§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Fitch.]
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
It is sometimes appropriate to debate only individual issues in foreign affairs, particularly when the House or an hon. Member wishes to reach a decision on a particular issue, as many hon. Members did recently on Biafra, and indeed as some may wish to do today on Anguilla, to which I shall refer later. But at other times it is appropriate to discuss international relations over a wide field in order, in particular, to inquire whether there is a comprehensive as well as a comprehensible pattern in the Government's foreign policy.
We learned from the Defence White Paper—and the Secretary of State for Defence emphasised it in his opening words in the defence debate—that Her Majesty's Government's policy is now entirely a European one. One of the quaint aspects of the way in which our affairs are handled in the House is that we have a series of defence debates, amounting to six days, which are not preceded by any declaration of the Government's foreign policy or any debates upon it. After all, it is the Government's foreign policy which the defence forces exist to serve. Today no Foreign Office Minister even takes part in the defence debates. [Interruption.] They did. The Foreign Secretary often used to take part. If the House were first to make the Government declare their objectives in foreign policy and then we debated them, I have no doubt that we should come to some very different conclusions about defence policy. The House should first decide what British interests are and then how they can be maintained.
What, then, is Her Majesty's Government's policy in Europe today on which they have declared they are concentrating? The parties in the House are now 1051 agreed, broadly speaking, that if Europe could speak with one voice politically in world affairs, if Europe could provide one market economically for its member countries, that would be a prize well worth winning. It would enable Europe to exercise an influence in decreasing tension with the Eastern bloc, in establishing more liberal relations with the Eastern socialist states, in increasing prosperity for the Western member countries, and for providing a more secure basis for its own defence efforts.
I am not one of those who believe that this wider unity, if it were to be achieved, would, for example, enable Yalta to be rewritten politically, as the saying goes in Europe today. Nor would it enable us to create a Europe West to East in exactly the same way as we have a Europe today North to South. Nor do I believe that such a Europe would have prevented the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union last summer, let alone have enabled us afterwards to drive the Soviets out. In my view, European political influence will be exercised in a more subtle way than that, though in the end—and perhaps it will prove to be in the very long term—it will probably be exercised no less effectively.
But the point of view that I wish to put forward is that the Government have gone the wrong way, and are going the wrong way, about winning this prize in Europe. They came late to the view that Britain should endeavour to join the European Community.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is, therefore, regrettable that his election address in 1959 made no reference to the Continent of Europe and that one of the first votes of the 1959 Parliament was when he went into the Lobby with Mr. Hugh Gaitskell and others to vote against an Amendment that we should apply to join the Common Market.
§ Mr. Heath
That is perfectly true, because anything more foolish than to try to join the Common Market in 1959 without any exploration is difficult to imagine.
The timing of the Government's application was against the advice of their friends in Europe, and the Government made it without any assurance that the French would be prepared even to allow negotiations to begin, let alone endeavour to make them successful. The Government were not prepared to discuss in detail, let alone endeavour to solve beforehand, the deep-seated problems affecting sterling, our international indebtedness, and the future political and defence arrangements of Europe, all of which are very relevant to the policy which they are pursuing today. In fact, having brushed sterling aside as presenting no difficulties, they then found themselves looking foolish by being forced almost immediately to devalue. In brief, the Government accepted the arrangements which we had negotiated in 1961 to 1963, but they learned none of the very painful lessons of the experience of those two years.
It is with the Government's policy since that abortive attempt that we are now concerned. The first point is to show that defence policy has been deliberately contrived to provide backing for a European political and economic policy, a slight reinforcement in the units left in B.A.O.R. and in ships sent to the Mediterranean. This attempt to obtain credit in this way surely is unwise, for everyone knows that this was not the result of a deliberate European policy but a by-product of a sudden and arbitrary decision to withdraw east of Suez. It was not made prior to the application to become a member, nor even at the time of devaluation. It was made only early in 1968 in panic and after the decision to reintroduce prescription charges.
The much-boosted reinforcement of the Mediterranean itself looks particularly fragile when at the Prime Minister's merest wish an assault ship, "Fearless", one of the mainstays of the Fleet, promptly moves off in order to lay off Lagos Harbour. But neither has the political decision to withdraw from the Far East ever been required by the other members of the E.E.C. How could it be when France, in particular, and, to some extent, the Netherlands, to name but two, 1053 retain their interests outside Europe and maintain forces to do so?
But since we last debated the political aspects of these matters, the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand have made clear their intention of maintaining a presence in Malaysia and in Singapore after 1971 in the interests of peace and stability in that area. Mr. Gorton said on 25th February, 1969, that this was desirable in the interests of peace and stability, and he went on:Of course, it is much easier for a country which is to be assisted to believe that it will be assisted if forces from the country which may provide such help are there and are visible.This was exactly what the Prime Minister said to the United States Congress in 1963:It is a hundred times easier for Britain to remain there, even with a token force, than for us—still less the United States—to seek to enter if trouble breaks out.This is what I emphasised in Canberra last August. There is, therefore, general agreement that this is desirable.
I am encouraged in putting forward the policy which we have put forward of retaining a presence in Malaysia and Singapore by the words of the Prime Minister of Australia and the support of the Prime Ministers of New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore. There is this general agreement. The question, therefore, is how this can best be achieved. That could be negotiated in due time with the other Commonwealth countries concerned.
There can be no doubt, however, that the national interest and the interests of others in these areas would be best served if the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence were to be working out how to achieve this presence there with our friends rather than the Secretary of State producing bogus figures of cost purely for debating purposes. I urge them to devote their efforts to something which the Prime Minister has already said, and which was often repeated by the Secretary of State, as being desirable in policy and which could be achieved with the other four Commonwealth countries.
§ The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Denis Healey)
The right hon. Gentleman talks about bogus figures of cost. The cost of £250 million to £300 million as the cost in resources of our present forces 1054 in the Far East are figures which the right hon. Gentleman is welcome to verify any time he wishes. In the defence debate, the right hon. Gentleman's party said that we had already run down our forces too far and that we should stop the run-down now.
In other words, if the right hon. Gentleman believes that we should continue to run down, let him tell us how much he is prepared to continue the run-down. If he is not prepared to continue the run-down, let him for once be honest and accept that it would cost a very large sum of money, sufficient to wipe out—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Last week or the week before, Mr. Speaker had occasion to call the Secretary of State for Defence to order for making a running commentary during the defence debate. Do we have to suffer the same sort of thing now?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)
The hon. Member may leave it to the Chair to decide when to intervene.
§ Mr. Healey
If I may finish my intervention—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—to which the right hon. Gentleman gave way——
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
On a point of order. May we please have your comment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on my hon. Friend's point of order before the Secretary of State presumes on the indulgence of the House any further?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
That is not a point of order. I am sure that the Secretary of State will come shortly to the point of his intervention.
§ Mr. Healey
I will certainly do so, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask the Leader of the Opposition if he will now confirm that the cost of his defence policy in the Far East alone would wipe out all the presumed tax savings to which he falsely referred in his speech this weekend?
§ Mr. Heath
The Secretary of State must realise that it was a gross abuse of my giving way to him to make an intervention to try to repeat the defence debate. The facts which he has stated are quite untrue and the figures certainly do not bear the relationship which he is 1055 trying to imply to defence expenditure east of Suez.
With the Government's attempt to create a European group in N.A.T.O. I am in full agreement, and I welcome the fact that they are doing it both politically and from the defence point of view. It makes them singularly ill-fitted, however, to criticise those of us who have been pressing this for the last few years.
To the Prime Minister I would say this. Now that the Secretary of State has stated so bluntly that the political and defence policy of this country now rests on the nuclear deterrent, of which the British element is a vital part—because Polaris has always been committed to N.A.T.O., except in case of dire national emergency—why does he not finally, in the interests of national honesty and integrity, abandon the pretext that it is his intention to renegotiate the Nassau Agreement and finally accept that Polaris is here to stay in the form in which it was negotiated? Indeed, it is to the future development of these aspects of the political and defence side of the nuclear that Her Majesty's Government should now be looking.
But what in the European field of policy do we have to offset against the claims of Her Majesty's Government that they are pursuing a sound European policy? Alas, there are many in the technological, and financial and diplomatic fields—the constant attempt to disengage from E.L.D.O.; the refusal to participate further in C.E.R.N.; the failure to reach in a reasonable time a decision on the airbus, which is still delayed; the lack of enthusiasm which is apparent for the Concorde—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—yes, indeed, in some Government circles; and what the Europeans feel is a general lack of interest in participating in joint civil ventures, despite all the fine talk of a technological community. Add to this the disagreement——
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
In view of the right hon. Gentleman's repeated harping on public expenditure, will he now give the House his figure of what it would cost to maintain the open-ended commitment under E.L.D.O., to which his Government sought to commit us, and secondly, the additional Government expenditure for membership of C.E.R.N.?
§ Mr. Heath
If the Prime Minister speaks later in the debate, he will be able to develop that point. [Interruption.]
Add to this the Prime Minister's and the Chancellor of the Exchequer's disagreement, shall we call it, although it was, in fact, a flaming row, last November with Bonn, a leading country among our friends in the Six, and then the Foreign Secretary's and the Prime Minister's disagreement, shall we call it, or blazing row, with Paris in February, the country which, presumably, the Government most want to influence in pursuing their European objectives, the pattern of so-called diplomacy in these recent months has been a diplomacy gone mad.
The observer of the last 15 months cannot but conclude that Her Majesty's Government have been pursuing a policy which is unbalanced in conception and clumsily inept in implementation and which is designed to outflank the veto on membership of the European Community, outflanking it by bringing pressure to bear on the French from inside the Five or from outside by isolating France.
This, if I may say so to the Foreign Secretary, is a policy of despair, because the real interest of Britain is a successful, flourishing Community, even though we are not yet members of it and cannot foresee the time when we will be, a Europe which cannot be fully effective without France any more than it can be fully effective without Britain or could become fully effective without the Federal Republic. We can have no interest in joining a Community which is emasculated or appearing to disintegrate. British public opinion will rapidly cease to support such a project if it believes this to be the case.
The Government's policy of outflanking or attempting to outflank France is foolish, because the President of France is not going to be brought to abandon his veto, the right to which exists under the Treaty, by such tactics. It is, of course, an open question whether there is any situation in which the President of France will abandon the veto or whether, for political reasons, he is determined always to use it to keep Britain out of the Community.
Whether or not that is the case, however, can only be finally determined by 1057 detailed discussions over a wide field. Hence, I, among others, regret the lost opportunity from the Soames conversation. If it were to be shown that the veto will continue so long as the President of France remains in office, Her Majestys' Government must, in my view, look to the longer term, in which case it is certainly foolish also to antagonise those with whom we may be dealing afterwards.
I would add that if one looks in the other direction there is no evidence that N.A.F.T.A. is an attainable objective, even if it is desirable, although, in my view, that has not yet been entirely proved. I have seen no evidence that the new Administration in the United States or the Governments of Canada, Australia and New Zealand are prepared to support such a venture or to enter into it themselves. Therefore, let us not knock our heads against another brick wall by pursuing a policy which we cannot see will be successful. That is not to say that I am not in favour of the publication of studies on this subject. I am. I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that much might be gained during this period if the Government were to publish studies of the impact of the proposed membership of the Community upon Britain in the period after devaluation. We were given information about the pre-devaluation period. This could be a useful task for his Department and the Government to pursue.
The second reason why I regard the policy as foolish is that the Five will not break with France in the Community. In particular, as the right hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Gordon Walker) rightly and wisely said in a recent debate, the Germans will not abrogate the Franco-German treaty, and neither will they break up the Franco-German rapprochement. But the most unwise aspect of Her Majesty's Government's recent policy was the attempt—or the providing of support for the attempt—to turn Western European Union into what would amount to a political community.
Western European Union has worked normally in the past. There has been every opportunity for political, economic and defence discussions at Ministerial level. The Permanent Council has devoted itself to preparation for Ministerial 1058 meetings and for replies to questions from the Assembly. This was working perfectly well. It was, therefore, unwise of the Foreign Secretary to have a special meeting here in London within Western European Union with only ambassadors present. He can consult ambassadors of the Six or of any other countries at any time he wishes with perfect propriety and no offence to anyone. It is foolish now for the Government to put a Minister permanently as our representative in the Permanent Council, which consists of Ambassadors who speak on the instructions of their Governments and not in their own right, a position completely different from that of a Minister. In particular, it was unwise to have the special consultation about the Middle East, in which the French Government had taken their own initiative for a four-Power conversation.
My final point on this aspect of the matter is that the net result of this policy has been that the sole body in which the Seven could meet together and have political, economic and defence discussion is no longer functioning as such. This, quite apart from the importance of the Treaty and the obligations assumed under the Treaty by the Federal German Republic, means that our one chance of having discussions among the Seven is at this moment not available.
I now come to some aspects of the policy which the Foreign Secretary ought to follow in Europe. First, he should abandon what is becoming a head-on contest in Europe. I believe that this is bound to fail, and in the process it is damaging to Britain and damaging to the other members of the Community and to Europe. Second, I urge the right hon. Gentleman to come back to the normal working of Western European Union and to make plain that we wish to do so in the hope that this will bring the Seven together once again.
Third, I urge the Foreign Secretary to work now—though it may take time—to restore normal relations with France as well as to go on building up relations with the Federal Republic, Italy and the Benelux countries. Fourth, I ask him to ensure by our diplomacy that we avoid clashes such as those in the past with Bonn and with Paris, clashes which are damaging to our interests but which also have an impact on public opinion 1059 which is immensely damaging to the cause of future European unity.
Fifth, I hope that the Foreign Secretary and the Government will make clear their position on European projects in good time so that there can be no misunderstandings about them and continue to co-operate in practical form with firms or Governments on future projects of mutual interest. There are many other projects, some of a social kind, some such as the building up of exchanges of young people between our countries as has been going on on a large scale under the Franco-German Treaty which I regard as looking to the future and which could bear good fruit.
Sixth, I urge the Foreign Secretary to work out practical solutions to particular problems which face us in considering membership of the Community. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, since he takes part with his colleagues, this is what the Monnet Action Committee is doing in an unofficial way on the institutions which might develop in Europe, on financial arrangements, on agriculture and on technology. That, surely, is the practical approach to Europe which can do nothing but good. It will reveal the issues for public discussion. It will point the way to solutions, and it will show the countries concerned what is required of them and what the implications are for membership of the Community. This, I believe, can only be healthy for public discussion and beneficial to the common interest in the longer term.
I referred a few moments ago to European consultation about the Middle East. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary could report on the progress of the four-Power approach to the problem. It seems to me that there are now several considerations which might work in favour of a settlement, although this may take a long time. Perhaps there are some signs that President Nasser recognises that it is in his interest to regain somewhat greater independence, and certainly that it is in the interest of the other Arab States which are providing the resources to make up the deficit on Canal dues.
It must be in the long-term interest of Israel to reach a settlement of these disputes. It is in the immediate as well as the long-term interest of the super- 1060 Powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, not to be dragged into war by a further outbreak of conflict in this inflammable area. It is in the Soviet Union's interest, perhaps even more than that of America, to have the Canal open, since the Soviet Union wishes to use its influence in the Gulf and in the Indian Ocean by both political and military means. It is a British interest generally to achieve stability in the area from the point of view of our trade and, in particular, our oil supplies.
The United Nations resolution, which was sponsored by Her Majesty's Government after the six-day war, is in itself ambiguous. Whether it was designedly so or not, I do not know, but the fact of its ambiguity does nevertheless give scope for negotiation between the parties about the various aspects of it. Dr. Jarring has not been able to achieve a settlement or even to bring the two sides round the table. Perhaps it is right to accept that they will not come to the same table. It is really this which led to the proposal for a four-Power attempt to reach a settlement.
In my view, the four Powers are not likely to be able to impose a settlement, though for political reasons those concerned may wish it to appear so and be able to claim it as so in order to have a settlement which they can tell their people was imposed against their will but which they think it advisable to accept. However, that does not alter the principle that any settlement, if it is to last, must be agreed and accepted by those concerned. If it were to be imposed by the four Powers there are many small Powers today which would be gravely apprehensive at the idea of the four Powers imposing their views on particular disturbed parts of the world.
This matter requires intense diplomatic activity now, to deal sector by sector with the problems revealed by the United Nations resolution, the acceptance and timing of each depending on acceptance of the whole package when it has been completed. Sinai, the Gaza Strip the Syrian Heights, the West Bank, Jerusalem, refugees, access through the Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba, recognition, in the case of Israel, and security, the international use of forces in some areas—all these must be dealt with as particular aspects of the problem. Merely to list them shows 1061 the formidable nature of the effort to reach a settlement.
There is no need for us in this country or the House to be violently partisan on either side. Ours is a general interest in a settlement of the problem and in peace and stability in the area. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will let us know what the Government are going to do in concert with other Powers in order to obtain a fair and just solution.
So far, however much we may have disagreed with some aspects of policy or the implementation of policy, they can be fitted into a pattern, but I think the imagination boggles at the task of doing that with the recent operation in Anguilla. The nature of the operation, its timing, the way it was handled, have brought considerable criticism abroad and ridicule from our friends and our foes alike.
Needless to say, Her Majesty's Forces and the police forces have carried out their tasks with exemplary discipline and skill. I have seen no word of criticism of them anywhere, in any report of them, and I am sure the House welcomes that.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) pointed out yesterday, we in this House do not need to join the Prime Minister's critics abroad; there are quite sufficient of them at home; but I must say that in general I find it incomprehensible that a Government whose Rhodesia policy has been under such attack in the developing countries should not have gone to intensive lengths to avoid the operation which they mounted last week. Of course, as the Foreign Secretary said, there is a logical reply to those attacks. Of course. We understand that, and, indeed, it is a policy we on this side support. But that it was bound to be misunderstood and misrepresented abroad surely must, have been obvious to all but the blindest Ministers in the Government.
It may be that some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will deduce that the Government should now advance to force in Rhodesia. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It has already been put forward. Of course, I do not accept this for one moment, any more than the Government do. It is, however, further pressure for attempting to reach in Rhodesia a negotiated settlement to which the Government have set their hand.
1062 We seem now to have reached a situation in which the Prime Minister has made it clear that the only difference, the only major difference, is that over the second guarantee, the second internal guarantee, for unimpeded progress to majority rule. It ought not to be impossible to achieve this and to get agreement upon it, and if that were achieved then the other seven or eight points which the Minister without Portfolio mentioned in his report could be dealt with and would fall into place, and the Government ought to work to that end. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will say that that is what the Government will do.
The Government have many questions to answer about Anguilla, and responsibilities to account for, and we look forward to hearing from the Foreign Secretary about this in a few moments. First of all, there is the question of the way the problems were handled in the island up to the point of last week's operation. This, surely, must be one of the major aspects of the situation.
When the Associated State was created there were warnings—indeed, I think the Foreign Secretary would admit that they were well known to the Government—about the antipathy between Anguilla and St. Kitts, and that these were heightened by the personalities involved. My noble Friend Lord Jellicoe in a speech in the House of Lords on 14th February, 1967, gave such warnings himself to their Lordships' House. Then, after the Associated State came into being, there was the failure to establish the local council in Anguilla, which was of such importance to the Anguillans, as they have constantly emphasised, and this point was constantly made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood). He did it at Question Time on 21st March, 1967, and in a letter to the Minister on 23rd February, 1967, but no action was taken to set up that Council and, indeed, the local council has never officially, as I understand it, been set up.
There was then the declaration of independence on 31st May, 1967, and after the visit by Lord Shepherd there was a respite which was to go on until January 1969, but in October 1968 there was a meeting in London with Mr. Webster and from that nothing arose at all; there was no action by the Government. There was 1063 no action during that year's respite to deal with the problems of Anguilla and of those who live there. Indeed, some may feel that, had the Under-Secretary of State's message, which he delivered on his arrival upon the island, been given to Mr. Webster during the October meeting, then many of these difficulties would not themselves have arisen, and the fears at that time would have been put to rest, but there was no sign of the Government's endeavouring to tackle what they must have realised to be very fundamental difficulties in the relationships between Anguilla and St. Kitts.
§ Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)
On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) to be asleep during the speech by the right hon. Gentleman his Leader?
§ Mr. Heath
Up to this period of the Under-Secretary of State's visit no action was taken by the Government to deal with the problem.
Secondly, there was the Under-Secretary of State's visit. I sympathise with him in his predicament. He has had no chance to state his own case in the House, and I am sorry for him. We do not have a similar sympathy with the Prime Minister because he has every opportunity of stating his case and answering for his responsibilities in the debate today, but, as usual, he declines them, and he leaves his other Ministers to carry the can. Of course, it was deplorable that the Under-Secretary of State should have been treated in the way he was and that he had to leave the island at gun point, but this does not remove the impression that there was less than sympathetic understanding by the Government of the problems of the islanders.
The third point I want to put to the Foreign Secretary is this. Why was no further attempt at a more senior level made to deal directly with Mr. Webster and the islanders after the incident of the visit of the Under-Secretary of State? This, surely, would have been natural for any Government trying to reach a peaceful solution as quietly as possible; it would have been the natural thing for the 1064 Government to have done. Why, then, did not the Government try to handle the matter—and I say this with great respect to the Under-Secretary of State—at a more senior level after this particular incident?
Fourthly, I want to ask a question about the justification under the West Indies Act for this operation which has been carried out. It was carried out under Section 7(2) of the Act, as the right hon. Gentleman told us. It seems to many, including legal opinion, that Section 7(2) has been stretched to the limit to cover this operation. Indeed, many people think that it has been stretched beyond the limit. Of course, if it were to be done under Section 7(1) of the Act to deal with the internal situation then it would require not only the authority of the Prime Minister of the Associated State but, under Section 19(5), the consent of the Legislature. I can understand the Government's view that they would not be able to get the consent of the Legislature to take this action. Moreover, if they had done so it would have antagonised still further those in Anguilla.
So it seems to me that as they were unable to use Section 7(1) the Government then turned to Section 7(2) and had to stretch it for their purposes. There was no suggestion that they could not deal with defence or foreign relations. Surely this is, first of all, taking a very new view of what was required by foreign relations and defence with internal self-government. There was no suggestion of an attack on the island—unless the Foreign Secretary can give it to the House. There was no evidence of an internal conspiracy between the islanders and other, undesirable, islanders in the Caribbean—unless the Foreign Secretary can give us it. He says the internal situation made defence impossible, but this situation had existed ever since May, 1967. All these points, surely, mean that Section 7(2) was stretched far beyond its normal or previous meaning.
The right hon. Gentleman adds another reason: he could not guarantee foreigners' safety. In recent history I cannot recall any incident in which this has been quoted as a justification for intervention by a British Government. In the Gulf States, on which we have had treaty obligations now for many years, responsibility for 1065 defence and external affairs, the difficulty of a foreigner's position in those States has never been used as a means for internal intervention by the British Government. Indeed, if both the propositions which I have just mentioned were to be accepted, there is no limitation to the degree of intervention by Britain in internally self-governing States where we are responsible for defence and overseas affairs.
I ask the Foreign Secretary whether he is not stretching Section 7(2) far beyond its normal meaning, and for what purpose. We heard from the Parliamentary Secretary of the existence of "Mafia characters", which expression the Foreign Secretary later corrected to "disreputable characters". Will he tell us more about them? Are these the same people as the Americans who are working to establish hotels and casinos? It may be that these are undesirable, but is this sufficient justifiation for military intervention in the affairs of the island? This is the question which the Foreign Secretary has to answer.
One purpose of the Statutory Instrument is to preserve the territorial integrity of the Associated State. Will the Foreign Secretary explain how that is compatible with the statement which he constantly made to the House last week that it is not the Government's purpose that Anguillans should live under an administration that they do not want? Are we to deduce that the Associated State is to exist permanently, no matter what the islanders want? There is here a plain conflict between the purpose of the Statutory Instrument and the assurance constantly given to this House by the Foreign Secretary, by his noble Friend in another place and by the Commissioner to the islanders.
The Order gives the Commissioner absolute powers, including the power to act retrospectively, absolute powers which, if they are abused, cannot be questioned. These are enormous powers to give to any official, even, under direct rule from Whitehall.
