already 8,000,000 Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia had come into the Russian zone, and that 4,500,000 more were expected in the immediate future. I do not know whether the Government spokesman could tell me whether those figures are, in our view, correct. In any case, can he tell me how many more he thinks that we can safely absorb into our zone?

I come next to questions connected with production. My information is that Germany needs, for the purpose of maintaining some sort of standard of living—not a high one but a bare standard of existence—6o per cent. of her pre-war production. At the present moment, according to my figures, she is producing 10 per cent. Now the first claims, as noble Lords will remember, upon German production are the needs of the Armies of Occupation. Could the noble Lord who is going to reply confirm those figures, if they are correct? Could he tell me how the population of Germany is going to exist? Field-Marshal Montgomery, the other day, suggested in one of his interviews, that in order that the Germans should live it would be necessary to import large quantities of wheat. Certainly, from what I hear, that seems to be the case. How is this wheat going to be paid for? If it is not paid for by German exports, inevitably it will have to be paid for by the Allies, and we shall be back in the vicious circle in which we found ourselves at the end of the last war, when although it seemed that the Germans were paying for imports into Germany it was really the Americans and ourselves who were doing so.

Lastly, there are the questions inherent in the whole of this problem as to what are our intentions with reference to the future of German industry. We are still existing upon the very vague phrases of the Potsdam Conference. Every day of delay in which we leave this question in doubt adds to the gravity of the European problem. What are our intentions with regard to German industry in our own zone? I am aware that the complete answer to that question depends upon the complete answer to the question of reparations and the general division of surplus German machinery amongst the Allies. I am told, however, that short of these final decisions there are, in our zone, many factories that, whatever may be the decision as to the dismantling of German war industry, will be left in Germany. I desire to impress upon the Government the need for making the fullest use here and now of these factories which are almost certainly going to be left permanently in Germany in future.

Lastly, not only do we need this further information—we are as deeply concerned with this information as we are with any information about our own production in this country—but we need a clear statement of Government policy with reference to the future of our zone. I should like to see the Foreign Secretary make another of those forthright, moving and sincere speeches about our policy towards Germany and particularly about our policy in our own zone. I believe that it would have the best possible effect upon our own administration in the zone. I am told that excellent as our administration is in many ways, it is hesitant and the civil Governors and the other officials do not see clearly where we are going or what they are intended to do. The result is hesitancy, a hesitancy which is very different from the state of affairs in the east of Europe where every official knows exactly which way his Government wishes him to move. I hope very much, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary will find it possible to give a lead not only to our administration but to the whole of Europe to make it clear that we intend to make a great success of our own zone, that we intend to write in our long history a new page of good and suc cessful administration and that, most important of all, we intend to devolve responsibility wherever we can upon the Germans themselves, and to make German self-help one of the principal factors of the problem of European recovery.

3.45 p.m.

My Lords, I should like to submit to your Lordships a certain fundamental bases on which I think our foreign policy ought to be founded, but before doing so I should like to mention a more localized theme. I hope that perhaps the Government spokesman will be able to give me some information with regard to it. I refer to the question of Poland. Your Lordships will no doubt remember that in March this year we had a debate on the Yalta discussions and declarations. According to the agreement reached at Yalta, the provisional Polish Government was to be reorganized and democratic leaders both from inside and outside Poland were to be included in that Government. When the Provisional Government had been formed there were then to be elections by secret ballot and on the basis of universal suffrage. At those elections all Anti-Nazi Parties had the right to put forward their candidates. Many of us thought at that time that His Majesty's Government was undertaking a very serious responsibility and we should be very glad to know how this responsibility has been fulfilled. I read carefully the speech of the Foreign Secretary in another place in which he talked about Poland, but he said nothing about the Yalta decisions, nor did he give any indication of when the elections were to be held, either in the immediate or the more remote future. As ten months have elapsed I hope that we may be told something to allay our anxiety.

To turn to the main subject, it seems to me that our foreign policy should be built around four main pillars with the United Nations Organization forming the roof or the building which would embrace and, indeed, integrate, all four. The first pillar should be the closest co-operation and collaboration with the great selfgoverning Dominions. I need not elaborate that theme. The strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations has been proved (luring two terrible wars and it is quite clear that that pillar, the first pillar, is happily a very solid one. The second pillar is close comradeship with the United States of America. I do not suppose that history has ever recorded anything in the nature of the magnificent team-work which took place during the war between the American Forces and our Forces in all domains, on land, on sea, and in the air, and happily that comradeship and friendship continue in peace. I think that is one of the reasons why we so warmly welcomed the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the United States. That was an admirable sign.

Another development which shows the existence of this collaboration is the establishment of an Anglo-American Commission to examine and report on that most difficult problem, the future of Jews in Central Europe and parts of Eastern Europe and, above all, on the question of Palestine. I earnestly trust that that Commission will set to work at the earliest possible date. We on these Benches warmly welcome its appointment, and we hope that extremists of both sides will allow the Commission to work, if not in a peaceful atmosphere, at least in one which is free from strife. Of one thing I am certain. The overwhelming majority of Jews all over the world and their friends detest all these acts of violence which are going on in Palestine today.

Therefore I feel that the second pillar —Anglo-American friendship—is also a sound one, and I now come to the third, which, unfortunately, does not seem to be so firmly constructed as we would all wish it to be. That pillar is our Alliance with the Soviet Republics. It is essential, both for the peace of Europe and for the world, that the terms of that Alliance should be scrupulously fulfilled. The Alliance ought to be a working partnership and, surely, the essence of a partnership is that the partners should trust each other. We are told that the Soviet Government are suspicious of our intentions and are anxious about their own security. Your Lordships know that there is not one person in mow, nay, in 100,000, in this country with the slightest idea of aggression against the Soviet Republics. As for Russian security, what is the position? The Soviet Union the only one of the great Powers which has acquired a large amount of territory through the war. I am not criticizing in any way. I have always felt very strongly about the Curzon Line. She has acquired territory east of the Curzon Line and absorbed Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. That is simply a statement of fact. Then there are the neighbouring States, which have certainly got friendly Governments—perhaps more than friendly Governments—Rumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Poland.

It seems to me, therefore, that the security is really adequate, and I think the Foreign Secretary was perfectly entitled to say: "What more do you want?" "Because," he added, "if you do want more, I am perfectly willing to discuss it." It is true that all the old ideas of security have been completely shattered by the invention of the atomic bomb, and before I finish I should like to say a few words on that particular point. One thing is clear: all of us in this House hope that the suspicions that still exist will be dispelled; and I am certain—and was glad to hear it stated yesterday—that His Majesty's Government are doing, and will do, their utmost towards that end. Therefore, the third pillar, as I have said, still requires a certain amount of consolidation.

The fourth pillar is not vet altogether complete. I feel that that pillar should be a good and close understanding with France and with the small Western democracies. We must have an intimate association with France. Our ideas about Christian civilization, about freedom, about democracy and about human individual liberties are largely the same. We need France, and France needs us. I should like to see the closest economic and cultural ties between ourselves, France, the Low Countries and the Scandinavian countries. On the political side I venture to suggest that we might conclude with France an alliance on the same lines—not going at all beyond—as that with the Soviet Republics. I think that would be adequate, and such a treaty might be open to the smaller Western democracies. I do not think that would be forming a Western bloc, and it certainly would not be contrary to the spirit of the United Nations. We do not give up our AngloRussian Alliance because of our agreements with the United Nations association.

It may be said that such an arrangement would run contrary to the idea of a European federation. I do not think so, hut, in any case, I would like to suggest to those noble Lords who favour a European federation that they should go slowly; and' here I speak from experience. I remember the federation of Europe proposed by M. Briand, and the very enthusiastic welcome it received from the members of the League of Nations. A Constitution was drawn up, and I had the honour to be elected secretary. We held a first meeting and there were only two questions of minor importance on the agenda. We held a second meeting and there was nothing at all on the agenda. What we found was that any question of major European importance really concerns the world as a whole, and I think that was the reason why the Briand scheme, failed. Of course, it is true that there are certain subjects which are mainly of European concern, such as the navigation of the Rhine and the Danube, and rail transport, but I believe those subjects can be better treated by European committees or sub-committees of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations than by dealing with Europe as a self-contained unit.

Perhaps this is the place to say one word about the suggestion made by the Foreign Secretary, and supported very strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, for a World Assembly elected, I think it was suggested, by the peoples of each of the countries constituting the United Nations. Noble Lords have pointed out difficulties in connexion with the question of elections, but, apart from those, there; is another point which I should like to submit. Surely, it is the Assembly of the United Nations which should form this World Organ, and if you superimpose, as it were, another organization, you will have all sorts of confusion and a conflict of jurisdictions. That is a very serious danger, and would you not diminish the value and power of the Assembly of the United Nations to which we all sincerely wish success?

I have tried to give an outline of the framework of our foreign policy as I see it. I would like to conclude with a short consideration of the results of the discovery of atomic energy and its bearing on the United Nations Organization as set up at San Francisco. It is clear that the discovery of atomic energy and the atomic bomb have made all the old theories of security completely invalid. Strategic frontiers are obsolete; rivers and mountains do not count, and even oceans now become very small obstacles. There are three postulates about atomic energy which seem to be open to little doubt, and I should like the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, to say whether he agrees with me. The first is that in a certain time atomic energy will be applied to industrial purposes. Some scientists—those I have consulted—hold that that will happen within four or five years. The Prime Minister and Mr. Bevin think it will take considerably longer. The second is this. Once atomic energy is applied to industrial purposes, the transformation which will be required for its utilization for warlike purposes will be very slight. The third is that a small country of adequate industrial potentiality will be able to produce atomic energy. If those postulates are correct, it follows that the power relationship between the great and the small Powers largely disappears, because these terrible instruments of destruction which the energy affords will be in the hands of a considerable number of States.

What then are we to do? There seem to me to be two alternatives. The first would be to hope that as the use of the bomb is so catastrophic, nations would not dare to risk its employment, and they would settle all their disputes by pacific means, such as arbitration. I remember many years ago Colonel House telling that in his young days Texas was the most courteous State in the Union. They were very polite. When you went into a saloon you doffed your hat and took great care not to say anything which could be misinterpreted. The reason was that every gentleman in that saloon had at least one gun, was extremely quick on the draw and was an uncommonly good shot. Therefore politeness ensued. I do not know whetner the same thing may not happen among the nations when each of them has the atomic bomb, but I think myself that that is perhaps too big a risk to take, and I would like to fall back on the second alternative.

The antidote to the atomic bomb is the atomic bomb. Therefore, in my view, any nation that used the bomb should be outlawed. That is to say, a nation should know that if it used the bomb, the bomb would be used against it by the United Nations Organization, and it would ultimately be, I will not say annihilated, but terribly punished. Now I would ask your Lordships to note this distinction. I suggest that the nation that uses the bomb should be outlawed, not that the use of the bomb itself should be outlawed. The distinction is a valid one, because the first proposition would be effective, but the second proposition of outlawing a particular weapon of war would not be so. If some such scheme were adopted by the United Nations Organization, then think that the Charter drawn up at San Francisco would require very little change except, I would suggest, in one other important point. I have said that smaller Powers will be in possession of atomic energy. You will therefore ask these Powers to abandon a weapon which, for the first time, brings them up to the potential offensive level of a great Power. If you ask small Powers to make that sacrifice, you ought also to ask the great Powers to make a sacrifice on their part, and I would like to see that sacrifice consist of the abandonment of the veto which weights the Charter very neavily in their favour. The abandonment of the veto has always been a principle of the Liberal Party, which has opposed any idea of such a veto since the San Francisco Charter was promulgated. In my view all these matters should be referred to the Committee of the United Nations Organization which it is proposed to set up.

Perhaps I have dealt with them at rather too great a length, but there is one danger which I earnestly hope may be avoided. Clearly the possession of the atomic bomb to-day gives a country a very great military advantage, even though that advantage is temporary. There will therefore be a temptation to take the view that the knowledge that leads to the making of the atomic bomb should be confined to as few countries as possible. That, to my mind, would be a policy which ultimately could only lead to destruction and disaster. The secret must ultimately be discovered, and we should have competition in the invention of weapons of war always of greater destructive power. That is a prospect which I feel humanity cannot contemplate, and I therefore earnestly trust that the United Nations as a whole will deal with this question of atomic energy at the very earliest possible moment.

4.8 p.m.

My Lords, it is with very great diffidence that I rise to address you, both because I have only once before addressed your Lordships' House and because, after listening to the debate yesterday and to-day, I feel that other speakers have ten times the political knowledge and twenty times the experience that has fallen to my lot, and that it is an impertinence for me to say anything at all. At the same time, the subject to which I. wish to confine my remarks—namely, the atomic bomb and its bearing on policy—is so important and weighs so heavily upon my mind that I feel almost bound to say something about what it means for the future of mankind.

I should like to begin with just a few technical points which I think are familiar to everybody. The first is that the atomic bomb is, of course, in its infancy, and is quite certain very quickly to become both much more destructive and very much cheaper to produce. Both those points I think we may take as certain. Then there is another point which was raised by Professor oliphant, and that is that it will be not very difficult to spray a countryside with radio-active products which will kill every living thing throughout a wide area, not only human beings but every insect, every sort of thing that lives. And there is a further point which perhaps relates to the somewhat more distant future. As your Lordships know, there are in theory two ways of tapping nuclear energy. One is the way which has now been made practicable, by breaking up a heavy nucleus into nuclei of medium weight. The other is the way which has not yet been made practicable, but which, I think, will be in time, namely, the synthesizing of hydrogen atoms to make heavier atoms, helium atoms or perhaps, in the first instance, nitrogen atoms. In the course of that synthesis, if it can be effected, there will be a very much greater release of energy than there is in the disintegration of uranium atoms. At present this process has never been observed but it is held that it occurs in the sun and in the interior of other stars. It only occurs in nature at temperatures comparable to those you get in the inside of the sun. The present atomic bomb in exploding produces temperatures which are thought to be about those in the inside of the sun. It is therefore possible that some mechanism, analogous to the present atomic bomb, could be used to set off this much more violent explosion which would be obtained if one could synthesize heavier elements out of hydrogen.

