§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. David Stoddart.]
§ 3.54 p.m.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. James Callaghan)
It is the intention, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) to open the debate, but, if I may have the permission of the House for a moment, I should like to express the deep sense of shock and dismay which has greeted the tragic news of the assassination of His Majesty King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
We do not yet know the full details of this crime, nor can we yet foretell its consequences, but I am sure the House will join with me in expressing our profound sorrow at the passing of a great Arab and Muslim statesman and world leader. He presided over probably the most remarkable change of fortunes that any country has seen in his lifetime. In his attitude to such problems as oil prices and their impact both on his world and on the industrialised world, and the great issues of peace and war in the Middle East, his was a voice of moderation and statesmanship.
The Arabs have lost one of their foremost sons at a time when moderate and wise counsels are badly needed. Britain has lost a good and valued friend. We extend our deepest sympathy and concern to all our Saudi Arabian friends at this time.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)
I associate this side of the House wholeheartedly with the tribute which has been paid to the late King Faisal and the expression of regret at this tragic assassination. Those of us who were fortunate enough to know King Faisal knew him as a man of great dignity, integrity and total devotion to the cause of his own people and to his own religion in which he so devoutly believed. He had been carrying his country through a time of almost incredible transition with strength, calmness and moderation.
265 It is impossible to predict what will now happen. I think we all hope that the traditional loyalties of Saudi Arabia and respect for the revered memory of the assassinated king will help to carry that country through what is bound to be, for a short time at any rate, a difficult period. We all associate ourselves with the expression of regret at the tragedy and offer our condolences to our Saudi friends.
This would in any event have been a sombre debate without this latest occurrence, because, wherever one looks across the world, through the pages of the newspapers one sees growing difficulties and tragedies. In our own European NATO area we have seen a certain crumbling at the edges. We have seen the very disturbing events of Portugal, about which I hope the Foreign Secretary will speak later. We see the continuation of the struggle between Greece and Turkey. In the Middle East we have seen the failure of Dr. Kissinger's valiant efforts to achieve some progress, and we see in more than one country, in Kurdistan and Vietnam, long columns of refugees moving tragically forward. All across the world we see these sad events. It is hard to find any common factor in this, save perhaps that mankind, which is making so much progress in the physical sciences' seems incapable of making comparable progress in the science of government.
There is surely one common lesson to draw from this situation—that this is a world we in Britain should seek to find new friends rather than to desert old ones. I believe it adds a new dimension to the argument about our membership of the European Community. We have got to have string friends and partners of like mind and like tradition to ourselves if we are to weather the storms now facing us.
Of coarse, there will be many debates on the European Community and our membership, but it would be wrong not to debate Europe today among the many other world problems. It seems that in everything we touch on, be it the Far East or the Middle East, our relations with the Community are of fundamental importance because our ability to influence events throughout the world will be conditioned by our relationship with the Community.
266 Certain things must be made absolutely clear in the argument going on about the referendum. The first is that the question is not whether we go in but whether we come out. It is important that the public in making up their minds appreciate this distinction. To refuse to go into Europe might have been one thing but the consequences for Britain's standing in the world, the consequences for our future prosperity and security, will be far more grave if, having once committed ourselves as we have, we should decide to break that commitment and come out again. The issue is not "Do we go into Europe?" but "Do we come out of it?"
Second, it is important that in testing the results of the renegotiation we should recognise as a touchstone not whether those results entirely line up with the Labour Party manifesto but whether they line up with the interests of the nation. It may not mean quite the same thing in every case.
Third, it is equally clear that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, who were negotiating at all times in good faith with the other members of the Community, have throughout been recognised as being committed, subject to the success in their view of the renegotiations, to recommend wholeheartedly to Parliament and the people that we should remain within the Community.
These are the fundamental points which should be borne in mind when deciding what course should be taken. The arguments for Community membership are both economic and political. I am not convinced that the economic argument is wholly capable of conclusive proof one way or the other. I believe that the weight of the argument in favour of remaining within the Community can be demonstrated. Experience has proved the falsity of some of the old arguments such as that food prices would rise drastically once we were inside the Community. Experience over two years is not sufficient upon which to base a solid judgment. It has been a basis for some pretty un-solid argument in the past two days. The a priori argument is that it must be good to be included in such a large market and must be bad to be excluded from such a centre of economic power. The evidence of those who direct and guide the fortunes and efforts of British 267 industry is that they are overwhelmingly in favour of continuing our membership.
The arguments against coming out are equally strong. There is the effect on unemployment, the loss of some of our access to that market, the inevitable effect on investment in this country, already historically low, because of the lessening of funds for investment from either domestic or external sources, and the effect on sterling, because, while we must not exaggerate, it is true that sterling as an international store of value as a reserve currency which will not be so attractive if we leave the Community.
There are also the effects of world-wide competition from a single economic unit as large as the United States but with a basis of industrial costs more akin to ours. There is also the question of trading prospects in a world whose system of trade and payments and whose bilateral dealings will be increasingly dominated by the great economic groupings. To try to make our own way will be far more difficult than making our way forward as a leading member of one of the great Power groups of the world.
Today, in a foreign affairs debate, it is more the political arguments that should weigh with us. The original concept of the Treaty of Rome was very much based on the need to bring Germany back into the European community, to get away from the struggles and wars in Western Europe that had cost so much in this century. The political basis was a sound one, and it remains true today that in a dangerous world it is better to have partners than to be alone and isolated. If there are partners there are costs. There cannot be a partnership unless there is respect between partners.
Subject to that, it seems clear, and it is becoming increasingly clear as the dangers grow across the world, that our political strength and our chance of attaining our aims will be enhanced by continuing membership. What are those aims? Presumably, first of all, to maintain the security, integrity and prosperity of the United Kingdom. Second, to contribute as best we can to the maintenance of world peace, and, third, to help all those who have a claim on our sympathy and help, whether by reason of old friendship, oppression or deprivation. These, 268 traditionally, have been the aims of British foreign policy. But they are being pursued now in a world which is totally different from 20 or even 10 years ago.
These aims are being pursued in a world where our ability to defend ourselves alone, to contribute to world peace or to help our friends in Portugal, Vietnam or wherever is strictly limited by the facts of the modern world. We have faced the most incredible changes. We have seen this country within a generation pass from a State which governed a quarter of mankind to being a relatively small nation on an island in the North Sea. We have seen the growth of the super-Powers. We have seen the effect of modern weapons development, which has brought not a relative but an absolute change in the destructive powers of weapons so that now only great Powers armed with nuclear weapons can hope to win a war and only small Powers without nuclear weapons can dare to use force under the general umbrella of the counter-terror of the nuclear balance.
As a result of this balance of terror we are seeing progressively a transference of the aggression between nations to an aggression within nations. We must recognise clearly that the latter form of aggression can, in the long run, be as subversive to our society and country as the old-fashioned form of warfare. We have seen increasing insecurity and complexity in the world system of trade and payments, with the exposure of our currency and trading patterns to swings and tides, ebbing and flowing on a scale which 20 years ago we could not have imagined. We have seen the new growth of a consciousness of monopoly power among the producers of oil and a growing consciousness of some such power among the producers of other commodities. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will be able to say something about that today because it is difficult to understand precisely where this is moving.
We have also seen a growing recognition of the need to redress the north-south balance between the industrial and the developing countries. All these profound changes seem to emphasise the need to work with partners. There was a time, perhaps in the 1950s, when we feared that joining closer with Europe would cost us our special relationship with the United States and our traditional relationship 269 with the Commonwealth. Neither of these fears has any foundation today.
The United States wishes profoundly to see us in Europe, continuing to add to the political and diplomatic strength of Europe. The Commonwealth leaders, I think without exception, have made it clear that they, too, want us to remain within the Community. When we look at the problems facing British diplomacy against this background, taking the European problem first, it is obvious that we have to maintain our defences, to work for détente and disarmament, and we have to be careful of the switch from external to internal aggression.
Some people might say that strengthening NATO is inconsistent with going for détente and disarmament. I do not agree. It is the sheer strength of NATO that has made it possible to advance the distance we have succeeded in advancing. In this context I am disturbed at some of the implications in the defence White Paper. It does not seem to us to be a wise time to be reducing the defensive power of NATO. It clearly has sorely troubled and worried our NATO allies. This example at this moment will neither help with European defence nor help us to maintain the best posture in which to reach long-term agreement on détente and disarmament.
Mr. Stanley Neweus (Harlow)
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say when he thinks has been the right time for disarmament and for cutting back on defence since the war? Has there been suet-. a time? Does he envisage that there will be such a time?
§ Mr. Maudling
It can be done by mutual agreement and assured performance. Those are the necessary conditions.
When it comes to working for détente, I hope that the Foreign Secretary will be kind enough to tell us more about the progress of discussions in the European Security Conference. I find it difficult to see precisely what progress is being made in this field and it would be useful if we could be told. Certainly we welcome the visit of the Prime Minister with the Foreign Secretary to Moscow, and anything that can make understanding easier and more natural between us and the Soviet Union is greatly to be welcomed.
270 In this context we on this side of the House regret the visit of Mr. Shelepin, which is planned for the near future. It is quite clear that there is widespread concern on both sides of the House and in the country about this visit. I hope very much that the Soviet Ambassador will be quite clear on this matter and will advise his Government that this widespread concern is not a stunt cooked up by the newspapers but demonstrates a genuine, deep feeling in this country Those of us who have these doubts do not believe that Mr. Shelepin's visit is likely to contribute to better understanding. There is a danger that it might damage the progress already made by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary on their visit to Moscow. The other danger to watch is the switch from external to internal aggression.
§ Mr. John Tomlinson (Meriden)
If the right hon. Gentleman intends to pursue the question of Mr. Shelepin's visit he ought to make abundantly clear to the House exactly what he is saying. To come out with a vague statement of criticism without saying exactly what he would do, or what he thinks the Government ought to do, is doing the House less than justice.
§ Mr. Maudling
I thought I had made it clear that I do not think it conceivable for the Government to refuse Mr. Shelepin entry, but the Government might use their influence with the Russian authorities, and with the trade union hosts, to point out that this will not be a very good thing for Anglo-Russian relations. That would seem to be a responsible and sensible attitude for the Government to take.
I turn next in Europe to the problem of Portugal. Here again is an example of a friendly country which, after a long régime, is going through a period of dramatic and violent change and possibly of extreme reaction. It is always difficult to advocate anything that appears to be interference in the domestic affairs of a foreign country, and I know that the Foreign Secretary is aware of that. But it is, for example, asserted that very large sums of money are going from the Soviet Union to the Communist Party in Portugal. Is that so? If it is so, how can that be consistent with a general policy of détente between East and West? 271 We would like to know a little more about that.
Finally in Europe, we come back to the question of Cyprus, on which I hope the Foreign Secretary will give us some information. All of us have received a number of letters from wives of Cypriot citizens and British people resident there, and there can be no doubt at all that there is very great hardship indeed among Greek refugees in Cyprus. Equally, there can be no doubt about the economic situation of the island, with so much of its productive capacity concentrated in Turkish-held parts of Cyprus and severely threatened at the present time. Anything the Foreign Secretary can tell us about this, or can do to help to solve the problem of the danger and the hardship, we shall willingly and warmly support.
I want to turn to the Middle East which, even before the assassination, faced a grave and dangerous situation with the failure of the Kissinger mission. I believe that in the Middle East there is a clear need for the deployment of a European presence and influence. I do not believe that a purely local settlement between Israel and the Arab countries is likely, and the rest of the world is too deeply involved in this grave situation to ignore it.
At the same time, however, despite Dr. Kissinger's brave efforts, it is apparent that the participation of the two great Powers, Russia and the United States, has not been entirely successful. That is why I would argue that a European presence in future discussions and future negotiations could be of enormous value. We in the United Kingdom, with our traditional links with, and knowledge of, the Arab world, should be able to provide a European leadership in these matters.
I have been a good deal in the Middle East in recent years on business matters and I recognise how deep is the feeling on both sides. The difficulty in these circumstances always is that if one appears to be the friend of one side, one is assumed to be the enemy of the other. That is, in fact, absolutely untrue. The policy of the Conservative Party has not changed since Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Foreign Secretary. It is based on Resolution 242 of the United Nations, 272 which explicitly recognises the right of all States to live peaceably within their boundaries. We are neither pro-Israel nor pro-Arab. If anything, we are pro-British, and our sole objective is a settlement that will be both just and lasting —for if it is not just, it will not be lasting.
In this stance we mirror the stance of the Government. I do not believe that either Government or Opposition in this country have any objective in the Middle East other than that of trying to achieve a just and lasting settlement between the warring opponents. The case on either side is both simple and understandable. Israel claims the right to survive as an independent State, to live an ordered life within her own secure frontiers, to he free of terrorism and the threat of terrorism and to have freedom of trade, movement and navigation. The Israelis point with pride to what they have demonstrated of their courage, determination and sacrifice. They fear that the threats to their very existence uttered in the past may still be intended.
The Arabs, on the other hand, wish to regain lands taken from them in battle and to see the claims of the Palestinians met with justice. They believe that time is on their side. They have demonstrated the power of the oil weapon. Many of them genuinely fear that Israel, perhaps with allies, still harbours further aggressive intentions.
These are the claims and beliefs of the two sides, and we have to grapple not only with the facts and claims but also with beliefs, which in some ways are harder to deal with than facts.
I do not see how a settlement can be reached without strong international influence to assist agreement on what is fair and to guarantee security for all States within what is a fair settlement, once it is achieved. It was a tragedy that Dr. Kissinger was rebuffed. It seems that the only possible step one can now foresee is a return to Geneva. The policy of piecemeal progress, which had very much to commend it, and which we supported, seems to have run into a road block.
The danger of a meeting in Geneva is that the speed of a convoy is the speed of its slowest ship. Anyone participating in that conference might have the power of veto, and I would see difficulty arising, 273 for example, from the attitude adopted by the Syrians who, much as they may want to be independent of Russia, are very much dominated by the enormous amount of arms and fire power they have received from Russia. Obviously, the presence of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Yasha Arafat will cause great problems. But we make no progress by ignoring the facts.
My noble Friend Lord Carrington was recently in the Middle East, and when Yasha Arafat asked to see him he agreed. I believe he was absolutely right, because while we all deplore acts of terrorism, we all recognise that Arafat and the PLO have been accepted by the whole of the Arab world as representing the people of Palestine. He is one of the major factors in the problem, and nothing is to be gained by ignoring that fact. No one can be sure what will come of Geneva. What is tragic is the failure to use the enormous potential in the Middle East of an alliance of Israeli knowledge and technology with Arab resources, which could produce a great leap forward in the living standards of the people in the Middle East—a leap forward to a degree that it is hard to imagine.
I hope that the Foreign Secretary will be kind enough to deal with the points I have raised. Of course there are many others. Perhaps he would say something about the situation in Southern Africa. Will he say a little about what is happening to the Kurds? While one welcomes a rapprochement between Iran and Iraq, which is important for Middle East development, it seems tragic that it should be taking place at the expense of so much suffering for the Kurdish people. What can the Foreign Secretary say about the situation in Vietnam and the prospects there?
I finish on the theme on which I began —that more and more we are seeing that the great nuclear Powers, Russia and America, cannot alone solve these pressing and urgent problems. There is a great need for a European presence and European influence, and this can be effective only if we are still there in our rightful place as one of the leading countries of Europe.
§ 4.21 p.m.
Mr. James Callaghan
I congratulate the right hon. Member for Chipping Bar- 274 net (Mr. Maudling) on his first speech from the Dispatch Box in his new capacity. It was a thoughtful speech, and it was right that in his first contribution he should set out his attitude in a broad and general way to a number of the problems we have to address ourselves to.
The right hon. Gentleman's vision has never been limited to Europe. I have followed his utterances for many years—for 20 or more—and I am very glad that this afternoon he extended the discussion much wider than Europe because that was my objective in pressing, as I have been within the House and the Cabinet, for a debate. I must remind the Opposition that there is a certain dereliction of duty here on their part. They did not choose to discuss foreign affairs in the debates on the Queen's Speech, and I had literally to force myself into the debate in the middle of half a dozen domestic issues in order to get the opportunity of making a speech.
Today's debate has been arranged on the Adjournment motion, and the Opposition must realise that there are times when we must not only get away from domestic affairs but even raise our eyes beyond Europe and discuss the other issues which concern the peace of the world and in which this country has a very great influence. Therefore, although the right hon. Gentleman spent about a third of his time discussing Europe he will forgive me, I hope, if for these reasons alone I do not discuss our membership of the Community in any detail this afternoon. [Interruption.] I thought that that might arouse a certain amount of derision, but that only goes to show that hon. Members opposite are falling below the level of other world events. There are other things in the world, believe it or not, than membership of the Community. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
I wish to re-emphasise that point. I have made many speeches in the past and I have no doubt that I shall make many more on the subject in the next couple of months. We shall all be preoccupied by it, so why not lift our eyes to something different this afternoon? The Government's recommendation on this matter is quite clear; namely, that Britain's best interests will be in remaining a member of the Community. This morning the Cabinet approved a very detailed White Paper setting out the issues and saying 275 why the Government have reached the conclusion they have. I hope that that will be published within the course of the next day or two, and, although it is not for me to anticipate the actions of the Lord President, I believe that we are likely to have a two-day debate, when, no doubt, all the guns will be fired. I therefore prefer to reserve my ammunition until then, since I have made the position quite clear.
One of the fears which was expressed continually during the course of those long debates on the EEC was that membership would cause us to turn inwards and away from our historic links with the Commonwealth, the United States and other continents. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet said that it had not caused us to do so, and the purpose of the debate is to ensure that it does not, so far as possible. However, there is little doubt that when Labour came to office our relations with the United States were languishing and our relations with the Commonwealth countries certainly needed considerable nourishment. There was a single-minded tunnel vision about Europe, and it put us into a false position.
I am bound to say in fairness to the previous Conservative administration that, whether by inclination or by force of circumstance, they seemed to try to prove their European credentials, and, in addition, there were traces of a very uncooperative attitude on the part of at least one member of the Community to the United States. From the first I emphasised that Britain would not be a party to building Europe against the United States; nor should we leave that great country out of account or in the dark when members of the Community hold their continuing political and economic discussions.
There is now a general acceptance of this view in the Community, and Europe's relations with the United States have improved materially during the 12 months in which I have had the opportunity of witnessing them. This has been helped by the fact that a new group of European leaders has come to power who recognise the necessity of a close Atlantic relationship. It must be our determination in the coming years to build a healthy Atlantic partnership between a European Community and North America, and it is 276 on that that I take my stand in these debates.
This community of interest is based on the fact that we share a common appreciation and a common assessment of many of the world problems, such as energy resources, foodstuffs, the need to establish a better relationship between the purchasing power of the developing countries and their raw materials and commodities, and the relationship between them and the prices of the manufactured goods of industrialised countries. Europe and the United States have a joint interest in a stable world monetary and trading system. We shall not always agree on how to handle these matters—I see many points of difference—nor do we have a strict identity of interests. However, the Government's policy is that Europe must work to find the maximum area of agreement and to build on that.
If Europe and the United States disagree or decide to go their own way separately it will cause great ferment in the rest of the world and we shall do more damage to ourselves. This is bedrock policy. However, in spite of that and the emphasis I have put upon it, it is not only to the Atlantic that we should look. With increased economic and political co-operation among the States of Western Europe must go the development of co-operation between East and West in our Continent. These two things, as I think the right hon. Gentleman was saying, are not necessarily contradictory.
I have tried to follow this path, and after months of intensive preparation and consultation with the authorities of the USSR the Prime Minister and I visited Moscow in February. I think that I can claim as a result of that visit and the preparatory work that went on beforehand that our relations with the Soviet Union have a greater depth and understanding and are on an improved and more businesslike footing. In the conversations neither side tried to hide the fact that our systems are different and that our outlook on a number of problems does not coincide. The USSR recognises that we are deeply rooted in the Atlantic alliance, just as we recognise its leadership of the countries which make up the Warsaw Pact in a system which is different from our own.
My policy, as long as I have the support of the House and my party, is that 277 in the dangerous world in which we exist, with its built-in capacity for self-destruction, it is neither prudent nor constructive to remain at a distance from each other or in ignorance of each other's thinking. One of the main results of our visit to the USSR, therefore, is an agreement to broaden and deepen political contacts at all levels in order that we should at all times, and especially at times of tension, know as much as possible of each other's thinking.
We managed to agree on a new definition of the phrase "peaceful coexistence". It has been interpreted in one way, and a not very persuasive way as far as I was concerned, for many years. I invite hon. Members who are interested in the study and textual analysis of these documents to see what is said in the joint statement. Peaceful co-existence now has a new meaning. It is defined as meaning a mutual, beneficial co-operation between States irrespective of their political, economic and social systems, on the basis of full equality and mutual respect. That is a definition to which not even the most curmudgeonly Tory could object.
Let me say that, of course, peaceful co-existence used to mean the ideological struggle of the proletariat, by all means short of war, against hon. Members like the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill)—and that may be the underlying view; but at least in terms of long-term, fruitful, mutually beneficial cooperation between States, is it not something which we all want, whatever may be the relations between parties? If we do not, we are falling behind with the things that the world demands.
§ Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, during his visit to Moscow, he was able to discuss with the Russian leaders the position in Vietnam, which I am sure lie will agree is causing very grave concern, and whether he was able to say to the Russians that he felt it was undesirable that they should go on pouring in their large military equipment, tanks, munitions and rifles, which can only lead to even greater troubles in that part of the world?
We did not discuss Vietnam in detail in the USSR. There were many other matters which took up our time, and it had not then reached 278 the peak of crisis which it has reached at this moment. But I will perhaps say another word about Vietnam later. I hope that the hon. Member is not trying to destroy—perhaps he is—what must be in the interests of peace in the world: that is, the establishment of relations between the USSR and ourselves based on mutual respect and full understanding of each other's point of view.
I come to the question of Mr. Shelepin. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to me to be getting into a slight difficulty. When he was referring to Portugal he admitted that there was a difficulty in interfering in the domestic affairs of a foreign country. I do not know whether he extends that difficulty to the point of saying that interference would mean that we should refuse admission to any particular citizen of that country. As far as we are concerned. Mr. Shelepin is free to come here. On the basis of our relations with the USSR, his position is fully understood. I hope that he will be received with politeness wherever he goes. That is, after all, something that we should at least try to show, whatever our feelings may be and whatever representations may be made.
§ Mr. Michael Brotherton (Louth)
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us what is the difference between the Government's putting pressure on the TUC to withdraw the invitation from Mr. Shelepin and the pressure he himself, as Home Secretary, put on the MCC to withdraw the invitation to the South African cricket team in 1970?
That was a domestic matter in which I was putting pressure upon one of our own institutions in this country.
Any Government are entitled to do that if they wish, but it is certainly not my task to put pressure upon the TUC to refuse to admit people to this country.
I must say that at the Foreign Office it is sometimes difficult, although one argues with oneself about it. to apply a universal standard. I do not know whether all hon. Gentlemen do apply a universal standard in all their 279 relations, whether with Portugal, Chile, South Africa or whatever. Let us be honest: all of us at some stage in our lives seem to apply double standards. None of us should be proud of it, but let none of us be ashamed to admit it. But in the case of Mr. Shelepin—this is my own view—I do not believe that it would assist the cause of free trade unionism in the USSR to refuse to admit him.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles (Winchester) rose—
I will not give way on this point. It is very incidental to my speech, and I have already given way three times. I answered the question as it was put to me as honestly as I could, and I repeat that I think that Mr. Shelepin should be free to come and that our views should be made known to him. I trust that he will he received with politeness even by the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles).
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman knows full well that if the right hon. Gentleman is not giving way he must resume his seat.
It gives me particular pleasure to say to a former admiral, in my capacity as a former ordinary seaman, that, as this is the first time in my life an admiral has ever said "Please" to me, I will gladly give way.
§ Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles
I am very grateful indeed to the right hon. ordinary seaman. He is absolutely right. He and I have seen enough of it and we do not want to fight with the Russians or anyone else. We have seen it in the same regiment. But on this business of Mr. Shelepin's visit, my point is that he comes here as a guest of the TUC, but would the Foreign Secretary consider it mutually beneficial that he should receive official Government hospitality?