I come, fifthly, to the operation itself. Was this tremendous build-up really necessary? It took a week in the eyes of the world Press and television. The Foreign Secretary is right in saying that if it is decided to use force in a situation one must ensure that the force is adequate; with that I agree entirely. But 1066 was there anything in that island situation which could not have been dealt with by a frigate with its complement instead of the enormous build-up which the Government devoted to this purpose?
My sixth point is, above all, the important one, and that is the future. A settlement must be worked out for the island at the earliest possible opportunity. The Foreign Secretary has constantly emphasised that it will take several years, and this is the message which he has given to the islanders. Will this bring about the peace and tranquillity we want to see? At the moment it appears doubtful. The Government are absolutely right to back up Mr. Lee as the Commissioner. He was at first accepted by the Aguillans. It is sometimes said that after he left the island, after the year's interregnum, he felt that he had become compromised by leaving it. I do not know if that is so or not, but the Government must look carefully at the situation and, if at any future time they come to the conclusion that they must make a change to achieve a settlement, they must be prepared to do so.
I suggest to the Foreign Secretary that there should now be discussions about the island's affairs at a much higher level than those which have previously taken place. The islanders should be given an opportunity to decide their future, whatever that may be—whatever they may wish. I realise the legal problems of changing the status of the island under the West Indies Act or as an Associated State, but these difficulties have to be faced if a solution is to be found. I hope, therefore, that the Foreign Secretary will not now emphasise again the several years which it will take.
In this incident, the Government stand condemned for their handling of the situation in the period after the Associated State was formed. They were dilatory and complacent and they did not tackle the problems which were brought to their notice, so that, instead of being in a position to make a further attempt at reaching a settlement, they used force.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Is not one of the lessons of Anguilla once again to show on a small scale that the deployment of military power in emerging countries is often counter-productive? In the light of this, is the right hon. Gentleman proposing to 1067 review his own proposals to lay on similar adventures on a large scale throughout South-East Asia and the Persian Gulf in the 70s?
§ Mr. Heath
I have explained that we are there where our friends want us, which is the publicly stated position of the four Commonwealth countries involved in the Far East and the rulers in the Gulf.
The Foreign Secretary has said that the Prime Ministers of the Caribbean all wanted this operation to happen in this way, but two have since repudiated this. Will the Foreign Secretary explain how this has happened?
The Government are criticised for their policy leading up to this situation. What matters above all now is the future, in which the House expects early action to enable the islanders to settle their own future.
I have dealt with a wide range of questions on foreign policy. The Government have now had five years of handling international problems. They have attempted peace in Viet Nam and Nigeria; they have attempted a settlement for Rhodesia, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar. They have made application for membership of the Common Market. They have withdrawn from Aden and intend to do so from the Gulf and from the Far East. All these aspects of the mishandling of foreign affairs are criticised for one thing. They have failed to maintain British interests and they have failed to achieve their own objectives. Governments cannot be condemned for trying, but surely there must be room for blame where so much has been attempted and so little achieved.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has referred to Western Europe, the Middle East, Anguilla and, in a brief comment, to Rhodesia. I will try to deal with all those, but first I want to take up his comment about Rhodesia. I think he will admit that his attempt to echo the argument used in some quarters, that because there was a display of military power in the Anguillan situation therefore we ought to have used it in Rhodesia, is a trivial debating point——
§ Mr. Stewart
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, that is his technique. He says that he is not using an argument but he hopes that the idea behind it will sink into the minds of his audience. We are agreed that it was rubbish.
§ Mr. Stewart
On Rhodesia, the right hon. Gentleman is mistaken if he thinks that a difference of opinion on the second safeguard is the only thing that divides her Majesty's Government from the Smith régime. The Smith régime made it very clear to us that there were many points, which were to us, and I believe to the party opposite, essential points, which they were not prepared to accept. It may be that the Smith régime will change their mind and will show a greater willingness to understand why we regard the "Fearless" terms as essential, but I assure the House that there has been no communication from them so far which would give any reason for us to make that assumption about their attitude. I trust that we carry the Opposition with us in saying that it would be wrong to make any substantial departure from the terms that were offered on board H.M.S. "Fearless". If anyone can show me alterations of a form which might make them acceptable, no one would be so obstinate as to turn that down. But, on substance, I trust that the Opposition are with us in believeing that we cannot go further towards meeting the views of the Smith régime than was done on that occasion. That is where the matter now stands. It may be that, during the debate, the Opposition will have some alternative policy to offer. However, to be an alternative, it would have to involve a very substantial surrender to the point of view of the Smith régime.
It is fair enough for the Opposition to question the Government in a foreign affairs debate, but some of the matters are so important that the nation is entitled to know also where the Opposition stand. Before the end of the debate, I hope that this will become clear.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
While agreeing that the "Fearless" proposals are a reasonable basis for a settlement, 1069 surely it is not enough merely to leave those proposals on the table and do nothing more about them, just as we have our application to enter the Common Market before General de Gaulle and are doing nothing more about it. Surely any such proposals must be pursued, with the Government saying, "This is the basis on which we will work." To do nothing is wrong.
§ Mr. Stewart
We have opportunities for exchanges with the Smith régime, and we shall not be obstinate. But I ask the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) and anyone else who thinks like him to consider this. It must not be our posture that we are continually running out there, asking if there can be different views. That would encourage the Smith régime to hold on, hoping always for one surrender after another. That is not the position of Her Majesty's Government.
Turning to Anguilla, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the criticism or laughter of our friends. I wonder if he is right about that. I have studied the reports carefully. A number of newspapers all over the world have been critical of us. The Governments who have been critical of us are those of the Soviet Union, China, and one or two other countries who, I fear, are often critical of us on a large number of matters. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman associates himself with those critics.
Perhaps more serious is the point that two Caribbean Governments have disagreed. But we should notice that, not so long ago, at a conference of all the independent Commonwealth States and the Associated Commonwealth States in the Caribbean, a very solemnly worded Resolution was passed requiring us to take action—[An HON. MEMBER: "What action?"] That was not specified, but it was action which was to provide an answer to the Anguillan situation, and, by its very nature, it left the responsibility on us.
We could not be in the position where we accepted a responsibility to take action, where we sought to take that action, in my judgment quite rightly, in the first place in an entirely peaceable form by sending my hon. Friend with entirely reasonable proposals. They were rejected by a limited number of people with 1070 arms in their hands. I do not believe that it could be said after that that we must abandon the whole enterprise, and I must say that I do not understand the attitude of those Governments in the Caribbean who, not long ago, by a resolution, so firmly placed the responsibility on us, but who shrink when the means for carrying out that responsibility have to be employed. That does not seem to me to be a logical or reasonable position. I say no more than that.
§ Sir John Rodgers (Sevenoaks)
Does the Foreign Secretary believe that it is a reasonable proposal to put to the Anguillans that the wish of the British Government is to ensure that the Anguillans should be administered in a way acceptable to them and them only, and then, in almost the next sentence, to say that we will send out Mr. Lee and that he will be there for years? That does not seem to take account of the wishes of the Anguillans in this matter.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am trying to answer the arguments of the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) point by point, and I shall be dealing with what has been raised. But, having dealt with Western Europe and the Middle East, which are quite considerable subjects, he introduced the understandable addition of Anguilla. I do not want to take up too much time, so I hope that hon. Members will be patient and not intervene, because I think that they will find that I shall not neglect any of the points that the right hon. Gentleman has raised.
I suggest to him, therefore, that his picture of our facing an entirely hostile world, such as that which we faced after the Suez operation, is not correct.
His next charge—and it is one which must be considered—is that we have been supine and neglectful during the period since the formation of the Associated State. That cannot be maintained. St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla had been together administratively since 1882. It is arguable that, when the Associated State was formed, these three should not have been brought together. It is true that it became apparent soon after that there would be difficulties between Anguilla and St. Kitts. In view of that, I think that what we did was reasonable.
We endeavoured to get the parties together. We succeeded in reaching what 1071 was called an interim settlement. Of the period of neglect about which the right hon. Gentleman complains, 12 months was taken up with the interim settlement. That was an agreed arrangement. I do not think that he would suggest that it would have been right for us to break that off prematurely before it was unhappily apparent that the interim settlement would not blossom into something permanent.
Let no one suppose that, during the interim settlement, there was merely an attempt to reach agreement. Aid was being given under the Ministry of Overseas Development. A beginning was made to meet the charge that the Prime Minister of Trinidad makes against us of three hundred years of neglect. This was not a period of idleness.
It must be admitted, however, that the interim settlement did not blossom into something permanent, but I do not remember voices from any part of the House at that time saying that we ought to cut off this interim settlement before it had had a chance. In some of the criticisms of the Government on this matter, there has been a great deal of hindsight. This is an extremely difficult and complex problem. At each stage, we have tried both to bring the much needed aid to Anguilla and, if it were possible, to establish a reconciliation on which the unity of the whole Associated State could be based. Unhappily, we found that this could not be done.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
The Foreign Secretary said that there was no pressure from this side of the House. In fact, in a speech in the House on 17th December, I was pressing the Government to send a Minister out there before 8th January, which is when they were to declare U.D.I. Nothing was done. This is what worries us.
§ Mr. Stewart
There were Ministerial consultations, in which my hon. Friend took part, with Mr. Bradshaw and with Mr. Webster. It is possible to argue that the timing or placing of them might have been a little different. It is not possible 1072 to maintain that we sat complacently on the problem during this period.
Unhappily, it did not prove possible to get the various inhabitants of the Associated State to agree to live together in amity. For that reason, it was decided that the way to deal with this, at any rate for the time being, was that Anguilla should have Her Majesty's Commissioner. This was accepted by the Government of the Associated State itself, by the Government in St. Kitts. We had every reason to suppose—and I still believe—that when they realised fully what it involved the Anguillans themselves would welcome this. My hon. Friend therefore went with this proposal.
The right hon. Gentleman's next complaint was that after my hon. Friend had gone and had met the reception that he had a further attempt should have been made, with a more senior Minister. I trust that there is no personal ill-will in this desire to expose more and more Members of the Front Bench to the difficulties, and what might have been but for my hon. Friend's good sense, dangers. I believe that what happened to my hon. Friend then was part of the whole picture of what was happening on the island, and provides the justification for the Order in Council that we have made, and the action that we have taken.
What had been happening on the island was that there was at the time no lawful magistrate, and no lawful police. At the same time there was gathering round Mr. Webster a group of people whom I think I rightly and moderately described as disreputable characters, some of them from outside Anguilla, who wanted to treat this island not as a place in which 6,000 human beings have a right to a favoured life, but simply as a sort of estate for their private convenience.
By itself that might not have been so sinister, but we knew also that a number of them were bringing in supplies of arms to the island, and it was apparent from what happened to my hon. Friend that they were prepared if necessary to use armed force, particularly when they saw that my hon. Friend had been well received by a very large section of the Anguillans.
There were also reports—and a number of these have been published in our 1073 Press and are not in question—of personal intimidation of people who did not see eye to eye with this rather disreputable group. There was the suppression of such free Press as there was on the island, and, further, there was the general Caribbean concern, expressed in the resolution at the Port of Spain Conference to which I referred. When one brings in that last point, the general Caribbean concern, I think one realises what is involved.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has omitted perhaps the most important point. Has it not been established that we are interfering in what amounts to the internal difficulties of Associated States? Could not this be taken as a precedent for further interference? If some other Associated States in the Caribbean break up, will not we again be called on to intervene by force on behalf of what one might call the mother State, as we have been this time?
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope that hon. Members will let me get to the points that I wish to make. I have that in mind.
I was listing the situation in Anguilla. I think what it comes to is that the internal affairs were developing in such a way that the island was not going to be able to protect itself against exploitation from outside, that the degree of disorder was growing, and that we should hold responsibility for what happened to the lives or property of foreign nationals in an Associated State.
In his argument about this the right hon. Gentleman did not really take the point of the nature of an Associated State. The danger of this kind of thing happening in the Caribbean is acutely in the minds of the Caribbean countries. When, therefore, they said that they felt we had a duty to act, I think we were obliged to conclude, in the words of the Act, that, it was in the interests of carrying out our defence and external responsibilities it was right for us to act.
As to the point made by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lampton), I believe that the firmer we are about this, and the more resolutely we act, the less will be the danger which he foresees, but which I trust will not occur. It is true that in the 1074 whole concept of associated statehood we have taken on a new kind of responsibility but before anybody concludes from that that associated statehood was not the right answer I implore him to consider what alternatives there were. It is a difficult, and the purists would argue an anomalous, arrangement, but it is probably the best that we can get at this stage of political evolution, though it may sometimes present us with difficulties, as it has in this case.
The answer to the legal point made by the right hon. Gentleman is that basically, for the reasons I have outlined, the actual situation in the island, it was legitimate to say that if we were to carry out our responsibility for defence and external affairs properly something had to be done about the internal situation in this island, and there was no one but ourselves who was able to do it.
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in thinking that the Commissioner has been given absolute or unlimited powers. The right hon. Gentleman will find that nothing in the Order in Council which we have made can derogate from the constitution of the Associated State, including the provision in the Constitution for human rights and freedoms. I know the Order says that Her Majesty's Commissioner must act under directions that I shall give him, but that does not mean that I can give him directions to do things that are beyond his legal powers or mine, because the Order does not give him power in any way to flout the Constitution of the State. I think that this point has been misunderstood in some quarters. It would have been possible under the West Indies Act to make an Order which would have enabled the Commissioner to set aside certain aspects of the Constitution of the State, but we have not made the Order in that form.
§ Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)
Under Section 7(2) of the West Indies Act 1967 Her Majesty is empowered by Order in Council, which is a legislative act of ministerial responsibility to this House to make provisions. How does the right hon. Gentleman justify in constitutional law the delegation of that power to the Commissioner under Article 4 which says:The Commissioner may by regulations make provision for securing and maintaining public safety …1075 which is a legislative act with no responsibility to this House?
§ Mr. Stewart
The answer to that lies in the very part of the Order that I have quoted, that the Commissioner, provided he acts within his lawful field, acts under instructions from me. If the House felt that what he was doing was wrong, the House could hold me responsible for it. I think the hon. Gentleman will realise that there must be some delegation of responsibility to somebody who has to do the job in Anguilla. Legally, clearly the responsibility rests on me, and the House can hold me responsible.
Perhaps more important than those things is the future of the island.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House exactly how he brings this Order within Section 7(2) of the Act? What is required there is that there shall be a change made in the law of the Associated State. That means, according to the definition in Section 1, the Associated State as a collective whole, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, and that means a change in the Constitution of the Associated State as a whole.
What is the change which the right hon. Gentleman identifies as justifying this Order in Council under Section 7(2)? If it is the detachment of a territory from the Associated State, that would require an Order in Council under Section 9(2), and would be quite different from this one. What is the change of law which brings it within this subsection at all?
§ Mr. Stewart
I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong in supposing in the first place that a change of the law and a change of the constitution are the same. We are making a change of the law. For example, Her Majesty's Commissioner will carry out certain functions which under the ordinary law of the Associated State would be carried out by Ministers of the Associated State. That is a change in the law, but the Commissioner can carry out such functions only as belong to those Ministers by virtue of the ordinary law of the State. He will not carry out any functions which belong to them by virtue of the constitution of the Associated State but there will be a change in the law and for that purpose 1076 the Order is necessary. Although in law we have acted under Section 7(2), I should make clear that what we did has the full concurrence of the Government of the Associated State.
Perhaps more important than these questions is the future. I think it is going to be important to gain the confidence of the Anguillans. I will not try to deceive the House; this may be a difficult job. They have been subjected to a great deal of propaganda and a certain amount of intimidation. I assert again that it is no part of our purpose to put them under an Administration under which they do not want to live. People will ask, what exactly is going to be the final solution? I believe I am justified in saying that I cannot answer that at this stage. We have got to have a period during which lawful authority is restored in Anguilla; in which there is a growth of confidence between Her Majesty's Commissioner and the Anguillans.
That will take some time. I think we must achieve that. If I perhaps exaggerated that time when I spoke earlier, it was because I did not want to mislead the House into thinking that this would be a very brief operation. If in a period less than I suggested we can unravel this tangled skein and find a solution which is agreeable to the Anguillans, to the Caribbean generally, and enable the whole of that region to live in peace, to live under lawful Government and to develop its potentialities in a way that will not be to the advantage of a self-interested few but for the whole peoples of the Caribbean—if that can be done in a less period than that which I suggested, we shall certainly be glad to lay down the responsibility that at present lies upon us. Finally on this subject of Anguilla——
§ Mr. Gwynfor Evans (Carmarthen)
Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that what is most abhorrent to the people of Anguilla is the thought of being put back under St. Kitts? Nothing would restore confidence more than making an unambiguous and clear declaration that this will never happen.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have spoken of this and I think the House is getting a little impatient with the hon. Member.
1077 The last word I say about Anguilla is that I reject entirely some of the ill-informed, and I am afraid in some cases ill-natured, criticisms of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. I likewise reject suggestions that the force sent was wildly out of proportion. Was the word "enormous" or "gigantic" that the right hon. Gentleman used? It suggested rather more than this rather limited number of soldiers and policemen. I am told that well-informed journalists believe that it could be done with less, but I do not think the House would be happy if I took advice from that quarter. This could have been, as any use of military force can be, ugly and cruel. It is more likely to become so if one makes an error of sending too few. [An HON. MEMBER: "Bash them."] I have not bashed anyone.
I repeat what I said in public over the weekend. It is quite natural for commentators to see a certain amount of comedy in this. The important thing about any use of military force is that it should be effective for its purpose. If it fulfils that condition and if people must insist on regarding it as either comic or tragic, I should very much prefer it to be comic rather than tragic.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmonds)
May I ask a practical question in regard to the 40 Metropolitan policemen there? Are they to contemplate remaining for a very long time, or do the Government contemplate, if it is necessary to keep policemen in the island, the establishment of an Anguillan force to be kept in the island?
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope that we shall be able to establish an Anguillan force and that there will be help from other Caribbean countries of a kind agreeable to the Anguillans as a whole. I cannot predict too much about that.
Now I must turn to other subjects of our debate, to the subject of Western Europe—or "Europe" as the right hon. Gentleman always describes Western Europe. The distinction is of some importance, but I am going to speak now only about Western Europe because the problem of relations between East and West is a large problem in its own right. I want now to examine our policy towards the countries of Western Europe.
1078 Let me make one thing clear first. Her Majesty's Government believe it is right to maintain our application to join the European Economic Community. The reasons for making that application were substantial: the economic importance to this country of opening to our industries a guaranteed home market of 300 million people, the need for increasing the unity of European purpose, both on defence and on matters of foreign policy generally.
I will not spell this out at much length, because it is familiar ground to the House and I hope that I have the agreement of the right hon. Gentleman about it. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman said on 2nd May, 1967:I and many on this side have long put forward and supported the arguments of both a political and economic nature which the right hon. Gentleman has outlined today, and I wholeheartedly support them now."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 2nd May, 1967; Vol. 746, c. 314–5.]I imagine that he still wholeheartedly supports them, so we are not in disagreement between the two sides of the House, whatever may be the position inside the two sides, that it is right to persist in this application. I cannot agree that the right hon. Gentleman is correct on fact when when he suggests that our making the application when we did had not the support of our friends in Europe. He is mistaken about this and their conduct ever since has demonstrated the extent to which they stood with us then and stand with us now.
What about our policy since the application? The right hon. Gentleman felt that our policy had failed partly because greater contributions to European defence, I think his contention was, are not helps to Europe but just the off-scouring of withdrawal from the East. I think that the right hon. Gentleman must ask himself this question. If he believes it is right for Britain to have a positive and coherent policy towards Western Europe, to approach it more fully, to get greater unity of purpose between us and the other countries of Western Europe, to take joint action and have a distinctive Western European attitude on certain aspects of defence—if he believes all that, and I understand that he does, is he really saying that Britain can maintain and afford the vast defence burden which his policy towards the East would involve? He 1079 must do the arithmetic. It was not, as he suggested, bogus. It is what he is suggesting that will not stand up.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of two countries—France and the Netherlands—as having forces in the Middle East. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Far East."] The Far East, was it? I was not sure.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman is now confusing two different things. We have not withdrawn from all interests outside Europe. Indeed, in the earlier part of my speech I was talking about our responsibilities in the Caribbean. Despite the policy we have adopted, we have certain responsibilities for the protection of dependencies in the Far East. To bring up the very small forces which those two countries have outside the European theatre as a major criticism of our European policy suggests that the right hon Gentleman is scraping the very bottom of the barrel. What we have done, by a more reasonable allocation of our resources, is to be able at a critical time to help strengthen the South flank of N.A.T.O. I think this was a sensible thing to do. It is appreciated by all our allies in N.A.T.O.
Then there was the criticism of our scientific policy. One of our difficulties in approaching this question was the habit of the last Government of entering into open-ended international commitments the full cost of which could not be foreseen. I admit that this has faced us with embarrassing situations, but we are still active in a number—in E.S.R.O., in C.E.R.N., in C.E.T.S., in O.E.C.D., in E.L.D.O. We have not withdrawn from any E.L.D.O. projects to which we laid our hand. We have indicated, as we were entitled to do what our attitude was to be about future 1080 programmes. Basically we have done this. We have taken the general line about scientific and technical collaboration in Europe that it will not help us or Europe if scientific and technical co-operation means co-operation in very large intergovernmental projects the economic value of which is very difficult to see or lies very far in the future.
One has to judge in the last resort by some exercise of common sense and by looking at the figures. That is what we are trying to do. The thing is not capable of certain judgment in the way one could work out the cost of building a house of a certain size. My criticism of some hon. Members opposite is that they believe in a policy here that would let Britain in again for large expenditure for very doubtful results at a time when there are many useful fields for technical co-operation which are proceeding, not only between Governments, but, equally important, between firms and industries.
I said that our policy is to maintain the application. I have rejected the right hon. Gentleman's criticisms. In addition to maintaining the application, we say that, since at present our application is vetoed, we ought to try to seek co-operation in all the fields where it is possible, where that veto does not shut us out, and with all those who will co-operate with us in those fields.
It is a complete misconception to argue that the Government are trying to treat Western European Union as a back door into the Common Market. We know perfectly well that it cannot be so used. We have not attempted so to use it. Nor is it an attempt to out-flank N.A.T.O. The position is much simpler and easier to understand than that. We are at present barred from entering the Communities. That means there are certain fields of European co-operation at present closed to us. It makes it the more important, therefore, to try to get the cooperation where it can be got—in technology, in harmonisation of foreign policy, in defence. This is the kind of thing for which Western European Union can properly be used. Indeed, this was one of its original functions.
We were counselled against not using W.E.U. in a way which would break it up or which might offend the French. For a long time the French had not 1081 wanted to make full use of Western European Union. It is a long time, I believe, since any French Foreign Minister went there. They objected as far back as 1964 to any Minister not from a Foreign Office—to any specialist Minister: Agriculture, Trade—going to W.E.U. The party opposite, which was then in power, did not take the right hon. Gentleman's view that we must not ever do anything that the French do not like. The Conservative Government of the day sent the then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, now our Ambassador in Paris, to W.E.U., despite the French disapproval of his appearance there. I think that the then Conservative Government were justified in so doing.
I say very seriously, that it is no part of our policy to isolate the French. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish."] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen, and then he may learn. At every stage in our policy as regards Western European Union we have kept the French informed. We have expressed our desire that they should come and work with us. What has happened? Since the veto on our entry into the Communities, there have been the Benelux proposals, M. Harmel's proposals, the paper by the Italian Government—different each one, but all having one theme: "Let us come together to cooperate in those fields in which we can co-operate".
So the policy we are advocating is not merely our policy. It is Western Europe's policy. It is only, as far as I can see, the French Government, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman and some of his followers, who disagree with it. That is why I say that the charge cannot be made against us that we are trying to isolate France. It is no part of our intention to try to create new institutions which would create difficulties for everyone. However, we are not prepared to say about the use of existing institutions that they can be used only in exactly the way the French want. To say that would be wrong; and that would cause us to part company with the rest of Western Europe.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Why does my right hon. Friend keep repeating over and over again that it is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government to isolate the French? Does he not realise by this time that the French do not care a damn whether they are isolated, either by this country or by any other?
