- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Feb 1948, p. 263-276
- King-Hall, Commander Stephen (Retired), Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The idea of a United Europe as old as Europe itself. Some of the ideas that have been put out in the past. Some words from William Penn, writing in 1693. The terrible physical consequences of war that we now face. What, outside of politics can be designed or brought about which is at least as grandiose, as tremendous and as striking on the political side as the atom bomb is on the physical side. The theoretical answer is World Government. The hope that World Government might be able to control atomic energy and turn it to the world's peacetime uses. The speaker's own view that we are not ready for World Government yet; but a first step might be a United Europe. A look at some of the ideas for a United Europe from the past. The "Grand Design of Henry IV of France" by Duke de Scully, who published three volumes in 1638 and 1662. William Penn's plan. Penn and his friend, John Bellers critical of plans to exclude Russia and Turkey. Rousseau (1712-1778) who argued that the lasting peace of Europe could only be secured by "such forms of federal govenrment as shall unite nations by bonds similar to those which unite individuals and place the one no less than the other under the authority of the law." Bentham's plan of 1786, attaching importance to a clause guaranteeing the liberty of the Press in each state. Kant's (1795) "Perpetual Peace" which preceded Mr. Wilkie's idea of "One World" 140-150 years later. Other famous names, concluding with Winston Churchill and "the Churchill initiative." Details of "the Churchill initiative." The official position of the British Government, backing the idea of some form of unity in Western Europe. The vagueness of Mr. Bevin's plan. The Foreign Office beginning to work out a plan, with the first idea for a series of Dunkirk Treaties, tieing up the Western states. The speaker's views on the Dunkirk Treaties. Clarifying some reported remarks by the speaker about German aggression. The speaker's ideas about dealing with the German problem: to give the Germans hope of recovery inside a framework of some kind of United Europe. A consideration of the Marshall Plan. Some words of criticism. The need to put some pressure behind the European countries, and reasons for that. The speaker's observations of the people of Europe in his travels about the Continent in a caravan; his belief that Europeans would not be adverse if the politicians moved toward a United Europe (except the Communists). A response to those who fear what they refer to as "American Imperialism." An acknowledgement and appreciation of Canada's role in the World War. Aid to Britain now by supporting the cause of a United Europe. Why the speaker is in Canada: to assist in setting up a Parliamentary Society; to raise a reasonable sum of money from Canadians for doing so.
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- 26 Feb 1948
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- UNITED EUROPE
AN ADDRESS BY COMMANDER STEPHEN KING-HALL, R.N.(Retired)
Chairman: The President, Tracey E. Lloyd
Thursday, February 26, 1948
REVEREND SIR, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
We welcome to the Empire Club of Canada Commander Stephen King-Hall, R.N. (retired). It is almost five years since the Empire Club welcomed as its guest of honour Commander King-Hall but many of us remember the stirring address he delivered at that time "Britain and the Future and we are very glad indeed to welcome him back to our Club.
Our guest of honour served in H.M.S. Southampton with the Grand Fleet in the First World War and at the Battle of Jutland was in command of H.M.S. Southampton which fought four German light cruisers at 800 yards range, 7 5 1o of the upper deck were casualties in that engagement.
After the First World War our guest of honour served on the Admiralty Naval Staff from 1919-1929--also served with the Royal Naval Staff College. China Squadron, was intelligence officer of the Mediterranean Fleet 1925-1926, the Atlantic Fleet 1927-1928 and the Admiralty Naval Staff 1928-1929.
Commander K.H. as he is familiarly known in the navy, was member of Parliament for a division of Lancashire 19391945.
Our guest is also a writer of note and for a thesis written in 1920 on "Submarines in the Future of Naval Warfare" won the coveted Gold Medal of the Royal Institute. Our guest has published many other 'works including "Imperial Defence", "The China of Today", "The War at Sea" and "Britain's Third Chance" published in 1943.
In introducing our guest of today, it is interesting to recal what Victor Hugo said nearly one hundred years ago and as quoted on our card--"I represent a party which does not yet exist . . . There will issue from it, First, the United States of Europe, then the United States of the World".
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce to you Commander Stephen King-Hall, R.N. (retired), who has chosen as his subject "United Europe".
MR. CHAIRMAN, GENTLEMEN: I might explain that I am not in Canada making any speeches at all, but at the end of some remarks I propose to suggest to you on the subject of A United Europe, I will tell you very briefly why I am in Canada to try and do a service for this country. It is perhaps very small return for what Canada has done for Great Britain, but in the limits of my capacity it is something I am trying to do for Canada and I hope you will be interested in my telling you about it.
