Julian Amery – 1950 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Julian Amery, the then MP for Preston North, in the House of Commons on 18 March 1950.

The natural diffidence which any man must feel who speaks in this House for the first time is heightened in my case by the apprehension that some of the things I want to say today may be thought more controversial than is becoming in a maiden speech. If so, I can only hope that the sense of deep and urgent conviction which alone leads me to speak today will justify the House in granting me that measure of indulgence which is traditionally accorded to a maiden speaker.

As I see it, the central fact of the international situation today is that we are at war with Communist Russia. It is still a cold war, thank God; but it is a war none the less; and unless we recognise it as such we are unlikely either to secure a satisfactory peace or to prevent it from deteriorating into a shooting war. In these circumstances it seems natural that we on this side of the House should ask the Government to tell us what is their plan, what is their strategy, for the conduct of this cold war. The Minister of State has taken us on a round of interesting and important problems, but I was not myself able to disengage from his speech any coherent plan or strategy for confronting the dangers that loom on the international horizon.

I have heard the Government’s policy sometimes described as one of containment—containment of Russia. I confess that it seems to me to be rather stretching the meaning of words to apply the term “containment” to a policy which has already permitted the Sovietisation of half of Europe and the whole of China. Was it containment when we allowed our warships to be mined in the Corfu Channel with impunity, and, four years later, are still awaiting compensation for the deaths of 40 British sailors? Was it containment when we permitted the murder of Petkov, the imprisonment of Cardinal Mindszenty, and the overthrow of democratic and constitutional life in Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary, in direct contradiction of the armistice terms to which we were a party? Was it containment when we allowed the Czechoslovakian democracy to be overthrown and our friend and ally Mikolajezyk to be driven into exile in direct contradiction of the Yalta Agreement? Was it containment when our Government stood by and did nothing when the Communist armies overran the whole of China, including British interests which, at the present rate of the pound, cannot be valued at much less than £400 million?

It seems to me that the term “containment” is not one which can be applied to the policy which the Government have pursued. At times, indeed, their policy has seemed suspiciously like one of scuttling away from our responsibilities behind a smoke screen of bluster. It may be that the Foreign Secretary has acted in the hope that, if only we could trade space for time and delay bringing matters to a head for long enough, unforeseen developments might divert the Soviet rulers from their aims of world domination. In the past, when we stood at the summit of the world and enjoyed an immense margin of power, there was much to be said for waiting upon events, but today, as the weakest of the three great Powers, we must anticipate events if we are to survive them. By all means let us hope and pray that the Chinese dictator may turn out to be a second Tito, or that there will be a palace revolution in the Kremlin; but to base your policy on the hope that “something will turn up” is to degrade yourself to the level of Mr. Micawber.

Recrimination has its uses if it prevents the repetition of errors, but I do not want to dwell on the errors of the past. Instead, I should like to make one or two constructive proposals about our conduct of the cold war. The first point I wish to make concerns the general defence of Western Europe. I am one of those—and I believe we are a majority on both sides of the House—who believe in the conception of a United Europe, not merely as a means of defence against the Soviet Union but as an end in itself.

Much can be done—something is already being done—to secure European co-operation in the economic sphere; but it seems to me that in present circumstances, in the face of present dangers, there is an even greater opportunity to secure closer European relations, closer European co-operation, in the sphere of defence. For this reason it seems to me to be a matter for regret that the staff set up at Fontainebleau under Lord Montgomery has not yet developed into the supreme command of a genuine European army. No national differences or personal rivalries ought to be allowed to stand in the way of such a development.

The sooner a European army exists the easier it will be to raise those German contingents without which we cannot hope to defend Europe against attack. This whole question of Germany is so intimately bound up with that of the union of Europe, and this union of Europe depends, in turn, so much upon matters of defence that it seems to me a pity that the whole subject of defence should have been excluded from the purview of the Council of Europe. Here is a matter which might well be reconsidered.

