§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Stallard.]
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)
I should like to start by saying how sorry we are to hear that the Foreign Secretary cannot be here today. We wish him a very speedy recovery from his influenza.
The issue we have chosen for today's debate, East-West relations, is a very broad one. People may say that it does not enable us to focus acutely enough on all the particular issues, but we thought it right to make it a broad debate because there is no greater issue before the House of Commons than East-West relations, because recent developments in Central and Southern Africa have made discussion urgent, and because discussion of these events cannot be taken in isolation. It must be considered in the broad context of East-West relations and of developments since the Helsinki Conference.
My first proposition, therefore, is a simple and familiar one, but it is essential to state it again and again. The world is divided between East and West, divided between the NATO Powers and the Warsaw Pact Powers, and no one but a lunatic would seek for anything but coexistence, mutual disarmament and growing co-operation between them, because the only alternative would be co-destruction.
May I recall again the scale of the danger? It is so great that sometimes it bemuses us; it is difficult to understand. It is calculated, I think accurately, that, in a full-scale nuclear war between the two alliances, in a few days casualties would be numbered in hundreds of millions. There would be a return overnight to the Dark Ages. There can be no precedent in history for that situation. It is, however, entirely within the physical and military capacity of either of 202 the super-Powers to do this to mankind within a few hours. That is a totally new and horrific situation, which must be the basis for all that we say and do in foreign policy.
In this new situation we must apply the lessons of the past, and particularly those of the 1930s. That is absolutely right, but they must be adapted to the new circumstances. Subjugation of our island by a Communist dictatorship would be as evil a fate as subjugation by Hitler, but then we knew that we could win a war and survive a war. Now, we could still win a war, I believe, but what would survive of mankind is a little more difficult to foresee.
Therefore, our safety rests upon convincing any possible aggressor that, whatever the course of a battle, the consequence for him would be suicidal. That means demonstrating two things—first, that our own defences in the West will be strong enough to inflict upon the aggressor a mortal wound, whatever he might be able to do to us; second, that we have in the West the united determination to use our joint defences if, tragically, that becomes necessary.
That, to date, NATO has done. That surely has been the foundation of NATO to date. The fact that NATO has succeeded and held together and been strong is the reason why we have had peace between the great Powers and why we have today—hard though it sometimes still is to believe—the prospects of future peace between them.
All this, in my view, shows why detente is necessary and why defence and determination are essential to detente. I could not put the position better than Dr. Kissinger did the other day when he said:…in the nuclear era…the use of force threatens utter catastrophe. It is our responsibility to contain Soviet power without global war, to avoid both abdication as well as unnecessary confrontation…We must strive for an equilibrium of power, but we must move beyond it to promote the habits of mutual restraint, co-existence and ultimately, co-operation. We must stabilise a new international order in a vastly dangerous environment, but our ultimate goal must be to transform ideological conflict into constructive participation in building a better world.This is what is meant by the process called detente'—not the hunger for the relaxation of tension, not the striving for agreements at any price, not the mindless search for friendly 203 atmosphere which some critics use as naive and dangerous caricatures.The policies pursued by this administration have been designed to prevent Soviet expansion, but also to build a pattern of relations in which the Soviet Union will always confront penalties for aggression and also acquire growing incentives for restraint.That seems to me a good statement of what we in the Western world should be aiming at.
It was in that spirit that we on this side welcomed the Helsinki Conference and the Helsinki Agreement. We said two things at the time. First, we said that nothing in any paper agreement should justify the standing down of a single NATO soldier. The Government at the time—the Minister of State himself, I remember—agreed entirely and rightly with that. Secondly, we said that the proof of the pudding was in the eating. We hoped that it would be good, but we could not be sure until we had tasted it. That was our attitude to Helsinki.
What has happened since? Frankly, the performance of the Soviet Union has been disappointing. I want to take four areas in which I believe this to be true—first, what is known as Basket III; second, political co-operation; third, the Soviet naval build-up; fourth, Central and Southern Africa. All those things go together. They are all part of the background against which detente can be expected to succeed or to fail. I cannot avoid the impression that the meeting of statesmen at Helsinki was not accompanied by a similar meeting of minds. There may be valid and genuine reasons for this, which we must examine, but to ignore that fact would be a perilous thing to do.
Basket III comprises questions of human freedoms, free movement of people and ideas, reunification of families and freedom of movement for the Press. The West attaches much importance to these matters. The Russians must know that. It should not have been difficult for them to make a move on this front, but there has been little sign of it to date.
I have some personal experience of these matters. I have written twice to the head of the recent Soviet parliamentary delegation to this country about cases of individual Jews in the Soviet Union, 204 about whom great concern is felt by constituents of many hon. Members. I wrote recently in reply to a letter from the Minister Counsellor of the Soviet Embassy referring also to the concern in this country for human individual freedoms. I have received, I am sorry to say, no reply. It is difficult to conduct a dialogue with those who do not answer.
The second matter is the question of continuing political aggression, of which, I suppose, Portugal has been the outstanding example in recent months, although other possibilities can certainly come to mind. It is, I understand, the view of Mr. Brezhnev that Helsinki did not mean a truce in the war of idea. That is an over-simplification. One cannot say that war with tanks and guns is out but war with ideas is in. Between the two lies a vast spectrum of possibilities. Ideas can be as deadly as bullets, at the Russians know as well as anyone. I remember what Churchill said about the plague bacillus which was exported to Russia. The Soviets themselves take defence against ideas as seriously, we know very well, as they take defence against war.
But if détente is to mean anything, we must have a meeting of minds. Of course the proponents of both philosophies, Communist and free world, must continue freely to propagate their views—as Chairman Mao rather surprisingly said, but did not carry out—to enable men to choose freely between them. But it is quite different to use money, men and propaganda to subvert the constitutions of countries on the other side or to destroy the unity of the other alliance.
§ Mr. Maudling
It may be difficult to do this in terms of law or politics, but it is emphatically not true in terms of detente, if detente is to mean anything at all.
Third, I come to the question of defence, with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) will deal more fully later.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I think that the whole House follows the 205 right hon. Gentleman's argument. It is clear that there should be no subversion on any side. But would the right hon. Gentleman make a distinction between the activities of the Russians and what happened in Chile? Would he not agree that we as democrats should condemn activities of this kind irrespective of whether they come from the Soviet Uuion or from America or anywhere else?
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not want to get involved in Chile for the moment. This is a serious issue which I am trying to take seriously. If we are to have detente between the two great alliances, neither should try to subvert the other; and I do not see much sign of any Western Power having much success in creating subversion inside the Soviet Union's boundaries.
I come to the next point—defence—with which, I hope, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amerstam will deal later if he chatches your eye, Mr. Speaker. We understood that the Helsinki Conference and the Helsinki Agreement would be followed by progress in the SALT and mutual and balanced force reduction talks. We said that the resounding Helsinki declarations would not mean very much unless we were able to get ahead with disarmament, and particularly nuclear disarmament, over the whole range of mutual and balanced force reductions. I am sorry to say that progress in this field since then has been very little and very disappointing. Meanwhile the Soviet arms build-up has continued particularly in the naval sector.
It is only right to explain, so that the Soviet Union should know, why we in particular, with our history and experience, feel concerned about this naval build-up and its importance to Britain. Historically, attacks on this country have been seaborne because we are an island. Attacks on Russia have been over land, and we know that many thousands of Russians died in fighting off German attacks on the ground. It is hard to believe that it is necessary for the Russians to deploy a massive naval apparatus merely to defend themselves against a seaborne invasion over the Polar ice-cap. This is difficult for us to understand.
The Russians may say that the expansion and growth of their fleet and its 206 deployment throughout the warm waters of the world is purely defensive. It is only right to point out that it is very difficult for many in this country to believe this claim.
The fourth point is Africa, which in many ways is the most alarming development. The presence of a vast army, in the Prime Minister's phrase, of paid Cuban soldiers with Russian political and logistic support to impose the will of one faction inside Angola was a wholly new phenomenon, and I do not see how it can possibly be regarded as consistent with the spirit of detente. As we know, a quite grave situation has now arisen.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Would the right hon. Gentleman take into account the apparent intention of the South African Government to have detente in Southern Africa, and how does that square with their regular troops in Angola?
§ Mr. Maudling
It is less important to look at the past than at the future, but the past has its lessons. There appeared at one time to be a most peculiar alliance supporting the non-Communists in Angola against the Communist factions there, comprising China, the United States, Zaire and South Africa. China withdrew early. The United States was paralysed by the dispute between Congress and the Administration, and the South Africans made a move, which I believe was unwise in that struggle, which had the effect of driving into Communist arms African countries which otherwise would have been more moderate. What matters is what happens now in the situation with which we have to deal. The threat of the Communists and their various supporters to neighbouring territories such as Zaire, Zambia, Rhodesia and South Africa is a very serious one. There has been a really grave setback to the prospect of a settlement in Central Africa between black and white which were coming together, slowly and painfully, before this happened.
The danger above all for this country is that the Communists will portray what for them is really an ideological struggle as a racial struggle in which they are on the side of the majority. This is something of the greatest danger to this country. It is of the highest importance to prevent this happening and to base 207 our words and actions at all times with this danger in view. There is now a need for a maximum of diplomatic activity to try to reach agreements, to try to get foreign troops withdrawn. Certainly, when it comes to the withdrawal of foreign troops I believe that we shall have the support of a great majority of African countries which do not wish to see Communist troops from Cuba or Russia in their country any more than they wish to see the troops of any other country. We must give them the opportunity, so far as we can, to remove this danger from their presence.
It is not true that the Communists always win in this matter. Recently we have seen how they have been excluded from Egypt, and they are experiencing the same thing in Syria and Iraq. That can and must happen in Angola, but it will not happen unless there is a maximum of diplomatic activity from now onwards on the part of the Western Powers. In this context I welcome the unity shown in yesterday's statement by the Ministers of the European Community. It is of great importance that they should have declared together, unitedly, their wish to do all they can to see a withdrawal of foreign troops from Angola. I wish that that had come earlier. We on this side of the House have often pressed that this should be done. It is better late than never, but it is no good unless the declaration is followed by most vigorous action by all members of the Community through all the diplomatic channels available, including, I believe, the Security Council of the United Nations.
We have a special responsibility in Rhodesia, where the danger in some ways is greatest. In dealing with this it is right to choose our words with very great care, because ill-chosen words could damage the fragile but still existing prospect of a settlement there. I believe it was a tragedy that Mr. Smith did not accept the "Tiger" or "Fearless" solution, because had he done so the whole prospect in Central and Southern Africa would be much happier than it is today. But that is in the past, and we must look at the present.
As I understand it, the position of the Government is that they say that we in Britain have a responsibility for the protection of a British colony. But, they say, 208 this does not include a territory whose Government have repudiated colonial status and declared themselves independent. In other words, as I see it, the Government are saying that the Rhodesians cannot have it both ways, to be treated as independent when it suits them but to be treated as a colony when they need help. To this the Rhodesians reply "Neither can the British Government have it both ways. They cannot proclaim that Rhodesia is still a colony when it suits them but not treat it as a colony when danger arises." These are the arguments on both sides. I find them sterile and dangerous arguments. There is logic in the position of the Government, but logic does not always govern human affairs; emotion sometimes takes over.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride) rose——
§ Mr. Maudling
I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman later.
I can imagine circumstances where emotion could take over, and I must say seriously to Ministers that if guerrilla forces, with or without—possibly with—Cuban regulars, were to invade Rhodesia and there was widespread slaughter of the white people while the British Government remained inactive on the side-lines, there would be an explosion of anger in this country which would by no means be confined solely to those having friends and relations in Rhodesia. This must at all costs be averted. This is the great task in front of us. This is the peril that must be averted.
§ Dr. Miller
Is it not up to Mr. Smith to make the move of saying "This régime gives up. It is no longer an illegal régime and it moves towards legality"? Would that not be the first step which would mean that there could be some British intervention, which there certainly cannot be while Mr. Smith maintains his illegal position?
§ Mr. Maudling
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is very far from me. It is essential to avoid being faced with such a situation, which is why we welcome Lord Greenhill's mission. We believe that it is a profound British interest at this moment to do everything possible to get a solution in Rhodesia that is acceptable as fair and one that will last; because if that does not happen this country will be 209 faced with difficulty, danger and tragedy of very considerable dimensions.
§ Mr. Maudling
I hope that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has a similar concern for this country. I do not think that it will help to enter into an argument about Rhodesia. But it is our profound hope that a settlement can be found swiftly.
I come back to the broad issue of East-West relations, which is the frame to the African picture. Britain and her allies must use every diplomatic means available to deal with the situation. The arrival of the Cuban forces in Angola set on foot a major international phenomenon of such a scale that I cannot understand why it has not been raised in the Security Council. Certainly it should be raised in the Security Council as soon as possible.
It may be said by some people that the situation has changed, because the MPLA has been recognised as the Government. It does not change the case at all. Surely the continued presence of a large Cuban army, now that the MPLA has been recognised and claims to govern its own territory, must be a threat to the peace and security of neighbouring Governments, and it should be raised as soon as possible in the Security Council.
§ Mr. Newens
Is the right hon. Gentleman propounding a theory that we should not have outside Powers with military forces on a Third World country's territory? In those circumstances, is not what he says is good for Angola equally good for Oman, and should he not press strongly for the withdrawal of Iranian and British forces from that country if he is to be consistent?
§ Mr. Maudling
The hon. Gentleman has failed to notice what his Government have noticed, which is that the troops there present are supporting the law and order of the legal régime in Oman, which is a wholly different situation.
This matter should be raised in the Security Council. But the key, as always, is to be found in Moscow, for it is in Moscow where the power resides. The objective of detente as stated by Kissinger 210 remains. But there has been no real meeting of minds, and detente, like peace, in Litvinov's phrase, must be indivisible and must be genuinely desired by both sides.
What do the Russians want, and what levers have we got? This is what we must be considering. What, in Kissinger's words, are the penalties for aggression and the incentives for restraint that we can give them? They have currently a big need for grain and continuously a great need for technology. There may be bargaining factors here. It must be said, however, that the Americans whose grain it is are not over-enthusiastic, and previous experience has not given much confidence in economic pressures. But surely this is a matter to be examined by the whole Western world.
Can the Chinese help? Frankly, I doubt it. I welcome the developments in friendly relations between China and the West, but we must always be a little fearful that they may be playing us off against the Soviet Union. Dictatorships can change their tune overnight. I remember very well the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact which signalled the beginning of the Second World War. We must not forget that, above all, we must rely on the unity of the Western world and the unity of its policy. We must make it clear to the Russians that theirs is now the choice between genuine détente, disarmament and peaceful co-operation with all that these mean to them and to their peoples as well as to us and to our peoples and, if they do not wish that, condemning the world to a return to the cold war. We must make this crystal clear.
The peacemaker treads a stony road, but we must never abandon hope. To adapt the inscription in the old Baltimore churchyard,Neither be cynical about Hope: for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Roy Hattersley)
I am in the unattractive position of having to begin my speech with two apologies. The first is on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who is prevented by influenza from taking part in this important debate and asks me to apologise to the House for his absence. He will 211 be grateful for the good wishes of the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling).
The second is an apology from me not only because I am a substitute for my right hon. Friend but because, in view of the extraordinary events of today, I must leave the debate before it ends. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet will be leaving at about the same time, and I promise that I shall forgive him for that if he will forgive me.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Although the Patronage Secretary admittedly is a member of the Cabinet, and I see that he has just arrived, would not it have been courteous to the House, in the absence of the Foreign Secretary, for another Cabinet Minister to have been in the House even for a few minutes?
§ Mr. Hattersley
I seem to have heard that sort of point again and again in the 12 years that I have been a Member of the House, depending on which party was in government and which hon. Member wanted to make a point without having a point to make.
Inevitably, throughout today, the dangers and desirability of détente will be judged through this debate against the development of Soviet policy in Africa in general and in Angola in particular. That exact subject occupied the Foreign Ministers of the European Economic Community meeting yesterday in Luxembourg, and I shall turn presently to the clear and unanimous conclusion to which they came about the future of Africa and which they issued yesterday as a statement of corporate EEC policy.
Before doing that, however, I want to set out in broad terms what the Government believe should be the nature of our relationship with the Soviet Union and its allies and what the Government believe our response should be to the challenge—that is the word that I use, and I am sure it is the right word—of détente.
Détente is one of the most fashionable words in the foreign affairs lexicon, but I believe that it is also one of the most misunderstood. Détente is not a process that can result in a world in which all opinions and all interests coincide. Its purpose is not to resolve the fundamental differences between East and West but to 212 reconcile fundamentally different political systems. It is, or it should be, the creation of an international order within which different ideologies and different systems of government can live together. By "live together" I mean live in stabilised peace, and I mean live with increased commercial and cultural relationships.
Détente is not the product of sentimental liberalism or weak-minded pacifism. It is a policy which, if it is pursued with caution, is as much in the interests of the West as it is in the interests of the Soviet Union and its allies. Its purpose is not to pretend that the differences between the West and the Soviet Union can be hidden or forgotten. It is a policy designed and intended to make the world safe, despite those differences of opinion, of philosophy, of ideology and occasionally of interest, from the terrors which the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet described—the sort of appalling destruction which would be the inevitable result of a relationship of confrontation changing into one in which the confrontation was made active and Europe first and the rest of the world after was plunged into war.
As the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet reminded us, in the debate on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in July last year I said—and I repeat today—that the policy of detente has to be pursued with the greatest possible caution. It can proceed only on the secure foundation of a strong and effective Western Alliance. The NATO Ministerial Council made the position clear in its deliberations on 12th December. After that meeting, the statement which the Council issued contained a phrase which summarised what ought to be our attitude to these matters:the solidarity of the Alliance and the security which it provides are an essential condition for the improvement of East-West relations.That is a view wholly endorsed by Her Majesty's Government.
Defence and détente have to go hand in hand, and NATO has to be an instrument of both. Defence, represented by the deterrent, has kept Europe at peace for a quarter of a century. Détente is an attempt to find a better way of protecting peace. But it can come about only if the West negotiates from a position approaching equal military strength. 213 There is no disagreement between the two Front Benches on that issue.
The United Kingdom has played and will continue to play a substantial part in the collective defence of the West If the history is looked at objectively, I think that it will be argued that it has played a bigger part during the lifetime of the present Government. We have continued to pursue the objects of détente as a superior method of preserving peace in the world, if it can be extended according to the right terms and in the right way. We have tried to pursue it by an extension of our bilateral relations with the countries of Eastern Europe and also through what I describe as the institutions of détente—the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and the mutual and balanced force reduction talks.