That is an issue I have not considered. It does not fall within my province and I will not attempt to answer it. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman puts his question down, I am sure that the hon. Home Secretary will give him a considered reply, but I do not know what the answer is.
I was in the middle of discussing economic relations with the USSR, and the right hon. Gentleman can see that we have had a ten-minute diversion by his back benchers on this issue. In the matter of economic co-operation, our agreement gives the opportunity to British industry to win many worthwhile orders in the Soviet market. I emphasise that the credit agreement provides a basis for increased Anglo-Soviet trade, but the initiative, the drive, the salesmanship, must come from British industry itself. I know that some hon. Members opposite have shown a marked lack of enthusiasm and portray the credit agreement as some unique British "give-away" to the Russians. Let me say that their views are not shared by those who are commonly their supporters. I refer to those British industrialists who have welcomed the opportunity which this new agreement brings.
In any case, hon. Gentlemen opposite who have criticised this agreement ought to have known, and should know now, that this new agreement is almost precisely similar to a number of agreements negotiated by other Western industrial countries. The main difference, frankly, is that countries such as France or Italy negotiated such agreements some years ago when the Conservative administration was in office. We lagged behind, and it is only now that British firms can compete in the Soviet market on equal terms with others of our Western competitors.
We have also sought with some success to improve—
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion) rose—
I have given way rather a lot over the last 10 minutes, and would rather not do so again. In any event, perhaps I could be allowed to pursue my speech for a short while after this.
§ Mr. Amery
The right hon. Gentleman was giving the impression that a number 281 of other European countries concluded agreements on rather favourable terms with the Soviet Union and was implying that the Conservative Government had not done so. We opened a line of credit for £200 million at favourable terms, although little of it was taken up. What he said was not strictly accurate.
I am very glad to welcome the right hon. Gentleman as an ally and if I had known that he was going to be so helpful I would have given way gladly because the criticism has been that we have given something away to the USSR which we should not have given away. If he wishes to share the guilt, I welcome it, and I hope that we shall hear no more criticism of the sort made from the benches opposite when the Prime Minister announced this agreement on the day we returned from Moscow. Perhaps it is a sign of second thoughts.
We have sought with some success to improve our bilateral relations on the same basis with other European countries. In the past 12 months there have been ministerial visits either to or from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, in some cases with beneficial results to our trade, and I hope to follow up a number of these visits in the summer. Bilateral relations with the German Democratic Republic are developing, and it goes without saying that we have continued, and shall continue, our close relationship with Yugoslavia.
The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet asked me about the multilateral negotiations which have been going on since 1972 in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Those negotiations have been between 32 European States plus the United States and Canada. In addition to members of both the Atlantic alliance and the Warsaw Pact, neutral countries and non-aligned countries have been taking part.
The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. At times discussions seemed to be almost at a standstill, but they have been moving recently and they have now reached a relatively advanced stage. There is little doubt that the conference could be brought to a successful conclusion during the summer months. The Soviet Government are aware of the areas where movement is still required to achieve final agreement. I spent one morning during 282 my visit to Moscow discussing with Mr. Gromyko the issues on which there are still differences between us.
Since then, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in Dublin has joined his colleagues in the European Community in expressing the hope that all participants in the conference will make the necessary efforts to obtain balanced and satisfactory results on the subjects on the agenda that remain to be completed. In that event I would expect the Heads of Governments of all the member States to meet together later this year in a conclave that will reinforce political confidence in the future development of détente between East and West. I hope that that will be generally acceptable to the House.
Another aspect of our problems to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is the question of Portugal.
§ Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves relations with Eastern Europe, will he comment on another aspect? Many of us have watched with some admiration the speed with which the Government have endeavoured to improve our relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern countries. At the same time, many of us have expressed concern that little seems to be done to ensure that we continue to have good relations with the People's Republic of China. As we have extremely good relations at present, and as our trading relations with that country are vital to us, will the Foreign Secretary say a word or two on that subject?
If I had been allowed to make my speech in the order I wished, I should have referred to that later, but I will take it now because I agree that we should not be exclusive in these matters. If we seek to improve our relations with the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe on a basis that is mutually understood between each side, I see no reason why improvement of relations with the People's Republic of China should be excluded. I have on several occasions conveyed that thought to the ambassador in London when we have met to discuss these matters. The hon. Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle) will know that we hope to welcome here Ministers from the People's Republic of China during the coming year, and I hope to visit China early 283 next year. The Chinese Government have said that they will welcome me there, and I shall certainly use all the opportunities I have to improve our relations with them. Perhaps I may leave the matter at that and miss out the appropriate section of my speech.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
The CSCE is an extremely important conference which has hardly been aired in the House. Is the Foreign Secretary fully aware of the importance of persuading the Soviets to concede on the CBM—the advance notification of manoeuvres and military movements—without which the strategy of the West would become much more dependent upon warning?
The hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) is right. This is an important issue. I cannot get anyone to focus on it in the course of debate. There are three other matters which I regard as equally important but I shall not detain the House this afternoon by going into them, otherwise my speech will become too long. Some of them are of great complexity.
To those who do not follow these matters closely, CBM—confidence-building measures—relates to the exchange of information on military manoeuvres so that each side can have greater confidence in what the other side is doing. I discussed this in some detail with Mr. Gromyko, and I emphasised that whit is required is not military surveillance but a gesture of political confidence. Just before we left Moscow Pravda published an interesting report about proposed movements and manoeuvres that were about to take place in the USSR. If that type of notification can be institutionalised in the form of an agreement to exchange information within certain areas which still have to be defined it can only add to political confidence. This is not so much a military matter as a way of increasing political confidence. I will not go into the other issues—the peaceful change of frontiers, human relations and equality of principles. These matters have to be studied, and they are worthy of a day's debate in themselves.
Perhaps I may return to Portugal by way of China. I said when I went to 284 Lisbon recently that the events of last April had been received with particular joy in Britain, certainly by my party. We had had many connections with Dr. Soares in exile in the past, and since then the British Government and I have done all we can to provide practical help and assistance to the Portuguese, who, like any other people emerging from dictatorship, face many problems in their efforts to establish a democratic society and to control their own economic destiny. Portugal is no exception to the rule that there are adventurists who seek to exploit the situation which arises when a country is emerging from dictatorship. It appears that the abortive coup of 11th March was one such example, and violent demonstrations to intimidate recognised political parties are another.
I make clear once again our view, as I expressed it in Lisbon, that violence and other restraints on legitimate political rights have no place in a democratic society. It is important for the Portuguese people that these things should not happen, so as to avoid any risk to the unfolding of détente in the rest of Europe. Therefore, it is important that the elections which will be held on 25th April should take place in a calm atmosphere, to enable the Portuguese to express their views without fear, and to enable the leaders of the country then to take account of the views expressed by the people in forming the new Government and in framing policy. It is for the Portuguese people themselves to decide how and how far they intend to transform their society politically, economically and socially.
I recognise the commitment of many in Portugal—including the leaders of the Armed Forces Movement, who have such great responsibility and considerable power—to the achievement of this goal. I look especially to the Armed Forces movement to recognise fully that the democratic parties and their leaders should continue to play a full and active role both in formulating policy and in creating the necessary link between the Armed Forces Movement and the people they represent.
If I may return to another aspect of détente, I must underline the importance the Government attach to the achievement of progress towards détente in the military field. The Prime Minister and 285 Mr. Brezhnev agreed in Moscow that measures of political détente should be complemented by those of military détente. They registered the fact that the favourable changes in the international situation which have been brought about are not yet irreversible, nor do they extend to all areas of the world.
Such changes can be assisted if we make some progress in the talks now going on in Vienna to negotiate a reduction in the size of the armed forces in Europe. With our allies we are working closely to achieve an agreement which might help to bring about a more stable relationship between the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact countries. We seek to do so through a reduction in forces on each side which would not diminish the security of any individual country. From my experience so far progress will be very difficult but not impossible. I hope that the next few months will see some speeding up and the successful conclusion of the CSCE. In my view, that would create a climate in which some further progress could be made.
As was indicated in our Moscow joint statement, both the USSR and ourselves, together with the United States, intend to play a leading part at the forthcoming conference to review the present state of the Non-proliferation Treaty concerning the exchange of nuclear information.
I am deliberately struggling to avoid making a Cook's tour of world problems. I well remember Ernie Bevin saying that he felt he had to make such a tour. Having drowsed through many of those speeches, although they were worthy speeches, I know how hon. Members feel. I hope that I shall be forgiven if I do not touch upon every problem that has been raised. My right hon. Friend will seek to answer some of them. However, I must deal with one or two other issues, and particularly the Middle East.
The House will share the disappointment with which the Government heard that Dr. Kissinger had not been successful in negotiating a further partial or step-by-step agreement during the visit to the Middle East which he has just concluded. Dr. Kissinger has nothing for which to reproach himself. I discussed these issues with him both before he went to the Middle East and after his 286 return. I have also discussed them with other leaders in the Middle East. I wish to put on record that neither Dr. Kissinger nor anyone else could have done any more to bring the two sides together. I hope that the House will join with me in paying tribute to the immense personal effort that Dr. Kissinger has put into making the negotiations a success. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
I was relieved to hear from Dr. Kissinger when we met on Sunday that his first reaction was that he and the United States Government must continue to play a most active rôle in the search for peace. The American contribution is absolutely indispensable. Doubtless there will now be a pause for reflection by the parties concerned, and by other countries, so that they can take stock of the situation at which we have now arrived. I do not think that that pause should, or need, be a long one.
The search for a lasting settlement which is fair to all concerned must be pursued with some speed. We cannot afford to let the situation freeze. There is not all that time. It may be, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, that the time will soon be ripe, if it is not ripe now, for the Geneva conference to resume its work. That would mean that for the time being the step-by-step approach had been superseded. However, I would not rule out a return to it following a return to the Geneva conference. We would have to see how the issues were displayed at such a conference.
The form of the negotiations is less important than the will to achieve a general settlement. The Government's views on the nature of the settlement remain as I stated them before and as I repeat them now. The Government believe that Israel must be given satisfaction as regards her legitimate demands for peace, security and recognition. We believe that the Arab States must equally be given satisfaction as regards their demands for the withdrawal of Israeli occupying forces. Due recognition must also be given to the rights, both human and political, of the Palestinian people. The nature of the representation of those people will undoubtedly be a thorny problem before a return to Geneva is satisfactorily agreed, if, indeed, that turns out to be the general desire of all the participants.
287 There is nothing in the situation itself, apart from the attitude with which people approach it, which need make a settlement impossible to achieve, and perhaps a settlement going even further than that which some of us had in mind on the basis of the step-by-step approach. There are great issues at stake and there is a great deal at stake. Therefore, I think it may be necessary to make a bold leap forward. We shall see whether or not that is necessary. We must call upon all the parties to the dispute—I believe the whole House would do so—to persevere in the search for peace and to reject all ideas of a recourse to violence, because in the long run that will not advance the interests of any one of them.
The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet suggested that the United Kingdom and Europe should play a greater part in these matters. The Euro-Arab dialogue was intended as a means of establishing closer relations, but not on the political plane. We did not wish to cut across Dr. Kissinger's own work. The dialogue was intended to be more on an economic plane. I speak for the United Kingdom when I say that we are ready with other countries to consider any proposals that might be made by which we could assist in the search. However, we must be careful before we thrust ourselves forward. The rôle of a mediator—and I have had some experience of it—is not always a happy one. I know how Dr. Kissinger is feeling today.
The British interest lies in a general settlement. We believe that such a settlement can best be achieved by the parties in the framework of the Geneva conference and with the continued good offices of the United States.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me to comment on the position in Cyprus—
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves that point, would not he agree that both in the context of the Euro-Arab dialogue and in the now inevitable and, in my view, long-overdue move to Geneva it really is time that Her Majesty's Government decided that it is only the PLO that can represent the interests of the Palestinian people? Does he agree that any nonsense about Jordan or Jordanian delegates representing the PLO, and pre- 288 tending that it does not exist in the Euro-Arab dialogue, is not really the way in which we shall move towards a satisfactory conclusion in these matters?
I do not think that I am called upon to express a view upon who should recognise the Palestinian people. I have said what I think their interests demand. The subject of who should represent them seems to be basically a question for those who attended the Rabat conference to settle for themselves.
As I say, it is for them to settle it. I do not see that it is a matter which the United Kingdom Government should pronounce upon in a very delicate situation. I do not know whether there is universal agreement amongst the countries which attended the Rabat conference. We shall see whether that is the position. I believe that it is unnecessary for the British Government to get embroiled in that dispute, especially if we are to be asked to take a greater part in settling the substantive issue of the conference. I do not know whether that will be so but we should not begin by taking sides on a matter of representation which is not our direct concern.
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts (Conway)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the first essential in the Arab-Israel situation is an extension of the United Nations mandate? I believe that the first mandate expires on 24th April.
I promised the House, although I am being very long, that this was to be a short speech. It was for that reason that I said in implied terms that we did not have too much time. I could go on to spell out the interruption of the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts). I assumed that the House was aware of the position. I can promise the hon. Gentleman that I was aware of it. Please let me finish.
The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet asked about Cyprus. On 12th 289 March the United Nations Security Council adopted the resolution of which I am sure the House is aware. That resolution followed three weeks' sustained effort in which our ambassador, Mr. Ivor Richard, who is known to hon. Members on both sides of the House, played a leading part. It was a sustained effort to find a way acceptable to both sides that would lead to meaningful negotiations between the communities. Neither the Greek Cypriots nor the Turkish Cypriots were completely satisfied with the outcome of the United Nations debate, but the resolution eventually adopted has created a new framework for talks, if the parties will take avantage of it.
The situation gave the United Nations Secretary-General a chance to undertake a mission of good offices. The House will join me in wishing Dr. Waldheim success in his task. He has the full support of Her Majesty's Government in any effort which we can make on his behalf.
While talks to settle the island's future hang fire, the position of the people on the island does not improve. The leaders of both communities now have a fresh background against which to negotiate. I had an opportunity of discussing these matters over the weekend with Mr. Ecevit. I trust that we helped to forward the situation a little. We stand ready to help.
I now pass to Rhodesia. My visit to Africa at the beginning of the year enabled me to explain our standpoint to a number of countries. I believe that our point of view is better understood in Africa now than at any time previously. I admire and support the statesmanship of the African countries in using the opportunities they have, in the changed circumstances of today, to encourage the Rhodesians themselves—white and black —to come together to find just and peaceful settlement of their differences.
Since I returned from Africa I have kept in close touch with the Governments of Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and also South Africa. Events this month, especially the detention of the Rev. Sithole and the death of Mr. Chitepo, show how easily progress can be set back. I cannot claim that there has been much forward movement since I was there in January. But there is little doubt that all the Governments in Southern Africa are impatient for a negotiated solution in Rhodesia. 290 While I do not wish to go into details today, I wish to emphasise that it is those who hold the power in their hands who can make the first and greatest contribution to an agreed and acceptable settlement —because it is those who live in Southern Africa whose interests are vitally affected by what happens there.
I wish to finish by mentioning one other matter to which the right hon. Gentleman referred; namely, the economic problems of part of the world, if not the whole world.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West) rose—
I should be grateful if I could be allowed to complete my remarks. I am cutting into the time of other hon. Members.
The world is facing an important challenge from the developing countries about what they believe to be a fundamental inequity of an international economic system regulated, as they say, by a small group of rich countries led by the United States. This feeling of dissatisfaction, which expressed itself very strongly at the special United Nations Assembly last spring and again at the United Nations in the autumn, is creating political tensions as well as economic divisions. It therefore falls to be discussed in a foreign affairs debate.
These nations are increasingly conscious that the gap between them and the richer countries has been widening, not narrowing, and that the real political influence in major international decisions eludes them. This feeling, coupled with the power demonstrated by the oil producers, has encouraged the developing countries in their campaign for what they call a new international economic order. So far only the oil producers have been able to translate this potential power into economic reality. And what effects it has had! But there are special factors which are unique in terms of the trade in oil. Looking ahead, it will be foolish for us to sit back defensively in the face of this situation. The developing countries, which depend on their raw materials and commodities for their earnings, should receive an assurance from the industrialised nations—indeed, I now give that assurance on behalf of Her Majesty's Government —that we recognise that we cannot continue to be rich while keeping them poor 291 and that we will seek with them ways and means of ending this situation.
We shall need better machinery than now exists. Both developed and developing countries have an equal interest in success. We, the developed countries, need security; the industrialised countries such as ourselves need security of supplies at reasonable prices. The developing countries need security of earnings so that they are not at the mercy of the market. So far I do not think that the general polemical exchanges in the United Nations have carried us very much further. There seems to be a conflict mentality building up between developed and developing countries, and Britain will work to replace it by a policy of co-operation.
The world is not neatly divided into industrialised consumers inhabiting the northern hemisphere and developing producers inhabiting the southern. Industrialised countries are among the main producers of raw materials, and we are all consumers. The reality of today is the interdependence of the international community. That is the lesson we need to emphasise time and again.
It is against that background that we had discussions with Prime Minister Trudeau in Ottawa and with President Ford in Washington. We raised discussions on this matter and received encouragement to go ahead with our studies. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister hopes to initiate at the forthcoming Prime Ministers' conference at Kingston at the end of the month a discussion of these problems from the standpoint which I have briefly outlined this afternoon. At Kingston will be representatives of many of the primary producing countries hardest hit by recent world developments. There will be major developed primary producers present, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Britain will be there both in its capacity as a major importer of primary products and as a member of the world's largest consumer of primary products—namely, the EEC. A member of OPEC will be there in the person of General Gowon, of Nigeria. If we in the Commonwealth, having discussed these matters, could achieve a broad measure of agreement on the way to 292 handle these matters it would have an influence on the policies of the EEC, OPEC and the Group of 77 and the general attitude in the United Nations. This is an important way in which the Commonwealth is of value, and it is a way in which we can act as a beneficient instrument in world policy.
Our close working relationship with the United States will mean that we shall he able to influence its thinking, too. The United States has already taken a lead both in establishing the International Energy Agency and in putting forward initiatives at the World Food Conference in Rome. We have machinery, which may or may not be adequate, to deal with energy policy and world foodstuffs.
Let me turn to the problem of raw materials, to the third leg of the Prime Ministers' conference in Jamaica. We hope that we shall make substantial progress in a number of fields. It is necessary and right that consumers should consult and develop their policies in cooperation. But it is also necessary—and it has been my consistent aim—to promote a constructive discussion between consumers and producers of oil whose common interests are so much greater than the preoccupations which divide them.
What will be valuable at Kingston—the House will see how many "pearls" it has missed—will be to have frank exchanges of view about each other's problems. We should look, for example, at the problems and advantages of price stabilisation schemes and at the relative benefits of earnings stabilisation and price stabilisation from the point of view both of direction of benefit and of overall cost and burden sharing.
These proposals are not mutually exclusive, and we may end up by picking the best elements from several alternatives. I expect that at Kingston we shall get no further than to be in a position to discuss broad objectives and perhaps agree on some suitable procedural machinery. But this in itself will be a major step towards practical solutions to these problems and a step away from sterile confrontation. This is our aim and our hope in the important discussions at Kingston. The Commonwealth can demonstrate once again its value and vitality and can give a lead to the world.
293 I apologise for taking so long, but the interruptions have made my task even longer than it would have been.
The House will agree that the Government are pursuing an active foreign policy. We shall continue to do so both in Europe and outside it in co-operation with our friends and allies. We shall continue in our determination to reinforce peace and to secure measures of disarmanent, to strengthen the domestic economy, to redress grievances of the poorer developing nations, to remove the causes of injustice wherever they occur, to improve relations with all countries, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the United Nations.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
The debate today is not primarily on Europe. Yet, it is hardly possible not to touch on Europe in any discussion on foreign affairs because practically every aspect of British foreign policy is related to our position as a member of the European Community. Regrettably, over the past year our rôle as a positive initiator of European foreign policy initiatives has ceased and we have inevitably become a passenger. I hope this will change after June.
Meanwhile, British foreign policy has suffered as has European policy, and perhaps nowhere is this so apparent as in European relations with the Middle East. As Dr. Kissinger's latest endeavour sadly collapses, the absence of Europe's influence is glaringly apparent and the need for a relevant European initiative is more obvious than usual, though some of us have been urging such action for a very long time. I am delighted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) referred to this in his speech.
Also like him and other hon. Members, I have had the privilege of meeting King Faisal. I should like to associate myself with the tribute paid by the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend. The assassination of King Faisal, one of the most distinguished and influential of Arab leaders, casts even more gloom on a sombre scene. The consequences, although as yet impossible to assess, are incalculable. A feeling of apprehension will run through the whole of the area, particularly down the Gulf.
294 As it is, the Middle East could be close to war once again. If it comes, it will probably be more severe than any of the previous Arab-Israeli wars. It could well embroil the super-Powers and Europe. At the very least, it will mean the imposition of restrictions and perhaps a total embargo on oil supplies from the Middle East.
The latest Kissinger initiative has collapsed because of the impossibility of finding a satisfactory formula which would enable the Israelis to make a further withdrawal in Sinai.
There is, of course, an inherent absurdity in the pretence that a withdrawal to the Mitla Pass line involved some fantastic concession by Israel unless she received in exchange a pledge of non-belligerency by Egypt. Naturally, Israel is entitled to such a pledge and more besides—a peace settlement and massive guarantees which will satisfy any Israeli Government genuinely seeking an acceptable settlement, and the Arab Governments as well, but only when she has declared her intention of withdrawing from the Arab territories occupied in the 1967 war and a timetable has been agreed for the withdrawal.
In fact, as reported in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, and as confirmed by Dr. Kissinger's statements after the breakdown, President Sadat went very far to prevent a breakdown of the negotiations. The one thing that he could not give was a written end to the state of war with Israel, for, as he has often said, such a pact would have to wait for the end of the full-scale Geneva peace conference.
The method of negotiation adopted by Dr. Kissinger succeeded in the immediate aim of securing a disengagement of forces after October. That should have set the stage for a general peace conference at which a comprehensive settlement could be worked out and put to both sides.
Instead, Dr. Kissinger decided to conduct his step-by-step diplomacy. Of course, he pursued it in the best of faith and, as the Foreign Secretary said, with both skill and determination. But the effect has been to give Israel time to forget the lessons of the October war and to tighten still further her grip on Arab lands occupied in 1967.
295 Among the Arabs, these wasted months of private and partial bargaining have heightened suspicions of Israeli and, indeed, American intentions. Inevitably, they have strengthened the conviction that another war will be needed to convince Israel that she must give back the occupied territories and redress the wrong inflicted on the Palestinians.
A negotiated peace settlement is still possible, and without doubt the speediest and most effective way of reaching it would be by really blunt and serious American pressure on Israel, since only the United States can extract from Israel the necessary concessions. This, incidentally, would be in the best interests of all, including Israel.
§ Mr. Walters
It is unlikely to happen, although some American political leaders are beginning to give public expression of resentment at Israel's intransigence—expressions which previously, with the notable exception of Senator Fulbright, had been voiced only in private by exasperated State Department officials. Such a sensible development of American policy, although not impossible, is unlikely.
In the circumstances, is there now scope for a useful European initiative? Without expecting miraculous results, I believe there is. Indeed, some of the suggestions to which I shall now refer have been submitted by myself and some of my hon. Friends to the Foreign Secretary for his consideration.
The Governments of the Nine should concentrate on bringing the search for peace back to the kind of negotiations for a comprehensive settlement envisaged in the United Nations cease-fire resolutions immediately after the October war. At that time the impact of war and the terrible dangers involved seemed at last to have opened the eyes of all concerned to the urgent need for a combined effort to settle once and for all. That mood of realism and urgency needs to be revived.
Such a concerted European initiative should be based on Resolution 242 and the declaration of the Nine Governments in November 1973. But it must also take 296 account of the recognition, now nearly unanimous, among the international community that there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East without satisfaction of the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people. This was the phrase used by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons on 30th October, and among those who have expressed a similar view is the Chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. Nahum Goldmann.
In a recent very significant interview in De Monde, Mr. Goldmann stated that negotiations between Israel and the PLO are possible. In the same interview, he said that it was obvious that there could be no durable peace in the area without an agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Recognition of Palestinian political rights, however is meaningless if it does not extend in practice to recognising the Palestinians' right to participate in negotiations for a settlement. Indeed, if there is ever to be a lasting peace, sooner or later Israelis and Palestinians must meet and negotiate the terms of their future co-existence.