All that must take place if our scientific civilization goes on, if it does not bring itself to destruction; all that is bound to happen. We do not want to look at this thing simply from the point of view of the next few years; we want to look at it from the point of view of the future of mankind. The question is a simple one: Is it possible for a scientific society to continue to exist, or must such a society inevitably bring itself to destruction? It is a simple question but a very vital one. I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the gravity of the possibilities of evil that lie in the utilization of atomic energy. As I go about the streets and see St. Paul's, the British Museum, the Houses of Parliament and the other monuments of our civilization, in my mind's eye I see a nightmare vision of those buildings as heaps of rubble with corpses all round them. That is a thing we have got to face, not only in our own country and cities, but throughout the civilized world as a real probability unless the world will agree to find a way of abolishing war. It is not enough to make war rare; great and serious war has got to be abolished, because otherwise these things will happen.

To abolish war is, of course, a very difficult problem. I have no desire to find fault with those who are trying to tackle that problem; I am quite sure I could not do any better. I simply feel that this is a problem that man has got to solve; otherwise man will drop out and the planet will perhaps be happier without us, although we cannot be expected to share that view. I think we have got to find a way of dealing with this. As everybody is aware, the immediate difficulty is to find a way of co-operating with Russia in dealing with it. I think that what the Prime Minister achieved in Washington was probably as much as could, at that time, be achieved. I do not suppose he could have done any better at that time. I am not one of those who favour the unconditional and immediate revelation to Russia of the exact processes by which the bomb is manufactured. I think it is right that conditions should be attached to that revelation, but I make the proviso that the conditions must be solely those which will facilitate international co-operation; they must have a national object of any sort or kind. Neither we nor America must seek any advantage for ourselves, but if we are to give the secret to the Russians it must be on the basis that they are willing to co-operate.

On that basis, I think, it would be right to let them know all about it as soon as possible, partly, of course, on the grounds that the secret is a short-term one. Within a few years the Russians will no doubt have bombs every bit as good as those which are at present being made in the United States; so it is only a question of a very short time during which we have this bargaining point, if it is one. The men of science, as your Lordships know, who have been concerned with the work are all extremely anxious to have the process revealed at once. I do not altogether agree with that, for the reasons I have stated, but I think it can be used as a means of getting a more sincere and a more thorough-going co-operation between ourselves and Russia. I find myself a whole-hearted supporter of the Foreign Secretary in the speeches he has made. I do not believe that the way to secure Russian co-operation is merely to express a desire for it. I think it is absolutely necessary to be firm on what we consider to be vital interests. I think it is more likely that you will get genuine co-operation from a certain firmness rather than merely going to them and begging them to co-operate. I agree entirely with the tone the Foreign Secretary has adopted on those matters.

We must, I think, hope—and I do not think this is a chimerical hope—that the Russian Government can be made to see that the utilization of this means of warfare would mean destruction to themselves as well as to everybody else. We must hope that they can be made to see that this is a universal human interest and not one on which countries are divided. I cannot really doubt that if that were put to them in a convincing manner they would see it. It is not a very difficult thing to see, and I cannot help thinking that they have enough intelligence to see it, provided it is separated from politics and from competition. There is, as everybody repeats, an attitude of suspicion. That attitude of suspicion can only be got over by complete and utter frankness, by stating "There are these things which we consider vital, but on other points we are quite willing that you should stand up for the things you con sider vital. If there is any point on which we clash, which we both consider vital, let us try to find a compromise rather than that each side should annihilate the other, which would not be for the good of anybody." I cannot help thinking that if that were put in a perfectly frank and unpolitical manner to the Russians they would be as capable of seeing it as we are—at least I hope so.

I think one could make some use of the scientists in this matter. They them selves are extremely uneasy, with a very bad conscience about what they have done. They know they had to do it but they do not like it. They would be very thankful if some task could be assigned to them which would somewhat mitigate the disaster that threatens mankind. I think they might be perhaps better able to persuade the Russians than those of us who are more in the game; they could, at any rate, confer with Russian scientists and perhaps get an entry that way towards genuine co-operation. We have, I think, some time ahead of us. The world at the moment is in a war-weary mood, and I do not think it is unduly optimistic to suppose there will not be a great war within the next ten years. Therefore we have some time during which we can generate the necessary genuine mutual understanding.

There is one difficulty that I think is not always sufficiently understood on our side, and that is that the Russians always feel—and feel, as it appears, rightly—that in any conflict of interests there will be Russians on one side and everybody else on the other. They felt that over the Big Three versus the Big Five question; it was Russia on one side and either two or four on the other. When people have that feeling, you have, I suppose, to be somewhat tender in bargaining with them and certainly not expect them to submit to a majority. You cannot expect that, when they feel that it is themselves against the field. There will no doubt have to be a good deal of tact employed during the coming years to bring about continuing international co-operation.

I do not see any advantage in the proposal which is before the world of making the United Nations the repository. I do not think that there is very much hope in that, because the United Nations, at any rate at present, are not a strong, military body, capable of waging war against a great Power; and whoever is ultimately to be the possessor of the atomic bomb will have to be strong enough to fight a great Power. Until you can create an international organization of that sort, you will not be secure. I do not think that there is any use whatever in paper prohibitions, either of the use or of the manufacture of bombs, because you cannot enforce them, and the penalty for obeying such a prohibition is greater than the penalty for infringing it, if you are really thinking of war. I do not think, therefore, that these paper arrangements have any force in them at all.

You have first to create the will to have international control over this weapon, and, when that exists, it will be easy to manufacture the machinery. Moreover, once that machinery exists, once you have an international body which is strong and which is the sole repository of the use of atomic energy, that will be a self-perpetuating system. It will really prevent great wars. Habits of political action will grow up about it, and we may seriously hope that war will disappear from the world. That is, of course, a very large order; but this is what we all have to face: either war stops or else the whole of civilized mankind stops, and you are left with mere remnants, a few people in outlying districts, too unscientific to manufacture these instruments of destructions. The only people who will be too unscientific to do that will be people who have lost all the traditions of civilization, and that is a disaster so grave that I think that all the civilized nations of the world ought to realize it. I think they probably can be brought to realize it before it is too late. At any rate I most profoundly hope so.

4.24 p.m.

My Lords, it is my priviledge to congratulate the noble Earl who, although he has addressed us before, has not addressed us for so long that his remarks to-day may be treated as a maiden speech. His knowledge and experience and the originality of his approach to the subject are very welcome to us all, and we shall all hope to hear him on many occasions in future.

I think that those who have listened to the debate in this House, including those who have listened to the noble Earl who has just spoken, must be convinced that there is no complete answer to the atomic bomb and to the perils of the release of nuclear energy other than the abolition of war. At the same time, those who have studied this question of abolishing war, which has been discussed during the lifetime of most of us, are well aware that no problem is so complex and difficult; and, if we are going to wait until that is achieved, we may find that some catastrophe will take place before it is achieved. Accordingly, it is our duty to do our very best, with such power of speech as we have, to find a remedy which is a partial remedy for the great risk that lies before us. Treaties and pacts, as we all know, can be treated as scraps of paper. I very much doubt whether any treaty or pact, without certain measures of another kind, will be any good at all so far as this question of atomic energy is concerned.

Before adding the few remarks which I propose to make, I should like to say that it seems to me impossible to take any measures to protect us from all possible scientific inventions in the future. We can deal only with the secrets of whose existence we know, secrets which have been recently in large measure revealed. I doubt very much whether anything that I can say could help us in the possible event of the use of hydrogen atoms in the creation of energy far exceeding that which comes from the use of uranium. I think, however, that something can be done with regard to the only immediate danger, the danger from the atomic bomb. I agree with two of your Lordships who have already spoken on that subject, and in particular with my noble friend Lord Perth. I agree that in a sense, and with a little explanation, it is possible to accept the statement that the bomb should be outlawed, or at least that the user of the bomb should be outlawed. I believe that that must be the basis of any immediate action which may be taken to protect us from a terrible danger.

For my part, although I know much less about this than do my noble friends Lord Russell and Lord Cherwell, I draw a distinction between the use of atomic energy for industrial and scientific purposes generally and the use of atomic energy in a bomb. You cannot make a bomb by mistake; you must know what you are about. You have to make a most ingenious instrument, with a fuse which has been the subject of most exhaustive inquiries in New Mexico. I cannot help thinking that, unless I am wrong in that, it would be sufficient to say that atomic energy is not to be used for the making of a bomb, and that he who makes or procures a bomb for obviously aggressive purposes of some kind or another should, subject to an exception which I shall mention later, be outlawed and subjected to the severest measures which the civilized world can take against: him.

My proposal is no more than that which has already been intimated, but put in legal language. The atomic bomb should be placed in the hands of trustees for humanity. It may be a single nation, such as the United States of America, or it may be a Council of the United Nations, there again with a qualification which I propose to make; because the only answer to the atomic bomb is the answer of reprisal. No other has been even hinted at by any scientist of authority. The reprisal must be in the hands of people who may be described as the trustee or trustees for the use of the bomb. That means, as has already been said, that the answer to the bomb is the bomb. But it does not follow from that that it would be safe to allow all the nations to possess bombs. I think that that would be a terrible danger. A much simpler method is possible. Europe has had such a terrible experience during the last thirty years of a nation which produced dictators to whom ordinary ideas of humanity were alien, who have thought nothing of using such powers as they had to destroy nations, to kill millions of people, that I do not think it can be a reasonable course to take to assume that we shall never have any more people of that kind in the world. I think that the great probability is that as they have been springing up since long before the Christian era, they will spring up from time to time in the future, in nations which we may now regard as being of a peaceful character. Accordingly, I do riot think it possible to accept the view that all the civilized nations of the world should be allowed to make and have—or merely to have—atomic bombs, which by the will of a brutal dictator may be dropped upon adjoining nations. For that reason, I think it is absolutely essential that the bomb should be placed in the hands of what I have described as trustees.

There is an objection, it is said, to placing the bomb, as a reprisal, in the hands of the United Nations Organization in some form or other, because of the power of veto which is possessed by the Security Council. Speaking as a lawyer with some experience of International Law, among other forms of law, I do not think that that ought to be regarded as a very serious objection, because the use and the control of the bomb can be vested in a body consisting of the members of the Security Council, not in the Security Council itself, and it may easily be arranged that those members shall have a right to vote on the subject without any veto being imposed upon their decision. My notion, therefore, is this: that if some secret, aggressive nation proceeds to construct bombs and —to carry out the sort of ideas that possessed the mind of Hitler—to drop them on any other nation, or should be about to do it, then the trustees of the bomb should be justified in releasing a store of bombs, which they would have under their control, and permitting a reprisal in kind. If that is done, I feel that if—as the last speaker insisted upon so gravely as a thing that will probably take place —a person like Hitler should be disposed to drop a bomb upon some adjoining or some distant country, it matters not which, and if he has the knowledge that there is an organization which he cannot control, which will have a store of bombs which can be used, and which the whole of the rest of the members of the Council, not including those who come from the aggressive nation, will authorize and desire to use, it will cause the Hitler of the future, whatever his nationality may be, to think very, very hard and long before he proposes to drop a bomb upon anybody or even to make a bomb.

That is, as I think, a method of making the use of the bomb exceedingly unlikely for many years. The last speaker suggested that ten years would be reasonable, I would suggest that though treaties do not last for ever, we have known treaties which have lasted for fifty years. Indeed, there are instances in which they have lasted for a hundred years, and that without the sanction of bombs in the hands of trustees for the world. My suggestion is that, for a very, very long period, measures such as that may give us reasonable security, and that, accordingly, the effort is one which is well worth making. I would greatly prefer, if there is a possibility of a United Nations Organization not being willing to undertake this job, that the stock of bombs should remain in the hands of the United States of America, who can be trusted in this matter, for ever. That nation has spent £400,000,000 in bringing the bomb into existence, it has all the requisite knowledge at its disposal, and I consider that until some other and better form of trustees can be suggested, there can be no other single nation in the world who can properly be put in such a position.

Accordingly, that is my notion for a reasonable protection against the terrible dangers of the bomb. I do not think its industrial use can be stopped, but I do think that such arrangements can be made with regard to its use for purely aggressive purposes as to outlaw the people who attempt to use it for that purpose, and, certainly, to bring a terrible retribution on those who should actually use it in that way.

4.37 p.m.

My Lords, I believe that in your Lordships' House indulgence is traditionally extended new members who address you for the first time. I confess to your Lordships that since I was introduced in this House I have felt less like a debutante than like a dowager who has been translated by events from the activities and the bustle of a large and argumentative household to the peace of a much calmer, serener and more secluded establishment. But even as a dowager, I shall need all your indulgence, and I will promise not to trespass upon it too far.

We have listened, I think, to a most remarkable series of speeches in this debate, and I shall not claim to be able to add very much to it. But there are one or two suggestions—questions, perhaps, I should rather say—which I would like, since this presents the opportunity, to address to His Majesty's Government. They are suggestions which will, I hope, be taken into consideration simply as a possible means of getting through the immense practical difficulties of the present moment. The noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi—who I am sorry to note is not in his place at the moment — took my noble friend Viscount Cranborne to task, I thought, with some asperity yesterday, for not attaching sufficient importance and giving a sufficiently warm welcome to the statement of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in another place, upon direct election to a World Assembly. I think he did my noble friend a great injustice. On this side, I think that we are all at heart and in spirit with that declaration. We nurse that larger hope.

We are determined to keep that before us as the ultimate ideal. But I remember both as a Regimental officer and also as a General Staff officer in the last war that we grew to be very suspicious of Generals who talked blandly of putting the cavalry through to Berlin without, as we thought, paying sufficient attention to the trenches, the pillboxes and the barbed wire entanglements immediately in front of us! I am sure that the noble Earl, Lord Cavan, under whom I shall always be proud to have served at that time, will support me in that recollection. That seems to me to be the danger at the present moment.

We are not going to surmount immediate difficulties by keeping our eyes fixed upon the delectable mountains; we have got to face the problems of the moment. I think, when we say with justice that the common man throughout the world has always been against war, we must at the same time take into account the inevitable limitations on the horizon of the common man, the average elector. Surely that is the great difficulty. In some parts of the world, in some countries, lie is denied the knowledge of other countries which will enable him to form a reasonable view about how other countries are behaving. In other countries, I think in all countries, he tends, when the pressure of war is lifted from him, when the sense of an immediate and common purpose is lifted from him, to become absorbed in things which affect his own immediate well-being. These questions cannot really be detached or kept apart from the general problem of the maintenance of peace.