The CSCE was begun by Conservative Ministers, if their speeches at the time are anything to go by, in a mood of great hope. I believe that they were right to begin the process and to be hopeful about its outcome. I find it difficult to follow the more extreme criticisms of how the conference which Lord Home began three years ago has turned out. I find it particularly difficult to understand the contention that in one particular it has turned out to be a unique triumph for Eastern Europe and an unmitigated tragedy for the West. That particular, advanced by Opposition Members who normally sit below the Gangway, is the argument that as a result of the Final Act of that Conference the boundaries of Eastern Europe, as it is divided from the West and as it is divided between the countries which are members of the Warsaw Pact, have somehow been confirmed and made permanent.
§ Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
I am interested in what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the first stage of the Conference at Helsinki in 1973, when my noble Friend Lord Home led the British delegation and I was his deputy. The right hon. Gentleman is right to say that we entered the negotiations with hope, but we also entered them with realism. That is the point that has been made by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends during the past three months.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I think that that is a fair description of the attitude of the hon. Gentleman and his noble Friend. But I 214 think that the hon. Gentleman does his right hon. and hon. Friends below the Gangway slightly more than justice—I do not begrudge that—when he says that during the past year they adopted the same attitude towards the Final Act as he has adopted. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has made the complaint to which I am referring: that the Final Act has solidified and made permanent the boundaries of Eastern Europe and that it is a major triumph for the Soviet Union and its allies for which nothing else can compenate.
My argument against that is that the boundaries that presently divide East and West and the boundaries within the Warsaw Pact are determined by something much more stern than a piece of paper signed by 36 Heads of Government at Helsinki in the summer. If that is the major achievement of the Eastern European Powers resulting from that agreement, it is more apparent than real. However, I believe that they obtained other advantages, but advantages which they share with the West.
I contend that from Helsinki and the Final Act three areas provide substantial potential benefits. First, the Final Act of the CSCE established a code of conduct which should guide the nations of Europe in their relationships with each other. Secondly, it proposed a number of ways in which military confidence between East and West could be built up, including the knowledge—and ideally the certainty—that neither East nor West was threatening or attempting to coerce its neighbours. The knowledge and certainty provided by the exchange of military information give a feeling of security not only to the Powers of NATO and the Warsaw Pact but to those neutral countries which exist, sometimes uneasily, between them, briefly conscious of military movements the other side of their borders but never sure of the intentions of the major Powers.
Thirdly, the CSCE stipulated a number of ways in which the rights of individuals—the right to free movement, the right to be reunited with their families and the right freely to receive information—should be safeguarded.
I shall deal extensively with the establishment of a code of conduct in a moment. T think that we can regard the second matter—confidence-building 215 measures—as an area of success. Since Helsinki, both the Warsaw Pact and NATO have notified each other of their manœuvres, which has helped to build up the confidence of each side by explaining when the movement of men and materials was related to practice rather that warlike intentions. I believe that to be a substantial step in the right direction. Similarly, in what is called Basket III—the humanitarian measures—I believe that there has been a substantial step forward.
§ Mr. Cormack
Is it not a fact that we have had from the Soviets only one notification of troop manoeuvres and that we have given many in return?
§ Mr. Hattersley
Yes, but the Soviet Union has notified all those troop manoeuvres which, as far as we know—and I think that our information is accurate—were within the terms of the Helsinki Agreement. We have chosen, I am sure rightly, to give notification of manoeuvres too small to qualify within the terms of the Final Act, but no doubt the Soviet Union and its allies are applying the Act exactly. That is a cause for congratulation rather than complaint.
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)
The Soviet Union has also extended its notification to include an invitation to observers from the countries whose borders are involved, and we have not done that so far. If we are to be fair, we should acknowledge how far the Soviet Union has gone.
§ Mr. Hattersley
In fact, both sides have extended invitations of a sort to observers. I do not argue with the basic point that in this area both sides have cause for some satisfaction and deserve congratulation. In the confidence-building measures, both East and West have made some progress.
There has not been equal progress in those parts of the agreement intended to safeguard the human rights of individuals, but even there some progress has been made. There has been progress in the passing of information from East and West. The organisation of multi-entry and exit visas for the journalists working in the Soviet Union has now been approved. That is a step in the right direction. I am told that as a gesture to the West 216 40 copies of the Financial Times are now on sale in Moscow I am sure that the House will want to express its deep gratitude for that. There have been steps in the right direction, though some are small, in the transfer of information
There are, however, areas in which we have cause for concern. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the main one, the reunification of families divided by the traditional dispute between East and West and by the boundaries separating the Warsaw Pact and NATO. In the Foreign Office we have done our best to draw the attention of the Soviet Union and its allies to their absolute obligation under Basket III to allow those families now separated to be reunited. I repeat the promise I have given before that we shall continue to press that on the Soviet Union.
We shall do it in two ways. First, we shall remind the Soviet Union and its allies of their obligation to promote reunification of such families on simple moral and humanitarian grounds. Secondly, we shall tell them of their obligations to themselves to realise that their willingness to do that is the test both of their good faith and of their confidence in their own system. Unless they are prepared to allow elderly ladies to live with their children in England, or wives to be reunited with their husbands, there will be great scepticism in the United Kingdom not only about their good faith in these matters but about their confidence in their own system and their willingness to allow people who have lived under it to go to the West.
I have said that one of the objects of the CSCE was the creation of the right working atmosphere for civilised relations between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe. I know very well that this debate is bound to be dominated by the question we must all ask—whether the conduct of the Soviet Union in Angola is consistent with the spirit of the Helsinki Declaration. There can be only one answer to this question—it is not consistent with the spirit of the Helsinki Declaration. The Government's view on intervention in Angola is clear. It is shared, and has now been publicly expressed, by the Foreign Ministers of the Nine. The position we took up yesterday denounced and condemned intervention of all sorts from all sources.
217 Today I express the hope that what has happened in Angola will act as a most solemn warning both to Western Europe and to the nations of Africa. First, Africa must learn that within its continent there are independent nations which are now faced with a new sort of imperialism. It may be disguised with slogans about liberation and self-determination, but in fact it stands for something very different.
Secondly, Europe must understand that this new imperialism cannot be fought and beaten by those who would ally themselves with the remnants of the old imperialism. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet was right when he said that time and again the Soviet Union has portrayed itself as being on the side of the black democracies in Africa. That is not only an enormous condemnation of them; it is also an enormous condemnation of us. We should have made our support for these new nations so obvious and apparent that it would have been impossible for the Soviet Union to compete with us for their friendship and affection.
Had Angola not remained for so long the colonial property of an authoritarian European State—without a word of complaint from some people who are now so worried about its freedom and its future—its territory would not have proved such fertile soil for the Cuban intervention. More immediately, if less important, if South Africa had not sent in its so-called volunteers to fight on Angolan soil I have no doubt that opinion in Africa and outside would have been much more easily mobilised to condemn, and perhaps deter, the Cuban intervention. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State with responsibility for African matters in the Foreign Office will try to deal substantially with these matters when he winds up the debate.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Having recognised how important it is not to isolate the African nations, can my right hon. Friend say how quickly a British diplomatic mission will be established in Luanda and what discussions there have been on bilateral or multilateral aid to solve Angola's problems?
§ Mr. Hattersley
The EEC Council of Ministers yesterday began to examine what sort of aid might be possible for 218 the resumption of peaceful and civilised life in Angola. In winding up the debate, my right hon. Friend will deal with this point and with the question of a British mission in Angola, which is at present being considered by the Government.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
Are any of these contemplated measures in regard to aid and diplomatic missions contingent upon the withdrawal of the foreign army from Angolan soil?
§ Mr. Hattersley
They are related to but not contingent upon. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will wait with patience for the rather fuller statement which my right hon. Friend hopes to make before the end of the debate.
Implicit in the declaration made by the Foreign Ministers of the Nine yesterday about the political future of Africa was their belief that what the Soviet Union calls the ideological struggle will be waged in Africa for the next 10 years. If we are to win the war of ideas, we must first make plain our unequivocal support for the forces of African nationalism and equally we must make plain that our policy in Africa is not based on our own narrow strategic or commercial interest but that we think it is a policy which is right for the Africans. No other policy will command their support. A policy based on building a world fit for the Tanganyika Concession to live in will win us no friends in Africa. It would deserve to fail.
In these great issues of the future of Africa, morality and British self-interest coincide. That is at least one happy aspect for us in considering the future of Africa.
There are other challenges to the improvement of East-West relations outside Africa. One is the second institution of détente—the mutual and balanced force reduction talks which, as the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet rightly said, have been going on for so long in Vienna. We all hoped for greater speed once the Conference on Security and Co-operation had been completed and the Helsinki Declaration signed. The object of the West in the MBFR talks has been to reach an agreement which radically improves the military relationship in Central Europe.
In that sector, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies have a large 219 numerical superiority of ground forces and main battle tanks. If the talks are to succeed, that imbalance has to be corrected. We therefore proposed to the Warsaw Pact that there should be a reduction in the number of its forces and NATO's forces in that area to a common ceiling. It is now sad history that the Warsaw Pact has proved unresponsive and unsympathetic to that proposal. The Pact countries have been overt in their determination to preserve the present ratio of forces and have regarded the MBFR talks simply as an opportunity to institutionalise the present imbalance and to continue the disparity. This is not only against our interests but is against the interests of stability in Europe.
In an effort to encourage the Warsaw Pact to accept a common ceiling, we and our allies made during December what has been called the Option Three approach. We offered to withdraw a number of United States nuclear weapons from the reduction area if the Warsaw Pact would agree to a reduction of ground forces to a mutually acceptable common ceiling. Once again, that offer did not have any success or meet with the response for which we had hoped. However, we must continue to work for progress in the MBFR talks. A satisfactory result would reduce both tension and defence budgets without lessening our security. Both these matters are essentially in our interest and we must work towards them.
However, I must make one point absolutely clear. This is not an area in which risks can be taken. We cannot proceed in the MBFR talks on the basis of hope or belief in good intentions. Progress depends on the certainty of reciprocal action and on the knowledge that what comes out of any agreement totally preserves our present level of security. Although the Government enter these talks in a hopeful and creative way, we do so in the knowledge that the overriding obligation is not to diminish security in the West. That, above all, must characterise our deliberations.
We live in a time of Soviet initiatives. Only today, Mr. Brezhnev reiterated to his party conference his belief that we are moving into an era in which there has to be a worldwide disarmament con- 220 ference. This is an idea which has been proposed before and to which Mr. Brezhnev added in a speech to the Polish party conference in Warsaw the suggestion that there should be European conferences on energy, environment and transport.
To all these initiatives our attitude is absolutely plain. If they offer positive prospects of material improvements in East-West relations, we welcome them, but if they are intended not to make progress but simply to score propaganda points we do not endorse them.
There are a number of ways in which the intentions of such initiatives can be judged. For instance, the forum in which it is agreed that the European conference on energy, environment and transport might be held would be an indication of what the participants wanted from such a meeting. The obvious place for such a conference to be held is in the Economic Commission for Europe. If within that forum there is a move from the countries of Eastern Europe to discuss these crucial matters, we are prepared to consider playing our part in such a conference. But if it seems that such a conference is organised only with the idea of demonstrating what is not true—namely, that the Soviet Union is more interested in peaceful relations than the West—we have no part to play in such organisations.
We have an absolute duty to Western Europe and to our own democratic philosophy not to avoid or run away from the war of ideas but to play an increasingly positive part in what the Soviet Union chooses to call the ideological struggle. I understand that today Mr. Brezhnev renewed his insistence that the ideological struggle must go on. Unlike the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet, I say "So be it", because while the Soviet Union may be superior to the West in terms of men and tanks, I believe it to be utterly inferior to the West in terms of ideas about the organisation of politics and political democracy. That is an area in which we can compete on more than equal terms in Europe, Africa and Asia. I understand that today Mr. Brezhnev, having talked for some time about détente, said:Of course, there can be no question of an ideological rapprochement between scientific 221 Communism and the reformist social democrats ".Amen to that.
My duty as a Minister in a Government wholly committed to improved relations between East and West obliges me to play a small part in the promotion of détente, and I accept that obligation more than willingly. But, as a democrat—and as a social democrat and a free man in a free society—I believe that I am also obliged to advocate the boons and benefits of a political system different from that which now operates within the Warsaw Pact countries. I find no conflict in those two obligations.
The Soviet Union's attitude to this matter is one which we would all do well to emulate. First, the Soviet Union is determined to prepare its defences against possible as well as probable threats. Secondly, it is prepared to take part in the processes of détente only when it can participate without remotely risking its only security. Thirdly, whilst détente goes on, the Soviet Union makes it plain that it will continue to advocate and work for the extension of the sort of society in which it believes.
I believe that we should follow the Soviet Union in all three particulars. Of course, we should be constantly on the defensive, we should constantly struggle for improved and extended détente, but equally we much continue in Africa and elsewhere to advocate the boons and benefits of the sort of society we represent. As I believe that our claims on behalf of pluralistic democracy are so strong, I am optimistic enough to believe that eventually we shall win.
§ 4.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton Pavilion)
In his closing sentences the Minister of State set a balance between what he regarded as the objectives of Soviet policy and what he regarded as the proper line we should take. I recall to him an argument I ventured to make in the debate which was initiated by the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) about the nature of the Soviet Government and the motivation that lies behind it. The problem we face is not ideological; it is not Communism; it is Soviet imperialism.
Over more than 50 years there has grown up in the Soviet Union a Communist Party organisation, an army and 222 a KGB which cannot justify me crimes by which they have climbed to power or the privileges which they enjoy except by maintaining a state of tension and, where possible, exploiting mat state of tension to expand the influence of Soviet imperialism wherever opportunity occurs.
In the Conservative Administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) I was charged by Sir Alec Douglas-Home—rather as the Minister of State is charged today—to concentrate particularly on relations between the United States and the Socialist countries, including the Soviet Union, I thus had an unexampled opportunity to study détente. In the course of those studies I had a conversation with an elder statesman of one of the Communist countries. He has now passed what Marshall Stalin called "the physiological barrier", so I can reveal the conversation without detriment. I asked him, "Is détente possible?" He said, "On condition that you contain Soviet imperialism".
He said that in the last decade—he was talking about the 1960s—President Kennedy had stopped the Soviets in Cuba over the missiles, President Johnson had stopped them in Vietnam, and Israel, with American support, had stopped them in the 1967 war. Because the Soviets could not expand, they were compelled to relax their relations both with their allies and, to a limited extent, inside their own country. Regrettably, today, those restraints have been largely removed. The American withdrawal from Vietnam has opened the door to Soviet imperialism in South-East Asia. The recession which followed the increase in oil prices has created a crisis of capitalism which is more or less seriously assessed in Moscow.
Having exploited détente for economic co-operation, the Soviets have run into debt to the Western world to the tune of $13½ billion and, from information we are getting, they are finding it more and more difficult to extract raw materials economically. In addition has come the remarkable opportunity presented of expansion in the Cape Verde Islands, in Guinea-Bissau, in Mozambique and, more recently, in Angola by the Portuguese revolution.
The proposition I put to the House is that there can be no détente without effect- 223 tive containment of Soviet imperialism. What has gone wrong in the last year or two is the breakdown in effective containment of that imperialism.
Here I should perhaps declare an interest. I am a director of one or two companies in South Africa. They do not influence me, except in the sense that they give me information about the country, but according to the traditions of the House I make that declaration.
The defeat in Angola which we have suffered is a total defeat for the West. Let us make no bones about it. The first question I should like to put to the Government concerns intelligence. There seems to have been very little advance knowledge of the remarkable movement of heavy equipment and Cuban forces into Angola or, if there was intelligence, little was done about it in the European Community, in NATO or by our American allies. Perhaps we could have some comment on whether we knew and, if we knew, why we did not act sooner.
I think that the Government were wrong to recognise the MPLA when they did. The war in Angola is still going on. There are still, according to the best advice that one can get, several thousand—perhaps 20,000—guerrillas of the UNITA faction operating in Eastern and Southern Angola. There is no certainty of permanence for the present regime. The criterion which, as the right hon. Gentleman will know better than anyone, the Foreign Office has always adopted is whether the Government is in effective control of the country and whether it has a reasonable prospect of remaining permanent.
There is a curious parallel between what the present Government have done about Angola and what successive Conservative and Labour Governments did about the Yemen. When Colonel Sallal and his republican junta overthrew in, I think, 1962 the monarchy in the Yemen we declined, in spite of American pressure, to recognise the republican regime precisely because a large part of the country, although not the towns, was in the hands of the King of the Yemen and the republican regime was sustained by only Egyptian forces. It was not until after the Egyptian forces had been with- 224 drawn—some time after—that the Labour Government, let alone the Conservative Party, recognised the republican regime as the legitimate Government of the Yemen.
By doing what we have done in Angola we seem to have thrown away a rather valuable card. I must admit that I do not any longer attach much importance to United Nations resolutons. Nevertheless, it is now much more difficult for the right hon. Gentleman or one of his right hon. Friend's to go to the Security Council and to call for the withdrawal of Cuban and Soviet advisers from Angola, because by recognising the MPLA he has given it the opportunity to say that it invited its Soviet allies to go in. If that is the case, the position is akin to that of Czechoslovakia or Hungary, and the right hon. Gentleman has thrown away a good card.
It is has been argued that in time to come the Angolans will get tired of their Soviet allies in the way in which the Egyptians became tired of their Russian allies. However, we must not forget that it took the Egyptians the best part of 20 years before they threw the Russians out, and 20 years is a long time. In the process of recognising the MPLA the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have let down Zambia, Zaire and South Africa—two black Governments and one white Government—all of whom, I imagine, would have preferred us not to do so.
§ Mr. Hattersley
I am anxious that the right hon. Gentleman should not encourage the House to pursue a false point for the rest of the debate. I hope he will accept my absolute assurance that we recognise the present Government in Angola according exactly to the traditional criteria of recognition. Indeed, in anticipation of the meeting I was to have with my EEC colleagues yesterday afternoon, I had the most rigorous examination made of the precedents on this matter. There is no doubt that were we to adopt the policy which the right hon. Gentleman is now advocating it would constitute the abandonment of our traditional criteria.
§ Mr. Amery
I cannot accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said, because of the parallel of the Yemen. I went to the Yemen as a guest of the guerrillas. I saw what they controlled. They did not 225 control the towns. The Republican Government depended on the Egyptian Army. For those two reasons the Conservative Government at that time—and, indeed, the Labour Party until it had been in office for some four years—did not recognise the new Government there and then not until the Egyptian troops had been withdrawn. I do not see the difference here.
The right hon. Gentleman said that if we backed the wrong side we would make fertile soil for the Cubans. The soil is there—that is right enough. However, running after a Government for which we have shown precious little sympathy in the past will not pay us many dividends today. We must face up to it that the defeat we have suffered is most serious. A territory the size of the Western European Community has now passed under Soviet-Cuban control. The territory seems to be of great importance because of the raw materials it contains—for example, uranium and gold.