I hoped it would be appropriate if I began my remarks by observing that when Mr. Churchill heard I was coming over to Canada, he expressed the hope that if I did have an opportunity of addressing some meetings, I would speak to them on the subject of United Europe and that I would tell you he hoped that Canadian public opinion would view sympathetically the efforts which we are making at the present time in Great Britain to advance this cause of a United Europe.
Having delivered that message I must now say I come before you as a person who is independent in politics. Indeed, I am a member of Mr. Churchill's Executive Committee precisely because I am an independent. I am here to represent the independent point of view. So from now on, any remarks are my own responsibility. I am not speaking for anybody but myself.
The idea of a United Europe is as old as Europe itself. Some of you may know that publication we have recently got out, a pamphlet in which we are outlining the history of the idea of a United Europe. I mean to tell you in a few moments something about some of the ideas that have been put out in the past. I would only say at this stage that William Penn, that well-known Quaker, in 1693, produced "Essay Towards the Present and Future Peace of Europe by the Establishment of an European Diet, Parliament or Estate", and he began that essay with the following words which really might have been written today: "He must not be a man but a statue of brass or stone whose bowels do not melt when he beholds the bloody tragedies of this war."
From the moral point of view you may argue that today war is no more tragic than it ever was in the past. It cannot be more tragic then from the moral point of view because it is the supreme tragedy of human society. But on the physical side everyone will agree that never have the physical consequences of war been so terrible and frightful as they are today. Naturally, I refer to the atomic bomb development and the question one asks oneself is this: What, outside of politics can be designed or brought about which is at least as grandiose, as tremendous and as striking on the political side as the atom bomb is on the physical side? What are we going to throw on the other scale of the balance to level things up on the political side to compare with this terrible event on the physical side?
I think if you examine this question objectively you will probably decide that the theoretical answer to that is World Government. If you can have on the right, World Government, you won't feel so alarmed in having on the other scale f the balance this atomic energy. You would feel that World Government might be able to control atomic energy and turn it to the world's peacetime uses.
Now, I don't want to say a thing about the people who are working for World Government. It is evidently a long term educational job. Many people are saying today that the world situation is so serious that we should go straight out for World Government. That is their view. It is not my view, because World Government, in my opinion obviously demands a degree of unity and common thought among sovereign states which does not exist today. I am a practical sort of a chap and I can't really attempt to look ahead more than ten or fifteen years. I don't criticize those who are working for this! say God speed them in their efforts. But I am rather against trying to bite off the whole bunch of cherries in a single bite. I rather prefer to bite off the single cherry of a United Europe in one step toward a World Government. We may not be able to get the whole cherry but even a half cherry is better than no cherry at all. I say that the best thing, in my opinion, is to concentrate on European unity.
I mentioned just now that there had been many ideas in the past along this line. I want to tell you about some. I am not going to dwell on certain leagues and alliances which have been created in the face of a common enemy or for limited purposes, such as the Crusades, the Hanseatic League, the Papal Leagues (such as that of Cambrai), or that Holy Alliance of Tzar Alexander I which I regret to say my ancestor, Lord Castlereagh, stigmatized as "a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense" and which was doomed to failure in the absence of British support.
I propose briefly to mention some of those projects which to a greater or lesser extent were inspired by a constructive purpose. I am going to begin with the Grand Design o f Henry 1 U o f France. It's real author was the Duke de Sully, who published three volumes in 1638 and 1662. Of this attempt at that time, Rousseau said it was not good enough for Europe because Europe was not good enough f or it. Although it set out a plan really for uniting all the Christian kingdoms of Europe under the control of France, it contained the germ of a modern idea when it said that the great plan aimed at making France happy for ever but that she could not perfectly enjoy this felicity unless all Europe likewise partook of it.
One sees an echo of that in Litvinof's famous phrase, "Peace is at once one and indivisible".
In that plan Europe was to be divided into six hereditary monarchies five elected monarchies and four republics. A Grand Council would supervise "all the civil, political and religious affairs of Europe", and Europe would be protected by an international police force whose composition was laid down in detail. Great Britain was to put up 24 ships, 2,400 foot soldiers and 100 cannons. It is interesting to think of that three hundred years ago, when now the Security Council is struggling to work out an international peace force.