§ Mr. Greville Janner
In the view of the hon. Gentleman, do the same considerations apply to the Egyptians and the Syrians, so that they should now meet with the Israelis to try to work out a solution?
§ Mr. Walters
If there were a meeting in Geneva to discuss an overall peace settlement, the Syrians and Egyptians would meet the Israelis. Whom else would they meet?
So far Israel has objected both to Palestinian participation in general and to PLO participation in particular. I do not think that the objections stand up to scrutiny.
The argument that the PLO has no authority to represent the Palestinians is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet said, unrealistic. The whole Arab world has now agreed that the PLO should speak for the Palestinians, and this decision has been endorsed by an overwhelming majority of the international community.
The objection that the PLO is disqualified as a negotiator because it is a terrorist organisation does not come well from the Israelis in view of the past 297 history of Zionist terrorism in Palestine. In any case, there are plenty of Governments in the world today who grew out of what their enemies called at the time terrorist organisations while they called themselves resistance movements. In any event, they have gradually achieved international recognition.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
The hon. Gentleman has reiterated the point that nearly all emergent nations have resorted to terrorist tactics. Would he agree that an ironical exception to that rule is that of the Kurds, who have scrupulously refrained from international terrorism but for whom no one gives a damn?
§ Mr. Walters
I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about the problems faced by the Kurds, and, indeed, the appalling problems faced by other refugees. However, that is beside the argument I was trying to develop.
There remains another argument, that it is unreasonable to expect Israel to negotiate with the PLO because its declared aim, which is the establishment of a democratic secular State both for Arabs and Jews in Palestine, would necessarily involve the destruction of the Zionist State. It is not unheard of for adversaries whose ultimate ideological aims are in conflict to sit down and negotiate a modus vivendi. If this were not so we would never speak to the Communist Powers.
The argument depends on the presumption that the PLO is irrevocably committed to the destruction of Israel by force. There is in fact a growing body of opinion among the PLO which advocates acceptance of a Palestinian State established on the West Bank and Gaza and the adoption of a waiting policy in the belief that as time passes pressures will build up within Israel in favour of some accommodation with the Palestinians, not unlike the "State in partnership" vision.
A primary aim of any European initiative should be to try to bring Israelis and Palestinians together at the conference table. To that end the European Governments should concentrate their efforts on certain essential points. They should make it clear to Israel that if ever there is to be peace in the Middle East 298 Israeli and Palestinian representatives must meet to try to agree on the form of their coexistence. Israel might remember that the United Nations partition resolution of 1947, on which Israel based the legitimacy of its own State, also envisaged the establishment of an Arab State within the area of Palestine.
The European Governments should further urge the PLO leadership to restate its ideas about the future coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians in terms which will take into account the overwhelming desire of the great majority of Israelis to preserve their own national identity and sovereignty, and which will recognise that the coalescence of the two peoples in a reunified Israel-Palestine can only come about gradually over a long period and by a voluntary and evolutionary process.
However, the European Governments cannot expect to put this advice effectively to the PLO unless they are prepared to establish a positive working relationship with the PLO leaders involving some degree of formal recognition. This is a necessary first step if Europe is to exercise any influence at all on the Palestinian leadership.
I suggest that it is desirable that Europe should exercise that influence, and should urge upon both the Israelis and the PLO that in any forthcoming peace negotiations they should agree to leave in abeyance discussions of ideological aims and ultimate solutions, and should concentrate on the immediate and practical step of trying to find a modus vivendi.
Last, the European Governments should urge on all concerned, and especially on the Israelis and Palestinians, the vital importance of effective peacekeeping arrangements in any settlement. Machinery for this purpose would have to be set up on a long-term basis. Effective peacekeeping arrangements are a far more positive safeguard against future aggression by either side than any formal exchange of assurances.
No peacekeeping machinery will ever be totally effective in preventing border conflict. However, the United Nations force stationed in Gaza and Sinai between 1957 and 1967 was on the whole remarkably successful. It would have been still more effective if Israel had not always 299 refused to allow United Nations forces to operate on the Israeli side of the border. The setting up of effective peacekeeping machinery would be a significant test of sincerity on both sides.
I believe that a European initiative putting forward proposals on those lines would be constructive and would go to the root of the Middle East problem. It would bring Europe back in a major political r ôle. Except for the parties directly concerned, Europe has most to lose by the renewal of further fighting or the outbreak of war in the Middle East.
I believe that the best hope for achieving peace still lies in determined United States pressure on Israel. But if that does not materialise Europe should be ready to step in and, together with France, Britain should take the lead in formulating such a policy and in calling for action.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
Without criticising the length of the speech of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters), I remind the House that 24 hon. Members are anxious to take part in the debate. At the present rate, there will be three speakers an hour, but at that rate we shall need eight hours to accommodate those wishing to speak. I hope that hon. Members will be generous to each other.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I cannot rule on this matter. Sometimes I wish that I had the power to do so, but I do not.
§ Mr. Stewart
I accept that correction, Sir. I will do my best to follow your advice. I am sure that it will justify me in regretfully declining to give way to anyone during my speech.
I welcome what the Foreign Secretary told us about the progress towards better understanding with the Soviet Union. I think he will agree that progress in that field irretrievably, inescapably, is bound up with the maintenance of the defence and cohesion of the Western alliance. I want to devote my short speech to the rather gloomy subject of some of the facts in the world which cause us to be some- 300 what anxious about the strength and cohesion of the alliance.
I start with an area which seems some distance from the West but is very much in point, and with which my right hon. Friend was not able to deal—the events in South-East Asia. We must all view them with concern and with sympathy for the unhappy people of those nations. I mean particularly the people of Cambodia, who cannot be accused of having brought these troubles on themselves. The presence of North Vietnamese troops in Cambodia is due to one reason only—that Cambodia is where it is on the map and can be used as a road into South Vietnam. That is the unhappy position of those people. More than that, what is happening there is bound to cause great anxiety to the peoples of Thailand, Malaysia and, which will be of particular concern to my hon. Friends, to the Prime Minister of Singapore, who is well known and respected by many of us.
Moreover, these events are bound to be read in many quarters as a setback for the influence of the United States in the world. One must add to that the disarray in which, unhappily, the Government of the United States is at present, for internal reasons. This is something which every friend of human freedom must profoundly regret. It is also a source of danger in the world. I am sure that some will say that in the last resort a country in South-East Asia which had been led to regard the United States as an ally has been abandoned. What has happened in the Far East could happen in the Middle East.
This is likely to encourage those whose real object in Middle Eastern policy is the destruction of the State of Israel. It is not likely to make Israel herself more forthcoming. I think that we were all interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters). There was some force in his arguments, but I think he will agree that it would require a great deal of faith and trust on the part of Israel for them to be accepted.
Israel could take a view anything like that which the hon. Gentleman was putting forward only if she could feel that there was a sure and certain guarantee of her continued existence. In a world in which we have seen the events in South-East Asia, in which the influence of the United States Government has weakened, 301 it is not easy for Israel to feel that confidence. Therefore, anyone who expresses and pleasure at the recent turn of events in South-East Asia or about the embarrassments of the United States Government cannot consistently express any regret if Israel later finds herself in mortal peril. If Israel finds herself abandoned, the nations of the West may come to regret that as bitterly as they had cause to regret the abandonment of Czechoslovakia in 1938.
In handling these matters, as the Foreign Secretary said, Britain's own influence is limited, so we must act together with like-minded nations. I will try to give some precision to that remark. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said that Britain's foreign policy should be concerned with direct United Kingdom interests, and with those who had a claim on us by virtue of old friendship or by virtue of being deprived or oppressed. If anything justifies the North Atlantic alliance, it is that, generally, when one has admitted certain criticisms of some of its members, it is a group of nations which believe in the maintenance of the right of the ordinary citizen to choose to criticise, and, if he wishes, to change, his Government.
We on this side go further and say that those democratic rights should be actively used to promote equality and social justice. That is a matter on which one can disagree, but what the alliance should be agreed on is the maintenance of human freedom. It is in that sense that I speak of "like-minded nations".
Unhappily, at the moment the alliance suffers from several embarrassments. The situation in Cyprus renders the adhesion of both Turkey and Greece to the alliance less than wholehearted. In this respect we can only hope—we cannot ask a British Government to solve all the world's problems—but I would judge from the way that my right hon. Friend has approached this matter that if he will keep on there is a chance that he may get both these nations to see where their own interests and those of Cyprus lie. A particular victory by one of them at the expense of the other, if it endangered the whole alliance, would be a victory not worth having.
Turning to the situation in Portugal, many of us who value the Western alliance for its contribution to human free- 302 dom have long regretted that two of its members, Greece and Portugal, were tyrannies. I was never in favour, however, of trying to get them out of the alliance, because I believed that in the end liberty would return to those countries. I think that we are all glad that liberty is returning to Greece and hope that the same will be true of Portugal.
Here again, a British Government cannot tell the Portuguese people what to do, but even a country of limited power loses nothing by making clear to the rest of the world what sort of things it believes in. I always took the view that, although it was right in a dangerous world to have one's relations as correct as one could with every country, there was bound, and ought, to be a special degree of warmth in one's relations with those countries which, like this country, believed in democracy and human freedom. I hope that we shall always in our foreign relations make that clear; I do not think that it is entirely without influence. It is surely desperately important that the unfortunate people of Portugal, for too long deprived of their liberty, should at last have a genuine opportunity to make a free choice.
There is a bitter satire by Robert Louis Stevenson of a land in which, because of a cruel enchantment, all the inhabitants have to go around with a heavy iron shackle around the right leg. In that country there arose a hero who travelled far and killed the enchanter and broke the spell. When he returned to his own country, the first person he met among his fellow countrymen was someone wearing a heavy iron shackle around the left leg. "Why is this?" said the hero. "Don't you know?" said his fellow countryman. "We have learned that to wear it around the right leg is a superstition." That is the kind of thing which has happened in more than one country. I earnestly pray that it will not happen in Portugal.
I have said that we cannot expect a British Government to put the whole world right, but we can play our proper part in the alliance. I think that we are doing this. I know the criticisms of our recent defence cuts, but those cuts were not unreasonable in view of our economic situation, and I think that our allies understand them. But it would be the height of folly to push them any further; 303 that would be a defeat for this country and for the alliance.
If we also continue to make it clear on every possible occasion, as the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet said, that among the causes in which we believe are the causes of the oppressed and the deprived throughout the world, then despite our limited power we can have a policy of which this country can be proud.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
I believe that the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) was right to strike a sombre and realistic note, for not since 1949 has the international situation been as sombre as it is today.
I was grateful to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary for interrupting himself for the umpteenth time to answer a question about the CSCE. I hope that his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will not go happily to a summit in Helsinki without first having extracted from the Russians the concessions that are necessary in the third basket, associated with the free movement of ideas and people, and in the first basket, which is the area of the CSCE concerned with the advance notification of military measures, the CBM. Without concessions on those two baskets, the Prime Minister and everyone else should stay at home and there should be no summit at Helsinki.
The theme of my short speech is the erosion of the alliance position in the eastern Mediterranean, and, indeed, in the Mediterranean as a whole. Europe is in need of both economic and military security. OPEC and the oil embargo have robbed us of the one, whilst inflation is robbing us of the other. For six days last week I visited Athens, Ankara and Ismir with the Defence Committee of the Western European Union Assembly, of which I am the Chairman. I returned home the day before yesterday. Hence, the theme of my speech is the erosion of the alliance position in that part of the world.
The purpose of the Committee's visit was to limit the damage that had already been done to the alliance by Cyprus, but more especially the damage that is threatened not by Cyprus but by the dispute over the Aegean Sea. The real flash- 304 point between the Greeks and the Turks lies not in Cyprus but over oil and rights in the Aegean Sea.
After July 1974 the Greeks announced that they would quit the military organisation of the NATO alliance. Since July 1974 no military flights of allied aircraft have been allowed over Greek territory. Somewhat ironically, NATO aircraft flying eastwards to Ankara have to fly either over Sofia, to the north, for which they get rights from Bulgaria, or way south of Cyprus and then make a left turn. Moreover, there have been no joint military exercises using the Greek armed forces. NATO will fulfil its existing financial obligations towards the Greeks which are considerable because NATO meets the bill for 90 per cent. of the Greek infrastructure, for as long as the early warning system and other communications facilities remain operable within Greece.
Sooner or later negotiations must open between the Greek Government and NATO, but the question is with whom in NATO the Greeks will negotiate. There is a question mark over Dr. Luns in this context. Negotiations have begun between the Greeks and the Americans as to the military arrangements that they have entered into in the past. Here the Americans have a high card, in that the Greeks want to hold on to the small nuclear weapons that are on Greek soil under American charge and control. Were the Greeks to leave the military organisation of NATO, there would be no legal basis whatsoever for American nuclear arms remaining in Greece.
In summary, NATO's policy with regard to Greece is one of masterly inactivity.
As I have already said, Cyprus is not the flashpoint—it is the Aegean. Mr. Averoff, the Minister of Defence in Greece, said on 9th January 1975:In our own sea, the Aegean, our attitude will be aggressive if necessary, and victory will be certain.The Law of the Sea Conference is now taking place in Geneva. I know from conversations which I had in Ankara and elsewhere that the unilateral extension of the control of Greece over the waters of the Aegean up to a limit of 12 miles would be regarded in Ankara as an act of war, the authorities standing on the defensive in Thrace but mounting an im- 305 mediate invasion of many of the islands, many of which are no more than between a mile and four miles from the Aegean shores of Anatolia. One cannot stress this too much, because there is a real danger that unless the Greeks are prepared to act with circumspection and care there will be war between those NATO allies over the Aegean.
After Athens we went to Ankara. Clearly, after what has happened in Greece it is vitally important to the alliance that Turkey remains a member of NATO, fully committed to the defence of the alliance. However, in recent weeks the United States has slapped an embargo upon arms to Turkey. The lesson of the arms embargo is that Members of Parliament should not attempt to exercise diplomacy of any kind whatever, because the linkage that the Americans have insisted on—namely, that they would renew arms supplies to Turkey if there were Turkish concessions over Cyprus—is no way to deal with the Turks, who are not the sort of people who respond to that kind of threat.
The action of the United States Senate and Congress in preventing ammunition, spares and engines being sent to their allies must have a number of effects. The first effect of the embargo must be to limit the war-making capacity of the Turks. The second effect will be to worsen the relationship between the United States and the Turks, and, more importantly, sooner or later will oblige the Turks to come to the Foreign Secretary, or to go to Bonn, or even to Paris, if not to Brussels, and ask us or them or all of us to supply the arms which the Americans are not doing. The day that that comes about we shall all be in an extremely awkward position.
On the question of the embargo the Foreign Secretary in Ankara told the Committee that Turkey might be compelled to reduce her commitments within the framework of common defence. What that threat amounts to is that Ankara, if it so wishes, will remove or prevent the use of the United States radar early-warning and other surveillance facilities which operate out of Turkey and which are not covered by the 1969 agreement.
After Ankara, we travelled to Ismir, which is the headquarters of Land Forces, South-East. There has been no realistic 306 war planning in Ismir since July 1974, and no NATO exercises have taken place. Land Forces, South-East relies heavily on reinforcements from overseas, but the British defence review threatens to do away with the Ace Mobile Force, which had a function in that part of the world. It has said that it will do away with other large brigade-sized reinforcements, which were angled for the southern flank. There is anxiety at Land Forces, South-East that the radar installations in Cyprus might also go, and that is the most important single military facility upon the island of Cyprus.
Over and above the failure of the British to meet their obligations to the southern flank for reinforcement, there are indications, too, that the United States is reluctant to earmark forces for the reinforcement of the southern flank. The southern flank suffers from the same weaknesses as the central front—lack of reinforcements, limited reception facilities, especially for air force reinforcements and lack of inter-operability and national logistics. Yet NATO's southern flank is in much more danger than the central front. We have only to look westwards to Portugal, Spain and Italy, let alone to Greece and Ankara, to see that the flank of NATO is severely threatened and may well be turned.
However, Her Majesty's Government stoutly proclaim that in the defence review they have done nothing that will harm NATO. What they mean is that they have done nothing that will harm the central front. There is far more to NATO than that. More allied troops are committed to the southern flank of NATO than are to be found on the central front.
At a time when Europe's economic security has vanished, her military security is being threatened, and her political security is being seriously undermined, only a mere handful of Members—there were fewer than 30 on the Government benches in the middle of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary's speech—are prepared to debate the really important strategic issues of the day. What a parish council we have become! We in this House make tremendous play of our so-called sovereignty. I often wonder how much it matters whether we have it or not!
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
I make no apology for speaking only about Cyprus. It will help me to follow the advice of the Chair to be brief, and the tragedy of the island symbolises several problems of universal application.
The tragedy of Cyprus raises questions about the credibility and authority of the United Nations, and, as the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) explained so clearly when he spoke, of the future viability of NATO. It raises the question of the meaning, or lack of meaning, of Commonwealth membership and membership of the Council of Europe.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary gave a great deal of thought to the Cyprus troubles when they began, and put in a great deal of work. But I can say without just the benefit of hindsight, because some of us said so at the time, that it is a tragedy that we did not fulfil our obligations under the treaty of guarantee. To the people of Cyprus and many of our other allies we seem in effect to have abrogated that treaty. I believe that it was because we allowed ourselves to follow American advice to take no action that inadvertently we precipitated the Turkish invasion, with all its tragic consequences.
I appreciate that my right hon. Friend had to deal with Cyprus very briefly today. I hope that soon we may have a fuller statement on the subject.
My right hon. Friend seemed to imply that it is now just for the leaders of the two communities to get on with their talks, with the blessing of Dr. Waldheim of the United Nations. But that is not the reality of the situation. It is not possible for Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash to reach meaningful decisions while the Turkish Army dominates the richer part of Cyprus. It is Ankara, not Mr. Denktash, that is making the decisions, just as it was Athens that dominated Samson in the disastrous coup that precipitated the tragedy.
I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend refer to his talks with Mr. Ecevit. I should like to have heard more about what was said. I understand that it is not likely that Mr. Ecevit will again become Prime Minister of Turkey, and that it 308 is possible that the next Prime Minister will be more Right wing, more intransigent—possibly Suleyman Demiree, the head of the National Front. I do not think that that is very encouraging, but perhaps we may hear about the talks later.
I was interested in what the hon. Member for Aldershot said about NATO and arms. I must take issue with him on the matter. I absolutely agree with the instinct of the American parliamentarians that arms to Turkey should stop, rather than with Dr. Kissinger's policy. We are all members of NATO. We on the Government benches have many arguments about defence, but I do not believe that any British taxpayers want to make their contribution to NATO in order that a member of NATO may invade and occupy a Commonwealth country. The hon. Gentleman said that it would be a bad day when Turkey started asking other NATO members to make up the deficit. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that already Dr. Luns is shopping around on Turkey's behalf. I find this shocking, because every member of NATO should join the United States in telling Turkey straight away "We, too, will not give you arms for the invasion and suppression of the people of Cyprus."
Every country in NATO is a member of the United Nations. Does not membership of the United Nations and the implementation of its resolutions bind NATO countries? How can we have these dual standards in international alliances? I usually criticise my right hon. Friends for being too pro-American, but I should be glad just this once if they would follow a common policy with the United States.
We have heard very little about what can be done in Cyprus. My right hon. Friend and many others realise the bitterness and dismay felt by many United Kingdom citizens in Cyprus, who find that Her Majesty's Government are apparently totally impotent, and that in Turkish-occupied Cyprus possession is ten-tenths of the law.
We want the talks to go well, but what about their background? It is the background that makes progress so difficult. It is hard for Clerides and the Greek Cypriots to carry on discussions when about 180,000 Greek Cypriots are refugees in their own country, 13,000 of them still 309 living in tents, and the economy of the country is dead.
There is a great deal of questioning in Cyprus of my right hon. Friend's action in facilitating the transfer of a number of Turkish refugees via Turkey back to Northern Cyprus. I am sure that he acted from humanitarian motives. I believe that he hoped to spark off a response from the Turks, and that they would become more helpful to the Greek refugees. Unfortunately, that gesture was unrewarded, and it has been much misunderstood in Cyprus. I hope that further background information may be given to help restore understanding.
I wish to refer briefly to what I fear is the danger of allowing the present partition to become a fait accompli by inertia. It really is absurd to talk about any partition in Cyprus. Here is this tiny island, of just 3,500 square miles, with a population of 632,000, of which 18 per cent. are Turkish at present. Here I interpose a question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. I have been told that many of the Turkish Cypriot refugees who have returned to Cyprus via Turkey have been joined by a large number of mainland Turks who are being imported into Cyprus with the deliberate intent of swelling the Turkish proportion of the population.
Anyone who knows the island—I know that many hon. Members know it and love it—will realise that there is not a clear ethnic distribution and that to have a Turkish part and a Greek part means a wholesale uprooting of people, as we have seen, massive relocation, and social, occupational and economic upheaval. For instance, half of Nicosia's water comes from Morphou. Most of Famagusta's water comes from Larnaca. There are all sorts of difficulties. There are difficulties in the location of hospitals, the number of doctors and craftsmen, and the variety of crops and natural resources.
I believe that the disaster of partition should be buried with the idea of Enosis.
We should try to help. Help we must, because we have two sovereign bases in Cyprus. We are a guarantor Power—or are supposed to be. We must help to work out some system. There must be a temporary system of communal local government. I would hope that this 310 could be on some multi-regional basis and not on the basis of a partition merely into two halves.
I should have liked to develop this theme. However I merely say that I hope that we regret—many of us do—partition in Ireland. There have been many references in the debate to Palestine. I am tragically reminded of Palestine when considering Cyprus. In Palestine there was a similar situation—the pattern of refugees, hasty partition and decisions imposed by force from outside. There were hundreds of displaced people with nothing to lose. In Palestine still, decades later, the wound has grown worse instead of healing.
President Makarios has not been given enough credit for the comparative peacefulness in the Greek part of the island. I believe that if partition were to be enforced it would not be possible to restrain violence among the Greek Cypriot people. Goodness knows, some of us in the House remember those bitter years when EOKA took on the British Army. There would be a terrible peril of violence in the mountains and hills of Cyprus if this decision were reached.
One of the most dreadful results of the events in Cyprus has been the tension between Britain and Greece. Many of us remember Greece with affection, not only as a place for taking holidays—with certain interruptions—but as a country with which we have deep traditional affinities, a country which was one of our bravest allies during the war. It is a tragedy that in that country now there is a misunderstanding, a puzzlement and a certain bitterness about the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding Cyprus. I hope, therefore, that we shall see some progress on that front.
I was glad that the Foreign Secretary referred at length to the increasing understanding with the Soviet Union. One of the results of the policy in Cyprus has been that many people among the leadership on that island now are turning their eyes to Moscow and to Syria. It may be that in my right hon. Friend's discussions with the Russians it will be possible for us to talk together about Cyprus. After all, there is no more reason why we should not talk to the Russians than there is that we should do what the Americans have told us to do in Cyprus. Of course, I should prefer to see the United Nations 311 as the strength and authority there. But if it comes to holding another conference, another Geneva, it may be that it should be on a wider basis and that other countries should be asked to help.
I apologise—perhaps I should not apologise, because we have been asked to be brief—if I have not fully explained all the thoughts that have been in my mind. I have many more about this matter and other subjects for this debate. My brevity has been in the interests of my fellow Members.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Mr. David Madel (Bedfordshire, South)
I shall follow your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and not go on a Cook's tour in the debate. I should like to comment on Cyprus, following what the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) has said. I very much agree with the Foreign Secretary that the debate has come at a very opportune time and that we do not have enough opportunities to comment on foreign affairs in the House.
We are now facing a situation in which America is having another agonising reappraisal of its power and influence—as it was so described in the 1950s. Indeed, this was extremely well summed up in the leading editorial in the Financial Times of today, which says:The role of Congress in U.S. foreign policy has changed dramatically in recent months. It is seeking an influence on policy-making which was quite unknown even at the height of the anti-Vietnam campaign.The editorial goes on to say:Perhaps also it is a reflection of changing U.S. attitudes to foreign policy and a retreat from overseas commitments.My view is that the days have gone when a Secretary of State in America can really run the show almost by himself, and that the very close liaison be-between the famous Secretaries of State, which has been of great advantage to this country since 1945, has probably gone. Whoever is in power in the White House is forced to pay much greater attention to the views of Congress. This inevitably means that the United States' response to changing situations and new events is bound to be slower than it has been in the past. This is something we ignore at our peril and something we must con- 312 sider very carefully when discussing both Cyprus and the Middle East.