§ Mr. Shinwell
My right hon. Friend should not confine himself to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He should remember that there are some people on this side as well.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have to try to answer the arguments the Opposition put up. This has been the burden of their song for some time. I am showing that it is not so. The other comment I would make is that if my right hon. Friend is right—I hope that he may not be—in thinking that the French really do not care whether they are isolated or not, it would be a tragedy for Europe if a great nation that could do so much for Europe were to take such a view. I trust that it is not so.
It was suggested that the conversations between our Ambassador and President de Gaulle were a lost opportunity—an opportunity to do what?—an opportunity to accept by implication the President's view that it would be desirable in some way to weaken the action between Western Europe and the United States. I would not welcome that opportunity, or an opportunity to accept by implication his other view that the European Economic Community had got to change itself into something quite different from what it now is. But I want to make it quite clear, now that our position is fully understood on those points and now that it is understood that we are under an obligation to consult regularly on foreign policy with our friends in Western Europe, that we shall be very ready to have conversations with the French Government on the kind of subjects but not with the kind of views that President de Gaulle had in mind.
That is the nature of our European policy—to maintain the application—meanwhile to proceed in all those fields of co-operation still open to us and to consider helpfully any proposal which comes to us from the Community as a whole which is a step towards our entry and not a substitute for it. It is not clear to me, after having listened to the right hon. Gentleman, what exactly it is that he faults about that policy. We argued about the handling of certain parts of it, and I do not think the criticisms made 1083 against the Government then carried very much conviction to the House.
§ Mr. Stewart
No, I think not.
I must turn now to the last subject with which the right hon. Gentleman dealt—perhaps, adding together size and urgency and potential danger, the greatest of the lot—the situation in the Middle East. There is here an urgent need for settlement because with each day that goes by there is the risk of another incident, killing innocent people, inflaming tempers, making a final settlement more difficult. The tragedy of this is that it ought not to be too difficult to take the United Nations Security Council Resolution and spell it out in the form of a workable calendar, timetable, package—call it what you like. I believe there are a considerable number of well-informed and well-intentioned people in the world who could write out such a package or calendar which all the parties to the dispute, although they would probably complain about bits of it, would know would be better for them than letting the thing drift on as it now is.
Why then does it drift on? I believe because there are two balancing suspicions—the Arab suspicion that Israel has no intention of withdrawing at all from the territory she occupies, and the Israeli suspicion that whatever she does or signs or agrees to, the Arabs will not abandon the idea of one day destroying the State of Israel. I am not saying for one moment that either of those suspicions is justified—indeed, I do not believe they are—but it is a tragic fact that those suspicions are held on both sides.
Both sides could do something to reduce that burden of suspicion. If Israel would say, without cavil or qualification, that she not only accepts but will carry out the whole Resolution, this would reduce some of the suspicion. If the Arab countries would put it clearly beyond doubt that if a settlement is reached on the basis of the whole Resolution, they accept the words "just and lasting peace" in the Resolution without qualification and that any idea of destroying the State of Israel which may have been held in the past is permanently aban- 1084 doned, this seems to me to be an early first step. This requires no more than saying explicitly what I think both parties know they must agree to in the end, if there is to be any settlement—saying it explicitly and saying it early. We have urged this on them for some time. I trust the counsel will in time be taken.
Beyond that—for this is only the beginning of the matter—we have to recognise that the United Nations Resolution is, I believe, now the essential basis of a settlement. It is the one fixed point in the argument. We may take some pride in the fact that it was my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) whose initiative caused this Resolution to be accepted. The Resolution having been passed, we felt it was certainly right to give Dr. Jarring a chance to turn it, by consultations with the parties, from a Resolution into a practicable detailed plan. Unhappily, despite his best efforts, he has been unable to do so, I believe basically because of these two suspicions one on each side that I mentioned. It is for that reason that I think it is necessary for the four Powers to act.
In May of last year I agreed with Mr. Gromyko that we and the Russians must consult together about this, and there have been already a number of bilateral consultations between the various pairs that one can pick out of the Four. So the time has not been lost. But I must say that I regret that I am not able to tell the House today that the four Powers' talks have actually begun. However, I do not believe they will now be long delayed. When they do meet, our view is that they must meet without conditions and without limitation of agenda.
I know it is sometimes said: Will this get us anywhere? Have not Israel and her Arab neighbours got to sit down round a table themselves if there is to be any hope? I think the refusal of Arab countries to enter into direct talks is one that is extremely difficult for people in this country to understand. We are so used to the concept—and it is a very sensible concept—that if there is a dispute—the parties, whatever they think of each other, should at least sit down to discuss it. On the other hand, I am bound to say that I do not think it is reasonable for Israel to say that certain 1085 parts of the problem—Jerusalem, for instance—are not negotiable.
It seems to me in this situation that we cannot expect direct talks at present. This, again, reinforces the need for the Four to come in. What will they have to do? Certainly they will get in touch with the parties concerned—Israel and the Arab States. They will continue to urge certain courses of action on them. They will encourage them in particular to go to Dr. Jarring with suggestions on the substance of the dispute, which in effect they have not yet done.
But, for my own part, I do not believe the work of the Four can stop there. I think the Four will have to start on the job of actually making the package, timetable or calendar, which is the heart of the matter, and making that will mean that both Israel and her Arab neighbours will have to make some concessions to the other side's point of view. The Four, or anyone who tries to make such a timetable or package, will have to interpret some of the phrases in the Resolution which are not yet defined and, indeed, could not be defined. For example, there is reference to the refugees. The Resolution does not say exactly what ought to be done about them. I believe that it is incumbent on Israel to be rather more forthcoming on this problem than she has so far been. But if Arab countries want her to do it is all the more important that they make it clear beyond any doubt that the idea of destroying or waging future war on Israel is abandoned. It is one thing for Israel to admit people on humanitarian grounds. It is another to ask to admit people who she fears may be a deadly peril to her security in the future.
There is another matter on which it may be necessary to interpret the Resolution. When one deals with the reference to boundaries there may well be a need for a United Nations force. If there is, I believe that it will be necessary to make it clear that it is not a force that can be withdrawn at the request of one side alone.
Finally, the question of whether there can be a solution imposed by the four Powers has been raised. If by "impose" one means something that both sides, or even one side, bitterly hated but were told they must accept, I do not think that 1086 such a solution would work. Even if one made it work to begin with, it would not last, and no one would be prepared to guarantee it. On the other hand, there is clearly the necessity to have some degree of very urgent persuasion by the four Powers, because if that were not necessary a settlement would have been reached long ago. The real solution, therefore, stands somewhere between 100 per cent. free acceptance by the parties concerned, which, if it could be achieved, would have been achieved already, and 100 per cent. imposition, which is impossible.
What one can hope for, with patience, is a settlement that in the end will be accepted by the parties concerned with a certain limited amount of grumbling all round, and a situation in which, therefore, some of the Governments concerned will be able to tell their populations that the responsibility for the bits of the settlement they do not like lies on the backs of the Four. The shoulders of the Four must be big enough to bear that, provided that the degree of dissatisfaction is quite moderate. I think that one could draw up such a settlement, about which every party to the dispute would say, "This is not all we hoped for", but would know quite certainly that it was infinitely better than allowing the struggle to continue. Such a settlement could be found. The Four will try to find it, but the parties concerned are not thereby stripped of their responsibility to help in finding it.
When we consider the situation in the Middle East now, with the waste of that great earning asset, the Canal; with the constant killing and border incidents; with the dread in which the whole of that part of the world lives; I should have thought that if there is any wisdom or compassion in the countries concerned they will all make up their minds that some concessions must be made. If the talks of the Four can be the channel through which that is done, and a settlement is achieved, it will be a great advance for humanity and a great boon to the peoples of that region.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
One thing that the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs did not make clear in his account of Anguilla was whether the Prime 1087 Minister of the Associated State agreed to that State's division. If he did, and that had been made quite clear to the Anguillans, I believe that the Under-Secretary of State, with whom we all sympathise, would not have had the embarrassment he suffered when he went to Anguilla. If the Prime Minister of the Associated State agreed to the division, there could have been no need to launch the great invasion force, which appeared to be so unnecessary, and we could have acted under Section 9 of the West Indies Act and not Section 7. I hope that the Minister who replies to the debate will make the position clear, because what really worries the Anguillans is whether Anguilla is to remain associated with St. Kites or whether the State is to be divided.
The main purpose of the debate, and the matter on which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition took most of his time, is a general review of this country's policy towards Western Europe. It is 7½ years since Mr. Macmillan made his application to join the Community. Very few in the House today would say that it is likely that Britain can be accepted within the next five or six years, so we shall have faced 13 years of frustration, which is very bad for Britain both politically and economically. It is bad politically because in those 13 years of frustration we have alienated our friends in Australia and New Zealand, and have not made many friends in France. Economically, if we are to be waiting to go into Europe it looks as though following the Kennedy Round there will be no significant change in economic relations between the major Powers.
Therefore, I think there is a good deal of feeling in the country that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government are wrong to persevere with a frustrating policy. They have told us that the application lies on the table; the shoulder is to the jammed door. At Question Time today we heard a new description of their policy, that they were pursuing the posture—quite clearly the pursuit of a stationary posture. However the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs may explain his policy as not being to try to isolate the French or outflank the veto, what he has done at W.E.U. and in all his other engagements has given the 1088 impression in Europe and in France that that is his intention.
I believe that there is one more dangerous angle in the Government's policy. The right hon. Gentleman has become a member of the Action Committee for the United States of Europe. A United States of Europe must be some sort of federal Europe. Here we have the British Government appointing their Foreign Secretary as a member of that Committee, and the British taxpayer presumably paying for that association between them and a federal conception of Europe.I hope that the Government will be clear about this. There should be no doubt on this federal issue. There should no double talk with Europe about it. Our position should be stated so that there is no accusation of bad faith, of dragging our feet, of perfidious Albion, if, subsequently, Europe seeks to move towards federation and then, and only then, we make clear our opposition to it.I hope that we shall get an answer to those words at the end of the debate, because they are not mine but are the words the Prime Minister used in the House on 3rd August, 1961, at column 1669.
The other important aspect of the Soames lunch, apart from the Prime Minister's unforgiveable lapse in leaking a private conversation to the German Chancellor, was the suggestion by President de Gaulle of a free trade area in Europe. The Foreign Secretary said that he could not change Britain's policy on this, but I remind him that this was originally British policy. He said at the end that he was ready to have conversations on the subject but not on the idea, but he has already destroyed all hope of having them by the manner in which the Prime Minister handled it and in the lapse of time before the right hon. Gentleman made it clear that he wanted to have discussions on a free trade area in Europe.
If we are not likely to get into the Common Market within the next five years, whatever view one takes as to whether it was desirable or not, it is vital that we should open up discussions on some wider free trade area. My right hon. Friend said that there was no evidence of great support for it, and he is right. But, equally, in 1959, there was no great evidence that any party in the House of Commons was in favour of going into Europe. Certainly, the Conservative and Labour Parties were not. Nor, indeed, was there evidence in 1961 1089 that the Labour Party was in favour of going into Europe.
But there is undoubtedly in Europe and in America a growing interest in the idea of a free trade area. In March, 1967, President Johnson appointed Ambassador Roth to examine the desirability of a free trade area. Mr. Roth reported just before Mr. Johnson left office. The conclusion of the Report was that:… the costs of an unsuccessful American initiative would outweigh the apparently slight chance that an international exploration of the idea would meet with a favourable reception.The Report went on to say—and this is the important part of its conclusions—… if the E.E.C. should permanently exclude Great Britain from membership and should itself be unwilling to participate in multilateral efforts to reduce trade barriers, it is possible that both the United States and the other developed countries outside the E.E.C. would see more to gain from a new and enlarged free trade area than from a continuation of present policy.The Committee which assisted him was appointed by Mr. Johnson with the objective of being hostile to the idea and it came round to giving that amount of support to it. One quarter of the Committee had very different views, which are given as an addendum to the report. What the addendum says is significant and the House and the country should listen to it. It says:Now that the Kennedy round negotiations have been completed and further progress along these lines is uncertain, the United States should consider the feasibility of a broad-based free trade association as part of its long-run policy to reduce trade barriers. Participation in a free trade association does not violate formal adherence by the United States to the M.F.N."—most favoured nation—principle …The time appears ripe for serious consideration of such a multilateral free trade proposal. It would reinforce U.S. Atlantic ties to Europe as well as our Pacific ties to Japan and Asia, and to Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, if the E.E.C. should decide to join, because of the attractions of close association with a large and technologically sophisticated market, a multilateral free trade association would have helped overcome the present economic dislocation of Europe caused by its two regional groups.In view of that, the Government should take seriously the proposal for an open-ended free trade area. It is suggested by the French President. It is backed by a 1090 minority of those on the Roth Committee. It is envisaged by the majority of the Roth Committee as a solution to the persisting deadlock in Europe. It would help solve a great many of the world's economic problems. The whole division of the world and the failure to get some system of non-reciprocal preferences, such as that suggested by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition at the first U.N.C.T.A.D. conference, could be dealt with under such a proposal.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)
Given the widespread doubt as to whether there can be any real possibility of a second Kennedy Round, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the wider international free trade area of which he is speaking may now be the only way forward to any further liberalisation of international trade?
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Gentleman suggests that there can be no further progress after the Kennedy Round. That was the view of eight members of the Roth Committee. Sir Eric Wyndham White has said that there is no hope for any further Kennedy Round and that the only hope is for a free trade area of this nature or a sector by sector approach which has little hope of success at the present time.
Not only is there great value in this in trying to get some system of freer trade and non-reciprocal preferences with the developing world, but it holds out an opportunity for a breakdown of the division between East and West and for more East-West trade. Certainly it means that we could have closer economic links with the developed countries of the Commonwealth, and it would be the economic under-pinning of N.A.T.O. that many have advocated for many years. For these reasons, I believe that this should be examined.
As I see it, nothing really obstructs the concept except the pursuit of a posture by the Prime Minister and by the Foreign Secretary and the peregrinations of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown). Mr. Dean Acheson once said that Britain had lost an empire and had not yet found a rôle. Here, I believe, is the rôle for Britain—this open-ended free trade area with our older Commonwealth countries in alliance with America and 1091 our E.F.T.A. partners and open to all, in Europe or outside, to join. I believe that this would satisfy our rôle in the future. If the choice were put to the country, plain and clear, as between 13 years of frustration and working towards this other goal, I am sure that the answer would be clear and certain.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Hon. Members on both sides of the House must agree that to undertake a debate of this character, a wide-ranging debate covering a vast number of topics associated with foreign affairs, is to undertake the impossible. What is much worse, and hon. Members will have noted it, is that the two Front Bench spokesmen took nearly two hours of our time. That is just not good enough.
If we are to have a debate on foreign affairs, we should debate each subject in turn. Anguilla, which has occupied a great deal of time this afternoon already and which may occupy more, could have taken a whole day; so could the Middle East; so could the Common Market; so could the situation east of Suez, quite apart from a subject which has not yet been mentioned, the growing conflict on the Chinese-Soviet border. When we discuss Anguilla in that context, we begin to realise what we are up against. I make the protest on behalf of all hon. Members and hope that in future we shall take each foreign affairs subject in turn, or, at any rate, have not more than two main topics in a debate.
We could have occupied the whole of the week discussing foreign affairs and—perhaps it should be added—instead of discussing the Parliament Bill, with which almost everyone is nauseated by this time, even members of another place, we could have used the time discussing foreign affairs. I wish to deal with three items, Anguilla, the Middle East and the Common Market, and I shall do so with the utmost brevity.
I direct attention to one amazing feature of the Anguilla situation. There has been considerable derision in the United States Press about what it regards as the Anguilla joke. There is a response to that: it may be a joke, but I advise the American Press to note that it is far better to have the Anguilla joke than to 1092 have the Vietnam tragedy. It is not for the American Press to talk about the Anguilla joke, although I believe that a majority of hon. Members would rather that the Anguilla affair had not happened. It might have been more appropriate to have sent out a body of police in order to restore order if that was necessary, and if that had been unsuccessful, then would have been the time to dispatch a military force.
I understand from what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon that it is for the people of Anguilla to determine the kind of Government they want. Let us assume that they decide that they do not want any association with St. Kitts, or any other of the associated States in the Caribbean, or even with Great Britain; let us suppose that they decide to become part of the United States of America, and let us not forget that the concept of many of the islands in the Caribbean being associated with the United States has been canvassed on many occasions. If they make that decision and advise accordingly, are we to understand that Her Majesty's Government will agree to that? Of course they could not.
I do not expect anybody in the House or outside to agree with me, although I am satisfied that many people in the Caribbean might do so, but I venture the opinion that it would not matter to Great Britain and the future of Great Britain if the whole of the Caribbean left the Commonwealth. From the point of view of defence and from the economic point of view it is of little value. Although I am an unrepentant believer in the Commonwealth, I sometimes think that there are some parts of the Commonwealth which are no longer of any value to this country. I leave it at that.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made a bitter attack on the Prime Minister about Anguilla, about the Common Market, about the procedure in connection with the Common Market, about the Middle East and about the Government's decision to withdraw forces from east of Suez. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is no longer here. Having indulged in an hour's speech, it might have been more appropriate if he had stayed to listen to some other speeches. However, he may have another engagement, or be having his 1093 tea, or something of the sort, and so I forgive him and let it pass.
Although I agreed with some of his statements, I am bound to sum up his speech in this fashion: what he told the House and the country was that whatever the Prime Minister did, the right hon. Gentleman could do it better. I give him some advice—he must not allow his ambitions to transcend his capabilities. That is sound advice. Let him not forget that there are internal rumblings on his side of the House and that the succession may not be determined by the right hon. Gentleman. That is all I want to say about the right hon. Gentleman and about Anguilla.
I refer now to the Common Market. In 1949, the Attlee Government, of which I was a member, decided to associate itself with the Council of Europe. Simultaneously—and it is just as well to say this, because of some statements which have appeared in the Press, particularly in the Sunday Press—the Attlee Government rejected any association with the Common Market. It was debated—I was there—it was rejected unanimously. The debate was initiated by the late Ernest Bevin.
The right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) spoke about the Labour Party's association with the Common Market at the beginning of the 1960s. Some sections of the Labour Party agreed that an application for entry into the Common Market should be made, but the Labour Party was almost hopelessly divided on the issue and still remains divided. When my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench repeat over and over again that the House decided by a large majority that we should enter the Common Market, that majority took account of two items. One was that the Government were supported by the Tories—it was a squalid coalition—the other was that the Government largely depended on what is called the payroll vote. I did not make the suggestion about the payroll vote; it was suggested by others; it means those members of the Government who have to vote in accordance with the decision of the Government or get out. They prefer to stay to getting out. I do not blame them, for what would happen to many of them if they did get out?
The Foreign Secretary said that the Government had not indulged in any 1094 back-stairs operations in order to get into the Common Market. Is that true? At the end of the debate may we be told how much money has been spent by Her Majesty's Government in surreptitious fashion, by manoeuvre, by back-stairs operations, through the Council of Europe and Western European Union and all the rest of it in order to further the project of getting into the Common Market? We have never been told that.
I received a circular the other day from the Council of Europe. Accompanying it was a four-page leaflet issued by the Council of Information, sponsored by Her Majesty's Government and published by the Stationery Office. In advocating entry into the Common Market, it extolled the virtues of becoming associated with the E.E.C.
The circular isued by the Council of Europe told us about some celebrations that were to take place in May and that would be devoted to furthering the claim of Britain to join the E.E.C. It pointed out that certain exalted persons would attend a reception and possibly a banquet during the celebrations, and the name of Her Majesty the Queen was involved.
It is irregular—indeed, inappropriate—to discuss Her Majesty or anything associated with the Monarchy and I will, therefore, say nothing on the issue—except that if the Council of Europe is so closely associated with Her Majesty's Government in seeking entry into the Common Market, are we to understand that they have now been compelled, through circumstances, to use exalted names to advance our application? If so, it is about time that it was stopped.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Is it not the case that the advocacy of our entering the Community was contained in the Address from the Throne?
§ Mr. Shinwell
That has nothing to do with it, although I appreciate my hon. Friend's view. He is an unrepentant advocate of our getting in. He has always been such an advocate, but he will agree that he and those who take his view have been singularly unsuccessful.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he is slightly understating the case in that certain private bodies which are propagandist organisations for acceding to the Treaty of Rome 1095 are financially subsidised by Her Majesty's Government?
§ Mr. Shinwell
That is true, and we are gradually being made more aware of that. I want to know how much is being spent, who is providing the money, and to what the money is being devoted. After all, the Government are not supporting the anti-Common Marketeers with a penny piece. We are even regarded as rebels and outcasts.
I warn the Government that if they exert more pressure to advance their claim to get into the E.E.C. they will split the Labour Party from stem to stern; and they have enough on their plates without indulging in those tactics. It may be all right for them to accept the assistance of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I urge them to remember that they have friends on this side of the House. It is far better not to offend one's friends than to trouble about one's enemies.
Some hon. Members have spoken of the alternatives. For me there is only one alternative, although I agree that we should enter into tariff and trade arrangements and all sorts of other bilateral and multilateral arrangements with the United States, the Commonwealth, the Common Market countries and all concerned. By all means let us have trade liberalisation and the rest of it.
However, for me there is only one alternative, and that is that Britain must be strong economically and politically and not be subordinate to any country in Europe or elsewhere. Britain must try to regain the prestige which it has lost in recent years. I am talking of lost prestige since the end of the war. We must try to regain it. We must be free and independent so far as is practicable and we must not be associated with what I believe will, in the end, if implemented, be a policy of irreparable disaster.
In coming to the question of the Middle East, I must indulge in a confession of faith. I have never been associated with the Zionist Movement. I know that there is an Arab lobby in the House. Indeed, there is one on this side of the House. There may be an Israel lobby for all I know, but I am not 1096 associated with it. I prefer to express my own opinions.
All that I want for Israel is peace and security. The people of Israel are entitled to it. For far too long they have been subject to persecution. Many of them have been forced to go to Israel to escape pogroms, persecution, death, misery, privation and the rest. I want peace and security for them and for their country.
I do not dislike the Arabs. I believe that the State of Israel could provide, out of its knowledge and talent, inestimable service for the advantage of the Arab States in terms of technological development and political understanding. I want a settlement of the Middle East troubles but, despite what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and others may say, I am certain that such a settlement cannot be imposed by the four Powers.
Let us learn from history in this matter. Much of the trouble is that history is never thought about in the House except when it suits particular persons in a particular context. We had a tripartite agreement, but what happened after that? Israel and the Arab States were given an assurance, but it was never implemented. It was side-stepped, and nobody knows that better than the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home). He was closely associated with these matters and, in my judgment—I wish to cause him no embarrassment—he was one of our best Foreign Secretaries. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I thank hon. Gentlemen opposite for their agreement. They will see that we are willing to give credit where it is due. They do not get much, anyway. They do not deserve much, either.
We should not forget what happened over the Gulf of Aqaba affair and the assurance Israel had from Her Majesty's Government, supported by the Opposition, about freedom of passage through the Gulf. Israel was assured that there would be no interference from Egypt, but in the end Israel had to take the initiative and eventually it was Israel's artillery and aircraft which dealt with the situation, because Israel could not depend on Britain or the United States, and certainly it could not depend on the United Nations.
1097 And on the subject of the United Nations, all sorts of resolutions are passed there. They are passed without any idea of how they will be implemented. As an hon. Member said earlier during Question Time, one must wonder whether the United Nations will finally go the way of the old League of Nations.
We must also consider the elements among the four Powers. Russia is on the side of the Arabs and is providing them with Arms. Russia has made up its mind. It wants more power in that part of the world. The trouble with the Kremlin is that it always wants power, and it wants it anywhere, in Egypt or in any other part of the world, to the disadvantage of weaker States, in this case Israel. After all, what does Russia care?
Then consider France, which has indicated its view in this matter. One can never be sure of the French. They seem to oscillate. Their policies go up and down and, as a result of this oscillation, one can never be sure where their policies will finally end. History has shown that this has been the way of French policy over the years, sometimes with the right results, and sometimes with the wrong one. So one cannot depend on France, particularly with de Gaulle in power. He has, for some reason, taken the side of the Arab States and now he does not like Israel.