Let me give you some of the most difficult subjects. There is the question of economic co-operation. I agree with more than one of your Lordships in this debate who have said that this is the really fundamental problem. But how difficult it is! I do not think that be- tween any two nations in the world there is a greater natural understanding than exists at the moment between the United States and this country, but when it comes to loans and tariffs and economic co-operation, look at the difficulties and the barbed wire entanglements. It is not sufficient to say that these things can be detached from the general problem of peace. Another subject, the question of the rights of emigration, is a most explosive subject which is causing immense trouble to us at the moment in the Middle East. It is a subject which is capable of inflaming peoples against each other in many parts of the world.

Finally, to complete a very short list, there is always the great issue of expenditure on armaments as compared with expenditure on social services. If you have one authority saying: ''This expenditure is necessary for peace,'' and another saying: "This necessarily curtails all our social services," you will get a controversy within the bosom of every single national State. I suggest, therefore, that there was never a moment in the history of the world when, in spite of the general agreement upon the hideousness of war amongst people of all classes—the common man, the average elector, every single soul in the universe—there was a greater responsibility resting, upon leaders and upon Governments. I think my noble friend Lord Cranborne was quite right in saying that we must put the responsibility squarely at the present moment upon the National Governments and not think that we can get past them or override them or in some way ignore them in setting up an organization which will make for peace.

The problem at the moment is undoubtedly one of international misunderstandings. They exist between us and the United States and I do not think that these misunderstandings should be minimized. They are capable of doing great damage. We have been negotiating for many weeks and have not yet arrived at any conclusion. Unfortunately, the greatest of the misunderstandings that exist at the present moment is that between this country —and, indeed, I may say very broadly the Western countries—and Russia. I do not propose to trace the course of our relations with Russia, although your Lordships will agree that they have been subject to very remarkable fluctuation and there are certain features in them which ought to be remembered at the moment. The first of them is that unquestionably, after ourselves, Russia was the warmest and the most practical supporter of the League of Nations in the last phase before the outbreak of the Second World War. Russia was prepared to go to great lengths at that time. Unfortunately, action by the League failed. The Munich Conference followed, to which Russia was not invited, and Russia, I think unjustly, but nevertheless for reasons which one can appreciate, came to the conclusion that we were not reliable. The feeling in this country over Finland greatly exacerbated that suspicion.

Then came a moment when Russian opinion about us was completely reversed; it was reversed I think in an hour by Mr. Churchill's great speech in 1941, which was not only a great speech but a great act of statesmanship. From that moment, by the genius of Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt in conjunction with Generalissimo Stalin, there is no question that we reached a very close form of co-operation and there was a real touch between the Governments. Unfortunately, suspicion which was always latent has now broken out again. It has been expressed in Russian insistence on the veto and I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and with what the Lord Chancellor said at the outset of this debate, that on the whole it is better to leave the question of the veto alone for the moment. We discussed it for weeks at San Francisco and I doubt if it would be wise to raise it any further at the present moment. Nevertheless, I think there are practical steps which can be taken to abate suspicion in Russia and establish closer touch with Russia, and it is on these points that I should like, very humbly, to put some considerations before His Majesty's Government.

In the first place I should like to refer to the atomic bomb which has been discussed again and again in the course of this debate and by no one in a more interesting and enlightening manner than by the noble Earl, Lord Perth. I am convinced that while we perpetually lay our hands on our hearts and say that all our cards are face upwards on the table, in the eyes of the Russians we have got the greatest ace of all up our sleeves, and that is a fundamental feature in the situation. And we have. Do not let us have any doubt about it, we have. What have we done? I welcome most warmly the agreement arrived at by the Prime Minister in Washington between this country, Canada and the United States, to submit the control of the bomb to the United Nations Organization and to discuss, at the earliest possible moment, how that control can most satisfactorily be established. That is a great advance, but it is going to take time. It is going to be many months, perhaps years, before this control is regarded as adequate, and in the meantime it would be very unwise to forget that opinion is now hardening into a new mould after the flux of war. Unless we deal with suspicion quickly, we may find that it has become ineradicable.

That is why I should hesitate, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, did just now, to say with too much complacency, "We have ten years ahead of us." Opinion hardens and, once that has happened, it is very difficult to soften and to alter it. In order to prevent that, I would make the following suggestion to the Government. Would it not be possible for the nations of the British Commonwealth, and also for the United States, solemnly to declare that, pending the establishment of adequate control of the atomic bomb by the United Nations Organization, we undertake not to use it ourselves unless, of course, it is used against us? In Russia it is felt that there is a definite power in the hands of the Western Powers which may be used to form a Western Coalition and to put pressure upon Russia, and that she may be isolated. There may be many objections and many differences about this suggestion, but I hope, nevertheless, the Government will take it into consideration.

There is another point upon which I would only touch most briefly, but I would be grateful if the Government could let us know whether any progress has been made in providing for the participation of Russia and the Pacific Dominions in the control of Japan and in the peace settlement in the Pacific Undoubtedly that is one of the things causing suspicion at the present moment and causing it, I think, with good reason. Our business is to study the barbed wire entanglements and to see how they can be disposed of. The men who are going to count in these difficult times are the men who combine an understanding of the immediate problems with a faith in the ultimate goal. It is no use having men who only see the ultimate goal and not the immediate difficulties, or men who just negotiate immediate difficulties and do not see the ultimate goal. We want men who can take into their grasp both the far distant and the immediate problems.

Thirdly, I would put this before the Government. I am glad, in many ways, that the Foreign Secretary has spoken firmly in regard to questions between us and Russia, but I am a little doubtful about the good effect of asking that all the cards should be put upon the table, as the Foreign Secretary has asked. I may pass from the language of the card table to that of the mining camp, have not sufficient claims been staked out already? Is it a wise diplomatic procedure to suggest that more claims be staked out, all of which become diplomatic counters, like the claim for Tripoli, which add to the difficulties of an ultimate settlement? With great respect, I think we should be wise to do what Russia and the United States have done—to say quite definitely what we regard as essential. to our own security and then to say: "Have you any objections to it? Are there any difficulties about it?" When we put our hands on our hearts and say we really want nothing in the world, my experience is that foreigners do not be lieve us. They say the British Empire has managed, somehow, to acquire a great deal all over the world, that it has unrivalled political experience, that it has, obviously, an interest in maintaining what it has acquired, arid that it is protesting too much when it says it really has no claims whatever to advance compared with those advanced by other great nations.

What has the United States done? The United States has quite clearly reaffirmed the Monroe doctrine—a reaffirmation of a sphere of influence. Let us give it the broadest possible interpretation, let us understand it in modern idiom, yet the fact remains that there is the assertion of a special interest in a special region of the world. The Russians have done the same. They have made no secret to us of their special interests in the territories on their western frontiers, their southern frontiers and their eastern frontiers. I would ask the Government whether we have been equally clear about the nature of our special interests in the Middle East and the Middle Eastern peoples, and as to the things which we regard as really vital. If we did so—and I am not aware that we have done so—I believe that such a statement might prove very useful in clearing up difficulties with Russia. I mention the Middle East and feel particularly strongly about it because I have recently spent some time there.

The final question I would address to the Government is also about the Middle East. We are bound to the Middle East, not only by vital interests but by the effect which our conduct of the war has had upon the peoples there. That gives us a very special responsibility. They are peoples, all of them, with primitive agricultural economies. We have conic in and controlled their production and their purchases. We have called out hundreds of thousands of them for labour, paying high wages. We have established industries. And all this has, somehow, got to be unscrambled with the least possible damage to those peoples. It is a tremendous problem, and I have every reason to be conscious of those difficulties because I was dealing with them—at any rate with what was the prospect of them —when I was in the Middle East. I am quite certain that the problem of unscrambling our war effort in that region with the least possible economic damage to its peoples is a very difficult and exacting one.

I am quite certain, also, that it cannot be done without an adequate regional organization. A regional organization was set up in the war and a Cabinet Minister was sent out by the late Prime Minister to the Middle East to be in charge of it. I do not complain of the abolition of the separate post of a Cabinet Minister, the Minister Resident in the Middle East. There are war measures which it is very difficult to prolong into normal conditions of peace; therefore I make no complaint upon that score. But I confess anxiety as to what is happening to the Middle Eastern organization and as to whether the whole spirit, enthusiasm and drive have not been taken out of it. I would beg for reassurance upon that point, and for any information the Government can give us. This I know: that most of the experts—in fact, I think all but one, and he is coming home next month — who had these problems at their fingers' ends from their experience of dealing with them in the war, have now left. It was very hard to retain them. They might have been retained, but they have gone.

There is also, I think, an inadequate appreciation now of the necessity of keeping this regional organization together and giving it adequate leadership on the spot —leadership in touch with the conditions of those countries. I would give an example to the noble Viscount opposite. I understand that the Embassy in Cairo has now been equipped with a Labour Adviser. That is an admirable step, but are you going to extend that same appointment to the other Missions in the Middle East? They will require it just as much. And if you are going to put such an adviser into every Mission in the Middle East, where are you going to find the men, and what is the justification for multiplying the expense to the taxpayer of the appointment of advisers of that kind, separated by attachment to different territorial Missions? What is the reason for that expense when, as a matter of fact, their services could be made much better use of in a regional organization, where the Charge upon the taxpayer would be less, where co-ordination of their work would be very much easier and to which it would be possible to send experts of a character which cannot be found if they are to be spread over all the different Missions. I ask the noble Viscount who, I believe, is going to reply for the Government, to give us all the information he can upon that subject.

I have only one other point. Like everybody else in touch with the Middle East, I congratulate the Government and in particular the Foreign Secretary, upon having secured the co-operation of the United States in the establishment of an Anglo-American Committee to investigate the world problem of Jewry and the particular problem of Palestine. The latter problem certainly must be seen against the wider problem, if it is to be dealt with adequately. But time is passing. It is a very long time since this announcement was made. It is really important that the Committee should get to work without delay, and I would ask the Government whether they can give us any information as to when the Committee will be appointed.

5.5 P.m.

My Lords, I never thought, when I used to meet Lord Altrincham in Oxford, that it would fall to my lot to congratulate him upon a maiden speech; still less that I would get to the Dower House, as he called it, before he did. I am sure that a man of his experience in political speaking would take it as an impertinence if I went any further in expressing the admiration I have for the speech he has given us or in saying how much we all hope that he will take frequent part in our debates.

I have always had the advantage of speaking to people on topics of which I knew a great deal more than they did, and until I got dragged into politics I took full advantage of that position. Here, in this House, it is exactly the opposite. I endeavour to keep my advantage, to some extent, by confining my interventions to technical matters. To-day, when we are discussing foreign affairs, it would be out of place for me to take part were it not that practically every speech—I think every speech except that of my noble friend Viscount Templewood—has brought in what I suppose I shall have to call the atomic bomb. In passing, I am not sure that I ought not to say that when Viscount Templewood made his eloquent appeal for building up the Ruhr, it ought not to be forgotten that we also have a lot of industries that require building up, and that charity begins at home. I hope we shall take good care that anything we do to increase and improve German industry will not be at the expense of our British industries.

About six weeks ago I addressed this House on the topic of nuclear energy and the bombs that had been developed from that form of energy. I tried to make four main points. The first one was to dispel the idea that the globe might be destroyed by some accidental experiment made in some laboratory which might set off the whole of the earth's land and water surface, and that we should all vanish in the form of a new star. I am glad that hare has not been started again in this debate. At any rate, I have managed to get one point across.

On the second point, that we should not exaggerate the benefits which are to be anticipated from this source of power, I was obviously not so successful. I am afraid that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, did not quite believe all I said, and I am afraid that I cannot quite agree with all that he said. He told us that nuclear fission produces heat, from heat you get steam and from steam you get electricity. That is perfectly true. But when electricity is obtained, it still has to be distributed, and distribution of power costs a very great deal—very often more than the production, especially if you are going to save only the boiler and the coal. So even if we get this nuclear heat for nothing—and there is no sign of that; I may say that the expenditure to get even one comparatively small pile is going to be very considerable—I do not think it would make any great difference to the cost of power and still less to the standard of life in this country. As I pointed out, the cost of coal to cook food is a very small item in the cost of meals, and food accounts for one third, or even one half in certain cases, of the national expenditure. I therefore do hope that the noble Viscount will not insist upon his claim that any country that had nuclear energy would forge ahead and any country that did not have it would be out of the running. I really think that is going too far. Undoubtedly one can imagine a number of special uses for which it would he extremely valuable, but I do not think it is going to make a new heaven and a new earth.

Nevertheless, I am, of course, delighted that His Majesty's Government are going to build up a large experimental station. I am certain that it is absolutely right to investigate these things and study them from every angle, whether it be the industrial point of view or the armaments point of view. There is no difficulty in controlling such a station. There is no reason why the thing should go off as an explosion; it can be made to go slowly. However, all one gets is this low-grade heat which can only be translated into power at considerable expense. The biological effects of the radiation produced in the course of the process are so colossal that it is very difficult to get anywhere near the boilers and indeed if one of them goes wrong it cannot be repaired. The radio activity is so strong that the only thing is to start again and build another. We must not forget that, when people talk about having it in motor cars or on the backs of bicycles. It takes many tons of material to shield a man from these radiations. Therefore it could only be applied industrially on a large scale when it could, for instance, be converted into electricity, but all the costs of production and distribution would still remain and only the coal under the boilers would be saved.

My third point was that I was very distressed at the constant talk about a secret or a formula which might be divulged or not divulged, or shared or not shared. I think I got that across a little better, although I have heard the word "secret" used quite a lot today. As I said, there is no secret, there is no formula; it has all been published, it is all known. The only things that are not known are the full details of how to make these bombs. Everybody knows broadly how to make a Rolls Royce engine, but it is not very easy to tell someone how to start off and make one. That is roughly the position. There is no matter of principle which is not known, but if we wanted to teach any other country how to make it, it would mean they would have to send scores of engineers to the plant to be instructed arid taught all about it. That would take a great many months and by then there would be improvements, so it is not at all a simple proposition.

My fourth point, and the one to which I attach most importance, was that we should beware of slogans and catchwords. That point, I was glad to note, was very admirably underlined by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, yesterday. I am not quite sure that it got home. After all, various people still talk about handing it over to the Security Council in return for the veto, or not in return for the veto, as the case may be. I certainly agree entirely that it would be nonsense to hand it over to the Security Council if there were still a veto. However, it does not seem to me that we face the difficulty. What do we mean by "handing it over to the Security Council"? It is just one of those phrases of which I am frightened. If it means anything, it means that only the Security Council should make, use and control these bombs. As to making the bombs, where are they to make them? They have no locus in the world where they are safe, where they can set up a factory and start to make the bombs. It might be said, "Let them be made in various countries under the supervision of the Security Council." In that case any army would walk in and take them as soon as it wanted them. It is no use having a factory making bombs in any given country and saying the Security Council is producing them, because in case of need that country would seize them and use them. I cannot see how it is to be managed at all. If one said that all the members of the Security Council should have factories, that would only mean that there would be a race in making them and the one that got most would have the advantage. I do not think that that would solve the problem.