I agree with the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South that there is considerable alarm in Cyprus that there may be permanent partition. A long spell of the Turkish Army in Cyprus is bound to affect the internal situation in Greece. It would not be the first time that a Greek Government had come to grief as a result of events in Cyprus. We all rejoice that dictatorship has ended in Greece. We all endorse what was said by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart), that we do not want to slip from the present position to a dictatorship either of the Left or of the Right.
I hope that the Minister of State will say something about how much aid will be needed to get the economy of Cyprus going again. How much joint European effort will there be? How much aid will be needed to resettle the refugees? Furthermore—although this may appear to be a mundane problem—what can we do with our European allies to help school and education programmes in Cyprus, which have been seriously upset by the events of 1974?
Again, there is an anxiety that the Turkish Army may nibble away at what is known as the Morphou-Famagusta Line. But the central issue is how to protect minorities. Perhaps if we had had more United Nations troops in Cyprus there would have been less anxiety in Turkey. We hear talk of a possible bi-zonal State, and mention of a thinning out of Turkish troops and whether that would help. I hope that we may have a fuller statement from the Minister of State this evening.
As the hon. Lady said, what goes on in Cyprus affects the internal situation in Greece and Turkey, and if guerrilla warfare breaks out—this would not he new to Cyprus—inevitably Greece and Turkey could be drawn in. At a time when they are both grappling with world financial difficulties this would have a serious effect. When we consider the close relationship of Greece and Turkey with the EEC I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) that here is a great opportunity for European co-operation to bring about a solution to this difficulty.
313 I want to say a few words about the Middle East. What has become absolutely clear in the debate is that the Arabs cannot make war without Egypt and that they cannot make peace without the Palestinians. If Israel and the Arab States cannot agree on anything else, I am sure that they can agree on that.
In a sense, Dr. Kissinger's efforts were bound to come to a full stop. We all share the disappointment that that has happened, but it was inevitable. 1 t was succinctly put in the editorial in The Guardian on Monday, which said:His"—Dr. Kissinger's—remarkable and untiring efforts have shown that agreement of sorts is possible even between Israel and Syria. But these have been essentially confidence-building operations and in their own way peripheral. Central issues such as the Palestinians and the future of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not been tackled.Those matters have got to be tackled. If we have a Geneva Conference, we are bound to have a step-by-step process in Geneva. We do not imagine that all the problems will be shovelled out on to the table and all the grand solutions found there and then.
I should like to say a few words on the Egypt-Israel front. If there is a military clash between Egypt and Israel, inevitably the other Arab States will be drawn in. A solution to the Israel-Egypt threat will not solve the fundamental conflict, as the editorial in The Guardian said, but it would give a breathing space and allow negotiations to concentrate on the central matter. Obviously Israel's anxiety is understandable vis à vis the passes in Sinai. Obviously Egypt's desire for the return of the Abu Rudeis oilfields is understandable. We should move towards having a temporary international zone in that area, it being clearly understood that when the central issues have been solved, that area will be returned to Egypt. If we had an international zone round those points of difficulty which caused Dr. Kissinger's initiative to be upset, there would be a breathing space, and Israel and the Arab States could concentrate on the more fundamental matters.
Any increase in United Nations troops in the area requires that they are put on a proper financial footing and that all countries with an interest in peace 314 should make a contribution towards the United Nations' force. We should aim towards a temporary international zone between Israel and Syria. At present the central question is the town of Kuneitra. It could be rebuilt. With the Arabs' oil revenues, it would not cost too much for it to be rebuilt. That would be the centre of the United Nations zone. If we could have such a zone it would allow a breathing space and time to get down to the political questions which dominate the area.
However, when we have done that, we have to come to the central issue to which my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) referred—the problem of Israel and the Palestinians. The Times put this accurately on Monday, when it said:On the other hand there is no point in the PLO going to the Geneva Conference unless it has a clear idea of what it hopes to obtain there. Mr. Arafat has told the world his dreams, but it is still waiting to hear his wakeful thoughts.If we had a West Bank State of Palestine, what exactly would it stand for? Surely the Arab States must realise the extreme sensitivity felt in Israel as to what its new neighbour might be and what it would stand for. One hopes that if one had such a State in due course a sort of Benelux relationship could exist between Israel and its new neighbour. Inevitably the economics of such a State are difficult, because it would have to have a Mediterranean port as its outlet for its agricultural produce. We must not forget that the West Bank is one of the richest agricultural areas in the whole of the Middle East.
If Mr. Arafat goes to Geneva he must say clearly what he stands for. He must sincerely endorse what President Sadat said in 1971, which changed the whole relationship between Israel and the Arab States. Mr. Sadat said that he was looking for an agreement with the State of Israel. It is those last four words that matter. No hope of agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Army exists unless we have a clear commitment that a new West Bank State of Palestine would exist with the State of Israel. Those would be the operative words.
Obviously, if one goes through the political questions, one comes to the question of Jerusalem. That is most difficult 315 to solve and it ought to be left to the end. If there were a new State on the West Bank and there were a reasonable relationship between it and Israel it would not be too difficult to solve the problem of Jerusalem. As has been said many times in the debate, if there is another conflict in the area it will be even more difficult to stop. If there is another conflict in the area it will have serious economic effects on Western Europe. The point to remember is that if one can get peace between Israel and Egypt, the other Arab States are unlikely to go to war. There is, as my right hon Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet said, a major chance for a European political rôle in this area. It cannot all be left to the United States and to Congress. At all costs we must try to avoid a conflict. We must try to get a breathing space so that those central political issues between Israel and the Arab States can start to be negotiated.
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
A strong welcome ought to be given to what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said about his proposals for Kingston in the matter of the stabilisation of prices of primary products. Some of us would regard this as one of the most important matters facing the world, and certainly an indication of the value of the Commonwealth. I hope the message will go out from here that we wish them well in these complex talks.
I wish to deal with four mundane matters of trade in so far as they affect the Foreign Office. I start with what I know is a delicate issue. The truth is that many of us, when we have gone abroad or talked to business men here, time and time again have discovered that the BBC broadcasts from London are widely listened to and, at the same time, run down Britain and give the impression of a tale of woe. People listen to the BBC precisely because of its known veracity, the truth of its reports and the way in which they are presented. The fact remains that it is often an exercise in flagellation by the British, in an apparent love of sheer masochism, which makes it very difficult for our traders, exporters and chambers of commerce abroad to sell British products in the sort of volume that we would like to see. 316 Every industrial dispute seems to be magnified, and some people have the impression that very little happens in Britain other than industrial disputes.
All I say to the Foreign Office is this: could it not, on this delicate and difficult issue, at least get round the table with the Chairman and Governors of the BBC and ask whether some good news from Britain could not at least occasionally be broadcast on the world service. I leave it at that. We should not underestimate the effect, particularly in the Arab world, of this constant running down of what happens here, so that people jump to the conclusion "If we go to Britain we cannot be sure that our supplies or spare parts will arrive on time". Sometimes this is true, but very often we simply talk ourselves into unnecessary difficulties.
The second question that I should like to raise concerns trade missions. I know something about this, having been fortunate enough to go on a British trade mission to China in 1971. I concede that there is a good argument for having a trade mission when opening up a market, so that firms can follow up and do the work from which the trade flows.
We have reached a situation in which there seem to be endless trade missions leaving this country and possibly getting in each other's way. Between 13 and 22 different trade missions go to Brazil this year. I ask the Minister of State, who is a Midlander, whether it is sensible for the Walsall Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a trade mission to Brazil. We shall get every small authority empire building. As all these missions ask to see important Ministers the natural reaction is, "The Inglese again".
Other countries give more coherent thought to their trade missions. They institute a pattern and are relatively more successful. The Foreign Office should have discussions with the home Departments involved to find out whether this country is well served by an endless flow of trade missions and whether we understand the purposes that those missions wish to achieve. Would it not be better if some of our businessmen could spend longer representing their firms, especially in the Arab world and in South America? The money allowed for this trade mission activity is often spent if not on jaunts then on exercises that approach junketing.
317 My third point relates to the whole question of consultancy. Here the comparison is with France where the Soufra Electrique and the Soufra-Mines do a real consultancy job. They make sure that every design and specification they give is geared to French products. Here, Britain is in a difficulty. British consultancy has a high reputation, because of its objectivity. Is it right that British consultants should continually recommend Swedish, French and German equipment while almost leaning over backwards to play down our own? Many chambers of commerce have the impression that British consultants are acting to the advantage of British consultancy but not to the advantage of British industry. I realise that it is difficult for the Foreign Office to interfere. The trade officials in our embassies are getting higher reputations and they might ask about this.
Finally, I turn to the question of incoming students, which is intimately related to trade. I am told that this year Venezuela wishes to send us between 7,000 and 10,000 students and that over a two- or three-year period we are hoping to accept 6,000 students. This is fine, because those Venezuelan students, trained in Britain, will almost certainly return home and take up positions where they can order British equipment, which will be to the advantage of this country.
On the other hand, I fear for the South American student, who often comes from a small town. He will be let loose in polytechnics in Glasgow, Birmingham or some other city where pastoral care is less than adequate. We know how many students come to this country and become lost. They do not carry out their studies properly and go back disillusioned. Some thought should be given to preliminary language training, which may take six months or a year. Many developing countries are in a position to afford this training, so it should not be a problem for the Treasury. There should be serious discussion on how to create an infrastructure so that those students who come to Britain have a chance of doing well. They would return home with a favourable impression of Britain and may be in a position to order British equipment.
Some of us are saddened by the plight of Cambodia. I had the good fortune to see Phnom Penh in better days, under 318 Prince Sihanouk. I realise that the Foreign Secretary has neither the power nor the ability to bring the war in Indo-China any nearer an end. We have to pose one question. Together with the Russians, we are in a unique position because of the rôle we played in the early 1960s at the various conferences which took place on Cambodia. Should we not at least get together and try to ameliorate the awful situation which appears on our television screens night after night? Is it not at least worth some kind of a try?
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
I should like to return later to the point which the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) made in his introductory remarks about the importance of the forthcoming conference at Kingston and the plans to achieve some agreement on the stabilisation of raw material prices.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) referred to the small attendance in this debate at a time which is more sombre than any since 1949. That remark, with which I agree, is connected with the theme that I wish to develop. During foreign affairs debates and at Question Time, it strikes me increasingly how few places there are in the world in which Britain is able effectively to exercise influence on its own. There are even fewer places now than there were a few years ago.
The Foreign Secretary mentioned Cyprus and the efforts which Mr. Ivor Richard has devoted to that problem over three weeks in New York. A few years ago it would have been dealt with in a more direct and a different fashion. The right hon. Gentleman referred to Rhodesia and said that we should encourage the people there to come together and deal with their problems. That, also, is a change from some years ago.
The Foreign Secretary explained, too, why Britain had not been playing a more direct political rôle in the Middle East. He did not refer to the Gulf. There we are no longer advisers and keepers of the peace; we go there as borrowers and as salesmen, and we seem to do rather better at the former than at the latter.
The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) mentioned South-East 319 Asia, where it seems that, after all, the domino theory may be in danger of coming to pass. I can remember the time, not long ago, when the situation in South-East Asia would have provoked a full day's debate, with great feeling by all hon. Members. That is no longer the case. I understand why, in his speech, The Foreign Secretary was unable to include a passage about South-East Asia. He kindly gave way to many interjections. However, it is interesting that that is one of the passages he thought it possible to drop.
The Foreign Secretary referred to Portugal, our oldest ally. We welcome the fact that he visited that country a few weeks ago. However, with respect to the right hon. Gentleman, it is hard to see what effect that visit has had.
Apart from the reference to Cyprus the right hon. Gentleman did not mention the United Nations. The last Labour Government made a particular feature of its devotion to the United Nations and of the great efforts they would make there. I wonder what has happened to that?
I have made inquiries about the time it takes to get satisfaction from countries which expropriate the assets of British subjects. It is interesting to note that it is now more than two and a half years since the measures taken by General Amin to expropriate the property of British subjects in Uganda. As I understand it, we have not even begun the negotiations which, we hope, will lead to some settlement. I compare that situation with that which prevailed in relation to Egypt in the latter part of the 1950s, when, within two and a half years, not only had negotiations begun, but compensation had been paid.
I mention these examples not to place any blame on the Government. That is not my purpose now. I mention them to show that our influence in the world, when acting on our own, is greatly diminished. This is the result of our economic weakness, among other things. It is also a consequence of the fact that we have not yet found a framework within which to put our foreign policy. We can get a clue about what is the right framework if we look back at some of 320 the successes which Governments have recently achieved. Here I include the previous Conservative Government.
The Foreign Secretary mentioned the conference on security in Europe. Whether or not the likely results from this conference are regarded as a success, what has undoubtedly been a success has been the effort which the Nine European countries have made in co-operating and achieving a common line throughout the conference. Another example is the success of the Chancellor in persuading the International Monetary Fund to accept the plan for the recycling of petrodollars.
I wish to refer, too, to the success of the Lomé Convention, bringing the Nine Community countries and 46 countries of the developing world into what has been described by Mr. Cheysson, the Commissioner responsible for aid in the Community, as a revolutionary new relationship. This convention involves stability for the export earnings of the developing countries and holds out the promise of something on which we can build to achieve stability in the supply of our raw materials. It is interesting that this revolutionary agreement has been achieved without any feeling on the part of the 46 developing countries that they are being subjected to something that has a neo-colonial tinge.
Another success has been the achievement of improvements in generalised preferences for developing countries. A further success has been the working out of a position in the GATT negotiations which are due to take place in Tokyo before long. The common feature of all these successes is that they have been worked out within the framework of the Nine.
The Foreign Secretary referred to the visit which he and the Prime Minister paid to Moscow and claimed that that was a success, too. I shall not go into that aspect. There is debate by some hon. Members about the merits of the line of credit arrangement. But I put this question to the House: would the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been as well received in Moscow as would the representatives of France and Germany —in spite of the fact that we are a long way behind France 321 and Germany in economic power—if we had not been a member of the Economic Community? That is a relevant question.
I suggest that the natural rôle for Britain to take is as the leader in developing a foreign policy for the Community. It is a natural rôle for us to take, because of our experience. Mr. Cheysson paid great tribute to that experience when he talked about the success of the Lomé negotiations. He said that the agreement could not have been achieved without Britain's knowledge of the world.
I do not suggest that it is possible for a foreign policy to spring fully fledged from the brow of the Foreign Secretary or his European colleagues. What I do suggest is that we should consciously start the process of creating a European foreign policy by building brick upon brick. I am glad to say that we have begun this in Cyprus, albeit in a small way, with the communiqué from the Dublin Summit on which all Nine countries agreed. It did not take us very far but it is something. Let us build on it.
We need a common foreign policy towards Greece and Turkey. We need one towards Portugal, though there it may be rather late—but better late than never. I put this question to the Foreign Secretary: would it not have been a great help to the right hon. Gentleman if, when he went to Portugal, he had gone not simply as the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom and one of the principal figures in the British Socialist Party, but also as a leading figure in a coalition of Socialist parties extending across the Nine members of the European Community?
We need very soon to establish a common foreign policy towards Spain, especially in view of events in Portugal. We need a common policy towards the Middle East. I agree very much with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) about the participation of Europe in the Middle East. I believe the Arabs would welcome the Nine playing a greater rôle, including a political rôle, in the Middle East.
Perhaps we should see whether we can work out a common policy on the question of credit towards Eastern Europe. I wonder whether it is right that we, who, economically, are relatively weak at the 322 moment, should be competing with our friends in the Community in transferring resources to the Soviet Union. In many cases our Community friends are very much stronger than us. We should certainly be working out a common foreign policy to handle world development. There is a great deal more to be done. The Community recognises this. In the eyes of the Community the Lomé Convention is only a beginning.
I welcome what the Foreign Secretary said about Kingston and what the Government hope to achieve. I suggest that it will be more effective if we appear at Kingston in the rôle of a country committed to remaining in the European Community and taking a common policy line.
Coming down to a rather more pedestrian level, perhaps we can get together on a common line for the Nine to take when the property of one of them is expropriated in cases like the Ugandan situation a few years ago.
I am suggesting that we can build an effective rôle for ourselves in the world by working out a common foreign policy. I suggest that the weight of the Nine working together is greater than the sum of the weight of the Nine if each country works separately. This is true whether we talk about direct relations with individual countries or about the weight which the Nine can carry in international organisations.
I am convinced that the leverage we can exert in, for example. the IMF, the United Nations, GATT, OECD and conferences dealing with ad hoc issues, would be much greater if we had worked out a common foreign policy in advance. I am not talking about a federation; this objective can be achieved by co-operation. It has been done in preparing our common line for the conference on security in Europe. Nor is what I am suggesting anti-American. Here again, the conference on security in Europe was a good example. It is true that at the beginning, when the Nine were first working together, the Americans showed some anxiety, but now I believe they recognise that for the Nine to work out a common and sensible line is a positive advantage not only for the success of the conference but for the Americans themselves.
323 The Foreign Secretary said that we must build a healthy and balanced relationship with the United States, and I entirely agree. President Kennedy talked of an Atlantic alliance based on twin pillars. If we remain in the Economic Community we have now a chance of building twin pillars, and it is no good if one pillar is much stronger than the other. Therefore, it is in the long-term interests of the United States and the eastern pillar of that alliance should itself be strong. If Europe plays a more united and stronger rôle it will be in the interests both of the United States and of Europe itself, and I believe this is a role in which Britain can take a lead.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) has made an important and interesting case on which some of us would agree with him provided the common foreign policy was one which appealed to us. The trouble is that a common foreign policy may mean the foreign policy of France, for example, with which few of us would agree on many issues. We have to consider very carefully how such a common foreign policy would evolve.
I would dearly love to roam the world in this debate and talk perhaps of the survival difficulties of India or the economic problems of Chile, or of Gibraltar, Turkey or Cyprus. I hope the House will forgive me if I restrict myself to areas with which I am deeply concerned and of which I have some special knowledge. I refer, in particular, to the Middle East and to relations with the Soviet Union.
The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) made a characteristic speech putting forward what is quite clearly the Arab case. Towards the end, in a revealing phrase, he said that Europe has most to lose from the outbreak of another war in the Middle East. In my submission, the people who have most to lose are those countries in the Middle East which will lose their sons and fathers whatever the outcome of the war. Certainly, so far as Israel is concerned there are not enough sons and fathers, and the tragedy of the October war was not the difference in the size of the forces but the dreadful 324 aura of tragedy which hung over that tiny country with so many of its young people killed and maimed.
When we discus the Middle East we talk of it objectively because we are not that close, but sitting in a kibbutz near the Golan Heights one has a different view of where the guns used to be. Discussing the Golan Heights there, one does it from a different and much more dangerous angle. The hon. Member spoke of withdrawal leading to peace; but the question the Israelis ask is: "Would it lead to peace or would it lead to another war, with the other side starting from so much nearer to our homes, where our wives and children live?" It is a fair question, and if any of us lived there we would necessarily ask it. It is not enough to say that there is a body of opinion which is prepared, after Israel moves back, to recognise its existence.
Any Israeli Government would have to have far more than that if Israel is to move back from a position of reasonable military security, which is all it has, and any Israeli Government would have to convince their own people that they were behaving sensibly or they would be thrown out. Some of us sometimes forget that Israel is a democracy like our own, with a Government who depend upon the consent of the people. It is a Government who can fall in an election or can resign. It is a Government who, one hopes, will survive the kind of tragedy that overtook King Faisal today. It is a Government who do not depend upon one person. It is not a feudal kingdom.
I sometimes wonder why so many of my hon. Friends, as Socialists, are so attached to such feudal kingdoms and why they do not appreciate the democracy which is the only one in the area, a democracy which will survive if its people are prepared, as undoubtedly they are, to fight for that survival. The question Dr. Kissinger had to face was: would he be able to convince the Israelis, on their side, that to withdraw from the passes and oilfields would lead to a firm recognition that there would not be, almost immediately, another war with hostilities starting so much nearer home?
The Israelis were not prepared to give such assurances, so, alas, another opportunity for peace has gone. On the other hand, there are Israelis who feel that it is 325 better not to have a withdrawal in return for nothing, or for a piece of paper, than it would have been to have withdrawn and got their guarantee with no guarantee that it would have survived, because who knows whether another disaster may overtake President Sadat as it has overtaken King Faisal? It is a very volatile area, and régimes in all countries there other than Israel depend upon the survival of one person. We cannot provide the firm guarantees, nor can America.
The hon. Member for Westbury said that the United Nations emergency force provided a guarantee in 1967, but as soon as there was trouble that force was asked to move out. It is important that we should have a United Nations buffer and that the leases of UN forces should be renewed, because those forces provide at least some kind of deterrent against any attempt to move in. But we must recognise that the force is not very great and would move away at the request of either party at any time.
It does not help to oversimplify the refugee problem, to ignore the fact that times have moved forward since 1947, whether hon. Members like it or not, and that Israel has in the meantime absorbed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Arab countries, countries with vast resources which have declined to absorb them into their own countries, for obvious reasons.
It does not help to oversimplify the PLO problem. Terrorism is only the beginning. It is not just a distaste of people for negotiating with terrorists, which one can overcome. It is a question of finding something to talk about with them.
There were references to terrorists from Cyprus and Kenya, who were fighting for their area of territory from which they wanted to get us out. If hon. Members are saying that the Arab terrorists are fighting to get the Israelis out of Israel we know where we stand. No Israeli Government could conceivably negotiate with them on that basis.
Again, terrorism in its dreadful history, has generally confined itself to attacks on armed forces in the country concerned, with the incidental miserable deaths of civilians in the process, deaths regretted by all. The terrorism of the PLO is nothing of the kind. It is terrorism deli- 326 berately directed at women and children, at civilians, and not only in Israel but outside Israel, and at not only Israelis but others—because many of those who have suffered have not been Israelis or even Jews.
§ Mr. Madel
On the question of terrorism, does the hon. and learned Member feel that if there was some solution between Israel and Egypt and an end to the terrorist attacks that occur, such as at the Tel Aviv Hotel, it would be possible for Israel to co-exist one day with some form of Palestine State?
§ Mr. Janner
That is a perfectly fair question. It the terrorism was stopped and terrorists were prepared to recognise that Israel has a right to exist, and if the Palestine State was not to be a mere tributary of the Soviet Union, the answer undoubtedly is "Yes". I believe that that would be accepted, if not by all Israelis then at least by a majority, because I have yet to meet an Israeli who did not deeply want peace; and I have yet to meet one who hates the Arabs—a remarkable situation in view of the wars, in which so many have lost members of their families.
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, President of the World Jewish Congress, said in an interview quoted by the hon. Member for Westbury that it was possible that negotiations would take place with the Arabs. But the hon. Gentleman did not quote the rest. Mr. Goldmann said:… if they are prepared to recognise the existence of the State and give up terrorism".Even then his views were not accepted by everyone, and it is not for us to judge how we would feel if we were in that country trying to survive.
What hope is there? Geneva is a place where people can come together. No doubt there will be pressures by the United States on Israel. The question is whether there will be pressures on the Arab States by the Soviet Union, and, if so, with what effect? Are the realities of the situation to be recognised?
The problem of the Soviet Union is something we come face to face with because we cannot discuss the Middle East without considering where Russia stands. We have more opportunities than ever to discuss this with the Russians, and I welcome the visit of the Prime 327 Minister to Moscow and the visit of trade unionists to that city, and I welcome return visits of trade unionists here, within sensible and tactful limits. For me that limit is reached when the invitation extends to the former head of the KGB.
This morning some of my hon. Friends and I went to see Mr. Len Murray to assure him that we were not attacking him or the TUC. We told him that we understood the difficulties and welcomed the visit of trade unionists, but we also asked whether he would not emphasise to the Soviet Union the feeling which I believe is shared by the vast majority of hon. Members, that this man Shelepin would be a very unwelcome guest.
