§ 3.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)
I beg to move,That this House, deeply deploring the increased use of torture, imprisonment without trial, arbitrary executions and other flagrant abuses of the rights of individuals in a growing number of countries, and the support from abroad given openly or in a clandestine manner to reactionary individuals or cliques seeking to deny political freedom and economic advance to their peoples, calls upon Her Majesty's Government vigorously to condemn all abuses of human rights wherever they occur, to refuse to supply arms and, in the worst cases, aid to governments which perpetuate such abuses, and to oppose most strenuously military or clandestine interventions by outside powers into any country in which the mass of the people clearly do not support such an intervention.The eighteen and nineteen centuries saw the birth of a great democratic and humanitarian movement which formulated and demanded the rights of man, which denounced cruelty and torture and postulated a more civilised, humane and moral world. Unfortunately, despite the progress made in some areas, the twentieth century has seen not merely the perpetuation of inhumanity and the denial of human rights but an increase in the scale and intensity of terror and horror which would have shocked earlier generations.
The resources of science have been applied not only to the welfare of man but to the refinement of the means of his destruction. Apart from two world wars in which tens of millions of people died, we have had the unspeakable horrors of Nazism and Stalinism in which the last vestiges of human values were trampled underfoot.
Since the end of the Second World War millions of completely innocent people have been callously done to death in Korea, Vietnam, Nigeria and many other places. Today, despite all our scientific know-how and our professions of concern, perhaps 1,000 million of our fellow members of the human race have a per capita income of less than £50 a year.
At the same time humanity spends, under the heading of defence, more than $200,000 million per annum on arms 36 for military purposes, the equivalent of the gross national product of all the developing countries of Africa, the Middle East and Southern Asia put together. Much of this money is spent not for defence but for the purposes of oppression. Since military policy is an adjunct of foreign policy, we are entitled to ask ourselves whether that policy is compatible with the ideas to which we pay lip service, whether it is compatible with what we describe as morality.
Later this evening we shall be debating a subject which many hon. Members and many fellow citizens rightly regard as a moral issue of fundamental import. It concerns the unborn. The issue of the human rights of those now living and of generations still to come should arouse similar moral fervour from the men and women of this House and this country. I make no apology for linking foreign policy with morality in the title of my motion.
The motion demands that the Government in their foreign policy should deplorethe increased use of torutre, imprisonment without trial, arbitrary executions and other flagrant abusesof human rights wherever they occur.
I have never believed that those who take the stand that I do as a Socialist and humanist should avert their eyes from or remain silent about infringements of human rights in countries which claim to be Socialist. I therefore deplore, as do many of my hon. Friends, the persecution of Soviet dissidents irrespective of whether I agree with their views. The imprisonment, exile, and confinement in mental institutions of men and women merely for criticising Soviet society is indefensible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I equally deplore the appalling and illegal treatment meted out to those gallant Czech men and women who stood, and still stand, with Anton Dubcek for Socialism with a human face.
If we condemn abuses there, we condemn them elsewhere.
§ Mr. Newens
The appalling horrors of Chile since 1973 are now well known. We have recently been reminded of them by the case of Dr. Sheila Cassidy, a 37 British subject who underwent a vile form of torture.
The horrors of Brazil are not so well known but they were illustrated by the case of a well-known television personality, Vladimir Herzog, of Sao Paulo, who willingly went to the headquarters of the Second Army one Saturday morning last October. On Saturday afternoon his body was returned to his widow in a sealed coffin and an announcement was made to the effect that he committed suicide after confessing that he was a Communist. Many others have suffered a similar fate. It is true that General Eduardo D'Avila, the commander of the Second Army, has now been sacked, but he has not been brought to trial and, in fact, was offered another post.
We must recognise that Brazil, since the 1964 coup against a democratically elected Government, has been ruled by imprisonment, torture, murder and crimes against humanity. I have heard it said—I do not know whether it is true—that President Geisel is to make an official visit to this country. We should tell him quite frankly that we do not want him here until his vile régime is cleaned up. We should tell him that we will not supply him with arms and that we do not intend to avert our eyes from the crimes committed against humanity in his country.
I wish to refer to two other countries with which we have close relations—Indonesia and Iran. The worst massacre since the Nazi gas chambers occurred in Indonesia in 1965 when between 250,000 and 1 million people were murdered following an attempted coup by disgruntled army officers. There are still tens of thousands of political prisoners in confinement in Indonesia. Amnesty International says that the number is 70,000, other sources say 100,000 and the Government say that the figure is much smaller, but we all know that many tens of thousands of political prisoners are there. Yet British aid to Indonesia has risen consistently and is now higher than that given to any other Third World country outside the Commonwealth. Her Majesty the Queen was advised to make an official visit in 1974 to Indonesia to confer the accolade of respectability on a régime whose record on human rights is monstrous.
38 A similar story can be told in the case of Iran. I am aware of the trade prospects and of our needs, but should we not refuse to close our eyes to the fact that since the Shah's regime was re-established by the overthrow of Dr. Mossadeq in 1953 rule in that country has been carried on by means of the secret military trial, by torture and by execution on a tremendous scale? A group of prisoners at whose trial in Iran in 1969 my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Wilson) was present were shot last year while being transferred to another prison. We continually receive reports of secret executions after secret trials. Democracy in Iran is a farce; it does not exist.
I could cite many other countries. The Foundation for the Study of Plural Societies, based in The Hague, recently published two large volumes entitled "Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms". They make very dismal reading. I am aware that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in a recent Fabian pamphlet, stated thata Labour Foreign Secretary cannot be a Don Quixote tilting at every windmill.but if a Labour Secretary of State turns away from too many of these causes it suggests that he does not care and that the Labour Party does not care about the humanitarian and Socialist principles on which it was founded.
It is not only moral to stand up against abuses of human rights but it is in our long-term interests to do so, because sooner or later the old order will be overthrown by new forces. As populations whose ancestors have been ground down by poverty and oppression from time immemorial become conscious of their rights, they will overthrow their oppressors. The revolt against repression is as old as the history of civilisation, but it is in our day that the populations of the countries of the Third World are shaking off their shackles. Our foreign policy should encourage and nurture those forces. It should stretch out to them a helping hand, and it should influence them in the standards that they impose, because that is in our long-term interests.
Unfortunately that is not our usual policy and, together with our allies, especially the United States, we have frequently cast in our lot with the forces of reaction. Vietnam was an example of the sort of thing which can happen. There 39 is an appalling blot on any claim that Britain may make to be the land of the free in that in Oman we supported until 1970 a reactionary Sultan who forbade any innovation in his country and retained slavery. Since 1970 we have aided his son in the suppression of a liberation movement, not in the name of democracy, trade union freedom and human rights but in the cause of reaction. [Interruption.] Opposition hon. Members show by their laughter their lack of concern about these issues.
We are in danger of doing the same in Angola. The genuine liberation movement in Angola was the MPLA and was recognised as such by the Labour Party. The basis of its policy was non-alignment, and the failure of our Government to act to prevent unscrupulous men from recruiting mercenaries in the hope of gain not merely endanger our future relations with an independent Angola but places British citizens, foolish though they may be, in an unenviable position under commanders with nothing in common with humanity.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)rose——
§ Mr. Cormack
What are 12,000 Cubans doing in Angola? Are they tourists? Are they there for the good of their health? What are the Russians doing there?
§ Mr. Newens
Everybody knows what the Cubans are doing there. Had we not pursued in so many instances a policy of support for reaction, we should not be driving the Angolans, whose policy is one of non-alignment, into the arms of people the hon. Gentleman does not like.
It is totally wrong that the United States and sometimes we ourselves have been prepared to support movements which are totally against progress. The policy of the United States particularly has been to intervene everywhere in a clandestine or open way in support of reaction—in Latin America, Africa and Asia. In the long run they will lose out as a result.
40 As I have said, I have no brief for the KGB and I deplore its crimes. But I equally deplore the record of the CIA, which has been based on deceit, sleight of hand, use of criminal elements and utter cynicism about human rights and is a disgrace to any society that considers itself democratic.
I advise hon. Members to get from the Library the Interim Report of the United States Senate Committee on alleged assassination plots by the CIA against foreign leaders. It provides evidence of plots against five—Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro, Rafael Trujillo, Ngo Dinh Diem and General Rene Schneider. Four of those five, some of whom I would not regard as progressive, were assassinated. [Interruption.] Hon. Members cannot take it when I am explaining what the CIA has done. I have made clear my view of the KGB.
That report shows the approval given at the highest level in the United States in the past for the recruitment of assassination squads. The type of recruit they sought is illustrated by a quotation in which one recruit was described asessentially a stateless soldier of fortune…a forger and a former bank robber.In the case of Fidel Castro, Salvatore Giancana, who was on the United States Attorney-General's list of the 10 most wanted criminals, was recruited for an assassination-squad to suit the purposes of the CIA. Santo Trafficante, the Cosa Nostra or Mafia chieftain in Cuba, was also recruited.
Can a democratic society justify recruiting such elements to carry out its foreign policy? If any hon. Member opposite justifies that, it shows the moral quality of the foreign policy which he defends.
The CIA has an astonishing record of covert intervention in Chile, Vietnam, Iran, Guyana, Greece, Italy, throughout Africa and the Middle East. This has consisted of direct intervention or the subversive use of money. As Chile showed, Dr. Henry Kissinger's hands are not clean in this matter. He has been definitely and directly involved. I therefore very much defend the revelations recently by John Marks, Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee.
It is time that we knew what the CIA has been getting up to. CIA officers are 41 attached to most United States embassies, including that in London. They have nothing to do with right of national self-determination, human rights, morality or British foreign policy, and it is time that we told them to go home.
§ Mr. Newens
I would equally tell the KGB to go home.
This year the United States celebrates the two-hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The human rights proclaimed in the words of Thomas Jefferson, including the right of rebellion, based on the teachings of that great Englishman Tom Paine, were great steps forward, but the foreign policy of United States Administration in recent years—in certain respects, unfortunately, supported by the United Kingdom—is incompatible with those ideas.
It is high time that we decided to speak out clearly on moral issues about which we ought to be concerned. One of my hon. Friends told me when he read the motion that foreign policy and morality were incompatible. I say to him and to the House that any foreign policy which is not based upon the principles of morality and the recognition and defence of human rights is not in our long-terminterests.
§ Mr. Newens
I will tell not only Brezhnev but anybody else. The hon. Gentleman should read the motion, since it refers to human rights everywhere. I have already taken up that point.
§ Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
The hon. Gentleman is correct to point out that his motion condemns foreign intervention wherever it comes from, but to get it absolutely clear, since his terms so far have been somewhat ambiguous, will he say whether he unequivocally condemns the present foreign intervention of the Soviet Union and Cuba in Angola?
§ Mr. Newens
I am sorry that I gave way. I dealt with that point earlier. [Interruption.] I am glad to notice that the hon. Gentleman has allies among some of my hon. Friends, who have been very quiet about Indonesia, Iran and other places—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is doing his best to be brief so as to give others a chance. I hope that the House will listen to his point of view with respect.
§ Mr. Newens
Ultimately I want the people of Angola to be able to decide their own affairs with no foreign troops on their soil, but as long as we allow covert activities partly based on this country and open activities based in this country to send forces to movements with no basis in humanity we must accept that we will drive them to rely more and more on the Cubans and the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, especially since, as he knows, I returned from Angola just the other day, having spent some time in Luanda. Would he accept that the MPLA leaders have made it clear that they invited the Cubans into Angola only because they were faced with massive intervention by South African regular forces and that all they want is the opportunity to free their country from oppression and to begin to develop their own society?
§ Mr. Newens
It is, perhaps, instructive that in my speech I was prepared to condemn any abuse of human rights, in the Soviet Union as well as in other parts of the world. However, Conservative Members have merely shouted out parrot cries, condemning one side only. On the issue of Angola we should also recognise the matter of the intervention of racialist South Africa. There can be no justification for intervention by South Africa.
I address the House today as a Socialist and a humanist who makes no apology for dreaming and working for a new world in which the earth's resources will be fully used to provide an opportunity for a full life for all men and not merely for a privileged few. I hope, however, that even those hon. Members who do not completely agree with me as a Socialist and an internationalist will at least support the motion, because we should all recognise that at this stage of world history it is in our interests to condemn abuses of human rights and intervention wherever they may take place.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
When the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) began his remarks I was encouraged by the seemingly evenhanded way in which he approached what is a very real and rather baffling problem, namely, how to reconcile the defence of a country's interests with moral principles. However, the more I listened to the hon. Gentleman, the more his condemnations of what goes on in the Soviet bloc became perfunctory. He chose to illustrate his argument almost entirely by reference to countries outside the Soviet bloc and in many cases countries which are threatened by it.