In William Penn's plan he pictured a Diet of ninety representatives who would meet in a round room with "divers doors to come in and go out at", so as to avoid "quarrel for precedency". Voting would be secret ballot. He realizes that "the strongest and richest sovereigns will never agree" to his plan, but argued that the strongest is not stronger than all the rest. Also, he realized that he would be criticized on the ground that young men become effeminate if there is no war, but he argued on the other hand that youth should be given instruction in mechanical knowledge and natural philosophy: "This would make them men; neither women nor lions".
He was trying to think out all the advantages he could to get public opinion on his side and one of the reasons he put up was to save people money.
Then he had an idea that he might appeal to the more romantic side of human nature and he paid if the plan were adopted that for the first time in experience, Princes would be able to marry for love and not state reasons. He recommended his idea to all men of good will but confessed the hope that "the honour of effecting so great and good a design might be owing to England."
Both Penn and his friend, John Bellers, were very critical of plans to exclude Russia and Turkey, and Bellers in his European State, put up at the same time, wrote as follows: "The Muscovites are Christians and the Mahometans men, and have the same faculties and reason as other men. They only want the same opportunities and applications of their understanding to be the same men; but to beat their brains out, to put sense into them, is a great mistake, and would leave Europe too much in a state of war."
That might be borne in mind by the people today who are talking a lot of nonsense about a "preventive war" against Russia.
Passing over the schemes of Saint-Pierre (1658-1743) of which Frederick the Great wrote cynically to Voltaire, "The thing is most practicable. The only thing lacking for its success is the consent of Europe", I come to Rousseau (1712-1778), who argued that the lasting peace of Europe can only be secured by "such form of federal government as shall unite nations by bonds similar to those which unite individuals and place the one no less than the other under the authority of the law". He also felt a very strong need for a police force which would be strong and firm enough to make it impossible for any member to withdraw at his own pleasure the moment he conceives his private interest to clash with that of the whole body", and which again is a pretty modern note.
Rousseau also gave some consideration to various European assemblies which had met from time to time. He said they have usually been occasions "where men lay their heads together to deliberate whether the table they sit at shall be square or round; whether the hall shall have six doors or five; whether one plenipotentiary shall sit with his face or his back to the window." Evidently they were having much the same trouble in those days as we have seen recently in the Security Council. That is not to say that no good can come from such meetings. He said, "It is possible that the members of one of these assemblies may, once in a while, be blessed with common sense. It is not even impossible that they may have a sincere desire for the general good."
Bentham, in his plan in 1786, attached much importance to a clause guaranteeing the liberty of 'the Press in each state. There was universal agreement that the Press should be free. The Press Table take note of that.
I also mention Kant's (1795) Perpetual Peace which included the interesting observation: "Since the rapidly spreading more or less close communion of the peoples of the earth has reached this point, that injustice in one place is felt by all, the conception of cosmopolitan law is not a fantastic extravagant idea of morality . . . it is a necessary supplement to the universal rights of mankind in general."
In other words, he preceded Mr. Wilkie's idea of "One World" by some one hundred and forty or fifty years.
Other men famous in this role are Leibnitz, Voltaire, Alberoni, von Lilienfeld, Cobden, Victor Hugo, whom your President quoted, Godin, Coudenhove-Kalergi and H. G. Wells, and I come to the latest one-what you might describe as "the Churchill initiative".
Mr. Churchill, after making two speeches on this subject got together an all-party Committee in Great Britain and we published a manifesto outlining the fact that we thought the time was very urgently ripe for the establishment of a United Europe. Then we had a very great meeting at Albert Hall and managed to get established an International Committee. There is a French Commitee under Mr. Herriott. I think it has made a contact with a thing called the Van Zeeland, the Economic Committee. And finally, we had contact with the Federal Union group in Europe and Great Britain. Those four bodies: the Churchill Committee, the Herriott Group in France, the Van Zeeland Economists and the Federal people are now united in one Committee, and that Committee is arranging for a great Congress of Europe, to be held at The Hague on May 8th, when we hope to have on the platform Mr. Blum, Mr. Herriott, Count De Gasperi of Italy, Mr. Churchill, a number of other distinguished Europeans and a great body of delegates from the Western European countries.
All this is on the unofficial side. The object of that Congress is to arouse interest in the whole idea of a United Europe. In Mr. Churchill's own phrase, he wants "to set the prairie fire alight because if enough people want something in a democratic country and say it sufficiently vigorously you will always find the politician who will deliver the goods." In other words, the old idea of supply and demand works very effectively. That is our purpose now, to arouse interest.