Mr. Len Murray declined to state when the group is coming or where it is going and gave me permission to say so. He said, he wanted to keep the visit very private. In other words, these people are to be shepherded in and out of back doors like a group of common criminals. That is a pity, because I would like them to see what British life is like and understand our problems. I would like them to see the demonstrations which I am sure will take place and which I hope will always be lawful and peaceful, because otherwise they will cause harm to those they are trying to help.
I hope that many trade unionists who meet this group will take the opportunity to show that we care about people, not only here but also in the Soviet Union. We know that the KGB has instituted a further campaign of persecution and harassment of Soviet people, including particularly trade unionists, two of whom, Mr. Boris Tsitlionok, a toolmaker, and Mark Nashbits, a dentist, are coming up on trial precisely because they took part in a demonstration in Moscow and stood holding a banner. They are liable to a prison sentence of three years.
I was asked today by the Press whether it would not be better that there should not be demonstrations so that people may see that we are free. I say that we have demonstrations because we are free, and we can speak our minds freely in this House and in the streets and in the working men's clubs.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I have listened with great sympathy to my hon. and learned Friend. 328 It would be very helpful if occasionally he made it clear that there are people other than Jews who are dissidents in the Soviet Union and that many of us are deeply concerned about the free movement of all people, not just Jews, from the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Janner
My hon. Friend has simply stepped a little ahead of what I was about to say. I am a founder member of the International Commission for Human Rights in the Soviet Union. However, it is also very important to keep the two movements separate, because the Jewish movement wants to get people out of the Soviet Union and the Soviets have managed to deal with that without interfering with their internal system. The movement of the dissidents, the Baptists, and people like Sakharov and Moroz are trying to change the system within the Soviet Union. Many of us in this House are deeply concerned with both problems.
I am a Vice-President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, but I have been involved all my working life in the battle of freedom for others.
§ Mr. Janner
The Arabs do not want to get killed or involved in wars. It is not to their advantage that they should get involved in another war.
We have to show the Soviet Union that each of us is involved in his own way. I hope my hon. Friend is actively concerned with some of the movements for the dissidents. I hope that he will take the opportunity of letting it be known to the Soviet trade unionists that that feeling exists, and I hope that he will arrange for others who are members of trade unions to bring their views to bear. I hope that he will accept from me that because personal friends of mine are under arrest in the Soviet Union it does not mean that I am not concerned for others for whom I have also worked.
The Russians refused to let me into the Soviet Union not merely because of my concern for Jews. It was because of my concern for others as well. One's unpopularity cannot be characterised in the Soviet Union according to one's religion, even if that religion happens to be treated there as a nationality.
329 One of the saddest features of the recent situation in the Soviet Union concerns a man called Professor Alexander Lunz. He said by telephone last week that when he was recently called into the KGB he was warned that it was preparing a trial against him on the ground of "treason to the Motherland", which could carry the death penalty. He was told "We do not care what you do because no one in the West cares about you people any more". I hope Mr. Shelepin's visit will provide an opportunity to show that idea to be a total mistake. We do care.
We care about our own people in our own constituencies. We care about people here and in the Middle East, about those whose religion we share and those whose religion we do not share. We care about those with whose political views we heartily disagree but for whose right to express them we would fight.
We want the Soviet Union to know that we care and that this is not merely an expression of view by those who are happy to find an opportunity to attack the Soviet Union, but that there are vast numbers of others who deplore the visit of Mr. Shelepin, people who are friends of the Soviet Union but are ashamed of the way that it treats its Jewish and its dissident minorities.
Our Government do not have the power to make peace in Cambodia or anywhere else. However, they can exercise a decent influence, a caring influence. We can show that the plight of others in other parts of the world matters to us, and if we do that we shall have helped to heal the sores of war and perhaps do more good than we were able to do in the world when we were a great colonial Power.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
One thing has been clear throughout the speeches this afternoon—that there is not much to inspire or encourage us throughout the world today. Virtually everywhere one looks there is a grave situation. As for the effect on us, particularly in view of our close ties with the United States, the reverses which that country has suffered in the Middle East, South-East Asia, Portugal, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus must inevitably raise the question of the extent to which it will in the future be willing to play an active part in international affairs.
330 President Ford said that there would be no return to "Fortress America", and the Secretary of State this afternoon emphasised that Dr. Kissinger, even at the moment of his disappointment, pointed out that this did not mean that the United States would stop trying. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Congress wants some reduction in America's world rôle, and it is equally a fact that we might be faced with an isolationist President in 1976. This is a fact that we cannot ignore. The gloom of the United States is compounded by the disunity in Europe. It is very ominous that the breakdown of peace negotiations in the Middle East should coincide with the opening of the first talks between the oil producers and the oil Consumers.
The possibility—one puts it no higher than that, but one must put it at that —that the United States will withdraw to some extent from international affairs highlights the yawning gap left—this fact has been referred to already by a number of hon. Gentlemen, and in particular the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker)—by the failure to develop a European foreign policy. The Community has taken some steps in this direction, but progress has been slow. It is of the greatest importance that it be accelerated, and I shall return briefly to that at the end of my remarks.
Obviously, in a speech of this kind, one cannot cover the field—much of what I was intending to say has already been touched upon by others—but I should like to make some brief points about six of the potential and real crisis areas in the world, starting, appropriately enough, following the speech which the hon. Gentleman has just made, with the Middle East.
I think it is right to echo the remarks that many hon. Members have already made, starting with the Foreign Secretary, in expressing grief at the assassination of King Faisal, in the realisation that a moderate Arab leader has left the scene. This is a matter of real regret.
The step-by-step approach that Dr. Kissinger attempted has failed. It is more than a little unfair to Dr. Kissinger to subject him to the kind of criticism to which he has been subjected recently, that his diplomacy was bound to fail 331 because it was too highly personalised, and so forth. We should recognise the immense debt the world owes to this man for his attempts to bring peace. Nevertheless he has failed, and the question is where next we go at Geneva, as has been said.
To avoid repetition, and in view of the time factor, I would make only one point on this whole issue. Despite the remarks made by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Greville Janner), I agree with the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) that at the end of the day, if the Middle East crisis is to be resolved it must and can be resolved only by facing the reality—and the reality is that the PLO, however appalling some of the things it may have done, represents the Palestinians. is accepted by the Arab world as representing them and must, in consequence, be dealt with by the Israelis. That moment must come, and if we and the Government can do anything to accelerate it we shall be doing something useful and constructive.
Secondly, there is Indo-China. I find it very strange that at the very moment when very nearly 1 million people are fleeing out of the central highlands of Vietnam before the advancing North Vietnamese we have heard so little today about Vietnam. Frankly. I have been waiting to hear something—perhaps I shall, later—from the Labour Left about the continuing violations of the peace agreement by North Vietnam.
§ Mr. Johnston
The hon. Gentleman intervenes and asks "What about the South?" The fact of the matter is—and this is what I was talking about a moment ago in regard to Israel—that in Vietnam we are seeing aggressive war pursued by the North against the South. That is a fact. It is also a fact that. in total contravention of the agreement signed in January 1973, the North Vietnamese have been continually rearming and expanding their presence in the South. It is estimated according to the recent figures which I have available, that they have increased their strength from 100,000 to 300,000 in South Vietnam and. as has been mentioned by other hon. Members, they have also violated the 332 peace agreement by their use of Laos and Cambodia.
The reality is that the North Vietnamese are being armed by Soviet Russia. We know this as a fact. We know it is a fact that, even if they were not, the South Vietnamese are not attacking the North. That is not the reality of the case. Yet we see no demonstration from the Left at all. I supported and sympathised very much with much of the attitude of the Left in regard to the United States at the time of the bombing, and so forth, and I welcomed the withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam in the hope that this represented or would represent a stable solution to the problem, but I do not like selective morality.
§ Mr. Newens
Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that in the South there are in fact two parties—the Thieu régime and the Provisional Revolutionary Government—and that in fact there have been abuses and breaches of the Paris agreements all round? If he wants not to be selective, surely he must refer to the breaches of the Thieu régime and, for example, to the continuing imprisonment in the most diabolical conditions, of tens of thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands, of political prisoners?
§ Mr. Johnston
I doubt if there are hundreds of thousands, with respect. But I am not here defending the nature of the Thieu régime. I would point out, nevertheless, that there are thousands of people streaming south from the central highlands—north to south, towards Saigon, towards the south, towards the kind of régime he has, and that is a fact.
The basic point I have made is in no way affected by what the hon. Gentleman has said, and that is that the North Vietnamese have breached flagrantly the agreements reached, and the Left have said nothing.
Thirdly, I would think that the Left—and I shall concentrate a little on the Left for a moment—has some responsibility in Portugal, because they have some contact in Portugal and I believe could exercise some valuable and constructive influence there. The Foreign Secretary has already said that there we are in danger of moving from one extreme situation to another extreme situation. We do not know—we hope not—but they 333 may turn the full circle, from dictatorship of the Right to dictatorship of the Left. I sincerely hope that the Left will exercise its influence to build on the fact that we in this country really would wish to see the development of a pluralist democracy in Portugal. I am sure they would wish it too, and I think that in the present situation their influence could be critical. The only other area of influence I can see is the possibility—perhaps the Minister, in concluding the debate, will indicate whether he believes this to be a reality or not—of its being helpful to moderates in Portugal for them to know that within the European Community there is a very strong support for Portuguese membership, but that clearly the existence of a pluralist democracy in Portugal would be a necessary precondition.
Fourthly, there is Cyprus, I shall say little about it, except, perhaps, to remark that I agreed with a fair amount of what the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mrs. Jeger) said. She may be a bit pessimistic about the political future of Mr. Ecevit. I thought that some of the remarks he made at the weekend, at the meeting to which the Foreign Secretary referred, were extremely interesting. He pointed out that partition and annexation would be against Turkish interests in maintaining good relations with their allies, but that, on the other hand, the Turks were waiting for the Greeks to renounce Enosis. If we could bring pressure on the Greeks to make such a declaration, and if it had an equivalent response, it might lead to some concessions in line with Mr. Ecevit's statement. The Turks should be persuaded to spell out clearly what they mean by a bizonal solution and what sort of powers—particularly economic powers—they envisage remaining with the federal Government.
Fifthly, it has been the long-held and oft-repeated view of successive Governments that the British Government should not interfere with the internal affairs of other sovereign States. That view is out of date. It is riddled with exemptions and exceptions, in that we frequently comment on the internal affairs of Russia, South Africa, Uganda and other countries.
The Minister of State and I have corresponded, for example, about the Kurds. 334 It is imperative, following the agreement between Iran and Iraq, that the deadline of 1st April for the closure of the border should be extended. It is impossible for many of the Iraqis who live in the remote areas to get across the border to Iran before that deadline. If they do not, not only will there be widespread starvation and death; the Iraqis are not likely to be merciful—they have not shown mercy in the past.
I strongly urge the Foreign Secretary to act in accordance with the Government's stated principle of speaking out in defence of human rights and political freedoms and to intervene with the Shah of Iran and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to obtain an extension of the 1st April deadline. This is basically not a political but a humanitarian question. There are many other areas across the world about which we could talk. We could talk about Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and many other countries. We cannot draw a line when it comes to human misery.
One cannot dilate at length on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and the relationship between Britain and the United States, but an important element in the conference is progress on human rights. I find the controversy about Mr. Shelepin very puzzling. It is almost as if Mr. Shelepin is a unique black sheep from the Soviet Union—as if he and he alone were unacceptable, as if he and he alone had done something wrong, as if he and he alone were the sort of person we would not be anxious to see and who would not improve British-Soviet relations. That is a lot of nonsense. The sooner we take a practical view of these matters the better.
I have no objection to the gentleman coming here. I do not like him or what he stands for, but I want to talk to him about it, otherwise I shall achieve nothing. When an hon. Member on the Opposition benches condemned the visit of Mr. Shelepin another hon. Member shouted "Caetano", suggesting that Conservatives could hardly criticise Mr. Shelepin's visit when they themselves invite Right-wing Fascist beasts. I did not object to the presence of Caetano as the head of a régime of which I did not approve. What I objected to was his being given an official glorious welcome as a long-standing ally. A businesslike visit with a view to 335 discussion between any two Heads of State is acceptable, whoever they may be. In the end, nothing but good can come of that. Certainly no bad can come of it.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not wish to be innacurate. Caetano was Head of Government, but I am not merely making that narrow point. In this context Caetano cannot be compared with Mr. Shelepin. Mr. Shelepin is not Head of Government, and he is being invited here by a private body not in an official capacity but as a man with a singularly distasteful record.
§ Mr. Johnston
I agree that there is no direct comparison in that sense but, equally, in the other sense, it could be said that the Government are not responsible for Mr. Shelepin's visitation, whereas the Conservative Government were responsible for Caetano's visit.
The Foreign Secretary said that on this occasion we should lift our eyes above Europe. From a practical point of view, as we are to have a two-day debate on Europe after the recess, that is sense. What we must learn now and what will become increasingly characteristics of foreign affairs debates is that we shall see our future in the outside world through European spectacles, in terms of what we can achieve within the Community. From now on the priorities of British foreign policy will change. The old priorities will give way to a concentration on evolving common European views. Only in that way shall we be able to make an effective contribution, as we did at Lomé, to the development of relations with the underdeveloped countries, and only in that way shall we be able effectively to defend freedom and democracy throughout the Western world.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I hope that the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) will forgive me if I do not follow his six points from Inverness by nine points from Brighouse. I shall concentrate on one area of the world, the Middle East.
I begin by joining other hon. Members in their expressions of grief at the news of the assassination of King Faisal. To those of us who knew him he was an 336 impressive statesman, a deeply religious man and a person of great judgment. A spasm of fear must now move across the world as we wonder how that gap will be filled. Knowing as I do the new Crown Prince Fahd, the fear should not be too great. Prince Fahd is an immensely talented and very able person, and he will take over, in tragic circumstances, a stable regime in Saudi Arabia.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), who is, alas, not here, commented on the remarks of the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters), and I should like to comment on one or two of my hon. and learned Friend's thoughts. I have many pleasant recollections of debating with his father who has now gone to another place. He asked what guarantee Israel had that if she withdrew from territory there would not be war. The one thing that is absolutely certain is that unless she withdraws from the territories belonging to other nations that she has occupied there will be a fifth war. That is incontrovertible.
I was disappointed when my hon. Friend seemed to suggest that terrorism and Palestine were synonymous. I do not wish to go too far back in history. But I have personal memories of the terrorism that brought the birth of Israel. I remember the blowing up of the King David Hotel, the massacre of women and children at Deir-Yasin and the murder of Count Bernadotte—all regrettable and horrible incidents. We do not get anywhere by trading terrorist anecdotes.
I come to the failure of the Kissinger step-by-step mission. To my mind there was no doubt that it would fail. It is a great disappointment that the American leadership today does not remember some of the sayings of previous distinguished United States statesmen. For example, President Eisenhower, in an address to the nation on 20th February 1957 said:Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose the conditions of its withdrawal? If we agree, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order.Dr. Kissinger, in considering the present situation in the Middle East, could well remember the remarks of his predecessor. Secretary of State Rogers. In December 337 1969, when speaking about frontiers. he said:We believe that while recognised political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the preexisting lines should not reflect the weight of conquest and should be confined to insubstantial alterations required for mutual security.Those are basic points to be remembered in terms of territory in the context of the Arab-Israeli dispute. Mr. Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, has talked about trading a bit of peace for a bit of territory. As I have already said, there can be no peace unless the Israelis withdraw from all the territories that they have occupied in contravention of the United Nations resolution.
If President Sadat has gone as far as he is able to move towards recognising the secure existence of Israel, surely the Israelis would be well advised to make some concessions. For example, would it not be a gesture towards peace if the refugees who were driven abroad in the 1967 war were allowed to return? Would it not be a gesture for peace if United Nations elements were allowed into the occupied territories for the supervision of the rights of the Arab inhabitants? Would it not be a gesture towards peace if, for example, the illegal settlements in the Golan Heights or on the West Bank that have been established by the Israeli régime were wound up and if the Israelis were to move out of Palestine as well? Would it not be a gesture towards peace if the Israelis were to give some passing recognition of the United Nations unanimous condemnation of Israel's sole occupancy of Jerusalem.
It is a tragedy that King Faisal never lived to pray in Jerusalem. Had he done so there would have been a very much better chance of peace. Mr. Rabin is talking about trading territory for peace, but in the Middle East dispute peace must come from both sides. As reflected in the remarks of the hon. Member for Inverness, the Palestinians must be in on this peace.
One of the most remarkable things has been the rebirth of Palestine in the past few years. We talked over the years about the refugees as merely flotsam and jetsam. They were the people who were dispersed. I echo the remarks that have been made about Kurdistan. We lose people in 338 this century. We have lost the Armenians, and we are in danger of losing the Kurds. However, the Palestinians have resurrected themselves.
Wherever I go whilst lecturing in the United States—I am going there next week—I am quite confident that American opinion will acknowledge that there will be no peace in the Middle East until there is a place for Palestine on the map. A few years ago there would have been complete lack of interest in that proposition but now there will be acknowledgment.
The hon. Member for Westbury dealt with how the Palestinians should come into the talks. The extent of Palestine's representation is difficult. The State of Palestine, as envisaged in the moderate remarks of, for instance, the PLO spokesman, Mr. Saad Hammani, involves the West Bank. But one day Palestine will cross the River Jordan to the East. With all respect to the Hashemite dynasty, it is an anachronism in the area. In time it will be to Israel's advantage for Palestine to grow. A crowded and hungry Palestine could be a danger to Israel. An extended Palestine will undoubtedly be a safer neighbour. If we are to go on towards a cantonal system, equality in numbers between Palestine and Israel is just as much to the advantage of the Israelis as to the Palestinians.
We must proceed rapidly to a Geneva conference. We must have active European representation at Geneva. It is an astonishing feature that the Middle East has been ruined by the entry, in different ways, of American interests and Russian interests. America is far too committed to Israel because of domestic political conditions. The Soviet Union, ever power-hungry, is anxious to exploit the discontent and the unhappiness of the Arabs. All of us who know the Arab world and Israel will know that the basic sentiments of the area are towards the nations of Europe. History and culture have set us together. We are also linked in terms of energy. Organisations have sprung up, like Eurabia, that brings together the countries and representatives of Europe and the Arab world. We also have parliamentary associations linking Europe and the Arab world. I am convinced that a European rôle in Geneva is vital. We cannot limit it to the step-by-step activities of an American Secretary of State. 339 The Russians are interested only in their own ambitions. We need to lay out a general scheme based on Resolution 242. We must start again not on a step-by-step approach but on a wider basis. There should be a continuing conference with permanent representatives and not only Foreign Secretaries. There should also be talks between the Israelis and the Arabs.
It is no good Israel demanding absolute security and resting there. As Dr. Kissinger has said, absolute security for one nation means absolute insecurity for its neighbours. The best answer lies in secure and recognised frontiers based on the 1967 situation. There must be recognition by Israel of the right of the Palestinians to speak, just as the people of Jewish faith must also be able to speak. Reference was made by the hon. Member for Westbury to an enlarged and enhanced United Nations force. This is vital, but we shall get no real peace in the Middle East this century, if at all. The best thing we can do is to move towards Geneva and so prevent a fifth war.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. lain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)
We are holding this debate in the middle of what, by wide consent, must be, for this country and for its allies, one of the most sombre and depressing periods of foreign policy that we have known for many years. In the past few weeks alone we have been witnessing the erosion of western influence and the crumbling of policies that we support. Loss of control over events is taking place in a terrifyingly wide spread of countries.
In Portugal we are seeing changes so rapid, so far-reaching and so potentially undermining to Western security that we cannot yet assess the extent of the damage and the dangers. However, we know that they will, alas, be very great. The situation in Portugal is not yet completely lost, but who in this House would say with any conviction that in a year's time we shall not have another Communist dictatorship?
In the Middle East, as many hon. Members have mentioned, we have seen the collapse of Dr. Kissinger's present efforts and the triumph of the Soviet desire to frustrate them.
In Cambodia, Government and people are learning that they cannot rely on 340 American promises to protect them against Communist aggression, while at the same time Communists and their allies are learning that they can rely on the Soviet Union to continue to support them.
In South Vietnam—a tragedy which has received all too little debate this afternoon—a Government which trusted the United States to protect them against the Soviet-supported North Vietnamese are learning, tragically, that that trust was totally misplaced. At the time of the Paris Agreement on Vietnam, Dr. Kissinger gave absolute commitments that the future of Vietnam would not be decided by force. Where are those commitments now? In effect, the Americans have deserted their allies in Indo-China; the Soviet Union has stuck by its allies.
Who now can believe, utterly and completely, in any American commitment, whether it be in Indo-China or—although the domestic circumstances are quite different—in the Middle East, or even in Western Europe? Nor is it the Americans alone who are in this position. The Soviet Union has given an estimated £1,000 million in military aid to the Iraqi Government, and most of that money has gone to crush the Kurds. The Kurds looked to the West and placed their trust in western-oriented Iran. Again, that trust has been tragically and brutally misplaced. Iran has withdrawn its support, and the Kurds face genocide. Once again the Soviet Union has shown that it sticks by its allies, and once again alliance with the Soviet Union has been shown to pay off.
The fact that Iran had other reasons for signing its agreement with Iraq, which may contribute to stability in the Middle East, the fact that Iraq is showing signs of wanting to get out from under the Soviet Union—and I hope that the United Kingdom will help Iraq to do so—will not blind uncommitted or threatened nations to the fact that in these last weeks alone, in Portugal, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Middle East, the western nations and their allies have lacked the will, the energy and the determination, to stand by those they promised to stand by.
At the same time as the causes supported by the Soviet Union are advancing, the United Kingdom, at a moment of financial crisis, is preparing, in effect, to 341 lend money to the Soviet Union at a rate lower than that at which we are compelled to borrow to keep ourselves afloat. In the latest defence White Paper we are cutting our ability to defend ourselves, without any corresponding action by the Soviet Union. Furthermore, because the present Government are proposing a referendum on the EEC, we are a considerable way to backing out of the one major hope for ensuring the United Kingdom's security and influence in the future —namely, the EEC and, with it, the nucleus of a united Europe.
British influence has diminished and, alas, is still diminishing, but I wish to mention three specific areas in which we still can and must exercise some urgent influence.
I refer first to Iraqi Kurdistan. It now appears tragically pointless to argue the rights and wrongs of the breaches of the March 1970 agreement between the Kurds and the Iraqis, but, with General Barzani's 1½ million followers fearing genocide, with 300,000 Kurdish refugees, threatened by disease and starvation, trying to make their way to the safety of Iran by 1st April, I ask Her Majesty's Government to take action first, to intercede urgently with the Shah so that the border may be kept open for another month for the passage of refugees. If this does not happen, in the terrible conditions of travel in northern Iraq at this time of year many thousands of men, women and children will have no chance to reach the safety of Iran before the Iraqi cease-fire is over.
Secondly, I ask Her Majesty's Government to intercede with the Turks to open their frontier to humanitarian aid to Kurdish refugees. Thirdly, I ask the Government to use every possible means to persuade the international community, particularly the United Nations, to organise urgently a massive relief operation for the Kurds in their desperate plight.
In areas where we can still exercise some influence, and indeed must do so, I wish to mention the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Like almost every other hon. Member, I am in favour of true détente between the Soviet. Union and the West. I want to see the areas of friction between us reduced. I also want to see an increase 342 in trade and human contacts, a freer flow of information and greater confidence and co-operation between us, but I draw a distinction between true détente, substantiated by action, and a mere barrage of verbiage about détente, without much action to substantiate it.
To those who might become lulled by the euphoria of all the talk about détente, it cannot be emphasised enough that détente is no substitute for defence. I was surprised to hear the Foreign Secretary tell the House this afternoon that he had managed to persuade the Russians to change their definition of "peaceful coexistence". Does that mean that the Russians would not now march into Czechoslovakia? Would a new definition of "co-existence" completely change all that? I do not suppose that there is one hon. Member in the House who believes that. It does not matter about any scrap of paper relating to the Soviet Union's definition of co-existence. We know their aims and we know what they are out to achieve.