The next point which I want to make is this: you cannot win wars, whether they are hot wars or cold wars, by remaining permanently on the defensive. At some point you have to go over to the attack. So far we have followed purely defensive tactics, and the results have not been very encouraging. Surely the time has now come—indeed, is overdue—when we must carry our ideas beyond the Iron Curtain and seek to break the Communist monopoly of Eastern Europe and of China by encouraging opposition, and the setting up of resistance movements, on the other side of the Russian front.

This, after all, is only what the Soviets have been doing for four-and-a-half years in Western Europe and South-Eeast Asia. The Soviet Union has divided Europe and divided Asia by the cold war. We shall only re-unite them if we also take the initiative in the cold war. It will be objected, I know, that such a policy as I describe—one of taking the offensive in the cold war ourselves and building up resistance movements beyond the Iron Curtain—would lead to war. I do not believe it. If Stalin wants war, there will be war; but he is not going to be provoked into starting a war just because we give him a taste of his own medicine.

The truth is that if the Russians have not pressed matters even further than they have it is because they are afraid of a war, and they are afraid of a war because they still believe they would be defeated; and they fear defeat because of their temporary inferiority in atomic weapons. So long, indeed, as the United States had the monopoly of the atomic bomb there was no danger of war at all. The military superiority of the West was absolute. Now, however, that the Russians have also discovered the atomic bomb, that superiority has become merely relative. The Russians may never catch up with the American lead in this one weapon. Equally, it may not be long before their smaller stock of atom bombs matched to an otherwise superior military machine may give them an overall superiority. If that day comes, and please God it never will, it will mean a shooting war.

For some time, however—and, as the Leader of the Opposition indicated, it may be a long time—American atomic supremacy, reinforced by the discovery of the hydrogen bomb, will still stand between the Red Army and the conquest of Western Europe. So long as this situation exists, we can negotiate with the Russians from strength. It must be the task of statesmanship, therefore, to insist upon a settlement with the Soviet Union while there is still time.

What should be the conditions of such a settlement; what, in fact, should be our war aims in the cold war? The root of the trouble—the cause of the cold war—lies in the enormous expansion of Russian power. In the past five years, as Commissar Malenkov pointed out in a speech last October, the Soviet rulers have increased the population under their direct or indirect sway from 200 million to 800 million. They have secured the services of German and East European scientists, officers, technicians and skilled workmen. Their resources have been enriched by the addition of Silesian industry, the Skoda works, the Roumanian and Austrian oil wells, the mineral deposits of Poland and the Balkans, the uranium of Saxony and Czechoslovakia, and the coal and iron of Manchuria. If we add to this the strength of the Red Army and the Red Air Force and the subversive power of the Communist parties all over the world, the conclusion to be drawn is that the Soviet rulers already possess so great a strength that, but for their temporary deficiency in atomic power, their dream of world conquest might already be in sight.

In these circumstances, surely, the essential condition of peace must be to reduce the power of Russia within proper bounds. We do not wish, and we cannot want, to dismember the Soviet Union or even to smash her regime. What we do want is to see her power reduced within proper bounds. This means that the Red Army must get back behind the Curzon line and that the monopoly of the Communist parties of the countries of Eastern Europe must be broken. Of course, it is not enough merely to compel the withdrawal of the Russian Armies and to break the monopoly of the Communist parties; we have to fill the vacuum created by the destruction of Germany. We have got to build a Europe, not just the truncated Western Europe of today but a whole Europe which will embrace all the countries which by tradition, by history and by interest look to the West.

How are these aims to be fulfilled? Plainly, the first step must be to convince the Russians that we are determined to accept nothing less than the reunion of Eastern Europe to the body politic of Western Europe as it stands today. This calls for negotiations at the highest possible level. If such negotiations should prosper, they will bring immense blessings to all mankind; if they should fail, then, at least, we should all know where we stood and could make our plans accordingly. Nothing but good, it seems to me, can come from such initiative, and that is why, along with many others, I must join in deploring the action of the Foreign Secretary in describing as a “stunt” the proposal made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech at Edinburgh.