In his speech Mr. Brezhnev said that he was not interested in questions of resources. However, the fact remains that the Soviets are in some difficulty. They have been spending rather more gold than they are producing annually and the extraction of important raw materials is becoming difficult for them. The House must consider whether classical imperialism is not developing in the Soviet Union just as it has in other countries.
The presence of the Soviet-Cuban force in Angola—if it is not removed—is a vital threat to British, European and indeed American interests in connection with the copper that we draw from Zaire and Zambia and the tremendous mineral wealth of South Africa, let alone the trade that we have with it.
Everyone in Africa is saying, "Who is to be the next victim?" We do not know. But it was interesting to note that in Havana yesterday Cuban officials were saying that the Cubans were pledging their support to the SWAPO movement in Namibia, or South-West Africa. We are clearly not at the end of the road. We do not know where the next blow will fall.
Perhaps worse still, the credibility of the West has now been put in question. I noted that our ambassador to NATO, Sir John Killick, made an impressive 226 speech in Germany the other day when he said that it would not be surprising if some of the African countries changed sides in their relationship to the West because of the supine way in which we have allowed Angola to be Sovietised. I fear that the disease may go further afield than Africa. The whole Monroe doctrine has been blown up by the idea that forces from Cuba in the West Atlantic can come to Angola in the East Atlantic without the Americans or the Europeans raising a finger. The Chinese are certainly aware of this.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will find it in himself to apologise to the Chinese Embassy for the Chancellor of the Exchequer's rather unfortunate remarks about China yesterday. I do not think anyone would have minded if he had described his friends below the Gangway as tinged with Maoism. To have called their minds Chinese might have been regarded as a compliment. However, to describe them as "tiny Chinese minds", was wrong and rather racist. He might get into trouble with the Race Relations Board.
I turn to more serious arguments. The objectives of the West must be to ensure that the Cubans and their Soviet advisers are sent out bag and baggage from Angola. I noticed that in his speech at Cardiff the Foreign Secretary—we regret his absence today—took only the Cubans to task. It is rather his form to go for people smaller than himself, such as Iceland or Chile. However, what is the point of attacking the monkey when it is the organ grinder who calls the tune?
Are we still to invite Mr. Brezhnev to come here after what has happened? Surely the immediate task is to mobilise all the available forces—black and white—in Central and Southern Africa to defend themselves, with our help, against the threat of Soviet imperialism.
Let us see which those forces are. There are Zambia and Zaire, both enormous countries in area and very important to us because of the copper supplies we derive from them. There are also Malawi and Botswana, smaller countries but important none the less, and very friendly to us. All these countries are technically non-aligned. But when President Kaunda speaks about the tiger and its ravening cubs we are left in no doubt on which side of the barrier he 227 stands, and, unlike the Government, he has not recognised the MPLA. Then there are South Africa and Rhodesia. There is a tendency in Government circles to talks about the four black Presidents, but I urge the Government not to put too much weight on Tanzania or Mozambique. I am not sure that they can be counted on in the engagement which we now face.
None of the Governments to which I have referred is admirable by a Westminster standard. The black ones are one-party States and Rhodesia and South Africa are ruled by the minority. They are all, however, reasonably friendly to the West. None of them is a threat to our interests or, to any serious extent, to each other. Soviet imperialism is.
Of course, I do not underestimate, in proposing this grand design of an alliance of moderate African and European-led States, the racial gap which separates them. But I urge the Government not to exaggerate it either. A good deal has already been done to bridge it. Nothing has been more impressive to me than the co-operation and realism which has existed between Mr. Vorster, Dr. Savimbi, Mr. Holder Roberto, President Mobutu and President Kaunda over Angola and, indeed, the question of recruiting white mercenaries. We must not let our attitude to racialism become stronger than the prejudices the Africans and the Europeans in Africa hold. I have seen that happen in a Middle Eastern context where we have tried to simplify matters too much between Israel and the Arabs.
Do not let us simplify too much between black and white. There is already a wider measure of co-operation bridging the racial gap than we sometimes give credit for. Much depends on the support we are able to give in the West if that gap is to be fully bridged. We must keep an eye on the realities. Zaire and Zambia are important countries but their military strength is very small, whereas that of South Africa and even Rhodesia is considerable, and in the last analysis it may be the latter two upon whom we should have to depend.
May I with some hesitation—because there is always a risk when an Opposition Back Bencher puts forward a plan—say what I think should be done? First, we 228 should give maximum support to the black African countries which are, broadly speaking, aligned with us, and I exclude Tanzania and Mozambique. They are Zambia, Zaire, Malawi and Botswana. The first two are desperately short of foreign currency, and I hope that the Government, with European and American support, will make generous aid available to them, secured against the copper stockpile which they have at their pit heads and which they cannot move at present. Let us make armaments available to them if they want them, and advisers and instructors if they want them, too.
Let us lift the arms embargo at once in South Africa and, if the South Africans will agree to it, let us try to renegotiate the Simonstown Agreement, although preferably next time on a European or NATO rather than on only an Anglo-South African basis.
§ Mr. Newens
Does the right hon. Gentleman not seriously consider that the black peoples of Rhodesia and South Africa regard the present white minority Governments and the sort of people who support them as a greater threat to their future and safety than any Soviet threat? Is the right hon. Gentleman not driving these people to rely on the Soviet Union for liberation?
§ Mr. Amery
I understand the hon. Member's line of argument, but he lacks experience both of these countries on the spot and of political power. However those people may regard the situation, the forces available in the present crisis are in the hands of the white South African Government. If we are to resist the immediate offensive of Russian imperialism it is one of the few forces on which we can count—unless, that is, the hon. Member for Harlow proposes to raise large European and American forces with which we could go in and dictate the political terms on which Central and Southern Africa should be governed in the future.
I come now to the extremely difficult question of Rhodesia, and here I urge the Government to try to get their priorities right. Soviet imperialism, not the racial issue, is at the heart of the matter. I very much regret the speech by the Minister of State, the right hon. 229 Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals), on the radio the other day, because he seemed to disregard one of the elementary principles of negotiation. In my experience it has always been a good principle in negotiation to back the weaker side against the stronger. When Mr. Smith was in the ascendancy it was right that we should press him to make concessions. Today, after what has happended in Mozambique and Angola, his position is weaker, but by his speech the Minister of State was making it more difficult for Mr. Nkomo to come to terms with Mr. Smith. The issue is not all that complicated. There is agreement on the principle of majority rule but disagreement about the timing. I do not know how far the United Kingdom, which is not prepared to concede majority rule in Ulster, or the neighbouring States which do not have majority rule, are in a position to speak.
More important is to what extent the issue of majority rule is even relevant to the present crisis. I am not sure that even an agreement between Mr. Smith and Mr. Nkomo would stave off the terrorist offensive. In Angola, we have seen that Africans are capable of fighting Africans as well as Europeans.
Certainly majority rule is an important issue. But the Government should make it clear that if there were a terrorist invasion we would lift sanctions immediately, because the people of this country would not tolerate our being accomplices of the terrorists in an invasion of Rhodesia. If the Rhodesians ask for help we should be prepared to give it, making it clear that our intervention would of course include a liberalising influence in Rhodesia and South Africa.
We may well be called in, because I am not sure that the kind of indirect support I have proposed will be enough, and NATO must now take seriously what it has often discussed—the importance of setting up a force of intervention which could help the Governments concerned, if it were invited to help, and which could control access to the ports of Angola and Mozambique as President Kennedy controlled access to the ports of Cuba a decade or more ago.
Britain could not do this by itself. Therefore, it must be done on a NATO or 230 European basis, but Britain has a duty, to take the lead because of our historical f connection with Central and Southern Africa, because Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and even Rhodesia are still part of the Commonwealth; and because of our enormous economic interests in Southern Africa.
There is another reason. There are nearly 5 million Europeans in Central and Southern Africa, and more than half of them are British. If it comes to a conflagration in Rhodesia and Southern Africa, public opinion will not stand for the Government doing nothing. The public will demand intervention. If we do nothing, they will do it themselves. No Diplock Committee and no new legislation that the Government may introduce will stop them doing it. They will go out to fight for—to use that much despised phrase—"their kith and kin", and they will be right to do so.
§ 5.20 p.m.
Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) was right in his historical judgment about Russian behaviour. He had history on his side when he indicated that the Russians will always take advantage of a situation where they think they can gain. Rather like Oscar Wilde, they cannot resist temptation. However, the right hon. Gentleman goes wrong in his analysis by implying in contexts outside Europe that it is possible to line up with powers that have racialist undertones in order to offset the Russians. If we pursue that line, we cannot win. Therefore, we have to take action which offsets the Russians without committing that fundamental error. With foresight that can be done.
The Russians know that the policy of détente, into which they have put so much energy, rests on an understanding in Europe. I do not believe that the central power balance has been disturbed in a fundamental way by what is happening at present in Southern Africa. I am not saying that that will not have consequences or that something should not be done, but I do not believe that fundamentally it alters the central power balance. The Russians fully understand that. That is why we have to apply greater pressure on them. I agree with my right hon. Friend 231 the Minister of State that what the Russians were doing in Angola was against the spirit of detente. We should make it clear this afternoon that it is not only against the spirit of détente but that if it continues we do not intend to tolerate it.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
Could the hon. Gentleman expand on his flat statement that what has happened in Angola has not widened the Russians' power base? In what way has it not done that?
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to develop my argument I shall deal with that matter.
We must make it clear to the Russians that we are not giving them a free hand to do as they please outside Europe simply because we have reached arrangement with them through the West Germans' Eastern policies and the policies of detente. We must make that unmistakably clear because the Russians have not received that message clearly. That is why they exploit situations, why they will never hesitate to do so and why they will back any movement elsewhere which works fundamentally against Western interests. We cannot allow them to continue unchallenged.
What happens in Southern Africa has serious repercussions for our supplies and trade routes. We understand that the Russians want to protect their interests, but they must understand that we shall also look after our interests. That is the message that we must spell out most clearly to them. We have interests outside Europe but they cannot be safeguarded by the actions suggested by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion. However, they can be safeguarded if we share that responsibility with our European friends.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State referred to the joint statement on Rhodesia. We should congratulate the Foreign Secretaries of Europe on reaching that common position. That is an extremely good start. It is pity that the French got out of line in respect of recognition of the MPLA, but nevertheless we are in line now and we should try to encourage that policy because at some stage, if present trends continue, we shall have to find an effective way of offsetting Russian influence.
232 I come to that conclusion because I believe in the balance of power, which is where I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) who does not believe in the balance of power. I also believe that the Russians are expansionary in their tactics and actions. I must be logical and recommend that the Government together with our European partners must try to work out an arrangement to offset a Russian influence outside Europe. We shall reach no agreement within NATO. To try to extend the area of responsibility beyond the Tropic of Cancer, in the way suggested by a number of people, would not get very far within the NATO councils. An alternative arrangement must be found. Gradually and painstakingly that can be found within the Europe of the Nine. That is not to say that all Members of the Nine will agree with this, but a sufficient number of countries within the Nine might agree to do so. It can be done in a politically sensitive way which does not allow us to be allied with essential racialist and reactionary régimes. That is the central difference.
The Russians at present have unleashed on the world a diplomatic blitz. At the same time they are taking advantage of geographically weak spots—where they can find them—and at the same time reassuring us of their peaceful intentions. I hope that in the long term the Russians will recognise the reality of the balance of power in Europe because at present they give the impression of not being as aware of that reality and that balance as they should be. At the moment they are conducting a diplomatic campaign in Europe. Only two or three weeks ago I received a letter from the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland asking me and a number of my hon. Friends to sponsor a world disarmament conference at York. I have been a member of that Association for 15 years and, therefore, without hesitation I allowed my name to be put down as a sponsor. However, I have now discovered, after some research, that this conference is not interested in world-wide disarmament. It is a conference which is geared to serve Russian diplomacy. That is not compatible with Basket III or any other provisions of the Helsinki Conference.
233 Therefore, I wish to give due notice to the United Nations Association that I wish to withdraw as a sponsor from that conference because I will not be used in that way. If the joint organisers of the World Peace Council want to pursue the policy, as I hope they will, of world-wide disarmament they must give us concrete tangible evidence that they are pursuing a policy of peace and are not trying to heighten tension and thus endanger detente.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
I have undertaken to speak briefly. Therefore, I hope that the hon. Member for Horn-church (Mr. Williams) will forgive me if I do not follow his interesting argument in detail.
Those hon. Members who have heard me speak in foreign affairs debates over the years will know that I have never adopted a cold war posture and that I have frequently been highly critical of aspects of American policy in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. On the Middle East I am certain that the main Western interest is to show positive sympathy with and to initiate policies which assist the legitimate aspirations of Arab countries.
However, it should be unequivocally stated that the participation of 12,000 Cuban troops in a civil war in Central Africa is one of the most astonishing demonstrations of formal external intervention in recent history. Yet such a massive and provocative operation was able to take place with scarcely a voice being raised in anger or in protest, and certainly no effective voice. This extraordinary silence was inexplicable and makes patently absurd all the noise and controversy over the pathetic recruitment of 100 or so English mercenaries attracted either by money or by a sense of adventure. But there was nothing pathetic, amateurish or haphazard about the Cuban intervention. This was an act of policy of the Soviet Union—a provocative, carefully planned and deliberate act of power politics.
I should like to know—my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) referred to this—why the matter was not immediately raised by Her Majesty's Government, in concert with our European partners, as a matter 234 of the utmost urgency at the Security Council. I am glad to see that the Community, in the important declaration that was made yesterday, has attacked external military intervention in Angola. However, will this be followed up? Will this be followed by pressing for a debate in the Security Council, requesting the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from the area? I am certain that this is the only way of reassuring moderate African opinion and moderate African countries which are now threatened by the presence of this large Cuban army.
I should like to know what has happened to Western intelligence. Have reports which must have come in been properly monitored? It would not appear that they have been, as no effective action was taken in good time. In retrospect, it seems obvious that the real danger lay in the possibility of direct Communist military intervention and that this is what should have been prevented. That is what we should have been trying to do. It is the failure of preventing such an intervention which has created the extremely serious situation that now threatens the whole of Central Africa. By comparison with this, the victory or defeat of one or other of the independent guerrilla movements was relatively unimportant.
However, now that the situation is as it is, it seems to me that two things are of absolute paramount importance. The first is to take every possible effective action to ensure the withdrawal of all foreign troops. The United States, as my right hon. Friend said, has considerable bargaining weapons, and certainly this is an occasion when they should be used. Europe should marshal opinion at the United Nations, ensuring the fullest public debate and making certain that the uncommitted countries participate in it, sharing, as many of them do, the anxieties that all reasonable people feel at this particular act of policy of the Soviet Union.
The second is the absolute necessity to avoid a polarisation in Africa, with the West on the side of the whites and the Communists on the side of the black Africans. That is precisely what the Soviet Union would like to see happen. It is precisely what must not be allowed to happen. It would be disastrous for the West and disastrous for Africa.
235 We must support and encourage the moderate African régimes which are at present in a state of acute anxiety, because if we cannot restore their confidence and cannot restore the situation, the outlook for the West in Africa will be very bleak indeed.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am very much obliged to the last two speakers for their brevity, because there is an exceptionally long list of Members who wish to speak in the debate.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Mrs. Renée Short (Wolverhampton, North-East)
Whenever we have debates on foreign affairs it always seems that from the Conservative Party we have Members, such as the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters), who bring out their outdated, outmoded attitudes, dust them down and put forward what, in the case of the right hon. Gentleman, is a quite terrifying recipe for ultimate disaster in Africa, and a recipe which no one in Britain, except a few people of his mind, would wish to follow and which would certainly undermine whatever influence we have in the African continent.
The hon. Member for Westbury says that we should support moderate African States. I wonder whether he means that we should support them by cash, by equipment or by armies. What sort of support should it be? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would care to tell us.
§ Mr. Walters
In a brief speech, I tried to make the point that I felt that it was essential that we should raise the matter at the United Nations in the Security Council, that we should dramatise the gravity of the situation and that, as a result of our doing so, world opinion should concentrate on the outrageous military intervention operated by the Cubans and engineered by the Soviet Union, and that hopefully this would bring about the withdrawal of Cuban and all foreign troops from Central Africa.
§ Mrs. Short
I do not think that the United Nations has worked with that sort of determination and rapidity in the past. The whole world is well aware of the situation in Africa today. We have to hope that our allies will support a reasonable point of view, but we have 236 to bear in mind that we have recognised the new régime in Angola—and we were not the first to do it. We merely followed on after about 30 other countries had already done so. Clearly, therefore, world opinion had made up its mind about the situation there.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on the part that he played in signing the Helsinki Agreement and bringing that to a successful conclusion. He did extremely well. What he did, together with the Prime Minister when they visited Moscow to sign the Final Agreement, was to increase Britain's standing in the Soviet Union to a very considerable degree.
§ Mrs. Short
The backwoodsmen of the Conservative Party may not think that that is important. I should like to suggest that there are many things on which Britain and the Soviet Union have a great deal to offer each other. I have always been very interested in the development of East-West trade, as the House knows. Would any Opposition Member deny that East-West trade has improved since there has been a change of Government here, or deny that the increase in trade with the Soviet Union or the GDR or any of the other East European countries in COMECON has been of great value to us? We are not in a position to spurn trade with any country. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) may not agree with what I am saying, but these are the hard facts of life that I am putting before him.
§ Mr. Cormack rose——
§ Mrs. Short
The increase in trade is of particular value to areas of Britain which are now experiencing high levels of unemployment and others where unemployment is growing. That is a fact of life that we cannot deny. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has carried out a great service. There is no doubt that our relations with the Soviet Union are now very much better. They descended to the depths when the Conservatives were in office. We suffered as a result of that.
237 The Final Act of the Helsinki document is very long but it has produced certain hard commitments which are of great importance to both sides. They are important to us and the Soviet Union as well as to other countries in Eastern Europe. Co-operation in economic, scientific and environmental matters is of profound importance.
§ Mrs. Short
Co-operation in human contacts, cultural agreements and educational exchanges are also of great importance. In his intervention my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) referred to hard agreements, one of which is that countries involved in major military manoeuvres will give 21 days' notice. That is something that has never happened before. The Soviet Union gave notice when it had an exercise on the Turkish border involving more than 25,000 troops. As my hon. Friend indicated, volunteers were invited to watch the manoeuvres. That is progress.
§ Mrs. Short
Instead of behaving like a lot of hooligans, Conservative Members should understand that although progress may be slow it is at least progress.
§ Mrs. Short
They should welcome progress. Progress in one direction can lead to progress in other directions that Conservatives may be anxious to see.