I say with some sadness that little has happened to persuade me otherwise than that at the CSCE the dominant aim of the Soviet Union—and that aim is different from the aims of other members of the Warsaw Pact, such as Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia—is to alter the balance of power in Europe in its own favour, pursued merely by means different from those of the past. The aim is to divide and weaken Western Europe, to strengthen the Soviet hold over Eastern Europe, and to reduce the risks for the Soviet Union in Europe as a whole. That is what faces the Russians in the light of their economic problems, their fissiparous ethnic problems, and the problem of China threatening their Eastern frontier.
Mr. Brezhnev wants a CSCE summit this summer. I do not subscribe to the view that just because he may be the best First Secretary we have got, we should therefore do all he wants. I hope that a summit proves possible this summer, but there must be no further erosion of the West's position at the CSCE. In particular, we still require better and firmer guarantees about military confidence-building measures, to which the Foreign Secretary referred, and a freer flow of people and ideas. I hope that the Government will say to the Soviet authority that without such guarantees 343 there will be no summit conference this summer. It is better that there be no summit than a phoney one.
Finally, in the areas where we still can and must exercise some influence, I wish to mention the EEC. I said earlier that British influence in the world was, alas, continuing to diminish. That sorry process can be stopped. I believe that it can be stopped through, and only through, a united Europe, of which the EEC is the only credible present representative. After Easter we shall no doubt be having long debates on this subject. I shall therefore say now only that I believe that there is nothing in foreign policy more important than for Her Majesty's Government to help construct a strong, democratic and united Europe.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)
The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) expressed dismay at the trend of world events. Since before the end of the Second World War we have been witnessing an inexorable struggle on the part of the peoples of the Third World—Africa, Southern Asia and Latin America —to cast off the yoke of the advanced countries and of imperialism. The record demonstrates that the tide of history has been with that movement. That is why the hon. Gentleman is bound to be disappointed with the way that affairs have turned out in recent years.
Many people outside this House, as well as right hon. and hon. Members, have sought to interpret the process as some diabolical Soviet plot, but, once independent, surprisingly few countries have been ready to act as puppets of Moscow.
I was among those Members of Parliament who denounced the United States' intervention in Indo-China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all the way through. I believe that those who took that position were proved absolutely right by what has been happening this week. All the military might of the United States, all the threats to bomb Vietnam back into the Stone Age, the tragic deaths and suffering of the Vietnamese and the loss of over 40,000 American lives, have not sufficed to stem the course of history.
The days of the United States domination of Vietnam are drawing to a close, 344 whether or not the Americans give aid. It will be a step forward when at last Vietnam has achieved its genuine united national independence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Free elections?"] We did not have free elections in many other parts of the world about which hon. Members have been concerned today. Unfortunately, the experience of Vietnam does not yet seem to have taught right hon. and hon. Members the lesson of history.
The Labour Party manifesto declared opposition to all forms of colonialism. Unfortunately, even with a Labour Government in office, we are not putting that into practice in other parts of the world.
I want to turn my attention particularly to the situation in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
§ Mr. Bowden
I find the hon. Gentleman's remarks about Vietnam incredible. Is he saying that, as there is supposed to be peace at the moment between North and South Vietnam, North Vietnam is not an aggressor in South Vietnam and that Communist-backed and sponsored forces are not attempting to take over the whole of South Vietnam? Surely the hon. Gentleman must accept that.
§ Mr. Newens
I suggest that Vietnam is one country and that the North Vietnamese and the forces of the National Liberation Front are no more aggressors in Vietnam than the Northern States of the United States were aggressors in the Southern States during the American Civil War. I do not wish to pursue that matter now, but I do not regard it as aggression. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will be patient, because they will have plenty more to object to in what is coming.
The Middle East as a whole, and not South-East Asia, is the most potentially explosive area of the globe today, yet all the major advanced countries, including the Soviet Union, are pouring in arms at an unprecedented rate. Whatever the arguments may be about the Arab-Israeli struggle—I do not believe that peace will come about without recognising the legitimate rights of all peoples, including the Palestinians and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation which represents them —there can surely be no shred of justification for the militarisation of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean that is now taking place.
§ Mr. Newens
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman will wait, I shall explain. Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jnr, Chief of the United States naval operations, made the following interesting remark some time ago:The Indians primarily, but other nations in the area, too, have talked about a zone of peace in the area. We think this is a very dangerous concept.It is true that the Western Powers have powerful interests in the Indian Ocean—shipping lanes, oil resources, the minerals of Southern Africa and strategic considerations—but in the long run these will not be safeguarded by throwing in our lot with the most reactionary antidemocratic elements in the area and building up the military strength of those powers.
The question of the Soviet presence—I make it clear that I do not support it—is not the real threat in the eyes of the United States and of many other people. Soviet arms supplies in the Gulf are approximately one-fifth in value of the United States arms supplies. Soviet naval facilities are much weaker, and her air facilities are virtually non-existent. For example, the United States Phantoms which were supplied to Saudi Arabia have a range of 1,000 miles, compared with 400-miles range of the MIG 21s which went to South Yemen and Iraq. We should bear that point clearly in mind.
The real threat that is recognised by the Western Powers is the continuing insurrection in Oman and the possibility of revolution engulfing the whole area. It is in this context that British efforts to crush the Dhofar rebellion, the intention to do which is reported in the defence review, should be considered. It is all very well to say, as my right hon. and hon. Friends have said on numerous occasions in reply to Questions that I have put down, that the present sultan is more progressive than his father. But the British supported his father and his predecessors for many years.
The present sultan does not believe in democracy, and is an autocrat at best. I cannot understand the logic of right hon. and hon. Members who get hot under the collar about what is going on in Portugal when they are prepared to 346 accept a complete absence of democracy in the States surrounding the Gulf. Britain has built up the armed forces of the Sultan of Oman. We have provided officers to direct his campaigns and acquiesced in the presence of thousands of Iranian troops who have been brought into the struggle. Last year, British pilots flew planes over Western Dhofar, destroying waterholes, killing livestock and attacking villages. I do not know what that has to do with being on the side of the poor and oppressed of the world.
At this moment, British officers are directing a campaign to wipe out the base of the insurrection in Western Dhofar, which we have no justification for doing. The military campaign may in the short term succeed, but it will not remove the cause of the insurrection, which is a demand for a radical change by an awakening people.
Already, the cost of the war to the sultan is absorbing a vast proportion of the national revenue of Oman and producing cash problems. Yet the sultan is hopelessly extravagant and is spending enormous amounts of money on the building of palaces. Recently, when he came to London the Evening Standard reported that he paid a visit to Harrods to buy £18,000 worth of perfume to put in his bath. Is that an example of the kind of person we should be supporting if we are so interested in democracy?
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds) rose—
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I intervene for one purpose. It is possible that Sultan Qaboos, if he is advised, will read the Official Report. It is right for me to record that what the hon. Gentleman says carries no credence with the Opposition.
§ Mr. Newens
I am sure that Sultan Qaboos will be no more surprised about that than I am.
Much as I regret the assassination today of King Faisal—as I regret any assassination or such an act of violence —and despite the economic progress achieved there, Saudi Arabia is an utter autocracy, where prisoners' hands and limbs are struck off as punishments. It is all very well for the Opposition not 347 to accept that state of affairs, but that is the situation.
In Yemen, Bahrein and Iran many political prisoners are kept in horrifying conditions. There is a denial of human rights in many of those States. I do not approve of terrorism, but we should recognise that such inhuman régimes as this breed it.
I have always been ready to denounce inhumane conditions, whether in the Soviet Union, the Middle East or any other part of the world. We cannot run away from that.
As Britain has pulled back from this area, the United States interest has increased. The CIA, to which I referred recently in another context, has played an increasingly important rôle in this matter. The headquarters of the CIA was shifted from Cyprus to Iran in 1973. The ex-CIA director, Richard Helms, was appointed more recently as United States ambassador to Iran, where no doubt he will have a close relationship with the Savak, which is part of the machinery for suppressing the legitimate rights of the Iranian people.
It was reported some time ago in the Economist that Sultan Qaboos met CIA representatives in London in 1971. Subsequently military aid was channelled from the United States to Aman via Saudi Arabia. Sultan Qaboos visited Washington in January of this year, where President Ford and Dr. Kissinger apparently discussed with him the possibility of having access to facilities at Masirah in return for the anti-tank missiles with which they agreed to provide him.
The United States has a policy of seeking to oppose social revolution by proxy if possible, but to maintain the greatest possible strategic mobility to move forces into the area if required. Unfortunately, the British Government co-operated with the United States in that respect by providing additional facilities at Diego Garcia. I believe that the militarisation of the Indian Ocean is against the interest of those living around it and that Britain's acquiescence and participation in this policy is morally unjustified and politically bankrupt. As in Vietnam, the tide of demand for a new social order 348 will not be turned back by these activities. It will only be delayed.
British policy should be opposed to colonialism and militarisation. It should not favour the building up of reactionary Governments such as those of Iran and Saudi Arabia. British policy should be independent of the present United States policy in this area. I refer to the policy of Dr. Kissinger and of those with whom he is associated.
I welcome the attempts now being made by Congress to voice a different form of United States policy, which I believe is far more progressive than anything for which Dr. Kissinger stands. Britain should make it clear that it will in no wise support the threats which he has made to seize the oil installations. We should oppose the provision of additional facilities for the United States at Diego Garcia, Masirah, or anywhere else. It is fashionable today to regard Dr. Kissinger as a fount of wisdom on foreign affairs, and as an outstanding man of peace. However, I remember his association with the policy of destabilisation by the CIA in Chile which led to the tragic overthrow of Dr. Allende. I am concerned about democracy there as much as in other places.
I remember Dr. Kissinger's record in Indo-China, and the advice which he tendered on Cyprus. On this issue I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger). I believe that it is high time that Parliament made clear that some hon. Members, at least, do not agree with some of Dr. Kissinger's policies. Probably our views are much closer to those increasingly expressed by representatives in the United States Congress. The United States military build-up in the Indian Ocean will not ensure the continued flow of oil, because the real threat to that oil is not from a Soviet naval embargo. The threat arises from the possibility that the oil will be cut off at its sources. Therefore, we should avoid tying British policy to that of the United States.
We should oppose colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism, which American policy represents in that part of the world. This means an end to British support for the Sultan of Oman in the war against Dhofar. It means 349 opposition to all militarisation of the Indian Ocean, whether by the Soviet Union or by the United States. It would be very good if Britain took a lead in that respect.
I make no apology for proclaiming my belief in a new social system to end the exploitation of man by man. Experience of history indicates the path we should follow to achieve that aim. It is not a path which has been followed by Labour and Conservative Governments in their support of imperialist interests, multinational companies and narrow, reactionary groups of people in exploiting the poor and underprivileged masses. It may take years, but eventually the people in the Gulf and the Middle East will achieve a unity and a freer and more progressive society.
We in Britain must recognise that we shall best be served by refraining from committing ourselves to the outgoing reactionary forces in all parts of the world. We must be prepared to establish a relationship with the new forces.
The Labour Party manifesto, on which I fought the last election, said that we opposed racialism and colonialism. The policies of which I have spoken genuinely represent the putting into practice of that manifesto.
Many hon. Members will not have agreed with much that I have said this evening. However, I think that they should recognise that, despite the smiles in which some of them have indulged, there is an increasing body of opinion outside Parliament which opposes imperialism. Eventually the future of humanity lies with us on this side of the House—not with the Opposition.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The winding up speeches are due to begin at nine o'clock. Therefore, on behalf of the 14 still anxious to take part who have been here almost throughout the whole of this lengthy debate, I appeal again to hon. Members to be reasonably brief.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)
The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) said that we cannot stem the course of history. History as he has rewritten it tonight we will certainly stem, because it bears no relationship to reality. We on 350 this side reject every word that he said, particularly about South Vietnam and the horrors being inflicted on innocent people who are fleeing from Hue and other cities because they know what would happen to them at the hands of the North Vietnamese if they were left behind.
This whole debate has been pitched in a sombre key, and that is right. The last year has seen a chapter of disasters for the whole of Western democracy and, above all, for NATO. Over the last 25 years we have relied far too much on the major rôle that the United States has always played in foreign affairs and defence. We and the rest of the partners, or so-called partners, in the alliance have all too easily adopted a minor rôle and gone along with the United States, allowing it to take the lead.
Now, however, the United States is no longer prepared to accept that rôle or to take that lead. It now falls to us, as the erstwhile junior partner in the alliance, to assert ourselves as full partners and to play a much fuller Dart. This means that we all have to face reality. There are three areas in which that is vital now.
The first is Portugal. The very brief period when it seemed that the Portuguese would exist under a democratic Government has been short-lived. We now see exactly what fate stands in store for the people of Portugal. Many hon. Members on this side were present in Oporto just a few weeks ago at the demonstrations against a democratic party trying to hold its congress. It was clear to us all what was happening, when 500 escudos would change hands, an iron bar would be handed out and a man would go off to do his stint of demonstrating against a democratic party. That is the fate which lies in store for Portugal.
We must face the reality of what that will mean after the elections in Portugal. Does it mean that we can rely on Portugal as a NATO partner? Of course not. It will be impossible for Portugal, in the hands of a small clique of Communists, to play a part in NATO, and she would not wish to do so. So the responsibility now rests with us to face reality. If we lose our base in Portugal, where do we then go? At the moment the United States has bases unilaterally in Spain. Can we use those bases which have been 351 negotiated unilaterally with Spain for NATO forces? That is the reality that the Government may have to face in the months ahead. It is vital that we have bases on the Iberian peninsula.
The second area in which we must face reality is Cyprus. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) is no longer present. I should have taken issue with her interpretation of events in Cyprus. I, fortunately and unfortunately, spent many years in Cyprus. I love Cyprus and the Cypriot people, both Greek and Turkish, but from the very moment that the independence of Cyprus was given against the background of the continuance of Eoka under a new name, it was inevitable that. sooner or later, an invasion by Turkish forces would take place.
From the day of that independence until 1963, the culmination of the first period, inch by inch the Turkish Cypriot population were pushed back, terrorised by the group led by Nicos Sampson. In 1963, in part because of the pressure put on by the United States but also because of the forbearance of the Turkish armed forces and the Turkish Government, Turkey did not invade. But in 1974, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South said, she wished we had intervened. So in part do I, but at that point, with Sampson put in power by a military Government in Greece with the express intention of forcing the Turkish Cypriots into an even smaller area and destroying their villages, the Turks had no alternative. That invasion had to take place.
That is where we must now face the reality of the situation. What we now have to do is decide whether we will accept what is bound to be the case—that the old days have gone, that the days when one could drive from Nicosia to Kyrenia with Greek village succeeding Turkish village succeeding Greek village, have gone. They went before the invasion, and we now have to accept that there is a de facto partition of Cyprus into two parts. We have a special responsibility to see that this is made to work in the interests of all the Cypriot people, as far as we can.
In doing so, I would stress one small point against the broader canvas, but 352 one which is important to people in this country—those British residents many of whom have lived in Cyprus for many years, who have settled there and sunk their savings into houses there and who are now deprived of their homes and are under great pressure financially and otherwise. I know that the Government have made strong representations about this to the Turkish Government, but I hope that they will continue those representations and make it a point of honour that just restitution is made to this small group who have suffered so much.
The position in Cyprus leads on to another danger area. It has led directly to the ban on arms sales to Turkey. Here we are on very dangerous ground. Some might delight in the break-up of the NATO forces on the southern flank, but I am not one of them. When an ally has been loyal and faithful to us for 30 years, for her to be deprived of her main sources of supply at a crucial point in the middle of re-equipping her armed forces is a situation fraught with danger. It is one of which we should take note since it could ultimately disturb the whole balance of the NATO alliance. It is not a small group but public opinion in Turkey—a proud people—who are now saying that they will not tolerate the imposition of this ban by the United States. It is a misuse of the power of the United States which they will live to regret in the months and years to come.
In all these areas and many others, the one certainty is that the other arm of NATO, of the democratic Powers—the European end—must begin to act in concert, not only as an economic entity but as a political entity. We need that political will from our side to match that of the Americans, or perhaps the flagging interest of the Americans, on the other side. It is vital that not only in Portugal and Turkey but also in the desperate problems which we now face and the threat to world peace in the Middle East we should turn our thoughts from the economic strength of the EEC towards the real political will that we alone can bring to that area which is so vital to us.
This may not be a good time for us to give a lead, but a lead there must be if future generations are not to judge us as harshly as we now judge those who; 353 through ignorance, idleness or cowardice, laid the unhappy foundations for the war against Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy. The enemy today is as plainly visible as he was then. We must be resolved to work together and, when necessary, to take unpopular decisions if we are not to follow the same path to possible destruction of our democratic way of life.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Evan Luard (Oxford)
During the past two months we have had a number of minor debates on the Common Market and after Easter we shall have a major two-day debate on that subject. I know that a number of hon. Members have felt that for that reason it is not appropriate for us to speak about that subject today. I respect that feeling. There are a number of subjects not concerned with Europe to which I would wish to devote some attention. But at a time when this country is on the brink of making perhaps the most important external decision it has ever taken, that is, in the referendum, it would be an act of irrelevance not to devote at least a considerable part of our attention to this subject.
It is inevitable that at the conclusion of a long hard year's negotiations on the question of our membership of the EEC, the judgments that have been widely made about the success of those negotiations have been largely subjective. Those people who have for many years been opposed to British membership of the EEC have, almost without exception, tended to conclude that the negotiations did not succeed in meeting the conditions laid down in the Labour Party manifesto. Those people—and I confess that I am one—who have been convinced for many years that Britain should be a member of the EEC have, on the contrary, tended to persuade themselves that the Government's negotiations succeeded, if not totally, at least substantially, in meeting those conditions laid down in the Labour Party manifesto that it was reasonable to expect should be met.
I stress that it is important to judge the negotiations in the context of realistic expectations: certain changes in the whole Community system could not reasonably have been made. Judged in that light, the Government have achieved 354 a greater degree of success than I believed possible a year ago. This is partially due to the skill with which the negotiations were conducted. I pay tribute especially to the success of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in winning the good will and confidence of our Community partners so that they were willing to make significant movements towards our point of view. It is partly that certain changes have taken place within the Community which have made it more the type of organisation that most of us would wish to join.
I could go through, one by one, the seven conditions laid down in the Labour Party manifesto. That operation has been undertaken a number of times in the House in recent months, and I may wish to do it on a future occasion. I do not wish to attempt to do it now. I wish to address myself to three major matters which are perhaps the most important subjects of concern about our membership of the EEC. They are all subjects which were discussed at length during the negotiations.
The first is the common agricultural policy. Of all the features of the Community system, this is the one that to many of us—whether we are in favour of British membership of the Common Market or against it—is the most disagreeable. There is no doubt that the Community's agricultural system is just about the most protective type it is possible to devise. It penalises imports, rewards self-sufficiency and even subsidises exports, in certain circumstances. We are right to be opposed in general to that type of agricultural system. But its abandonment was not a reasonable thing for anyone to think could be brought about during the negotiations.
The introduction of that system was the carrot which induced France to join the EEC. It was the prize which it gained in return for paying the price of accepting industrial free trade. Therefore, as the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) discovered 15 or 16 years ago, there was no possible opportunity for this country to get the benefit of free trade in industrial products without accepting the undoubted difficulties of the obligations inherent in the common agricultural policy.
355 However, there have been some important changes even in this area. The system is nothing like it was originally. This is partly because of the increasing restiveness and reluctance of the West Germans to continue to foot the bill for the policy, but it is partly the result of the recent negotiations. The policy today is adjusted far more towards the convenience and interests of the consumer, and less towards paying the producer.
In one other case we have been able to introduce something like a deficiency payment system, a system of premiums, for our beef producers. We have secured the benefit of cheap imports of sugar compared with the existing world price, and of imports of grain at prices certainly favourable compared with the existing world price. As a result of the review of the common agricultural policy which has taken place, the Community has increasingly committed itself to accepting national aids for agriculture in general, to avoiding the accumulation of large stockpiles of food, and, in disposing of those stockpiles, to taking account of the interests of the consumer in the Community rather than the consumer outside the Community.
The second matter that I wish to deal with is the criticism that was often understandably made of the Community in the past—that it was an inward-turned organisation. That was not an entirely justifiable criticism, even from the beginning. Take, for example, expediture on aid. I believe that for some years almost every other member of the Community, apart from Italy, has been paying a higher proportion of its GNP in aid than we have. None the less, it is true that some of these countries have not had our long colonial experience, and their attention has therefore not been focused on the outside world as ours has been, so people have been understandably concerned that if we became a member we would find ourselves increasingly turning our attention exclusively towards the Common Market.
I believe that there have been developments in the Community over the last two or three years which should have done something to belie that fear. The most striking manifestation of this is the recent Lomé Convention and the agree- 356 ment made for the benefit of the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. That agreement was considerably more generous than any agreement this country has ever made for the benefit of its colonies, the Commonwealth or developing countries in general.
That agreement was in many ways a model of what such agreements should be. It provided for some degree of non-reciprocity, of definite discrimination in favour of developing countries, in that they were granted preferences which were not granted to the richer countries in return; because it covered agricultural products as well as industrial products; and provided for a system of stabilisation of the earnings from commodities from the developing countries. That should reassure people in this country that the Community is no longer an inward-turned organisation. It has also had the effect that many of the developing countries, including the Commonwealth countries, now realise that it is much in their interests that we should remain within the Community, because they have much more to gain from the agreement that they have now reached than they could gain from any return to, for example preferences exclusively with Britain.
The third matter to which I turn is the much-discussed topic of sovereignty. I am glad to say that the word "sovereignty" did not appear in our manifesto, as it clearly has nationalist overtones. The manifesto said that the negotiations aimed to preserve for Parliament the powers to pursue effective regional, industrial and fiscal policies, In each of those areas we have preserved our independence and our rights.
We have ensured that we can continue to pursue those regional policies that we have been pursuing, including, for example, our regional employment premiums. In addition, we shall gain the benefit of the Community's own regional policy payments. The only obligation that we have is generally to conform to guidelines concerning the type of regional policy to be pursued. That is as much in our interests as in the interests of other members of the Community, as they will protect us from excessive subsidisation of particular areas. As the other members of the Community are richer than we are, we have more to lose than to gain from subsidisation of that kind.
357 Similarly, in industrial policy we have preserved our right to undertake, for example, policies concerning the extension of public ownership, policies designed to establish planning agreements, policies to set up a National Enterprise Board. Nothing in that area will be affected by our membership. Again, the only obligation concerns pricing—to prevent policies which interfere with free and fair competition and which involve an element of subsidy in pricing. That is in our own interests.
Fiscal policy was never in any way endangered by membership. Therefore, in all three areas we have retained our general freedom of manoeuvre. We have achieved the aims that we set out to achieve.
I do not believe that any of the other matters that were discussed—the other four points in the manifesto—are of great importance. They are our contribution to the EEC budget, harmonisation of VAT, freedom of capital movement and the theoretical monetary union which was envisaged at one time. Moreover, in all those matters we have achieved our aims almost in full. Here, too, we can feel that the negotiations have been successful to a considerable extent.
The House will not be surprised that after my survey of the negotiations I very much welcome the Government's decision to recommend the renegotiated terms to the electorate in the forthcoming referendum. I do so because I am convinced that a decision to remain within the Community would not merely be in the best interests of this country but would be in conformity with the traditions, policies and ideals of the Labour Party.
Above all things, our party has surely been an internationalist party. It is true that when we have spoken of internationalism we have often been concerned, above all, with the building up of world institutions—that is an aim which I hold extremely dear—but we also regard as an important interim aim the object of establishing effective regional institutions, such as the EEC.
Whether we like it or not, this country is a part of Western Europe. Our future, our destiny, lies in Western Europe. If we wish to retain our influence on that future destiny, it can be only by remain- 358 ing a member of the great and growing Community on our own doorstep.
Once the decision has been taken to remain within the Community, I believe that, just as we helped to establish democratic Socialism in this country over the past decades, we have an important role to play in helping to build up democratic Socialism in Western Europe over the coming decades.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
I do not think I am called upon to comment on the speech by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard), or perhaps I should describe it as a lecture which think was not directed to the Opposition but was intended for consumption by his own party.