The Prime Minister has told us that such negotiations should be conducted through the usual channels: that is the United Nations. But the negotiations with the United Nations have been going on for four-and-a-half years, and they have brought us to the brink of war. There is no more dangerous and perhaps no more fatal error in politics, and especially in foreign affairs, than for a Government or a Minister to remain tied to the carcass of a dead policy.

The Leader of the Opposition, in the first volume of his memoirs, described the Second World War as “the unnecessary war.” The war into which the Socialist Government are slowly drifting might be called with equal justice the “inexcusable war.” For four years the Foreign Secretary has known the nature of the Russian danger. In association with his American colleagues he has possessed the power to conjure that danger away. So far, he and they have lacked the will to act. Sooner or later—and the time may not be so far removed—he will also lack the power. Such persistence in error is termed by Christian moralists the sin against the Holy Ghost. In the whole catalogue of sins it is the hardest to excuse. All sins, of course, may be forgiven if repentance comes in time, but time is the essence of the situation. Last year, I was discussing these things one day with a friend while walking up and down a garden. We stopped for a moment to look at an old sun dial and on its edge I read this motto, and I commend it to the Foreign Secretary: “It is later than you think”.

Enoch Powell – 1950 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

By Allan warren - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13721986
By Allan warren – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13721986

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Enoch Powell in the House of Commons on 16 March 1950.

There is no need for me to pretend those feelings of awe and hesitation which assail any hon. Member who rises to address this House for the first time, but I trust I shall receive the indulgence which is usually accorded to one undergoing that ordeal. I wish to address myself to the same problem as the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), but to address remarks to it expressed rather in the form of manpower than, as he did, in that of finance.

To anyone who reads the White Paper on Defence, the one outstanding feature is the staggering burden in terms of manpower which this country is called upon to shoulder. How great that burden is may be seen by a simple comparison with pre-war commitments. Our Defence Forces are today approximately double the size they were in 1938, but it is an under-estimate to say that our burden has only doubled, for the difference between our pre-war manpower in defence and our present manpower is filled by the National Service man, or conscript. The expenditure of manpower in the form of conscript service is the least efficient and the most dislocating to the national economy of any use of manpower. Therefore, it is fair to say that in so far as we have been obliged to double our burdens by taking upon ourselves the burden of conscription, that burden has more than doubled and any hon. Member in any part of the House must seriously address himself to the question whether that burden can be borne in its present weight and otherwise in what way it can be diminished.

In examining that, I wish to address myself particularly to the Army. There is good reason for doing so. The Minister of Defence concentrated attention on the Army requirement in manpower when dealing with this aspect of the question, and in any case two-thirds of our conscripted manpower are called for by the Army, so that if we focus our minds upon those causes which have doubled our commitments in respect of the Army, we may find some indication of the direction in which relief is to be sought.

Upon a rough comparison, we may say that we had serving with the Colours in the Army in 1938 200,000 men—actually the figure was slightly lower. The figure at which the Government aim by April, 1951—which is a figure, one gathers from the White Paper, they do not expect will thereafter diminish, or at any rate will not rapidly diminish—is approximately 350,000. We have a contrast between a pre-war Army of 200,000 and a post-war 1951 Army of 350,000. It is not, however, correct to assume that the commitments which our Army is meeting have increased in that ratio, because the 150,000 or 160,000 conscripts serving in the Army are not doing the work of 160,000 Regulars.

Approximately one-third of the service of a National Service man is not of practical utility because he is undergoing his initial training. There is the question of transport to his overseas station and transport back, and so forth. Besides that, we have an extra demand upon our Regular Forces for the training of the National Service man. I think it more than fair to say that the 150,000 or 160,000 conscripts in the Army are fulfilling the demand of approximately 100,000 Regulars, so that in broad terms the change which has taken place is an increase in our commitments of the order of some 200,000 to 300,000.