The problem of how we can reconcile the duties of public men to defend the interests of their people with moral principle is difficult. As the Foreign Secretary said, a country of medium strength such as ours has to be somewhat selective.
I am sure the hon. Member for Harlow will agree that in time of war all means are fair. I took part myself in what proved to be an unsuccessful attempt to kill Chancellor Hitler. I do not think any hon. Member would have held it against me if I had pulled that off. I also helped to employ a forger who was doing time in Dartmoor to forge passports which enabled people to escape from occupied Europe. That was in war time.
We all look to a day when there will be real peace and relations between States will be governed by the rules laid down in a series of international agreements. However, we live in a world which is neither at peace nor at war. The Soviet Union is the first to admit that. Mr. Brezhnev made it extremely clear recently that the ideological struggle between the Communist and non-Communist world continues and that it is the duty of the Soviet Union to give all possible help, both moral and material, to the opponents of the non-Communist world. He pointed that out clearly when President Giscard d'Estaing was in Moscow and called for ideological détente. At the very same banquet at which the President of France spoke he received a reply from Mr. Brezhnev saying that there could be no ideological détente. The point was rubbed in by the two-days-long "non-speak "which followed that banquet.
44 There is a constant struggle going on. Sometimes it is more or less peaceful but sometimes, as in Angola and recently in the Lebanon, it is violent. In selecting the task of the British Government, our first duty is to guard against the main threat to the values in which we believe—both the material standard of living of our people and the spiritual values. They are threatened at present from only one source—that is, from Soviet imperialism, not from Communism. The Chinese are not threatening us, nor are the Yugoslavs. We are being threatened by Soviet imperialism. There is a reason for this which is not fully understood.
The Soviet Union is an empire and around it there is a ring of client States. It has also established a Vatican-like position in relation to a number of Communist Parties outside. This imperial Power is mainly ruled by a largist group of Russians who constitute the ruling class of the empire. They have climbed to the positions of power and privilege which they now enjoy over pyramids of corpses of their fellow citizens and over the shoulders of the inmates of the Gulag Archipelago. They can neither excuse their crimes nor justify the privileges that they enjoy in relation to the mass of the people except by maintaining international tension. To this end they have built up vast armed forces and a vast secret police and established a considerable measure of influence over Communist Parties outside the Soviet Union. All these carry a dynamic of their own. A big army wants to get bigger, as does a big secret service. This is the driving force which drives the Soviet empire forward and makes it a serious threat to the rest of us, and leads it whenever it sees an opportunity to expand—as it saw in Angola and in the Lebanon—to make the most of that opportunity.
There is a big difference between the CIA and the KGB. Both are secret services and both indulge in the kind of operations which are better not discussed. However, one tries to defend the free world and the other tries to advance the designs of Soviet imperialism.
§ Mr. Newens
Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear whether or not he approves of the methods of the CIA in Chile and in many other countries, which included the use of criminal elements and 45 other methods which I mentioned in my remarks? Does he not agree that the situation and the murders which occur in places such as Indonesia cannot be attributed to the causes to which he puts down the whole of the free world troubles?
§ Mr. Amery
I am not joking. The CIA gave real support to Castro in the early days. I have also criticised the part that it played, no doubt inadvertently, in the recent coup in Cyprus. But, whatever mistake our friends and allies may sometimes make, we must not forget that we owe the CIA an enormous debt. Anyone who has worked in a defence or foreign affairs department in Government will know how much we owe to the CIA for our existing security. The CIA has been the principal eye of NATO and it has often stopped situations from developing which could have been much to our detriment, and on occasions it has even succeeded in reversing them.
I greatly regret that our American friends should now indulge in this orgy of masochism over the CIA. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Harlow should be taking the pleasure of a voyeur while it all goes on.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I take my right hon. Friend's point and agree entirely with him. However, does he think that the day may ever dawn when there will be a similar masochism in the Soviet Union and senates of Russians will be pouring out thousands of words—which the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) will be able to look up in the Library—about the malefactors of the KGB?
§ Mr. Amery
Yes, I believe that it will come; because if we stand firm and prevent the further expansion of Soviet imperialism I believe that, like all empires, it will cease to expand and will break up internally. It may become a commonwealth, first of all perhaps a 46 Socialist commonwealth, and then bit by bit different elements in it will break away, as Yugoslavia and China broke away. As these things happen, so we shall get more and more revelations about what has gone on and is going on inside. However, the condition precedent to that happy eventuality is that we should stand firm and not give way to them. That means, first, maintaining our strength.
There is to be an important conference at York shortly, in which the hon. Member for Harlow is to play a prominent part, calling for world disarmament. Hon. Members who have been to the Palace of Nations at Geneva will have seen outside the great hall the words coined by Lord Robert Cecil, "Disarm or perish ". They were written in 1930.
We did disarm, and millions perished as a result. All of us here know perfectly well that if Britain and France had not disarmed there would have been no Second World War. Now I see that Lord Soper is calling for unilateral nuclear disarmament of this country. We must be absolutely clear that in the nuclear world in which we live there is no real neutrality for any non-nuclear Power. It either has to have its own nuclear power—in which case it could conceivably be neutral—or it must shelter under some other nuclear umbrella.
The alternative is the position in which Finland is today. In Finland there are still democratic institutions for the time being. The Soviet boa constrictor often enslaves its prey before it crushes and eats it. We see in Poland a new constitution coming forward which pretty well establishes a Soviet protectorate over Poland in legal terms. I shall be interested to see how genuine is the reported conversion of M. Marchais in France by the attitude that he adopts towards the French nuclear weapon.
No doubt religious bodies will be represented in plenty at the York conference. We know how Lord Soper, Bishop Stockwood and Bishop Huddleston and others champion the causes very often of Marxist guerrilla movements in Africa, and even pass round the plate to help them. "Guerrilla" Sunday has become quite a common feature in many of our churches. However, I was a little surprised to see that when, in the Lebanon the other day, one 47 of the oldest Christian communities, the Maronite community, was threatened almost with extermination, not one voice was raised in Rome, Canterbury or anywhere else. There was not much trade union solidarity among the Churches there.
I appreciate the fact that the Moslems in the Lebanon had grievances. So had the Sudetenland Germans in Czechoslovakia. However, what was scandalous about what happened in the Lebanon was that the matter was dictated by the intervention of Palestinian terrorists invading the country from Syria. That was dangerous, too, for the free world, because Syria is one of the Arab countries that is closest to the Soviet Union.
The hon. Member referred to the problem of mercenaries. We shall hear more about that tomorrow when the Prime Minister speaks to the House. We are all very much under the impression of the grim news that we read this morning. But we must not deprecate mercenaries too much. Lord Byron was a mercenary. I should have thought that many people in the Labour Party would take a pride in the record of the Attlee battalion in the International Brigade. I knew many of those people. Many did not go for reasons of idealism. Many went—[Interruption.] Of course they were mercenaries. I knew some of them. I interviewed many when I was a war correspondent.
The Gurkhas have done tremendous service for this country. They are mercenaries too. The hon. Gentleman referred to the Sultanate of Oman. He showed an abysmal ignorance of the history of that country. Up to 1970 I absolutely agree that the regime was not a progressive regime, because the Sultan had no money. The oil had not then been struck. The country is now pushing rapidly ahead. Thanks to not only Regular British officers who have gone there but also to some British mercenaries, contract officers, the Sultan's forces have secured internal stability. Thanks to that, the oil from the Persian Gulf is safe—and the hon. Gentleman's constituents and all our constituents have at least a chance of seeing the wheels of industry and of our motor cars turning.
However, when it comes to Angola, surely if there be any scandal about 48 mercenaries it is the mass invasion by at least 12,000—it may be more—Cubans with Soviet technical support. I am now told that there are also Czech officers there as well.
The hon. Gentleman talked about the cause of the liberation of peoples, the progressive movement to independence and all these things. I say frankly to him—I doubt whether he will agree with what I say—that it may well have been in our self-interest to withdraw from the sub-continent of India and from Africa. It may well have been in Britain's self-interest not to shoulder the burden any more. However, let us not pretend that it was a moral decision. Millions of graves in India, what went on in Zanzibar and the civil war in Nigeria—all these things are a consequence of that withdrawal. While withdrawal may have been self-interested, let us not pretend that it was particularly honourable or particularly moral.
I return to what I said at the beginning of my speech. The House of Commons must make a choice. We cannot police the world any more. The Secretary of State for Defence has often reminded us of that fact. Both sides of the House have no illusions about that. We cannot put matters right everywhere, stop torture everywhere or break off relations with other countries because they do things that we do not like. The hon. Gentleman said that we should not invite the President of Brazil to come here, but his right hon. Friend is trying to invite Mr. Brezhnev to come from Moscow. Morally there is no difference between the two—although President Geisel has been less long in the job than the other fellow.
We must decide where to concentrate our effort. Our first duty is to the people of this island: to preserve their living standards, their freedom and their moral values.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey de Freitas (Kettering)
My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) gave many examples of Governments falling away from morality. Some of his illustrations make a terrible indictment of our nation States. I am sorry that the right hon. Member for Brighton Pavilion (Mr. Amery) did not take up one or two particular examples, because he was dealing with the CIA, 49 particularly in relation to Chile. He might have touched on that.
I want to place some facts on the other side of the balance. I believe that we are more moral than my hon. Friend believes. I wish to illustrate that. In his motion my hon. Friend refers to the refusal of aid to Governments of which we do not approve. This is the fundamental point, I believe, in the morality of a large part of our foreign policy since the war. Aid provided by the Western industrialised countries and this country in particular had a very important part to play, and over the last 30 years this has happened.
Few hon. Members will remember that after the war we had the problem of a devastated and defeated Germany and a defeated but not devastated Japan. We supplied aid although we were very weakened. With the enormous resources of the Americans, we adopted a policy of supplying those countries with food to keep them alive and giving resources to build them up.
I saw Germany and Japan just after the war. I shall never forget them. I shall never forget India, too, particularly Calcutta, just after the war. It is true that we did not pull out of India as a moral gesture. It was a factor, but not the determining factor. However, having done that, we used our best administrators on the aid we gave. We even introduced bread rationing in Britain so that more food could go, not to Calcutta particularly, but to India in general.
Successive Governments in the West, but particularly in this country, have been moved by moral considerations. That is a fact that we must remember when considering a comprehensive motion such as that which is now before us.
Like so many of my generation, ever since my first election to the House I have referred at election times to the need for my constituents to provide some of their money to help the developing countries. I know that my hon. Friend will give credit to the Labour Party for the part it has played in this. He would have been very young at the time, but I am sure he will remember the great debates which took place on the subject of development aid at Labour Party conferences in the late 1940s. Such debates were a new feature in those days.
50 I went as a delegate to the United Nations in 1949 where the British Government—it was a Labour Government then—played a considerable part in supporting President Truman in his Point Four plans for development aid to the poorer countries.
Later support has not been from only one party. It has been given by both major parties. I served in Africa, both East and West, as a British High Commissioner under a Conservative Government. A considerable part of the policy in the field of the British Government was the provision of aid. This was done. The biggest part of my job in East Africa was building up a system of aid and technical assistance. Over the years this moral side has been clearly shown.
It is most important to consider an institution such as the British Council which could be used merely as an instrument of national policy. Some argue that it should be so used but it has not. What has been the result? The British Council has worked in developing countries. It keeps in touch with the British missions there, but it goes along on its own. We do not withdraw the aid in difficult times, even if we disapprove of the country's Government.
For example, when Ghana broke off diplomatic relations with us it asked for our presence in the form of the British Council to remain. It was part of its educational system. This we did, to the amazement of our enemies and to the horror of some of our friends, who thought that the best way of answering an argument was to slam the door. We kept ourselves there, to our benefit and, in the long run, to the benefit of that country. Independence is a fact of which we have taken account.
When the East African countries came to decide whether it was in their economic interests to establish certain links with the European Economic Community, the British Government said "You work it out for yourselves. We think that it is in your interests, but you can call in some neutral economists—some Swedes, some Swiss or some Austrians—and we will pay for them. You take their advice." We did this. This surprised some other ex-colonial Powers which could not understand that we were treating these countries as truly independent countries 51 and giving them the opportunity of independent advice.