I am certain that from the development of the Helsinki Agreement there will be a call for more trade on a broad and multilateral basis which will result in considerable development in future. Agreement on industrial co-operation is of extreme importance to British industry. Over the years many important British firms have been carrying out discussions with the Ministry of Technological Development in Moscow to try to bring forward joint projects of co-operation between our industry and Soviet industry—for example, the exploitation of mineral wealth in Siberia as well as various other projects of enormous importance. Many of our well-known firms have concluded agreements to the benefit 238 of British industry and the greater employment of British workers. We look forward to more joint co-operation on those lines, with the adaptation and modernisation of industrial plant that is so important to both sides.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
Surely the hon. Lady appreciates that if we continue our present pattern of trade with Russia, and if Russia is allowed to engage in imperialistic ventures in Africa, we may well lose more jobs and more wealth by Russia eventually taking over the resources of raw materials on which we depend?
§ Mrs. Short
We are losing jobs at the moment, and I shall back whatever can be done to remedy the situation. Many years of ground work has taken place and many British firms have expended large sums in sending teams of scientific workers to the Soviet Union. If those schemes can be brought to fruition to the benefit of both sides, all of us with any sense will welcome the results.
We need to pay greater attention to the quality of the salesmen we send to Eastern Europe. It is not an easy market in which to operate. I am afraid that the quality of salesmen who are sent to many Eastern European countries compares badly with those who are employed, for example, by West German organisations.
§ Mrs. Short
The hon. Member [...] Macclesfield should realise that these are the hard facts. The West Germans have pushed us down from our position as one of the major West European suppliers of the Soviet Union to about sixth or seventh place. That is not to our advantage. We should take a leaf out of the West Germans' book and think again about the sort of people we should be sending to this difficult market. We should send people with some scientific knowledge instead of whizz-kids such as the hon. Member for Macclesfield. The hon. Gentleman would not get very far in the East European market. I think that he would come back empty-handed.
There are important agreements in the Helsinki document about cultural and educational exchanges that will encourage those directly engaged in education and science to have direct contacts and communication. We have an enormous 239 opportunity to make considerable progress not only between ourselves and the countries of Eastern Europe but between them and scientific organisations within the Common Market. It is of great importance that we should have some sort of scientific exchange between people with scientific training and scientific background in industry, research establishments and Government research establishments. I suppose that there are financial difficulties to overcome in the Government sector, but they should not be insuperable. They should not be allowed to stultify the existing scientific activity that is engaged in by both sides.
It is important that we should bring European technological standards and codes of practice together to meet those that obtain in the COMECON countries. We should create codes and standards that are applicable in other countries in East and West Europe. The British standards institutes and the Department of the Environment have done a great deal of work in this direction, and I hope that their work will continue. It is essential that we start co-operation between the Soviet Union and the standards institutions of the COMECON countries and those in our own country.
There are great advantages to be gained for our construction industry. We have a great potential for earning money abroad by exporting our construction and engineering knowhow. In the Soviet Union there are enormous schemes going ahead in preparation for the Olympic Games. French and Swedish construction firms have won large and valuable contracts. I have asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade what he is doing to encourage the British construction industry to go after projects of that kind. I hope that he is doing something. I should like to know how much progress we have made in that regard.
There is enormous scope—I realise that money is involved—for cultural exchanges between ourselves and East European countries. We had the exhibition of Soviet paintings in the autumn and we now have the marvellous exhibition—
§ Mrs. Short
—of Thracian gold treasures. We seem to prefer to allow the bulldozers to enter our sites to destroy the relics of or development over past centuries. It is only with a very great deal of difficulty that we can find the money to carry out proper excavation and to restore the treasures that we find. In other countries we find that enormous sums are spent in preserving the relics and remnants of historical development. The Thracian exhibits go back to 3,000 BC. It is a marvellous and exciting exhibition. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will go to see it.
Above all, we must remember that the world now possesses the means to destroy itself completely, as civilisations in earlier years managed to do, and they disappeared. The question is whether we have enough civilisation to prevent the world blowing itself to bits. This is the basis of all the co-operation that should exist between ourselves and countries of Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, which is the most powerful. If the alternative is to blow up the world in nuclear war, I am sure that most sane people will want to seek an alternative.
§ Mr. Speaker
I did not wish to interrupt the hon. Lady in the full flow of her argument, but I should inform her that "Erskine May" lays down that the word "hooligan" is an unparliamentary expression to address to other hon. Members. I state that just for the record.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)
I return to the actualities of East-West relations. So far as the United Kingdom, and indeed Europe, are concerned, it seems to be a matter of "Heads the Soviets win and tails we are in process of losing." So far as the West as a whole is concerned, the present series of events reminds me of a badly synchronised film. The Helksinki dialogue relates to a love scene, but the African action shows one of the lovers mugging some innocent person in the street beforehand.
The East, on the other hand, has given clear evidence that it is the sword, not the word, that matters. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) mentioned Dr. Kissinger and his definition of détente, but for the East, détente has not this definition. It is 241 an ideological struggle and a war of ideas—a struggle continuing beyond the range of words and moving into force of arms. The hon. Lady the Member for Newcastle, Central mentioned the USSR—
§ Mr. Macmillan
In these days of sex equality, I must make a special apology to the hon. Lady. The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) put forward ideas about the Soviet Union that reminded me of words put forward alas, by members of my own party about Nazi Germany before the Second World War. I am glad to say that there were some members of the Tory Party who gave the same warnings against them then. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of State gave a definition of détente that was virtually peaceful co-existence. If that is what he thinks détente means, Africa has shown a situation not of détente but of what Dr. Kissinger called abdication.
The Council of Ministers in the EEC put forward a statement expressing its joint point of view. We should all welcome that evidence of unity, but I have some doubt whether that statement showed not only unity but also what Dr. Kissinger called the other side of détente—namely, the will to resist aggression. It is fairly easy tocondemn all external military interventionand to expressthe firm hope that it will be quickly brought to an end.It is also fairly easy to express desires aboutpeaceful and constructive co-operation based on good neighbourly relations between the countries of the region.However, I hope that the Minister who replies to the debate will say what steps the Council of Ministers proposes to take to that end and what action it intends to take in conjunction with our American allies and with NATO.
The EEC statement expresses the readiness of the Nineto develop relations of co-operation to the extent that they are desired by the African States",and expressesdissociation from action by any State that seeks to establish a zone of influence in Africa".242 Does this mean, or does it not, that the Nine are prepared to give economic aid, to co-operate with the United States in helping Zaire and Zambia and all those countries which wish to receive assistance?
Are the Nine prepared to follow the statement by the Council of Ministers that we should seek to pay regard to and take action to showrespect for the independence of all African States and their national policies in complete sovereignty and without outside interference"?Are we prepared to approach the United States and to discuss the question of sending arms and advisers to Zaire, Zambia, Rhodesia and South Africa to meet the threat that still exists in Angola from well-armed, well-trained Cuban troops supplied with Soviet equipment of a sophisticated nature? It is no good merely sending arms or weapons, because personnel are needed to teach the recipients how to use those arms.
The Council of Ministers made these points, but are the Governments of the Nine willing or able to back those statements by any sort of action? Are the Nine willing to contact the United States about the establishment of a NATO force, as was suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), to make it impossible for any further outside intervention to take away the independence of African countries? Till the Cubans and Russians have left Angola and Mozambique the rest of the points put forward by the Council of Ministers are mere words.
The Council of Ministers says that it supportsthe efforts of the OAU in promoting African co-operation.That is all to the good. The Council also supportsa right to self-determination and independence of the people of Rhodesia and Namibiaand condemns apartheid policies in South Africa. That means nothing while Cuban colonial troops, put in by Russia, are in Angola. That is the threat we must now counter.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the statement made yesterday by the EEC Council of Ministers, which 243 referred to the independence of all African States and to the fact that they should be allowed to determine their national policies with complete sovereignty and without outside interference. Is he suggesting that some members of the OAU have been asking for Western arms and advisers? Is this the point he is making, or is he suggesting that arms should be provided whether or not they are requested?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I am suggesting that the matter should be considered by the Council of Ministers and discussed with the United States Government so that the West can show itself united in offering such help. If it is not and if we do not show ourselves at least willing to make the offer, we shall give the impression to the Soviet Union, as well as to our friends, black and white, in Africa, that we neither care nor are able to help them. Without some such defence, at least in words, of South-West Africa, the political and economic freedom of the whole area is at risk.
The right hon. Gentleman, in his speech, was worried about the nations of the West being misrepresented as either the defenders of white rule or the defenders of white investment. British investment in South Africa is not inconsiderable—something over £2,000 million. South Africa produces quite a lot of raw materials essential not only to Great Britain but also to other Western countries. It produces about 80 per cent. of the world supply of platinum, 75 per cent. of the world supply of gold, and 83 per cent. of the world supply of diamonds. Most of the other supplies of those three raw materials are within the Soviet Union. If they gain the rest, black Africa will be damaged as well as white investment. I hasten to declare an interest here. My firm operates, trades and has invested in Africa, mostly in black Africa, sometimes in partnership with the Governments of those countries.
Apart from the effect of our inertia and the supine attitude of the West in Africa itself, there is a much greater danger elsewhere. If we are content, or even appear to be content, to leave Angola as a Soviet colony, with the danger all the time of Africa being further exploited for economic purposes for the Soviet Union alone, we shall put the 244 whole of the NATO alliance in other parts of the world at risk.
There are at the moment Communist countries which are not wholly within the domination of the Soviet Union, and which have so far successfully resisted Soviet imperialism. We shall be letting them down, too, if we in the West do nothing.
Obviously, there are dangers in taking the sort of action that I and my right hon. Friend and others have suggested, but past experience shows that the greatest perils this country have ever faced have been through failing to recognise dangers early enough, failing to act soon enough, and failing to look facts squarely in the face.
They arise from pretending that what has happened is self-determination when it is conquest—from saying, for example, that the Sudeten Germans had a case. I have no doubt that the same sort of thing could be said about parts of Africa. But what happened to Czechoslovakia was that it was conquered by Nazi Germany; and what has happened to Angola is that it has been conquered by the Cuban troops of Soviet imperialism.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Terry Walker (Kingswood)
The longer the debate goes on the clearer it becomes that it is about the policy of detente and co-existence and whether this should be expanded or cast aside.
I listened very carefully to the speech of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who seemed to be advocating intervention by the British Government in Southern Africa while at the same time condemning the Russians and the Cubans for intervention in Angola.
Some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House seem to be living in a bygone age when they talk of the capabilities of the Government today. We are no longer the world's policeman. But they seem to believe that we still have a rôle to play in interfering in every dispute throughout the world. Such a rôle is no longer in our hands but in the hands of others, though whether they play it correctly is another matter.
There must, however, be a realisation that we are still a Power with a rôle to play in the world. My right hon. 245 Friend the Foreign Secretary, and before him the noble Lord, Lord Home, have both played a considerable part in the Western effort to develop detente and peaceful co-existence. I believe that as time goes on we shall be guided to act to a greater extent, in conjunction with NATO and our allies, in formulating the policies we need to follow in extending our influence throughout the world.
I do not believe that the greatest danger to these Islands today comes from the expansion of the Russian Navy or the threat of being overrun in Europe. These dangers, I believe, are grossly exaggerated. But the involvement of Russian and Cuban troops in Angola is indeed a worry, and it is doubtful whether they and their equipment will return to their own countries.
Hon. Members have said that Rhodesia will be threatened and that the United Kingdom Government will become involved. But, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in the House the other day, Mr. Smith has very little time left to return to legality. If he does, I believe that the threat which is at present allegedly upon the Rhodesians will pass. But pressure will also be put upon Mr. Smith that the coloured people in Rhodesia should be given a say in the government of that country.
Until that is realised, there will be a threat that the Russians—or the hammer and sickle—will be looked to by the coloured people as their salvation. We very much want to avoid that. A peaceful solution in Rhodesia and in Southern Africa generally is the best answer. It is the one which will seriously reduce the influence of the Russians, the Chinese or anyone else in Southern Africa as a whole.
We have heard earlier today of the move that the British Government are making by sending Lord Greenhill to talk to Mr. Smith in Rhodesia. It must be made abundantly clear by the British Government that there will be no independence before majority rule. This has always been our stance and it is not negotiable. The abortive talks on "Tiger" and "Fearless" involving the Prime Minister must not be repeated. Until there are strict assurances that there will be meaningful negotiations it is not for the 246 British Government to rush forward and make their views known.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
In case the hon. Member nails his flag to the wrong mast, may I say that it is my understanding that what successive British Governments have sought is not evidence of majority rule before independence but evidence of unimpeded progress towards majority rule before independence. I hope that this is what the hon. Gentleman is saying. It has been the position of successive British Governments.
§ Mr. Walker
I thank the hon. Gentleman. It is progress towards majority rule that we want. As far as I am aware there has been no change in the policy of the Smith régime as it was set out in the "Tiger" and "Fearless" talks. Until there is some guaranteed movement it is not for the Prime Minister to become too deeply involved.
There is a message here for Tory Members who have been sympathetic towards Rhodesia and South Africa. There is a need to impress upon these countries how important it is for world peace that these issues should be dealt with as quickly as possible before they get out of hand. There is no doubt that the Western Powers are doing no favours to the South African Government by granting huge financial loans without any guarantee of moves towards majority rule in that country. We have already seen the involvement of Midland Bank in such loans. It is a small part of what is being done by the Western world to prop up the régime in South Africa. Most of this money is being spent on arms.
There must be pressure to stop these Governments seeking to preserve the status quo. We must make them move towards greater involvement of the African community. It is necessary for the friends of Rhodesia to make these views known to Mr. Smith and for them also to be made known to the South Africans so that action may be taken in time. We must not be guided by those who want to see us return to the cold war policies of the 1940s. Such views are prevalent in this House. The policy of detente and co-existence will lead to a greater extension of world peace. I hope that the Government will press ahead with 247 that extension, ensuring us a more peaceful world.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
What is at issue basically in this debate is the ideological self-confidence of the West and the will not merely to maintain adequate military capacity and the capability mortally to wound if attacked but to be aggressive about democracy. That means that we must not deceive ourselves, as some hon. Members have, that the Eastern Powers are different from that which they appear to be. That is the risk in much of the talk about détente and the excessive expectations arising from Helsinki. To listen to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North-East (Mrs. Short) one would imagine that everyone in the Communist countries spent his time either in scientific research or the pursuit of culture—particularly the unearthing of valuable objects which in the West have been crushed by capitalist bulldozers. Unfortunately, life is not like that.
§ Mr. Johnston
It could, however, be more appropriately applied.
We are talking about détente because we are talking about a free system and a closed system. That is certainly true with regard to culture and the pursuit of artistic freedom. The latter is not readily acceptable in the East.
We deceive ourselves if we believe that we in any way successfully restrain aggression from the East in the developing countries by somehow instituting or protecting Right-wing autocracies. We fail absolutely if we do that. In any country an opposition, if forbidden to act openly, acts underground, takes up arms and thus reaches the classic revolutionary situation.
The West must realise that it is as ideological as the East. It must be. What would be wrong would be if we accepted, in the interesting analysis given by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery)—I am 248 sorry that he has temporarily left the Chamber—his somewhat bland willingness to associate with South Africa despite its unacceptable policies simply because to do so is convenient. One felt that if Uganda were rather more handily placed geographically, he would be talking about closer co-operation with General Amin in given circumstances.
This is a straightforward, pragmatic approach, but it is not the sort of approach I would favour. Essentially, the debate is about the ideological self-confidence of the West and therefore about what results from Angola. It has to be emphasised that this was foreign intervention on a large scale. It is not comparable with Vietnam, as has been suggested. In Angola there was no home-grown base from which Marxism would come comparable with the system in Vietnam. There was no flow of arms near at hand. There was not even a hard core band of sympathisers with a clear concept or anything more than a fuddled idea of what Marxism meant. It is fair to say that about the MPLA.
In Vietnam it was fairly obvious early on that the collective will to resist was not there. On balance, the collective will was probably to accept. That was despite the massive injections of American arms. In Angola this was manifestly not the case. We can probably discount the FNLA, which was largely dominated by Zaire and which had a muddled political approach. UNITA was a different case. If anything, it was a Social Democratic base. What we have seen in Angola is not the triumph of an ideology—which we saw in Vietnam, like it or not—but the triumph of arms, and foreign arms at that.
The hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) mentioned the lack of debate on this matter in Britain. Almost incredibly, we spent a long time in this House debating the 14 mercenaries. That was important and tragic, but there were thousands of people slain in Angola. There was enormous loss of life. There are a quarter of a million—perhaps more—refugees hungry, ill and homeless. We have not talked about them in the House, nor very much in the country at large. That is a matter for regret.
Like the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), I think that it is a matter of great surprise and regret 249 that the situation in Angola was not discussed in a major debate at the United Nations. One would have thought that that was something that our Government would have been anxious to initiate. One welcomes the European initiative published today—decided, presumably, yesterday—but again one must ask why it is so late. Why was there not a concerted attempt a considerable time ago to influence events in Angola? After all, the situation did not arise suddenly, but there was no real attempt to do much about it.
I am reluctant on ideological grounds to agree with the right hon. Member for Pavilion, but I agree with his conclusion that one of the saddest aspects of this whole business is that, in African eyes, the Western world, which includes Europe, has been completely trounced—out-manoeuvred psychologically and in every other way. The feeling must be, inevitably, "How can we rely upon the West in future?"
§ Mr. Ennals
For the sake of the record it should be said that Britain energetically sought to get a common position among the EEC countries many weeks ago, in advance of the OAU meeting which dealt with Angola. Unfortunately, not through any lack of effort by us, there was no agreement to a common statement. We cannot force a common statement, but this was not through any lack of effort by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Johnston
I am glad to hear that the Government were anxious to achieve such an agreement earlier, but the EEC was unable to reach such an agreement at a time when it might have been effective. I am not saying that it would have been effective, but it might have been. That is something to regret and to look back on, wondering whether we can do something about it next time, for there is a danger of a next time.
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
Following the Minister's intervention, does not the hon. Gentleman think that the real moment of warning which could be given by Europe would come not from the EEC in Luxembourg or from the Council of Ministers, but much better 250 and with more authority from NATO? NATO should begin now to extend its frontiers, to remember the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.
§ Mr. Johnston
That opens up a wide area of debate which time does not permit me to follow. The point has no doubt been taken on board.
In the immediate future in Angola, the most dangerous feature will probably be the involvement of Cubans, not directly in fighting with any of the countries on the border, but in infiltration. After all, in most African States—this is certainly true of Zaire, Rhodesia and Zambia—power has a much smaller base than in Western European countries. So the processes of influence and of what we call subversion—non-democratic attempts to change the power structure—are in many ways easier.