Before analysing the reasons for that increase, may I point out that it is upon the commitment for troops with the Colours that we must fasten our attention. The Minister of Defence was right in saying that there are two grounds on which the case for a conscript force rests—the meeting of current commitments and the formation of a Reserve. But no one will assert that if our current commitments could be met with Regular troops, we could not find more effective methods, more successful and economical methods, than the present system of National Service for forming the Reserve forces which we need.

We therefore have to ask what are these additional commitments which have enforced upon us the requirement of an Army of the equivalent of 300,000 as against 200,000 before the war. If we examine the distribution of our Army now and in 1938, we shall perhaps be surprised that the number of troops abroad, outside Europe, is no larger today—in fact it is rather smaller—than it was in 1938; but we should be very wrong to jump to the conclusion that therefore there had been no increase in our extra-European commitment for one simple reason. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) pointed out that in those 90,000 British troops who were outside Europe in 1938 were included the 55,000 British component of the Indian Army. Those 55,000 men were not merely, not even mainly, fulfilling an Indian commitment. They were a strategic reserve for the whole of the Middle and Far East and also, if need were—and on two occasions this was realised in fact—for Europe itself.

Therefore, if we now find ourselves obliged to station outside Europe as many men as before the war, that means that we have an increased commitment of the order of 50,000 men for the Middle and Far East, and have at the same time lost the mass of manoeuvre, the strategic reserve of our British and Indian component of the lost Indian Army. So we find in these facts the first great change which has come over our position. It is a change which follows from the loss of the Indian Army and the intensification of the threat to the Middle and Far East.

The remainder is attributable to the greater threat in Europe, which may be measured in numerical terms, perhaps, by comparing the small forces of occupation present in Germany five years after the First World War with the 70,000 or 80,000 stationed in Germany today. So we find that these two great changes, the loss of the Indian Army coupled with the increased threat to the Middle and Far East, and on the other hand the increased threat in Europe, are the reasons which entail upon us far more than anything else this doubling of our manpower commitment for defence.

Is there any escape? As the hon. Member for Coventry, East, asked in other terms, must we continue to stagger under this burden until it weighs us down and breaks us, or is there some escape? I suggest that there are two directions in which we could look. The first has already been suggested in my analysis of the causes of our difficulties. We have lost the greatest non-European army which the world has ever seen, an Army which made possible, as did no other institution in the world, the active and affectionate co-operation of European and non-European. I do not intend to go into the reasons for or justification of that event, but it is lost.

If we are an Empire defending the Empire, we must draw far more than we do on the vast reserves of Colonial manpower which exist within the Empire. The virtues which enabled British officers and British administrators to create the Indian Army are not dead. The virtues which made the Indian Army so great an instrument, although some of them are perhaps peculiar to the martial races of India, are paralleled in other parts of the world. Not only is it not impossible, it is imperative that we should create from the other parts of His Majesty’s Dominions a replacement for that which we have lost.

Thinking in these terms, one is shocked to see from the Army Estimates that in the last 12 months there has been a decrease of 15,000 in the Colonial manpower serving with the Colours outside Europe, and an increase in the British manpower. Surely we are moving in the wrong direction. It is not to the point to say that this is also a question of finance. After all, Nepal does not pay for the Gurkhas but we are very fortunate indeed to be able to supplement our British manpower with the assistance of Nepalese manpower. Exactly the same argument applies to the manpower which can be afforded by our Malayan or our great African territories.

That is the first direction in which we ought to look—the replacement of the Indian Army. The demand that we shall do so rests ultimately upon the conception that what we are defending, His Majesty’s Dominions as a whole throughout the world, are in reality a whole, and that the manpower of those Dominions has a right and a duty to come to their defence. I do not think that we are applying that principle to the maintenance of the European forces which defend His Majesty’s Dominions. It is far from my mind to criticise or appear to criticise the Governments of the Dominions, but it is the fact that the populations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada together amount to between one-third and one-half of the population of the United Kingdom, whereas the proportion of their manpower which is engaged in the tasks of defence is less than one-eighth of our manpower.