I greatly regret that in this country we spend on aid only one-seventh of what we spend on tobacco. I want more spent on aid. However, let us look at it the other way round. It may be that we spend on aid only one-seventh of what we spend on tobacco, but under successive Governments each family of two adults and two children spends 50p per week on aid. This is still not as much as we want, but it is something.
Over the past year our Select Committee dealing with overseas development has studied the question of rural development in poor countries. It is completing its studies. We found ourselves very soon re-enforced in our belief that what we should do was not to aim in any way to promote the interests of the West. It could be argued that that is what we should do, but we decided not to do it. All of us decided that we should work towards giving aid to the poorest people in the poorest countries.
Last July, at the World Bank in Washington, Mr. McNamara said that exactly that was also the policy of the World Bank. In the autumn the Government produced a White Paper. The White Paper also followed that policy. Its title is "The Changing Emphasis in British Aid Policies". Its sub-title is "More Help for the Poorest". I believe that that is morally right, and it is something to be put in the balance. We should not forget these achievements.
I referred to the Select Committee's visit to Washington last year. We spoke to the Chairman of the Senate Agricultural Committee. We became well aware of one of the problems there. I do not know whether it is generally seen as a moral problem. The problem was whether the United States should supply grain to Russia. Many people were arguing that it was wrong for the United States to supply enormous quantities of grain to Russia. Some trade union leaders and many influential organisations argued that the United States should not feed Russia and thus save her from any threat of economic collapse. They argued that a Government which preferred guns to butter should not have such help and that the only way of getting a collapse 52 of the Soviet system inside without any external aggression was to deny food.
Both the United States Administration and the United States Congress rejected that point of view. However hostile they may be—and they certainly are—to the Russian Government, they are not hostile to the Russian people and they have shown a moral sense in rejecting those arguments for withholding grain as a very severe political weapon.
I am not debating whether this is a good thing. I am saying that it should be thrown into the other side of the balance, as our system of aid is. In the West we are more moral than my hon. Friend would have us believe.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) will forgive me if I do not follow him along the lines of his interesting speech.
I want first to congratulate the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on having tabled the motion. Not enough time is devoted in the House to foreign policy, and we should not have had this opportunity to debate the matter had it not been for the hon. Gentleman.
Many areas of the world are causing anxiety and disquiet. Angola is one of them. It was timely that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in a speech made outside the House which caused a great deal of comment both in this country and abroad, emphasised the concern and anxiety that is felt, not just in so-called Right-wing circles but in many moderate circles, at aspects of Soviet Foreign policy and especially at the increasing imbalance between the armed might of the Soviet Union, on the one hand, and the defence capability of the West, and especially Western Europe, on the other.
The hon. Member for Harlow chose for the theme of his motion "Foreign Policy and Morality". As there is nothing more moral in foreign policy than trying to prevent war and achieve peaceful settlements of international disputes, it is certainly worth examining, even if only briefly, the present situation in the Middle East, where the lack of progress towards peace and the consequent danger of renewed war seems to be causing a good 53 deal less worry than the reality of the situation demands.
Before doing that, however, may I refer to the comment made by the hon. Gentleman on the war in Oman. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that to describe the war in Oman waged by Sultan Qaboos as a war between reaction and a liberation movement, which is how the hon. Member for Harlow described it, is a travesty of the truth and of the facts. We should welcome the fact that the war is coming to an end and that the Sultan appreciates the fact that the advancement of his country—economic, medical and educational—must go hand in hand with military success.
The first and most significant point to note about the situation in the Middle East is that Dr. Kissinger's policy of step-by-step progress has come to a complete halt. A deafening silence has replaced the noise of seemingly endless and well-attended Press conferences, and complete immobility has replaced the non-stop propulsion of the American Secretary of State. Yet the whole essence of step-by-step diplomacy was that it was intended as a policy of constant movement. The momentum should never flag, and one step, however small, was to be followed as quickly as possible by another. The repeated steps were intended to narrow the gulf which separated the two sides from a mutually acceptable peace, so that the ultimate leap which was to be left for a peace conference in Geneva or elsewhere would not appear impossible. The steps would have closed the gap to a point where the final obstacles would look surmountable and could be surmounted.
There was never much wrong with "step-by-step" so long as practice followed theory and the steps took place in fairly quick succession and were big enough. But I always feared that Israel would not allow this to happen without the application of truly massive and relentless American pressure. Regrettably, those doubts have proved justified by events, and hence the increasing danger of the situation. Two fairly small but not insignificant steps in Sinai, and one minuscule step on the Golan front with Syria, but nothing whatsoever in the area which is perhaps the most important of 54 all, the West Bank of the River Jordan—that is not a great deal to show after nearly two and a half years of step-by-step diplomacy and innumerable visits of Dr. Kissinger.
Those visits have now stopped, and there appears to be a tacit acceptance that no further step, or, indeed, action of any kind, can take place until after the American presidential election, an election which could see the defeat of President Ford and the disappearance of Dr. Kissinger from the political arena. It is no wonder that discouraged observers in the Arab world and elsewhere note that Mr. Rabin's recent visit to the United States seemed almost entirely devoted to the question of purchasing yet more arms and even more sophisticated weapons such as the Pershing missile, instead of concentrating on the next step towards peace, which means a further withdrawal from the occupied territories as laid down in Resolutions Nos. 242 and 338 of the United Nations.
It is no wonder that observers note with gloom Israel's continued policy of colonising territory which does not belong to her, and point to the enormous amount of money and pressure which had to be showered upon her before she could be persuaded to withdraw even a few kilometres. No wonder that they begin to talk of the inevitability of another war, and, should there be another war, apart from the countries directly involved no one will suffer more than Western Europe. Economically the effects would be disastrous, and yet, despite the obvious danger, Europe looks on in a state of apparently listless impotence.
In November, during our foreign affairs debate, I suggested a number of initiatives which. I believe, could usefully be taken by the European Nine. Perhaps in conclusion today I could add one more to that list, and I shall be grateful if the Minister of State will comment on it. There is growing world-wide support for the general idea of a Palestinian State on Palestinian soil—and that is a question of international morality if ever there was one. The recent discussions in the Security Council confirm that support.
Although the United States is moving towards an inevitable acceptance of the PLO as the best available spokesman for the Palestinians, it is moving very slowly. 55 In order to accelerate matters, would it not be possible for the Europeans to ask the United States whether it is prepared to entertain the right of Palestinians to have a homeland of their own on Palestinian soil as part of a peace settlement? Once agreement could be reached on the question of principle that a Palestinian State should be set up, the argument about who should negotiate for the Palestinians would recede in importance. Moreover, would it not be possible for the European Nine to consider ventilating in New York the possibility of the United Nations Secretary-General being requested to ascertain the wishes of the Palestinian people regarding the establishment of a State as part of a general settlement as envisaged in Security Council Resolutions Nos. 242 and 338?
There is a precedent for this kind of policy in the mission which the Secretary-General sent to North Borneo and Sarawak in 1963 to ascertain whether the peoples of those countries were in favour of joining the Federation of Malaysia. That is a precedent which could be usefully followed now. The suggestion would have to be cleared, no doubt, with the PLO, and possibly with the Arab host Governments, but there is no reason why the PLO should object, since it has already declared that it would be prepared to establish a Palestinian State on any territory which is liberated.
If war is to be averted, the United States must ultimately shoulder the main responsibility. Anybody who has followed the situation is aware of that. The United States must shoulder the main responsibility of the negotiations, and the Soviet Union cannot be excluded. But Western Europe must be there as well. In the meantime, there are many useful initiatives which could be taken by us. I feel that events will not wait, but the West at present shows little or no sign of appreciating that fact.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) for introducing his motion on foreign affairs and morality, which gives us an opportunity to get away from the more mundane and detailed matters to which the House normally devotes itself.
56 I have noticed during the debate that almost everything is fair game for discussion. I remember reading that a British statesman, Palmerston, said that Britain had no eternal enemies and no eternal friends, only eternal interests. Even today, 100 years later, an element of that must exist in our foreign policy, because we are an international trading nation dependent upon links around the world. However, perhaps that view is too crude.
Next come the two super-Powers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, their policy is survival through mutual terror. They have massive amounts of armaments and show a considerable degree of immorality in the way they exercise their power.
The medium nations come next and it is they upon which I should like to concentrate. I believe that the French are just a little too chauvinistic and a little too pushing in the pursuance of their ambitions. In many ways such a policy can rebound upon a nation.
Next come nations like the United Kingdom, Canada and Zambia, which are, in the best sense of the word, potential examples of how morality can show itself in international relations. Of those three nations the United Kingdom is the most important because in terms of history, international connections and even of power we are the most significant. In my view, it is extremely important that we should debate this matter and in particular look at the way Britain conducts herself.
I agree with the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters), who drew attention to the Middle East crisis and the significance and implications of a solution in that area. He also referred to United Nations Resolution No. 242, which was, as we all know, a British resolution. It tried to contain the essence of morality in international relations by giving Israel the right to exist behind secure and recognised frontiers. That resolution was introduced by Lord Caradon in another place. It is important to remember that we also said that there were rights for the Palestinians. Surely it is in the finest traditions of this House that the hon. Member for Westbury should speak up for the Palestinians today. We have espoused many causes in our history and 57 we must not forget the silent majority in what was the old Palestine who at present cannot speak. It was right for the resolution to emphasise the rights of the Palestinians.
Perhaps of more immediate urgency is the suggestion that the BBC external services should be cut. Apparently there have to be across-the-board sacrifices. I know that certain hon. Members criticise the BBC, and, although I do not intend to mention many countries, Portugal comes to mind. The BBC is not perfect. However, I must admit that when I want to know the news I wait until midnight and listen to the BBC external services. I know that I shall not hear the news from the BBC television. I believe that in the advance of morality it would be not immoral, but it would certainly be unwise, to cut the BBC external services.
If we cut the services we would be cutting the voice of the United Kingdom, which puts the bad as well as the good news in its broadcasts. We would be undermining ourselves if we cut that service. I know that a number of hon. Members are concerned about this matter. We must accept that there will be certain sacrifices, but if we cut services not only will services disappear but talents will be wasted. Therefore, let us show morality about the future of the BBC external services.
The right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) mentioned the United Nations agencies. I believe that the hon. Member for Harlow, who moved the motion, neglected this side of international morality. Enormous progress has been made in the care of and the concern for the poor, the deprived and the sick. All credit should be given to the United States of America and people like Dr. Borlaug, who developed dwarf wheat and who is responsible for many hundreds of millions of people around the world having more food than they would have had otherwise.
We need not apologise for our rôle area of international agencies. Basically the world is a barbaric place. We have had the benefit of 2 million years of development as human beings as opposed to apes, although I agree that very often the two are indistinguishable. It is 10,000 years since Jericho became 58 a city. Perhaps we expect too much perfection. It is important that nations such as ours and communities like this House of Commons should not lose hope or speak in a mood of anger, temper or despair. We have a responsibility to emphasise that there are hopes in the world and to give examples where things have gone wrong and, of course, where things have not lived up to expectations.
The debate has given us an opportunity to get away from detailed matters. Perhaps in 100 years' time, when we have another debate on foreign policy and morality—it will be that long before the Leader of the House lets us have another debate—Members will still be around and will be a little better at the subject.
§ 4.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on raising so subtle and philosophical a subject as the relationship between foreign policy and morality. As many hon. Members have already said, foreign policy is a subject which is shamefully neglected by the House. From what the hon. Gentleman said it appeared that there was a shade more foreign policy than morality in his speech. However, he concluded by claiming that he wished for a Socialist foreign policy. He will not be surprised when I say that I should not be in favour of a Socialist foreign policy. There is, however, some room for congratulation on the fact that Her Majesty's Government are not in favour of a Socialist foreign policy, either.
The relationship between morality and international affairs remains vague and undefined. There are two rival schools of thought. There are those who believe that decisions in foreign policy are either wise or foolish and there are others who believe that decisions in foreign policy are either good or evil. I am inclined towards the first school of thought—namely, the choice between wisdom and foolishness. I believe that while there is room for "morality" within foreign policy, morality as we discuss it today should impinge upon foreign affairs as little as possible.
Let us examine how we define right and wrong in relationships between sovereign States. The moralists assert 59 that States should be judged on the principles of individual morality. They go on to assert that there is or should be an identity between the morality of individuals and the morality of States. I am not convinced of this. There is a philosophical distinction between the moral behaviour of individuals and the behaviour of social groups. For instance, the obligation of the individual surely is to obey the law of love and sacrifice, but nations cannot be sacrificial. Governments are not individuals—they are trustees for other individuals.