That leaves Britain and the United States. What will they do? Will they get round a table and talk and talk and have yet more talk with, at the end of the day, no decision being reached? Those associated with these four-Power talks must not try to impose a settlement, because it will not work. Only one approach to a settlement can be made, and it has been suggested today in the speeches from the Front Benches: the Israelis and the rulers of the Arab States must get together and work it out—fight it out if necessary, but work it out in the end. That is the only possible solution. If the four Powers do not bring pressure to bear on the two contending states but make suggestions to them which may lead to a settlement, all the better. But there can be no question of imposing conditions, because that would never be acceptable.
1098 This debate, dealing with Anguilla and all the other subjects to which reference has been made, is not a foreign affairs debate. It is a ramshackle debate. My hon. Friend the Minister of State might suggest to his right hon. Friend, and even to the Prime Minister, if he dare approach the Prime Minister, that one week we might spend time discussing foreign affairs in all its aspects and have a national forum on vast international issues. That is what we want, not the kind of debate which we are having today.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
I entirely agree with the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that this debate is too fluid and moves across the world too much. There are many problems, and it is very much a matter of one's own decision as to which is the important problem to tackle.
In many ways, I should like to talk about Anguilla because I know the island and the people involved, but I will not do so because I shall be raising the question of Anguilla on the Consolidated Fund Bill at, I suppose, 3.30 on Wednesday morning. Therefore, I had to decide which I thought was the aspect of foreign affairs which caused anxiety to our people. Although there is anxiety about the Middle East, and although the question of China and Russia is extremely important, I have found that the current confusion which our people want sorted out, cleared up and washed away is that about the Common Market.
I do not think that I could be called an enthusiast about our going into the Common Market. In May, 1967, when there was a three-line Whip on both sides of the House to vote in favour of our going into the Common Market, I voted against it. I had no regrets about it, and I am very pleased to say that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition bore me no ill-feeling because he knew what I felt; and that is how politics should be. However, I was sorry that a three-line Whip should have been imposed on this side of the House in favour of our entry into the Common Market. It was a mistake, for two reasons. First, the Common Market clearly was not ready to receive us, and the reconnaissance done by the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) and the Prime Minister 1099 obviously had not adequately been finished. Secondly, at the time of our application in May, 1967, our economy was weak; there is no doubt about that.
On the first point about the Common Market not being ready to receive us, it was clear to most people that France was not willing to admit us, for a variety of reasons, and that five countries of the Six were not willing to put at risk the structure which they had built up in order to force the issue and to get us in. They put the Franco-German entente as a top priority and something which must not be broken even if it meant keeping us out of the Common Market.
Secondly, on the question of the economy, the Prime Minister keeps reminding us, or keeps reminding me anyhow, that the Treaty of Rome is entirely an economic and not a political treaty. Why, then, did we try to begin negotiations to join the E.E.C. at a time when our economy was extremely weak, six months before devaluation, when the Government must have known that the economy was weak? To my mind, it was folly to make an application then. This is where I reserve a little criticism, quite fairly—and I am sure that it will be accepted—for my party for suggesting that we should support the application when we, too, were saying that the economy was weak and, as the Leader of the Opposition said today, that not enough preparation had been done. I say that in passing.
In my view, it was a grave misjudgment that we applied to join the Common Market then. Many factors are weighed in the balance in making decisions of this nature, but I suspect that one of the factors in the balance was party political advantage. "Anything you can do I can do better", was the song which I think the right hon. Member for Easington had in mind. The Leader of the Opposition had tried to get Britain into the Common Market and had failed. The Prime Minister thought that if he tried to get us in and succeeded, that would be "one up" politically for him. If he failed, he would have done no worse than my right hon. Friend. I suspect that that was one of the factors in the argument.
I say that because of the Prime Minister's speech at Bristol on 18th March, 1100 1966, just before the last election, when he said:Given a fair wind, we will negotiate our way into the Common Market, head held high, not crawl in. And we shall go in if the conditions are right. And those conditions require that we must be free to go on buying food and raw materials, as we have for 100 years, in the cheapest markets—in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other commonwealth countries".He went on to say:But we reject any idea of supranational control over Britain's foreign and defence policies".It was a very quick conversion from that date in March, 1966, to a few months later after the election when he decided to start his reconnaissance in Europe and to the date of the application in May, 1967. While I do not want to be over-suspicious, I am a little suspicious that this sudden conversion was made for party political reasons.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
There have been many sudden conversions and defections from the ranks of those who support Britain's entry to the Common Market. Has the hon. Gentleman noticed that the biggest European of them all, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), took to the boats over the weekend?
§ Mr. Marten
I did notice that. My right hon. Friend is a fundamental thinker on economic matters, and that is why his conversion is interesting.
I was talking about supranationality and the fact that the Prime Minister said that we would not condone any supranational organisation. On this occasion, the Prime Minister is consistent, because, having said it in Bristol in March, 1966, he again said it on 6th February, 1969, in the House:I made it clear that we did not … support any federal or supranational structure for our relations with Europe".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1969; Vol. 777, c. 584.]What I find curious is how one can want to be part of Europe, to be in Europe, and all those things that people want to be, and to have political unity in Europe if there is no supranational structure. Foreign affairs and defence—and all these countries are democracies—can be controlled only by a supranational Parliament. Therefore, in saying that, the right 1101 hon. Gentleman seems to be saying exactly the opposite to what he means. He does not want a supranational structure, but he wants unity in foreign affairs and defence. The two things do not equate.
One of the things that greatly worries people I find as I go around the country, is this speaking with two voices over the issue of the Common Market. By saying that they will have no supranational structure, the Prime Minister and the Government are marking out the road blocks over which they will trip when, eventually, they try to get in, and from my point of view that is a good thing.
The electorate find this extremely confusing. I should like to see, for the benefit of the Government certainly, and, perhaps, some of my hon. Friends of the Opposition, a Gallup Poll to see what the people think on this issue. There has been a strange conspiracy of silence from the Gallup pollsters in the last three years about this question. One wonders why. In the Press, the Press lords or the editors of the newspapers, with the noble exception of the Daily Express, are all in favour of going into Europe—at least, the editors appear to be in favour of it. It is rather difficult, therefore, to get opinions across in the British Press.
The Prime Minister always says when we question him about it—and the Foreign Secretary said it this afternoon—that the idea of going into Europe has the overwhelming support of the Members of this House, who gave it an overwhelming vote. That is sheer nonsense, and the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary should know it. On that occasion there was a three-line Whip on both sides. If we were to have a free vote on it today, apart from those who would vote to "follow my leader" because of patronage, either now or at a later date, I believe that the proposal to go into the Common Market would be defeated in the House of Commons.
I do not wish to spend more than a few minutes on the economic arguments, but it is relevant to ask ourselves what would be the cost of going into the Common Market. I have been trying to get out of the Minister of Agriculture what would be the cost to Britain on our balance of payments of our contribution to the common agricultural pool and allied funds. In his speech on 8th May, 1967, 1102 the Prime Minister estimated that the cost to our balance of payments would involve a deficit of £175 million to £250 million on agriculture alone. If that were so in May, 1967, we should consider the state of agriculture in the Common Market today. Today, that figure would be so high as to be utterly intolerable in this country, and yet the Government still want us to go into the Common Market.
The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), who was President of the Board of Trade, probably had more information at his disposal than any other person in the House. I think I am right in saying that when the right hon. Gentleman left the Board of Trade, he said that after the transitional period of getting into the Common Market, we should have a balance-of-payments deficit of about £600 million a year. The case was argued fairly clearly, and that figure has never been seriously contested. I reckon that if we were to do the sums again today, it would be far greater than a £600 mil-lion-a-year deficit to our balance of payments by virtue of going into the Common Market.
How on earth could this country stand that additional deficit on our balance of payments by going in? It is absurd to think that we could, and it is quite irresponsible to go on barking at the door, even though it may be the back door, of the Common Market when figures of that sort are at risk for the people of this country.
If we look at the Common Market as it is today, we see that Mr. Jean Rey, President of the Commission, describes the Common Market as equivocating. I have a copy of his remarks in his own journal, which is sent to me as it is to the right hon. Member for Easington Quite a lot of the Common Market bumph is posted to us. I do not know who pays for it, but it arrives.
Mr. Jean Rey describes his own Common Market as equivocating and he describes how, because France blocked Britain's entry, Italy blocked further negotiations with Mediterranean countries. He also said that for the same reason Holland held up work on technical cooperation because Britain was blocked out of the Common Market by France.
It seems to me as an observer that the Common Market is in a permanent state 1103 of crisis. It goes from crisis to crisis, it is stagnant as an organisation, and I am told by those who go to the Commission, the permanent officials and so on, that there is extremely bad feeling among the various nationals who partake in the talks As I said earlier, agriculture is in a shocking mess. Why should this country want to join an outfit like that? That is what I find so odd. Surely, we could say to ourselves, "We are sorry that it is all going so badly. It would be disastrous economically. We see very little political advantage in it. Let us withdraw our application."
I believe that by keeping our application in, we are being a divisive force in that part of Europe which is prepared to combine and unite. The fact that our application is kept in upsets France considerably, and it is that very fact which causes so much disruption within the six countries and which means that the Common Market is moving from crisis to crisis. If we were to withdraw our application, I believe that at least those six countries would unite in Europe far more satisfactorily. I hope, therefore, that those who are enthusiastic about European unity will think this through to its logical conclusion and advocate sincerely the withdrawal of our application in the interests of European unity which they claim to support. To leave in our application is purely selfish and we ought to reconsider it in the light of being fair to Europe as a whole.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) said, we must consider alternatives. I should like to see, first and foremost, the alternative of the Six and Seven Free Trade Area, perhaps branching forth to an Atlantic Free Trade Area, and so on. I see no reason why we should not start thinking about alternatives at this stage.
The issue of the Common Market has become a divisive force within each political party. It divides people, not seriously, but it divides them. It has the happy advantage of uniting across the Floor of the House people who might not otherwise be united. I believe, however, that in the country it is a divisive force. The country wants to see an end to this indecision, what I call the grovelling at Europe's door, and to those silly and degrading escapades centring around Western European Union.
1104 I have had my time. I hope that I have made my point that, not being an enthusiastic European, I felt it right to lay my cards on the table as to why, I think, we should not have applied in May, 1967, and why it would be an honourable and unselfish course for those who want European unity to advocate withdrawing our application forthwith.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Perhaps it is sometimes one of the defects of these foreign affairs debates that we tend to concentrate on the excitements of the moment and to lose sight of the rather longer-term issues. I was quite unconvinced today by the Leader of the Opposition's criticisms of the Government's action in the immediate case of Anguilla. It seems to me that if we have a responsibility for law and order in that territory, we have a duty to maintain it; and if we can do so without loss of blood, the better for all concerned. I hope, however, that the Government will devise means fairly soon for ascertaining what are the wishes of the population and then achieving a political settlement.
Since, however, we have got away from the Front Benches in this debate, we have, in a rather welcome way, returned to the longer-term political and economic issues. When we do that and survey, for instance, the practical consequences of the Government's having based so many of their policies during the last two years solely on their application to join the European Economic Community, we can see that this has had many damaging consequences. We can now judge by results and not just by the arguments that we all had two years ago.
The Government's professed objective, which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed again today, has been to unite Europe and to achieve this by inducing the Germans to put pressure on France. That policy has demonstrably failed. So far from uniting Europe, even Western Europe is sadly disunited today and our relations with France are, I suppose, worse than they have been for a great many years. The Germans have become impatient at our constantly putting pressure on them. Our E.F.T.A. partners are suspicious because we always appear to be wanting to join the E.E.C. without necessarily carrying them with 1105 us. The most influential E.F.T.A. countries, Sweden and Switzerland, have always wished for a wider free trade area, and that we seem to have cold-shouldered at every opportunity. Third, we have continued to lose both good will and export markets in the Commonwealth as a result of these policies. If anyone doubts the seriousness of that, he should read an article in the Listener of 13th March this year which shows some of the effects there.
In short, as a result of these policies we have disappointed our friends and made no impression whatever on those who oppose us. Everyone in Europe knows, outside the British Foreign Office at least, that there is no prospect of the French withdrawing their present opposition for a very long time. General de Gaulle has announced firmly that he is staying in office until 1972, and, although he is, I suppose, subject to the veto of an even higher power, he very probably will.
Therefore, if the Government are not prepared to embark on any other initiative whatever, we are condemned to paralysis for years. It would always have been wiser, and would be far wiser now—almost certainly, it would promote more harmony in Europe—if instead of battering against a closed door we worked for some larger and looser association of which all of us, E.F.T.A., E.E.C. and others, could become members.
There are two reasons which have always made the failure of the present policy inevitable. They are not just accidental, and we might as well grasp them now. First, there never existed either in 1962 or in 1968 any terms for both Britain and France belonging to a supranational institution, with the E.E.C.'s present economic policies, which both the French and British Governments could accept at the same time. Therefore, all the negotiations have been bound for that reason to lead to frustration.
Second, the Germans have never been willing to put really effective pressure on the French, since Germany's position in the East is too weak and the General is always ready to exploit that. By attempting the impossible we have achieved nothing, and we have failed to adopt the possible alternatives. In addition, it was always economic nonsense to 1106 found our whole policy on trying to improve relations with a part of the world with which we do 20 per cent. of our trade while ignoring all the rest with which we do 80 per cent.
In view of these failures, and in order to avoid heaven knows how many more months and years of futile application or supplication, the Government must now nerve themselves to examine open-mindedly the possible alternatives. In the debate in May, 1967, to which reference has been made, the Prime Minister himself said that, if this application failed or ploughed into the sand, alternatives would be explored.
At this moment, a new diversion is being proposed which would probably waste even more time than the last. There are some enthusiasts who now propose working for some sort of federal United States of Europe. I am thankful that not merely in 1961 and 1967 but on 4th February this year, at Question Time, the Prime Minister firmly said that it is not the Government's policy to take the United Kingdom into any sort of federal State in Europe or elsewhere. I find it a little odd in that case, and, I think, really improper, that the Foreign Secretary should have joined a Committee the professed object of which is a United States of Europe. It would make the matter much clearer to the public if he would come off it. But, apart from that, the idea is wholly unrealistic and, aside from the details, there are two cardinal objections to it.
First, the British public is plainly, and rightly, opposed to giving up this country's national independence. All of us realise that. Second, there is no reason to believe that the emergence of a West European super-Power, which would inevitably be nuclear-armed and increasingly dominated by Germany, would be conducive to peace either in Europe or elsewhere. Indeed, it would be far more likely to create an even more dangerous world, since it is Russian fears of a nuclear Germany which have been the greatest single cause of tension and disunity over the past 20 years since the war. In my view, our real aim on this political plane should be to allay and not to inflame Russian fears of Germany. In the years we have remaining until, perhaps, 15 or 20 years from now, when the expansion of China 1107 pushes the Soviet Union, the United States and Western Europe all into a defensive alliance together, let us not stir up unnecessary conflicts.
If that should be our long-term aim, the right policies now are these. First, we should work—by all means let us do this, and here, I hope, I agree with the Government—through all the existing European agencies. Heaven knows, there are enough of them, including N.A.T.O., O.E.C.D., E.F.T.A., W.E.U., and even the Council of Europe if that has some usefulness. Let us work through all these agencies for better political, cultural and economic relations all round. At the same time—there is nothing incompatible in these two policies if one does not push either of them to extremes—we should work with the United States to promote liberal economic policies in the wider world where most of British trade is carried on.
Here, it seems to me, the new Nixon Administration gives us a great opportunity. The President's initial declarations that he wants to work for freer trade rather than for protectionism should be highly encouraging to us. But we must follow up this start actively, and not allow it to be muted by the inevitable protectionist pressures which appear on both sides of the Atlantic.
My right hon. Friend and right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite will have noted the Motion on the Order Paper signed now by, I think, 120 Members of all parties which urges the Government, quite modestly, to examine seriously the sort of open free trade association of countries which has been mentioned today, and which was seriously discussed by the Roth Committee. Such an association could be formed on the widest possible basis, including ourselves, if possible the E.E.C., the E.F.T.A. and all others who wished to join.
American opinion here seems to have gone ahead of us in this country. As the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) said, the Roth Report, published in January, showed that no fewer than eight members, including Mr. David Rockefeller, advocated what they call—this was their phrase—a broad-based free trade associationaspart of the United States' long-run policy for reducing trade barriers1108 and they pointed out that this was one policy wholly consistent with the present rules of the G.A.T.T.
The majority of the Roth Committee recommended, first, an attempt at another orthodox Kennedy Round. But they added that if the E.E.C. should continue to block the United Kingdom from membership and itself be unwilling to join in another multi-lateral effort,It is possible that both the United States and the other developed countries outside the E.E.C. would see more to gain from a new and enlarged free trade area than from a continuation of present policies.That was a significant statement by that important committee.
Neither the nature nor the potential benefits of this sort of economic strategy have yet been fully grasped. It would mean, in principle, translating the E.F.T.A. idea on to a much larger stage. It would be a free trade association without geographical limits, without Continental strings, without supranational commitments, and with a free invitation to all to join. In my view, the evidence is now strong that, unless another Kennedy Round proves possible, this is by far the best hope of expanding world trade rapidly, with all that that means for this country and for others. It would also enable us—and this is surely another great advantage—to circumvent the present E.E.C. deadlock and the sterile Anglo-French feud, which goes on and on, by creating the opportunity for ourselves, for North America, E.F.T.A. and the E.E.C. and others to join just that larger and looser association which has always been, I think, the right solution.
Secondly, of course, this sort of policy would offer far the greatest hope for the United Kingdom's own economic future, which still at this moment is not looking all that wonderfully bright, because it would offer to us the widest possible export markets without any new burden on our costs, or the E.E.C's agricultural policy, of which the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) has just spoken.
Again, it would be perfectly possible to combine it with the U.N.C.T.A.D. policy of so-called generalised preferences, that is to say, free or easy access to the markets of the richer countries of the group for all the developing countries. That would do far more for the developing countries than all the aid they are 1109 ever going to get, because it is far better for them to sell their goods than to live on the charity of the industrial countries.
If we are to move in this direction, and not stand still for years more, somebody has to launch such a move, and if it is not to be the United States supported by this country, I do not know who it is to be. I suggest to the Government that the next practicable step should be this: let us have a decision, at the latest by the middle of this year, whether to go ahead with a multi lateral effort on the pattern of the Kennedy Round.
§ Viscount Lambton
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say "by the United States supported by us", and that if they do not do it he does not know who will? In that case, if the United States do not, what can we do?
§ Mr. Jay
The noble Lord must surely see that the solution to that is first to discuss the possibilities with the United States where there is already a great deal of opinion in favour of this sort of move. Of course, he is quite right, that neither the Kennedy Round nor the Marshall Plan could ever have been launched without the United States. That is how the world is in which we live, but I hope that we shall not despair for that reason.
Of course, a bit of initiative and imagination is necessary to get some movement of this kind going, and I think the noble Lord would agree that it is a rather sad spectacle now to see the British Government hesitating because, they say, the Americans may not agree, and the Americans waiting because, they tell everyone privately, they are not sure that the British want to move in this direction.
Two historical parallels come forcefully to one's mind in this situation. In early 1938, as we know now, Neville Chamberlain, whom we have recently been—commemorating, I suppose I should say, rather than celebrating—turned down a confidential offer from President Roosevelt to back Britain, France and the Soviet Union in resisting Hitler. This, one now sees, was one of the greatest blunders made by any British Government in this century. Secondly, by contrast, in 1947 General Marshall and Ernest Bevin agreed together to launch the Marshall Plan, which was the most constructive and 1110 successful international effort in the non-Communist world in the post-war years—and generous. Let us also remember that in 1938 and 1939 Neville Chamberlain would not change his course or his mind because he dared not admit, despite all the evidence, that he had been proved wrong.
I hope that the Government will now be more open-minded, will mark the moral, and will not be deterred by slogans or by dogmas, or by past mistakes, from seizing in the period ahead what could well be an opportunity almost equal to that of 1947 both to relax present conflicts in Europe and to show that the non-Communist world is still capable of constructive action for the benefit of us all.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
Despite that persuasive speech by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, I think is is clear that British foreign policy is currently going through a bad spell, and, as The Times rightly pointed out in its leading article on Thursday, it is being conducted in an increasingly erratic way.
The most exasperating aspect of the Anguillan situation, however much the Government defend it today, lies in the fact that but for Government incompetence the present situation need not have arisen at all. In Europe, the two unnecessary quarrels picked first with Germany and then with France show all the hallmarks of the Prime Minister's conceited last-minute interventions. It was the Prime Minister who summoned Herr Blankenhorn to Downing Street late at night, and almost certainly it was the Prime Minister who decided that Dr. Keisinger should be told in the way he was about the information gathered in the private conversation between Mr. Soames and General de Gaulle without previously informing the General, and it was this fact that has made the situation with France so much worse than it need be.
There are far too many disturbing accounts of Prime Ministerial interference, and I hope that this kind of thing will not continue to happen, particularly in crucial areas such as the Middle East. Surely the Foreign Secretary should assert himself more and should keep the Prime Minister's initiatives under control.
In the Middle East British policy has taken on a curiously muted and muffled 1111 aspect. The previous Foreign Secretary, in spite of his ebullient style, had at least cut out an independent line for British policy, independent of the United States and frequently in advance of the United States. It would be absurd and regrettable if, now that at last there are indications that United States policy in the Middle East is going to break away from the negative paralysis of the Johnson Administration, British policy should return to the rather slavish position about three steps behind any attitude adopted by the United States. Time is not on the side of those who wish to see a settlement negotiated between Israel and the Arab States and a return to relative tranquility in the area. Things do not remain static and from the point of view of a settlement they are deteriorating fast.
First of all it is important to understand what is at the root of the problem, which certainly did not appear from the speech made by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). The rights and wrongs of the conflict in the Middle East have too often been clouded in the eyes of the rest of the world by propaganda and misrepresentation, and this accumulated misinformation has served principally to obscure the nature and the extent of the injustice which has been perpetrated in Palestine, for it is Palestine which is at the base of the problem. Any negotiation must take this reality into account, and any negotiation which does not do so is bound to fail. The militarily powerful and victorious Israelis must recognise this, and they must be prepared to agree to terms which are acceptable to at least a substantial proportion of the Palestinian Arabs, unless they are willing to live indefinitely, or maybe for the next 20 or 25 years, fighting an ever-growing and more determined Palestine resistance movement.
The commando organisations in Palestine are increasing all the time, and this is hardly surprising for, while in Jordan the Palestine resistance movement is a State within a State, the Palestinians are also a people without a country. They are all in exile or under Israeli occupation, and many of those in exile are condemned to living in deplorable conditions in refugee camps. Having lost their homes and their country, they consider that they have little else to lose 1112 but their lives, and these they are prepared to sacrifice. All in all, it would be difficult to imagine a situation more favourable for the rise of a resistance movement.
Meanwhile, the fighting on both sides becomes increasingly unpleasant. We hear and read a good deal about the guerilla activities. It seems to be accepted that the Israeli Air Force uses napalm bombs as a matter of course, and I should be interested to hear what the Minister has to say on this when he replies to the debate.
Houses in the occupied West Bank are frequently blown up, and only yesterday in the Sunday Times a correspondent who is by no means unsympathetic to the Israeli point of view—quite the contrary—said that since the occupation nearly 250 houses have been bulldozed or blown up.
§ Sir Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Did that correspondent also say that those houses were used as ammunition dumps to destroy men, women and children in Israel?
§ Mr. Walters
No, but he afterwards said that he thought that this was a vicious and clumsy form of punishment because the man who suffers most, the owner of the house, is not necessarily the suspect, who may be a relative or tenant. The article went on to say that in one demolition case the owner lived next door and in another he lived in Kuwait, and there was no indication of ammunition having been put there. There are widespread reports of torture being used and, as in all cases where territory is occupied against the wishes of the inhabitants, there is an escalation of brutality. What must be done is to being about the end of the occupation.