If what we are defending is indeed a unity—and the Tory Party at all events asserts that it is a unity—the duty of this defence is equally incumbent upon what we call the Dominions and upon the United Kingdom. We require, instead of mere consultation, mere machinery of co-operation, usually left somewhat vague, a real recognition of a truly joint responsibility amongst all His Majesty’s Governments for the defence of His Majesty’s Dominions. I am well aware that such a demand raises far reaching political implications. I am not afraid of those implications, indeed I desire them, for I am certain that unless we summon to the defence of this worldwide Empire all its resources, be they European or non-European, we shall fall under the load which we are attempting to bear.

Iain MacLeod – 1950 Maiden Speech

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Iain MacLeod in the House of Commons on March 14th 1950. MacLeod later became Chancellor of the Exchequer in June 1970 although died a month after whilst still in office.

I think the only thing that draws new Members of this House to their feet to take part in these Debates is the sure knowledge that they can rely, as I rely tonight, on the traditional courtesy and kindliness of Members of this House.

We are today considering an Amendment which has been put down arising out of Supplementary Estimates amounting to about £148 million. Of that vast sum something like two-thirds, or nearly £100 million, is attributable to the National Health Service. All hon. Members are very familiar with the growth of the cost of this scheme from its first presentation to this House in 1946, when the House discussed it on the basis of a scheme costing £152 million a year, or about £3 per head, until the proposed Estimate for next year, which is about £400 million, or some £8 per head.

The first point I should like to make is that, formidable though these figures are, they are net figures and they do not show the full cost of the Health Service scheme, partly because of the transfer payments from National Insurance and partly because of various recoveries, and also because of the superannuation scheme, which shows inevitably in its first few years a surplus which will have to be repaid later, but which at the moment disguises the true cost of the scheme. It is true to say that when an announcement is made, such as the Chancellor made this afternoon, that there is to be a ceiling put on this scheme, we must remember that, in the absence of drastic action, the cost of this scheme will inevitably increase, for, apart from the reasons I have given, we are an ageing population, and for the next generation, in the absence of dramatic scientific or medical discoveries, the demands of sickness will inevitably increase.

It follows that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Health have got themselves at the moment into the position of Alice and the Red Queen. The House will remember that the inhabitants of Looking-glass Country had to do all the running they could do to stay in the same place, and if they wanted to get somewhere else they had to run twice as fast. If our resources — and this has come from both sides of the House — are inadequate — and they are and they will be for a long time to come — then it follows that we must establish priorities as between the social services and also within the social services. On this theme of priority I am quite certain there is general agreement on both sides of the House. The Minister of Health last year at the Socialist Party conference said that priorities were the religion of Socialism, and last night, speaking in this Chamber in the housing Debate, he returned to the theme of priorities, about which we have heard both from the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) and from my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Dr. Hill). We should look for a moment on this scheme to see if, in fact, the correct priorities are being observed.

I should first like to refer to a matter that has been touched on already, and that is the bill for the general dental services, which at the moment is exceeding the bill for the general medical services. If we include Scotland, that means that some 10,750 dentists are being paid more in terms of gross income than some 21,000 doctors. Even if one makes all the adjustments in favour of the heavier cost of practice expenses that dentists have to bear to the full 52 per cent., which is I believe the amount allowed, the dentist at the moment is paid by the State far more in terms also of net income than is the doctor. I have no hesitation in saying that that is an indefensible position.

I am myself both the son and the grandson of a doctor. I believe that relative to their training, their qualifications, their ability, the load of responsibility that they ceaselessly shoulder, and above all the hours during which doctors are at their patients’ service — in my father’s house as in every other general practitioners that was 24 hours of the day and seven days of the week — doctors are by far the worst remunerated profession in the service. I have not the slightest doubt that there is no question, and there never will be of a doctors’ strike, for it is unthinkable for doctors to have anything remotely resembling a strike, but I think we should be wise not to presume too far on the infinite and most statesmanlike patience which the medical profession has shown in these last two years.