I must have spoken now to three or four thousand people in Canada in the last .eight days-three times in Montreal the day before yesterday and twice in Ottawa yesterday, so the idea is getting about of what we are trying to do.
Now, coming to the official side. On the official side, of course, the British Government, as you know, for a long time struggled to come to some agreement with Russia. Eventually they found it impossible so on January 22nd, Mr. Bevin got up in the House of Commons and made a speech which was a great change in British Government policy. He made it clear that the British Government was now backing the idea of some form of unity in Western Europe. If you examine the speech closely you find it doesn't come down to any very exact plan. In fact, Mr. Bevin made use of a good many phrases in the course of his speech. It was more an idea than a plan. It was a destination, not a description of the vehicle by which we were going to get there. Mr. Bevin's statement was a proposal for marriage, not a design for living. He made a rather remarkable statement that His Majesty's Government was now favouring "Western Union" which must have surprised many people on this side of the ocean. That was the idea--coming down to some form of Western Union.
The French people said, "What is the plan?" There was no very exact plan to give the French. Since then the Foreign Office has begun to work out a plan and the first idea is for a series of Dunkirk Treaties, tying up the Western states. I am an adherent of Mr. Churchill's doctrine, that you shouldn't criticize your government away from home. I don't criticize the Labour Government at all--I am an Independent with rather leftish leanings--but I don't think the Dunkirk kind of treaty is good enough. It is a rather old-fashioned kind of Treaty and is based on the theory that the main purpose of all this coming together would be to guard against future German aggression.
I don't know if any of you have been to Western Germany lately, but it is very difficult to believe that for the next ten or fifteen years, Germany, even if she wanted to, can possibly attack anyone.
May I repeat that I was disturbed to see that one of the papers in Toronto reported me as saying that Germany was going to be the aggressor. I want to say I don't think Germany can be the aggressor in the next ten or fifteen years. I don't-think it is a very constructive thing to build up the idea of a United Europe around the idea that there is a menace over there in Germany and we must have a United Europe to deal with that menace, but I do think Germany can- be made of great use in this idea. One of the most important factors in European affairs at the present time is that German public opinion has begun to count. You may not think it ought to count. You may think it unfortunate that it matters what the Germans are saying and thinking. The Germans are a mass of people in the towns and cities in a desperate state, without hope, and in a very despairing condition, and men in that condition are an extremely ripe product for totalitarianism--either Communism or Fascism, if they haven't any hope.
My own personal idea is that the right way to deal with the German problem is to give the Germans hope of recovery inside a framework of some kind of United Europe. I am not suggesting, that the Germans whose political opinions I know, should at this stage in the proceedings walk right in on the level and sit at the top table. If you create some form of United Europe you have a framework in which Germany can work her passage back, and that is the most constructive hope you can give to them at the present time; the Germans, in West Germany anyway, are passionately hoping that something will happen in the way of a United Europe that they can join and in that framework work their passage back.
Then you have another consideration to take into account in all this and that is the Marshall Plan. That, of course, is another purposeful instrument which tends to bring about a United Europe and here again I am going to voice a word of criticism. As I understand it, the Marshal Plan will be administered from a different body, separate from the State Department. I am sorry to see that. I want the Marshall Plan to be State Department policy. In other words, as a European, and -1 will give my reasons in a moment, I rather want to have a little pressure from the United States of America, saying to the European countries, "Come on, we are doing a great deal for you and wouldn't exist without American aid. In return we expect you to come together and show a more co-operative feeling among yourselves." I would like to see some pressure put behind the European countries.
I have reason for saying that. Among my other activities I travel about the Continent of Europe in what you call a trailer, and I call a caravan, and I live in the villages and generally live on the countryside. It is my personal conviction that the masses of Europe, the people of Europe are far more ready for unity than perhaps the politicians will admit when they sit around their tables and see all the technical differences arise when trying to think out the United Europe. The ordinary masses of the people in Europe are terrified of a coming war, they are living under the shadow of another war before they have even got out of the chaos of the last one, they want hope and they are ripe for a big thing and I don't think if the politicians in Western Europe were to suddenly get together and make a big move toward a United Europe that they would have any trouble with their own people except from one body-the Communists. In all this business, to all this idea, they say that it is American Imperialism. I am not in the least afraid of American domination of Europe at all. It depends what you mean by "Europe". To me, Europe means a way of life, it means culture, it means ideas, it is a whole conception of a design for living, and I am not in the least concerned about the Americans conquering that or Americanizing the European way of life. On the contrary, America has a great deal to give and teach Europe about the business of existence, but you must make a very careful distinction between the business of existence and the art of living. One is a means to an end, a very different thing. Americans can teach Europeans something about the art of living for which, I say, his existence is a means to an end.