When I was in Jordan recently I spoke to the leaders of one of the resistance movements, and it is clear that, although their ultimate aim is a bi-national State in Palestine, where both Arabs and Jews can live, they believe that this can be attained only after a prolongued guerilla war which would cause great destruction and human suffering. They are prepared to accept that. But, even if the Palestinians' full objectives were ultimately attainable, nobody except the totally committed could wish to see another 1113 Vietnam in the Middle East. A reasonable settlement would surely be preferable to prolonged war and bloodshed.
Similarly, few people could gain from a new war. Who gained from the last war? The Russians obviously did and, equally obviously, the Egyptians, the Syrians and the Jordanians lost heavily. But Israel, despite its brilliant military victories, also lost. It gained territory and "natural frontiers", but it gained them at heavy cost—the re-creation of the Palestine personality. Before the war, the Palestinians, if not completely resigned to their fate, were at least apathetic. Now they are militant, they are bursting with confidence.
From Israel's point of view, secure military frontiers are no longer the point, when dealing with guerrilla warfare, because guerrilla movements do not recognise frontiers. Israel was insecure before 1967 not because of her frontiers but because the Arabs resented occupation of Arab land and the exclusion of the Arab refugees from their homes. Israel will be less secure if she occupies more Arab land and creates more Arab refugees. Whatever her frontiers, Israel can be secure only if she is accepted by the Arabs, and she will be accepted only if she comes to terms with the Palestinians. Now, as always since 1948, the settlement of the refugees is the basic problem.
It is worth recalling that before the end of 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution declaring that the refugees should have the right to decide whether they wanted to return to their homes or to receive compensation for their property. This resolution, which has been repeated annually ever since, has never been implemented. When the right hon. Member for Easing-ton refers to resolutions of the United Nations which have not been implemented he should remember that there has been one on the most crucial issue, which is the issue of the refugees, which has been repeated year in, year out, and has never been carried out. The right hon. Gentleman also said that he was unaware of the existence of a Zionist lobby; we all know that he is a very witty and amusing speaker, and I assume that he was having a little joke about that.
The Palestinians who fled in 1948 lost everything, and it is a mockery to talk of 1114 human rights where they are concerned, since they are even refused access to the homes where their ancestors have lived, in some cases for many centuries. Those who stayed behind in Palestine after 1948 fared little better because, after the establishment of the State of Israel, these Arabs found themselves to be an unwanted minority which was discriminated against in a variety of ways.
It is perfectly understandable that the Israelis wish to achieve security after their victory in the June war. There is no reason why one should not aim at establishing demilitarised zones, which could be negotiated and which would ensure security on both sides. The terms of the United Nations resolution of November, which has been referred to many times and which has had many different interpretations, forms a basis for negotiation. The demilitarised zones could perhaps be guaranteed by the Great Powers and a United Nations force established there. Certainly Jerusalem cannot be excluded in advance from negotiations.
I referred at the beginning to British policy. There is no doubt that French policy has had a great impact recently in the Middle East and that, whereas our influence had been growing and our trade and economic influence had been expanding, this has now been seriously arrested and, that wherever there is a choice between a French and a British company, the bias is clearly on the side of the French. I have come across many instances confirming that.
Inevitably, Russian influence in the Middle East has grown, not especially because of Russian policy but largely because of American policy, which has made it so easy for the Russians to move into this area. There is a clear danger that they may expand into the Gulf, and whether this great political threat can be averted and our economic interests protected depends to a large extent on achieving a satisfactory settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute.
I believe that King Hussein of Jordan and President Nasser are still anxious to achieve a negotiated settlement which, while protecting the essential rights of Palestinians, is realistic in the terms of the present situation and the reality of Israeli military superiority. Understandably, the aims of the Palestinian resistance 1115 movement are rather different. But, if a settlement is not achieved quickly—and in this connection I do not see any degree of urgency in the Government's policy at the moment—it may be inevitable for President Nasser to become as extreme in his attitude as are the resistance leaders, should that occur, it will remove all hope of a negotiated settlement not only in the foreseeable but in the far-distant future, and it will make another war almost inevitable, with all the dire consequences to Western and British interests.
It is in Britain's interests to achieve a settlement soon. It is in our interests, too, that such a settlement should be reached within the context of international morality. It is a British political and economic interest that we should continue to exercise influence in the Middle East.
I see no sign that Her Majesty's Government are setting about the task and pressing the United States with the degree of urgency which will make it possible to achieve and to continue to maintain that position.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Sir Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
I will return in a few moments to the extremely well-informed speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for West-bury (Mr. Walters).
There is only one point on which I agreed with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) had to say. Anyone who has sat here since 3.30, as I have, must appreciate the sheer futility of a one-day debate of this kind. We are expected to pack the whole range of world affairs into six and a half hours, of which approximately half is occupied by Front Bench speakers. In that time, we are expected to consider the problems of Europe, Anguilla, Rhodesia and the Middle East. It follows that there is no continuity of debate, no subject is fully canvassed, and the Minister who winds up the debate is set an almost impossible task.
I want also to echo what my right hon. Friend said about this state of affairs. In the present Session of Parliament, all this could have been avoided easily if the Government had only listened to the appeals which came to them from both sides of the House with increasing 1116 urgency either to drop the Parliament (No. 2) Bill as a whole or, at any rate, to leave out its more controversial Clauses. Having said that, I want to come first to Anguilla and then to the Middle East.
As regards Anguilla, in the circumstances that prevailed last week, I think that the Government were right to send in troops. They could not have done anything else after the expulsion of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary. If they were right to do it, I think that we all agree that it is far better to send in too many troops than too few.
The problem that this House should consider is whether that situation should have been allowed to arise. We need to know a good deal more than most of us know at present about the events in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. There was an article in yesterday's Sunday Times which said, for example:Last week was not in point of fact the first time since the trouble began between the people of Anguilla and Robert Bradshaw's Government in St. Kitts that British armed forces have landed on Anguilla. Though Lord Beswick, the Government spokesman, denied it in the House of Lords two days later, steel-helmeted Royal Marines were sent ashore at Island Harbour, Anguilla, at 4 a.m. on February, 14, 1967. That was two weeks before the Anguillans came under the authority of the Associated State of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, whose Prime Minister, Robert Bradshaw, is detested by the great majority of Anguillans … This story, which has never been admitted by British government spokesmen in London, is supported by the testimony of dozens of eye witnesses, including Royal Navy personnel. It powerfully conveys three things: the inveterate resistance of the Anguillans to being ruled by the Bradshaw government in St. Kitts; their deep and rather endearing old-fashioned loyalty to Britain, and the limitations of Her Majesty's Government's Intelligence about the situation in Anguilla. Between them. these three themes explain a good deal of the Anguilla muddle.I see my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in his place. I hope that we shall hear from him or from whoever winds up the debate whether there is any truth in that story in the Sunday Times.
Is it not a fact that, from the very beginning, the Anguillans have been hostile to rule from St. Kitts? After all, during the last 20 years we have had very wide experience first of the setting up and then of the dismantling of federations. Apart from Suez, the greatest blunder committed by the party opposite was when it created the Central African 1117 Federation and compelled the people of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland against their will to enter federation with Southern Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Evan Luard (Oxford)
While not dissenting from what my right hon. and learned Friend says about the setting up of federations generally, may I point out that in this case there was no question of establishing a federation against the will of the Anguillans, since, at the conference, their own representatives accepted a federation including Anguilla.
§ Sir D. Foot
I have just cited evidence showing considerable hostility from the start.
Perhaps I might complete what I was saying about Central Africa. It was an experiment which was bound to fail and, 10 years later, the party opposite had to undo its handiwork and wind up the Federation.
It is perfectly true that a federation may be accepted at the beginning, but it cannot continue if there is real hostility between the units which make it up, as we have seen again and again. Regrettably, it happened in the case of the West Indies Federation, which was perhaps the most likely to succeed. It happened in Southern Arabia, and it happened in Malaysia when Singapore withdrew.
We are told that there are special factors in the case of Anguilla which must be taken into account. On 19th March, for example, my right hon. Friend referred to the… danger that somewhat disreputable characters from outside the State and possessing arms were exercising influence on those who purported to be its Government."—[OFFTCUL REPORT. 19th March, 1969; Vol. 780, c. 497.]It is reported in today's Evening Standard:Under the cloak of a plastics factory, an American business man manufactured arms and ammunition for the Anguillan insurrection, Mr. Paul Southwell, deputy Prime Minister of the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Federation alleged today.All these statements may be true. I have no doubt that they are made in good faith. But statements of this sort, whether made by the Government on the spot or near the spot or by the Government here in London, do not always turn out to be correct.
May I remind the House of what has happened on two former occasions? In 1118 1948 there were serious disturbances in what was then the Gold Coast, and is now Ghana. The Governor proclaimed a state of emergency, and six African leaders were locked up, including Dr. Danquah, Dr. Nkrumah, and the present Chief Justice of Ghana. The Government of the Gold Coast, no doubt with the support and approval of the Colonial Office here, issued a statement saying that there was not only a design for insurrection, but a murder plot under which all kinds of people were to be assassinated, and that this was Communist-inspired. A Commission of Inquiry was set out by Mr. Creech Jones, and at that inquiry—I speak from personal knowledge because I was there—these allegations about Communist influence and about a murder plot completely disappeared. Nobody ventured any evidence whatever in support of them, although the Government of the Gold Coast were fully represented.
We had an almost precisely similar course of events in Nyasaland in 1959. There again there were disturbances. There again there was a proclamation of an emergency. There again a White Paper was issued by the local Government with the approval of the Government here. There again there was the allegation of a massacre plot which described in detail how on a Sunday morning all the African leaders had met under the blue gum trees and plotted together to assassinate the Governor, the Bishop, and all the leading Europeans in the Protectorate. I heard the then Colonial Secretary, Mr. Lennox-Boyd, stand at that Dispatch Box and assure the House that he was satisfied about the truth of those allegations.
The House will remember what happened. We sent out the Devlin Commission, one of the most powerful commissions which has ever been sent from this country to any colonial or protected territory. The Commission found, and found conclusively, that the massacre plot never existed. I could go into details but time is short so I shall resist the temptation. It is true that when the matter came back to this House, in an extremely discreditable performance the Government of the day, that of the party opposite, invited the House to accept those parts of the Report which they liked, and to reject the rest.
1119 The point is that on those two occasions there were these statements made no doubt in perfectly good faith by those who issued them, and they turned out to be entirely wrong. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that here again there should be a Commission of Inquiry which would not only go into the causes of what happened in Anguilla, but would inquire into the wishes of the inhabitants, and the necessary constitutional reforms. If possible, we should have somebody with the authority and prestige of Lord Devlin to lead that inquiry.
I come, now, to the other matter to which I desire to refer briefly, and that is the position in the Middle East. A day or two ago my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. May-hew) raised the question of the arms supplied from this country to Israel. This is a matter of great concern in the Middle East. I visited Cairo last January and saw various members of the United Arab Republic Government. They were greatly exercised over our supply of Centurian tanks to Israel.
§ Sir B. Janner
Will my right hon. and learned Friend also investigate what Russia supplies to Egypt? Does he really expect arms not to be supplied to Israel to enable her to defend herself against the vast quantities of arms supplied to Egypt and to other Arab countries? How many tanks did Russia supply to Egypt?
§ Sir D. Foot
I am concerned with the position of this country, and whether we should have supplied tanks to Israel as and when we did.
§ Sir D. Foot
My information is that we contracted to supply Centurian tanks before the June war, but we have continued those supplies since then.
I think that it is always recognised, and certainly by this Government, that the supply of arms is governed by other than purely commercial considerations. We refuse to supply arms to Communist countries. Nobody would have dared suggest, for example, that we should have supplied arms to Russia just after the invasion of Czechoslovakia last summer. We refuse to supply arms to South 1120 Africa. The most powerful speech that I have ever heard from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was when he defended the Government's policy in that respect. There were the strongest commercial, and indeed strategic, arguments for allowing arms to be exported to South Africa, but the Government refused to do it, rightly as I believe.
In November, 1967, there was the United Nations resolution, which was put forward by the British representatives, and particularly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown), which called, among other things—I shall come to the other points in a moment—for withdrawal from the occupied territories. That was not intended to be simply a paper scheme, something to be operated in the distant future. It was intended to be acted upon at the time the resolution was passed in November, 1967.
§ Sir B. Janner
Will my right hon. and learned Friend do the House a favour and read the rest of the resolution?
§ Sir D. Foot
If my hon. Friend will contain himself, I shall come to the rest of the resolution. I am saying that the first thing in the resolution was a demand for withdrawal from occupied territories. That was intended to be acted upon.
§ Viscount Lambton
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the resolution was so worded that it was intended to be interpreted by each side in a different way?
§ Sir D. Foot
I do not agree. I say that the wording was clear and specific, and since then the Israelis have not withdrawn even from the banks of the Canal. In those circumstances I believe that it was wrong to continue to supply Centurion tanks.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Has my right hon. and learned Friend heard that the large contract for tanks which began before the 1967 War and is still continuing? Centurion tanks are being shipped from Hamburg and Amsterdam even now.
§ Sir D. Foot
I would like the matter to be dealt with by whoever replies for the Government.
1121 I come now to the four-Power Conference. I believe, as does the hon. Member for Westbury, that there is still an opportunity for a settlement. I know that this may upset my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner), but I should like to quote from an interview which was given to Newsweek a few days ago by President Nasser. The interview was in the form of question and answer, and I propose to read the questions and the answers:Q. And if they"—that is, the Israelis—pulled back now, how would Israel's security be enhanced? What quid pro quo would the Arab States offer for evacuation?President Nasser answered:First, a declaration of non-belligerence. Secondly, the recognition of the right of each country to live in peace. Thirdly, the territorial integrity of all countries in the Middle East, including Israel, in recognised and secure borders. Fourthly, freedom of navigation in international waterways. Fifthly, a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.Those are the answers that he gave, and I think that they are answers of considerable importance.
The Israelis can have at this moment everything that they legitimately need. They can have assured frontiers, freedom of navigation through the Gulf of Akaba and the Canal, provided two things: provided that they withdraw from the occupied territories and do what they have refused to do over the last 20 years. That is to offer either repatriation or compensation to the Palestine refugees. It always comes back to the problem of refugees. As the hon. Member for West-bury said, at the time when the State of Israel was created in 1948—it always traces back its origin to a United Nations resolution—there was a resolution calling for the return of the refugees.
That resolution has been repeated year after year but never implemented by the Israelis. The British Government proposed in 1967 and carried the United Nations resolution. I greatly welcome what was said today by the Foreign Secretary when he referred to a calendar. I hope that at the four-Power meeting the British Government will propose a timetable in which each stage of the resolution will be carried out. First, there will have to be the date for withdrawal from the occupied territories. That might well 1122 be a phased withdrawal starting with the banks of the Suez Canal. Secondly, there would be the opening of the Suez Canal. Thirdly, each side would negotiate about refugees and finally, there would be recognition—possibly with international guarantees and United Nations forces—of the respective frontiers. If that could be done it would be an immense achievement and Her Majesty's Government would have done lasting benefit not only to the people of this country but to the people of the Middle East and the peoples of the whole world.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
I am tempted to devote most of my speech to the subject of Anguilla because I consider that the rights and future of 6,000 individuals who are Anguillans are as important as the future of any other individuals. This matter also raises the whole question of rights of self-determination of minorities and rights of small communities and also the question of interference by one country in the affairs of another. In this respect I am glad to be able to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot), to whose speech I listened with the greatest interest and attention.
Although certain analogies may be bad in terms of geography, population and method, I think there is some excuse for drawing an analogy in principle between the right or otherwise of Britain to interfere in Rhodesia or Anguilla with that of the Soviet Union to intervene in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and that of the United States to intervene in Cuba and Vietnam. Whereas the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. intervened directly with armed forces on the territory of ostensibly independent countries, this country failed to interevene in Rhodesia before U.D.I., when we had a perfect right to intervene to uphold the authority of the Governor and safeguard the rights of the majority of Rhodesians, and on this occasion with equal right we have intervened in Anguilla, perhaps a little tardily and perhaps a little heavy-handedly, but nevertheless rightly.
I am not being wise after the event, for my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) is reported as saying as long ago as 2nd 1123 November, 1965, and I think it is still very relevant today:A unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and a direct defiance of the Crown. If Mr. Smith committed such an illegal act, the Crown could not go on treating him as Prime Minister. He would be a law breaker and in conflict with the Crown. The Governor, the judges, the officers in the Services and many other public servants would be bound by their oaths of loyalty to the Crown to uphold its authority and not to take orders from Mr. Smith If Mr. Smith went on trying to exercise the powers of Government, they might well come into open conflict with him. The question then would arise, would they be supported. The answer must surely be 'Yes'. It is no reason for not enforcing the law that the law breaker is your cousin. Terrible as would be a struggle with the Rhodesians, the Black Rhodesians have their cousins too.The British concept of law is that all men are equal under it. There is not one law for black and one for white. Nor should we let the British people turn a blind eye to the seriousness of the situation. We are all too willing to pretend that unpleasant decisions need not be taken. In this we are all too often encouraged by our leaders. It suits politicians, who think only of the short term, to sing lullabies to an electorate always willing to sleep. Ever since Suez it has become the custom to evade decision if possible. The Rhodesian Government was elected by 200,000 people. It did not have great experience or breadth of view.I ask hon. Members on the Conservative benches to recall what my right hon. Friend said on that occasion and to ponder it in their prognostications about Rhodesia today. They have shifted a very long way indeed in their policies from what they originally stated on the subject of Rhodesia.
On Anguilla, which is more topical at this moment, the Government have been subjected to very severe criticism by the American Press. The point was made by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that although the American Press might find the United Kingdom's intervention in Anguilla comic, many of us believe the United States' intervention in Vietnam was criminal. They had no moral obligation to go in, no legal request to go in, no legal right to go in. Although the British intervention in Anguilla may be somewhat heavy-handed nevertheless, compared with Vietnam, it has been very successfully carried out. In Vietnam a steam hammer has been taken to crack a nut—and it has turned out to be some nut. The National Liberation Front has 1124 proved that it is a very hard force to defeat.
Although I would not take the line the N.L.F. delegates are taking in the Paris negotiations at the moment, where they are taking advantage of the situation to continue military operations in Vietnam, nevertheless it is sometimes forgotten—this is an appropriate moment to remind the House—that the N.L.F. is the direct successor to those Vietnamese who successfully fought to throw out the Chinese, the Japanese and the French. They are not the direct successors of those who at the time of the last world war were supporting the Japanese as quislings against the allies.
It ill becomes the United States to criticise the British Government for carrying out a strictly limited military operation successfully and without bloodshed in defence of the right of self-determination as against the United States' massive military operating costing 82 million dollars a day—enough to build 50,000 schools daily or to reclaim many thousands of acres of land in the Mekong Delta—an operation using ghastly weapons which destroy not only people but the good earth on which they work—all based on the very doubtful domino theory.
I believe we have a right to have gone into Anguilla and at the same time it is questionable whether the situation should ever have been allowed to deteriorate to the state that made this necessary. I ask hon. Members to look back a few months on this situation through the eyes of a young man who is a first-year law student at Cambridge University and whose father was warden of Anguilla at the time of the secession, who himself is from St. Kitts and lived for many years in Anguilla. I shall quote at some length from what he said because it is very relevant to this question and much of it has not come out in debate or in answer to Questions on Anguilla. Going back to May, 1966, he said:Anguilla, having decided along with the other small Eastern Caribbean territories to seek some form of statehood along with Britain (the first step towards independence) sent its delegation to London for the purpose. At that time the Government of the territory was administered by a Colonial administrator who was the Queen's representative, with his headquarters at Government House, St. Kitts. In the Islands of Nevis and Anguilla, the administrators' representatives were called wardens and 1125 they also performed duties as chief executives of these two islands.One of those wardens is the father of the writer of this article.They also performed duties as Chief Executives of these two islands.He goes on to say:The political Government was comprised of a Chief Minister, three Ministers with portfolios, and one without. There were two elected members of Council for Nevis, one for Anguilla, three nominated members and two official members. The important thing here is that the division of the Islands into political constituencies Anguilla gave a purely nominal representation.The Conference lasted several days during which a Constitution was drafted and signed by all the members of the delegation.A point was made by an hon. Member opposite about its having been signed by Mr. Peter Adams, the Anguillan representative, but he has proved to be something of a chameleon in politics and a not altogether reliable gentleman.The constitution provided for the three islands to become one State by the 27th February, 1967. The head of the new State would be called a Governor, and the Chief Minister known as Premier. Considerable powers would be conferred on the office of Premier which would now be responsible for the police and armed forces.I hope that the Minister, in reply, will try to relate this to the reason given by the Government for our intervention that we are responsible for their defence and external affairs, because I understand that the Prime Minister of the group of three islands is responsible for the armed forces. I should be interested to hear where the division of our responsibility lies.For Nevis and Anguilla, provision was made for local government by which local island Councils would be responsible for such public services as the maintenance of secondary roads, some public buildings, and minor services in public sanitation, water, etc.The delegation returned to the territory and the Government, needled by an active political opposition party—the People's Action Movement—led by two young university graduates, Dr. Herbert, Ph.D. of London University, and Dr. Kennedy Simmonds, suddenly declared that a general election would be held on 25th July, 1966, thereby giving all likely candidates the barest minimum time for preparation. Elections are normally held in November in this territory.The results of these elections, though closely contested in some parts, saw the return to power of the Labour Party Government with Mr. Bradshaw being the Premier-designate.1126 Many references have been made in the debate to the fact that Mr. Bradshaw is widely mistrusted throughout the islands.Mr Peter Adams",already referred towas returned member for Anguilla"—but on a different party ticket—on a Peoples Action Movement ticket.It would appear that the people of Anguilla were under the impression that Dr. Herbert's Opposition Party would have swept the polls and caused a change of government. Had this happened, their attitude to the St. Kitts Government might have been different. When this did not happen, the people became apprehensive about the prospect of becoming part of a State where the power was transferred from London to the political leaders in St. Kitts.I understand that the history of Anguilla's association with St. Kitts is a history of complete neglect… the Anguillans began to feel betrayed by their elected Representative and were not prepared to honour the agreement made on their behalfby Mr. Peter Adams. Soin October, 1966 a small delegation consisting of Mr. Ronald Webster, Mr. Atlin Harrigan, and Mr. John Rogers, interviewed the Warden; they wanted publicly to repudiate Adams and fight for a reversal of the terms of the Agreement. Eventually they got in touch with Dr. Herbert's Party in St. Kitts, and he promptly visited Anguilla to assist in organising their resistance to statehood.It appears thatThe Warden's plans for statehood celebrations, ordered by St. Kitts, were boycotted by the Anguillan participants.It was decided that the Statehood Queen competition should go through.On the night of the 4th an angry armed mob … descended on a packed hall violently to break up the show as it commenced.This was the first outbreak of violence on the Island of Anguilla.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)
Is there not a much more fundamental reason for Anguillan hostility which the hon. Gentleman has not mentioned, namely, that once statehood took place there was a failure on the part of the St. Kitts Government to implement a pledge that there should be properly elected councils in all three islands? It was the consistent failure of the St. Kitts Government to honour this pledge that caused such animosity in Anguilla. This had nothing to do with violence. The violence occurred later.
§ Mr. Davidson
This is later in the sequence of events. I am trying to give the House a picture of the sequence of events through the eyes of a young man who knows Anguilla perhaps better than any hon. Member. [Interruption.] I beg to disagree. It happened afterwards.From now on the slogan in Anguilla became 'No Statehood', and the mood of the people became more and more resentful and belligerent",as no doubt the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) knows only too well.
§ Sir C. Osborne
On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) to read a long article and not make a speech at all? The whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech consists of his reading an article. Is that in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harry Gourlay)
I understood the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) to be paraphrasing the article which has been mentioned.
§ Mr. Davidson
I am reading extracts from it. I explained carefully to the House the source of this document. I thought that it would be of great interest for the House to hear what is said by a young man who knows the situation extremely well. There is very little more that I shall read. If hon. Members are becoming impatient, I will try to cut it down.