The second point I wish to make has also been touched upon. In Section 22 of the parent Act and in the White Paper which preceded it, and in the speeches of the Minister of Health on Second Reading and in Committee, stress was laid over and over again on the need for priority dental treatment for certain classes. Quite obviously that is a sound principle, for if the teeth of expectant mothers and those of infants and young children be sound, then in a generation we will have dentally a sound nation. Hon. Members know that, in fact, these priority classes — I am not arguing about the responsibility; I am stating a fact — are being neglected today, and there are many areas in this country in which the school dental service has virtually broken down. Wherever the responsibility may lie—and I know it causes the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education and the Secretary of State for Scotland great concern — the fact is inescapable that almost the only thing that was made deliberately by the Government a priority in the Health Service has failed.

The third point and the last on priorities which I should like to make is — there is a small Supplementary Estimate put down under research, presumably referring to the Minister’s powers under Section 16.

Dr. Morgan (Warrington) : Too small.

Mr. MacLeod : Too small perhaps, but I remember reading last year that the Minister of Health stated that he was awaiting information from the Peckham Health Centre to enable him to determine whether he could make a grant under his powers under Section 16. I do not know whether that has been done or not, but I know that on the same day that I read about these Supplementary Health Estimates for nearly £100 million I also read that the Peckham Health Centre was closed because it could not collect £20,000, which is one five-thousandth part of the amount to be passed in this House tonight. I suggest there is something sick at heart in the service, something desperately wrong with the priorities in a service in which that sort of thing can happen.

If it has been agreed that these figures are formidable, all thinking people, whether they are inside or outside the House, and everyone concerned with the future of this service are also agreed that the priorities are clearly in many cases unsound. Is it possible for us to suggest what has gone wrong? Very diffidently in a sentence or two before I sit down I should like to give my view on what has happened. The traditional function of the social services, as I understand them, is to rescue the needy from destitution, the sick from ill-health, and the unfortunate from the consequences of their misfortunes. It is a principle that was expressed very clearly by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at our Brighton conference two years ago when he said this: The scheme of society for which we stand is the establishment and maintenance of a basic minimum standard of life and labour below which a man or woman of good will, however old and weak, will not be allowed to fall. I should like to take with that something said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) in this House on 26th October, which was very badly misrepresented in the course of the recent election. This is what he said: Has not the time arrived when we must, as a nation, recognise that the principle of the social services ought to be that the strong should help the weak, and not to try to aid everybody alike indiscriminately? That is the whole basis on which I want the examination of this problem.” — [OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th October. 1949; Vol. 468, c. 1366.] I agree that that is the basis on which we should examine this problem of the minimum standard, and, secondly, of the duty of the strong to help the weak.

Today — and this is what I think has gone wrong—the conception of a minimum standard which held the field of political thought for so long, and in my view should hold it still, is disappearing in favour of an average standard. To an average standard, the old-fashioned virtues of thrift, industry and ability become irrelevant. The social services today have become a weapon of financial and not of social policy. This may sound Irish, but it is both true and tragic that, in a scheme where everyone has priority, it follows that no one has priority. This principle goes deep in the difference between the two sides of the House.

Perhaps I may sum up my argument in one sentence. I would put it like this: I believe that the conception of the minimum standard and the duty, which ought to be a proud duty, of the strong to help the weak, not only forms a nobler and juster basis for our social services but is a basis that is infinitely better matched to the independence and the character of our countrymen.

Edward Heath – 1950 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

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Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Edward Heath in the House of Commons on 26th June 1950.

As this is the first occasion on which I have had the privilege of addressing the House, I ask for that customary indulgence which is generously given to new Members. I am very glad indeed of the opportunity to take part in this Debate. As I was fortunate in being in the Federal German Republic for part of the Whitsun Recess, I should like to place before the House what I found were the objectives of the German Government in taking part in the Schuman discussions.