Hugh Cecil once wrote:Unselfishness is inappropriate to the action of a State. No one has the right to be unselfish with the interests of other people.Alexander Hamilton—I must include in my quotations one American, as the United States has featured so largely in the debate—said:The rôle of morality is not precisely the same between nations as between individuals.Winston Churchill wrote:The Sermon on the Mount is the last word in Christian ethics. Still, it is not on those terms that Ministers assume their responsibilities for guiding States.Saints can be pure, but statesmen must be responsible.
We should resist the facile intrusion of moral judgments into foreign affairs, because foreign policy, unfortunately, is not a branch of ethics and should not become so. We must serve the national interest. Clearly, there is room for debate on what the national interest is at any given moment, but we start by trying to serve the national interest.
There is no international moral consensus. There may be agreement between civilised peoples that we all hate atrocity or torture, but there is no international moral consensus. At present, national, ideological, ethical and religious divisions remain, throughout the world, as insoluble as ever. We in Britain should combine a skilful regard for our own national interest with an unremitting respect for the interests of others This would seem more likely than the invocation of moral absolutes to bring about greater restraint, justice and peace among the nations of the world.
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Walsall, North)
We all congratulate my hon. Friend the 60 Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on initiating this debate, on the interesting points he made, and on encouraging others who have made some excellent speeches. The debate has been well worth while. In particular, the enlightening and erudite speech by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) was not only worth hearing but will be worth reading in the months ahead.
But I find myself in sharp disagreement with the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley). I did not expect to find myself in disagreement, but I think that he is entirely wrong in saying that we can distinguish between individuals and nations in approaching morality. Nations are bound and should be bound by a moral code. Enshrined within the United Nations itself are certain objectives to which most, if not all, countries have contributed, and I believe that it is increasingly important for countries such as our own to be able to argue within the United Nations for those moral objectives to be adhered to.
I have in mind, for instance, the Genocide Convention of the United Nations. That Convention has been too often ignored. It was ignored, for example, in the case of Bangladesh, when it was East Pakistan, and when Pakistan attempted to retain control of that part of the country by imposing a brutal military régime on the population and engaging in the systematic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It was genecide of the Bengali people—genocide writ large. There was and should have been action by the United Nations early on to prevent those atrocities going on without restriction.
Therefore, I clash with the hon. Member for Aldershot in his rather cynical approach to this aspect of international relations. I believe that we, as a nation, having discarded our empire more or less peaceably, now have an opportunity to take an objective view of foreign affairs and of morality in international relations, so that we can draw attention to the evil aspects of actions by other States, not only in relation to other countries with which they are in conflict but also in relation to their own populations, whom they sometimes engage in destroying simply in the interests of a group which 61 happens to have power or the army behind it.
In this respect, I have in mind—I refer to it very sadly—Uganda, where I lived for many years and where I worked for the independence of that State from United Kingdom colonialism. I must admit that I now bitterly regret what has happened since independence, because the conditions of the ordinary people in Uganda were much better under British colonialism than they are today.
The régime of Amin is a brutal régime, which has involved the systematic murder of tens of thousands of people. The hard-found wealth of that country, from the coffee and cotton grown by the ordinary peasants, is being squandered on the purchase of arms and military supplies rather than used for the building-up of the country.
I believe that Daniel Moynihan was right in saying, in the United Nations and elsewhere, what he felt about conditions in Uganda. I do not think that it does this country any credit for our ambassador at the United Nations, Mr. Ivor Richard, to engage in the rather cynical, devious business of trying to win support by a hushing up of what he knows and what we all know has been going on.
I think that the rôole of this country, through Mr. Richard and our other representatives, is to come out plainly and simply to say what we really think about Amin and any other dictator who exists. For us to be trying to play a game of manipulating such countries' support for other measures that we may be engaged in is cynical and degrading.
I would like to know at some stage—I do not know whether we shall get to know today—to what extent Mr. Richard has been under instructions from the Foreign Secretary in this respect. On occasions, Mr. Moynihan, in excusing his friend, Mr. Richard, has said that he understood how, unlike himself, Mr. Richard was acting under instructions. Mr. Moynihan said what he liked, and apparently upset Dr. Kissinger from time to time. Apparently, however, Mr. Richard is under strict instructions from the British Foreign Secretary.
If that is so, it is a very sad state of affairs because, like my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough 62 (Mr. Jackson) I believe that this country should be one of the small group of countries expressing themselves about foreign affairs with a degree of morality to inspire them. I do not think that we have yet reached that position. I agree with my hon. Friend about Zambia and Canada, but I think that he should have included Sweden, as well. I do not think we can yet include ourselves in that select group of countries.
Too often we have indications, such as from the United Nations, that the Foreign Secretary and other spokesmen who decide the way we run our international affairs are pursuing other interests. We have had that, for instance, with regard to Iceland. How can we claim to have morality in foreign affairs when we are trying to get our point of view across to the Icelanders without engaging in fair negotiations with them? I know that it is not popular to condemn the Foreign Secretary and others while they are engaged in these negotiations, but I think it is sensible to do so, because only if we draw attention to some of this humbug do we get some sense emerging from the miasma that surrounds these negotiations.
I heard the Foreign Secretary say, three months ago, that we could have an immediate agreement with the Icelandic authorities on a catch of 65,000 tons per year. We could have had that agreement three months ago, but as a result of the Government's attempting to get just a little bit more—unlike the Germans, who immediately and sensibly settled on a catch of about the same size; of course, a catch of another sort of fish, which they now advise us to eat, rather than sticking to cod—they behaved stupidly and recklessly in the Icelandic dispute. I am suggesting that we should have more honesty and frankness rather than the humbug that we have been getting from the Foreign Secretary and, particularly, from the Prime Minister, last weekend at Chequers.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
I am sorry to interrupt my right hon. Friend, but if this is a debate about human rights he must surely accept that there are certain human rights to enable British fishermen to fish in international waters. There are certain rights, 63 also, involved in respecting the ruling of the International Court of Justice. I am sure that my right hon. Friend has taken these matters into consideration.
§ Mr. Stonehouse
Yes, but when we say what we are going to do we should behave honestly and sensibly and not try to wrap up our policies in the sort of humbug that we have had in these last few months. I believe that our standing in other fields of foreign policy would be helped if it did not appear that we were wielding the big stick at the Icelanders.
I can approach this debate with a unique advantage, because I believe that I am the only Member of the House to be accused of being a Czech spy and a CIA agent at one and the same time. I have seen in the Daily Mirror today yet another repetition of the allegation—it has been made several times—that I am a Czech spy. On page 2, I read:Labour MP John Stonehouse has been named in a US Government inquiry into spying. A Czech spy who defected to the West claims that the former Labour Minister had been associating with Communist agents.All this stale information comes from a certain Joseph Frolik. I had not intended referring to it, but as the matter appears in the Daily Mirror today, and as, no doubt, other newspapers have secured this report from the United States Senate, I should like to take the opportunity of denying absolutely the allegation that has been made by Mr. Frolik.
It is true that when I was a Minister and, indeed, before, I associated with Communist agents. I did not know at the time that they were spies. Also, I am convinced that most Ministers of both Administrations have in past years associated with agents. There is no escaping from it, if one is going to engage in any sort of discussion with the Czechs or with anyone else. Indeed, the man I had known from the Czech Embassy turned up when I was a Minister negotiating with the Czech Minister responsible for the Czech aircraft industry and I was trying to sell him the VC10. Associated with that sale was a negotiation to provide the Czech airline with landing rights at Heathrow, so that the Czechs could fly their VC1O through the United Kingdom into the United States, and the very man who at that time, apparently, 64 was a Communist spy turned up as the interpreter. He has since been named as one of the Czechs' leading agents in this country at that time.
I therefore suggest that it is impossible for anyone, if he is a Minister responsible for negotiating with the Czechs or with anyone else, to escape from having some association with Communist agents. When I was in Czechoslovakia I apparently met some others who were involved in this business.
As for being an agent of the CIA, I am glad to tell the House that the hon. Member who made this allegation publicly last year has been good enough to see me in the corridor and to deny his claim. I doubt very much whether the popular Press will give that denial as much prominence as they gave to the original allegation when it appeared a year ago.
I have put on the Order Paper a motion attacking the lack of freedom for Dr. Sakharov to go from Russia to Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize. I was glad to receive considerable support from all sides of the House in that case. In fact, hon. Members of every political party represented in the House were good enough to sign it. I draw attention to it today because it demonstrates the sort of problem that we are up against, in foreign affairs, when Governments say one thing and do another.
We see examples of that sort of thing at the moment. In the case of the Helsinki Agreement we have a declaration that there should be freedom of movement for individuals and freedom of ideas. Our own Prime Minister went to Helsinki and solemnly signed this declaration, and so did most other world leaders, but very little has resulted from this, except, according to the Foreign Secretary the other day, more freedom for Press men in Moscow. I do not think that is good enough. I do not think it is good enough for the Government to engage in the solemn business of signing a declaration and then doing nothing about it, ignoring the complete refutation of the whole spirit and purpose of the declaration by the Soviet Union in not allowing Dr. Sakharov to go to Oslo.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow drew attention to the report of the Senator Frank Church Committee on the assassination plots involving foreign 65 leaders. I have the Report in my hand and I should like to quote from it. I do not want to go over the ground that the senator dealt with—the question of assassinations, and so on. That is well documented in the Report, and it certainly makes very good reading. I should, however, like to draw attention to a paragraph on page 274 which says thatMany of the plans that were discussed and often approved contemplated violent action against Cuba. The operation which resulted in the Bay of Pigs was a major paramilitary onslaught that had the approval of the highest government officials, including the two Presidents.The Report goes on to discuss a little more about the "Mongoose" plan, whichinvolved propaganda and sabotage operations aimed towards spurring a revolt of the Cuban people against Castro. Measures which were considered by the top policymakers included incapacitating sugar workers during harvest season by the use of chemicals; blowing up bridges and production plants; sabotaging merchandise in third countries—even those allied with the United States—prior to its delivery to Cuba…".It is that item which I draw seriously to the attention of the House, I repeat:sabotaging merchandise in third countries—even those allied with the United States…".We have been an ally of the United States for many years, but we were supplying Cuba with buses against the interests of the United States. On 14th February 1975 an article appeared in the Daily Mail which read:Did the CIA organise a collision on the Thames to stop British Leyland sending 400 buses to Castro's Cuba? The suggestion has been scorned by the CIA… Nevertheless, the claim has been made—and by a much respected journalist, famous for his record of exposing spy scandals. Washington columnist Jack Anderson will this morning tell the story of the 'Magdeburg', an East German freighter, and a foggy day on the Thames in October 1964.I shall not burden the House with the whole report, but the ship was sunk and the cargo was not delivered to Cuba at that stage. That concerns an allegation made by a respected journalist in the United States.
It is that sort of allegation that leads me to suggest we should establish a Select Committee. We should investigate the question whether the CIA was involved in sabotaging the "Magdeburg", or in stopping the export of civilian goods to Cuba. We should investigate 66 other areas involving activities of our own secret service and foreign affairs officials.
It has been well documented that the United States has been involved in direct subsidies to foreign political parties. Tens of millions of dollars have been mentioned in respect to the Italian political parties. It is also well known that the Soviet Union and East European countries subsidise Communist parties by exporting goods at less than the economic price so that trading organisations can make a profit. These profits are used to subsidise the activities of Communist parties. For example, the Communist Party in Portugal has been assisted. The Italian Communist Party has also gained considerable benefit from these trading operations. I do not think it would be the job of a Select Committee to investigate any of those allegations, as they have been well investigated already by the Pryke Committee of Congress and the Church Committee of the Senate.
I believe that a Select Committee should investigate the secret donations that have been made by British Governments to foreign political parties to enable them to win certain elections, to the advantage of the United Kingdom. As a former Minister, I know of examples, which I should like to give to a Select Committee. If the Americans have thought it right to establish the Church Committee and the Pryke Committee to carry out full investigations into the secret operations of the CIA—I am not suggesting that our activities have been so serious—I believe that we should investigate our operations in other countries. It is important that this House, as with the elected representatives in the United States, through their respective committees, should have an opportunity to investigate these matters.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it much more important that the House should consider the contributions that have been made by foreign countries to various organisations in Britain—contributions designed to bring down this Government or any other duly-elected Government?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
I am glad to have support for my proposal. I think that the terms of reference of a Select Committee 67 could well be widened to include an investigation into those matters. We are grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow for initiating this debate.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)
The right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse) and the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) have taken the view that Britain could give a lead in being moral in its foreign policy. I agree, but I beg the House to remember that we cannot take a lead in being powerful. Whatever lead we may give depends on us being willing to operate within one of the two great alliances into which the world is divided. There is the free democratic world that shelters under the nuclear umbrella of the United States, or the world of the Warsaw Pact and Iron Curtain countries.