Then there is the point that only the Security Council is to use the bombs. How are they going to use them? If they are going to use them against some aggressor State, how are they going to get them there? Presumably they will have to have an Air Force, and we all know the difficulties about that. How are they to recruit the Air Force? Who is going to supply the aeroplanes? Who is going to pay for it all? Those difficulties could be got over, but there are other difficulties. Where is the Air Force to live and have its being? How are we to be sure that it will have a base within reach of the nation which it is desired to bring to its senses? How are we to be sure there will be a base there which cannot be seized by that nation together with all the bombs and everything it contains? It is not at all a simple matter. As I say, it sounds quite nice, but I do not think it really is much more than a catchword until we go into that sort of points.

It is said the Security Council are to control the bomb; they are to control all nuclear weapons. That means rigid periodic inspection of practically all the. countries in the world. Factories would have to he inspected, laboratories would have to be inspected, inspectors would have to have access to any part of every nation. The inspectors would have to have freedom of movement and there could be no excuses such as that a factory was being repainted at the moment or the manager was not there. The inspectors would have to be able to go and see what was happening. That is all very difficult, but it seems to me that when we talk vaguely about handing over control to the United Nations difficulties of that sort have to be faced. I was rather sorry that the Leader of the House said he thought this inspection was impossible because I must say I think it is fundamental. I would not go so far as to say it is quite impossible but it is one of the great difficulties we must consider.

I very much welcome the declaration made by the President of the United States and the Prime Ministers of Great Britain and Canada. I think it was an eminently sensible declaration. It showed that the difficulties were recognized and that we were prepared to face them. The first point, as I understood it, was that the scientific discoveries were to be published. As a matter of fact they have been published; anybody who has read the Smythe Report will know that three-quarters or nine-tenths of the scientific discoveries have already been published to the world at large. There is a good deal of talk about holding back the progress of science and so on. I hope that will now be dispelled and that all my colleagues will be satisfied. Nobody can say that scientific progress is held up because it is not known how to make and fuse a bomb. Very few of us know how to make and fuse an ordinary bomb but that has not held up the progress of science. The detailed technique, as I understand it, is to be divulged as soon as enforcible safeguards against the use of the bomb for destructive purposes have been devised. There we have the gist of the whole thing.

All these difficulties I have been setting out will presumably be considered, dealt with and, I hope, overcome. It is the task of the Commission which the United Nations will be asked to set up to deal with those difficulties, and to see whether a solution can be found. I think all of us hope very much that that Commission will be able to discover some fool-proof and knave-proof solution to this problem. It is no use thinking we can find an automatic solution; the thing will have to be handled by the Security Council and they will have to take very rough and brutal decisions very quickly if they find that countries are not obeying the rules. Moreover, it is no use relying on every country being perfectly honest and decent. If these discoveries had been made ten years ago and we had handed full details over to Hitler, I do not think anyone would have said: "That is all right; trust him to look after Germany and each nation will look after itself." The solution has got to be fool-proof and knave-proof. That, of course, will undoubtedly mean that some part of national sovereignty will have to be abrogated or sacrificed. For that reason, I was very pleased to find that both the present Foreign Secretary and the former Foreign Secretary were quite prepared to concede this possibility, if it should be necessary.

Here again, of course, I hope that a realistic approach will be made. In this unregenerate world, it is no use making a pact which is at variance with the real forces attaching to the various groups. Unless the influence of a group in making a decision bears some relation to the real force which that group can exert in the last resort, that pact is likely to be torn up. It is a pity that that should be so. Things may be getting a little better; we may be getting a little nearer to the millenium, but we have not gone very far. The great difficulty is the excessive nationalism which has been growing in Europe for the last two or three hundred years. Relatively, it is a new phenomenon. Centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe hoped and expected that there would be some Universal Empire to maintain peace. The Church tried to take on the succession, and it is really only since the concept of the Universal Church broke down at the Reformation that this extreme nationalism has taken hold.

But it has been growing ever since. Nations have been personified, and people talk about "the sovereign equality of nations" as though it were an axiomatic necessity. More and more nations spring up, smaller and smaller, more and more touchy, and the position gets harder and harder to cope with; but it is an impossible situation if the vote of the United States of America is to be nullified by the vote of Albania, or if the vote of Russia is to be cancelled by the vote of Ruritania. It does not work. There have been makeshift devices to get over this difficulty, such as having permanent members of the Council, and so on, but they were only makeshifts. In my view, that is the rock on which the League of Nations foundered.

The Foreign Secretary the other day made a very striking new departure, and spoke about an Assembly directly elected for specific objectives. I hope that that will be explored. Admittedly it is difficult; everything is difficult; but some people have said that it is unworkable. I think one noble Lord said that it would hamper the smooth government of Europe. So would war, which would hamper it a good deal more than any of these methods, if they could be worked out. After all, something very like this operates in the United States of America, where the Congress and Senate have overriding powers in certain respects, and the State Governments all work perfectly well under those two bodies. I do not think that we ought to turn this proposal down without examining it very sympathetically.

There is, of course, the difficulty of deciding how the votes are to be weighted. It would be ridiculous to say that we could have the principle of one man, one vote; the native population of Africa would then count for more than the people of the United Kingdom. I do not know that that would be a tenable position, because, as we all know, the United Kingdom could easily put far more force into the scale, if necessary, than the African natives. I know, of course, that the idea is to give all that up, and I mention the United Kingdom only because I do not want to offend any other nation; but I cannot imagine that any of the nations of the world would let themselves be outvoted by nations whom they could easily conquer if the need arose. In the modern, mechanized world in which we live, the real power of a country is, of course, its total potential production, minus the minimum required for the people's subsistence. That is a matter which can be determined. The national income is more or less related to productive capacity, and we could ascertain the margin which any country could put into war. I do not say that we ought to weight the countries in that way exactly, but we must see that there is some relation between these factors and the form of voting that is ultimately selected.

Personally, I fear—though I know that this will be a very unpopular statement —that there is not much hope of getting anywhere unless we proceed in this matter step by step. Let us start off by trying to get some arrangements for dealing with nuclear energy. I think people would agree to do that as a beginning, and it would be better than Trying to do everything at once. But if we get forty nations round the table, they will spend so much time in arguing about precedence and procedure that we shall not get anywhere. I believe that we have to proceed by getting two to come together and then a third joining them, and so on. In the formation of a crystal, when two molecules join together by chance, because they happen to be close together, the group of two have a bigger attraction than one, and a third joins them; then three have a bigger attraction than two, and a fourth joins them, and in that way you get a completely harmonious crystal built up. It may be possible for the nations of the world to come into line in a similar manner.

We have heard a great deal about this question of suspicion, which has no doubt led to a great deal of trouble. We are told that we must finally conquer this suspicion and that, of course, is what we should all like to do. But I do not think it is right to say that that suspicion is due to the fact that the English-speaking nations happen to have atomic energy at their disposal. There was plenty of suspicion before that. Anyone who read the foreign telegrams, even during the war, when it was in everybody's interest to work together, would see that long before there was any question of the atomic bomb there was any amount of suspicion, most of it directed, quite unnecessarily and unfairly, against the English-speaking Allies by the Russians.

Of course, the ideal is to prevent war. That is what we should all like to do. We were told yesterday the Churches had a great opportunity; but they face a formidable task. It is a task to which they have been applying themselves for thousands of years, but they have not succeeded. We are working against time now. I entirely agree with the noble Earl, Lord Russell, that we have to settle this difficulty in some way which will make it impossible to use weapons of this kind. I hope that the Commission which is to be appointed by the United Nations may find some way of abolishing the use of nuclear weapons before such weapons are spread abroad so widely that nations are tempted to employ them. Unless they can do so, I think that we must face war in its most frightful form, and return to conditions far worse than those of the Dark Ages.

5.30 p.m.

My Lords, I realize that to rise to intervene in this debate, when so many noble Lords of great learning and experience have already addressed the House, is an act of great temerity, if not of hardihood, but I comfort myself with the thought that it will at least provide a contrast, although I hope that the level of the debate will not fall from the sublime to the ridiculous. Many noble Lords, including the Lord Chancellor, the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, have spoken about confidence. It has been said that this period through which we are passing is a crisis of confidence. With that analysis I entirely agree. Several speeches have been made lately, in another place and elsewhere, about the possibilities of a world government. That is a singularly attractive idea, and it has attracted a great many minds, not only in our present days but in the past. But I would venture to say that although we may, at times, lift our eyes towards the distant peak, we should be very careful that we let our gaze drop again towards the more broken ground that lies directly in front of us.

In what does this lack of confidence, this suspicion which is poisoning our international relations, lie? It arises, I believe, because nations fear that other nations will not observe contracts. Now there have been very regrettable instances throughout history of breach of contract and breach of treaty between nations, but I think everybody will agree that the coinage has been greatly debased during the last twenty or thirty years. It is much easier, as I said, to contemplate ideals like world government than the sanctity of contracts, but I cannot help feeling that that confidence between nations upon which alone a world government could be built, must be based on a course of dealing between nations, on observance of treaties once entered into. There have been many references to suspicion between ourselves and Russia. We must all, I think, recognize that Russia has special interests. There is one particular interest which is at the moment in dispute; that is the question of Northern-Persia. I will not pass any judgment on the rights and wrongs of that case, but it seems to me that what is giving cause for suspicion in that particular instance, is not so much that Russia is there but that, having said that she would withdraw and would grant Persia her sovereignty, she has not done so. That is, if we may believe the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, a clear breach of a treaty, I submit it is useless for us to build wider foundations unless we do, ourselves, insist on a higher standard of observance of specific treaties and engagements among nations.

There is in Europe to-clay great power and great weakness side by side. That is a dangerous and inflammable situation. I do not think that we shall get back to any confidence in Europe until not only are treaties better observed but there is a much less disequilibrium in power ratio. So I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Altrincham, who said that it would be a good thing if we, for our part, declared openly what our interests are. It is no good proclaiming that we are disinterested. Clearly we cannot be, because we have so many world commitments. We can say that we are not ambitious for more territory, but we cannot neglect our security or the security of the many peoples who are dependent upon us. So let us declare our interests and negotiate with other nations on the basis of those interests. It will then be possible, I think, to make engagements and treaties which will be enduring. If we can enter upon an era when specific engagements, bilateral or multilateral, over specific matters, will endure, then, and only then, I consider, will it be possible to enter into wider and broader arrangements such as we should all desire to see.

5.36 p.m.

My Lords, I intend to make only a very short intervention in this debate to-day, but I would like to say without appearing to assume a position of undue importance as a critic, to which I am not entitled, that I do rejoice to see that there are signs—though not perhaps very great signs at present—that the political mind of both Houses is veering towards that view, which is a necessary view and which has got to come, that there is only one form of power grouping possible in the future: that is, all the nations of the world on the one side and atomic and other weapons on the other. If one may be allowed to bring in an analogy from the football field, I would say that it is as if the Glasgow Rangers and the Dynamos had both discovered after twenty minutes' play that what they thought was a football was really an atomic bomb timed to go off at half-time. That is perhaps the position of the nations of the world to-day.

Let us look at examples of these tendencies. In another place the late Foreign Secretary, Mr. Eden, has pleaded for an abatement of sovereignty, as has been mentioned already by several of your Lordships, and for the revision of the anachronistic Charter. The present Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, who has been quoted also a number of times, seeks to have established a world law based on moral world force in place of that old International Law which presupposes aggressors and is therefore useless. The following are my words, not his. This International Law is anyway farcical, because it is disregarded and the disregard excused by most combatants in moments -of extreme stress.

In the present debate in your Lordships' House, I have heard many suggestions in the same direction ventured upon. There has been first of all a much more frank acknowledgment of the really unspeakable mess and muddle that is occurring now in the world, and of the realization of—and the realization with these two words, which have not been used before—the horror and terror of the future. There have been many acknowledgments also of the illegal as well as of the uncontrollable character of thi, atomic bomb; the necessity of a new meaning for frontiers to draw peoples together; the uselessness and out-of-date character of part of the Charter, especially the veto; of the growing suspicion between Allies due to the use perhaps more than anything else of the threat of the atomic bomb as a lever; the necessity for using the international scene as a positive task to be tackled together; and for the necessity of the birth of much more confidence and hope, this last being expressed by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack.

Personally, I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, say as a setoff to all this, that atomic energy was not likely in the future to dress us, bath us, and educate us and do many of the things which other speakers presupposed. I wish he had said even more and then the whole thing might usefully have been thrown into the sea and put out of human hands for ever, I am especially consoled to hear such suggestions in both places being greeted with roars of applause. The only point I should like to make to His Majesty's Government is the necessity for speed, to hurry to form this common front of all nations against their possible destruction, to cut out the preamble, the recrimination and to disown the miserable past. Let the dead bury their dead (and the criminals hang their criminals) and get on with the saving of this world of beauty and opportunity for the coming generation before it is too late. I assert that this requires the co-operation of every hand.

The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, was going to speak before me and I was going to say this to him which I think he will not mind my saying in his absence, because it is not in the least controversial or critical. That is, that—and I think many would agree with this—we should like him to begin the second chapter of his great work on Germany. We all know about German aggression and no one denies that, for all aggressions of history are common knowledge; but what we want to hear from the noble Lord, from his great knowledge of that country and other countries, is whether their contribution to art, science, music, inventions and medicine and many other things do not make it a necessity that their mentality should be adjusted, and what means he sees for achieving that end and moving them into complete alignment. And somebody has got to do the same with Japan. It seems to me that it has got to be done quickly before despair settles down on the world and revenge appears, as usual, to he the only solution and saviour.