§ Mr. Davidson
On 26th February the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough Eastand several officials from the Colonial Office … visited Anguilla and heard the grievances of a huge crowd of demonstrators who met him at the airport. They had no good roads, an extremely poor and inadequate water supply system, no telephones, no electricity. They felt that the proposed Constitution was not guaranteed to improve their lot.Nevertheless—I want to ask the Secretary of State a question about this later—on27th February, 1967, at dawn, the new statehood was secretly and silently unfurled at Government House … and six policemen looked on. On 7th March a radio announcement from St. Kitts revealed that the Premier1128 would be visiting the island. Many hon. Members will know what happened. Government House was burned to the ground. The father of the writer of this article was Warden on the Island at the time that this happened.
So from one violent act to another matters proceeded. On 30th July, 1967''there was a Caribbean Commonwealth States Conference held at Bridgetown, Barbados, on Anguilla's secession. The Anguillan delegation, headed bythe same gentleman,Peter Adams, agreed that the island should end its secession",but it did so contrary to the views of most of the islanders. When the delegation returned to their island home, the people rejected the decision that had been made in Bardados and they deposed Adams and declared Ronald Webster as President.
Much has happened since then. There have been many acts of hostility on the part of the St. Kitts Government—the seizure of Anguillan mail in the St. Kitts General Post Office, because mail has to pass through St. Kitts on its way to Anguilla; the freezing by the St. Kitts Government of Anguillan Government Saving Bank accounts, and the refusal by the Anguillans to give up to St. Kitts Government savings bank ledgers in which Anguillan accounts are recorded.The British Government has taken recourse in explaining away its somewhat belated intervention in the fact that the State, according to the Constitution is now entirely responsible for its internal affairs"—or was until our most recent intervention—but it has not cleared up its inaction prior to the declaration of statehood, even though Colonial Office men were on the spot in Anguilla and had ample occasion to see the unrest and the cause of it. And it runs much deeper than this, because the St. Kitts Government have shown far more interest in engaging the Opposition Party in a political dogfight and in keeping St. Kitts",where there is no trouble,under a year-long state of emergency, than in seeing to the problem of Anguilla.So much for the problems of Anguilla seen through the eyes of a young man who knows it better than most hon. Members.
I want to ask the Secretary of State one or two questions arising from what I have read. Why—it is perhaps the Conservatives who should answer this 1129 one—was the island left in such a state of complete undevelopment prior to May, 1966? Why had nothing been done before May, 1966, by the Government then in power for the people of Anguilla?
May I also suggest that any Members who speak in this debate, if they should happen to have any sugar interests, should certainly declare them, because the whole problem of sugar is closely related to the politics of both St. Kitts and, through that, of Anguilla.
§ Mr. Davidson
That is the whole point. I have asked a question already as to the responsibility for the armed forces in Anguilla. I should like to hear the answer to that. I should like to know why, despite quite obvious Anguillan dissatisfaction with the Statehood, the plans were still adhered to without any modification and pushed through. Why was nothing apparently achieved during Mr. Lee's one-year period of cooling-off administration? Perhaps a great deal was achieved, but we have not heard of it in this debate or in answer to other questions. Why is it contemplated that Mr. Lee should remain there, "perhaps for years?"—I think that I am quoting the exact words of the Secretary of State.
Having put these questions, may I formally state from the Liberal bench that we believe in the Anguillans' right to break with federation, although in the long term this may prove to be a great pity, and eventually some solution may be found where, under a juster and fairer Government, they may be able to return to an acceptable form of federation. We must agree to their right of self-determination. Is there any good reason why we should not accede to Mr. Webster's request for a referendum?—which is generally agreed as an acceptable solution on a major constitutional issue—and this is a major constitutional issue for the people of Anguilla. Such a referendum could be administered and run by observers appointed by the Commonwealth Secretary General—obviously, not by the United Nations, in view of their attitude over our referendum in Gibraltar, and the views they have expressed on British intervention in Anguilla. It would be, in our view, a very grave mistake to allow a Commissioner 1130 to continue in office indefinitely in the island of Anguilla. The Secretary of State said that it would be wrong to leave them under an unacceptable administration.
There can be no rule of thumb as to when and in what circumstances one country should or should not intervene in the affairs of another, but, generally speaking, there should be no intervention except under the auspices of the United Nations. But where we retain a responsibility, either because of treaty obligations, or because of some residual colonial responsibility for a territory which has not yet gained full independence, on those occasions we must still reluctantly be prepared to intervene if necessary in defence of the right of self-determination. Anguilla was and is such a case, but we must hope that our intervention will not be too prolonged and that the outcome eventually will be freedom, good government and a high standard of living for the people of the island.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I add my voice to the protests about the sparsity of time which is being given to a debate of such wide import and covering such a wide area.
I should have contented myself with a few comments about Anguilla had it not been for the several remarks which have been made by the Leader of the Opposition and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who unfortunately is not in his place at the moment, on the question of the Common Market, because what has been said on both sides of the House requires correcting for the sake of the record.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition talked about the Labour Party coming in late in support of the European idea. First, I remind hon. Members opposite that it was many years before we came into power, in 1964, that the Labour Party conference passed its resolution welcoming this great idea, this great inspiration, for the uniting of the countries in Europe which had in two world wars fought as enemies against each other, and indicated general support of the idea.
It is true that at the beginning of the Common Market the Labour Government had hesitations about the conditions that were laid down for attending the first 1131 conference, but it is also true that from 1948 onwards—from 1945, indeed—the Conservative Party led the campaign for a unity of the European countries on the basis of the famous conference at The Hague in 1948 which called for a federal Europe, and they persisted in their demands for such a development until the day when they took the reins of office in 1951. From that time on, the whole idea was dropped.
It hardly lies in their mouths to criticise the delays for which the Labour Party have been responsible before giving their wholehearted support to this idea. Indeed, the Labour Government left office in 1951, and between then and 1964 nothing was done by the Conservative Party to forward this idea. What they tried to do was to create a further split in Europe by the creation of the E.F.T.A. community, which they called a bridge and which, far from being a bridge, has added to the difficulties of the proper unification of Europe. I think that both parties could exchange a lot of compliments with each other on the question of delay before they supported the European idea.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said that the Labour Party were deeply divided on this issue. He suggested that if a Gallup Poll were taken of Members of the party in the House it would show an overwhelming majority against the European idea. He also said that the fact that a great majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House gave support to this Common Market idea two or two-and-a-half years ago was due largely to what he called the payroll vote on the Government side of the House. I would point out for the record that before that vote was taken—indeed, before the Labour Party came to office in 1964, if my memory serves me—I personally took a poll of all the Members of the party in the House, and 80 per cent. were in support of the idea of this country joining the European Community.
It may be said that that was some time ago, but it also happens to be the fact that today there is a majority of Members in the Labour Party, and I think in the Conservative Party as well, who have indicated their full support for joining the European Community by joining the European movement or the Labour Com- 1132 mittee for Europe, or both. It is therefore no use suggesting that this idea is receding either in the Labour Party or in the Conservative Party.
It is also worth putting on record that had we taken the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington as far back as 1952 we should have been in the Common Market by now. He was one of my fellow sponsors for a Motion on the Order Paper, which attracted over 80 signatures on this side of the House, while a similar Motion on the other side of the House attracted over 80 signatures, too, calling for the immediate entry of Britain into the Common Market. One must, therefore, have some hesitation in accepting the advice of those who, by their own admission, have been wrong in the past.
A great deal has been made of what is called the alternative of the North Atlantic Free Trade Area. I do not think any of us who support the European idea are against the N.A.F.T.A. idea. It is not in conflict with the European Community. It is, after all, purely an idea for a wider free trade area to include the European Community, as I understand it. There is no reason to assume that because one supports British membership of the European Community, one is necessarily against a North Atlantic Free Trade Area. But the European Community is very much more.
The tragedy of the whole sad story is that we once again face a phenomenon which we have seen before in our lifetimes. A war between the European States, with tremendous destruction and loss of life, points to the lesson that the division of our countries one against the other must be brought to an end eventually unless such a conflict is to be repeated over and over again throughout history. After such devastation there is a widespread realisation that we must end it all by getting together, breaking down the frontiers and creating a democratic, unified Europe.
Everybody begins by being in favour, but, as we get into our normal stride and the years roll by, people forget. They are more interested in their current affairs, and the importance of unity tends to recede. This was one of the reasons why M. Monnet, M. Schumann and the others insisted on the acceptance of the supranational idea as a condition of attendance at that first conference. They 1133 knew very well that as we got further away from the horrors of the war the whole inspiration and conception would begin to lose its import in the eyes of many people.
What the European Economic Community aims at, as is written into the Treaty of Rome, is the bringing together of all the European nations in one community. That includes all European nations which are prepared to accept the democratic structures laid down in the Treaty, which are basic to the democratic peoples in any part of the world. It certainly does not exclude any nation in Europe which is prepared to accept the democratic procedures. The simple fact we must face is that many countries on the other side of Europe are not yet in that position, not necessarily because they are not basically democratic but because they are not permitted to be democratic by the Russians, who rule that area.
That is no reason why we should prevent ourselves from taking this first genuine, solid step towards bringing the nations together in peace and harmony, with common objectives, common economic policies and the abolition of the frontiers between them. If we once succeed in doing that, we can forget all about the old, historic feuds between the nations of Europe, and we can forget all about the possibility of wars between Germany and France, Holland, Italy, Belgium, and so on, with us inevitably being dragged in. Whether we like it or not, and whether we get into the European Community or not, we are part of Europe. I should prefer that this country, with all its democratic experience, were in the European Community helping to make policy there rather than allowing the kind of situation we had in 1914 and 1939 to develop, and then inevitably being dragged into quarrels in which we had no part at the beginning.
I am, therefore, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said, a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of the idea of breaking down the barriers and getting Britain and the other applicants into the Community. But there is one condition that even I would apply. Indeed, I would make it a primary condition. In such a Community, with Britain, Denmark, Ireland and other countries as members, and handling as it does the tremendous responsibilities and 1134 powers involved in common defence policies, foreign policies, trade and financial policies, the harmonisation of social policies and so on, we could not accept that we should sink our own sovereignty in these matters in a body which did not accept the conception of democratic Parliamentary control over its Executive. That is a point on which, I imagine, every British Parliamentarian, every British democrat, would insist. Once this organisation had taken over these powers there would have to be democratic, Parliamentary control. The ordinary people of the Community, whose fates were decided by it, would be entitled to be represented in their Parliament, which should have control over the Executive; they should not leave matters to a Commission or a Council of national Ministers.
If anybody challenges that conception, he must realise that it is covered by the expression "supranational", which means a supranational body in the way in which the British Parliament has been a supranational body since the union of the Crowns. Since then any idea of strife between Scotland and Wales or between Scotland and England has disappeared. Similarly, any idea of strife in Europe could disappear provided that unification was based on the same conception of a democratic Parliament.
I should like briefly to comment on the Anguillan affair. Like many other hon. Members, I regard developments in recent weeks and those which preceded them as a tragedy of no mean proportions in the history of this country. But it is not a situation which has arisen just in the past couple of weeks. This situation has been threatened before. The rumblings have been there, and the Government have been warned before.
I believe that the Government's first reaction was that this was a domestic affair of the Associated State. If it were a domestic affair, it is difficult to see why it is not a domestic affair now. I know that Section 7(2) of the West Indies Act can be stretched fairly far, and that one can say that the situation must have some effect on our responsibilities for foreign affairs and defence. But it must be admitted that that is a very tenuous argument. It must be recognised that, however unfortunate the situation might be, it is within the terms of the Act, a domestic affair, for which the St. Kitts, 1135 Anguilla and Nevis Government are responsible.
If one looks at the Act again, one finds that it is not just a question of our taking powers to introduce emergency laws to safeguard our rights in regard to foreign affairs and defence. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said within the past few days that it is not the Government's intention that the Anguillans should be returned to the control of the territorial Government from St. Kitts. That indicates division of the Territory which, according to the Act, can be carried out by this country only by Order in Council, and that only at the request of the Territory. My right hon. Friend says that the Prime Minister of the Territory asked us to intervene. But I imagine that the intention of the Act was that a request by the Territory should be a voluntary request, on its initiative. Have the Prime Minister or Government of the Territory requested us to consider a division of the Territory under the terms of the Act? From what I have read about statements from St. Kitts, I think that that is very unlikely.
But even if that happened, a division of the Territory obviously involves a change in the constitution, and that can be carried out only by legislation by the Territory itself or by the British Government, or by an Order in Council. But the Order in Council can be made only at the request of the Territory, signified by resolution of the local Parliament of the Territory by a simple majority, or unilaterally by the United Kingdom, but again by Parliament or by the Privy Council.
I am no lawyer. I want to know what all this means. Doss it mean that we can carry out a change in the composition of a Territory without a change in the constitution? Have we the right to change the constitution without the passing of a law by Parliament, even if submitted by the Privy Council or initiated by Parliament? What is the strict constitutional position?
My right hon. Friend used an interesting expression about what might happen after the Government have sorted this situation out, after time has elapsed and we have restored good will. He suggested that perhaps the three islands should not have been brought together in asso- 1136 ciation in the first place. This appears to be fairly obvious, but this is not a problem just of Anguilla and the St. Kitts Federation. It applies to many other islands in the Caribbean, as, indeed, in other parts of the world.
The Associated States status sounded very good at the time. On paper it seemed a sound and a workable proposition. But we are finding from experience that, to operate successfully, it requires the good will of everyone concerned, and not just that of the large island running the show and of the British Government. It requires the good will of the small islands, too. It also involves an assurance that there will be no interference from outside. It do not know how this is to be assured, because we have heard many stories of activities by American gamblers and others. How far they are true of Anguilla I do not know, but this has been one of the basic problems of most of the Caribbean islands for several years.
Of course, there is no constitutional reason—it is not a matter of defence or foreign affairs—why, if American gamblers want to build hotels and casinos and to make a fortune out of the tourist trade, they should not do so. Nevertheless, for all the attractions this kind of thing may have to certain politicians in these islands, it creates problems and temptations for politicians and others. This happens to be going on in a number of other islands, too.
I am afraid that, if our action in Anguilla is successful, it can become an incitement to other small islands in the Caribbean into thinking that perhaps they could get some kind of strong-arm tactics in order to get independence from their parent islands. I had the good fortune to attend a conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in the Cayman Islands, in Grand Cayman, two years ago. During that conference we had many hints from some local politicians about their ambitions to have complete independence of Britain and an end to associate status.
For a small community with only a few thousand or few hundred people, this is an attractive idea. They could have a President, a Prime Minister, a permanent delegate to the United Nations, ambassadors in Washington, London and Paris, and the rest. But when we flew to Cayman Brae, the third little island, 1137 we were met, as our people were met in Anguilla, by the small but enthusiastic population at the airport, waving Union Jacks and handing out drinks and saying that they would never accept independence of Britain by Cayman. They are pro-British and want to be ruled by Britain, for they are afraid of domination by the big islands. How often will that be repeated in other islands?
This problem is one of the many Imperial chickens coming home to roost—Hong Kong, Gibraltar, the Falklands, St. Helena and others. In the Caribbean, there are St. Vincent. Grenada, the Grenadines and many others. It poses many questions. For example, can the association idea work any longer in its present terms, at least in view of the potential incidents which I have mentioned?
The inviability of these separate Territories is recognised in the Caribbean area. At the conference, there were many expressions of desire to get back to something like the Federation of the West Indies, or, if not, at least to a closer association, to meet the growing common problems, for example, of air travel, particularly the distribution of the tourists who will be coming in by thousands with the jumbo jets, which can land only in one or two of the islands.
All these problems are posing themselves. Would it not be worth while trying to start afresh? Would it not be worth while calling a new Commonwealth Conference of Caribbean islands and Associated States, including not just the Governmental centres but with each island having a separate representation, in order to iron out the whole problem which has arisen?
My right hon. Friend has admitted that the present system may not be the best, and he invited suggestions for alternatives. He said that the Government would be happy, once this problem has been resolved—particularly that of Anguilla—to lay down the responsibilities which we now have. This can be done only in agreement with these islands. We still have responsibilities, and I suggest most seriously that we should consider examining the whole idea of associated status together with the islands, including the small islands. At that conference we should try to hammer out a new, sensible solution in the light of the 1138 experience which we have had. Unless we do so, I believe that we shall have more and more of these situations, which can only be distressing for us.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
In the earlier part of the rather long speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd)——
§ Sir C. Osborne
It lasted 25 minutes. In the earlier part, the hon. Gentleman referred to a United States of Europe. I would agree with that, provided that the terms are reasonable to this country, and I would prefer to see a united Europe that contained the whole of Europe, East as well as West, from the Urals to the Atlantic.
I want to ask the Foreign Secretary three questions, and I will be as brief as possible in fairness to other hon. Members.
First, since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, have the usual channels of communication between the Kremlin and Whitehall been completely frozen up? If so, I regard that as a great pity. No one in this country would attempt to justify the invasion. Those of us who like to feel that we are friends of the Soviet Union are perplexed, saddened and bewildered by it. We see no reason for it. But it is absurd for Britain to take a superior moral attitude to it. That sort of attitude helps neither the Czechs nor European peace, and therefore I ask whether the cultural and educational links which were temporarily broken between Moscow and London have been resumed. Are the scientific contacts now working more normally? Can further Parliamentary meetings be arranged?
Above all—and this is vital—is Anglo-Soviet trade being impeded because of the invasion? I remind the right hon. Gentleman that Anglo-American trade is 10 times greater than Anglo-Soviet trade, although there are 35 million more potential customers in the Soviet Union than in the United States. Russia is two and a half times bigger than the United States. Russia has all the raw materials we need and we could manufacture all the goods that she needs, and she is able and willing to pay. Neither side wants 1139 to shoot a good customer and so I ask the Foreign Secretary whether the unfortunate aftermath of events in Czechoslovakia is impeding Anglo-Soviet trade. I hope not.
My second question is whether all the talks possible are now taking place between London and Moscow about securing peace in the Middle East. I have many Jewish friends both in this country and in America and they are all anxious about the state of the Middle East. Nearly all of them have strongly pleaded with me as private citizens the argument that the greatest force for peace or war in the Middle East will be the Soviet Union. They believe, rightly or wrongly, that the Soviet Union has the greatest influence in the Middle East and that its power could be paramount in deciding whether there is to be peace or war in the Middle East.
Without being pro-Zionist or pro-Arab, I ask the Foreign Secretary whether the Government are co-operating as much as possible with Moscow to try to secure peace in that difficult part of the world. For example, are we doing all we can to secure the control of arms, a restriction of arms? This afternoon, the Foreign Secretary said that last May he agreed with Mr. Gromyko on certain issues in the Middle East, but that was 10 months ago. Has the Foreign Secretary done any more through Mr. Gromyko, or through Moscow, to try to secure a better understanding or hope of peace in the Middle East?
It is no good his saying that he talked with Mr. Gromyko 10 months ago. We have the example of the "Fearless" talks and it is said that the Rhodesians can consider the "Fearless" proposals and get on with it, but nothing happens. We have said to President de Gaulle, "Here is our application to join the Common Market", but nothing happens. Was that talk with Mr. Gromyko our last word on the possibility of peace in the Middle East? I hope not, because this is a vital issue and in the Kremlin the voice of Britain still counts considerably. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will use all his influence to persuade the Russians to use their power in the Middle East to secure peace.
I recognise, as the whole House must recognise, that toleration and moderation 1140 will not be easily secured in the Middle East. The leaders of nations who proclaim moderation put themselves at grave risk and perhaps we ought to help to protect them against their own zealots and fanatics, for it is not easy to get toleration in their countries. But is the Foreign Office doing all it can, not only in Washington, but through Moscow, to exercise all the power that Moscow has to produce peace in that troubled area?
My last question is about a different part of the world, Rhodesia. Will the Government reiterate the Prime Minister's oft-repeated promise that never in any circumstances will the Government use force against the Rhodesians? The Prime Minister has answered this question in reply to me more than once and has said that it is not the policy of the Government to use force against Rhodesia. I shall not say anything about Anguilla except that the fact that we have used force there, rightly or wrongly—and I am not deciding—may cause members of the United Nations to put pressure on the Foreign Secretary to use force in Rhodesia. I hope that the Government will resist such pressure.
As the Foreign Secretary knows, earlier this year I spent some time in Rhodesia. I am convinced that if we tried to use force the Rhodesians would fight to the last man against invasion. In addition, whereas there is now some opposition to the Smith régime, if we tried to use force, it would unite the whole Rhodesian people behind Mr. Smith. From my talks there and in South Africa I am convinced that many South African volunteers would come to the support of Rhodesia if we tried to invade. It would be a bloody, costly and useless exercise, and Britain would do nothing but lose by such an action.
I found that the Rhodesian Government and the Rhodesian people did not trust the British Government, just as—and I say this perfectly openly—many people in this country do not trust the Rhodesian Government. There is no confidence between the two and without confidence we cannot have a settlement. As I said in Rhodesia, if there were a settlement, both their Prime Minister and our Prime Minister would be accused by their own extremists of a sell-out and of being traitors. Both Prime Ministers should be standing shoulder to shoulder 1141 helping each other instead of snarling at each other. But the Rhodesians will not accept the "Fearless" proposals. In my own small way I have urged them to do so, because I think they are a reasonable basis for a settlement.
However, I believe that the Rhodesians would trust the South Africans more than they would trust us. They might—I put it no higher than that—accept the "Fearless" proposals as a basis for talks from the South Africans more than they would from London. I therefore ask whether it is possible for the Foreign Secretary on behalf of the Government to ask the South African Prime Minister, who, in terms of South African politics, is regarded as a liberal man, to see whether he can play the rôle of honest broker between the two sides, which at the moment do not trust each other, to accept what I believe to be the basis for an honourable settlement. Those are my three questions and I should like answers to them.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Sir Burnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Unfortunately, it is not possible in the time at my disposal to deal with the three subjects which have been raised this evening. The House will not be surprised if I direct my attention to a subject with which I have been concerned for many years and about which I know as much as most hon. Members.
This afternoon, we heard two speeches which were more inclined to create trouble and intransigence on the part of the Arabs than many speeches which I have heard. They were the speeches by the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Sir Dingle Foot). They spoke as though the present position were entirely independent of all that had gone before. They forgot that we committed ourselves 21 years ago, I say rightly, and they may say wrongly, to the re-creation of the State of Israel, on a tiny piece of land out of a vast territory the rest of which had been freed and given to the Arab world at the end of the First World War. It is sheer nonsense to say that the Arabs were deprived of this land. They were given freedom, from Turkish rule, over vast territories and the Jewish community, including the Jews of Palestine, was not 1142 backward in helping the Allied forces in the war.
Lloyd George, Balfour and anybody who had anything to do with the Balfour Declaration made abundantly clear what was in their minds when the League of Nations agreed to the future re-establishment of the State of Israel. We should not forget that we are talking of the ancestral home of the people who now live there. It was not the Arabs who came across with Joshua, but the Jews, and Jews occupied this land and fought for it on many occasions. One need only refer, for example, to the story of the Maccabees.
The House knows what the State of Israel means to the Jewish communities of the world who, for thousands of years, have turned their eyes to that part of the world in prayer. The Israelis, in consequence, have built up there one of the finest examples of civilisation which the world has known in recent or remote history. Would any hon. Member deny that Israel is today an illustration to the whole world of what civilised people should do and should have done?
One of the first acts of the newly-created Jewish National Home—of this mandatory territory—was the building of a university in which one of the main sections was the Arab Department. From that time and before Jewish settlers there have literally torn from the soil a good livelihood for Jew and Arab alike.
Israel has done nothing wrong. The Jews in Israel have shown that a democratic State can be created by men of good will. It is the only democratic State in the Middle East at the present time, and credit must be given to those statesmen who brought the idea of a revival of the Jewish people in Palestine, and later in Israel, to fruition.
