The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has asked to-day, and urgently asked—I thank him for that word—for an efficient international machine to prevent aggression. Amen to that! I only wish that that could be fulfilled. But for that major purpose we must recognise that the United Nations are dead. They have been murdered, and deliberately murdered, by Soviet policy, and so the spectre of war walks again. If we would lay that ghost, we must resort to structural alterations. Even if then the Soviet Government should elect to leave the haunted chamber, half a loaf is unalterably better than no bread, and so far we have been given only a stone.
In conclusion, I wish to say just a few words about Hyderabad. I am rather shocked that that episode has aroused so little attention. I know very well that the palliators say that Hyderabad was too small for independence. Well, Hyderabad had 3,000,000 more inhabitants than Czechoslovakia; more than twice as many inhabitants as Belgium or the Netherlands; three times as many inhabitants as Sweden; and five or six times as many inhabitants as Denmark or Norway. Are they too small for independence? “Oh,” say the faint-hearts, “Hyderabad was in the heart of India.” Is not Switzerland in the heart of Europe? On June 17, Nehru said: Situated as it is, Hyderabad cannot conceivably be independent. “Situated as it is”: but that is exactly what the Nazis said about Czechoslovakia. They said: “Situated as it is, Czechoslovakia is a pistol pointed at the heart of Germany.” “Situated as it is”—that again is exactly what Stalin said about Poland. He said: “Situated as it is, I must annexe half of Poland and dominate the rest. Situated as it is, I must have Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary as well. Situated as it is, above all, I must have the whole of Germany.” That is precisely why we are within measurable distance of war again. Now, in all this ugly and ominous affair we played a sad part. Both the British and the Indian Governments alike had promised self-determination to the Princes. We have had to watch while that pledge was reduced to the traditional scrap of paper. So another small country has been bludgeoned into submission, another independent State has lost its independence, and another treaty breaker has had his desires. That is a series of events which fills me with grave misgivings and bodes ill for international morality
Lord Ailwyn My Lords, my contribution to this debate will be a very modest one, following the very remarkable speeches to which we have been listening to-day. With your Lordships’ permission, I would like to say a word or two about Malaya and about Hyderabad. …With regard to the melancholy happenings in India, I agree with the Sunday Times when they said that the surrender of Hyderabad proves nothing of the merits of the dispute between the contestants. Those merits were complex and I think we in this country, remembering with gratitude the loyalty over many years of our faithful ally the Nizam, were inclined to pre-judge the issue. While nothing can justify India’s aggression and resort to force, one can well understand the exasperation of the Indian Government at what appeared to be the indecision and wavering policy of the Hyderabad Government, and it well may be that the rise of the Razakars and their militant attitude constituted in their mind a threat to the security not only of the State but of the Dominion itself. We have seen that that fear, as regards India certainly, was unfounded.
Of one thing I am reasonably sure, from conversations I had with members of the Indian Government in Delhi last March: that there was at that time no intention of forcing the issue. I was assured that the position of the Indian States would solve itself. My suggestion that it appeared that a certain amount of pressure was being brought to bear on the Indian rulers was repudiated. I was told that soon after British rule had ended in August, 1947, the Indian Government began to receive appeals from certain States for assistance, owing to certain forces arising in those States which threatened to embarrass the rulers. Those requests for protection, I was told, were embarrassing to the Indian Government, who were not yet ready to deal with the question and were in no hurry to absorb the States. It was pointed out to me, moreover, that the existence of these Indian States was an anomaly, and that no self-respecting country, Dominion or otherwise, could tolerate the existence of so-called pockets of independence dotted about the country. It suited British economy to have such an arrangement, but it could not be expected that it would suit India on the termination of British rule. I offer no comments. I am telling your Lordships what I was told by members of the Indian Government.