I should like to read to your Lordships two very brief extracts from the Press which bear out this necessity for speed. Such writings are appearing daily on the wall in larger and even bloodier letters. The first is from a gallant V.C. airman, Group Captain Cheshire. I do not know if the noble Lord, Lord Cherwell, will disagree with it, but this appears to come from a source against which there cannot be much argument. It says:
"If there is war again, it is inevitable that every city we have will be lost. There will be nothing but dust, for one or two atomic bombs will destroy a city and everything in it. We cannot rely upon defence. We may stop a proportion of atomic bombs but not all. So at this moment, while the debates in America are going on, we are faced with this issue, that if we ever fight again we shall lose everything we have."
The second extract is from a Member of Parliament, Mr. Leslie Solley, who has also contributed to the research work and the exploitation of atomic energy. He says that
"scientists would soon be able to produce atomic explosives in a space no larger than the back room of an ordinary house. In five years' time atomic secrets would be common property."
If that is the case, what good is it talking about supervision and what good is it talking about outlawing nations and peoples, because the first time that there is atomic warfare there will be nobody left to outlaw, probably, and in large portions of the world there will be nobody to do the outlawing?

If I might make a criticism of to-day's debate I should like to say this: I have not heard any suggestion sufficiently far-reaching or new, or revolutionary, to deal with the position to-day at all. So I venture to give again to your Lordships a positive and constructive suggestion I made in the last debate, that you have got to get all the nations in the world on the one side against their destruction, and do it quickly. There is a perfectly easy first step that can be made towards such a united front. That is by a proclamation by the United Nations to every nation, including the recent aggressors— have said this before and it has got to happen, so I will go on saying it—giving full details of the dangers to human existence from atomic energy, put in such a form that they thoroughly understand it, the dangers that will occur if there is the smallest form of atomic warfare, and what the consequences will be to the world and civilization. Accompanying that explanation there should be an invitation to representatives of every nation to come together, including the recent aggressors who have got to be represented in some form, to discuss the modus faciendi et operandi of a complete international front. Once this could be established, even in the smallest degree, it would be likely to increase to such a stage that all questions between nations, including the atomic bomb, jealousies and disputes, would be ten times as easy of solution and the chance of new dictators originating would be diminished. Such an invitation would have to be supported by an expressed desire of the sponsors to denounce the faulty and suicidal methods of the past and inaugurate a new method of co-operative help. I urge again that His Majesty's Government should bring this forward at the approaching meeting of the United Nations early in the New Year.

I say again, and I believe I say it with truth, that there are only two alternatives in the future: a common front or common destruction. Juggling with the atomic bomb will not produce any satisfactory solution; it will produce nothing more than suspicion and alarm, as at present, and will hold up co-operative effort. I hope His Majesty's Government will take speedy steps, while there is time; it is a moral, a rational and a Christian necessity. The noble Viscount ignored the proposal in my plea of October i6 for a meeting of every nation, but it has got to come, so let it come quickly. There is no other alternative to desolation, destruction and death. Mr. Bevin, apropos of this, said:
"I am willing to sit with anybody, any party, any nation, to try and devise a franchise and constitution for a World Assembly for a limited objective—the objective of peace."
Fears were expressed by several speakers about this, but it is the right idea, the right principle. It may not necessarily have the correct form but that can come later. I hope the Foreign Secretary will adhere to this principle because, if he does, he will certainly, eventually, have the world behind him and peace in front of him.

5.51 p.m.

My Lords, a great part of this debate has centred in the atomic bomb and its possible effects on world peace, and how the situation arising out of it should be met. In the course of the debate yesterday and in your Lordships' House to-day most interesting suggestions have been made, some practical and some, to my mind, impractical. But, whether one or the other, they have all raised the subject to a high plane of moral consciousness of what is involved in the atomic bomb and its use. If I may venture a criticism, however, it is that the atomic bomb in these debates has, perhaps, too greatly overshadowed the many other important questions and problems now agitating Europe and other parts of the world, many of which will have to be solved irrespective of the atomic bomb. It would be quite impossible for me to range over those questions at this late hour and in the short time at my disposal, and therefore I propose to confine my remarks to one of those questions which I and others believe to be of extreme importance in the final resettlement of Europe.

Yesterday, the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, talking about the relationship or inter-relationship, of nations, and about the destructive effects of the atomic bomb and other deadly missiles which fly through the air and descend from the air, made use of these words:
"Frontiers as we have known them will soon be as out-of-date as bows and arrows … So far as frontiers being for defence, these new weapons have wiped them all out."
With all respect, I venture to suggest that that was a somewhat dangerous generalization and conclusion to draw and to be stated in such succinct terms, especially having regard to the most destructive form of war armaments available today. I, and I assume there will be many others, do not believe that frontiers are entirely wiped out, even from the point of view-of defence. Even if this were so, the desire to maintain national frontiers for national purposes, and for defence purposes also, is still as strong in Europe and elsewhere as it has ever been. We shall have to face that fact and not let it be obscured by the potential power of the atomic bomb, or any other new deadly weapon of offence. Indeed, we are aware that there are, at this moment, many frontier problems in Europe which have already caused bloodshed, all of which require very delicate handling in the future if more bloodshed is to be avoided.

So long as men live on the ground, grow up on the ground and work and transact their affairs on the ground, and so long as they are divided into distinct nationalities, for so long will they demand national frontiers for national or protective purposes, or for both. Mary of us may wish it to be otherwise, but, I submit, that is only wishful thinking and not practical. Therefore, we must still address ourselves closely to the questions of national frontiers. Following this line of thought, I propose to say something about the future western boundary of Germany—that is, on the Rhineland side—and I propose to ask the Government to consider the point, which I agree is not a new one, but still, nevertheless a very urgent one in the view of some countries. I must remind your Lordships that after the last war a joint army of occupation, consisting of ourselves and the French, occupied the Rhineland, including the Saar and the Ruhr as far as the western bank of the river Rhine, just as we are doing today after this second great World War. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with details of the gradual withdrawal of those troops or the reasons therefor, because the history of it is already too well known to you all. But what I do wish to emphasize is that so soon as the final withdrawal was made from those areas it became evident that a fresh act of aggression to the west of Hitler's Germany was only a matter of time and certainty. This duly happened; the fresh aggression took place, and you have only to look at the terrible and miserable state of Europe and the world after this second World War to realize that every possible step must be taken to avoid it happening again.

Some time after the withdrawal of our troops and those of the French from the Rhineland, it may be in your recollection that the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin, then Mr. Stanley Baldwin, the Prime Minister of this country, made use of words in a speech about Germany which have since become famous. He said: "Our frontier is the Rhine." The Rhine is still our frontier. It is also the frontier of France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, and it must remain our frontier and become our static frontier if we are to secure our future after the resettlement of Europe. It is perfectly true that the French people desire that the Rhine should become their future frontier. They know the position even better than we do, living cheek by jowl, as they do, with the Germans who have aggressively invaded their territory three times in 75 years. They are clamouring for the Rhine to be made their future frontier between them and Germany, and, I submit, they are right. If the Rhine river is to be created as the frontier of Germany or Alsace to the Ruhr, I know the question will be asked as to who is to administer and control the area thus separated from Germany. I see no formidable difficulty in this, and I make the suggestion that this Rhineland territory should be placed under the permanent control of those nations abutting the Rhineland—those nations who are particularly vulnerable to attacks from Germany, including Great Britain.

Further, I suggest that the Army of Occupation be drawn from the same nations—namely, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Holland, and even from Luxembourg, which lies close to the Palatinate. It is obvious that unless these nations feel secure from any danger of future aggression from Germany, they never really will settle down to peaceful pursuits or to the restoration of their countries. No San Francisco Treaty or United Nations Organization can, by itself with its written words, ever ensure that peace of mind and sense of security so necessary towards that end. I therefore have no hesitation in making the proposals I do and in emphasizing the necessity for the creation in due course of the River Rhine as the western boundary of Germany. It is a clear-cut proposition which is strongly supported both by experience and by the lessons of history.

Before I sit down, there is just one other aspect of this question to which I wish to refer. It is as to what part Russia may wish to play in such an arrangement as I have outlined. In my belief, the reply to that question is that the eastern boundary of Germany has already been largely settled by Russia herself, by giving Poland a large slice of Germany east of the Oder and by Russia herself occupying a large part of Poland and also an important part of East Prussia. Moreover, there are other countries in that area, all of whom are gradually being brought under, or are under, the sphere of influence of Russia and are therefore friendly towards Russia. Russia, I submit, is already provided with a large buffer against Germany on her side of Europe, and I further venture to suggest that Russia should be pleased to know that we, as her Allies in the West, propose to create a similar form of buffer for ourselves by making the Rhine River our frontier in the West.

6.5 p.m.

My Lords, every noble Lord who has taken part in this debate has agreed on one thing, and that is that suspicion and irritation among nations and intense nationality are the real causes of war. The noble Viscount, Lord Addison, in words quoted by Viscount Elibank, said that frontiers would soon be as out-of-date as bows and arrows. If that is to be so, I would be very grateful to him if he would at some time indicate the blandishments with which he is going to cause our colossal friend and neighbour in the East to open her doors. Every Russian I have ever met has always been tilled to the brim with an intense passion for Holy Russia, and full of nationalism. I am very interested in the developments there because I am perfectly certain that that great Empire is the touchstone of any plans we make now. In fact, I have a great sympathy with her, especially in one thing—her iron grasp of facts.

I propose this afternoon to put to His Majesty's Government two quite different matters which I think it is in their power to correct, and which do create irritation and distrust among nations. Over a quarter of a century ago our colossal friend, in a burst of rather puckish frankness, published all the secret treaties she could lay her hands on and disclaimed all the secret diplomacy. We, in turn, said: "Oh yes, secret diplomacy was the cause of the last war; we will do away with it." In the words of the Persian poet:
"Divorced old barren Reason from my bed And took the Daughter of the Vine to spouse."
I venture to suggest that the Daughter of the Vine was rather too strong for our Western heads.

I can illustrate that by the history of the recent conference in London. What happened? The big Powers were to meet and to settle this and that, and the whole world knew about it. They all met, and immediately afterwards it was discovered there was a vital difference between them. Naturally they did not separate at once. Every effort was made to bridge that difference, and with every effort it became more pronounced. What happened? The delegates reluctantly separated and went back to their own countries, where they had to explain why this great conference had broken down. Even in that regard, these ex-parte statements by each statesman in his own country to explain his own point of view are intensely irritating to the other side from whom he has just separated. I suggest that old barren Reason was not so barren, and that in the bad old days the Foreign Offices of the different countries would have got together, there would have been correspondence lasting over a considerable period, every stumbling block would have been removed, and when every stumbling block had been removed and agreement was certain, the delegates of the great Powers would have met, would have agreed, and would have parted with mutual satisfaction and confidence, having accomplished something. If the stumbling blocks could not have been removed, there would have been no meeting, nobody would have heard about it, and there would have been no failure. I submit that a certain amount of secrecy, at any rate in the preparation of these conferences and before they are announced, is an indispensable item in the relationship between nations.

Now I touch on another point. His Majesty's Government have perfectly rightly, in pursuance of the mandate given them at the last General Election, proceeded to nationalize industry, but I think that has to be very carefully done in regard to foreign relations. I will put my point clearly and shortly. In pursuance of that policy they have undertaken the purchase of cotton for the cotton industry. As most of you probably know, the cotton mills in Lancashire to-day are very urgently in need of the best sorts of American cotton, and that cannot be procured because it is all required for the American mills. If that were only an ordinary trade difficulty between capitalists, it would be a matter which the Government could touch on or could leave; it could support its traders diplomatically or not, as it liked. Now that the Government have under-taken to supply the cotton industry, however, I suggest that there is one difficulty that arises. They are the Government in power and it is their task to supply cotton to the mills in Lancashire. If they are unable to supply cotton they have to make an explanation, and the explanation is either that they are at fault or that the people from whom they wish to get the cotton are at fault. Being a Party Government and naturally not wishing to be blamed by their opponents, the tendency is quietly to put the blame on the other side of the Atlantic. That must inevitably give rise to feelings of suspicion and irritation. It is a small point, but it is one of the dangers of nationalization and I hope His Majesty's Government will have it in mind.

6.11 p.m.

My Lords, I should hesitate to intervene in this debate, in which so many Ministers, past and present, and other experts have spoken were it not for the fact that in my view not sufficient attention has been paid to the very important pronouncements made in another place by the Foreign Secretary and the ex-Foreign Secretary relating to sovereign rights. Unlike other speakers, I will not refer to the atomic bomb except to say that the notes of the speech which I am about to deliver were made three years ago, whilst I was a prisoner of war in Germany. If they were true then—and I think they were—they are doubly true now that the atomic bomb has come into being. I would suggest, therefore, three considerations. The first is more or less a platitude, that the world is too small for people to do what they like in it; the second is that the only hope is for a common goal to be clearly set up; the third is that the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations should act jointly towards attaining that goal.

I think we shall be mistaken if we think the present position is in any way unique. From the days of the fall of the Roman Empire, when the world broke up into nations, there has been very little, if any, co-ordination. There has been no common goal and there have been wars ever since. Spain and Portugal agreed to share the new world and when they were challenged fresh wars, resulting in the colonial wars of expansion, took place. Napoleon, that great organizer, failed to co-ordinate the old world and as a direct result the United States of America, in the new world, introduced the Monroe doctrine of non-association with the old world. Those wars were followed in this century by the trade wars, ending. as some people think, in the wars for world domination.

All, surely, should have reasonable access to raw materials. Possession is no longer regarded, in this country at any rate, as nine points of the law. Should not we, therefore, apply the same principles when dealing with nations; should not we extend that principle to other countries? It seems to me to be of no use to try to control any form of scientific invention. What we have got to do is to get rid of the reasons which make people go to war. One of those reasons, to my mind, is the unfair distribution of the raw materials in the world today. It has been often quoted by me that we have never stood in the way of any nation freely purchasing, at reasonable figures, any raw materials they want, and I readily concede that point; but if we were in the position of having to go hat in hand to some other country to get raw materials, what attitude would we adopt? Would not it be very similar to the attitude which has been adopted by others in the past?

As has been pointed out by so many speakers, modern war is horrible and will end civilization. The risk, to my mind, is not to be contemplated. Therefore we must, as I have said before, get rid of the causes of war. In ancient Greece the warrior class was held in very high esteem. No doubt the theory of the survival of the fittest is a very estimable one, but the practical results, as we have seen, is that it ends in might being right.

What are the ways in which we can reduce the risk of war? Splendid isolation, practised in America, and the balance of power, practised in Europe, have proved to be no good; those methods failed to keep America out of war, or Britain safe in Europe. I come now to a very debatable point, on which perhaps noble Lords will not agree with me. Is Europe necessary to England, or is England necessary to Europe? It is true that geographically they are one continent. Are we content to ensure that war will be limited to a period about twenty-five years between each? I personally refuse to subscribe to the view that war is inevitable. Therefore I suggest that we must progress in the following way. We must have, first of all, a plan based on temporary expediency, and secondly, a permanent policy must be put into effect within the next fifty years.