Whatever criticisms have been made of the operations of the CIA or other intelligence services, there are two great differences between the CIA and the KGB. First, the CIA does not operate at home, and whatever it may do overseas, it is subject to open criticism and to investigation. That is more than can be said of the KGB. Second, the CIA does not operate at home, but the KGB has a long history of tyranny and oppression at home. The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) was wise enough to mention tyranny within the Soviet Union. I had already had the forethought to take his advice to consult the Library and to look out a number of appalling incidents of oppression which have been well and courageously documented by many people, including Bernard Levin, with a great deal of authority and independent evidence of the appalling denial of human rights. That is the Soviet regime, which has set the tone throughout its own empire.
I suggest that in discussing morality in foreign policy the House should recollect that the Soviet Union is an empire which has been established by force of Russian arms. With the possible exception of Cuba there is virtually no record of a Communist country—certainly no Communist country in Europe—that has not had to be supported by force of Soviet arms to establish itself against the wishes of the 68 people, and to remain established, as we have seen in Hungary and, subsequently, Czechoslovakia. We have seen domestic oppression carried on in the satellite countries of Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland, and elsewhere. No wonder Solzhenitzyn said:To treat with friendship such a system"—he was referring to the USSR—and those who rule it not only betrays those who suffer under it, but inevitably makes the system's ultimate victory more likely.Therefore, I do not reach the same conclusion as that of the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas), who thought that it was a good idea for the United States to supply the Soviet Union with grain. Nor do I think we should have welcomed to these shores an ex-KGB chief, now masquerading as a trade union leader. However, I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and the right hon. Member for Kettering recognise in their different ways the dilemma faced by the hon. Member for Harlow when he opened the debate. The fact is that there is no ideological detente because the Soviet Union is determined to use its Marxist ideology to further imperialist expansion. Therefore, we face a considerable moral problem. I agree with the right hon. Member for Kettering that it is helpful to continue to give aid, whether or not we agree with the régime in power, but I would not go so far as to extend that principle to the Soviet Union itself.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion was on a different tack when he referred to the tyranny posed by the Soviet Empire rather than that of some of the Third World. In a cold war we must work on the premise that peace, which must be the greatest morality of all, can only be damaged by a weakening of our defences. Such damage could lead only to the erosion of our liberties, and the British people would find the resulting situation intolerable.
Those hon. Members who have said that in these matters we should try to keep a clear head and a single standpoint should practise what they preach. We have heard far too much about the peccadilloes of our foreign policy from those who support the Soviet Union, as compared to criticism of its interference, by 69 force of arms, in the internal affairs of other countries and its efforts to penetrate other people's territories by all possible means. We cannot avoid the fact that the Soviet Union, regardless of any form of detente, is seeking to carry on the ideological battle.
I agree, too, with the right hon. Member for Walsall, North that we should not flinch in our support of people such as Mr. Daniel Moyniham whenever they have the courage to point to tyrannies in the Third World.
§ Mr. Newens
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he feels about the situations in Indonesia and Chile? Does he condemn oppression of human beings in those countries, or does he regard what happened in Chile as a mere peccadillo?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I condemn the oppression of human beings wherever it may occur. However, it is hypocrisy for the United Nations to pass a motion condemning a so-called racist regime in Israel and at the same time to ignore what is happening in Bulgaria, Mongolia, Cuba, Uganda, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, East Germany, Albania, Sri Lanka, China, Libya, Indonesia, Yemen, Syria, Poland and a score of other countries that voted for that motion. That is "double talk" with a vengeance.
I must admit that in a situation where there is no ideological detente and a continuance of the cold war I, too, have a double standard. I wish to maintain the pursuit of democracy, liberty, freedom, and human rights throughout the world. But our primary job—I am sure that this is the view of all of us, particularly of Her Majesty's Government—is to seek to protect the rights and interests of the British people. We seek that protection in a world in which Marxism is being used as a medieval Christianity was once used in the shameful episode of the Fourth Crusade, namely, as an excuse for invasion and expansion of national or sectional interests.
The agreement made at Helsinki requires a great deal more action by Warsaw Pact countries to turn it into true detente than we have yet seen. We have seen from the Soviet bloc interference with the freedom of movement and every attempt to impede Radio Free Europe. We have seen a continuous 70 Russian build-up, with the establishment of great bases in Somalia and the likelihood that the Angolan war will lead to the establishment of further Russian bases, this time on the Atlantic. There has been an enormous increase in the Russian submarine fleet. If the hon. Member for Harlow wishes to see disarmament as a reality, let him seek it where arms are building up fastest and where those arms, because of their nature, are most likely to be used for aggression.
It is enlightening, though frightening, to examine the various studies carried out in respect of force structures in Europe. The evidence is that Russian forces are more suited to attack than to defend and to aggression rather than to self-defence.
Let us, as a free people, do all we can to advance the cause of freedom, morality and humanity in the world. But let us at least be honest enough to recognise that we can achieve these aims only if we ourselves remain free. Furthermore, let us be realistic enough to recognise that this means choosing one side or the other. We choose the Western alliance—which involves an alliance with a country which, whatever its faults, does not send to lunatic asylums or prisons those who seek to criticiise its policies.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)
A period of 16 years has elapsed since I made my maiden speech in this House. I have been silent for a period of two years while acting as a Government Whip, and therefore I can now be said to be making half a maiden speech, or to be losing half of my virginity.
I join in congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on the way in which he opened the debate. In my experience over the past 16 years, foreign affairs debates in this House have usually been two-day, ragged, hotch-potch affairs. At least today's three-hour debate will concentrate our minds.
The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) and I in earlier years were very much concerned with the National Health Service. Indeed, most of my contributions in this House have dealt with health matters. However, I have found today's debate to be a fascinating exercise, involving a common symptom to be seen in psychiatry, and questions 71 of morality as viewed by hon. Members on both sides of the House have led to transference of responsibility or guilt-feelings to somebody else, in this case another country. Therefore, I wish to pay most regard to the problem set out in the motion—our concern with our own morality. I hope that we shall concentrate on this. I shall try to persuade hon. Members of the need to pay attention to our own responsibilities.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), stressed British interests in the form of a running motif through his speech, as did the right hon. Member for Farnham. This emphasises my contention that responsibility for political decisions on a moral judgment must rest with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his ministerial colleagues.
For a short period I was attached to the Foreign Office as PPS. My experience was that on every single foreign problem that emerged the huge amount of documentation provided by the civil servants was concerned only with British "interests". Never was there a political or moral concept involved in the briefs provided. That was not the job of the Civil Service. It was the job of the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers in charge of the Department. I once challenged the then Permanent Under-Secretary, now Lord Gore-Booth, on precisely this point. He confirmed that it was not the job of the Foreign Office, in providing information to the Secretary of State, ever to be concerned with the political or moral content of a question. It is the present Secretary of State's job to make his decisions in that respect in the light of his ethical philosophy and his lifetime of experience in the Socialist movements.
My hon. Friend's motion is particularly apt. In the present period there are obviously a number of political and moral decisions to be made, and almost every day these are placed squarely on the shoulders of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
The debate has been partly concerned with defence, armaments and the supply of armaments. Over the years my party has moved a long way from concepts of George Bernard Shaw in his play 72 "Major Barbara", in which the great armaments manufacturer, Undershaft, appears. In the same context there was an excellent book by Lord Brockway, who used to be a Member of this House. The title of his book was "Death pays a Dividend". Strangely enough, although those works are dated, when we consider the actions taken in economic affairs by multinational companies it is surprising how close a parallel there is to the kinds of forces and pressures at work in foreign affairs and overseas matters, on which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has to make his judgments.
There was a brief period when my Government were very bold and imaginative, between 1964 and 1966. We accepted the fact that since 1962 a good deal of the frigidity had moved out of the cold war. We were moving towards détente, not for any ideological reasons but because of very hard economic facts. When countries have an "overkill" capacity, so that they can wipe out the world 10 or 20 times over, it begins to become economic nonsense to seek to have further ability to wipe out the world 30 or 40 times.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in a very imaginative way, appointed a Minister for disarmament. Unfortunately, he appointed the wrong Minister.
§ Mr. Pavitt
The problem was that the man who ought to have filled that office, Philip Noel-Baker, had by that time reached the age at which he could no longer accept such a responsibility. Looking back over Philip Noel-Baker's record, one finds considerable material which could have been used to great effect by anyone holding the office of Minister for disarmament.
The Department of the Minister for disarmament consisted of eight civil servants in a little house in Queen Anne's Gate. Unfortunately, this proved ineffectual as a counter-balancing influence against the pressures for equipping wars. As the right hon. Member for Farnham has quite rightly said, defence is a matter of acute concern, and on one side of Whitehall there are three enormous buildings. They house admirals, brigadiers, 73 Royal Air Force officers and a tremendous number of civil servants. Their task is constantly to give the Secretary of State for Defence information and advice to ensure that our defences are not eroded. Through the Secretary of State for Defence, enormous pressure is also put on the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. By way of contrast, in negotiations to secure peace and disarmament, such as the strategic arms limitation talks, there was only this miniature office with eight civil servants to advise the Minister for disarmament. Since that time the whole Department has disappeared. Surely in these days, when there are various contending policies before the Government, there should be experts available to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with as much power and strength as the armaments merchants, to enable him to make moral judgments on this kind of issue as well as others.
§ Mr. Goodhew
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the period when Lord Chalfont was Minister for disarmament and the present Chancellor of the Exechequer was Secretary of State for Defence, is he not aware that the then Secretary of State for Defence was disarming this country unilaterally at such a rate that we did not need a Minister for Disarmament? We had one already in the Secretary of State for Defence.
§ Mr. Pavitt
This is one of the great myths of the Conservatives, and it was perpetuated earlier this afternoon by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion. If we look at the Defence Estimates for any year from 1930 onwards, we can see that there were colossal increases every year in the amount spent on armaments. Unfortunately, particularly in the few years up to 1939, the capitalist industry in this country could not deliver the goods although the cost to the taxpayer escalated at a colossal rate. The kind of argument now put before the House by the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) is equally completely erroneous.
Concerning the possibility of detente, which has been mentioned, I believe quite deeply and profoundly that a major confrontation between the two big Powers is no longer on the cards. This was agreed in 1962 after the Cuba confrontation, and today large wars are out, except 74 by accident. The great tragedy is that, at the same time as the great Powers are agreed that big wars are out, little wars are in. One wonders how my right hon. Friend the Secrtary of State will be able to exercise moral judgment in these matters and take international initiatives so that we may one day get to the stage when little wars are also out. The danger is that the little wars can easily escalate at any time to the point where the accidental large war is possible—the kind of war which we cannot afford and which humanity will not survive.
I should like the House to consider whether we could have some kind of cessation of ideological warfare. This is necessary if there is to be any effective move towards positive detente. In this respect I commend to the House the proposals made by the late Prime Minister Shastri of India just before he died He appealed for a 12 months' armistice in the war of words He urged nations to stop name-calling and to try for 12 months to forget their propaganda about basic ideological, economic and social differences, especially between the two big Powers.
We ought at least to try to achieve an agreement so that for a limited period the propaganda which keeps the cold war very much in being could be stopped. That would give each side the opportunity to make some progress with detente instead of finding reasons and excuses to make detente even more difficult to achieve.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan
I thought it was on this very point, as part of the Helsinki arrangement, that Brezhnev made it quite clear that he was not willing to do this, because in his view the ideological conflict must be carried forward
§ Mr. Pavitt
I am not denying that, but the White Paper on the Helsinki Agreement—which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has read—makes it quite clear that there was an acceptance by the Soviet side that there were deep and fundamental differences in ideology. But this is not the point I am making. Even though ideological differences exist, the war of words could be stopped temporarily. There should be an armistice type of agreement for the cessation of the building up of propaganda by which each side 75 is accusing the other and indulging in name calling and creating a climate of opinion which makes it very difficult for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to exercise his moral responsibilities. I believe that we could be making a good deal more advance with the technical information that we have.