Before I do that, however, I should like to follow for a moment the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood), and also the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the arguments that they produced. It is a tradition of this House that new Members in making their maiden speeches should not be controversial. I hope I shall not be thought to go beyond the bounds of that tradition if I answer some of the points that were raised by those two right hon. Gentlemen.

The right hon. Member for Wakefield accused us on this side of the House of play-acting. Nothing could be further from the truth. We on this side of the House realise the importance of the issues at stake, and today, with the threat of war in Korea, nobody on this side of the House can be accused of playacting in considering the affairs of Western Europe. The right hon. Gentleman also said that his movement was an international movement. The strange thing is that, from their document which was published recently, it is now apparent that in this country, at any rate, the movement has become a national movement, and that the views which were expressed in that document are not representative of those of other Socialist parties in Europe—certainly not of those members of Socialist parties whom I have met.

It seems to me that the point at issue in this Debate arises out of a word used in the last communiqué presented with the French memorandum of 1st June. The French put forward their proposition in the words: The Governments have assigned to themselves as their immediate objective … The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech, spoke of the “principle.” I think it is interesting to see the change of tone which has taken place in the time between the communiqué, which is the report of the conversations of the Minister of State with the French Ambassador, and the final communiqué in which the British Government refused to take part. If I may quote the Minister’s words, they were that the Ambassador said we were not taking up an attiude of opposition to this principle but were prepared to enter into discussions with the object of finding a practical method of applying the principle. With that the Minister of State agreed. Then the French put forward the word “objective.” It is surely different from “principle,” because one may have an objective, and the way in which one reaches the objective is governed by principles, and so the principles safeguard the road to the objective. If one finds one cannot carry out one’s principles, then one does not reach the objective, and one withdraws—which is the position covered by the Motion we have put forward.

Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke looking at the worst point of view the whole time. He spoke of the high authority, suggesting that we should have no say in arranging the power of the high authority. Surely, that would not be the case. He said we should be taking a risk with the whole of our economy. We on this side of the House feel that, by standing aside from the discussions, we may be taking a very great risk with our economy in the coming years—a very great risk indeed. He said it would also be a great risk if we went in and then withdrew. We regard it as a greater risk to stand aside altogether at this stage.

The Chancellor spoke about the position of the Empire. We all realise the importance of the Empire, and we on this side certainly think it must be supported above all. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not tell us what the views of the Empire are. What are the views of the Empire in this matter? Have the Government had discussions with the other Governments of the Empire about this matter? Can we be told what are their views—what are the views of our Empire statesmen? As far as we can ascertain, they have not protested against this scheme.

The Chancellor spoke all the time as though this were to be a restrictionist plan. Surely the object of the plan is to be one of expansion? Surely, the task to be put upon the high authority is to be the task of expansion, rather than of restriction. Lastly, the Chancellor, as do the communiqués, and as does this document published by the Labour Party, spoke of the importance of full employment. So did also the right hon. Member for Wakefield. From that stems their desire not to co-operate with any Government that is not a Socialist one. This is in contrast with a document called “National and International Measures for Full Employment,” by a group of economists, which is published by the United Nations. It has received scant attention from the Government. On page 7 the authors say: In our view, however, the steps required to promote full employment in free enterprise economies are fully consistent with the institutions of such countries. The measures recommended in the present report to sustain effective demand do not involve any basic change in the economic institutions of private enterprise countries. The position which the Government take up is that no other country wants full employment and that no other country is capable of pursuing full employment unless it has a Socialist Government. That is obviously far from the truth.

Now I should like to say a word about the reasons which I found the German Government had for taking part in these talks, and of what is the attitude of the German Government. I found that their attitude was governed entirely by political considerations. I believe there is a genuine desire on their part to reach agreement with France and with the other countries of Western Europe. I believe that in that desire the German Government are genuine, and I believe, too, that the German Government would be prepared to make economic sacrifices in order to achieve those political results which they desire. I am convinced that when the negotiations take place between the countries about the economic details, the German Government will be prepared to make sacrifices.