Dealing with my first suggestion, that of temporary expediency, I suggest that the English-speaking people, if possible with the assistance of Russia, should, while they can, control the world and that they should use force impartially on friends or foes who resist what they think is right in the general interests of the world. As to my second point, the perma- nent policy, I suggest that we should decentralize as soon as possible. Have the United States of America and the British Commonwealth of Nations a common outlook? Surely they both subscribe to freedom of worship and of expression, and also to freedom of action limited to that which will be of the greatest good for the greatest number. If we do not grasp the opportunity, to my mind a third world war is inevitable and we shall not have at the end of it as good a chance to set the world to rights as we have now. It may conceivably be that we shall be on the losing side. In all my contentions I am assuming that Russia is at least benevolently neutral. If she is not and is aggressive towards any policy which America and ourselves wish to adopt, it seems to me there will be a line up in the world of Russia and Asia versus the rest of the world.

Perhaps I might be so presumptuous as to disagree with the noble and learned Lord Chancellor who, if I understood him aright, implied that regional blocs were retrograde steps. Perhaps I might also, at the same time, beg leave to disagree with the noble Viscount, Lord Temple-wood, who said that if we were to leave Europe it would be abdication. Perhaps I might ask him who is to pay for that wonderful Air Force which is to police Europe? Can we afford it ourselves?

This, very briefly, is my plan. I suggest that the world should, by force, be organized into six economic groups. Although world free trade is an ideal for which we all strive, surely it will be only a dream until we get equal standards of living throughout the world. Nationalism is, I think, very often practised under the cloak of patriotism. Nationalism practised under the cloak of patriotism is bad. Perhaps I. might refer to one passage in the speech delivered by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, yesterday. He said:
"These new declarations that are being made for the surrender not of sovereignty but of some portions of sovereignty, are wise, timely and necessary. There is in them no derogation from a true patriotism. Patriotism and internationalism need not be opposites and should not be."
I thoroughly endorse all that is said there. But there is a danger there of which I am sure the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is aware. I suggest that sovereign rights and trade barriers are against progress.

Coming to my six economic groups, in Group A I put as No. I the British Commonwealth of Nations, as No. 2 the United States of America, and as No. 3 the Moslems who are prepared to group themselves under one banner. In Group B I put as No. 4 the United States of Europe, as No. 5 Russia, and as No. 6 Asia. There are, of course, a good many parts of the world which I have not mentioned, but they would have to be fitted in to the best jigsaw puzzle which could be arranged. Each of those groups, I suggest, should put its house in order first, equalize its standard of living and adopt free trade within the group. I am not a Liberal; I am a Conservative, but I suggest that free trade is the only ultimate goal, provided that we can get an equal standard of living the groups would amalgamate when ready. Complete wholes might not be obtained in our lifetime, or perhaps even in the lifetime of our grandchildren; but the first thing to do is to get rid of the innate selfishness of mankind, and now is the time when it is possible to do it.

Are we to have evolution or revolution? Surely we must aim to make an ordered democracy out of a rabble. The only alternative is the exact opposite of what I have been suggesting; instead of setting up regional groups we must scrap the whole of modern civilization and return to the simple life. Is this practical politics? Can we put the clock back? I should have liked to go further into the question of the economic side, but I shall refer only to one platitude, to which everybody subscribes but which nobody appears to take account of: we have in this world not over-production but under-consumption.

6.23 p.m.

My Lords, I feel that I am entitled to crave the indulgence of your Lordships in filling the role which has been assigned to me in this debate. All through my life I have taken an active interest in the relations of this country with foreign nations, but I do not lay claim to any expert knowledge of foreign affairs. I feel, therefore, that I am almost an amateur in handling matters on which so many of those who have taken part in this debate have far greater knowledge than I have myself. How ever, I shall do my best to answer the questions which have been put to me. At this late hour I cannot hope to answer all the many and intricate questions which have been put, but no doubt the Foreign Office will provide an answer, if so desired, to noble Lords who fail to get an answer from me to any factual questions which they have put.

The noble Lord who has just sat down will excuse me if I do not comment on the scheme which he has put forward for our consideration. Clearly it could not be discussed in a few words of mine in winding up this debate. With regard to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, I agree on the importance of preparatory work before a meeting either of the Heads of Governments or of Foreign Secretaries takes place. I think it is essential that that should be done if a successful result is to be reached.

I should now like to turn to the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Templewood. Before coming to the questions which he put to me, I would make one observation on the figures which he put forward with regard to the number of displaced persons in Europe. I think he said that according to the information which had reached him the number was as high as 30,000,000. There are no official figures on this point, and therefore I hesitate to be dogmatic; but I should be very surprised if the figure was greater than 20,000,000 at the end of the war, or if it was as high as 15,000,000 at the present time.

I was not dealing with what are technically called displaced persons. The number of displaced persons is a good deal less than 30,000,000. I was dealing with the great mass of people who are homeless in Europe, most of them Germans, either wandering about without homes of their own or in camps. There is a distinction between what are known technically as displaced persons and this great population of migrant refugees.

In any case there are no official figures, and therefore I cannot deal with the matter in the new form in which the noble Viscount has now put it. Even if the figure were as low as 15,000,000, none of us could regard it with anything like com placency; but I think that the noble Viscount has put it higher than he is entitled to do. He has opened up a very wide question with regard to matters in Germany, and particularly in the British zone, for which we have a special responsibility, and he asked me to give him answers on certain points. The best estimate of the comparative population of Germany as a whole in 1939 and 1945 is that whereas there were 69,300,000 persons in Germany in 1939 there are probably 67,500,000 persons in Germany at the present time. The total number of Germans to be transferred from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Hungary is a little over 6,500,000. From those countries on the fringe of the present Germany the British zone will be required to accept about 1,500,000 from Poland, and a small number, I think, from the other countries.

I do not think there are many who have already come from Poland, but it is anticipated that the number of Germans coming from Poland altogether will be 1,500,000. The number of displaced persons in assembly centres in the British zone, awaiting repatriation if they so desire, was 540,000 on November 10, and of those approximately 6o per cent. were Poles. Repatriation is continuing as rapidly as circumstances permit, and another 20,000 or 30,000 displaced persons will probably have left the British zone since November 10.

The noble Viscount then asked about the material position. First of all, on the question of principle, I have for a long time past taken the view, which nothing that I have learnt since has persuaded me to alter, but all I have learnt has tended to confirm, that in dealing with Germany we have to steer between Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla was allowing Germany to rebuild all the opportunities of aggression which she accumulated between the two wars, and Charybdis was so destroying the economic future of Germany that the whole basis of European economy was endangered. I have never wavered from the view that the sentimentalists with regard to Germany, either on the one side or the other, were unworthy of serious attention. The only proper position to take up was to do our best to enable our administrators, after the defeat of Germany, to function and to re-form the economic basis of Europe, while at the same time preventing Germany re-accumulating the machinery of aggression which resulted in the disastrous consequences of the war. It is, of course, an exceedingly difficult problem to steer between these two rocks, but it is a problem which we are attempting to pursue.

The noble Viscount asked me some questions, in particular with regard to the proportion of production in Germany to-day as compared with the pre-war standard. He, himself, I gathered, took the view that it was—I think he quoted the actual figure —ten per cent. I should be very sorry, personally, to attempt to give a figure which would, so to speak, average up all the different kinds of things which Germany is making. I will only say that in some matters German production is considerably above ten per cent. I believe that in agriculture and in other matters also it is substantially above ten per cent., but I do not think it is possible to work out an average over the whole and attempt to give one figure to cover the different kinds of production, either agricultural or industrial. The noble Viscount further questioned me on a more general point —namely, whether it was not possible for us not merely to go ahead in providing a stable and model administration-that, I think, was what he said—for Germany, but also to make our plans abundantly clear. He would like us to be able to announce our plans and point to their fulfilment. I quite admit the desirability of doing that as soon as it is possible, but the position is this. At Potsdam the Foreign Secretary reserved the question on the Ruhr for discussion with France and Belgium.

Those consultations are going on, and they have not yet conic to a point at which a result can be announced.

Now I would like to say a word with regard to what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, said concerning Poland. He asked, as I understand, what was the position with regard to the Polish Government and the Polish elections. I would like to remind him that the agreement upon Poland reached at the Crimea Conference, provided for two stages towards the development of normal democratic institutions in Poland. The first stage was completed with the establishment early in July, and the recognition by the Allied Powers, of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity. This was more broadly based than the original Lublin Committee, which was strengthened by the inclusion of leaders from London and some of their supporters from within Poland. The second stage was the holding of free and unfettered elections on the basis of universal suffrage in which all democratic and Anti-Nazi parties have the right to participate and put forward candidates. No date has been fixed for the holding of this election, but the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity accepted the provision when they were recognized by His Majesty's Government, and they have since given assurance, that the elections will be held under the Democratic! Constitution of 1921 and the Electoral Rules of 1922 promulgated under that Constitution. These rules provide for a secret vote under the normal safeguards, and I understand that the elections will be held as soon as possible. It is, in fact, likely that they will he held some time in the first half of 1946.

Lord Perth went on to speak about Russia, and I welcome what he said with regard to that country. I welcome what has been said in all parts of the House with regard to Russia. I hope that the statements which have been made here will be read in Russia and that they may do something to dispel the idea that there is, in this country, a strong feeling against the Soviet Union based on ideological grounds. I do not believe that such a feeling exists. believe that in all sections of our nation there is a feeling that friendship with Russia is absolutely essential. I hope that this debate will have done something to make that clear to our Russian friends.

I shall have some words to say later about the points which noble Lords have made concerning the atomic bomb. I shall come to that subject when I get towards the end of my speech. We have had, as usual, a most delightful speech by my noble friend Earl Russell, who, I am afraid, is no longer in the Chamber. As I knew him as an undergraduate—very many years ago, I am afraid, and in an entirely different place—it is a very great pleasure to me to hear him speak in this Chamber. I do not think that either of us at that time imagined that our future meeting place would be under these auspices.

Now I would like to deal with the speech of my noble friend Lord Altrincham. He, again, made some remarks about the atomic bomb, and I hope to deal with them towards the end of my speech. But he also asked me in particular about the Middle East. The bodies which are being set up to co-ordinate work in the Middle East are the British Middle East Office and the British Civil Mission, Middle East, who are taking over the work of the Resident Minister's office and of the Middle East Supply Centre in Cairo. The British Middle East Office, of which the Supply Mission will form a part, will have an important part in the co-ordination of British policy in this part of the world. It will correspond directly with the Foreign Office and with the Middle East Secretariat serving the official Committee set up by Sir Kinahan Cornwallis in London. It is hoped it will be in close touch with His Majesty's representatives and will, in its contacts with the Governments, work through them. I am afraid I am not in a position to go into greater detail than that.

He also asked me one or two other questions to which I will do my best to reply. He asked me whether any progress has been made in associating the U.S.S.R. with her Allies in handling the Far East. With regard to that I cannot go further than this, that it was recently stated in the House of Commons that discussions are going on between the United States and the U.S.S.R. with a view to the latter's association in control, and His Majesty's Government are being kept informed of how that matter is proceeding. In the second place, he asked me if we had told Russia what are our particular interests in the Middle East, and in reply to that I would say that His Majesty's Government have frequently made public statements about their well- known interests in the Middle East and no specific communication has been made to the Soviet Union.

He also asked if we are going to put Labour Advisers into all the territorial Missions in the Middle East, and the answer is, not necessarily. It is possible that one or two will cover the whole field and possibly the one at Cairo may be able to cover a great deal—

I hesitate to interrupt the noble Lord, but this is the point. If the Labour Adviser in Cairo is intended to cover the whole of the Middle East, why is he appointed to the Cairo Embassy and not to the Middle East Office?

That is a conundrum I cannot answer on the spur of the moment. I would not go so far as to say that the Labour Adviser at Cairo has to cover the whole field, but it may be that the one now appointed to Cairo may be able to cover more than his own district. There may be more than one but certainly there will not be one in every place. I was also asked if any day could be given for the opening of the Anglo-American Commission on Palestine. That has only recently been announced and no further details can be given at the present time, but I hope that as soon as possible, and that that will not be far ahead, further information will be available.

I think I have covered the majority of the special points which have been put to me, but I should like to say a few things with regards to the atomic bomb before I sit down. This point was raised at the beginning of the debate, it has been raised on several occasions to-day, and I feel that something is required from me with regard to it. There are three points about the atomic bomb which I should like to make. The first, in my opinion, is perhaps of very special importance and it does not seem to have been fully appreciated by most of the noble Lords who have spoken, except perhaps the noble Earl, Lord Russell. I do not look upon the atomic bomb as a weapon entirely apart. Quite apart from the atomic bomb itself, the methods of destruction and of what I might call anti-social activities available for countries making war, have been growing with tremendous rapidity. The atomic bomb is only the latest of these great inventions and although, for tunately, owing to the suddenness of its discovery and its use, it has acted as a very severe shock to the peoples of the world, I am not prepared to isolate it and put it alone in a special position by itself.

That is where I find myself at variance with the noble Earl, Lord Perth, and one or two others who have spoken. It was suggested—I think by the noble Viscount, Lord Maugham—that we should single out a special penalty, not for the aggressor in a war, but for the first person who used the atomic bomb. That was suggested, it may not be by the noble Lord opposite me, but certainly by Lord Maugham and, I think, by Lord Perth. What is going to be the position? That means that if there are two sides in a war one side is the aggressor using all the methods apart from the atomic bomb, and that with the other side using the bomb, the whole resources of civilization are to be turned on to the second nation. That seems to me to be quite an impossible position. It is already known that there are other methods which can be exceedingly destructive and that we have certainly not come to the end of destructiveness in the sense of improvement, in the sense of its being made more deadly.

In the Charter aggression is definitely forbidden and will be punished. The atomic bomb is not mentioned in the Charter and that, I think, has changed the situation.

I do not think that that meets the point I am making. The atomic bomb, although it is a new and more deadly weapon, is only the latest weapon and I do not think it can be exclusively.—

I should like to say that every day new weapons are being invented. The terrible nature of wear, ns has been increased all through this war, but there is no doubt that at the present time (and possibly in the future) the atomic bomb stands in a class by itself, We know that one of these bombs killed 19,000 people. The rocket and all the other weapons are not in the same class as that, so I feel, with Lord Perth, that it inaugurates a new era.