I would not say that Zaire was a model of democracy, but its position is vulnerable. If one is talking in terms of helping Zaire, one must talk in terms of aid. This whole argument overlaps into a consideration of how the richer West can help the under-developed countries of Africa. Only if there is some social and economic development will political disaffection be less likely. That is understandable and acceptable.
The point about the price of copper, which the right hon. Member for Pavilion made, is relevant. We could do a great deal for Zambia by agreeing a minimum price. Of course, at the root of everything, we could do a great deal for Zambia by helping to achieve a Rhodesian settlement.
I am not altogether sure that it was a good thing to send Lord Greenhill to Rhodesia. In the present situation, one thing that we must not do as a country is give the black African countries any idea that we will side with the white minority administrations. There is little doubt—this is usually the way in most political matters—that the threat of being attacked or infiltrated, of having to contain an external military threat which they know cannot in the long term be held back, will make the Rhodesians come to their senses. This is the situation in which it is now possible to be hard for a longer time, so that Rhodesia reaches the stage of accepting direct rule because it is the only way out 251 which may offer a peaceful rather than a bloody solution. The latter we want to avoid at all costs.
As a Liberal, I think that there must be some way for the West in between the American approach, which, with all due respect to Dr. Kissinger, has tended to inform American activities for some years—that one contains every conceivable Communist menace behind a wall of steel—and the other equally dangerous possibility that there is a negative will to do nothing. In the end we must evolve a strategy which does not rule out force ultimately—one can never absolutely do that—but which measures up to Soviet psychology in Africa, which so far has been successful.
The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet asked why there was a large Soviet navy. That is a fair question. The only reason that the Soviet Union can have embarked on this course is in the long term the disruption of Western trade. Already, speeches have been made about the danger of our supplies of raw materials. So détente and defence are not only about arms but about the success of our political objectives and about our ability to project democracy as a good way of life.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
I wish later to make a suggestion about how the West can counter Soviet and Cuban aggression in Angola or elsewhere, but first I want to dispose of a number of fallacies which still seem to be current and are relevant to my proposal. The first is that standing up to the Russians raises tension in Europe. Time does not allow me to explain what happened 20 years ago when we brought the Germans into NATO, a matter of which I had personal experience at the time, but it is a good case history. The Russians threatened all sorts of reprisals against the West, certainly including the raising of tension, if we did so, but we went ahead and, after a few months, the Russians accepted the situation and our relations were better than before. So standing up to the Russians may help to reduce tension.
The second fallacy is that detente means a change in Rusisa's long-term 252 aims. It means nothing of the kind. It is a tactical move, intended by the Russians to be the continuation of the cold war by other means. It is intended to be the opium of the West, to lull the West into a state of mind in which we are more ready to supply the Soviet Union with the goods, technology, grain and finance that it so badly needs.
The Soviet Union is basically a very inefficient economy and it has succeeded to the extent it has in most fields because the West has been prepared to supply it with the things I have just described; and the West is going on doing so. Just a year ago the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister went to Moscow. When he came back he proudly proclaimed to the House that he had negotiated hard with the Soviet Union and had persuaded the Russians to accept a credit of £950 million at favourable rates of interest. He said it was agreed that this line of credit should be used to help build up industries in the Soviet Union which the Russians badly needed—chemical, oil, ferrous and non-ferrous metals and other industries. These industries are of cardinal importance in strengthening Russia, enabling Russia to move its resources into the production of arms, in enabling Russia to be strong enough to engage in military adventure overseas. So what the Prime Minister arranged in Moscow a year ago was one of the biggest aid programmes to any country overseas on which Britain is currently embarked.
Another fact we have to recognise is that aid of this kind to the Russians gives the impression, contrary to what I have just said, that the Russian economy is an efficient economy. This admiration for what is believed to be an efficient economic system plays a big part in encouraging revolutionary movements in Spain, Latin America, or even in the minds of students in Manchester.
It is perfectly clear that détente has not brought any change of attitude about the long-term objectives in the Soviet Union We have had, both at the time of Helsinki and ever since, a stream of statements from authoritative Soviet spokesmen, including Mr. Brezhnev himself, which make it perfectly clear that it is still the objective of the Soviet Union to overthrow our way of life by any means which are necessary, legal or illegal, if possible without war, but if necessary with war.
253 I find it quite extraordinary, that, just as in the 1930s we failed to read what Hitler said in "Mein Kampf", we fail now to pay attention to what is being said every week in the Soviet Union about the intentions of the Soviet leadership. We pay very little attention to what has been said by Dr. Sakharov, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is still in the Soviet Union but still very bravely writing the truth. This is what he said in his last book:It is the failure to understand the potential dangers of Soviet totalitarianism that explains the amazing miscalculations and defeats of Western foreign policy, which without a struggle is yielding one concession after another to its partner in détente.The third fallacy is that trade with the Rusians will soften the Soviet régime and increase understanding. We have only to ask ourselves what would happen if another Dubcek were to reappear in Czechoslovakia. What would be the Russian reaction? Certainly, the Russians would repeat exactly what they did in 1968. So that proposition, too, is fallacious. We have been trading with the Soviet Union for some time and certainly Mr. Plyusch, the mathematician recently released from the Soviet Union after undergoing several years of agonising torture in an insane asylum, would not feel that the Soviet régime internally has been softened in any way by the fact that we have been trading with the Soviet Union.
The fourth fallacy is that we can stop Russian imperialism without sacrifice on our part. If we are determined to stop the spread of Soviet power and Cuban power, we must be prepared, if necessary, to accept that we have at times to tighten our belts.
The proposal I want to make is that we should treat foreign trade policy as part of our foreign political and strategic policy. We have talked about various things that can be done in Southern Africa to dea with problems there. I want to talk about levers we can use directly between ourselves and the Soviet Union outside Southern Africa. First, I hope that we will get an answer from the Minister of State to the question why we have not raised this matter at the United Nations.
254 But on the economic side I want to draw his attention to the point that COMECON, the Eastern bloc economic organisation, has recently made an approach to the European Community seeking a comprehensive trade agreement, an arrangement by which it hopes to get more grain, more technology and more finance, in addition to what it has already been getting, so that it can do more in the field of arms, and can be stronger to embark on further adventures abroad if it wishes.
I suggest that the European Community should now start to consider what its reaction should be to this approach and whether it does not offer us the opportunity of asking the Soviet Union for concessions in the political and strategic field in return for all that she wants from us in the field of finance and trade. Having ourselves cleared our own minds in the Community, we should then consult our American and other allies.
The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) rightly said that the danger to the West at the moment is a failure of will. The weakness of the West is the greatest danger to peace and the worst thing about the West at the moment is that it has not the will to act in almost any field.
This results from the American reverse in Vietnam, which has made the Americans reluctant to embark on any military activity in Asia or Africa. I hope that that is a temporary situation, but, that being so, we have to consider other methods, including economic methods. I cannot believe that North America and Western Europe, with a total population of 500 million or thereabouts, double the population of the Soviet Union, and with a standard of living five times that of the Soviet Union, are prepared to allow the Russians to dictate the shape of our world and for us to allow them a free run in Asia and Africa.
What is required is a mobilising of the will. The condition of the United States being what it is, it is up to Western Europe to take the lead. In view of our knowledge of Africa and our own diplomatic experience, Britain is best placed to do that. We simply cannot allow the West to remain asleep.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)
Having listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) I wish to follow the points that he has raised in the debate and will not follow what I believe to be the bad practice of opening one's speech with an apology for not following the previous speaker. The more one listens to the hon. Gentleman the more glad one is that he no longer plays an active part in shaping our diplomacy at the Foreign Office. He is far less dangerous as one of 635 than as one of a handful at the Foreign Office making our foreign policy. It is far safer to have him here among the 635 of us, where he is probably more open to public criticism and less influential.
In the speech he has contributed to this debate the hon. Gentleman avoided by design—for he could have spoken on it, since he knows as much about it at least as the rest of us—the situation in Southern and Central Africa. He entirely concentrated on the Soviet Union, and his speech sounded to me very much like a replay of a leading article in the Morning Post at a time when that newspaper was still making Conservative opinion in the United Kingdom. He does not really believe that any Government could act on his advice, and he would not seriously pretend that the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), when he was Prime Minister, ever had a foreign policy that could be represented as having been influenced by hat the hon. Member for Blackpool, South has just contributed to today's debate.
I do not believe that we should spend any more time on that advice. It is much more important to spend the few minutes at the disposal of each Member on the more concrete proposals made by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). The right hon. Gentleman always has the great advantage of carrying on in the old tradition of what used to be called, when I left school and started at college, foreign policy experts. He produces a number of brutal statements which, no matter what other people may think about them, he regards as a guide to action. He does not mind if other people regard them as extremely dangerous as long as he can provoke thought around them, and he does not mind connecting them 256 with his own interests and with the interests of those whom he represents.
I say that deliberately because the right hon. Gentleman need not have made his passing reference to any interests that he might have in South Africa. I am sure that he would never be influenced by any interests that he might have through a connection with a particular company, and I shall not treat the policies which he proposed as having any connection with any such personal interests. I regard them as his views on the general tendency of foreign policies as he has learned them in recent years.
However, the picture which the right hon. Gentleman painted is very dangerous. If it were true, and if it were the only choice left to a Government of the United Kingdom in the latter part of the twentieth century, given that Britain is not any more the decisive military Power in the world which she once was, it would be very dangerous for our people, and it would not allow our Government to play any important part at all. In any event, I believe that picture to be faulty in several respects. It is faulty, above all, in completely underestimating the part played by principles of equality, principles of colour and principles of human rights in Africa as everywhere else today.
The right hon. Gentleman said to one of my hon. Friends, I thought a little unkindly, that he did not know the area very well, but the right hon. Gentleman must know that anyone who knows the area which he has been discussing will never leave out of a general description of the situation there the profound importance which people in all these countries attach to human equality. I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman can talk, as he did today, for some time and interestingly, about these matters without at least putting in a couple of paragraphs about the profound liability that Europeans carry in Southern and Central Africa, burdened as they are by the blindness of the rulers of Southern Africa, in the Republic, and in Rhodesia, in not seeing this and not having taken action on their own initiative in time.
On one occasion in Johannesburg and on another occasion in Pretoria, I remember talking to people who are active in industry out there, all of them 257 South Africans, very loyal to their State, not people who share my philosophy of life and far closer to the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion in their basic outlook on life. They said to me "You will see as the years go by that we shall change because, if nothing else will make us change, with the necessity to live here surrounded by a sea of black and coloured people, in order to survive we shall have to change." The years have passed, and they have not changed. Life today in the Republic is still a life of slavery for people who are not white. A woman working as a cook in the household of the British Ambassador in Pretoria, during that period of the year when he resides in Pretoria, finds that her lawfully wedded husband, a member of the same Church, has to live 12 miles outside because he cannot live and sleep with her under the same roof.
The changes have not occurred; and this is a situation which has produced the feeling that anyone who comes to intervene is better than what they have——
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo) rose——
§ Mr. Mendelson
No. I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have little time at my disposal. In any event, if the hon. Gentleman thinks that what I have said is important enough to take me to task about it, I think that it is better that he should make his own speech.
That is the first factor in the situation, and the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion must know that it circumscribes within limits the action of any European, and therefore of any British, Government.
The second major factor is that the Soviet Government, who, in my estimation, were the leadership of a revolutionary movement between about 1904 and 1924, since the death of Lenin have had very little to do with a revolutionary movement. Under those conditions, therefore, it is not necessary for them to prove their credentials in those parts of the world. They stand for equality as between different colours, and that is enough for most people out there.
At half-past six this morning I was listening to a report on the World Service of the BBC by a correspondent in South 258 Africa describing the reaction of black people to the news from Angola. This objective observer described how in the segregated bars, clubs and all the other modest institutions which black people are allowed to attend, the news of the successes of the MPLA against the side where South African troops were involved was cheered and regarded as right and to be welcomed.
§ Mr. Amery
As the hon. Gentleman has taken me to task, perhaps it is appropriate that I should intervene. Surely he will recognise that the conflict in Angola was between three African forces, all equally African, and that the people who appear for the time being to have come out on top have done so only because of the enormous intervention of Cuban troops and Russian advisers and material. If there had been a similar intervention from South Africa or Europe on that scale, would the hon. Gentleman really be saying that these were Africans speaking with the voice of Africa?
§ Mr. Mendelson
That is precisely the point I am making. Because South African regular troops—so-called volunteers—intervened on the side which the right hon. Gentleman wishes us to support the cause was lost before it started. The Soviet Union does not have to prove her credentials when she is intervening in an atmosphere where all one has to believe in is equality between black and white to be acceptable. The right hon. Gentleman knows that to be true. We have to free ourselves from this burden. We have to accept the consequences of our own philosophy, be it rational or religious, because it might also coincide with those principles and be at least as profound as any which a Russian political leader could proclaim. There is nothing to be proud of in that respect. We do not act upon those principles in areas where colour is such an important question. That is the real weakness with which we have burdened ourselves, and it is the second decisive factor in the debate.
What are the British Government to do in such a situation? Various questions have been asked, such as "Why did not you raise it in the Security Council? Why did not you create majorities here, there and everywhere?" It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman did not, on an earlier occasion ask Winston Churchill 259 about the possibilities of the Security Council, because Churchill knew that the Security Council was capable of action only when there was unanimity among the major Powers. Otherwise, the organisation would be broken. It is no good the Government's moving various resolutions. One can ask questions of my right hon. Friend and, as a good parliamentarian, he will reply to them. But we can discuss the matter without ministerial replies, before the answer is given. What could one do in a situation in which people knew that regular South African forces had intervened?
Of course the Cuban explanations are spurious, because the Cubans have more to do at home; they have many things to do for their own economy. But the fundamental appeal in a country like Cuba, where only 30 per cent. of the population is white and the remaining 70 per cent. is of every other colour, from light brown to the darkest black, is profound and genuine. Unless we understand that we do not understand the first thing about Cuban intervention.
These are the real difficulties which face any British or American Government. The attitude of the American Government is not explained only by the rebound from Vietnam. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong to say there has been such a success for the Soviet Union because of American withdrawal from Vietnam. He is wrong to say that it helped us for so many years to have 550,000 American troops bound up in Vietnam. It was a nonsense throughout. It has done harm to American prestige and to their international position. It would have been better if that involvement had never been undertaken.
The attitude which the Government are adopting in the present situation is much more reasonable. They are not relinquishing their responsibility despite all the wrong-headedness of the Smith regime. I am prepared to defend the Government for not relinquishing their responsibility in Rhodesia in co-operation with the other countries in that part of the world. The British attitude can never be that, because a regime has behaved wrongly, they are not interested in its people's lives. That is one matter on which the House and the country can 260 and will unite, but not by giving Mr. Smith a mandate to enlist British troops in the future on the side of his racialist policies. It must be made clear that the continuation of racialism by Mr. Smith means that no British troops will ever enter the lists on his side.
If there should be a possibility of other people taking over in Rhodesia—and many people there disagree with Mr. Smith—then, of course, a new policy which would lead to a majority Government would deserve support. It would deserve a response from the people, the Government and institutions of this country, for the personal safety and well-being of individuals in Rhodesia. That is what I understand to be the Government's policy. I think that it is civilised and sensible. It does not arouse any suspicions in my mind. I say that particularly to some of my hon. Friends who may not have come to the same conclusion as I.
I believe that since the Helsinki Conference some things have happened that should not disappoint us. More importance has been attached to the results of that conference in some of the smaller countries in the Soviet bloc than in the Soviet Union itself. East Germany seems to be the most Stalinist régime in that bloc, and seems particularly eager to repeat everything which the Soviet Union does. That does not go for Poland or Hungary. I am convinced that it was sound for the Government to conclude the agreement, with all the limitations, even if only to open some additional possibilities for smaller countries in the Soviet bloc. We are dealing with long-term developments. Anyone who knows the long-term intentions of British foreign policy will agree that it is worth while not to ignore the interests of each individual State in the Soviet bloc, just as the Soviet Union always wants to regard them all as belonging more or less to one political entity.
I find the attitude of the Italian and French Communist Parties encouraging. For the first time for many years the Soviet Communist Party is holding a conference which is not being attended by the General Secretary of the French Communist Party. Although the Italian Communist Party has more members, it is generally agreed that the French Communist Party is more important, by far 261 the most important Communict Party outside the Soviet Union, with a reasonable opportunity of taking part in a French Government in the foreseeable future. It is not for me to open the hearts of political leaders or to investigate whether their words are sincere expressions of their beliefs. Therefore, I am not concerned whether M. Marchais, the Secretary General of the French Communist Party, meant every word he said the other day, but he has engaged in severe public criticism of the inhuman conditions in which so many members of the opposition are held in the Soviet Union.
It is essential that Britain, where parliamentary democracy, human rights and equality between races are taken seriously, should always be on the right side in these matters. That will help us safeguard the rights of individuals in Rhodesia and see that there is no permament influence there to make it no more than an appendage of the Soviet Union, which has no right to claim to be a world leader in civil rights. That is a much safer way, and I hope the Government will follow it. It is certainly a much better way than that suggested by some members of the Opposition.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Churchill (Stretford)
The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), will not be surprised if I do not follow him in the excuse he seems to make for Cuban intervention in Angola.
There is general agreement in the House about the present situation in East-West relations. I largely agree with the Minister of State that we should all like a genuine development of cordial relations between Britain and the Soviet Union, a genuine relaxation of tension and, as an ultimate goal, general disarmament. However, I fear that we are a long way from all those objectives.
There is also a general recognition that the alternative to co-existence is co-extinction and it is in this context that most hon. Members have approached the debate. No one can doubt the desire of all the peoples and Governments of the Western democracies for a genuine détente. This has been proved by our actions, not just at Helsinki, but over many years.
During the period we have been discussing the process of so-called détente 262 with the Soviet Union, it is significant that the British Government have twice unilaterally cut defence expenditure and are now talking of a third cut in the next few weeks. Over the last three years, the United States has demobilised 261,000 men from its armed forces, but what has been the response of the Soviet Union? Its contribution to this process of détente—and if it is not a two-way street, it is no détente—has been to increase its armed forces by 200,000.
That is the sad reality. The figures are available in the Library in the excellent publication of the Institute of Strategic Studies. We have lowered our guard, the United States has decreased its manpower, but the Soviet Union has increased its manpower by 200,000. That is not my understanding of detente. At the same time, Russia has been going all out to create the greatest war machine this globe has ever seen.
Western democracy is being challenged by the Soviet Union. The Minister of State emphasised what he felt were two key points of détente: first, it must provide for nations to live within a stable international order; secondly, it must be based on a situation in which the military strengths of East and West are roughly equal. I wholeheartedly agree on both counts, but I do not share his rather sanguine view of how far the Soviet Union's performance matches up to these yardsticks. All the evidence I can see points to a country which is embarking on expansionism and militarism.