Of late, very little has been said about the American-Soviet committee which met in Geneva, which found that disarmament was a possibility in economic terms and which published an extremely interesting report in 1965. Very little is said about the agreement which that committee reached that there could be a constructive side of our efforts to redirect our productive capacities from war to peace.
We have to face the fact that in the years ahead it is inevitable that countries which have been in a period of slight development will move towards independence and towards social, economic and political change. In the main, that is the responsibility of the people of those countries. It is they who will have to make the decisions about it. But it is our responsibility to use our intelligence to try to forestall possible events on the international canvas at the United Nations and elsewhere and to see how it is possible to get those inevitable changes occurring in various parts of the world in such a way that they do not lead to armed conflict, which is the only way at the moment that an oppressed people can ace[...] to get out of what has been domination for many years in almost feudal societies.
Morality means positive political planning. Too often in foreign affairs, what happens is that we attempt to solve problems temporarily by the sort of means that we have used in Kashmir, the Middle East, Cyprus or Northern Ireland. Temporary partition can hold the ring for a time, but matters cannot be left like that. The moral responsibility then rests in not ceasing from intensive efforts to solve the political conflict and permanently eliminate the basic problems. In the same way, we need to be able to give a lead in international affairs at the United Nations. I for one am prepared to give sovereignty to the United Nations in a meaningful way instead of attempting 76 to preserve our own interest, as we do so frequently.
Our interest is peace. Without it, life is not worth living because, in fact, we all die.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Hurd (Mid-Oxon)
We have been right to congratulate the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on his choice of subject. I go a little further. In drafting his motion, he made a desperate effort to be even-handed, even though his pen let slip phrases every now and again about a reactionary clique. That was second nature to him. What is more, although he put into his speech phrases about his disapproval of what happens in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, his real antagonism and prejudices came through quite clearly. He spoke in the long tradition of this country of reading lectures to other nations. I wonder whether this has done us much good. I share the elegant scepticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) on this point. Has it done us much good to read all these lectures, or has it done much good to those whom we were supposed to be trying to help?
We know about Mr. Gladstone in the Midlothian campaign. It helped him to win the next election. There is no evidence that it helped the Bulgars. The same was true in the case of Chinese labour in South Africa, brilliantly recorded in "The Life of Joseph Chamberlain" by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). But in those days we had a massive Navy and tremendous influence in the world, and the Sultan of Turkey, for example, had to take notice of what we said. In our present situation we have to be very careful about falling again into the habit of lecturing other countries about what they are doing within their own frontiers.
There was a remarkable example of this in the letter which the hon. Member for Harlow and others of his hon. Friends wrote to The Guardian on 31st January making certain allegations about the activities of His Majesty the Shah vis-à-vis Iranian novelists and sociologists. At the end of the letter the hon. Gentleman said:We think that it is time that the strongest possible representations were made by the British authorities against this barbarous régime.77 In what kind of world[...] does the hon. Gentleman live? What sanctions does he imagine can be imposed against the Shah? Is he not aware that for years the airlines to Teheran have been filled with the executives of British nationalised industries trying to raise money from the Shah of Iran? I can think of only one sanction in this case. It is that we utter the dreaded words "Unless you mend your ways, we shall not borrow from you again." The hon. Gentleman is living in a naïve world if he thinks that a letter to The Guardian and this kind of phraseology mean anything anywhere outside a very narrow circle in this country.
I turn to Oman and what the hon. Gentleman said about that, because it illustrates another point. I am sure the hon. Gentleman believes what he says. But it is wholly removed from the facts of the situation, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) pointed out. The hon. Gentleman drew no distinction between the last Sultan of Oman and the present one. It so happens that I have met both gentlemen. They are both remarkable in their ways. The old Sultan did not believe in allowing progress of any kind into his country and was quite clear about it. But under the present Sultan, who has been ruling the country for some years, great progress has been made. Great progress has been made in raising the standard of his people. To equate the two régimes and to say that there is no Western interest or morality in helping the Sultan to defend himself is again based on complete ignorance of the facts. What is more, to equate the forces for the liberation of Oman with new forces of light dedicated to human rights again shows a complete misunderstanding of what is happening.
§ Mr. Newens
Does the hon. Gentleman believe that in Oman there is any democracy or there are any trade union rights at present? Will he not agree that, if he looks at other examples throughout history, it may be that the words of people like the older Pitt, when they spoke out during the course of the American Revolution, had some effect? In the long run, were they not right?
§ Mr. Hurd
Of course, the democratic standards of Oman are not those to which the hon. Gentleman is accustomed in 78 Harlow, and it will be some time before they are. But they are making substantial progress, whereas the people whom he is blessing are supported from South Yemen, a territory which has gone not forward but backwards in a sensational way in recent years. The hon. Gentleman has his money on the wrong horse if he is interested in progress and human rights.
Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have correctly referred to the point about the double standard, which flows immediately from this question of Oman. We hold no brief for, say, the rulers of Chile or Brazil or for what happens in those countries. But we cannot accept criticisms from the very people who themselves jostled to welcome Mr. Shelepin to these shores. It is not possible to make a valid condemnation of the one régime while welcoming the representative of the other.
I notice the hon. Member for Harlow smiling. I do not accuse him personally. It is a fact, however, that within the recent memory of us all there was the visit, blessed by the leaders of the British trade union movement, of a man whose record in these matters of human rights was as bad as any which could be conceived among living rulers in the world. Until the hon. Gentleman and his friends are prepared to make an even judgment in these matters, they cannot expect their criticisms to be listened to with respect.
There is the further point which was emphasised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion. It is not just the nature of the activities of these different régimes that we criticise. It is the directions in which they seek to move the world. We must recognise that the activities of the Soviet Union and its friends have tended and have been intended to diminish the security of our own country and of our allies. It is foolish to leave that principle out of account.
We ought to make, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot suggested, a distinction between what individuals do and what public opinion does, and what individual Members of the House do and what we ask Governments to do. It is perfectly right and traditional in this country for public opinion to bring its views to bear on what happens in other 79 countries. It will have some effect, history suggests, at the fringe of the activities in those other countries. Individuals will be released earlier than would otherwise have been the case. There will be practices of a rather minor kind which will be abandoned. Regimes do not change the whole basis of their nature because of what is said about them abroad. They may modify some of their practices, and that is all to the good.
But the Government's job is a different one. It is to maintain correct—not necessarily warm—relations with countries and Governments which fulfil our criteria for recognition. Any other course is likely to produce the wrong effect, just as the attempt by Governments to coerce Franco immediately after the Second World War gave to that regime a new lease of life which it might not otherwise have had.
Quite apart from that, the duty of a British Government is to protect British interests. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) has said, this is a criterion which they cannot neglect and which must influence their dealings with other Governments if we are to protect British interests—for example, British citizens. We must have the means to do this. It is not possible to expect the Government both to break off relations with Chile in disapproval of the practices there and to protect British subjects in Chile who get into trouble. We have to choose, and the Government have rightly chosen, the course of maintaining diplomatic relations with Chile so that they can intervene in cases such as that of Dr. Cassidy.
Surely, on both sides of the House we must try to achieve an honest and consistent approach on this question of morality in foreign policy. I served for 14 years as a very junior member of Her Majesty's Foreign Service and I had some opportunity to see, from below as it were, what made for weakness and what were the impediments to the successful conduct of British foreign policy. I say to the hon. Member for Harlow that, of all the weaknesses and impediments I could spot, the approach to the affairs of the world typified in his speech was probably the most damaging of all.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Evan Luard (Oxford)
Like many other hon. Members, I warmly welcome 80 the opportunity for once given to this House to raise its eyes from the immediate day-to-day affairs of the world and to look at this question of the long-term and more general problems of the formation of foreign policy. One of our difficulties is that we spend so much of our time looking at the short term that we have very little opportunity to look at general principles in the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) and others have done today.
I suggest that the long-term problems to which we should be directing our attention today are concerned with the type of international community which we believe can be achieved and which we seek to achieve. In particular, we should ask what are the principles of international conduct which we believe that such an international community demands. I am not so cynical, as are some hon. Members who have spoken today, particularly from the Conservative side of the House, as to believe that there can be no genuine principles or no advance in this respect. I believe that there has been an advance.
For example, cases of overt agggression and attempts to grab large sections of the territory of another State are much less common today than they were a century or two centuries ago. This is certainly true in Europe and to some extent it is true in other parts of the world too. One of the problems facing the international community today is that there remains a large number of ambiguous situations in which there are at present still no firmly recognised principles of international conduct.
I rather regret that so far this debate has been ideological. Conservative Members have tended to give the impression that all the errors of international behaviour have been committed by Communist States, whereas some of my hon. Friends have concentrated their attention on States elsewhere. One of the great problems is precisely that the international community today lacks objectivity in approaching this question. If we are ever to achieve a more stable international community, it can only be by the elaboration of principles which are widely recognised and in this way perhaps more widely observed.
I want to concentrate my attention on two principles of international behaviour 81 to which lip service has been paid for a long time but the observance of which, unfortunately, has been very much lacking. I shall try to suggest that such observance has become more weak in recent years than formerly. The first of these principles is that of self-determination. This can be traced back to Woodrow Wilson and the end of the First World War. But in fact it goes back even further than that, for it is the same as the so-called national principle of the nineteenth century which was respected in the creation of a number of new States during that century. In 1918 it was much more explicity observed in the principles of the Treaty of Versailles and the establishment of new States then and subsequently.
In 1945 this principle was yet more explicitly recognised in the terms of the Charter of that year and in the whole process of decolonisation which followed. Finally, it was again explicitly recognised in the famous Resolution No. 1514 passed by the United Nations in 1960, which was intended to be the basis of all further acts of decolonisation. It can, perhaps, be suggested that to a considerable extent the creation of new States in the period after 1945 was based on this principle. The sad fact is that today, particularly in recent months, that principle appears to have been totally forgotten by, among others, many members of the United Nations.
There are three critical situations today in different parts of the world where one might have hoped and expected that the principle of self-determination would be observed. One is the situation in Timor, where Portuguese rule came to an end a few months ago, the second is the situation in Spanish Sahara, where Spain handed over sovereignty a month or two ago, and the third is the situation in Angola. The fact is that the future of all these territories is being decided not on the principle of self-determination, not on the basis of what the inhabitants of the territories want, but entirely on the basis of brute force. It is not even on the basis of the relative armed force of the inhabitants of those States, which has sometimes been the case in a number of other territories.
In all these cases the armed power that is dominant, the armed power that is 82 to determine the situation and the future of these territories, is the armed power of external states—Indonesia in the case of Timor, Morocco and Mauretania against that of Algeria in the case of Spanish Sahara, and the armed power of Cuba, the Soviet Union and South Africa in the case of Angola. This seems to be lamentable, deplorable and scandalous.
Those are three new territories coming into existence which one might have hoped would have had Governments established which reflected the wishes of their inhabitants. Instead they are to have Governments established which reflect the balance of armed force in the area, the armed force of an external Power. It is a sad fact that the United Nations, although it has made some weak protests in one or two of these cases, has on the whole done nothing to try to remedy the situation. I very much hope that our Government, in their efforts in all these cases, will seek to ensure that the principle of self-determination is more effectively observed. We should try to ensure that this principle is established and recognised in the international community.
The second principle was once fairly widely recognised, namely, the principle of the non-involvement of external Powers in the civil conflicts of other States. This principle is laid down in the textbooks on international law. In those textbooks it is applied not only to assistance to rebels in a civil war but even to assistance to the recognised and legal Government of a State. This principle was recognised for about two centuries. In recent years it has been increasingly breached, particularly in the case of help to Governments which today are widely recognised as being legal. This leads to endless controversy about which is the legal and recognised Government. But the principle is breached equally widely by assistance given to rebel forces in other territories.
The principal form of conflict in the modern world is not overt conflict by great Powers against each other but conflict in the territories of other States involving assistance to rival factions fighting for domination in those States. The classic case was perhaps the war in Vietnam, which basically was between 83 the forces of North Vietnam and the forces of the United States. The forces of South Vietnam had very little influence on the outome of the war.
The same phenomenon has been evident in many other territories since 1945, and it can be clearly seen in one or two places today. Angola springs to mind. Here the principle that no support should be given to the Government has not been observed by the Soviet Union or by Cuba. The principle that no support should be given to the other factions at war in such a situation has been breached by South Africa and other States.
That raises the problem about mercenaries. If we are to prevent external intervention in civil conflicts, it is necessary to prevent intervention not only by Governments but by individuals. This is the dilemma which faces our own Government. I warmly recommend to the Government the course pursued by the Conservative Party in office when the civil war in the Congo was being fought from 1960 to 1964. There was at that time a great deal of concern in this country about mercenaries helping the régime in Katanga.