I do not say that it does not inaugurate a new era. Other deadly weapons have by no means reached their final phase and the point made so conclusively by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, was that even the atomic bomb, as we have seen it, may be a mere child in its infancy compared with a much more powerful bomb that may be invented in the years to come. One point which I cannot help making is this, that if you take the proposal to single out the first user of the atomic bomb as a person worthy of particular and especial disapproval, and go back on that retrospectively, you are landed in a position which I think few noble Lords would care to pursue. That being so, we are faced with this situation, that humanity and civilization, if it is to survive, must face up to these new facts and the new discoveries of science both from short range and from long range.

With regard to the short range, I am in full agreement with what has been said in all parts of your Lordships' House, that everything must be done tom allay suspicion. We have got to allay the suspicion of our Allies, great and small, and, later, of all the world. We must succeed in allaying suspicion so that the world may start off with a chance of survival. Lt seems to me, on the long view, that there really is no hope for the world if war is to continue. If war is to go forward, we are sure to get some suicidal or homicidal maniac who will unloose the atomic bomb and other still more deadly weapons. There does not appear to be any counter except reprisal; he will hope to get away with it first and wipe out the rest of the world except his own country and himself. He will probably be disappointed. The result will be a kind of gladiatorial contest in which all will die by slaughter, and not a single person will be left in the auditorium to approve or disapprove. Therefore, I am forced to believe that the proposals for so modifying warfare as to make it not entirely destructive of human civilization will not, in the long run, prove possible.

Man by his marvellous brain power has probed into secrets long hidden from the human race. He learns what is going on at great distances, distances a million times as great as those envisaged only fifty years ago. He has gone down below the atom which was regarded fifty years ago as the smallest thing there was, to a whole solar system, as it were, within the atom itself, and he has discovered these immense powers. His brain, 'his intellect and his scientific knowledge are the admiration of us all. But man has not proceeded in his moral nature at the same pace, and he is now confronted with the position that unless his moral attitude towards life does make an advance sufficiently great, all his scientific knowledge, and everything else, will perish with him. This view is not to-day merely that of unpractical people interested in an ideal beyond their comprehension. Unless the world can learn that lesson, whether in domestic or international affairs, in the light of modern powers of mutual destruction, civilization as we know it cannot survive.

6.53 P.m.

My Lords, it is, as your Lordships know, the privilege accorded to anyone who introduces a Motion in this House to be allowed to say a few words in answer to the debate. That is a very easy task this evening because there has been practically no difference of opinion on any side of the House throughout a full two-days' discussion. That is a very remarkable fact. There has also, I think, been no difference expressed as to the measures we ought to take to try to meet these perils. There has been a most extraordinary sense of unanimity.

If I may, I would like to refer to a comparatively small misapprehension evidenced in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi. I think he thought that in the speech I delivered to your Lordships yesterday, I spoke slightingly of the proposal of the Foreign Secretary to set up a World Assembly. I can assure the House and noble Lords opposite that nothing was further from my intention. In fact, I went out of my way to say that I hoped what had been done would inspire him to go further. I did make some criticisms, but I always understood it was the function of Parliament to criticize, and I have never known the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, himself to be very backward in doing that. I think it is quite possible that, in putting forward that proposal, the Foreign Secretary did not mean it to be taken quite so literally, but it was evidence on his part of the distance he was prepared to go, arid, therefore, it was a reasonable thing to say, but I do not believe it to be practicable in its present form and at the present time.

I do not want to go into the question of the bomb which has been discussed ad nauseum in this House, but I would say one thing to the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack. I was shocked when he said that my proposal that it should be put under the control of the Security Council and that the veto exercised by permanent members should be abolished was premature, because I think if there is one thing which has been said in this debate by everybody it is that we ought to have modifications of national sovereignty. I think I am the only person who put forward a definite proposal on that, and yet what did I get from the noble Viscount the Leader of the House and the Lord Chancellor? That it was too soon and that we cannot speak about it yet. That is what has been said about every modification.

I cannot accept that. The whole contention I sought the make—I agree, rather imperfectly perhaps—was that it was inevitable that there must be a surrender of national sovereignty all over the world, but that that did not mean abrogation or surrender of national virtues or characteristics.

The noble Viscount did think my proposals were premature, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, will recall, I believe, that whenever any suggestion of a similar nature was made between the wars it always received the same rather chilly reception. But I do not wish to carry that matter further. I hope the Government will give not only my proposal, but all similar proposals, their careful consideration.

I would like to return to the main debate itself for a few minutes. I think it has been a useful one, and has certainly maintained a high level throughout. That level was maintained, if I may say so, by the closing passage in the speech of the noble Lord who answered for the Government, and I feel we have, on this occasion, justified the claim, which I think was made by the noble Lord, Lord Hutchison, in his speech, that this House may be regarded as a Council of State. Above all, I thought this debate had one particular merit—it was completely frank. Issues of the type with which we are now faced in the world are not to be avoided by ignoring them. We have had far too much of that in the past. They can only be solved by free and realistic discussion. We have had free and realistic discussion in this debate, and it we can have the same in the United Nations I think a solution can be found for those difficulties which bulk so large before us. All that now remains is for me to withdraw my Motion. I beg leave to do so.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Civil Flying Clubs

6.59 p.m.

had given Notice that he would ask His Majesty's Government whether owing to the fact that both civil flying clubs and private owners had their aircraft requisitioned during the war they could be given preferential treatment with regard to replacements;

Whether His Majesty's Government is prepared to pay some form of financial compensation to the civil flying clubs which were closed down by the Government in 1939;

Whether enough petrol will be allocated for the use of these flying clubs to allow them to function in their normal pre-war manner and, also, whether petrol for this use may be subject to a rebate from taxation;

Whether more careful consideration could be given to gliding and the gliding movement in general as a training ground for potential pilots; and whether the subsidy granted by His Majesty's Government prior to this last war might be re-granted.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I put down the question which stands in my name to-day because the noble Lord, Lord Winster, informed us that both civil flying and flying by gliding clubs would be permitted as from January r, 1946. Since then we have heard no more, but he promised us a statement at some date fairly soon, and I hope this question will give him the opportunity of making it. With your Lordships' permission, I am going to deal with the last portion of the question first. Gliding has for a number of years been recognized as one of the finest training grounds for pilots, and, as a matter of fact, I believe a great deal more attention was paid to it on the Continent of Europe and in America than in this country. But, before the war, the Government did give a small subsidy, a very small one, indeed—it was £5,000 I think—for the aid of the then gliding clubs, and it was given to the Gliding Association. I am hoping that we shall hear this evening that that subsidy will be reintroduced by His-Majesty's Government, and also that they will be prepared to hand over quite a considerable amount of now redundant equipment from the war-time balloon barrages, which would be, I might say, almost essential, but certainly most helpful. I refer to equipment such as winches which are no longer required but which I believe are very useful to gliding clubs.

Another part of my question deals with the matter of compensation for civil flying clubs which were closed down in 1939. I have now come to understand that there was an actual sum of £25,000 handed over by the then Government for distribution amongst these flying clubs, and that was to be taken at the time as full and final compensation. This was, of course, a very small sum, and did not really meet the claims of the clubs in many ways. I believe it was given out by the then Government, however, to be final, and. naturally I cannot press for any further financial compensation. At the present moment, however, there arc a great many machines of the trainer type—smaller machines—which are on the charge of both the Royal Air Force and the Fleet. Air Ann, which I believe arc redundant to the needs of those Services but which. are very necessary for flying clubs. I suggest that a. certain number of those machines should be handed over to these clubs. The machines would, of course, be used to form the nucleus for the fleets of training machines that these clubs will, I hope, require in quite a short time.

The last time that I addressed your Lordships' House on this subject, I suggested that probably the time had not really come to ask that a subsidy should be granted to these clubs. Having heard the last two speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Winster, however, I have come to the conclusion that a subsidy and assistance in the matter of training machines already mentioned are really matters of necessity, to promote the efficient flying of these clubs. If His Majesty's Government can find enough money, as we have been already informed on more than one occasion, to finance not only the B.O.A.C. but also a couple of other international Airways Corporations, I am quite certain that they are in a position to finance the restarting of all these clubs. Another most important point is that of the provision of petrol, because finance alone is not the slightest bit of good without petrol. I do hope His Majesty's Government are going to grant enough fuel for these clubs to restart their activities on exactly the same scale as when they ceased their operations in 1939.

There is one other point. Your Lordships are always hearing about the awful bogy of unemployment and its attendant evils. When these clubs are operating at full pressure they will absorb quite a large number of people generally, apart from flying personnel — instructors, ground staff, mechanics, club servants, canteen servants and so on. And there is an entirely different side to this matter, which concerns the whole country to-day, and that is the question of export. Before the last war there was a very healthy trade growing up in the export of light aeroplanes. That export trade naturally died down to nothing during the war, and it must once again be reintroduced. It has to be fostered and brought to maturity. The flying clubs are really the shop window of the whole of the light aeroplane export trade. That window has to be brilliantly illuminated, and His Majesty's Government are really the only people who can provide the wherewithal for its illumination. Nobody from South America, China, or India, is going to buy our light aeroplanes just on the word of some super-optimistic salesman who says: "They are good light aeroplanes." We have got to show them, and the flying clubs are the places where those machines are on show. The races that used to be organized by these clubs, and I hope will be organized again, are the exhibition grounds where the high standard of British manufacturers is on show. They show what we can and do produce.

I have another point about petrol. These clubs are, quite naturally, going through very great difficulties, but some of those difficulties will be greatly eased if the Government will see their way to promote what is really a form of overseas trade by alleviating some of the burdens on it. I suggest that that can be done by a very substantial rebate of the petrol tax. It is a very great advantage to both sides of your Lordships' House that this nation's shop window should be really well filled, and it is to the benefit of the whole mass of the people of this country who are represented by His Majesty's Government that the items for sale in that window should be sent overseas as soon as possible. I am not going to detain your Lordships any longer, although I could have said a lot more. That is the gist of what I wished to point out to you, in addition to what is stated in my questions. I beg to ask the questions standing in my name.

7.9 p.m.

My Lords, the noble Lord has put four questions to me, but in the course of his remarks he has raised several matters which are outside the scope of those questions and which I must be excused from answering to-night. As regards the questions, I may say that my right honourable friend the Minister of Supply and Aircraft Production is now offering for open sale by competitive tender a limited number of light aircraft which have been declared surplus to military requirements. Further surplus light aircraft, although still in small quantities in relation to the total demand for club, business and private purposes, will become available later, and the question whether preference in their allocation should be given to the pre-war civil light aeroplane clubs is at present under consideration.

There will be no financial compensation to flying clubs whose activities ceased on the outbreak of war. Payments were made to the civil flying clubs in regard to flying training which was interrupted at the outbreak of war. In addition, a settlement was negotiated with the General Council of Associated Light Aeroplane Clubs whereby ex gratia payments were made to the clubs in respect of approved outstanding liabilities which could not be met from realizable assets.

It will be necessary to introduce a system of petrol rationing for civil aircraft when the present emergency restrictions on civil flying are removed. The amount of petrol that can be made available for civil flying activities is at present under examination by my right honourable friend the Minister of Fuel and Power. It is not intended that petrol made available for this purpose should be subject to a rebate from taxation.

The British Gliding Association have put forward proposals for the development of gliding which are being considered by my Department and the Air Ministry. I hope it will shortly be possible to make a comprehensive statement on the policy of His Majesty's Government towards gliding in this country.

Release Of Agricultural Workers

7.11 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask the first question on the Paper in the name of my noble friend Earl De La Warr.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many applications for the release of agricultural workers and of associated rural craftsmen under Class B have been received by war agricultural executive committees in Great Britain; how many releases have been obtained; whether steps are being considered both to ease and make more attractive the terms of release under Class B; and what other steps, if any, are being taken to get more workers into the agricultural industry.]


My Lords, I should like to inform your Lordships, in answer to the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr's question, that it is estimated that about 10,000 applications for the release of agricultural workers and workers in industries ancillary to agriculture under Class B arrangements for "individual specialists" have been received by agricultural executive committees in Great Britain. The number of applications supported by the committees to the sponsoring Departments is 2,507, of which 872 have been recommended for release; 664 releases have been granted to date; 39 applications have been rejected by the Ministry of Labour or Service Departments for noncompliance with the essential conditions of release or for Service reasons; and a decision is still awaited on 169 applications.

In reply to the third part of the question, the whole question of Class B releases for agriculture is still under consideration, but it is hoped to wake a statement at an early date. As regards the last part of the question, the Ministry of Labour and National Service in the ordinary way submit names of suitable persons registering at employment exchanges for agricultural vacancies, and that Department is also conducting a widespread publicity campaign through the Press to encourage workers formerly employed in certain key industries, including agriculture, to return to those industries if they can be spared from their present jobs. Recruitment for the Womens' Land Army is still being continued and it is hoped that the Government's scheme of vocational training in agriculture and horticulture for men and women released from war service will attract many new recruits to the industry.

Agricultural Equipment

7.14 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to ask the second question standing in the name of my noble friend Lord De La Warr.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps arc being taken to ensure supplies of machinery and equipment, either home produced or imported, on a scale that will justify their statement that agricultural land must be "not only properly farmed, but properly managed and equipped."]

My Lords, in reply to the noble Earl, Earl De La Warr's second question, I should like to say that supplies of agricultural machinery on farms have increased very considerably during the war. There are still certain shortages, but as more labour and factory capacity become available, most of these should be rapidly made good. Despite labour and other wartime difficulties, manufacturers in this country have provided about two-thirds of the machinery supplied during the war period. It will not be possible for us to purchase agricultural machinery from overseas on the scale on which it was supplied during the war under Lease-Lend and mutual aid arrangements, and manufacture in this country of a full range of the machinery required by British agriculture is being actively encouraged. Considerable attention is being paid by the British agricultural engineering Indus- try to development both of new and improved machines, though progress may be slower than could be desired while the present acute shortage of designers and of labour in the factories persists. The Agricultural Departments are keeping in close touch with these developments, which they are constantly endeavouring to foster.