The positive results of détente so far, to which the Minister of State referred, left me and some of my hon. Friends rather cold. The Minister referred to the notification by the Soviets of military manoeuvres, but one of my hon. Friends intervened to point out that only one such notification has so far been given by the Soviet Union. This is scarcely a huge breakthrough, particularly as the Minister also made clear that the West has means of checking whether such large-scale manœuvres are taking place anyway.
Play was also made of the fact that multiple-entry visas have been arranged for foreign journalists in the Soviet Union and that 40 copies of the Financial Times were to be allowed to enter the Soviet Union each day. What kind of sick charade is détente if this is its sum total?
263 The Soviet system is the most repressive in the world. There is a large-scale, inhuman crushing of the human rights of its citizens and many other aspects about which Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn have spoken with such great courage. I declare an interest as a journalist, but I do not give a fig for multiple-entry visas. They are irrelevant, and no one in Fleet Street would disagree.
There is no ideological truce. Mr. Brezhnev said this at Helsinki, has reiterated since then and repeated it again today at the opening of the 25th Congress of the Communist Party. There is no evidence of any abatement by the Soviet Union in its building of the greatest war machine ever seen. Its armed forces are thousands of times more powerful than those at the disposal of Hitler and Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.
Russia is embarked on an expansionist course. It attempted to subvert our NATO ally, Portugal, but, fortunately, the Portuguese people have so far been able to safeguard themselves against falling into the Soviet orbit. The Russians' mistake was that, although they could not rely on Soviet tanks, as they had in the invasion of their immediate satellite neighbours of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, they thought they could rely on the tanks of the Portuguese army. Fortunately for democracy in Western Europe and in Portugal, their hopes have been in vain.
Now the Soviet Union is attempting to take control of affairs in Angola and Central and Southern Africa. For many months this enterprise has been formulated, planned and mounted. It is well known that one cannot transport 15,000 men, complete with heavy armour and jet aircraft, from one continent to another within a period of less than several months. One can only assume that the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government through the intelligence services have known for many months what was happening. If they did not, one must ask why not. I am inclined to think that they must have known.
Whether or not they knew, why has the matter not been raised before now at the United Nations? Why has no measure been taken by the British Government or collectively by the NATO countries? What has happened to the 264 usually so loquacious British representative at the United Nations, Mr. Ivor Richard, who is always so courageous when it comes to sniggering at his colleagues who seek to represent and defend the interests of the Western world? He seems to have lost his tongue, or perhaps he has been gagged.
§ Mr. Ennals
The hon. Gentleman is making a disgraceful attack on Ivor Richard. Over the months and years since he became our permament representative at the United Nations, he has spoken out in condemning the actions in Angola. He did so in a debate in the United Nations. If the hon. Gentleman were to ask Ivor Richard's Soviet opposite number in the Security Council whether Ivor Richard is meek or acquiescent or refuses to speak up on behalf on Britain's interests, he would get a very clear reply. He cannot himself reply in the Chamber, so I am replying on his behalf.
§ Mr. Churchill
I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention, but he failed to say why Britain's representative has not raised, or has not been allowed to raise, this matter in the Security Council, because this is one of the most important departures in international relations in recent years.
The Minister said that Britain had been canvassing opinion among the Nine to try to get a common policy. Even though Britain is a member of the EEC—I, along with him and many others, campaigned for entry—it is still an independent country. We can still raise matters at the United Nations and in the Security Council if we feel that they are of sufficient gravity.
In recent weeks in Southern Africa there has been a grave new departure in international relations. A large-scale army has been acting in a mercenary capacity on behalf of a super-Power That army, with all its equipment, has been transported from one continent to another, not at the request or invitation of any lawfully constituted or recognised government.
§ Mr. Churchill
As the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) knows, the MPLA was not recognised. It was not a lawfully constituted Government. 265 This is a new and grave departure in international relations on a par with Soviet interventionism in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
What has been Her Majesty's Government's reaction? It is not strictly true to say that the British Government have not reacted at all. Indeed they have. The Prime Minister treated the House to a lecture, lasting almost half an hour, on mercenary involvement. Naturally, he made minimal reference to or stricture of the 15,000 Cubans acting in a mercenary capacity on behalf of the Soviet Union. He devoted most of his remarks to censuring the few dozen British mercenaries who had gone to fight on the side of Western interests.
In terms of positive action, the Foreign Secretary is retrospectively seeking to take away the passports of those returning mercenaries as they come back through London. These men no doubt have little intention of returning to Angola, and it is an outrage that the Government and the Foreign Secretary should seek to cover up their total lack of response to the major question—namely, the Soviet-Cuban intervention—by seeking to show that they are taking positive action by confiscating a dozen or so passports from a handful of mercenaries.
Many people are finding the parallel with the 1930s increasingly disquieting. The purpose of the United Nations when it was established at the end of the last war was not to engage in the liberation movements of Southern Africa, the Soviet Union, or of countries where democracy does not exist. Its purpose above all else was to ensure that collective security would be effective in preventing another world war. Today we are descending a steep and dangerous path, as in the case of Fascist Italy, which first embarked on its marauding in Africa with the invasion of Ethiopia. Then at least the League of Nations had the courage and honour to condemn Mussolini's intervention by 36 to 1, even though it was incapable of taking effective action. We have not even sought to raise the matter at the Security Council in the United Nations.
The Soviet Union is not only threatening Angola and the independent African countries. It is, above all, challenging the whole of the Western world. There has been no unified response from the 266 West to that challenge. It would be to credit the men in the Kremlin with great forbearance if we thought that they would not seek to reinforce the success they have had. They see the West disunited, in disarray, and they must be tempted to manoeuvre our countries into a "Heads I win, tails you lose" posture, where either there is no response from the West or, if there is a response, it is based on aligning ourselves solely with the minority régimes of Southern Africa.
Our response to Soviet expansionism should not be on a racial basis, but we have many important allies in such a cause in Zaire, Zambia, Rhodesia and South Africa, and about half the countries in the Organisation of African Unity are deeply concerned about Soviet interventionism within African countries. I follow my right lion. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) in saying that we must strongly support the independent Governments of Zambia and Zaire. Dr. Kaunda has taken a courageous stand, and many of us feel that he has been badly let down by the United States and the Western world. Three or four weeks ago he warned the other independent African nations that the tiger and her cubs were on the rampage in Africa. Though it may be realistic, that is tough talk for a leader of a relatively small and militarily powerless country. We must ensure that the threat is not allowed to extend to those countries.
Secondly, we must stop treating Rhodesia and South Africa as pariahs. If the nations of Africa north of the Zambesi are able to conduct a dialogue with Pretoria and Salisbury, who are we to be more royal than the kings? I believe that we must freely supply arms to all the countries of Central and Southern Africa that are willing to join with us in resisting Soviet expansionism there. In order that the Soviet Union is not able to dominate the area strategically and tactically, it is of the first importance that NATO should seek to concentrate a major naval task force in the Southern Atlantic.
However, most important of all—I believe that this is the true rôle for Britain—it is our task to seek to mobilise Western Europe, and in turn the United States, to live up to our own responsibilities and to represent our own true 267 interests by talking in very uncompromising and stern terms to our friends in the Soviet Union. They must be made to realise that we cannot accept a détente that is only one way.
In the last resort we must be willing not only to use grain, capital and technology as weapons for curbing Soviet militarism and interventionism, but to re-arm on a substantial scale if these peaceful measures fail to prevent the Soviet Union from continuing on the dangerous course on which it is presently embarked and which poses the greatest threat to the peace of the whole world that we have ever seen.
I speak as a member of a generation which, of all generations this century, has been uniquely privileged to live in times of peace. I fear that we shall not live in peace for much longer unless there is the resolve and the will on the part of all the Western nations to stand together and resist the clear Soviet challenge.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
At the rate we are progressing three hon. Members can take part in the debate in one hour. The debate is due to finish by 11 o'clock. Therefore, I wish to reinforce Mr. Speaker's appeal for brevity. I know that in Moscow Mr. Brezhnev has just made a speech which lasted for five hours. I doubt whether we can emulate that performance here. Nevertheless, we can show a true spirit of detente towards one another by limiting the speeches to possibly five minutes instead of five hours.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
This is one occasion when I would not want to compete with Mr. Brezhnev in the length of my speech. I shall certainly take into account what you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have said.
To avoid any doubt, I point out that during the first week of February I was in Luanda attending a conference organised by the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation. All my travel and incidental expenses were met by that organisation. In the same way as Opposition Members have declared their business interests, I am certain that the House will acquit me, or any views I may hold, from being in any way influenced by those sums of money.
268 I congratulate the Government on their decision to recognise the MPLA as the legitimate Government of Angola. I echo and appreciate the comments of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who said that the future of Africa, and our future in it, depended largely on which side we took up and how we approached the liberation movements. If only successive Governments in the past 10 to 15 years had adopted that attitude in connection with foreign policy in Southern Africa, today we should not be talking about Soviet threats or Cuban intervention.
If we consider the period in which Angola has been an independent country, free of Portuguese colonialism, we discover that the myth-makers have been at work. I acknowledge and would not deny the importance of the Cuban presence in the civil war, and especially South African intervention with regular troops. Indeed, that importance is freely acknowledged in Angola. However, always to preface the MPLA by saying "Cuban led" or "Communist inspired or backed" is to denigrate the efforts of those people who fought for so many years to rid themselves of Portuguese colonialism.
The wheel has now turned another two notches. The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) now describes Angola as a Soviet colony. I do not know upon what basis he can say that. There is absolutely no question of the Soviet Union having people in Angola controlling the way in which the country is run. However, Opposition Members operate on the basis that if one repeats lies or throws mud often enough, some will stick and people will begin to wonder about exactly what has been happening in Angola.
Several right hon. and hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill), said that the Cuban presence in Angola had never been raised at the United Nations. When South Africa intervened with regular forces, I tabled an Early-Day Motion, which was signed by well over 100 Back Benchers, urging that the matter be raised in the United Nations. I do not know of any Opposition Members who signed that motion. They were all significantly quiet, except for one or two who tabled amendments to 269 include the word "not", or something similar.
Of course, there has been a large Cuban presence in Angola. However, the figure quoted by the hon. Member for Stretford of 15,000 is wide of the mark. I suspect that the number is about 7,000 or 8,000. I do not deny that the number is significant. The trouble is that we try to pretend that somehow, by condemning the Cuban presence, the Russian advisers or the aid which has been given possibly from Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia, we are defending freedom and democracy. A black African in South Africa, Namibia or Zimbabwe who is told that will ask how by talking of supplying arms and munitions to maintain an apartheid régime which denies human rights, dignities and democracy to black Africans, we can possibly by defending freedom and democracy.
As my hon. Friend the member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) said, Russia does not have to make its case: we make a case for it. I do not see in any part of Southern Africa a puppet State of the Soviet Union, Cuba or the West. Far too often we see relations in Africa in terms of our cold war philosophy of East-West relations.
It is significant that the greater part of this debate should be dominated by what is happening in South Africa in the cold war conflict. The South Africans made the biggest mistake of their lives when they sent their troops across the border. They are making an even bigger mistake if they think they can establish a cordon sanitaire 30 miles inside the Angolan border. If they pursue that course they will provoke the very reaction they hope to avoid. Jose Edward Santos, the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of Angola, said that the Angolans had no intention of crossing the Angolan border south into Namibia. They will settle for not one inch less than they are entitled to under international law, but they have no intention of crossing the border. If Opposition Members and the South Africans think that if they provoke a conflict they will not provoke a spilling over, they are mistaken.
I do not want to see any major conflict in South Africa. Indeed, we have 270 been arguing for about 20 years that we want a peaceful settlement to all of these problems. We wanted the Portuguese out of Africa peacefully. We wanted the people of Rhodesia, South-West Africa and South Africa to gain their independence and their democratic rights peacefully.
But it has been demonstrated repeatedly that there is no possible way in which that freedom can be secured peacefully. The liberation movements in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau sought our assistance, either materially or in preventing the Portuguese from using NATO weapons against them, and we said "No, we stand for freedom and democracy". We said that we would stand by our old Portuguese allies, even though Portugal was under Fascist dictatorship. Where else could they turn except to Eastern Europe for aid and assistance? We isolated them and now we condemn them for that isolation while attempting to isolate them even further.
It is essential to appreciate the tremendous significance for Africa of the collapse of Portuguese colonialism. It has given the Africans a tremendous confidence boost. They believe that they can be masters of their own future, that they can get the Cubans to leave just as they asked them to come in, and that the Cubans will go when they are asked. We must give certain guarantees to Angola that we will never again allow any kind of South African intervention or invasion, because otherwise the Cubans will stay for much longer than necessary.
There is a great deal of speculation in the Press about what might happen in Rhodesia. It is very difficult to forecast how events will move. I was interested to hear the hon. Member for Stretford praise President Kaunda over his speech about the tiger and its cubs in Africa. Perhaps the hon. Member can recall President Kaunda's speech about the future of Rhodesia. He said then that over the last 10 years Africans had learnt that no British Government would do anything positively to end the minority régime in Rhodesia and that the only course of action if there was no speedy settlement on the basis of majority rule was a guerrilla war, which would mean a bloodbath. Those are very serious words and an accurate forecast of what could happen.
271 We in Britain have always prided ourselves that our foreign policy has been based upon reasonably objective criteria. However, we failed to send troops into Rhodesia at the time of UDI and there is now the risk that we shall send them in to defend the illegal régime which has been rebelling against the Crown for a decade. If that happened it would show that our foreign policy had been a sham and that it had been based on racialism.
The people of Angola are deeply concerned that their country should remain unaligned. They want aid and friendly relations with this country, but on the basis that there should be no strings attached. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said that it would be appropriate to make aid available to Angola only on the understanding that Cuban troops were removed, and he went on to condemn what he saw as Soviet intervention with strings attached. We should be long past this sort of double morality. We should be prepared to provide aid to Angola so that it can begin to solve some of the economic problems it faces, many of which have been created in the aftermath of the war. I accept that there are Marxists in the MPLA, but there are other members of the MPLA who are not Marxists. There are those who are willing to operate the country on a pragmatic basis in order to try to build up its economy. The ordinary African in Angola lives in a poverty-stricken state. There is no great wealth among the peasants in the rural areas which could lead them not to require great changes in the structure of their economy. Of course they want their economy restructured on a Socialist basis—and all good luck to them. It will be a Socialism which is geared to the spirit, the age and the country in which they live. I will not be imported from elsewhere.
President Neto said in a speech when I was in Luanda that the Angolans loved freedom and democracy, of which they were robbed during the period of Portuguese colonialism. He said that if they blindly followed precepts from outside, neither freedom nor democracy would be possible for them. That is a statement by someone who recognises the position of his country. Angola accepted aid from Cuba and the Soviet Union because that aid was essential to prevent its being 272 overrun by the South Africans. If we have failed to understand the attitude of the South Africans—and this is the key to the whole of Southern Africa—we have learned nothing over the years.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary should establish full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of Angola as quickly as possible and open a mission there. I believe that we should urge the quick acceptance of Angola into the United Nations, and that we should begin discussions either bilaterally, or if it is more acceptable, multilateral^ about aid for Angola from the EEC. If we believe in what we say, the provision of civilian aid, of bulldozers and construction equipment, rather than of arms and ammunition, will determine the future of Southern Africa.
I am tremendously heartened by what has happened in Southern Africa. Five years ago I would have condemned as irresponsible anyone who had predicted that the Portuguese would have been out of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau today. I would never have believed it possible then that five years would see the collapse not only of Portuguese colonialism but of Fascism in Portugal. That shows that times are moving fast. I have been pessimistic about what would happen in Rhodesia and South-West Africa, but time is on our side and we shall see, sooner than many of us think, the Rhodesians coming to full majority rule in Zimbabwe and the South-West Africans in Namibia.
South Africa is a much more difficult problem and involves a much longer time scale. I cannot see any guerrilla movement in the foreseeable future being able to take on the sophisticated South African army with all its wealth of arms and ammunition. But if the future of South Africa is to be peaceful, in the long term the South African Government must change their tune very quickly, and in that respect at least I am pessimistic, because I do not see that happening.
I hope that hon. Members therefore will begin to see Africa in African terms, not in terms of our antagonism towards the Soviet Union. I hope they will take into account the yearning by these peoples for the freedom which has been denied them for so long. If we could communicate with them on that basis, we could forget about East-West relations in that 273 context. The battle of ideology must go on and it must be one for freedom, democarcy and peaceful change. I hope that all hon. Members will unite in that purpose.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Sproat (Aberdeen, South)
You have asked for short speeches, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I shall therefore confine myself to advancing one simple and general proposition. It is that we in the United Kingdom should continue to support, and support aggressively, the spirit of detente enshrined at Helsinki. I say that, but detente is not, cannot be and must not be thought to be any substitute for defence. We should continue to support the spirit of Helsinki because the balance of advantage overall at Helsinki was to the West in each of the Baskets. I will not deal with each of the Baskets in detail.
Basket I concerns military confidence building measures. There is no very great advantage there, but in so far as There is an advantage, it is that of "Gulliverisation", of tying down the more aggressive aims of the Soviet Union by a little bit here and a little bit there. The declarations of principle in Basket I do not count for a great deal, but in so far as they count for anything, they are to our advantage because at least they are declarations against which the Soviet Union can later be judged if it should violate those principles.
I turn to the Basket II dealing with trade. I agree that it is not necessary to support what the Prime Minister did in Moscow last year and give enormous credits to the Soviet Union. But it must be to the benefit of the United Kingdom as a trading country to increase its ability to trade. In 1974–75 United Kingdom exports to the Soviet Union doubled. Again, that must be to our advantage.
Basket III deals with the question of the freer flow of information and peoples. The Soviet Union has been grotesquely lax in fulfilling the Helsinki Agreement. However, we have nothing to fear. We do not care whether they print a million copies of Pravda every day of the week.
§ Mr. Sproat
My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) should not distract me. I am making a serious point. If Pravda should be distributed in London, the Daily Telegraph should be distributed in Moscow. However, that is not the case. To say that 40 copies of the Financial Times are distributed in Moscow is a pathetic comparison. At least it is a standard against which we can criticise, and continue to criticise, the Soviet Union or any other Eastern European country if they do not fulfil the Agreement that they signed at Helsinki. It gives us a standard against which the Soviet Union can be judged in the open forum of world opinion.
Basket IV deals with what we should do in the future. I shall refer to Belgrade 1977 shortly. By 1977 we should be able to parade before the world—certainly before the 36 signatories to the Helsinki Agreement—exactly where, when and how the Soviet Union violated that Agreement. The balance of the Helsinki Agreement is in favour of the West overall, and of the West in each individual Basket.