No Englishman can stand in front of a Canadian audience without expressing to you the appreciation of the people in my country for all the help and assistance you have given us and are giving us. We know very well what you are giving for us and we very deeply appreciate it. You wouldn't expect me, as an Englishman, to stand up and hand out a lot of flowery bouquets. I say, Thank you, we know what you are doing for us and we deeply appreciate it. I really don't know that there is very much we can do in return, unless it is such small service as I am going to talk about in a moment. I did hear the suggestion from a distinguished meeting of Cabinet Ministers that you were short of vegetables, due to the restrictions, and if I can send over some sacks of Brussels Sprouts I will be very delighted to open up trade in Brussels Sprouts. That is about as far as I can go.
What I want to say, in all seriousness, you Canadians know full well the cost to your country in blood and wealth and life of the world-wars which have originated in a divided Europe. To help Great Britain at this time is I believe sincerely to help the cause of United Europe or such of Europe as we can unite--and time presses--the iron curtain has moved apparently a little further west since I first landed in this country--to help on that cause of a United Europe is I think to help on the cause of world peace.
In the few minutes that remain I want to tell why I am really in Canada. In Great Britain I am the Chairman of the Council and the Honorary Director of a Society called the Hansard Society of Canada. It was founded in 1944 in Great Britain for the very simple purpose, in those days, of telling the public they could read the reports of Parliament if they wanted to do so. Shortly after, I was in Canada, sitting at the feet of, may I say, one of the distinguished living Canadians, at present on my right, Dr. B. K. Sandwell, and I said "B.K., why don't you get a small group of Canadians interested to know they can read Hansard?" That is what he did and it was called The Friends of Hansard.
A year after we realized there was a much greater job to be done and that what is necessary is a full sized Parliamentary Committee to do everything for the Society that the Royal Institute of International Affairs does for foreign affairs, that the Geographical Society does for those who are interested in geography, that the Statistics Department does for those interested in statistics, and that the Zoological Society does for those interested in animals, and so forth-a full sized Parliamentary Society.
We formed it. I am not going to bore you with telling you the extraordinary progress made in Great Britain in the last few years. We published books, made documentary files, published pamphlets and films. We had enormous youth conferences and sold ten thousand tickets for one of the biggest halls of London. We publish a quarterly magazine. In fact, we are very active. We act as an information source to big business firms. A firm can ring us up in London and say, "What happened in debate the day before yesterday in the London Parliament?" It is our job to give the answer.
Mr. Sandwell and people associated with him wrote to me and said: "We also feel over here, with Democracy under fire as all over the world, that we ought to have a full sized Canadian Society."
I said, "You are absolutely right. My Council of distinguished people wrote a letter back and said that any help we can give you is at your disposal. It seemed very important that Canada, the senior Dominion should be the first to have a full sized Parliamentary Committee of its own.
I wrote to my Canadian friends and said, "If seventeen days of my life are any good to you they are at your disposal so I have come over to do that work in Canada.
We are setting up an office, and Mr. Willson Woodside will be the principal official of the Society that is going to be launched in a few days' time.
All I am telling you is this: when you get a communication from Mr. K. B. Sandwell, telling you what this is, just instruct your secretary, and make a note that it is not to go into the waste paper basket until you see it.
I am over here, frankly, for seventeen days to raise a reasonable sum of money from Canadians for this Canadian job. It is much easier for me, an Englishman to blackmail Canadians than for a Canadian. I am getting along quite nicely. I know there are a lot of tough people over here but I can be tough, too. This is a job I know Canada needs. Don't make the mistake of thinking it can't happen here. Don't sit down like sheep waiting-we have to hit back by ideas, and the first thing we have to do is show that our own people here and in Great Britain feel that the institutions of Canada and its democratic way of life is as much part of our lives as we feel the banking system is. I know perfectly well that we feel that the banking system is part of our lives and that we can't get along without it. So with the parliamentary system. It can only flourish if it is supported by a critical and informed public opinion and the function of this Society will be to do in Canada that task in arousing interest and spreading information about the institution of parliament, not only the Canadian Parliament, but particularly the Canadian Parliament.
That is why I am here in Canada, and I imagine I am just about at the end of my broadcasting time, so I shall say Thank you, and sit down.