I think it is also true that when the German Government accepted the invitation they were quite aware that no precise details of the nature of the high authority were known, and that they were not aware of many of the economic details involved, but that, in order to achieve the political results which they want, they were prepared to accept the invitation to join these discussions. The first thing they want is to achieve agreement with France, and secondly they want to achieve the unity of Western Europe in order to stand against the threat from the East. On the Continent people are very sensitive about that threat from the East.

That is not to say that the German Government does not see many advantages in coming into the Schuman discussions. It sees, first of all, that it will negotiate on a basis of equality in Europe—a position it has only just reached for the first time since the war. It also sees, I believe, a means of securing the abolition of the International Ruhr Authority, the implications of which are obviously very considerable. We must realise that if within the Schuman Plan agreement were reached for the abolition of that Authority, with the support of America, it would be extremely difficult for this country to object. The German Government sees, too, a solution of the Saar problem. Above all, it sees a means of abolishing the restriction of 11.1 million tons on its steel output. That is an important point indeed for the German Government, which is capable at the moment of seeing steel production in Germany go up to 14½ million or 16 million tons. It sees also a means of securing a vast expansion of German coal production.

If those are advantages, there are sown in those advantages the seeds of conflict with France over this economic basis. I wish to spend a moment or two on these economic details because of their political implications. Under Marshall Aid, France has been able to expand her steel production very considerably. She would like to see German coke go to Lorraine and German steel production to remain pegged, while the Germans see in the plan an opportunity for expanding their steel production. There, firstly, is a possible seed of conflict.

In addition, Germany wishes to see set up again the dismantled broad strip rolling mill at Dinslaken, while under Marshall Aid France has been building two such strip rolling mills, and not all will be required, by Europe. There may also be difficulties over German markets in Bavaria and the Saar because it may be easier for the French to supply those markets than for the Germans. Finally, there is the grave problem of future trade with Eastern Europe which many in the Ruhr want to start to develop. There are seeds of conflict in these negotiations between France and Germany, and I submit that that is a very strong reason why we should take part in these discussions, in order that we may balance out the difficulties between France and Germany which are bound to arise on the economic side.

Under the Schuman Plan, Germany may very well become once again a major factor in Europe. Anyone going to Germany today is bound to be impressed by the fact that the German dynamic has returned; that Germany is once again working hard and producing hard, and that therefore Germany will become a major factor in Europe. I suggest that there are only two ways of dealing with that situation. One is to attempt to prolong control, which the Chancellor has already dismissed as being undesirable and impracticable. The only other way is to lead Germany into the one way we want her to go, and I believe that these discussions would give us a chance of leading Germany into the way we want her to go.

Lastly, I want to mention one point which I think has received scant attention in the discussions about the Schuman Plan so far. There is a sentence in the very first communiqué of M. Schuman, in which he says: After the talks have been successful, Europe with new means at her disposal will be able to pursue the realisation of one of her essential tasks—the development of the African Continent. That has touched the German imagination in a way in which many other parts of the plan have not, because she sees in the outcome of the Schuman Plan once again the outlet to Africa, and if the outlet to the East is to be blocked, then the outlet to Africa is the most obvious alternative. But does it not also mean for all of us a development of steel and coal production for those markets? I would also submit that, if we can say that we have united Europe in the matter of steel and coal, we can say to the Americans, “There is an outlet for the President’s Fourth Point, in the capital development of a great area of the world.” That might very well be most important from the American point of view.

After the First World War we all thought it would be extremely easy to secure peace and prosperity in Europe. After the Second World War we all realised that it was going to be extremely difficult; and it will be extremely difficult to make a plan of this kind succeed. What I think worries many of us on this side of the House is that, even if the arguments put forward by the Government are correct, we do not feel that behind those arguments is really the will to succeed, and it is that will which we most want to see. It was said long ago in this House that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. I appeal tonight to the Government to follow that dictum, and to go into the Schuman Plan to develop Europe and to co-ordinate it in the way suggested.