Instead, I revert to the theme of the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, in what I found a rather agreeable speech. There is only one point of substantial difference between us. He said that the reason why some Conservative Members did not appreciate the Russian trade treaty was that they were against the Soviet Union. If we cast grave doubts on the validity of that agreement, it is not because of political undertones or overtones but because we think that on good commercial grounds, and because of the effect on the balance of payments, it is a thoroughly bad agreement. I look forward to an opportunity to debate the matter more fully on another occasion.
In every foreign affairs debate in recent years one word and one phrase have come up with monotonous regularity. The word is "détente" and the phrase is "double standards", a phrase which is mainly heard from my side of the House and which I wish to talk about. There is much that I would wish to say about it, if there were time, but one of my thoughts about some people's approach to the word is that it is rather like the old nursery song "Wishing will make it so", in that some people seem to think that if we keep on saying "Détente, détente", and say what a marvellous thing it is, it will have arrived.
This Government enjoy issuing White Papers and Green Papers with various coloured edges. I should like them one day to issue a paper giving an exact summary of where détente, as a reality, not a hope or illusion, has taken place. 359 Where has the Soviet Union given away any aim or advantage that it has been seeking? Where in the whole world has it ceased its aggressions? Where has it reduced its imperialistic control of satellite States? Where has it given more freedom to its own peoples? Where has it given more freedom to those whom it controls, directly or indirectly?
I believe that it would be the shortest White Paper ever issued, because I do not believe that, except as a pious aspiration, there is any practical evidence of the Russians having done anything more in the realm of reaching détente than to continue with their aims. If relations have been easier during the last few years as a result of this so-called policy it is because we have been increasingly giving way because we do not want to upset the so-called détente. In other words, whatever relaxation has been achieved has been because the West has been allowing its essential interests to decline, and the protection of those interests.
I turn briefly to the events in South-East Asia. I have been shocked at one or two speeches from hon. Members on the Government side of the House—not the Foreign Secretary—suggesting that in some way all that is happening now in Vietnam is that the people are at long last getting together now that the American yoke has been removed. I wonder whether those hon. Members who have spoken in that vein would take their eyes away from the columns of the Morning Star for a few minutes every day and look at some of the pictures of some of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are fleeing from the advance of the forces in the North in order to seek sanctuary in what remains of the South. I should have thought that these pictures of people voting with their feet and their lives would convince all but the most biased. Yet we have heard speeches about the horrors of the brutal, dictatorial, tyrannous régime in Saigon. If it is so brutal, dictatorial and tyrannous, why are those hundreds of thousands of people going south instead of north? No hon. Member on the Government side of the House has yet told me why that is taking place.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will reply in his own speech. For the sake of brevity I shall not give way to either seated or standing observations.
Regarding the tragic events in South-East Asia, it is now unfashionable to recall Foster Dulles and the dominoes. Yet what is happening there today, and with wider implications, is the discredited dominoes factor coming true. Already we have seen that if Cambodia goes to Communist control, Laos will do so. Vietnam is likely to do so. Already the Philippines and Thailand are beginning to look to their security and decide whether they can afford to stand up for their own freedom and independence against the forces from the north.
If there was one cause above all others why the Kissinger mission in Israel and the Arab States failed, it was because the Israelis are now more obdurate about giving up what they regard as their essential strategic interests because they have seen what happens to allies of the United States elsewhere and are no longer prepared to leave their basic national security to a guarantee by a single foreign Power. This is what it is all about. That is why Kissinger has failed. The Israelis can look at a map in the same way as everyone else. They can say "The guarantee of the United States today does not have the same value, and the events in South-East Asia are proving this. Therefore, we shall have to look to ourselves and our own efforts to defend ourselves."
That is one of the more tragic implications and consequences of what is happening in South-East Asia today.
I said that I would comment on "double standards". There was one other point on which the Foreign Secretary did himself and us less than justice. That was in his arguments about the Shelepin case. But the right hon. Gentleman first said something that I found rather endearing. That was that he accepted that he and, he suspected, many others—I plead guilty to it, too—all indulge in a form of double standards in international politics, because it is almost impossible, however hard one tries, not to feel oneself influenced by whether one favours a particular type of democratic government for 361 disfavours a particularly undemocratic form of government elsewhere.
Therefore, I add this as a tribute to the Foreign Secretary. Having said that he made this remark, which had application everywhere, I am bound to say that on his Front Bench he probably indulges less in double standards than any of his colleagues. I hope that my praise will not prove to be offensive to him. I am glad to have given it in his absence.
I revert to the subject of double standards. Two have emerged, but 1 shall finish with a third, Shelepin. The first was when a military coup brought down an authoritarian Marxist régime in Chile. The screams and howls from the Left could be heard everwhere. It was a scandalous thing that the military, soldiers with machine guns, should actually interfere with a régime which happened to be an extremely Left-wing régime.
There was another military coup, this time in Portugal. But this time the screams were of joy, because this time it was the wicked soldiery that brought down a Right-wing authoritarian Government.
§ Mr. Luardrose—
§ Sir F. Bennett
I shall not give way. I did not interrupt the hon. Gentleman's lecture, and I shall not allow him to interrupt mine.
At the particular time to which I am referring, everyone knows perfectly well that completely blatant double standards were observed by the Left in this country when the military took over in one country as to when they took over in another. I shall not withdraw or change one word. The fact that what I have said is true is what is causing such indignation, even on the sparse benches opposite.
In regard to the Shelepin case, the most fatuous suggestions have been made that the proposed visit to this country has a parallel with what the Conservatives did in relation to Dr. Caetano. I made it clear earlier that Dr. Caetano was the Head of Government of a friendly Power. I would not raise any objections if a Prime Minister or an official or a ministerial visitor were to come to this country from the Soviet Union. I have never done so when such people have come here in the past. I am not suggesting that there was anything wrong when Mr. Tito, in the days 362 before he was so popular, came here, and I would not object if we were to invite the South African Prime Minister to this country if we wanted to discuss something with him. But I am willing to bet that my forbearance would not be shared with hon. Members opposite.
I now turn to Mr. Shelepin. He is in none of those positions. He is, so far as I know, an ex-secret police chief—although I am not sure to what extent a secret police officer ever becomes "ex". We know that he is responsible for a great deal of bloodshed and loss of innocent lives inside and outside his own country. This has never been denied. He is invited here not as a ministerial representative on Government matters but by the British trade unions. What possible connection has Mr. Shelepin with any form of trade unionism as we know it? The only possible claim he could have, I suppose, would be as a life member of the guild of professional assassins. With that one exception, I think his links with trade unionism are singularly attenuated.
When some years ago there was a proposed visit by a team of young South African cricketers and when they were, in their way, in a similar position—they were invited by a private body in this country —the present Foreign Secretary—and I presume that collective responsibility still applies to this sphere of our activities—sent for the MCC and asked them whether they would cancel that invitation because, the right hon. Gentleman said, it would prove to be a public affront, it would cause disturbances and it would be unfair to call on the police to deal with such disturbances.
Yet when these criteria should obviously be made to apply to Mr. Shelepin, the present Home Secretary does not follow the example of his Labour predecessor. All that the Foreign Secretary could say today—and, of course, it is not his responsibility, except in a collective sense—was that the MCC was a private institution in this country and that he felt entitled to make those observations. I had not thought, although I sometimes tend to think, that the TUC was still other than a private institution in this country and not part of government. Therefore, we must assume that what the Foreign Secretary was able to do three years ago his successor is not willing or able to do today. The 363 Home Secretary's statement last week that he had no intention of making any representations to the TUC at all is the most classic, the most up-to-date and most blatant form of double standards with which we have been inflicted in recent years.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride)
As many speakers have pointed out, we have had a very wide-ranging debate on foreign affairs. We have listened to the usual crop of House of Commons experts on every aspect of that subject. I say that without any intention to disparage, because there are in the House many people who have knowledge of the whole gamut of what is going on in the world.
I cannot claim such knowledge. I confine my remarks to an area of which, like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), I have some knowledge. I refer to the Middle East. That is an area where thousands of lives have been lost and about which millions of words have been written and spoken.
It must be extremely tiresome for decent people to have to listen continuously to a barrage of propaganda from one side or another. One aspect of that propaganda deliberately fosters the idea that we should be entirely motivated by our own interests. If we take that point of view, there are at least three difficulties. First, different people have different views about what constitutes Britain's interests. Secondly, to be concerned only about our own interests means that we have to disregard all other considerations, including moral ones. Thirdly—and because I mention it last does not mean that it is the least important—in this modern world few countries are able to maintain an isolated position. Most have to make alliances and arrangements with other nations.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West made a thoughtful speech with which I almost wholly agree. However, I did not agree with what he said about Mr. Shelepin, and I take issue here with the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir Frederic Bennett). I am not tremendously concerned about Mr. Shelepin visiting Britain. He is in no different position from any other 364 Russian leader. He is a Russian leader whether he is a trade union leader or the ex-chief of the KGB. Although I am not happy about some of his past exploits, I should equally not have been happy about some of the past exploits of J. Edgar Hoover. But I would not have made any fuss if he had visited this country. The uniqueness of the Middle East problem is fundamentally the avowed intention of Israel's enemies to obliterate her by any method, including war. Some people think that if they neglect this intention or gloss over it it will go away. I admit that this is put in a more subtle way nowadays. The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) used to argue the straightforward case for the Arabs. He held the view that Israel had no right to exist. Now he has a more subtle approach. The obliteration of Israel is now a two-stage procedure.
The first is that there must be another Arab State, the twenty-first Arab State in the area. When the hon. Gentleman says that there should be an Arab State in Palestine he forgets that there is one. Trans-Jordan is in Palestine, and it is an Arab State. The hon. Gentleman says that this twenty-first State should be established on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. That State, along with others, will be poised once again for the final onslaught. At one time friends of the Arab States used to spend all their time explaining why Israel had no right to be there at all. Now they tell us that the Arabs have changed their opinion and are willing to accept the presence of Israel. I hope that they are right. I would ask my Israeli friends to explore this angle carefully. There may be some truth in it, but I cannot blame the Israelis for being deeply suspicious and for asking for more tangible evidence of this astonishing change of heart. From the Israeli's point of view, the only matter which is not negotiable—everything else can be discussed—is Israel's right to exist as a free and sovereign State.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brig-house and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) seeks, as always, to make invidious comparisons between different forms of terrorism. I condemn all terrorism. I am not even happy at the unfortunate necessity for violence when people go to war. 365 To go to war is different from terrorism. My hon. Friend compares the terrorism of a relatively small number of fanatical individuals in 1947-48 with the concerted and advanced methods of terrorism indulged in by a group of thugs and brigands today. He does not tell us how the terrorists in that part of the Middle East 27 or 28 years ago were utterly and completely condemned by every responsible Jewish leader. He does not say how many Arab leaders today condemn the terrorist activities of Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Army.
We cannot compare isolated acts of this description, or, indeed, the unfortunate concomitant acts of violence where sometimes innocent people are killed, with the deliberate policy of attacking no one but innocent people, no one but women and children. They do not attack Israeli soldiers. They would not dare. They attack innocent people all over the world travelling in aeroplanes which have nothing at all to do with Israel.
I was interested to hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) because, in spite of the outcry it raised from the Conservatives, there was a great deal of truth in what he said. It may be putting things forward in a most idealistic way but it is the kind of world we would all hope for. I was sorry, however, that he was so disparaging about the efforts of Dr. Kissinger. With all his faults, I believe that Dr. Kissinger has made valiant attempts to solve the problem of the Arab-Israeli dispute. His efforts did not fail because of Israeli intransigence. The hon. Member for Torbay said that the Israelis had become more obdurate because they can no longer trust the Americans. The Israelis never had any guarantees from the Americans. The Israelis made it clear, and this is one of the reasons why the Russians fell out with them, that they were not prepared to become a Russian satellite in the years following independence. Neither are they an American satellite. There is not one American soldier or adviser on Israeli soil.
There is one overriding reason why the latest Kissinger effort has failed. I do not believe that Dr. Kissinger is finished. Like Muhammad Ali, he will come back again. His reason for failing this time 366 was Egypt's insistence that it would make no concession of any political kind, no political commitment.
The Israelis' offer of territorial concessions were met with Egyptian demands that added up to a virtual ultimatum that Israel must surrender its most important defensive positions in Sinai in return for virtually nothing. The Arab States' refusal over these past 26 years to recognise or to treat with Israel on anything but military terms constitutes the most intransigent factor in this unhappy saga. But in negotiations of the kind at which Dr. Kissinger was aiming, for the first time he had Israel and Egypt trying to discuss not merely a battle line, a line where opposing armies or potential enemies from a fighting point of view should be stationed, but an Egyptian political movement towards peace.
The Egyptians are not willing to consider peace. They say "Yes, please get out of our territory" and Israel says "We will, but what is your commitment towards peace?" There is no commitment. I believe, in common, I think, with all Members of this House, in recognising the rights of all the people in this area, and of peoples everywhere, and Israel will in the future have to negotiate with representatives of the Palestinian Arabs. But Israel has never refused to negotiate with representatives of the Arab States.
If Israel has to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as some of my hon. Friends would have her do, she will do so if this organisation satisfies two conditions: first, if it is evident that the organisation, as it claims, represents the wishes, desires and interests of the Palestinian people; and, secondly, if the PLO renounces its avowed intention of destroying Israel, either in one step or in two. Then I believe Israel will negotiate with that organisation.
For our part, we in this country should be giving our support to democracy. Israel is a democratic country, although it is always being examined under a microscope. Its every blemish has to be magnified as though faults exist only in Israel and not in any other country in the world. But she is a fully democratic country, unlike any other country in that area. I am not blaming other countries for that but I say that we as a democratic country 367 should be supporting another democratic country. We should now show Israeli people clearly and unequivocally that we, for our part, stand with them in their legitimate aspirations.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Stretford)
From South-East Asia to Western Europe we see the Pax Americana crumbling. With it we see the hopes of a meaningful détente being progressively dashed. The Soviet Union and her allies are pressing relentlessly forward, in Vietnam and Cambodia, where we see the increasing length of the queues of refugees, and in Iraq, where the Kurds have for so long fought a valiant struggle against overwhelming odds and in recent months have been facing the air force of the Soviet Union itself which has a full squadron of Tupolev bombers manned by Soviet airmen based there. We see it in the Middle East, with the massive inflow of armaments and we see it now in the case of Portugal and the real threat to the hopes that so many hon. Members on both sides of the House had for that country less than a year ago.
The Western democracies are in a state of disarray. In the United States there is a non-elected President whose authority does not seem to extend even so far as Capitol Hill. No one doubts the sincerity or the great ability and tremendous efforts that Dr. Kissinger has put into the attainment of a peace settlement in the Middle East. For a valid judgment, however, one must consider how far the arrangements so far made have stood the test of time.
What has become of peace in Vietnam, of which Dr. Kissinger was saluted as the author no less than two years ago? Where do the Paris Agreements of January 1973 stand today? They can be seen now as little more than a fig leaf to cover military defeat and political misjudgment. No political solution was achieved in those Paris Agreements, or in their wake.
For the Vietnamese the war has continued unabated, and I pay tribute to their great courage in standing for two years without the support of massive American air power, without the tanks, helicopters and strike power available to the United States which had up to half a 368 million men there for a while. The wonder is that they have been able to withstand for so long. What of the international supervision that was incumbent in the Paris agreements? Where is that today? It has not impeded the large-scale invasion by North Vietnamese regular forces backed by Soviet armaments. We see a similar situation developing in Cambodia.
Where stands the alliance of those countries with the United States today? The hardware and military aid to them is being cut back, making it less easy for them to provide for their own defence. At the same time—and this is the principal criticism to be levelled at our American friends and the Western Alliance generally—there has been no determined effort to get a Soviet agreement to cool this scene of conflict. We see the dominoes collapsing in South-East Asia, and we must not forget that the United Kingdom still has obligations under the SEATO Treaty.
None of this makes the attainment of peace in the Middle East any easier. I deeply regret the failure of Dr. Kissinger's mission and there is no doubt that it has brought the possibility of war a great deal closer. I join the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) in the tributes they have paid to the late King Faisal, who was a great Arab leader whose counsel and wisdom will be sadly missed at this time.
We see the State of Israel asked to withdraw from the Golan Heights, from the Mitla and Giddi passes, and from the Abu Rodeis oil fields. All this Israel has expressed its willingness to do, but what has she been offered in return?—not even an agreement of non-belligerency. It is difficult to over-estimate the sense and reality of security that Israel's new borders provide. On 6th October 1973 Israel was attacked by surprise by 1,000 tanks on the Syrian front and an equal number on the Egyptian front, followed by second waves of the same amount. That was a total of 4,000 tanks—more than four times the total deployed by the United Kingdom. If those attacks had taken place on the 1967 borders there can be little doubt that Israel, which was no more than 10 miles wide at Netanya, would have been cut in two and in danger of defeat. It was because of the new 369 borders that they were able to turn surprise attack into a not insubstantial victory, though at the cost of 2,500 dead—the equivalent for Britain of 50,000 dead.
But in the present situation Israel is faced with the choice of relying on the security afforded by these borders or accepting at face value the declared willingness of her neighbours to accept a State of Israel on the 1967 borders against the reality of what happened in June 1967 when Israel, though not occupying a square inch of Egyptian or Syrian territory, nor Arab Jerusalem, was attacked by a massive concentration of armoured might.
One really must ask oneself what value is to be placed, not only by Isreal but by any other States, on offers of international guarantees when one sees what has become of the Paris Agreements in Vietnam, when one has seen what international supervision has meant in South-East Asia. Indeed, what reliance can Israel or other countries now place on the willingness of the United States to stand by an ally even when that requires no American troops? It is easy enough for us, as outsiders, and for friendly Governments to bring pressure to bear on Isreal to withdraw, but what if things go wrong? What responsibility and, more poignantly, what action do we take?
I believe it is time for the Western democracies to look again at our foreign policies. At the moment we are divided, and we are unsuccessful. It is time above all for Britain to reassess its position and its ability to influence events in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, which is limited enough as an individual member of EEC but would be nonexistent outside the EEC.
I believe that it is of the first importance that Britain should play the leading rôle in creating a European foreign policy, so that as a nation and as a continent we can speak with authority, so that the aspirations and interests of the British and European peoples can be taken account of and that this should be done in the closest consultation with our American allies.
Finally, I hope that every political pressure of a united alliance will be brought to hear on the Soviet Union to 370 abandon its present path of military and political imperialism.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)
In the very few minutes which are left to me I wish to concentrate on one of the great problems in the world affairs field, and that is the situation in the south-east of Asia.
I do not believe there is any hon. Member of this House, apart from a very small minority, who can look at the whole scene in the south-east of Asia with anything short of horror. Some 18 months ago a cease-fire and an agreement were supposed to have been brought about which were going to stop the terrible fighting which the people of Vietnam have had to suffer for so many generations. Yet we now see a situation in which massive forces have invaded South Vietnam in numbers, in materials, in armour, of a strength and size which have not been seen in the past 10 or 15 years.
It is estimated that more than 13 divisions, 700 Russian-made tanks and massive supplies of arms and ammunition from North Vietnam are in the South. It can be only a matter of time before South Vietnam crumbles and is totally taken over by the Communist-backed forces of the North. But we have not heard much condemnation of this aggression from the Government benches this afternoon. I realise that the Foreign Secretary did not have time to cover this area in his speech, but is it not a tragedy when so long the world has watched the situation in Vietnam with the utmost regret, when America stood virtually alone outside the Commonwealth in helping the people of South Vietnam against aggression?
Now the point has been reached when the American will to resist is weakening day by day, and slowly but surely most of South-East Asia will be taken over by the forces of Communist aggression. The situation has a frightening number of similarities with the Europe that Hitler swallowed up piece by piece in the 1930s. I cannot help comparing with that the way in which Communism is swallowing up South-East Asia section by section.
This must inevitably affect the position in the Middle East and in Portugal. In 371 all these areas we see the forces of the West on the retreat, and now it is just a matter of time until Communists of various creeds and various hues and of different forms from different countries get supremacy in many parts of the world. This is the moment when the Government are cutting back massively in defence expenditure. I hope and pray that this country and the whole of the free world will wake up before it is too late.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
The Foreign Secretary regretted that we so seldom have foreign affairs debates. He and the Minister of State will, I am sure, be the first to agree that we have heard many good speeches today and we could have heard more had there been more time. Both sides of the House should consider how we can arrange to have more time and perhaps limit the horizons of particular debates on foreign affairs so that the House can do a better job of analysing the problems before us.
I start with the proposition that at the centre of world affairs there is a measure of peace and stability while on the periphery there is instability, rapid change and violence. By the "centre of world affairs" I mean the basic power relationships between the Soviet Union and the United States, between Eastern and Western Europe and between China, America and Japan. Broadly speaking, there is a measure of peace, or at least of an enduring if precarious armed truce, among the major power blocs. This may be founded—I think it is—on a mutual fear of the nuclear deterrent. But it has been going on long enough now for the political and commercial self-interests of the rival groupings to have developed a stake in peaceful coexistence—or whatever other phrase the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary brought back from Moscow.
One of the most important aspects of this greater relative stability in East-West relations is the improvement in the Chinese attitude towards the United States and Europe, including Britain. In this connection I wish the right hon. Gentleman well in his forthcoming visit to Peking. As I said to him once before, I hope that he will encourage the Chinese 372 to develop their links in particular with the British aircraft industry. I hope that he will also use such influence as he may have to inquire what part the Chinese may be playing in encouraging the offensives now under way in South-East Asia.
It may be that most of the weapons used in that war by the North Vietnamese are from the Soviet Union rather than from China but we look to the right hon. Gentleman to emphasise to his Chinese hosts the very great concern that is felt in this country and, I believe, in most of the world, over the aggression that is apparently now succeeding in South-East Asia.
Another aspect of the relative improvement at the centre of world affairs is the better relationship between Western Europe—in particular, West Germany and ourselves—and the Soviet Union. In that respect, I welcome the visit that the Prime Minister paid to Moscow—although I am sure he would not expect me to be quite so enthusiastic as he was about the arrangements for our lending the Russians money at a rate that is less than it costs us to borrow it, for example, from the Shah.
The Foreign Secretary mentioned the conference on security and co-operation which has been going on, as I am sure he will agree, for a very long time. Until this afternoon the only recent news that we had of its progress was his own statement last month. He then told us that little had happened on security questions, for example on the notification of intentions to hold manoeuvres, but that agreement had been reached on family reunification and marriage. He said that there is to be a conclave of some 22 Heads of Government towards the latter part of this year. That seems a daunting prospect but I hope that it will be able to translate the agreement on family reunification and marriage into progress on the security front.
I turn now to some of the areas of instability and danger on the flanks of the great Power relationships and in so doing I apologise to the House for the necessarily kaleidoscopic nature of my speech.
First—and I have given the right hon. Gentleman notice—I must ask about the Falkland Islands. I understand that oil exploration is either under way or is 373 intended. This could be an asset for the United Kingdom. I also understand that the present political situation in Argentina is, to say the least, obscure. I should therefore be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could assure us that there is adequate provision for the safeguarding of any oil or gas assets that may be discovered in British waters. Further, will he confirm the assurance given to the people of the Falkland Islands that there will be no change in the sovereignty of that island without their full consent?
Secondly, will the right hon. Gentleman say something about the recent coup in the Maldive Islands that resulted in the ousting of the Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmed Zaki? I should like to know the position of the British Service men on Gan. What is to happen to the £500,000-worth of aid that the Government have agreed to provide to cushion the blow of the closure, which I regret, of the British base at Gan?
Next, I turn briefly to the Middle East. My right hon. Friend and the Secretary of State dealt with it in some detail. I pay my tribute to the admirable speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters). My hon. Friend has a very great knowledge of the Arab world. I was impressed by the four or five practical proposals that he put forward for a possible European initiative. I accept completely the Foreign Secretary's view that it might be premature to press at this stage, following the Kissinger breakdown, for a full-blown European initiative. However, I hope that he will consider seriously the wise suggestions of my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury and that lie will discuss them, through the usual diplomatic channels, with his colleagues within the EEC.