In supporting the Agreement that we signed at Helsinki I am under no illusions whatever about the aims of the Soviet Union. Its aims did not change before and have not changed since the Helsinki Agreement. The Soviet Union wants to alter the balance of power in Europe in its favour. It wants to weaken and divide the West—NATO and the EEC. It wants to stabilise its Eastern European frontier, strengthen its hold over the nations of Eastern Europe and reduce the risks in Europe to itself because of the growing pressure on its Chinese border, its increasing technological and consumer failure and the increasing ethnic problems which it faces.
I support the Helsinki Agreement not because it benefits the Soviet Union but because it gives us a lever with which to push forward those standards of democracy in which we believe. Some of my hon. Friends do not agree with me on this matter. They certainly recognise that deep concern about the growing military power of the Soviet Union is entirely justified. It would be justified at any time and it is particularly justified when we have just cut our defence, when we intend to cut it further and when the Americans have taken 250,000 men out 275 of their military reserves. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was entirely right to make this a plank in the platform that she puts before the country.
There is, however, a danger of going overboard and confusing detente with appeasement and in attacking the whole spirit of Helsinki. It is more than right, it is vital, to ask Mr. Brezhnev, "How is the massive and continuing growth of the Soviet Navy compatible with the spirit of Helsinki, how is the massive Soviet supply of sophisticated weaponry to Angola compatible with the spirit of Helsinki; how is the trial, the persecution and the incarceration of individuals in the Soviet Union, who do no more than we are doing every day of the week, namely, speak our opinions, compatible with the spirit of Helsinki?" The Minister of State said robustly that it was not compatible with the spirit of Helsinki and that we should make quite clear to the Soviet Union what we think of these violations.
However, it is wrong and confused to attack the concept of detente, because everyone should remember that it is that concept which gives us the standards against which to judge, condemn and, if necessary, penalise the Soviet Union. In other words, it is the concept of detente which gives us the standards with which to attack the Soviet Union for not fulfilling the Helsinki Agreement—but not to attack that Agreement itself.
There is a big difference between appeasement, to which one or two of my hon. Friends referred, and detente. Appeasement is a one-sided and cowardly process whereby we give into the aggressive aims of a bully. We need a strong will and a strong defence to stand up against that, and we should do so. Detente is different. Detente means the even-handed reduction—and it must be even-handed—of the sources of friction and distrust between all signatories to the Helsinki Agreement and the increase of basic individual freedoms of opinion and action in countries where they do not exist.
My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West has just muttered that it is not even-handed. He is quite right. It is not even-handed at present. But that does not mean that we should not seek to make it even-handed. 276 We should seek to make the Helsinki Agreement a reality by making them even-handed. If the Soviet Union refuses to do that, we should penalise it. We should seriously consider using levers such as the grain, the capital and the technology it needs. We should threaten and, if necessary, withdraw these in order to make the Soviet Union conform to the Helsinki Agreement.
The Government should not wait until Belgrade 1977 before parading before the Soviet Union all its violations of the Helsinki Agreement, because we all know what will happen. A few months before the Belgrade meeting the Soviet Union will release a few more thousand Jews or will allow 41 copies of the Financial Times to be distributed in Moscow and will say, "Look, we are keeping the Helsinki Agreement." We should not allow that to happen. We should parade before the Soviet Union now, as they happen, all its violations of the Helsinki Agreement.
People must not regard the Helsinki Agreement as an agreement between the West and the Soviet Union. The hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) made the point—and it was almost the only one that he made well—that we must think about a number of countries in Eastern Europe. If hon. Members read the Rumanian newspapers on what is happening in Angola, they would see that the criticism by the Rumanians of the Soviet action in Angola is quite as tough as ours. The reasons for that is simple. The Rumanians ask, "If the Soviet Union can do what it is doing in Angola many thousands of miles away, how much more likely is it that it will do it in Rumania if President Ceausescu should ever fall from power." The same applies to Yugoslavia. How much more likely is it that the Soviet Union will do the same in Yugoslavia when President Tito eventually dies? Therefore, we should think not simply in terms of the Soviet Union and Helsinki but in terms of the other countries in Eastern Europe.
In my visits to countries such as Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia I have found that the ordinary man in the street, when one is lucky enough to meet him—which is not often—will say "Do you really think that Helsinki will give us the chance to expand towards a freedom that we do not know?"
277 I therefore conclude on this point: the answer to the aggressive Soviet aims is not disarmament, as some Labour Members would have it, but nor is it denigration of Helsinki. I suggest to the House that the answer is to carry a big stick, in fact, a very much bigger stick, and to keep talking and to pin down the Soviet Union on what it signed at Helsinki.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)
It is always rather depressing to listen to speeches upon foreign affairs from Conservative Members, and it has been particularly depressing today. However, I exclude from that criticism the speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat), which was in parts a very good speech. He happens to be my Member of Parliament. He has not done quite sufficient this evening to ensure that he gets my vote at the next General Election, but I should like to think that my influence in being here to lobby him more than most of his constituents is working. However, the hon. Gentleman's speech was a reasonable contribution to a constructive debate about foreign affairs and East-West relationships.
My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) expressed his surprise at the fact that this debate had been focused mainly on affairs in Southern Africa, in particular Angola. However, that is not surprising, because Conservative Members are smarting from a defeat of their idealogy there and they must find some reason for that defeat, and of course, they are very anxious to blame the Soviet Union for it. One or two of them have said that we must make sure that we back the right side, and made other comments of that kind.
Unfortunately, one of the reasons why we have been so unsuccessful is the failure of the Tory Party to realise that it on a beating from the word "go". It is interesting that it was a Prime Minister from the Conservative Party who made the remark about the wind of change blowing in Africa. Many Conservative Members have still not recognised that fact and are prepared to take sides on the basis of black or white. When they are defeated, as they inevitably will be defeated, by the rising tide of the deter- 278 mination of country after country in Africa to have its freedom—it will come in Rhodesia and South Africa—they are always surprised to find themselves on the losing side.
However, I want to turn from that subject, because I do not agree in any way with a great many of the views expressed by Conservative Members, to look at the subject on which the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South has just focused our attention and which my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) mentioned earlier—the Helsinki Agreement. Before my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary even set off for Helsinki, the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition had embarked on a most outrageous speech——
§ Mr. Lamond
—which was intended no doubt to undermine all the work that had gone on in the two years prior to the meeting in Helsinki, which had been in part initiated by leaders of her own party. She attempted at that time to sabotage it.
§ Mr. Lamond
It was suggested that all those who signed the Agreement in the Western world—including President Ford and the Prime Minister of Canada and all the Prime Ministers of the Western-European countries—had been completely fooled and taken in by some wonderful piece of jiggery-pokery by the Soviet Union and that only the Tory Party in Great Britain was able to see this great plot.
Many of us returned from Helsinki hoping that the Agreement was opening a new era of East-West relations. I believe that it could have done so. It is unfortunate that it has been so attacked since the signing. We have seen the Leader of the Opposition attempting to confirm her own position as Leader of the Opposition by seizing on East-West
§ Mr. Lamond
—aided and abetted by her right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who has been throwing as much petroleum on the 279 flames as he can and who uses every opportunity he has to attack the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries with the purpose of showing that the Tory Party has a policy of some kind on at least one subject.
§ Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)
I have listened to the hon. Gentleman with some interest. Does he not realise that the White Paper announcing the latest defence cuts verifies every word used by Conservative Members?
§ Mr. Lamond
Of course not. I do not believe that it verifies anything that has been said from the Conservative Benches. I support a great deal of what was in the White Paper, although there are some features with which I disagree, and one is the smallness of the cuts in defence expenditure. I make no apologies for that. I hope that I am as patriotic as anyone else, but I do not want to see my country crippled for ever more under an appalling burden of arms expenditure when there is so much that requires to be done in the constituencies of Opposition Members, as we often hear from them in the House, and when there is a great deal that requires to be done in house building, hospital building and so on in my constituency and others. I would rather see the money spent on those things than on useless arms which, if they are ultimately to be used, will result in the annihilation of the human race.
I believe that the Helsinki Agreement was the opportunity for us to take the initiative, but not the initiative outlined by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South, who suggested that we should use it at every possible opportunity to attack the Soviet Union and that we should demonstrate to the Soviet Union that it was not complying with the Agreement signed in the Final Act in August last year. We must do that and draw to the attention of the Soviet Union its shortcomings. However, we must also examine our own attitudes towards the Helsinki Agreement and ask ourselves whether we are complying with it and acting in its spirit.
That is what every country that has signed the Agreement—all 35—should be doing. Many of them are doing so, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South mentioned, including Poland, which has 280 liberalised its visa regulations beyond all recognition since the signing of the Agreement.
That remark causes amusement to some Opposition Members, presumably because they thought that in the signing of the Helsinki Agreement all the differences between the two ideologies would disappear at a stroke. Opposition Members seem to believe that there is some magical stroke that can be made in politics to dissolve these differences, but everything has to have a beginning. Perhaps it is a small beginning, perhaps that mentioned today by the Minister of State. He spoke of some of the things that we have done and some of the things that the Soviet Union has done, particularly in the matter of observers and the communication of details of manoeuvres.
Perhaps it was amazing that he mentioned that 40 copies of the Financial Times now go into the Soviet Union each day. We know that that is no great step forward, but if we wanted the Soviet Union to embrace our ideology, the Financial Times would not be the newspaper that I would send there in any quantity. Other newspapers more accurately reflect the ideas of the ordinary man in the street in Great Britain. The Financial Times does not reflect his views. I doubt whether 40 copies of the Financial Times are sold in my constituency.
We must take some sort of initiative. There is no purpose in lecturing each other about the imperialist aims of the Soviet Union, although I must say that some Conservatives who have taken that line are well qualified to lecture about imperialism. Under the guidance of people from their class, this country was the greatest imperialist nation the world has ever seen. People in Africa, India and elsewhere listen with some suspicion to those in this Parliament who lecture other countries about their imperialist aims.
I am happy that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has the guidance of a foreign policy and not the guidance of some Conservative Members. My right hon. Friend will have my support as long as he continues to try to extend détente and takes a friendly initiative towards the Soviet Union and other countries in 281 Eastern Europe. It is only along that path that there lies the hope of civilisation.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. John Farr (Harborough)
I begin by declaring that I have interests in property in Rhodesia. I shall not take up in any detail the words of the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond). I think that when the hon. Gentleman reads his speech tomorrow, he will regret having said much of it. I recall with nostalgia the days when his constituency was represented by Lord Hale.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) has left the Chamber. He advised hon. Members not to interrupt him and made one or two downright statements which should not have been allowed to pass. For example, he suggested that the lot of the native African in South Africa was considerably worse than that of the average citizen in the Soviet Union. I did not interrupt him as he specifically asked that hon. Members should make their contributions by way of speeches, but if the hon. Gentleman has been to South Africa recently—no doubt he has been to Russia—he will have found that tens of thousands of Africans pour into South Africa without let or hindrance. Over half a million Africans have entered South Africa from outside countries. They have done so not because they are driven in by press gangs, but because they know they can obtain fair employment.
Let people try to enter or leave the Soviet Union and see how they get on! See how the Jews get on who try to leave the Soviet Union. See how ordinary citizens of the Soviet Union who try to leave the country have penal prices put upon their passports, amounting to many thousands of pounds. Let us remember who built the wall in Berlin before we condemn out of hand the policy of South Africa towards its blacks. They are free to come and go, while the Soviet Union prevents its nationals from getting out and other people from getting in.
I am sorry that the Government recognised the MPLA. Possibly it might have been the right thing to do, but it was a great pity that we did not have this debate before recognition was granted. It was improper of the Govern- 282 ment to give recognition to the MPLA when even now a third of Angola is not under its control. It would have done no harm—possibly it might have helped some hon. Members to decide what they wanted to say—to wait another three or four days and to hear the House express it opinion.
I should like to know what recognition we have obtained from the régime in Angola of British and Commonwealth interests in Southern Africa. I do not expect that we have any form of recognition from the Angola régime of our rightful interests. However, it would do no harm for the Government to tell us what sort of assurances they have tried to get. Surely they tried for something. Surely they asked for certain forms of guarantee relating not only to the lives and properties of British citizens but, more important, to the integrity of Commonwealth countries such as Zambia, Malawi and Botswana. They should have made representations regarding the integrity of Zaire before full recognition was granted. The Government should explain why they were in such a hurry to recognise the MPLA and what safeguards they have tried to secure.
I share the view that the Angolan situation should have been raised in the Security Council of the United Nations by Britain two or three weeks ago. No doubt our position would have been blurred by the intervention of South Africa. No doubt it would have been said that the South Africans were invading Angola in the same way as were the Cubans and Russians. The South Africans were invited into Angola by the FLNA as the Cubans and Russians were apparently invited in by the MPLA. We have lost an opportunity by not raising the matter in that forum. Even now it is not too late to urge all foreign troops and foreign interests to leave Angola at the earliest possible date. That could be done from the United Nations.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) was perhaps thinking aloud when he said that he wondered why the Russians had apparently spoiled the spirit of détente which was reached in Helsinki. My right hon. Friend wondered whether such action was prompted by the Russians severe economic difficulties. He wondered whether there were other reasons 283 that caused them to behave in what might be regarded as an improper manner.
I shall put forward another reason. It is not generally recognised that Russia is in the midst of the serious problem of trying to feed itself and its satellite countries. The statistics show that over a number of years the harvest in Russia have failed dismally. In 1975 the Russians had a target of 216 million tons, but they harvested only 133 million tons, a shortfall of 83 million tons, or 38 per per cent.
The failure in 1975 emerged at the end of a pattern of hesitant performances in Russian agriculture. It is likely to be followed by another failure in L976, thereby putting a tremendous strain on the Russian economy in having to import wheat from the West, or in curbing consumption of wheat, or by taking other steps. I believe that one reason for the Russians making such a bold ploy in sending Cubans to Angola lies in the fact that they wish to draw attention away from their own awful domestic economic situation.
At the meeting of the Supreme Soviet today the lengthy speech of Mr. Brezhnev was largely confined to references to the Russian triumph in Angola. That again was aimed at taking the minds of the long-suffering citizens of the Soviet Union from their own predicament. While the pattern of economic and agricultural failure continues in the Soviet Union, I believe that we must be alert and on the lookout, for any further Russian moves. Mutual detente is necessary, but it must be accompanied by a mutual respect for the capability of both sides.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
Towards the end of the Second World War a number of Conservative Members of Parliament in this House, accompanied I think by a member of the ILP, made themselves extremely unpopular by suggesting about the time of Yalta that there should be no military assistance to the Soviet Union. Their view was that the Russians and the Germans would fight it out among themselves and that each would become enfeebled to the point of collapse. That policy never prevailed.
284 It is interesting to visualise what would have happened to the world if that situation had come to pass. It illustrates the situation that may face us in Southern Africa if we are not careful and continue to get ourselves upstaged. There are two struggles that are taking place and they must be kept separate in our minds. We must be careful not to confuse the two.
I share the concern expressed on both sides of the House about events in Angola. In view of the neglect of the West in the past to provide a proper lead, what has happened may in retrospect prove in some ways to have been inevitable. That does not mean that we should blind ourselves to some of the consequences that may follow if the Soviet Union's influence spreads elsewhere—and spread it will, if we allow ourselves to be manoeuvred into a situation of defending the Rhodesians. Looking back, one sees the utter folly, and indeed the cowardice, of the then Labour Government who failed to use force in 1965 to suppress UDI.
Only twice in my life have I come near to resignation from the Labour Party. The first was in 1955 when the Parliamentary Labour Party, in its folly, elected Gaitskell rather than Bevan as its leader. That led to eight further years of Tory rule in Downing Street. Another occasion was in 1965, just before I was elected to this House for the first time, and when we indulged in the cowardice and folly of failing to deal with Ian Smith at that time. First, in that situation there would probably now be British troops in Rhodesia. Secondly, we would probably have a Government including Mr. Nkomo and Garfield Todd, which might have led to the first genuine, stable, multi-racial government in Southern Africa. Thirdly, it would have been a guarantee that the Russians, Cubans and other would not have been in a position to manoeuvre us to a situation of appearing to defend white supremacy in Southern Africa.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)
The hon. Gentleman is saying that if intervention had taken place, Rhodesia would now be independent. In that case why is he implying that British troops would be there now?
§ Mr. Lee
I am talking about independence in what in that event would now 285 have been a friendly country in the Commonwealth. Obviously there was a great deal of good will for the British among the Africans, and indeed there is good will today from Mr. Nkomo. It is not unreasonable to believe that the Rhodesians would have been prepared to give us bases there. But even if I am wrong, we should at least have had a régime there as friendly to this country as is Zambia, and probably more friendly to us. We could have called upon the assistance of President Kaunda, and certainly our task would have been easier than it now is.
Now we have a situation where some African nationalists are disenchanted with this country. Indeed, Bishop Muzorewa said the other day that we should keep out of the affair and leave the Africans to settle the matter in their own way, more or less implying that it was no longer any of our business.
I think that we have a duty to return to Rhodesia. I think that Lord Green-hill's task in Salisbury will not be that of gently chiding Ian Smith and of asking him for his repentance but of telling him to get out and to make way for an interim Government, comprised partly of Commonwealth officials and partly of African and European liberal politicians—again I have in mind Nkomo and Garfield Todd—to prepare a careful programme for the handing over to independence in two or three years' time. Those are the only circumstances in which we can work our passage home to Southern Africa.
Everybody knows that if Ian Smith had had a black face there would have been military intervention in Rhodesia, just as there would have been military intervention in Guyana, Cyprus and many other places. But that does not apply to countries whose rulers are white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, We shall have a chance in the next few months, and we should take it. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will have the opportunity in the next few months to redeem the disgraceful situation that occurred in 1965.
I do not propose to speak for very long, and I wish to deal with one matter that seems almost to have been missed from the debate. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat), in an interesting and varied speech, referred to China. I have not been in the Chamber through- 286 out the debate, but my impression is that only passing reference has been made to the nation of China. In trying to redress the balance between East and West, rap port with the Chinese is probably the most important single policy that we can deploy. I say that in no spirit of admiration for the Chinese who, in many ways, have a Communism that is more austere than that in the Soviet Union, and certainly in many respects as intolerable. Our task is not made easier when at this time the Chinese are entertaining that arch crook, the arch Poulson of the Western world, Richard Nixon, presumably, for the purpose of finding out that where subversion cannot work, corruption can; and there is no better person than Mr. Richard Nixon to teach the Chinese corruption.