I should like to read the statement made by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) on 12th April 1961, because it is a good precedent to be followed by the present Government:Her Majesty's Government have decided that the passport of any United Kingdom national who takes up a military engagement in the Congo other than under United Nations Command will be invalidated or withdrawn. Passport authorities are being instructed to refuse a passport to any United Kingdom national who applies for one in order to take up such an engagement…".—[official Report, 12th April 1961; Vol. 638, c. 27.]That is precisely what our Government should be doing in the case of those engaging to fight in a civil conflict in another part of the world in extremely hazardous and unsatisfactory conditions, subjecting themselves to the kind of atrocity reported in the newspapers in the past day or two. In taking such a step, our Government would be doing a service not only to the country but to the unfortunate individuals who might find themselves engaged in the conflict.
Those are the two basic principles to which I wish to draw attention. I hope very much that our Government will 84 make an effort to establish a greater respect for such principles. I do not suggest that they are the only principles of international conduct which are required to establish a more peaceful order among States, but an international community is basically no different from any other kind of community: order within it can be preserved only if there is mutual respect for certain established principles of conduct.
Those principles cannot be enforced simply by superior armed forces either of some great world government or of a super-Power. Similarly, in smaller communities the only courses which ultimately will secure respect for principles of this kind will be a much greater knowledge of this principle, a much more deliberate attempt to elucidate principles of this kind and an effort in international bodies such as the United Nations to formulate them and, in all subsequent actions, to try to ensure that they are observed by all members of the community.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
It is my intention to revert to the subject matter of the motion and to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens). Before doing so, however, I wish to say a few words on another topic on which only two Members have touched, namely, our dispute with Iceland in the context of international political morality. It is not only among a few people that there are grave doubts about the conduct of our present policies on Iceland. That does not apply only to matters of morality. I agree with what has been said about the legality of the situation, but what is happening and has happened there recently cannot be regarded as being helpful in supporting the cause of ourselves and our allies against much greater threats.
When I saw the name of the hon. Member for Harlow against the motion, I had a shrewd suspicion that in his speech he would be somewhat selective in his condemnation of immorality throughout the world. I am not surprised that he did his best to disclaim selectivity, and, although most hon. Members have spoken about everything except the motion, it is only fair to the hon. Gentleman to deal specifically with the question whether he 85 was selective and then move to one or two wider issues.
The motion refers tosupport from abroad given openly or in a clandestine manner to reactionary individuals or cliques seeking to deny political freedom…I shall willingly give way to the hon. Gentleman if he wishes to tell us whether, when he drafted the motion, he included the Soviet Union as being one of the reactionary regimes which he condemned.
§ Mr. Newens
I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a categoric answer, but I would undoubtedly condemn, and did condemn, the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
§ Sir F. Bennett
I asked a very simple question. I gather that the Soviet Union was not uppermost in the hon. Gentleman's mind when, in his motion, he condemned reactionary regimes.
The hon. Member for Harlow spoke a good deal, and was very selective, about what was going on in Angola. He objected particularly to intervention there by South Africa. He gave unspecified interventions at an earlier date as justification for the Soviet and Cuban intervention there. He did not give details. I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept that, in asking which came first, the chicken or the egg, he does not need to rely on the views of Conservative Members. President Kaunda of Zambia, who is not a recent adherent to the Carlton Club, President Kenyatta and President Banda of Malawi—indeed, half the free and independent African nations—do not share the hon. Gentleman's interpretation of what has been happening in Angola.
The hon. Gentleman next said that, although he was not selective, for brevity's sake he would mention only three countries that he particularly deplored—and then added a fourth, the United States of America. The three he mentioned as oppressive régimes were Brazil, Indonesia and Iran. That is a broad political spectrum, but he said not a word about the Soviet Union. Did it not warrant a place in the list? Why did he choose only those three?
The hon. Gentleman thought that he was unfairly attacked and said that he disliked oppression wherever it existed. If it is allowed, I will bet him that 86 Hansard tomorrow will show that 80 to 90 per cent. of his speech was directed against other than Communist repressive Powers. That does not show the nice balance that he claimed in challenging international morality.
The argument about morality in international affairs has gone to and fro, but I am certain that it will never exist as long as people blatantly indulge in double standards, the death knell of any moral judgment of other countries. Such standards are made worse when they are applied so that only countries hostile to this nation escape abuse and only those which are friendly come in for cheap criticism.
I agree with the Foreign Secretary that everyone has double standards in international affairs: they are impossible to avoid. I admit to my own immediately. At the moment, of 200 nations in the world only 25 enjoy parliamentary or liberal democracy. If we intend to condemn countries for being authoritarian, we have a busy time ahead of us and the number of our trading and other partners will be severely limited.
Of course I want liberal and parliamentary democracy spread throughout the world. The situation is not very good at the moment, but one hopes that it will improve. As long as I have to form a judgment, however, I confess that my double standard is a preference to be more understanding about those countries which are friendly to my own and which present me and those whom I represent with no threat than about those countries which threaten and abuse us and menace us with future conflict. On balance, I would say of authoritarian States "We hope that they will in time develop towards a more democratic régime, but in the meantime I prefer those which do not threaten this country."
The hostility of the Labour Party—occasionally of Ministers, usually of hon. Members opposite below the Gangway—appears to extend the other way. The classic example was when a dozen young men who had nothing whatever to do with politics wanted to come here to play cricket. All possible power and influence was exerted to prevent them from doing so. Since, we were told, there was no legal way of stopping them, the present Foreign Secretary, then Home Secretary, eventually exerted pressure because 87 visitors from a régime like South Africa were an affront to this country.
A little later Mr. Shelepin came here. Far from being a young man who enjoyed playing cricket, his chief distinction lay in ordering the assassination of Ukranian emigrés. When I asked questions about that, I was told that we had no right to stop him. When I pointed out that we had stopped the South Africans although we had had no right to do that either, there was a deafening silence. I wonder whether the reason was that it was not as safe to offend Mr. Shelepin's TUC hosts as it had been to offend the MCC.
Many refugees from the Right-wing Chilean régime have been allowed to come and settle here. We have rightly patted ourselves on the back for our humanitarianism. I am still waiting to be told how many refugees from South Vietnam, including those deposited in a sinking ship in Hong Kong harbour, have been allowed to come to this country. Whenever I ask, I am told that we are waiting for an appeal from the Secretary-General of the United Nations or something like that. In case any hon. Member doubts what I say, let me make it clear that my first action tomorrow will be to put down a Question asking for the numbers of refugees from Chile and South Vietnam respectively who have been allowed to come here. Hon. Members will then be able to judge from their own Minister's answer whether what I say is correct.
But worst of all recently was the reaction of Her Majesty's Government to the execution of five Spanish terrorists. Ministers, Back Benchers and commentators said the most violent things, on three grounds: first, the Spanish régime was a horrid one, second, the terrorists had not had a fair trial and, third, it was a had thing to execute terrorists.
All that may have been justified. It probably was a mistake to execute those terrorists, and I do not think that their trial was particularly fair by our standards. But the indignation expressed, including the temporary withdrawal of our Ambassador from Spain—I do not think that he was much missed for that short period—were gestures of outrage, although no British subjects were involved.
88 I have recently been twice to Berlin. There, it is a question not of the execution of terrorists but of the daily execution, shooting and wounding of young men and women, children and old people by guards who receive a bounty for every person they hit. I was actually in the city when a five-year-old Turkish child fell into the canal and drowned because it was more than half-way across and the East German guards would not allow the Western guards to get the child out.
Where then were the deputations from the Left? What was the Tribune Group booming about then? How many times has the British Ambassador been withdrawn from East Germany? Yet this involves not five terrorists but hundreds of people whose only crime in life has been to try to escape from the Communist paradise to the capitalist hell.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Anderson (Swansea, East)
The one sad thing about this House is that morality tends to be relegated to Fridays, and Friday subjects. I am particularly pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) has, by his motion, promoted morality as a subject to be dealt with for the rest of the week. I commend him on that.
I contribute as a Christian and a former diplomat. I am aware of the difficulty of treading that narrow path between other-worldy idealism and the harsh realities of national self-interest in our international relations. In my brief remarks I shall try to avoid a semi-academic discussion of the definition of "national interest". The question of the separation of moral man and immoral society was dealt with effectively in the speech of the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) and, to some extent, in the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard).
There are considerable dangers in seeking to apply moral standards to international relations. Many of those dangers have already been dealt with. There is the danger of over-simplification and distortion in foreign policy situations. I instance the Middle East, with the complex entanglement of moralities between the rights of the Israelis to the security of their frontiers and the rights of the Palestinian peoples. It is a dangerous 89 man who over-simplifies to the extent of adopting wholly the stance of one or other protagonist in that struggle.
The issue of dual standards has been touched on. The hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) fell into the trap to which he referred—the danger of one side of the House saying "Yah boo" to the CIA and to American imperialism and the other side saying "Look at what Soviet imperialism is doing." We need to look at world situations in as evenhanded a way as possible.
The hon. Member for Aldershot also mentioned the danger of ignoring key elements in the national interest. The present conflict with Iceland has been mentioned. There is a danger of oversimplifying and imagining that it is a sort of David-and-Goliath situation, and adopting an altruism from the comfort of a London armchair or the Back Benches of this place, at the expense of our communities in Hull and Grimsby—generously sacrificing another of one's principles. That is hardly a commendable moral stance.
I support my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow in stressing the universality of human rights and in saying that this should be a key element in our foreign policy. It has been a perpetual theme of the radical traditions of this country, where in many cases self-interest has been sacrificed—for instance, in the case of the cotton workers and the American Civil War. It has been a continuing theme in Socialist thought—a stream of which I form a part—and it was reinforced by the addition of those liberal internationalists to the Labour Party in the 1920s. To be in the vanguard of the anti-colonial movement is something to be proud of. Only Rhodesia remains to complete what has been, on the whole, a happy ending to that chapter of our history.
On what current topics do we expect to find a moral element in our foreign policies? First and foremost I instance the new international economic order. We are dealing with a new world context in which the developing world is beginning to realise its own muscle in its relations with the developed world. I pose the following questions to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State: what is the British programme to reinforce the attempt to achieve a more just economic 90 order in accordance with the resolution of the Seventh Special Session of the United Nations? What support do Her Majesty's Government propose to give to the attempt of the "77" at UNCTAD IV at Nairobi in May to secure the stabilisation of commodity prices, provision for buffer stocks and the indexation, vis-à-vis the prices, of manufactured goods.
In the international order there is a certain morality of prices, whereas it international discussions proceed at their leisurely pace many children will die. What efforts will the Government make to prevent the EEC becoming a privileged Power bloc for the products of the Third World?
The rôle that the Government played at Lomé was encouraging, but there should have been the same moral outrage over tea from Sri Lanka as there was over conditions in the coal industry in this country in the past. I was brought up with the industrial ballad:There is blood on that coal".Is there adequate supervision of the overstocking of milk powder, and other commodities in Europe—commodities that affect distribution and prices on the world market?
The problem of Chile has been mentioned. Have the Government taken sufficient note of the allegations of torture and other acts? Why did it need an outrage against one British citizen, Dr. Cassidy, to bring the ambassador back home? I understand that his family is still in Chile. Why was there not a protest in general terms against the violation of human rights in Chile?
Will the Government take steps to secure the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution requiring South Africa to vacate the independent territory of Namibia? What protest has there been by the Government at the annexation by the Indonesian Government of the territory of East Timor? My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford made a telling speech about the importance of the principle of self-determination in the conduct of foreign relations today.
There is a profound suspicion that the United Kingdom Government were concerned with the United States Government in the 1970–71 period in uprooting a community of 1,000 people to create 91 a naval base at Diego Garcia. If that is so, what conceivable moral justification can there be for that action?
Will the Government prevent large-scale loans to the South African Government, in view of the exploitation of the black population in that country? Will the Government continue to expect British firms with less than a 50 per cent. stake in South African companies to report on the conditions of employment of their black employees? Will the Government, in the light of Mr. Jock Hall's revelations about the Marconi communication equipment, redefine the strategic embargo in relation to South Africa?