I now turn to Iran, and in particular to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat). My hon. Friend has evidently had some exciting experiences in that area recently. In my view—it is a view that is shared by many people in the House—Iran is now our best friend and potentially our best market in that part of the world. It is also our strongest ally.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), as the then Conservative Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, opened the doors to a massive expansion of British trade with Iran. 374 While the present Secretary of State for Trade has done his utmost to carry that through to success, so far the results are not commensurate with the size of the Iranian market or with the success which other countries are achieving there. I hope that when he visits Teheran shortly the Chancellor of the Exchequer will succeed where others have not. Britain has an excellent ambassador and great good will in Iran. It is the area in which to make a big push for sales and joint venture manufactures. I also believe that it would do no harm if more attention were paid to the great achievements of the Shah and if we had fewer of the carping and niggling criticisms which too often are heard. I know the Minister will reject the view of some of his hon. Friends that the Iranians have no business lending their support to a friendly ruler and nation in Oman. In my view, the efforts of the Iranians together with our armed forces, have been of great assistance to the Sultan and to the cause of peace and, indeed, to British interests in the Middle East.
I turn to the main theme of my remarks, namely, to Europe. The Conservative Party's commitment to Europe is not and cannot be in any doubt. We believe that Britain can be a safer, stronger and more prosperous country inside the Community than outside. We are not uncritical of the Community. There are some things we want to improve. There are other things, such as economic and monetary union, which will come about, if it comes about at all, very much more slowly than the Commission believes. On balance, we believe that it is best for Britain commercially, to be inside the Community, and we have no doubt it is best for us politically. We believe that it could be extremely damaging to our country, and possibly dangerous, too, if we were now to pull out.
Because that is our policy, we do not propose to be distracted from it by side issues such as the constitutional pros and cons of the referendum. We believe this to be as unnecessary as, potentially, it may be damaging to parliamentary government, and, indeed, to the constitution of the United Kingdom. But if it is to happen, we shall join with men and women of all parties and of none to win a clear majority in favour of staying in Europe.
375 We do not intend to be distracted either by the arguments of Labour Members about the Dublin terms. In so far as Dublin brought improvements, as I believe it did, we welcome them, but we believe that what Dublin chiefly demonstrated is what we have always believed, namely, that the Community is a flexible and adaptable partnership, ready, willing and able to accommodate itself to the needs of any of its members in difficulty. I think that has been proved, and I believe the Secretary of State now acknowledges it.
It does not concern us either that X members of the Cabinet, Y members of the Labour Party National Executive, or even Z members of the Labour Party's official conference, oppose the Government's policy. We take a comradely interest in these matters. We await with curiosity the code of good behaviour which the Prime Minister is to provide for the guidance of Ministers who wish to oppose the Government's policy while remaining responsible for it. But these are only the side shows. It is the unity of Europe, not the unity of the Labour Party which is our main concern.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) reminded the House that the question before us on Europe is no longer "Should we join?", but "Should we now pull out?" I stress that for two reasons—first, because the burden of proof does not lie on those of us who support Britain staying in Europe. The burden of proof rests on those who want to reverse what this House has already decided.
Large numbers of our fellow citizens, the nationalised industries, as well as private firms, many of the professions, farmers, commercial people, and millions of others already have made detailed arrangements for their future on the basis of Britain's being in and staying in the Community. The same goes for a large number of foreign and Commonwealth Governments. They have made agreements with us and operated them on the assumption that Britain would not go back on the Treaty of Accession that she signed. If, therefore, it is proposed that all these complex and vastly important arrangements are to be undone, the cost 376 needs to be counted, and the burden of proof as to why they should be abandoned rests on those who wish Britain to quit.
Those who want to withdraw—I do not doubt their sincerity—must also face their responsibility for showing to the House as well as to the country that they have a better alternative. Withdrawing from Europe would not be an easy process. There are treaties to be unwound. Trade and financial agreements—some, like Lomé, made only a few weeks ago—would need to be renegotiated. And in each case Britain would need to find satisfactory and speedy substitutes. This painful and prolonged process is most likely to take place against a background of deepening economic crisis, not excluding—I choose my words carefully—a falling away of confidence and, with it. if Britain were to be seen to be leaving the Community, a run on sterling, too.
What is the alternative—the safe haven into which some hon. Gentlemen opposite would take this country if, as they propose, we were to cast off from Europe? They are a pretty motley crew to be cast adrift with.
Some say, "Look to the. Commonwealth." Very well, let us look to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of New Zealand was asked last month whether British withdrawal would be in the interests of New Zealand. His answer was a categorical "No".
I am very glad that the Foreign Secretary, like my right hon. Friends before him, has been able to make arrangements for continued New Zealand access to our own and Continental markets for butter and lamb. But I think that he knows as well as I do that New Zealand has no intention whatsoever of reversing her policy of diversifying her trade, and she certainly would not do so simply to accommodate a Britain which had quit the Community.
Australia is of the same mind, and largely for the same reasons. Indeed, Mr. Whitlam could hardly have put it more plainly when, last December, he said:The days when Australia attached value to a special relationship with Britain are over.I find those words very sad, but I do not doubt that they are true. Mr. Whitlam went on to advise that 377The British should stop shilly-shallying and make up their minds to grasp the future in Europe.The same is true of Canada. Indeed, Canada sees in the EEC the only possible counterweight to the United States. There is no way in which those who seek to lead Britain out of Europe can find an alternative free trade area with the Canadians, much less with North America as a whole, because Canada, like the United States, has now clearly expressed her preference for what Mr. Trudeau calls a new contractual relationship with the EEC. In this, I predict that he will succeed.
So the old white Commonwealth is not only unanimous that it prefers Britain to remain in the Community; it has served notice on us that it is not prepared to alter its present policies to return to a preferential system with a United Kingdom outside the Community.
The same goes broadly for the remainder of the Commonwealth. Most of the less developed Commonwealth countries have made favourable arrangements with the EEC. It would be wrong for us in Britain to expect them to jeopardise their arrangements with a market of 250 million people simply for the sake of access to a market—our own—of only 50 million people. Therefore, if Britain leaves Europe it will be the odd man out in the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth has now signed up with Europe. It does not offer to us a viable alternative to Europe.
Another possible alternative is a free trade area like EFTA, and a negotiated customs union with the EEC. That, too, is simply not on. Since 1972 the seven EFTA countries have signed free trade agreements with the Community. The result has been an irreversible shift in the pattern of their trade. It is no longer the case that the 40 million people of Scandinavia, Switzerland and Austria can offer us that extension of the home market for our industry which we need. On the contrary. the EEC countries are marching into EFTA. British exports to Norway went up by one-tenth in 1973, but French exports went up by seven times because France, like Britain, now enjoys virtually free trade in that country. The so-called Norwegian solution of negotiating a free trade agreement between 378 a Britain which has abandoned the EEC and the Community is an illusion.
Our industries and those of the Community are, broadly speaking, in competition. Yet the hard truth is that the Community can manage without the goods which Britain produces, whereas we need the Community market, which now takes more than 35 per cent. of all our exports. If it comes to negotiating a free trade agreement between a Britain which is outside the Common Market and the eight members inside it, we shall be on a pretty poor wicket. We shall be rather like a man who obtains a divorce and immediately demands favours of his former wife. That phrase was used by Sir Christopher Soames and he went on to say:We would be the demandeurs. We would have to take what we could get and our partners would be in no hurry to oblige us.Even if they obliged us—and there is no certainty about it—the price would be a high one. There are dozens of examples —the so-called sensitive products, the questions of processed foodstuffs, the nationalised industries and steel prices —all these and many other arrangements where, when a free trade area was agreed between the EFTA nations, and the Community, the Community called the tune. In the case of Britain, a Community we had left could be counted on to drive some very hard bargains, and Britain would have to pay for them.
I refer now to the speech of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley), who warned of the dangers to Europe and to the American alliance on the southern flank of NATO. The Mediterranean Sea could, once again, prove to be one of our economic lifelines. The Suez Canal may soon reopen. A substantial proportion of our seaborne trade and a good deal of our oil may soon be going that way. Meanwhile, the Soviet Fleet, which in the Mediterranean alone is nearly as large as that of the Royal Navy, is in a position to take advantage of the weaknesses of Turkey, of Greece and, now, Portugal. Who is to protect our commerce against that, once the Royal Navy quits the Mediterranean? The answer that the Government give is "Leave it to the Americans—the British are going home." 379 But what is to happen when—and not if —the United States tires of the burden of carrying the seaward defences of southern Europe, more or less on its own?
I believe that we are already in the presence of a sea change in American policy. Vietnam was a traumatic experience. The Americans are having second thoughts about their world position. Already we are seeing in Cambodia and Vietnam a profound shift in the attitudes of the American public as well as of the United States Senate. The question arises whether, any longer, Americans are willing to man the ramparts alone?
The right hon. Member for Fulham spoke of this with immense experience. I agree entirely with what he said about Vietnam, as I have done over the years. He asked whether the Americans, already withdrawing from the Far East, might not also, in the fullness of time, or sooner, withdraw from the Middle East too? He instanced the possibility of Israel being left alone. I believe, with the right hon. Member, not only that the Americans may yet refuse to exert their power in the Middle East but that the time will come when they would start removing their forces from Western Europe, too. Already they are tempted to start cutting their forces abroad. The most certain way to hasten this process is for Britain to set a bad example but cutting down and pulling back, regardless of the peril to NATO on which our peace and security depends.
It is ironic that those who most loudly oppose British membership of the EEC are most eager in their demands for Britain to cut down its own forces. "Let us stand on our own," they say, and in the very next breath call for cuts in our army, our navy and our air force. "Let us rely on the Commonwealth," they say, and in the same speech demand the final withdrawal of the Royal Navy from the Indian Ocean and the end of the RAF's Long Distance Transport Command, regardless of the fact that it is these ships and aircraft which ensure the links with Australia and New Zealand of which they speak so much.
But the most dangerous assumption is that which the anti-Marketeers make about the United States. They appar- 380 ently believe that a Britain which at one and the same time separates itself from Europe and cuts down its national defence will be able to snuggle up to the United States. I have lived for 12 years in the United States and have seen a good deal of its leaders. I must tell hon. Members that this assumption—that a Britain removing itself from the Community and cutting down its own armed forces can nevertheless enjoy closer links with the United States—is the opposite of the truth.
The more that Britain cuts down its defences and cuts itself off from Europe, the more dependent we shall be upon America—that is certainly true. But the less willing and able we become to carry our share of the burden, the less willing the Americans will be to man the defences for us. Isolationism in Britain encourages isolationism in the United States. A Britain which refuses to carry its share of the common defence of the West will help to beget an America which does exactly the same. And we shall be the losers. For if the British now desert their air and naval posts, for which we volunteered, on the flanks of NATO, the Americans, soon or later, may withdraw from their posts in this country.
Is that what we really want? Some Labour Members below the Gangway do want it. But for those of us who remember the appalling consequences of the Americans turning their backs on Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, any prospect of the United States now withdrawing into her shell is alarming.
If—as Heaven forbid—the Americans were to leave Western Europe, one of two things would happen. Either the Soviet Union gradually would replace the United States as the military arbiter of Europe, including Britain, or, as may be more likely, the German nation would be forced, either with or without its partners in the EEC, to extend its own armed forces to a size and strength which was capable of filling the gap left first by the British and later by the Americans. A remilitarised Germany of great power—for they can afford it—would then be competing with the Soviets for the military command of central Europe. I believe that this is a fear which many Germans themselves understand only too well. 381 I cannot believe that anyone with any sense of history can believe that a weakened Britain, divorced from her partners in Europe, could bury her head in the sand and remain unaffected by that.
The Conservative Party believes that Britain's place is in Europe. We believe that in Europe our country can be a stronger and a better place to live in, but above all, as my right hon. Friend said, a country which again can exert its influence for good throughout the wider world.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
We have had a wide-ranging debate. There have been some thoughtful and helpful contributions from both sides of the House. It is difficult to cover all the points that have been raised. I have much sympathy with the suggestion of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) that we should try to organise matters rather better, so that when we have our foreign affairs debates we sometimes concentrate on particular issues. One of the troubles is that everyone wants to speak on his or her particular subject, the battle ensues and the debate becomes one such as today's. Nevertheless, this has been an extremely valuable debate.
The hon. Gentleman concentrated on Europe, especially in the last half of his speech, as did his right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling). I am glad that they will be calling for a "Yes" vote in the referendum. The hon. Gentleman made some play of the differences between my right hon. and hon. Friends. They are honest differences, reflecting the differences in the population as a whole.
There is a certain danger of smugness. Opposition Members know full well that when the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) was Prime Minister he failed to carry with him the people of this country when Britain joined the EEC in 1972. I have no doubt, unlike the hon. Gentleman, that the Labour Government were right to decide that the people must be consulted, that the people's views must be decisive, and that this must be done through a referendum.
Although the British Government joined the EEC in 1972, the British 382 people never consciously joined the European Community. The majority of them at that time were openly critical and deeply suspicious. Some were confused, and many of them were frankly just uninterested—they had not been asked. The pledges about the full-hearted support were forgotten. The battle for the hearts and minds was lost, or, more accurately, it was never fought.
I do not intend to deal with some of the points that were raised about the EEC in the debate. As my right hon. Friend said, there will be a two-day debate after Easter. I wish to indicate why I believe it is vital that there should be a substantial affirmative vote in June. The question in 1975 is: "Should we pull out?" In 1971 it was: "Should we go in?" I agree that they are two very different questions. I reached one conclusion in 1971, and I reach a quite different conclusion today. I have no hesitation in saying so. This is partly because things have not stood still. For good or ill, our trading relations have changed. The proportion of our trade with our EEC partners has greatly increased, at the expense of our trade with the Commonwealth. Our Commonwealth trading partners have re-arranged their own trading patterns, and they are now far less dependent on British goods and services. Having themselves established links with the EEC, they want us to stay in to look after those interests.
The developed countries of the Commonwealth—Canada, Australia, New Zealand—as well as the developing Commonwealth countries of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, now clearly want us to stay in. The egg which was scrambled in 1972 cannot be unscrambled in 1975 without the risk of great danger. Certainly, it would be done only with great difficulty.
I also agree with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds that those who now call for withdrawal must prove that we could manage better outside. My experience in foreign affairs in the past 12 months tells me that Britain would be very lonely outside. We are heavily dependent upon world trade as well as world confidence in the strength of our economy. [Interruption.] It is important that there should be confidence in the strength of our economy. If we take actions which undermine the confidence 383 of other people in the strength of our economy, the ability of our own people to follow through our Social Democratic policies will be weakened. We do not live in an isolated world. We cannot live on our own. We must consider our relationships with the rest of the world. A decision to quit would seriously damage our prospects of economic recovery.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)
I did not want to intervene, but I must ask my right hon. Friend, after what he said in such firm tones, why we are having the referendum.
§ Mr. Ennals
We are having it for clear reasons that I think my hon. Friend knows, because we all fought on the same election platform, part of which was that the people must decide, because the parties are divided. I am stating my opinion. Some of my hon. Friends hold a different opinion. It is right that I should state mine, as they should state theirs.
It is not only the rest of the world that has changed. The European Community has also changed, partly because of our influence from the inside, I believe. The countries of the EEC and the Commission are far more realistic, less rigid in their application of Community rules, less interventionist in the sense of interfering in the way in which a Labour Government have set about tackling our national and regional economic problems.
The aims of economic and monetary union by 1980, to which the right hon. Member for Sidcup subscribed, have been set aside. The extreme advocates of European union have been restrained.
The debate has given us an opportunity to review foreign policy on a wide scale at a time when the world is confronted with serious problems. The House will agree that there are significant areas of the world where there has been a marked improvement in our relationship since the Labour Government came to power 12 months ago. As my right hon. Friend said, there is a closer intimacy in our relationship with the United States. This has been of great value in narrowing the gap between Europe and the United States, which was a disturbing feature when we came to office.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman is repeating what his right hon. Friend said, except that he has made it worse. He has suggested that relations between this country and the United States were very bad when he and his right hon. Friend came into office. I do not believe it.
§ Mr. Ennals
When we came into office it was very clear that there was a serious gap between Europe and the United States. It had seemed to us that in many ways the British Government were not in anything like as close contact with the United States Government as they should be. It seemed that by burying themselves within the EEC they had broken much of their bilateral relationship, which we have sought to restore. This has been an important contribution of my right hon. Friend, and I do not object to being criticised if I happen to agree with points of view that he has expressed.
My right hon. Friend also said that his visit to Moscow has helped to improve relationships with the Soviet Union, which had fallen into decay when the previous Government were in power.
§ Mr. James Kilfedder(Down, North) rose—
§ Mr. Ennals
I have given way a number of times, and must proceed.
My right hon. Friend's visit to six countries in Southern Africa earlier this year helped to create a new basis of confidence between Britain and some of her Commonwealth partners. His meeting with Mr. Vorster was important in the search for a basis of settlement in Rhodesia—a subject to which I hope to return later.
In the Middle East we have kept in close touch with the countries particularly involved in the conflict and have sought to use our influence to promote a just and peaceful settlement. Tributes have been paid by both sides of the House to the efforts of Dr. Kissinger, and I think that all of us deeply regret the failure of his most recent initiative. It would not be helpful at present to seek to apportion blame to the parties concerned. But we must not give up hope of finding a way through the present impasse. Britain has a deep commitment 385 to avoiding a further outbreak of war, and that is a deep commitment which the other countries of Europe hold also.
It has been suggested in the debate that there ought to be a European position in relation to the Middle East, particularly at this time of uncertainty. I have no doubt that as each one of the EEC countries re-examines the situation, looking at whether the next stake should be towards a conference at Geneva or whether there is some other initiative, they will be looking together at ways in which they can use their contacts and their traditional relationships both with the Arab world and with Israel. It is vital that we should be ready to take any initiatives that we can and to support any initiatives that we can.
I come to other parts of the world. We have been active—
§ Mr. Walters
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake at least to see whether he could study the possibilities of doing something to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together on the basis of a European initiative?
§ Mr. Ennals
I have no doubt that as both sides look at the question whether the next stage should be towards a Geneva conference, the question of the participants will be deeply concerned, and the question of relationships is one that inevitably must be considered by both Israel and the Arab States.
As I was saying, we have also been seeking a closer relationship with countries in Latin America, such as Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela. Here we have important commercial prospects as well as the opportunity of closer personal relationships. We have also been concerned with improving Commonwealth relationships. There is now much more consultation between the members of the Commonwealth, both at United Nations meetings and elsewhere, than ever before. We have used renegotiation itself to put relations between Europe and the developing countries of the Third World on an entirely new basis.
The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) referred to the Lomé Agreement. Certainly the provisions of that agreement are based on attitudes which are much more generous and more mature 386 than seemed possible a year ago. What Lomé really means is that we have a truly co-operative relationship between 46 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, 22 of them Commonwealth countries.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller
Before my right hon. Friend leaves the area of Central America and the Commonwealth, will he direct his mind to our attitude towards guaranteeing the sovereignty of Belize, which was formerly British Honduras, which I believe has some difficulty with the neighbouring State of Guatemala?
§ Mr. Ennals
There have been exchanges between the Governments concerned. We are anxious to find a settlement, but it must be a settlement which respects the right of the people of Belize.
§ Mr. Ennals
I shall not give way again. I have given way to both sides, and there is only 10 mintues left.
I was referring to the Lomeé Agreement. As I have said, in the spirit of the promotion of the new agreement in Lomé, this is a step forward. The Commonwealth Conference in Jamaica next month will provide a timely opportunity to bring together the countries of the Commonwealth and bring their experience to bear on the problems which underlie the growing demand among many countries for what is called a new international economic order.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out the other day that much has been achieved, during the renegotiation. for Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and this is an achievement to which we in the Labour Government attach first importance not just because they are among the most populous and poorest countries in the world but because we have longstanding and special ties with their peoples and their leaders. We shall certainly strive to sustain and deepen the ties which bind us with the nations of the subcontinent.
Our attitude to the European Community, particularly on this side of the House, is bound to be conditioned by the Community's own attitudes to the developing world. Certainly one of my 387 criticisms of the EEC has been that it was a rich man's club. I think that label is, thankfully, one that has virtually been ripped off in the past 12 months. When we see the work that has been done in expanding the EEC's aid to the developing countries there is no doubt that it has changed very significantly in the last 12 months.
A great deal has been said about Britain's rôle in the world. Certainly gone are the days when our influence was based on military might. We are no longer an imperialist Power. A number of hon. Members have raised questions which suggest that there is still an impression, perhaps on both sides of the House, that we can fulfil the rôle of world policeman. We have to recognise, as we look at all the problems in the world, that our power is not such that we can profoundly influence events that happen in far parts of the world.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) and the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet referred to South-East Asia. The whole House must feel deep concern at the grave and continuing human misery which has resulted from instability in that area. Certainly the Government deplore the countless human tragedies in Vietnam and Cambodia, and I agree with my right hon. Friend that nobody could be happy at the tragic sights that we have seen recorded in the Press in the last few days.
§ Mr. Flannery
Would my right hon. Friend not agree that in the same way as Dr. Kissinger has completely failed in the Middle East, he has also totally failed to understand the development of the masses of people in the area of Indo-China, and he has also failed in Chile as he failed in Greece and in Cyprus before that?
§ Mr. Ennals
In looking back at Dr. Henry Kissinger's achievements, I would much prefer to think of the agreement that was signed—although I am afraid it was not respected—which sought to bring peace to Vietnam rather than the long years of American involvement in Vietnam, and I am sure my hon. Friend will agree. We have in Vietnam a consequence of a long tragedy-20 years of occupation, battle and lives lost. Much though we wish to bring about a peaceful solution, we on this side of the House, 388 as well as other Governments, have proposed to those in power in Vietnam and Cambodia that the only solution was by political negotiation, by contact between the political leaders. These proposals were turned down. The path of violence has been followed, and this is a tragedy which we must all regret.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) made a moving speech on Cyprus, and I certainly note her request for a statement of Government policy. There is certainly no time to deal with all the aspects of that subject, but she raised two particular points. One concerned the talk that my right hon. Friend had with Mr. Ecevit. My right hon. Friend raised two matters with him. One was our concern at the continuing looting of British property and the harassment of British subjects in Cyprus, and the other was the fact that we still had not received a reply from the Turkish Government on the question of compensation. Although Mr. Ecevit is not currently a Minister, he promised to convey our views to his Government.
My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras South also raised the question of the Turkish Cypriot refugees. My right hon. Friend took his decision on humanitarian grounds because of the deteriorating conditions in the camps. This Government have never supported a partition of Cyprus.
§ Mr. Ennals
There is no doubt that there is as much concern for the Greek Cypriot refugees as there is for the Turkish Cypriot refugees. My right hon. Friend has constantly sought to use his good offices to try to bring about a situation in which refugees will be able to return to their homes. We have never supported the principle of partition.
My right hon. Friend has paid tribute to the efforts which the Governments of countries neighbouring Rhodesia are making in a search for a settlement. But the detention of the Rev. Sithole by the illegal regime on 4th March was a grievous setback. The African National Council has said, understandably, that there can be no question of resuming negotia- 389 tions with the Smith régime so long as the Rev. Sithole is detained without trial. We and the Governments in Southern Africa have made our view clear that the charges against the Rev. Sithole should be tested in open court, if he cannot be released.
There can be no doubt that somehow or other a way must be found to remove the obstacle to negotiations created by Mr. Sithole's detention. Mr. Vorster has already said that the alternative to a negotiated settlement in Rhodesia is "too ghastly to contemplate". I wish that Mr. Smith had shown himself to be conscious of this alternative.
Our special, legal and constitutional responsibility for Rhodesia is unchanged by recent developments. We shall discharge it to the full when the time is right. There is only one way in which Rhodesia can accede to legal and internationally recognised independence, and that is by an act of the British Parliament. I assure the House that my right hon. Friend is continuing to keep in contact with the African leaders in the hope 390 that the time will come when he can use his influence to promote a settlement.
§ Mr. Kilfedder
May I mention the oppression of religious minorities in Russia? Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the Foreign Secretary will plead with the leaders in the USSR to do something to get rid of oppression in Russia? I am concerned with the case of Mr. Georgi Vinns, a Baptist Minister, who has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment.
§ Mr. Ennals
I cannot comment on that last point. The leaders in the Soviet Union fully recognise the attitude that the Government take towards human rights in this country. There is an understanding that our two systems are different. The principles which we believe must be carried out in our country are not observed in the Soviet Union. We recognise that we have two different systems. As my right hon. Friend said when he was referring to the agreement reached in the Soviet Union—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, Without Question put.