With regard to other forms of equipment, it is proposed that the powers under which assistance has been given during the war in respect of schemes of ditching and mole and tile draining and the installation of farm water supplies shall be extended until December 31, 1947, under the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill. The Report of a Farm Buildings Committee made during the lifetime of the last Government will shortly be published and will contain a number of important recommendations regarding the equipment of farms with adequate and suitable buildings, the provision of advice to farmers, the carrying out of research and investigation and other matters. Fuller details of the Government's intentions on this matter will be announced after the Report has been published. It has been estimated that, before the war, some £6,000,000 a year was spent on the maintenance of farm buildings. An efficient agriculture would certainly require expenditure on a much larger scale than this.

Rural Housing

7.17 p.m.

My 'Lords, I beg to ask the last question which Lord De La Warr has on the Paper.

[The question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government what number of houses they estimate will be completed in the rural areas of Great Britain during 1946 and 1947, with especial reference to those intended for agricultural workers; how many plans have already been submitted for approval, how many approved and how many houses are in process of erection.]

My Lords, as regards the first part of the question, the reasons which have led the Government to decide not to publish a housing target were explained in the debates on November 13th and i4th in your Lordships' House. The Minister of Health has, however, undertaken to submit periodical progress reports showing what has actually been achieved, beginning in the New Year. The stage now reached by housing schemes promoted by rural district councils is that land has been acquired for approximately 40,000 houses, the invitation of tenders has been authorized. for 12,290 houses and tenders have been approved for 3,412 houses. Work should either have started or be about to start on all contracts for which tenders have been approved, but the progress of the work on the sites will not be known until the returns which the Minister of Health. is obtaining from the local authorities are received in the New Year. The apportionment of the houses built by rural district councils between the agricultural and the non-agricultural population of rural districts will be made after the new subsidies have been fixed. Discussions with the associations of local authorities on this subject are now proceeding and the Government will shortly be introducing a Bill embodying their proposals.

Flying Accidents

7.19 p.m.

had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government whether they can give information as to what happened to a transport plane carrying A.T.S. and other personnel from Peterborough to Italy on October 3; and what arrangements were made to inform next-of-kin when the loss of this aircraft was known; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I apologize for addressing you at this late hour. I did, however, ask my noble friend the Secretary of State, whether he would rather have this Motion taken now or postpone it, and he said he would rather have it now. As it does not interest this House so much as the country as a whole, it is just as w ell that we should go on with it. In the debate on civil aviation I raised the question of the position of Transport Command relative to the Air Ministry. If I remember aright, the Secretary of State was not in his place at the time, but he has no doubt read the debate. It is true to say, I think, that civil aviation has always been, so to speak, the step-child of the Air Ministry, ill-used and ill-nurtured. It has now been handed over to another Ministry, but the Air Ministry have adopted a child of their own for the job of civil aviation, Transport Command. Many of us have tried to impress upon the world that military and civil aviation are two very separate and distinct things. I think the view we have tried to advance is justified by the results we see to-clay, by the deplorable number of accidents that have happened during this year alone. If we take our own national transport organization, B.O.A.C., which is so much maligned, we find that during the year it has had no fatal accidents whatever; yet under Transport Command —and I quite admit the circumstances are different—the casualties up to now are over 550.

I quite appreciate that we could have a debate on this question, and a somewhat wide one. I should not like to raise that to-night, because it is too late; but one day we might have one, and I think it would be most salutary and instructive. I am raising this question because of the sorrow which I saw myself on the part of one mother whose daughter was killed in an accident. I am not giving the name to the House, but I have given it to my noble friend the Secretary of State. The facts are these. A transport plane left Peterborough on October for Italy. I understand that there were three machines, which left more or less at the same time, and those machines carried chiefly girls from the W.A.A.F. and A.T.S. Something happened to one of those machines, we know not what; but the mother of this girl received a letter on October 13, 'ten days afterwards, stating that her child was missing. I have found out that a letter was addressed to a wrong address before that, but still, that was all that she received, on the 13th, ten days later. There was no telegram, although, of course, the fact of the disaster must have been known very shortly afterwards. What is curious is that so far there has been no official state-merit of the loss of this aircraft at all, or of possible reasons. It is true that, due to parents speaking about the accident, it has leaked out and got into the Press, but we have had no official news about it at all.

There are two things that I want to impress upon the Secretary of State. The first is that we are not at war at present. We are nominally at peace, and a disaster like this is a major disaster. If it had happened on the railways, what a tremendous fuss there would have been about it, what inquiries, what investigations! All we get in this case—and although the people concerned were in uniform, their lives are just as valuable—is a laconic letter to the mother, saying that her child is missing. I think that it is only reasonable that parents should know all the circumstances and the possible explanation. They will want to be reassured that accidents of a similar kind will not occur. But what is the history? Still the toll of life in Transport Command continues. On October 7, 26 were killed; on October 13, at Brussels, 31 were killed; on October 20, 3 were killed, and on October 28 another 2. On November 5, on a flight from England to Italy, 20 were killed; on November II, in Italy, 7 were killed; and on November 14, 3 and the crew were killed. I know very well the history of aviation, and I have seen the bodies of my friends crushed and burned, and I know it is not a safe form of transport, that there are many hazards. But it is not as dangerous as all that! There seems to be something rotten in the state of Denmark.

There must be some reorganization to ensure that this distressing state of affairs does not go on. It is a shocking story, and the facts stand out without any further words of mine to emphasize them. The curious part, however, is that some of these accidents are reported and some are not. Some are known and announced to the public; some get into the Press through the private sorrow of relatives of the victims. I would ask my noble friend the Secretary of State whether he can make some plan so that some uniform policy will be followed in the future, and a more sympathetic attitude adopted towards the very human desire for all the information possible to be given at the earliest moment to the sorrowing parents. I beg to move for Papers.

7.25 p.m.

My Lords, I am sure that even at this late hour we shall none of us count the time ill spent on a subject so important as this, and I am sure that the noble Lord will believe me when I say that this is a matter of very deep concern to "all of us. There is one point which he has made which I think is new. As he knows very well, in the war, when an officer or other rank was killed, it was the custom for his Commanding Officer to write a letter to the parents giving the circumstances. In such cases people always want to know everything, and are eager for every bit of news from anyone who has known their dear one. Whether that is done about passengers I do not know, but that is the only new point. Now, if your Lordships will excuse me, I shall read a statement which I have prepared with great care, because of the importance of this matter.

In considering the accident rate in Transport Command, one must have regard to the scale of the air transport task which the Royal Air Force is now carrying out. I would mention in parenthesis that the accidents which the noble Lord mentioned were not related by him to the enormous increase in miles flown. Your Lordships will forgive me if I remind you of the following extract from the statement on the release scheme made by the Minister of Labour on October 3:
"Between October, 1945, and May, 1946, the R.A.F. is scheduled to transport about L000,000 personnel and nearly 250,000 tons of freight. Most of this transport will he over vast distances and is indispensable to the arrangements for release, repatriation, and leave in all three Services."
The magnitude and urgency of this task of course preclude its being undertaken under conditions comparable with those of peace-time commercial flying. Although Transport Command are carrying out a great part of this task, Bomber Command, Coastal Command and the Heavy Bomber Group in the Mediterranean and Middle East are also making important contributions.

Only a proportion of the aircraft at our disposal are genuine transport types; many of them are converted bombers. Much of the flying has to take place along routes which have had to be established at short notice over long distances, with fewer suitable airfields and a less comprehensive system of navigational aids and meteorological facilities than we should wish. The release scheme has necessarily taken away experienced aircrew and ground staff who were in early release groups, though we are now invoking the "military necessity" clause to retard the release of many of these men. The reasons why we have to take this step, which is essential in the interests of safety, must be remembered when we are criticized because the release scheme does not operate evenly throughout the Royal Air Force.

Clearly then, the accident record in Transport Command must be considered in relation to the scale and character of its activities. The Command flew, in September, more than twice as many passenger-miles as it flew in January, and in October the number of passenger-miles was doubled again. Obviously in these circumstances an increase —even a considerable increase—in the number of accidents does not necessarily mean an increase in the accident rate. I am glad to assure your Lordships that the general trend of the accident rate, not only of Transport Command but in the R.A.F. as a whole, continues to be downward. Please do not think, however, that we are complacent about the number of accidents. We are always searching for means of making flying safer, and every fatal accident is the subject of a close and detailed inquiry.

Let me tell you some of the measures we are taking to reduce the risk in the air trooping scheme. In the first place, the crews of transport aircraft are specially selected. The standard of skill and experience which is expected of them is high—for example, the pilot of a fourengined transport engaged on trooping or trunk route services is expected to have done at least 1,000 hours' flying. Crews do not fly passengers over the main trunk routes until they have done two return journeys carrying freight. Bomber Command crews, although very experienced on bomber work, were inevitably below the Transport Command standard laid down for crews employed on air trooping operations, and they have, therefore, been restricted to the less exacting transport tasks. Then, in order to improve safety in the air, we arc standardizing our flying control organization and providing an extensive system of radar aids to navigation. Few such aids, suitable for our use, existed on the Continent until recently. We are providing improved and more detailed meteorological information on which flight plans can be based. Staging posts are being reorganized to enable aircraft flying on trunk routes to divert in case of unfavourable weather or other emergency.

I now come to the particular accident to which the noble Lord referred. The aircraft, a Lancaster of Bomber Command, left this country at 1 a.m. on October 4 to fly to Naples. It carried a crew of six, and nineteen passengers, of whom seventeen were members of the A.T.S. and two were nurses. It was last heard of at 4·40 a.m. when it was off the South Coast of France. As soon as it was known that the aircraft was missing, search action was instituted but without result. An investigation into the causes of this accident is taking place. As the noble Lord will, I am sure, appreciate, this investigation must be very thorough if it is to be of any use for our future guidance, and it will therefore take some time.

The arrangements for informing the next-of-kin, to whom the noble Lord and all other noble Lords would, I am sure, wish to join with me in expressing their deep sympathy, were as follows: The next-of-kin of the crew were notified by the unit on October 5. A telegram giving the names of the passengers was dispatched to the Air Ministry the same day. It was received in the Air Ministry on October 6, and a copy was sent to the War Office Casualty Branch, Liverpool, where it was received on October 7. The same day telegrams were sent to the recorded next-of-kin of the two nurses, one of whom was a South African and had given the name of a person living in this country as the individual to be notified. Also on that day, October 7, the names of the A.T.S. personnel were telegraphed to the A.T.S. Record Office at Winchester, which notified the next-of-kin, as recorded in that office, on October 8.

In the case of the member of the A.T.S. to whom the noble Lord referred, the notification was sent to the relative whose address had been recorded at the Record Office by the member concerned. It subsequently transpired that this was not the address at which the member's mother then was, and my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for War, has asked me to express his regret for any delay that may have occurred in notifying the mother. All the A.T.S. victims of the fatality were other ranks, and the notifications from the Record Office were sent by letter, in accordance with the normal War Office practice.

The noble Lord asked: "Why was there no official announcement made here of this accident?" The answer is that the accident occurred before the Air Ministry began to issue communiqués regarding accidents to troop and passenger carrying aircraft. It was, in fact, an overlapping from war practice. It has gone now, but that is the reason. Full particulars were, however, given to a London newspaper on October 19 in response to an inquiry on the subject. The new practice perhaps should have been adopted earlier. Anyway, it is in force now, and communiqués are being issued on all air accidents involving passengers in R.A.F. aircraft. We must, of course, take into account not only the public interest in receiving early details, but also the need for ensuring, as far as possible, that the next-of-kin receive their first intimation through official channels. For this reason we cannot issue a fullcommuniqué until steps have been taken to inform the next-of-kin. Al the same time, the Press often learns through other sources of an aircraft accident before we are ready to issue our communiqué and when they ask the Air Ministry for confirmation. we do, in fact, give them as much information as possible in advance of issuing a communiqué.

I have just now described the old procedure. Noble Lords will understand that any Department is extremely anxious that no possible mistake should occur in notifying a casualty. It would be a most painful and unfortunate thing if someone were informed that there had been a loss and it was found that the notification had been given to the wrong address or that: a wrong person was named. Therefore all the old arrargements were made with that in mind. You must be certain before you give dreadful news to anybody. But I was not satisfied that the old procedure was sufficient because, as your Lordships will realize, if an accident is announced, those who have any relative who is likely to have been travelling on the route concerned, will naturally be laid under a great burden of anxiety. They will fear that their relative may have been in the accident.

What was required was a speeding up in the notification of the names, and this is the new procedure which has been evolved and is now in operation. The old procedure has been reviewed with the object of speeding up the notification to the next-of-kin, so that a communiqué may be issued at the earliest possible moment, giving the names of the occupants and saying whether they were killed, missing or injured. It has now been agreed with the other Service Departments that, in the case of any aircraft carrying Service personnel from an airfield in this country it will be the responsibility of the R.A.F. unit to which the aircraft belongs —whatever the Service to which the passenger belongs—-to notify casualties to all next-of-kin resident in this country. By this means we shall eliminate a number of channels through which the information has previously passed, and in most cases we should be able to issue our communiqués within a few hours of the accident becoming known.

As the noble Lord has said, no explanation has been given of this accident. A full investigation into this accident is proceeding and as soon as it has been completed I propose to make a statement in your Lordships' House. I have been asked to agree that inquiries into major aircraft accidents occurring in peace-time should be made public. This is not the first time that a similar suggestion has been made. For example, it was dealt with by Earl Baldwin, then Mr. Baldwin, when he was Prime Minister, in 1927. He said:
"There is a natural objection to making the kind of criticism that is necessary in cases like this, and to bringing individuals into that criticism, if you know that that criticism is going to he made public. Nor again would witnesses—and this is of the utmost importance—speak with anything like the same freedom if they thought their evidence was going to be made public."
The practice of treating the reports of Service Courts of Inquiry as confidential is one which has been generally accepted for a very long time and I do not think it has been seriously questioned; but I can assure the noble Lord that I shall always be ready to give as much information as possible—subject to security considerations —about accidents which arouse public interest.

7.38 p.m.

My Lords, it has been very distressing to myself to have to raise this matter, and I am sure that it has been equally distressing to my noble friend the Secretary of State to deal with this question on behalf of the Department for which he bears official responsibility, for I know his kindly nature. But although I have delayed raising the matter until this late moment, I think it has been well worth while doing so because it has given the opportunity for my noble friend Lord. Stansgate to tell the House what has been the past procedure in relation to these matters, what, perhaps, have been emissions, and what new methods are going to be employed in the future. I feel that what he has said will reassure many people—those who have lost relatives or friends in the past, and those unfortunate people who may be potential losers of their kith and kin. I thank the noble Lord most warmly for his courtesy in answering my question, and I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at twenty minutes before eight o'clock.