It is easy to be cynical today about the idealism of so many of the radical thinkers of the past and of the leaders of the Socialist movement. I think of passages such as the one in Thomas Paine's "The Rights of Man" in which he says:It interests not particular individuals but Nations in their progress and promises a new era to the human race.This appears to be wholly naiÏve, simply in the light of Buchenwald and of conditions in Soviet slave camps. Yet, with all its complexities, there is still, just as in Niebuhr's "The relevance of an Impossible Ideal", in another context, a need for the Government to import moral considerations in general into our foreign policy and, in particular, into the sort of instances that I have cited.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
As other hon. Members have done, I should like, first, to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on introducing the motion and on stimulating what has been a very lively and thoughtful debate. He brought to the attention of the House the problems of the abuse of human rights, 30 years after the United Nations Charter was signed and 27 years after the signature of the Declaration of Human Rights. It is a sad commentary on the events of the past three decades.
I want to show during my remarks that, while I am much in sympathy with and support the principle of the motion, there are phrases within it which are unacceptable. I shall deal with those. Before doing that, I want to congratulate 92 the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) on making his first speech from the Opposition Front Bench on foreign affairs. I hope that we shall have more foreign affairs debates in order to give him more opportunity of speaking from that Bench.
It has been a very wide-ranging debate, and it would be quite impossible for me to deal with all the points raised. In any case, I want to deal with the motion. There were, however, one or two specific questions on which I ought to comment.
The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) made some proposals about the sort of initiative that should be taken by the United Kingdom or the Nine in relation to the Middle East and the problem of the Palestinians. I do not think that the moment is yet ripe for such an initiative, though it is a matter which we and our colleagues in the Community discuss very frequently.
The question of Palestinian representation is basically for the parties more directly concerned to resolve. For our part, we and other members of the Nine have stated that we recognise the rights of the Palestinian people and the expression of their national identity. This was spelt out in the speech of Mr. Ivor Richard, our United Nations delegate—which I thought was most unfortunately attacked by the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse)—in the debate in the Security Council
§ Mr. Ennals
No, I shall not give way. I have many points with which to deal.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) raised a number of questions. I cannot deal with them all but I shall touch quickly on two or three of them. I think that I agree with him, in raising the question of the gap between the rich and poor in the world, that perhaps the greatest human right is the right to live, and the most positive expression that we can make is by showing morality in how we deal with the problems of this deep gap. Without being able to go into detail, I should like to say that we have made a significant contribution leading up to the last session of the General Assembly. We are following this through in preparation for the UNCTAD conference in Nairobi in May.
93 As my hon. Friend knows, we were much involved in the drafting of the resolution on Namibia which was passed unanimously by the Security Council last week, and we shall be active in seeking its implementation.
As regards East Timor, my hon. Friend also knows that we joined with the majority of the Security Council in the resolution which expressed regret at events and which re-emphasised the importance of the self-determination of peoples.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the subject of the United Nations, will he deal with a point that is of some importance? He has mentioned Mr. Ivor Richard. I have certainly no quarrel with him; he was once my pair. However, these are the words that Mr. Richard used. He said of the United States:She has isolated herself, irritated her friends and encouraged her enemies.Are those the views of Her Majesty's Government, or was Mr. Richard, as British Ambassador, speaking solely for himself?
§ Mr. Ennals
Mr. Richard was making, in a sense, an off-the-cuff comment. I think my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that there were aspects of what he said that might perhaps have been better put. However, basically Mr. Richard represents the Government with great distinction.
I come to the issues that have been raised. Unhappily, there is nothing new about torture or about prisoners of conscience. Restrictions on human liberty have been the hallmark of the dictator and the oppressor down the years. There is certainly no reliable evidence that today there are more political prisoners than there ever were in history. We can, however, say—and this is on the good side—that people are more conscious of these crude breaches of human rights and liberties than ever before, whether these breaches come from dictatorships of the Left or of the Right or from other forms of Government.
In its last annual report, Amnesty International records action taken for the release or relief of political prisoners in well over 100 countries. Its activities are directed towards Governments of the Right and the Left, in all parts of the world. It reports action which it has taken in 37 countries in Africa, 22 in 94 Asia, 21 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 20 in Europe and 12 in the Middle East.
The widespread use of arbitrary arrest, imprisonment without trial and detention is a feature of a world in which the concept of Western-style democracy, which we treasure and which we hoped might be implanted in other areas for which we had a colonial responsibility, is steadily decreasing. In Latin America there are only four countries which have experienced as much as 15 years of constitutional rule. In Africa, 21 States have military Heads of Government. In Asia there has been a similar trend towards more authoritarian regimes.
It is a very disturbing fact that there is evidence that more and more States are practising torture as an integral and sometimes highly sophisticated, part of the political system itself.
Torture has been roundly condemned, of course, in the House and certainly in the United Nations. As a Government, we were actively involved in the drafting of the declaration that was carried by last year's General Assembly. However, this generalised condemnation is undermined by some who justify torture in certain circumstances. They rely on the philosophical argument of a lesser evil for a greater good. What they mean is that they use it to defend their own power and privilege.
There has been some tendency in the debate for condemnation to be rather discriminatory. As a Government, we must say that we condemn breaches of human rights, whether from the Right or from the Left.
§ Mr. Ennals
No, I have given way already.
The motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow comes of the old Labour democratic Socialist tradition, the Labour Party and its belief in the basic human rights which found expression in his own work in the battle for colonial freedom and that of many members of our party. Thirty years ago, when one-third of the world was under British rule, we could always point to injustice in overseas territories and say "Do something about it." Now, our writ runs in very 95 few and very small territories. However, there is still a temptation for those who campaign for human rights—and rightly campaign—to point to flagrant breaches of human rights in other countries and to say to the British Government "Do something about it", as though somehow we had the power to influence the course of events.
§ Mr. Ennals
No. I am trying to answer the debate. Even though we are not the world's policeman, it is sometimes thought that perhaps we ought to be the world's lawyer or social worker. That is a rôle we cannot totally fulfil.
What has my hon. Friend asked us to do? He has asked us urgently to condemn all abuses of human rights where-ever they occur. If he wants us to do it in the generalised sense, we do it. I have done it. We have done it many times. Our Government have been for human rights. It is easy to do it. However, it is a tall order to expect us, as a Government, to speak out as Amnesty International can in its capacity as a nongovernmental organisation. We should be lecturing about two-thirds of the world. It was right for the distinction to be drawn about what non-governmental organisations and groups usefully can do and what Governments can do. We have to consider the likely effect of our action.
Time and again as a Minister I have been asked to make representations to this or that country about some real or apparent breach of human rights. I am asked to do something about it. However, if our assessment is—and it often is—that a formal protest would not be likely to assist the persons or groups concerned, and might be actually counterproductive, what purpose would be served by the intervention except to give satisfaction to those who had urged us to make it?
We have to be realistic. We must consider the circumstances. Sometimes a public protest along with other countries may be the most effective means of influencing a situation. Sometimes a personal and confidential appeal may be best; and, by its very nature, if something is done on a confidential basis we 96 cannot make a statement about it. Sometimes we can act through the United Nations, and sometimes we can act together with our partners in the European Community.
The instant approach or protest which does not help the individual or the group concerned is pointless and is irresponsible. A diplomatic protest will often be considered as a form of interference in the internal affairs of the country concerned and most nations, including ourselves, are pretty sensitive when other countries try to tell us how we should manage our own affairs. We have had recent examples of their trying to do so. Their protests are often counter-productive. Therefore, in general the answer is "Yes", and sometimes in particular, as I shall go on to say.
My hon. Friend's motion also calls on the Governmentto refuse to supply armsto countries following policies which are a serious breach of our concept of human rights. Arms transactions are normally straightforward commercial transactions, though the use of the export licence system gives us the right to intervene, and we will often do so. The initiative is usually taken by the purchaser. The customer decides first what he needs and then approaches the manufacturer. He will order what he considers will best suit his needs, provided that quality, price and delivery are satisfactory.
We for our part would welcome an international agreement to reduce the trade in arms. We are ready to discuss this with other countries at any time, but the prospects at present are very slight. If there is an increasing world-wide demand for military equipment, it is certainly a matter for regret, but it is an illusion to suppose that a decision by the producer will affect the intention of the consumer. He will simply take his business elsewhere and it may well have an effect upon the development of our trade.
Hon. Members have rightly pointed out that, although we must stand for morality, we also have an obligation to consider the interests of our own people. An action which does not help the citizens of a country where there may be a serious breach of human rights is not much good, and it may be that that action will also 97 damage the interests of our own people in terms of exports and employment.
Of course, there are occasions when action is taken. South Africa and Chile are clear examples where the policies of the country concerned have been so deplorable in respect of human rights and liberties that world-wide action is called for.
I regret that the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) was not prepared to answer my hon. Friend's question and state his position on Chile. He was being discriminatory and said, in effect "I am prepared to condemn one group but I will not condemn another."
I am sure that we as a Government were right to impose an embargo on the supply of arms to both South Africa and Chile, but the general use of military trade as a sort of seal of political approval or condemnation makes little more sense than to take similar action in respect of trade in general. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in the House recently that trade is not a badge of approval. He stressed that Britain trades with the world and must always do so, because we must survive.
Thirdly, my hon. Friend suggests that we should use respect for human rights as a criterion for the provision of aid. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) said our main criterion for giving aid is need. My hon. Friend will agree that that is what it should be. It is our policy to devote the major proportion of our aid to the most needy countries and to the neediest sectors of their population. In that sense, therefore, our aid is apolitical, as I believe that it should be. It is given as far as possible for the benefit of the peoples concerned. By doing so we are helping to promote their human rights.
I readily concede that there may be times when we have to consider the suspension of bilateral aid. We might have to do so simply because we are not convinced that the aid is being properly used or it may be that the activities of a Government are so repugnant or create such feeling in this country that we could not condone such aid.
There is no hard-and-fast rule. Each case must be considered on its merits. I am sure my hon. Friend will agree 98 with me that there are serious objections to using aid as a method of political influence, yet in a sense he is saying that we should do that. There are objections to our saying, for example, "We will help you provided that you adopt this or that policy". We have already seen too many examples of aid used for political purposes to seek to do the same ourselves. It can only produce an unhealthy relationship between the aid donor and the aid user.
There is another aspect of my hon. Friend's motion which carries some dangers. He urges usto oppose most strenuously military or clandestine interventions by outside powers".I agree with him, but he gives a let-out to some who may seek to intervene by suggesting that intervention is permissible where the mass of the people support such an intervention. Who is to establish the views of the mass of the people? We have no way of doing so. The argument could be used, with or without justification, for intervening by one side or the other in the civil war in Angola. It gives a let-out to the intervention, which we have strongly condemned, of South African troops in Angola and, equally, the presence in Angola of over 10,000 Cuban troops. The Russians used the same argument years ago for their interventions in Czechoslovakia and Hungary. In more recent times it is a defence which I suppose could have been used, and perhaps it was used, by the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in supporting an insurrection in Oman which had virtually no public support.
So therefore, my hon. Friend has it wrong. It has been said from the other side of the House, but I agree with it, that there have been great changes in Oman. The interesting thing, apart from the changes which are taking place, was that there was no very large sign of public support for an attempt at an externally inspired insurrection. So it is a very dangerous argument. In 1976 it is an argument that can be used by those foolhardy mercenaries who have taken their lives and other people's into their own hands by volunteering for service in Angola.
Let me underline in this debate what has already been said on Angola by my 99 right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. We condemn all forms of intervention, and we call for an end to the fighting and for a political solution. The mercenaries, by their irresponsible actions, are not only acting against Britain's interests: they are bringing more suffering to the people of Angola. The presence even of unauthorised mercenaries in support of one side gives supporters of the other side a spurious justification for their own intervention. Intervention in the internal affairs of any country gives to others an argument for intervention, turning internal conflict into international conflict.
The point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Luard) in his very interesting speech on the question of passports is under consideration. This and other matters will be dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when he speaks tomorrow.
My conclusion is that we must be positive in our support of human rights. Of course there will be occasions when we must speak out, and the subjecting of Dr. Sheila Cassidy to torture by the régime in Chile was a good example. But we must be positive in other ways, and the most positive ways are not always by making public statements.
First, we must promote human rights at home and in the territories for which we have a responsibility. In this connection our aid programme and the whole of our economic programme, particularly in relation to commodities, is valid.
Secondly, we must support the cause of human rights in the United Nations. Thirdly, we must work for the expansion of human rights by agreements such as was reached at Helsinki. Though we are not satisfied with the results that we have yet seen, neverthless it is a step in the right direction.
Fourthly, we must use our influence with our friends——It being Seven o'clock, the proceedings on the motion lapsed, pursuant to Standing Order No. 6 (Precedence of Government business).