I should be glad if the noble and learned Viscount would say whether any British lives have been lost in these lamentable occurrences in Hyderabad and whether the position of British subjects in the State has been in any way prejudiced since the fall of the Nizam’s Government. I have a feeling of special concern in this matter, if your Lordships will forgive a slight personal reference, for the reason that I met with great kindness and courtesy in Hyderabad and received the hospitality of the State while staying in Aurungabad six months ago. I hope the Mukbara and other monuments escaped damage and that no harm has befallen the priceless caves and frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora. Finally I wish to say with what distress, bordering on disgust, I read of the violent attack made by a member of another place on the late Governor-General of India. Not only was it to my mind in the worst possible taste but I believe the accusations to have been largely untrue. Anybody who saw Lord Mountbatten at work out there and who took the trouble to make himself acquainted with the sentiments of British and Indians alike all over the Dominion, and making every allowance for isolated criticism, which even the Archangel Gabriel, let alone a mere human being, could not hope to avoid incurring in such a position, could form only one opinion—that the noble Earl did an outstandingly successful job of work and scored a great personal triumph in doing it. This deplorable attack on a great public servant who has deserved well of his country, is in the highest degree regrettable, and I, for one, wish to register my protest against the perpetration of such an offence.
Lord De L’Isle and Dudley Before I sit down I would make a comment (because it seems to me germane to the present international situation) on the remarks that fell from the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, about Hyderabad. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, I think, went to the heart of the matter when he remarked how great a damage has been done, and is being done, by this imitation on the part of the Indian leaders of the practices and policy of Hitler. It matters not the quality or type of the régime in Hyderabad; it is a question of good faith between sovereign States and the observance of certain standards of conduct. Surely it can never be said in this House that Hyderabad had no right to decide for herself. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, assured your Lordships that the States will be entirely free to choose whether to associate with others of the Dominion Governments or to stand alone, and that should be the answer to the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, when he refers to the assurances which were given him by Indian leaders last year. Surely, we cannot go on ignoring breaches of treaty or such lapses of conduct between States. There is no short cut to peace, no system which will work, unless, once again, the sanctity of the pledged word, the security of treaties and the respect for law is the rule among nations, and unless we ourselves are certain that we are pursuing it.
The Lord Chancellor I was asked some questions about Hyderabad. I feel that this is a question which calls for very great discretion at the present moment. It may be a case of “least said, soonest mended.” I have seen, as no doubt your Lordships have, reports in to-day’s paper of a statement made by the Nizam. I cannot say whether this statement is right or wrong. But whatever the rights and wrongs, whatever the provocations may have been, I think I might call your Lordships’ attention to the declaration which was made by the delegate of India when this matter came up before the United Nations. Your Lordships will be aware that the question was provisionally placed on the agenda of the Security Council and that there was discussion there, but you may not have read the declaration made at the last meeting. It was made, as I say, by the delegate of India. Perhaps I may be allowed to read it to your Lordships: I gather that the Hyderabad Delegation has not received so far any official instructions, but we are agreeable to this, that while we maintain the domestic character of the dispute, we would nevertheless be prepared as an earnest of our desire to work in harmony with the United Nations to report in due course to the Security Council full details of steps which we propose to take for the restoration of order and for ascertaining and giving effect to the will of the Hyderabad people. We are willing to place all our cards on the table, and voluntarily, apart from the question of jurisdiction of the Council to be seized of the matter, to give every co-operation which will be of help to the Security Council in understanding the position as it develops. Our Government is anxious to see that the will of the people of Hyderabad prevails in this matter. That was a very satisfactory statement and I earnestly hope and believe that that statement will be made good.
With regard to the specific questions asked of me by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, so far as we know no British lives were lost in the recent events in Hyderabad. So far as the effects upon British interests are concerned, I cannot say anything at the present moment. It is too early as yet to assess them, though up to the present time I am not aware of any such effects.
The Marquess of Salisbury My Lords, your Lordships will no doubt be relieved to hear that I shall speak extremely briefly in replying to the debate. I propose to confine myself to the broad issues that have been raised. Before I come to them, there are just two points about which I should like to say a word. First of all, there is the question of Hyderabad, which was introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn. To use the noble Lord’s own words, it is not my purpose to “prejudge the case.” I think that that would be most undesirable. But, in answer to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, I must say that there are many of us who cannot regard the new Indian State as so entirely satisfactory as he does. The fact remains—and this is a thing which I think it is perfectly appropriate to say in a foreign affairs debate—that, whatever the rights or wrongs of that case, there was no possible excuse for a State which is a member of the United Nations taking the law into its own hands. The Nizam has, in fact, appealed to the United Nations, but it was really for India to put her case there and not to anticipate the result by marching into the country. By doing what she did, India succeeded only in inflicting a severe injury upon the authority of the world organisation of which she is a member. I feel obliged to say that because to make an inquiry now, when the war is over, when they have marched in and occupied the country, is not to my mind the way in which members of the United Nations ought to fulfil their obligations.