I do not understand the arguments which are used by some people in this context. Anyone would imagine that land which was occupied by the Fellaheen in Palestine was something out of this world. Let us conider the true position. A scientist called Lowdermilk looked around the world to see how one might cope with land erosion. We should not forget that the Arabs living there, and who were the occupants of this territory, were Arabs and not Egyptians. Although we hear a lot about the United 1143 Arab Republic, most of its members are not Arabs. Lowdermilk described the conditions of the peasants of the territory, part of which now comprises the State of Israel, in these terms:… the Fellah in Palestine shares the lot of the peasants in all the other countries of the Near East with which Palestine was politically and economically united under the old Turkish régime. The semi-feudal economy still prevailing in these countries is the principal factor preventing the Arab peasant from obtaining a high standard of living.May I say, in passing, that we were told by one hon. Gentleman opposite that the tenants were not even the owners of the places which were blown up. Is it not remarkable that instead of killing people who were out to murder them—who were putting bombs in market places and set out to kill other nationals as well as Israelis in aeroplanes—the Israelis adopted the more civilised way of meting out punishment by blowing up houses which had no occupants? It is nonsense to say that the tenants were not aware that arms were being hidden and that they would be used to kill people in market places and universities and similar places. If the owners were living next door, they should have known what was going on, and they must have known. They must have known that girls were being trained to use the weapons in shops to kill shoppers.
Lowdermilk continued his description:Landlords often take 55 per cent. of the gross yield of the tenant farmer, while the usurer is paid according to a rate of interest that runs from 25 per cent. to 100 per cent. in the period between sowing and harvesting. If it is not paid punctually the interest is compounded. Furthermore, the vast majority of Fellaheen own much more land than they can adequately cultivate.That sort of treatment for the tenant has been converted, since the establishment of the State of Israel, and from the mandate days, into the Arabs having precisely the same wages—I refer to Arab workmen in Israel—as Israeli workmen and farmers, belonging to trade unions in a democratic Jewish State and having the same facilities as the rest of the population there.
How were the Arabs to whom some hon. Gentlemen refer, in fact driven out? This is what happened:The Arab States, which have encouraged the Palestinian Arabs to leave their homes temporarily to be out of the way of the Arab 1144 invasion armies, have failed to keep their promise to help the refugees. …That was stated in Falastin, the Jordan daily, on 19th February 1949.
I am quoting from Arab newspapers to show that one need not be biased in this matter to get the truth. The next quotation is interesting:The Arab Governments told us 'Get out so that we can get in!' So we got out, but they did not get in".That was published in Ad-Difaa, the Jordan daily, on 6th September, 1964. Again, from Falastin, the Jordan daily:We, the refugees, who have brothers and friends among the Arabs of Israel, have the right to address the members of the Arab League Council and declare … we left our homeland on the strength of false promises by crooked leaders in the Arab States. They promised us that our absence would not last more than two weeks, a kind of promenade, at the end of which we would return.This was said in another Arab newspaper:… as early as the first month of 1948 the Arab League issued orders exhorting people to seek temporary refuge in the neighbouring countries, later to return in the wake of the victorious Arab armies and obtain their share of abandoned Jewish property …That is the story of the Arab refugees. The refugees could have been dealt with properly if the Arabs had done what the Jews did in Palestine. The Arabs drove their fellow men out of Palestine and they had not the decency, in the areas surrounding the Euphrates and the Tigris and the vast territories in the Arab world, to let their brethren settle down and get a living. They used them as pawns throughout that period with the filthy intention of gaining sympathy which appears to be regarded as proper by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) and other hon. Members.
§ Sir Dingle Foot
Did not other things happen at that time? For example, was not there the massacre of Deir Yassin, where 250 Arabs were killed?
§ Sir B. Janner
That is one incident as against incidents in Germany in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Terrorist activities were not accepted but were condemned by the Israeli authorities.
All these are red herrings drawn across the path, and my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East knows it very well.
§ Mr. Mayhew
In the interests of historical truth, may I point out that the person mainly responsible for the massacre at Deir Yassin, Mr. Begin, is now a Minister in the Israeli Government?
§ Sir B. Janner
So are some of the Ministers in Ireland who were responsible for certain incidents. Many other people in different countries who at one time were terrorists later became Ministers. That is an entirely different matter from the kind of terrorism to which my hon. Friend refers. At no time could it be said that Israel or any Jewish community would authorise the training of girls to kill people as they go about their shopping. They may destroy houses, but there are no inhabitants in them when they are destroyed. When they retaliate at an aerodrome, they ensure that there is no one in any aeroplanes. That is very different from the kind of terrorism referred to by some hon. Members. I think that one hon. Member, who is not present today, is an honorary member of A1 Fatah.
Anyone who knows the situation knows the outrageous manner in which encouragement has been given to the Arab Slates who are determined to eliminate Israel. The Arabs have not honoured any of the arrangements which have been made. An arrangement was made in 1948; they broke it. They went into Palestine to destroy the Jewish settlement after the United Nations had agreed to the Jews being there. When the cease-fire took place at the behest of the United Nations, and with Israel believing that the United Nations would be able to carry into effect what was being arranged, they withdrew, but the Arabs broke the agreement. Mrs. Golda Meir, who is today Prime Minister of Israel, said on 11th February, 1957:The Secretary of State of the United States of America handed to the Ambassador of Israel in Washington a Memorandum on the subject of the Gulf of Akaba and the Strait of Tiran. … My Government has noted the assurance embodied in the Secretary-General's report of 26th February, 1957, that any proposal for the withdrawal of the United Nations Emergency Force from the Gulf of Akaba area would first come to the Advisory Committee, which represents the General Assembly in the implementation of its resotion of 2nd November, 1956. This procedure will give the General Assembly an opportunity to ensure that no precipitate changes are made which would have the effect of increasing the possibility of belligerent acts …1146 What happened? Nasser told a meeting of trade unionists before the war of 1967, that of course, he was only waiting for the opportunity so that he would be strong enough to be able to do what he liked. He attempted to do what he liked by breaking his agreement. The United Nations walked out. Nobody else did anything to help Israel, who was left by herself. She should not have been armed, says my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich. Why in Heaven's name should she be without arms? Why should those Jews in Israel have been put in the same position as that of the Jews in Germany during the Nazi period? Where on earth is the sense of using arguments of that sort? The Jews of Germany had no arms and they were slaughtered. In the Warsaw ghetto and other places they fought with their bare fists against the murderers who had terrible arms. Does my right hon. and learned Friend expect Israel to be placed in the same position?
§ Sir Dingle Foot
I feel entirely the same way as my hon. Friend did about the Jews in Germany. As far as I could, during the war I tried to help them by getting them out of Germany into various neutral countries. This is an entirely different situation, however, when they use their arms in territories which they have occupied and which do not belong to them.
§ Sir B. Janner
Come, come. That is hardly a plausible excuse. I happened to be with you at that time—
§ Sir B. Janner
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Of course, my right hon. and learned Friend did that. I happened to be there at the time, and I know that. Why on earth does he not realise that what he is doing today is just the opposite to that which he tried to do then? He is saying that Israel should lie down, be eliminated and wiped out, and then perhaps we should all shed crocodile tears about the fate of Israel.
Israel is not like that. The Jews were never like it. There was a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the Jewish people. Israel shows what Jews are. The Israelis are brave, courageous 1147 and cultured. Their leaders stand in front and do not lead from the rear when in battle. They are men who are not prepared to allow themselves to be wiped out, nor will they let their families, their wives and children, be annihilated. Nobody can expect them to do it.
Why does not my right hon. and learned Friend go to Egypt and tell Nasser that it would be much better if, instead of piling up arms, he looked after his poor people, if he became a democratic leader, if he were a Socialist, if he did for his people what the Jews are doing in Israel for their fellow men? No Jew comes into Israel, whoever he may be, if he needs it, without being taken immediately from the dockside and being given the right of employment, so that he can be at work practically the following day. Why do not Nasser and the Arab countries follow this example, meet round the table with Israel and thrash it out as civilised people do?
§ Sir Dingle Foot
In October, 1967, I went to see President Nasser. He suggested reviving the Armistice Commission of 1948 under which the two sides would meet, three on each side. The only condition he made was that there should be a United Nations chairman. That condition was turned down by the Israelis.
§ Sir B. Janner
The way in which people come together is by coming together them selves. That is obvious. That is how treaties have always been formed. Israel is a sovereign State. As a sovereign State, which against tremendous odds defeated the vast armies arrayed against her who were determined to kill every man woman and child—there are still children in the shelters——
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it be possible for us to discuss the foreign policy of this country?
§ Sir B. Janner
I am talking about British foreign policy. This country is involved in democracy in the world. It is concerned about humanity. Our country is almost identical in outlook, politically and culturally, with the State of Israel. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here when some other hon Members spoke; if he was, he will under- 1148 stand why I am replying in this way Accusations and statements have been made, and it is time they were refuted. It is time that people understood that there are in Israel today about 600,000 Jews from Arab countries who were driven from those Arab countries, and then money taken, and who have reared children. It was estimated at the time that £50 million of property was taken from them when 100,000 Iraqi Jews came to Israel, apart from the loss of their bank accounts. These are matters for out foreign policy. We should take such matters into consideration. We are part of the United Nations.
I come to the question of the United Nations resolution. Having listened with great care to the Foreign Secretary, I consider that what he is trying to do should be encouraged. If the four Powers come together and persuade the parties themselves ultimately to come together, they will do something of great value. But, as my right hon. Friend said, unless and until the parties themselves agree, there can be no permanent settlement.
Israel has been let down by us on two previous occasions, by us as well as others. We went nowhere near when she was in distress. It was our duty to go near. In the statement issued by the United Nations, we had committed ourselves, but we did nothing.
Today, we ought to do all we can to persuade the Arabs to come to the conference table. The Jews are anxious to come together with the Arabs. The tragedy of the situation is that although they have made offers time and again, these had been rejected. If they came together and sat down at the table, within a short period, I am sure, the whole problem could be settled. But it will not be settled if people speak in the House of Commons and elsewhere in a way which encourages the Arabs to be intransigent.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not follow closely the passionate arguments which we have heard from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) and others opposite. We have all listened with interest to the story, but this debate, as has been said, touches 1149 so many subjects that it is almost impossible for it to appear anything like consecutive.
I shall speak principally about Anguilla, but first I have a word to say to the Minister of State who, I believe, has much greater knowledge of the Gulf than some of his colleagues. I hope that he will press his right hon. Friends to see what can be done to ensure that our stay is prolonged after 1971. The general unrest in the Middle East today, the general instability of the régimes in the Gulf and their inability to build up their own defence forces, is becoming more and more apparent, and it is clear that they will not be ready for us to leave them in 1971. On the other hand, if we prolong our stay there a little, they may be able to do it. The House will welcome it, not as a triumph for those of us who have argued for it but as a triumph of common sense, if there is a little elasticity in Her Majesty's Government's policy regarding that area.
As I said, I should like to speak for a moment or two about Anguilla. In order to do so I should like to take three periods in the Anguillan story, the first, that before the military operation, the second, the operation itself, and the third the future.
We have heard from some speakers on this side of the House how we, at any rate, warned the Government of the dangers of the creation of the Associated State of Nevis, St. Kitts and Anguilla. Anyone who has been to this latter island immediately becomes aware of the very strong feeling which exists against St. Kitts. It is held for a number of reasons. We should not forget, and this is a point which has been emphasised on both sides of the House this afternoon, that the federation officers from St. Kitts were placed on the island only under the cover of the Royal Marines.
A point on which I think we might have a little elucidation for so little has been said about it—indeed, I understand it has been denied in the other place—is at the same time there seems to have been in the last few years an unwillingness on the part of the Government, and it has been their main fault during that time, to recognise the antipathy which exists by the Anguillans against St. Kitts. There was extreme carelessness about the setting up of the local council, which, at 1150 this end, we did not push Mr. Bradshaw to do.
Then we had an all-party deputation. Very little has been said about this party deputation, and that somewhat minimises its importance, for, in my view, the standstill which that party delegation created has been more responsible than anything for what has occurred today. When those two Members of Parliament went there last year they went to find an Anguilla which was still passionately pro-British and wished to retain its attachment to the United Kingdom. In order to try to get a standstill they gave the unfortunate impression that they were prepared to get a settlement at almost any price, and it seems to me that those two Members of Parliament conveyed both to St. Kitts and to the Anguillans that both sides would get what they wanted.
When I went to Anguilla the Anguillans believed that in a year they would get independence, and, indeed, they went so far as to tell me that they were assured that after the declaration of independence the British Government would meet the cost which they had been so far put to. I asked, "What will happen in the event of your not being given this independence?" They then said, "In no circumstances whatever will we go back to St. Kitts." When I went to St. Kitts I was assured by Mr. Bradshaw that he had got the same impression—that he would get what he wanted; that after a period of a year Anguilla would be returned to St. Kitts.
There is nothing worse in the world than getting a settlement which is based upon false hopes and premises. And so the Anguillan feeling against St. Kitts and against the British Government grew stronger and stronger.
I think it is worth disgressing for a moment upon the personality of Mr. Bradshaw. This, again, is something which has been ignored. When I saw this Prime Minister he struck me as being a man who was in very bad health indeed, to put it mildly. He had the strangest delusions: he always supposed he was about to be poisoned. He dresses up in fancy dress clothes; he parades around the island; and he is served by men who really are not fit to be in any Government in any country in the world. Her Majesty's Government must have been aware of this, yet, as the months 1151 went on, the Anguillans were never told that they were not to be under the rule of this man who declared that he would make their land into desert and, when asked what they would eat, said that they would eat bones. Despite this, when I left Anguilla the islanders were close friends of this country, and Mr. Webster was in close friendship with Mr. Tony Lee, though much has been said of the disparity of their views. I cannot accept that. I saw Mr. Webster again this autumn at the time of the conference. He was brought to lunch with me by Mr. Lee, and again these two were on very good terms.
Then comes the crisis, the visit of the Under-Secretary to Anguilla and the stampeding of the Under-Secretary. Harsh things have been said about him in the Press and perhaps by hon. Members on both sides of the House. While in no way deriding the Under-Secretary, I think it is not unfair to wonder what would have happened had he chosen to remain on the island to confront the people themselves. After all, gunfire is not so uncommon in the West Indies as it is here.
Last year when I was in Antigua there was a demonstration by Antiguans and a few shots were fired. I did not leave the island, nor did any of the 20,000 or 30,000 American tourists who were there. One must accept in these circumstances that there is likely to be a little roughness. Although the Under-Secretary cannot be blamed for leaving, it may be that there was misjudgment in his decision to leave the island before the islanders had been convinced of what he wanted to say.
§ Viscount Lambton
Then there is the escalation; there comes a frigate, there come the paratroops and the police. What do they come to do? They come to Anguilla with all the show of force to persuade the Anguillans to accept exactly what the Anguillans had been asking for for the last 18 months. If this is not a triumph of misjudgment, I do not know what is. What could be so silly as for this country to have to use force to make people do what they actually wanted to do?
1152 The Government must stand condemned of serious mistakes in the past. But what of the future? I hope that when the Minister of State replies to the debate he will tell us more about what will happen in the Associated States. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) made an interesting speech in which he brought into doubt the future of the Associated States, and I would stress some of the points which he made. I do not wish to mention names, not wishing to stir up trouble in the Caribbean, but there is in another Associated State a Prime Minister who is in the possession of four jobs in his Government while his wife retains three. This Associated State has attached to it an island not totally dissimilar from Anguilla. What will happen there if there is a repetition of the demand for independence? What will happen to Antigua if Barbuda makes a demand for independence? In what relationship do we stand to these two islands?
This is a problem which extends beyond the Associated States in the West Indies to other commitments which we have all over the world. What happens if there are splinter movements in those areas and one side of the dispute calls upon us to help it against the other? What is to be the future of the West Indies if, every two years, one of the islands announces its independence? Are we solemnly to send a frigate, paratroopers and London policemen to the Caribbean every year or so? This is a joke which must have some end. It is funny to see London bobbies on the beaches of Anguilla. If it is to be repeated every year or two, it will not be so amusing.
What is the result of the Government's action likely to be? Will it not encourage the separatists, especially when some of the mother Governments are not exactly models of democracy? St. Kitts may be troubled sooner than we expect with an attempt by Nevis to go on its own. If that occurs, what happens then? If one goes, then two go and then there is a splinter group of three, it can hardly be called an Associated State, because there will be an association of nothing.
It is a matter which must be looked at in depth by the Government, and it is not a matter from which we on this side of the House can take any satisfaction 1153 because it is likely to be a recurring theme. Indeed, if it is decided to set up an inquiry into the future of the Associated States, it may be possible to get a good deal of co-operation on it between the two parties. It is easy to make a political issue of this, but it is more than that. The whole system is beginning to disintegrate, and I believe that it will continue in the coming years. We must be prepared for it, because it should not be thought for a minute that this is an isolated case. It is a threat to a system which has very wide ramifications, not only in the West Indies but all over the world. The effects will hit not only the present Government now, but perhaps again next year, and perhaps a succeeding Government headed by my right hon. Friend in another year or two. A joint approach to the matter would be much more satisfactory.
Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that it is a minute comedy and an isolated case. Anguilla is a symptom of the disease of independence. These associated States have nothing in common. They are not bound together by a common civilisation, and parts are antipathetic to each other. It must be realised that what is happening is the prelude to what is to come. Let us be prepared for it, without both sides preparing to take political advantage from it.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
This debate was to have concentrated on Europe and the Middle East. Inevitably, it has been sidetracked by recent events in Anguilla.
In a speech proving that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory, my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) pointed out that it is a small part of a much larger problem which from now on will be with any Government and with this House when considering Britain's relations to ex-colonial territories which, for one reason or another, will never attain full national status. Their future is the more complex because, though it is worth looking for a common solution and a principle, the circumstances of these territories are so different that I doubt whether they are susceptible to one rule.
Some territories have problems of imported minorities threatening the tradi- 1154 tional life of the natives, and as we know in some territories the two are already showing signs of clashing. In some, like Anguilla, the problem arises whether the unit can ever become economic; for example, can one of these islands which is so small have a future which remains agricultural, or a future where the island will be developed and exploited, for instance, on the pattern of the American Virgin Islands? There is scarcely, perhaps, in some of these cases a half-way house. There is sometimes the complication that a territory or an island is in an area of interest and sensitivity to other nations or other Powers.
I do not know that there is any tidy pattern which can be laid down. This is, therefore, a matter essentially for political nose and efficient diplomacy, and it is this political sense, what I think most people would call common sense, in which, in my view, the Government have been totally lacking. We have had examples of this in the Persian Gulf, in Rhodesia, in the Falkland Islands, in Bonn, in Paris, in Singapore and in Australia. There has been the same tale of clumsy diplomatic ineptitude. Anguilla is only the latest, and I hope the last, because the credit and credibility of Britain in overseas affairs is being stretched to the limit.
I think it is fair comment that in the last two years the British Government ought to have been able to contrive a political situation, or if not that at least a modus vivendi, with 6,000 simple, loyal, God-fearing people on the Island of Anguilla. After all, it is not for lack of warning. Why, for example, was greater urgency not given to the election of an Anguillan Council, which was proposed a long time ago? Why were the proposals carried by the unfortunate Under-Secretary of State held up for so long? Why were they not given to the islanders earlier? Apparently they had a favourable reception before lunch but were rejected afterwards. Why were they not presented months before?
What has happened, in effect, in this case is that the Government by delay, by failure to seize the opportunities here, have allowed a handful, not even of gangsters, but of so-called disreputable people to bring about a situation in which Britain has had to use force in front of the whole world. Of course, if there is. 1155 and when there is, a breakdown of order that must be dealt with firmly.
The legal right of the British Government to do as they have done has been questioned. The Government have acted under Section 7(2) of the West Indies Act. I hope that the Minister will give us a little more information. I take it that if there were importation of arms to the detriment of the islanders, that would be covered by Section 7(2), and that if behaviour by foreigners on the island was inimical to the future of the island, that might be covered under Section 7(2). But so far the reference to the importation of arms into Anguilla has been rather perfunctory. The Foreign Secretary just mentioned it today. Will the Minister tell us something about the measure and the nature of the arms which have been imported into this island?
If the arms have been imported for the purpose of take-over, I am not prepared to say that Section 7(2) should not have been used, and once the Government have got themselves into this jam I am not disposed to question the scale of the military operation—although I should have thought that it could have been done less ostentatiously with the use of a frigate properly manned—but the point is that once this operation is undertaken there must be enough people to do the job. Nor would I accept the condemnation of the Committee of 24 in the United Nations, whose moral judgments are rooted in double dealing. That is the kindest thing that I can say about them.
But the House has a right to expect from the Foreign Secretary that he will from now on—and wasting no time—find what the Anguillans want and take the political decisions which are necessary to set the course for a settlement. That is what the House asks and what we expect of the right hon. Gentleman from now on, after this muddle in this little, but nevertheless important, matter.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition devoted a large part of his speech to the economic, political and military structure of Europe. In terms of collective security the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia has alerted the Western European allies to the need for a united response to an aggressor. To that extent, it has cemented the alliance. France has gone out of her way to an-1156 nounce lately that she intends to remain a partner in N.A.T.O. It is a weakness that she refuses to take part in public in contingency planning because that is essential when invasion can be concealed under cover of manoeuvres—in the recent defence debate we covered some of these problems—but the French are now a declared partner in N.A.T.O. To that extent the European unity has been reinforced.
It is curious that in this debate—I think the reason is that it was so fragmented by the introduction of the subject of Anguilla—no mention has been made of the real change for the worse in recent months, a change induced not so much by a measurable alteration in the balance of power after Russia's intervention in Czechoslovakia as by the fact that the Soviet Union has reasserted a political doctrine which was dormant for so long that it was assumed that it would not be resurrected. That doctrine is that the Soviet Union in Socialist Europe is from now on to be the sole judge how far any country may deviate in internal policies from the official line laid down by the Kremlin and that if the line is overstepped, the Soviet Union is entitled to intervene by force.
As the right hon. Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell) pleaded, the reason why we should set the form of our foreign affairs debates is that this is much the greatest factor in the future of the organisation of Europe politically, economically and militarily. It is this action and this doctrine now dictated by the Soviet Union which has sent shivers into Eastern Europe. It is this which compelled President Tito to decide to arm the population of Yugoslavia, which is something no country does unless it is scared, and to prepare his country for a possible guerrilla war.
I have no liking for vague warnings or loose undefined commitments, but I have the feeling that this warning was justified in this respect, that the invasion of Yugoslavia would start a train of military response of which no one could calculate the end. That must be understood in Moscow when they are weighing the balance of advantage to be gained by policies which imply force. It was the Soviet Union which raised the tension, it is the Soviet Union alone which can allay it. For either event, heightened 1157 tension or conciliation, Western Europe must be fully prepared.
As to the internal organisation of Western Europe economically and politically, there is little fresh that I can add to what my right hon. Friend said and what has been said by others in this debate. I think it will be agreed, although many people put different interpretations on what is meant by the Common Market or on how the Common Market might develop in future, that it is clear that the closer the economic partnership in Europe is built, the greater will be the strength and influence of the Continent and the higher will be the standard of living and, therefore, the standard of achievement of Europe as against the United States or the Soviet Union, and that with British partnership, provided that the right conditions can be obtained, those advantages will be multiplied.
The right hon. Members for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) and Easington were right in saying that there are political obstacles and that those political obstacles persist against British entry to the European Economic Community. Various efforts are being made to break the deadlock. What, in practice, is being done? There is the Action Committee, to which reference has been made in the debate, which has set out, as I understand it, to analyse the obstacles, taking them one by one—finance, agriculture, institutions—with a view to proposing practical solutions, if those practical solutions can possibly be found, and to marking the differences, if those differences, in spite of the examination, persist. There is the other approach—that is, the encouragement of the maximum political contact and co-operation outside the Treaty of Rome.
I think that both these approaches can be justified, with these provisos—first, that Britain must in the meantime be free to explore and exploit any trading offers, bilateral or multilateral, that come her way; and secondly, that any attempt to break from without the European Economic Community would be sterile—and that had better be understood from the start. The result would be scarcely problematical. But whatever the result might be of trying to separate the Five from France, it would certainly not contribute to European unity. That was one of the reasons why I think that many 1158 people in the House were so unhappy about the breakdown of the talks initiated between our Ambassador in Paris and General de Gaulle and his Government. Not the least unhappy, I suspect, were the Five, because the Five know perfectly well that, unless Britain and France can solve this deadlock, they will be in trouble for a very long time.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to M. Monnet and his Action Committee for a United States of Europe. Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that, although M. Monnet is extremely distinguished, he is older even than General de Gaulle?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
They are both extremely vigorous. I should not like to say that either the hon. Gentleman or myself will necessarily outlive them.
I think, therefore, that these excursions are justified—as to whether or not the solution can be found—into the obstacles which keep Britain out of the Common Market. Therefore, I hope that the policy which by and large the House sustained, although with many reservations, will be upheld, or that at least until it is upset we shall proceed to see whether we can get into the Common Market, while properly exploring, as my right hon. Friend said, every other possibility.
I turn to the second subject of our debate, or, as it turned out, the third—the Middle East. I do not imagine that anybody in the House feels that Britain can do much to end the state of war between Arab and Jew. However, if there are to be four-Power talks—and the Russians and the French have taken the initiative in this—it is right at least to explore the possibilities.
The justification for a four-Power initiative was mentioned by one or two hon. Members. It is that if the Arabs will not agree to talk with the Jews at the conference table, the best, if not the only, hope of peace is that a third party should present a plan of reconciliation—a thankless task, one must admit, from the start. Nevertheless, the four Powers might be able to take advantage of two aspects of this matter, namely, the apparent Arab willingness to recognise the State of Israel, if the President of Egypt is to be taken at his word, and the possibility of convincing Israel that a plan 1159 of peace will give her not the paper security which she fears but the real thing. The latter, in fact, is the key to the success or failure of any negotiation and any settlement, for this reason, that the Israelis now possess, or think they possess, the greatest degree of physical security that they have ever had in the life of their State. To take only one example, instead of the four minutes warning of an air attack, they now have 40 minutes warning. That could be the difference between the life and death of a nation.
How can Israel, then, be given a guarantee comparable to that which they have gained for themselves on the battlefield and, on the other side of the coin, how can the Arabs be given confidence against Israeli expansion at their expense? Of course, the clean way would be for the parties to the dispute to meet and to fix new frontiers, and those frontiers might be guaranteed—although I am inclined to agree with the right hon. Member for Easington that today, as opposed to yesterday, there are very serious objections to this course.
First, the Arabs will not even talk about frontiers with the Israelis, and secondly, I am doubtful, if frontiers were fixed, whether in modern circumstances any of the great Powers would guarantee a frontier in an area in which the origin of aggression cannot be pinpointed. The fate of the three-Power declaration rather reinforces that point of view.
Therefore, I see only one alternative if there is to be a suggested peace and not an imposed peace. That is the use of demilitarised zones, using the old frontiers without prejudice, but recognition of new frontiers when the parties ever come to negotiate such a thing. I will give two examples of what I mean by demilitarised zones. We could, for example, have the whole of Sinai and we could have the Syrian Heights. What I would propose in relation to demilitarised zone would not be the old conception of the guarantee of a frontier but that the four Powers would guarantee that United Nations forces in such an area would neither be molested nor by-passed nor hindered in their work, nor withdrawn at the request of one or other Power—that is essential—and that the task of that force would be to keep these areas totally 1160 free from military activity of any kind. That seems to me to be rather a different conception from the old conception of guaranteeing a frontier and rather more likely in modern circumstances to succeed.
The problem of Jordan, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) said, is greatly complicated by the presence of the new Free Palestine movement. But I think that a demilitarised zone could be worked out and applied there, and I think that the greatest beneficiary of this would be Jordan who, under the present circumstances, is getting the worst of all worlds.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Healey)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if this concept is to be applied, the zone must be on both sides of whatever frontier is operative and the U.N. presence must also be on both sides of the agreed frontier?
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Yes, with this reservation, that the area of the State of Israel is so small that they cannot afford to concede much territory in that respect.
It is impossible to be anything but pessimistic. Certainly, no settlement can be imposed. If it were, it would not be honoured by either the Arabs or the Israelis for very long, nor would it be worth the candle for the guarantors. But, as Israel wants peace for development, and as many Arabs must yearn to extract themselves from this sterile and endless confrontation—and for an end, for example, to such barbaric excesses as the execution of the Jews lately in Iraq, which revolted the whole world—if the four Powers can point the way to a settlement, however thankless the task, they should try.
Much will depend on the approach of the Soviet Union to these problems. The facts of its progressive involvement in the whole area are clear. The Soviet Union is very interested in the future of the Arab States bordering the shore of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Russians are positioned to influence, and probably "direct" is not too strong a word to use, Egypt's military posture, and they have a strong influence in Syria. They have made a considerable investment lately in both the Yemens—the Yemen and South Yemen. Last September they made a defence agreement 1161 with the N.L.F., and they are now training the South Yemen forces. The direction of the activities can be deduced from the South Yemen formation a few weeks later of what is called the Front for the Liberation of the Arabian Gulf, with the advertised purpose of the unification of the revolutionary instruments in the Gulf, the first target, of course, being Muscat and Oman.
Further afield, there is extensive military assistance to the Sudan, now amounting to about £50 million, 16 MiGs and a lot of tanks, and, incidentally, the training of 240 officers in the Soviet Union last year, 90 of them for a year's course. The subvention that Somalia received recently is £24 million, for what is vaguely called supplies.
These activities are certainly part of a comprehensive Soviet policy. I remember the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. George Brown) warning us that it might have as its objective a change in the balance of power in that area, which, as the Russians have fully appreciated, is the strategic gateway to the continent of Africa, an area which gives them an entrée to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Whatever one may think of these activities in the long run—and great Powers such as Britain and the United States have wanted their own navies there and have sought areas of influence here and there—the activity and penetration of the Soviet Union in this area cannot be said at present to be anything but disruptive of the status quo. It will feed appetites in tribal areas such as the Yemen, and the design in Arabia is pretty clear. It is, first, to weaken the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to out-flank it, and eventually to be able to establish a squeeze on Iran. The British evacuation of Aden and the forecast withdrawal from the Gulf has weakened the ability of Saudi Arabia and Iran to pursue evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary policies, and the evolutionary policies were immensely valuable in an area which is naturally turbulent, warlike and tribal.
But although the Soviet Union has this strategic plan, it does not follow that peace between Israel and Egypt would not suit its book. The Soviet Union would very much like to see the opening of the Suez Canal. It has invested a 1162 great deal of money and even more "face" in Egypt. The Russians would not wish money and "face" to be lost as might happen if, as they calculate, Egypt lost another war. Therefore, one may conclude that, at least in this respect, the United States, France and Britain should test the Russian intentions as to a genuine peace between Egypt and Israel. I agree again with my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury that, whatever the strategic plan of Russia might be in this area, an end to the Arab-Israel war would pay such a high dividend in stability that, whatever the further consequences, it would pay the Western world to co-operate with the Soviet Union in finding such a peace.
Through no one's fault, this has inevitably been a rather ragged debate. We have ranged from Israel to Rhodesia, to Anguilla, to Europe, and that is a situation which makes the debate for myself, and probably for the Minister of State, rather difficult to pull together at the end. I will conclude by saying something about Rhodesia, because the Secretary of State asked me some direct questions about it.
If the real difference—I do not say that there are not others—between Britain and Rhodesia today is that we have not yet found a second safeguard which, as opposed to the Privy Council, could be operated by Rhodesians, then the search for that should continue and we should not stand on our dignity, if we have such a solution, and wait for the Rhodesians to come our way. After all, Rhodesia is a very small country and we are still a great Power.
Therefore, I say to the right hon. Gentleman, when he says that he waits for Mr. Smith to come to us, that the Government should not stand on their dignity in this way. I hope that they are not doing so. I realise that the Minister without Portfolio probably feels that he put to Mr. Smith a possible solution which could be worked by Rhodesians in Rhodesia. If so, let us make the most of it or try to make something of Sir Albert Robinson's plan—perhaps marrying the two.
I hope that the Minister of State will tell us something more of the arms which have been imported into Anguilla and what dangers there were of a take-over, because we have never been given that 1163 information. I do not think that we are in broad conflict on the other great issues of Europe and the Middle East, although we all agree that the first would repay a lot of study while, in the second, if the Western Powers can possibly combine to help Israel and Egypt, in particular, and the Arab nations to find a solution, they should go out of their way to do so.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Goronwy Roberts)
The debate, as we have heard, has indeed turned on a number of widely separated themes. It was the original intention that we should try to concentrate on the Middle East and European affairs. I have much sympathy with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) said when he protested against the somewhat inevitable fact. I suppose, that, on foreign affairs occasions in this House, the debates tend to become diffuse and unpointed because of the variety of subjects and themes which obtrude on to them as a rule. I think that the House might well consider, in the normal way and through the usual channels, how, in foreign affairs, distinctive, identifiable areas for discussion might be separated as far as possible, even if this means more frequent but possibly shorter debates.
In the time at my disposal I propose to say something about all three main themes of the debate. The range of subjects has been wide. Questions about Rhodesia, for instance, have been raised and from time to time the Far East and other parts of the world have been mentioned. But I am sure that the House will bear with me if after mentioning one or two matters connected with Anguilla and trying to deal with the issues raised by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) in that category and referring to one or two matters connected with Europe I pass as soon as I can to a consideration of the Middle East where my special responsibilities lie.
Much has been said about the Government's action in Anguilla. I reiterate what my right hon. Friend has said, that the Government are completely satisfied that the Anguilla (Temporary Provision) Order, 1969, gives full legal justification for the action taken. Hon. Members 1164 have raised the question of the acquiescence and support of our friends in the independent and Associated States of the Caribbean as a whole. I should like briefly to quote from the communiqué issued by the 13 Heads of both kinds of States:The Conference called upon the Government of the United Kingdom to take all necessary steps in collaboration with the Government of the State to confirm the territorial integrity of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.It noted that thesituation arising from the attempt by the island of Anguilla to secede illegally from the State of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla remains unresolved".We were bound to take on board the views of our friends in the Caribbean and bound to take action in the way they wished.
The first kind of action was completely peaceful. It was the mission of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State who went there with proposals and prepared to explain those proposals to the people of the island, with the results we know. He was prevented from continuing his discussions with the people of the island in a peaceful manner. As a result, it was inevitable that a further attempt, now backed by force, should be made in order to create the conditions of order and security for the people of Anguilla to form, without intimidation or threat, their own view of the future they preferred.
Here I should like to repeat what my right hon. Friend has said in the House more than once, namely, that it is no part of the purpose of Her Majesty's Government to force the people of Anguilla to subject themselves to a long-term solution of the problems which is not acceptable to the inhabitants of the island.
§ Mr. Heath
Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with a point with which the Foreign Secretary failed to deal, but on which he has just touched? The point of the communiqué was to maintain the territorial integrity of the Associated State. The purpose of the Order under which the Government are acting is to maintain the territorial integrity of the Associated State. At the same time, the Minister of State has just repeated what the Foreign Secretary said, which is that these people are not to live under 1165 an administration of which they do not approve. How can the two be reconciled?
§ Mr. Roberts
The contradiction is not in the statement we have made or in the action we have taken but more in relation to time. In other words, we have taken this action to create conditions in which the Anguillans, if this is their view, and it would appear to be their view now, can so express it as to make it absolutely clear without question and without threat of intimidation from either within the island or from outside. There is really no contradiction here.
§ Mrs. Winifred Ewing (Hamilton)
Would the Minister agree that there have been two referenda in Anguilla, that in one there were five votes against the proposition that it should be run from St. Kitts and that in the other there were four votes against the proposition?
§ Mr. Roberts
Those were in the conditions previously obtaining. I have said that it is our duty to create conditions in which an examination of the views of the islanders can in due course take place; with everybody concerned, including Her Majesty's Government, being assured that the decision is taken in the right conditions and with the right credibility.
§ Mr. Turton
I asked in my speech if it had been possible to tell the people of Anguilla that the Prime Minister of the Associated State of St. Kitts had agreed to the division of the Associated State.
§ Mr. Roberts
The answer is, "No".
I was asked about the importation of arms. We have received a number of reports of the illegal importation of arms into Anguilla since 1967.
§ Mr. Roberts
I must continue with my speech. I am in the middle of replying to an important question which was put to me.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Can we take it, in view of his statement and that of the Foreign 1166 Secretary, that the possibility of the people of Anguilla seceding from the Federation is not ruled out?
§ Mr. Roberts
Of course we can. We do not exclude any possibility. What we are seeking to do is to create the right conditions, over a period of time, in which they can properly and effectively make their own choice.
As I was saying, we have received a number of reports of the illegal importation of arms into Anguilla since 1967. The State Police detachment left a very small armoury behind when they were ejected in May, 1967. It is believed that there were 60 or more weapons, including some machine carbines, on the island before we intervened. It is clear that there must be other deposits, and these are now being sought by the troops and police. I cannot give more specific information on this point, but no doubt, as the days pass and the searches proceed, more information will be available.
I was asked to explain why the election of an island council was delayed. The establishment of an island council on Anguilla after Statehood was a matter between the State Government and the Anguillans. The Constitution provided that such a council should consist, at first, of nominated members and, subsequently, not later than 1st January, 1968, of elected members. There were differences of opinion between the Anguillans and the Associated State Government about this, and, in the event, the council was not set up. It was set up in Nevis and it has, of course, functioned as a nominated council so far, and is looking forward to the time when it will become an elected council.
The second theme on which the debate has turned and on which the contributions of hon. Members have traversed has been the whole spectrum of our relations with and policy in Europe. Time does not permit me to range so widely, but I wish to make a brief statement reaffirming the continuity and consistency of the Government's European policy.
Since the overwhelming majority of hon. Members on both sides of the House approved our decision to apply for membership of the E.E.C., the Government have been consistent in aiming at the goal of a united Europe and maintaining full membership as the right course for Britain and for Europe. I am glad that the 1167 Leader of the Opposition continues to share this goal and rejects, as we do, alternatives and side-paths which are unlikely to lead anywhere in the direction of European unity. While the road to membership of the Community is blocked, Her Majesty's Government will be ready to do whatever they can to advance European integration in other spheres. Members on both sides have expressed support for our attempts in the technological, cultural, defence and other fields to work with our European partners, even though at the moment the veto on our joining the Community is still in force.
British policy on this is shared and supported by five out of six members of the E.E.C. and by the other countries which applied for membership with us. It is therefore clear that our policy is Europe's policy in the widest sense and not just that of Her Majesty's Government. The strength and support for our European policy has been amply demonstrated over the months—for example, by successive proposals by the Benelux and Italian Governments, by the important agreement reached in W.E.U. at Luxembourg on political consultations, by the declaration issued by us jointly with the German Government at the end of the visit of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to Bonn, and by the Hague Congress last November. We are confident that the momentum which has been built up will not be dissipated and will lead us to our goal of European unity.
The hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) put a number of questions about East-West relationships.
§ Mrs. Ewing
On a point of order. Is it in order for the Secretary of State for Social Services to sleep during this important summing-up speech?
§ Mr. Roberts
The hon. Member for Louth, who made a thoughtful speech and is entitled to a reply, raised the question of our contacts with the Soviet Union in view of the fact that we strongly condemned, and were prompt and precise in our condemnation of, that country's invasion of Czechoslovakia. He raised it particularly in the context of a Middle East solution. Since the Secretary 1168 of State's visit to Moscow in May, 1968, we have been in very frequent contact with the Soviet Union about the Middle East. The hon. Gentleman was wrong to say that the last time that my right hon. Friend had met Mr. Gromyko was in May, 1968. He met him in New York in October, 1968. Since then there have been discussions in London with the Soviet Ambassador, in Moscow between Her Majesty's Ambassador and various members of the Soviet Government, and in New York between Lord Caradon and the Soviet Permanent Representative. These discussions continue.
The four-Power move to press forward with a general solution of the Middle East problem does not mean that bilateral discussions should not continue between any two of the four permanent members. We are constantly discussing, not only with the two parties concerned, but with the other members of the four, ways and means of preparing for a composite meeting of the four Powers, which we would be glad to see take place soon. These discussions with the Soviet Union are part of our policy of bilateral discussions among the four, leading to what we hope will be an early meeting of the four in joint session.
I turn to the Middle East. This is a problem of more than regional importance, as speaker after speaker has emphasised. It is a problem of worldwide importance to which a solution still has not been found and which Her Majesty's Government view, and have viewed, with profound concern. The current deterioration in the situation, marked by the increasing number and recklessness of acts of violence, is very serious. The growing impatience of all concerned at the failure to find a solution emphasises the importance of making progress while moderation still prevails against extremism.
My right hon. Friend, and, indeed, the Government, are fully aware of the significance of what some hon. Members, on both sides, have pointed to during the debate—that is, not only the significance, but the growing significance, of the Fedayeen movement. We must guard against the emergence of some kind of third force in the area which may become so strong as possibly to veto an otherwise generally acceptable solution. Here, time is of the essence.
1169 When I spoke to President Nasser about these matters recently, I was convinced that the established Arab Governments, like the Israeli Government and, indeed, like our own Government, are strongly seized of the danger of time passing so quickly that the efforts of the moderate men—and they exist in every one of these countries—will be nullified by the growth of the extremists.
Hon. Members have called in question our sense of urgency on this matter. That is a most unfair and unfounded allegation to make. Of all the countries involved in this difficult problem, the United Kingdom has worked hardest for a settlement. We proposed and we secured the acceptance of the Security Council resolution of November, 1967, and ever since that date we have continued to be active.
Let no hon. Member suggest that to frame that resolution, which still stands and still commands general support and acceptance throughout the world, and get it accepted was an easy task. It was a very difficult task involving the expenditure of time, energy and patience, and, if I may say so, a good deal of diplomatic skill, of which the Leader of the Opposition suggested that we were completely denuded. The right hon. Gentleman made a grand tour of the world and indicated how all the problems of the world bid been caused by a lack of British diplomatic skill. One would like to exchange historical references. All the instances given by the Leader of the Opposition are overweighted by the one classic example of Suez in 1956.
I repeat that of all the countries involved, the United Kingdom has worked hardest towards a settlement. We proposed and secured the acceptance, as I have said, of the resolution which still stands as the only possible basis for a general solution. As early as May, 1968, and after that we discussed with the Russians the possibility of holding four-Power discussions on the Middle East. Thus, when the Soviet Government produced a new set of proposals for discussion at the beginning of January this year, we were ready and willing to enter into serious discussion with them. It certainly did not hit the headlines, but we returned a constructive reply and we have reason to think that the Russians appreciated the way we responded to the Soviet démarche.
1170 Then, in the middle of January, came the French proposal for four-Power meetings. We, like the Governments of the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., welcomed the proposal for four-Power discussions, and talks are now proceeding on a bilateral basis in New York in preparation for meetings between all four. The United Kingdom has played a full part in these bilateral talks, which have already proved extremely useful.
We expect the four-Power talks, when they begin, to continue concurrently with bilateral talks. There is a certain staging of the process. The first stage is substantially that of bilateral discussion among the Four in order to prepare the ground for viable group meetings and, possibly, decisions.
§ Mr. Walters
Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with the influence we are having at present on the United States Government, since without an intervention from the United States there will not be any solution to the problem?
§ Mr. Roberts
We are in good and friendly relations with the United States and, naturally, we are discussing with the American Government the best way to move forward. I do not take a defeatist view of the possibilities not only of our bilateral co-operation but of the co-operation of the Americans and ourselves with the French and Russians in this important move. We expect the four-Power talks to continue concurrently with such bilateral talks as the hon. Gentleman had partly in mind, I think, and we are anxious for the four-Power talks to begin as soon as possible. As my right hon. Friend said—I emphasise this—we are ready to take part without conditions or limitations of agenda.
We have been active not just in New York with the other permanent members of the Security Council. We have had discussions on the Middle East with our European friends in W.E.U., within N.A.T.O., and with the parties to the dispute. We have had, and do have, frequent contacts at Ministerial and official level with the Governments of the countries regionally concerned. I myself visited Cairo and other parts of the area in January. This very month Dr. Fawzi, special assistant to President Nasser on foreign affairs, was the guest of Her Majesty's Government in this country. 1171 We see it as our duty to exercise such influence as we have with the parties even while we are in process of trying to reach a consensus with the other permament members of the Security Council.
Here I take up a point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easing-ton, who spoke strongly against any kind of imposed settlement. There is built into our procedure of constantly discussing these matters with the parties concerned as well as with the four permanent members of the Security Council an assurance, which, I think, my right hon. Friend will immediately understand, that we are not devoting ourselves to anything like an imposed settlement. Indeed, an imposed settlement would not last. Any settlement must be agreed if it is to be durable, just and honourable.
The object of the four-Power meetings and of the other diplomatic activities in which we are engaged is to explore ways of bringing about a settlement in accordance with the resolution of November, 1967. As I said, this resolution is the only basis for a settlement. My right hon. Friend has told the House that it must be turned into a package with a calendar and timetable, the implementation of which will make the resolution a reality.
Crucial in the search for such a solution is the mission of Dr. Jarring, whose appointment was one of the results of the resolution. We had hoped that he would be able to make more progress than he has so far. We have given him our unqualified support throughout. We still hope that he will be able to reach the beginnings of an agreement in his present round of talks, and there is some indication that the parties concerned are somewhat more responsive and more concrete in their replies to Dr. Jarring's questions now. However, he will certainly need the support of the four, and the four Powers must use their influence with the parties to the dispute and urge them to talk to Dr. Jarring meaningfully and concretely on matters of substance.
Nevertheless, we must not ignore the possibility that the parties may not come to an agreement as a result of Dr. Jarring's activities alone, even if they are backed by the four Powers. As we see it, the four will have to discuss matters of substance as well as of procedure.
1172 If it were possible to frame a solution immediately acceptable to both sides, it would have been framed and accepted long ago. The eventual solution, therefore, may not give both sides all that they are at present asking for. We are not saying that the parties should somehow accept anything inconsistent with the Security Council resolution, but simply that they must face up to the implications of that resolution and also the implications of a continuation of the present state of affairs in the Middle East.
I hope that what I have said so far about the activities and policies of the Government demonstrates our deep interest in doing everything we can towards a solution. We have, indeed, given considerable thought to the situation and to the problems which require solution. We have made and are making a significant contribution. Britain's contribution to the deliberations of the four will indeed be crucial. We are certainly ready to exchange ideas on matters of substance at the appropriate time, both at the four-Power meetings and with the parties when opportunity arises. The House should bear in mind that the Security Council resolution itself includes the essential elements of a solution and that this resolution was sponsored by ourselves. Moreover, it is still generally accepted by the parties, although there are differences on how it should be implemented.
Some hon. Members raised the possibility of the eventual establishment of a United Nations presence to oversee a settlement. I listened with great attention and respect to what the right hon. Gentleman had to say particularly on this point. It is, clearly, one of the most vital points which the four Powers, and ultimately a wider forum, must consider, in relation to guaranteeing whatever general solution is eventually agreed to in this area. It would not be right to be dogmatic on the part which the United Nations might or might not play on the ground in the context of a general settlement. Nevertheless, we believe that it is generally accepted that the United Nations will play a part, certainly in the period after a settlement, till confidence and trust have been restored to the region. The details of such an operation will need to be considered very carefully, and, indeed, the operation itself, if it is decided on, will have to be acceptable to both 1173 sides. I would join with the right hon. Gentleman in emphasising that, if such an arrangement were made, one of the cardinal conditions for its operation would be that neither side should unilaterally demand the removal of any international force from the area.
Before closing my remarks perhaps I may address myself to a question which was raised by the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), the question of our policy in the Gulf. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition also referred to this in his opening speech. This is a theme in itself. It has been discussed extensively in the House. I thought the noble Lord was rather premature in prophesying the failure of the Emirates to form an effective union as a successor system to the British Protectorate which so far has prevailed on the Arabian side of the Gulf, and I felt that he was rather premature also in thinking that the Emirates, through such an association or union, will ultimately fail to build up their own security forces. The evidence we have is that the Emirates have consistently come together to discuss in council, and in committees in between meetings of the council, practical questions relating to the possibility of setting up a viable constitutional union. Our attitude has been not to intrude or to impose our ideas, but to stand ready to assist and advise them at every point whenever they ask us to do so. I would close——
§ it being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to Standing Order No. 18 (Business of Supply) to put forthwith for each financial year the Question, That the total amount outstanding for that year be granted out of the Consolidated Fund for the purposes defined in the related Votes.