It is out of no great sense of admiration for the Chinese that I raise this matter, but we must remember that China has the longest single land frontier in the world—an ill-defined frontier which has been the source of great tension between China and Russia. Therefore, it is important, in helping to redress the balance, to do as much as we can to reach an understanding with the Chinese. The situation at the time of the Vietnam war was different. We now have an altered set of circumstances. The Vietnam war has now passed and there is no other similar situation to that one. Therefore, it seems time to do something about the situation.
Some of my hon. Friends are inclined totally to dismiss purely military matters, but I do not take that view. If we have one military contribution to make on the world stage, it is to present the Chinese with our entire nuclear stockpile, perhaps to deliver it free of charge, and to offer to set up missile bases in Sinkiang facing north-westwards. If it resulted in Russian divisions trundling back across to the other side of the world it would be well worth while. I can think of no better contribution that we could make.
Our own contribution in this country can do very little. Indeed, one of the silly aspects of defence debates is that we have for so long gone on allowing our economy to be enfeebled by constant military expenditure that was beyond our capacity and of no real contribution to the West in any event.
I am disappointed that the Defence White Paper has not gone a stage further, 287 though not because I do not believe there is any contribution we can make. I think we can, and I have given an indication of the kind of contribution we can make in bringing to an end our own pretence of being a nuclear Power, and at the same time, in doing so, making a contribution which could materially alter the balance of power in the world in our favour by taking advantage of the divisions between the Russians and the Chinese.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
If the hon. Gentleman thinks the British nuclear deterrent could help defend China against Russia, why does it not help to defend Britain against Russia?
§ Mr. Lee
The answer is quite simple. There is a lot of China and it would take a great deal to blow it up. There is not much of us and it would not take long for this country to be demolished.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) has pointed out, if we became involved in a nuclear war we should be exterminated, as I am sure the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) would agree, if he thinks about it. I should have thought that has been as painfully obvious as anything for many years past. But it would take a very long time, comparatively speaking, for the Chinese or the Russians to be demolished in that same way. Sinkiang is one of the least populated parts of the world and would be the safest and most effective place in which to organise nuclear weapons.
The situation is indeed sombre, and although some of my hon. Friends seem to be rather pleased at the way some things are going in Southern Africa, I should be more pleased if I felt that we were not going to end up with the worst of all worlds—failing to get the understanding and respect of the African nationalist movements, and at the same time landing ourselves on the losing side of the white supremacists.
We have a very short time in which to avoid that situation, but I believe there is just time in which it can be done.
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
My feelings at being called after listening to 288 four hours of debate are not uncommon. They are relief immediately pursued by anxiety—anxiety because almost every aspect of this very complicated subject has already been touched upon, to such a degree that I feel like Barbara Hutton's seventh husband: I know what is required of me, but find it rather difficult to make it interesting. That may be a bad joke, but it is one joke at least in the debate.
When I first came to this place, years ago, an elderly and undistinguished Conservative Member came up to me and said "If you are a gentleman, you will take an interest in agriculture and foreign affairs". He never spoke to me after that. I think he confused me with the then hon. Member for Nottingham, West. I have never spoken in an agricultural debate, but have on occasion spoken in foreign affairs debates, which makes me half a gentleman at least.
I should like to make one point in response to the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee), who ranged over a very wide field, including the independent British deterrent. The real justification for a British nuclear capacity is that it prevents the first use of Soviet nuclear weapons against this country. That is its real justication; it prevents us from being the victim of nuclear attack.
I want to discuss Soviet motives in relation to Angola and to ask some questions, if not to provide any answers. I believe that the USSR is behaving like a super-Power. A super-Power is a Power with the capacity to intervene in a military sense anywhere in the globe. We might well be shocked by the simple fact that the Soviet Union is behaving like a super-Power, but surely we should not be surprised, because nation States behave like nation States and super-Powers behave like super-Powers.
The Soviet strategy is to maximise Soviet advantage. This is done in the first instance by trying to play it relatively softly in Europe itself, but at the same time to exploit any changes in the regional balance of power in the rest of the world. Moscow regards the world wide relationship of forces as having changed fundamentally against the West. The significant date is 1962, with the adventure over Cuba and the decision that the Soviet leadership then took that 289 it would never again find itself in a position of humiliation, incapable of extending its power overseas, and with its bluff called.
The other skilful aspect of Soviet diplomacy, which has the natural objective of maximising its own advantage, is that it chooses its enemies with very great care. For example, when the State of Israel was founded, the Soviet Union welcomed that act, but it very rapidly came to the conclusion that, such was the enmity that Israel incurred within the Middle East, it was a Soviet interest to espouse the cause of the Arabs, as opposed to the Israelis. Today, equally astutely, the Soviet Union seems to believe that South Africa is in a sense the "Israel" of Africa and that it is much more useful for the Soviet Union to try to court the friendship of the rest of Africa, the liberation movements of black Africa, because there exists a whole stratum of ready-made alliances.
What will be the consequences of Soviet intervention in Angola? I suspect that success in Angola will encourage the Soviet Union to intervene in any future Middle Eastern crisis. It might also encourage the Cubans to intervene elsewhere, for example in South America. Assuming that the Western response to Angola remains as flabby as we have seen it to be, it will encourage the Soviets before long to exploit the situation in Europe, which must develop to their advantage.
The most obvious example is Yugoslavia, which is the next flashpoint in a series of international crises. It is in the fact of Soviet success wherein lies our anxiety. The Cubans, thank God, are unlikely to cross any frontiers in Southern Africa simply for logistic reasons. They cannot go on indefinitely in their advance. There will be a pause. That pause will, perhaps, be to the advantage of the Soviet Union because in that period there will be a relaxation on the part of Western Europe and the United States and then, in a year's time or more, the Soviets and their new allies in Africa will be able to resume the ideological offensive.
A number of hon. Members, my hon. Friends in particular, have suggested that the West ought to intervene in Southern Africa. This is unrealistic. The only Power that might conceivably intervene is the United States of America. We all know why the United States has not inter- 290 vened, and will not do so. The United Kingdom and the other EEC countries are unable to intervene because neither Great Britain nor the Common Market is a super-Power in the sense that I have defined it: a super-Power is a Power that has the capacity to intervene anywhere in the world in military terms.
Clearly, neither Britain, with all its obligations and responsibilities, nor the Common Market will be able to intervene in Africa. It is no good suggesting that perhaps NATO should intervene. First, we should never get the agreement of the NATO Council and, secondly, all that we are suggesting is that the United States should be prepared to intervene on our behalf.
There is no avoiding the fact that the West—Britain and the Government, in particular—is an acute dilemma. The question that might be asked is whether the Government will ally themselves with a Soviet-backed liberation force in Southern Africa. This is an alternative facing them. It could be asked whether they will supply money and arms, not men, to South Africa, to restore the regional balance of power in that part of the world. This is the blunt choice facing us, such is the skill of Soviet diplomacy in exploiting the advantages inherent in the Southern African situation. We have to choose to do nothing or to support, with money and arms, the South Africans and try to restore the balance in that part of the world.
I believe in the theory of countervailing power, that is, that sooner or later in any part of the world forces arise which act as a balance against any advent of forces in an area. Having said that, I might be prepared to give that theory a hand in the next six months or so. There is no need to spell out the difficulties facing us all, especially a Government of the Left. They are the difficulties of avoiding having to make a choice such as I have postulated. Once again the Soviet Union has skilfully chosen its enemy.
How should the United States respond to Soviet adventurism? I should like it to go on with the Salt II negotiations because they are of mutual advantage. But there are strong arguments for more robust American policies elsewhere on such issues as grain, money for the Soviet Union, and access to technology. There 291 is no doubt that economic aid and the trade that goes with it do not simply strengthen the military power of the Soviet Union but freeze Soviet society to its advantage.
The alternative to detente is not nuclear war. I ask hon. Members to understand this important point. Were we to believe that, we should have no answer whatever to any Soviet initiative. The Western objective must be not only to maintain a stable super-Power relationship but to devote far greater and constant effort to the maintenance of regional stability and balance.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
It is an even more daunting task to speak late in the debate from the Labour side of the House than it is to do so from the Conservative side. The hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) reminded me, in his description of the confusion he suffered in being mistaken for a name sake, of the sort of happy miseries I suffer—which for hereditary reasons are even worse—and which reached their high point recently when I received a letter at the House of Commons addressed to "the Rt. Hon. Lord Greville Janner M.P." and which began, "Dear Sir or Madam."
I intervene briefly because I have just returned from a visit to Brussels, to the second conference on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. At that conference, one obtained an unusual window on the problems that the House has been discussing. There were two outstanding features noticed by hon. Members and noble Lords who were there. The first was the remarkable sensitivity of the Soviet Union to criticism of its policy towards its minorities generally and its Jewish minority in particular. That sensitivity resulted in a series of violent attacks on the conference and in a number of Press conferences, which even managed to produce, I think, three unfortunate people who had been allowed to go to Israel but who had decided to return to the Soviet Union—a minute proportion of more than 100,000 Jews who have arrived in Israel from the Soviet Union in the last four or five years.
Those counter-conferences produced a spotlight without which the larger con- 292 ference might have been left in darkness. There was even a parade of Arab ambassadors to the Belgian authorities asking them to forbid the holding of the conference as an unfriendly act. As I was privileged to lead the large British delegation, I should like to pay public tribute to the Belgian Government, to a number of their Ministers and Members of Parliament and to the Belgian public for the warm reception which they gave to the conference.
The second feature is that the Russians showed their continual sensitivity to criticism by their friends. They tend to regard anyone who attacks any aspect of their policies as their enemy. While some people at that conference and some in this House who have attacked their policies are very pleased to find any sort of stick with which to beat the Soviet Union, many others find a great deal to admire in that country. They do not forget, for example, that the Russians were our comrades in arms in war not so long ago, and they are not anti-Soviet.
I listened with great care and interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat), who is not a foe of the Soviet Union. In a quiet and intelligent way, he raised a number of fairly mordant criticisms of the Soviet Union's policies. It is a grave error for the Soviet Union to regard any critic of its policy as an enemy.
Throughout the Brussels conference I felt that it was a perpetuation of a situation which the Soviet authorities had themselves needlessly created, a situation which may have arisen through a total lack of confidence that they could afford to allow a few people to leave the country—"few" by the standards of their vast population. I hope that the Soviet Union will regard this time as appropriate to a gesture of magnanimity—because it is immediately before their own Communist Congress; because the French, British and other Communist Parties are questioning their policies towards their Jewish minority; because their open comrades are publicly proclaiming that they do not want to be associated with such policies; and above all because theirs is a huge and great nation which can afford a moment of compassion, a touch of generosity, a flare of compliance with the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference and 293 with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I want to echo the appeals which have been made by hon. Members of all parties to the Soviet authorities to grant to those who want it the right to leave their country—a basic human right, recognised by international convention.
On the other hand, I beg hon. Members not to toss the Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement into our own basket, not to regard a convention as useless because it is not being complied with as we wish. It is by setting standards and by getting people to agree and nations to undertake to comply with those standards that we are in a position to point out their failures to do so. If we remove the standards, we do not remove the problems with which those standards were set up to deal.
The Soviet authorities are faced now with public criticism which they will see very clearly when they read the Official Report of this debate. There is one area of criticism they could very easily remove, the criticism of their treatment of their Jewish minority, criticism of their refusal, in particular, to allow those Jews who wish to leave to do so. I hope and trust that they will see this clearly and will act in accordance both with the Convention and with human decencies, and that they will do so speedily.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman-Irving)
Before I call the next speaker perhaps I should tell the House that I have 13 names on my list. It may be that winding-up speeches will start at 10 o'clock. Such an appeal is usually rewarded by slightly longer speeches. But I give the House this information because I still feel I have a duty to do so.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), will forgive me if I do not follow him in his particular preserve in which he has done so much to help, but instead refer briefly to a subject which has been very much before us this evening, Angola. In speaking on it I must repeat what other hon. Members have said, but if something is worth saying, it is worth saying twice. I am quite certain that we must adjust ourselves to the fact that the Western Powers have just suffered a very serious 294 defeat in Africa which will have increasingly important effects in the rest of the world. We have been bundled out of an area larger than Europe of great strategic importance and great potential wealth.
What is so galling is that at any time during this process it would have been possible for a united Western alliance to prevent these things happening. But because the United States refused to take action and Europe was not united, we failed to do so. I am inescapably reminded of the years of appeasement before the war when, as some then thought and as we all now know, Hitler could have been stopped at any time by some token show of force—but no one had the nerve to do it.
I would like to ask the Minister of State when he winds up the debate to deal with a question put to him several times—whether or not our intelligence about this matter was accurate. It took some months to mount this operation. Did we know about it and, if so, did we take any steps? Whether we knew about it or not does not matter if we had made up our minds to do nothing about it. In that case it was not very important whether we knew in advance.
It is to be expected—and here I differ from my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley)—that Russia, with its Cuban mercenaries, will soon press forward into other areas of Africa to exploit their advantage. It appears from such Press reports as we have had in the last two or three days that the Cubans are not leaving. At any rate, we are told they are sending for their families. I believe we may expect some kind of move towards South-West Africa, possibly Rhodesia, and certainly the fomenting of unrest in Zaire and Zambia we can confidently expect. The nuclear "umbrella" to which, unusually, little reference has been made in this debate, which keeps the peace in Europe, has, as we know, no relevance for African affairs and does not restrain military adventures.
The material consequences to the West are very important. Already we have lost a great deal, but if the chrome, copper and other minerals from Zaire, Zambia, Rhodesia and South Africa are lost as well, we shall be very hard hit by unemployment, which inevitably will 295 rise very sharply, and our standard of living will be depressed.
Like others, I address myself to the question of what we should do. I believe, like others, that we should at once raise this matter in the Security Council—indeed, we should already have done so. It is a scandal that Russian and Cuban military intervention can go without mention in the Security Council. It is obviously a danger to peace. There could hardly be a clearer case. As far as I can see, our present Government reserve their strongest protests in the United Nations to matters relating to Chile and Brazil and that, despite what the Minister said, our ambassador reserves his strictures for Mr. Moynihan because he is rude to the dictators—shades of Nazi past!
We should take immediate steps to ensure that our allies and friends who remain have the weapons and—or—the money to defend themselves and that Zaire and Zambia should be paid for the copper which is now piling up at the pit head but which cannot be shipped because of the war. It is very important to support Zaire and Zambia in what they want to do and in preserving their independence. It is most important that we should not be seen to have a kind of racialist line-up in this matter. It is difficult to avoid it because the remaining beleaguered countries happen to be white to some extent. Therefore, if there are also black countries which wish to preserve their independence, we should be sure to come to their help.
Rhodesia is still a British colony, so the Government repeatedly say, and we should recognise that we have an obligation towards it as well as the right to demand changes in its Government. We must therefore ensure that it has the means to defend itself, and we should immediately remove sanctions, otherwise we are positively conniving Russian aggression.
South Africa has shown by its ill-advised expedition north of the border that it has not the necessary weapons to resist external attack. It has been the case in the past that we have refused to sell South Africa weapons for internal use. But we said that we would sell weapons for external attack. Evidently it has not got them and cannot maintain 296 itself properly. For that reason we should see that it gets them, and soon.
Furthermore, we should make it clear that it is our policy to maintain these countries. Our prestige and that of the West has suffered a very serious knock, because no one now is quite sure whether we are prepared to back up our friends in Africa. We should now say—and we should now mean, otherwise there will be no point in saying it—that we are prepared so to support them.
In 1938 "appeasement" was the fashionable word. It is now a dirty word. In 1976 "détente" is the fashionable word. Before long, I believe that it will be seen for what it is—a hoax by Russian imperialism.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
In a sense, there is a certain anachronism in that we are debating foreign affairs on the subject of East-West relations, because the great confrontation in the world is not basically a polarisation East to West but a polarisation North to South and the complications and conflicts which are developing in relations between the industrial world, to which, after all, Russia belongs, and the Third World, which we have seen evolve over the past two years. I intend to devote my remarks to three or four areas where I believe the East-West spectrum cuts across relations between the northern part of the world and the Third World, roughly the southern half.
First, I say a quick word or two about Europe. I believe that the significance of Helsinki is that the Russians desired passionately to have a permanent stamp of respectability placed on the status quo in Europe. That was their aim and objective in Helsinki, and they were prepared to pay a modest price in terms of freedom of movement and so on in order to get it.
They demonstrated in Hungary and Czechoslovakia years ago that they had no intention of relaxing their military and political grip on their half of the continent, although latterly their relations with Rumania have seemed to show a slightly more civilised approach.
I am sure that from the Russian point of view the Helsinki operation was to give a permanence and certainly a respectability to the broad political 297 status quo in Europe. The significance of the SALT talks is a serious endeavour by the Soviet Union to defuse the one possibility of which they are afraid, that of an accidental drift into a nuclear conflict with the other super-Power.
But the area where the battle for political influence will rage, and has already raged, is the Third World. I want to speak of three areas where we have seen that conflict develop. The first was Vietnam, where the Western policy was disastrous from the start. The Russians were shrewd enough to see that the old French colonial policy was immoral and absurd in the second half of the twentieth century. They backed, first with diplomacy and then arms, but never with men, the nationalist struggle in South-East Asia, in the complex of Indochina, and inevitably they won.
The total absurdity of Western policy in that area, a very brutal policy, was to fight against a nationalist tide which the West could not possibly contain or compete with. In the end the West lost, not merely diplomatically and militarily, but very seriously in prestige and status in the Third World as a whole. One of the consequences is that the American people are still bitter, hurt and disillusioned about that experience and have no intention of indulging in adventures in Southern Africa of the kind that Conservative Members have suggested.
The two areas in which the conflict is still raging, and where the battle for diplomatic influence and physical and economic power is continuing, are the Middle East and Southern Africa. In the Middle East the Russians have come to appreciate that the grotesque and barbarous outrage against the Palestinian people has sunk deep into the minds and hearts of the whole Arab world and has spilled over into the Third World at large. Broadly, the peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America have come to identify the Palestinian cause as something with which they rightly have sympathy, something which they should consider sympathetically in diplomatic and perhaps even economic terms. The Russians have been shrewd enough to see, perhaps quite cynically—I am not saying that they have any good motive—that the struggle in the Middle East has become a genuine nationalist struggle 298 against external imposition and domination.
The fact is that Israel, whatever its rights and whatever its claims, is diplomatically, economically and above all militarily a colony of the United States. It could not exist economically without the gigantic flow of money from the United States, and it could not exist militarily without the gigantic flow of arms from the United States. It would have some difficulty in surviving diplomatically without the rigid and continu-out support it has drawn from the United States.
In those circumstances, it is not improper to describe Israel as at least a quasi-colony of the United States in practical terms. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Opinions may differ. I am simply analysing the situation as I see it. The European view of the situation in the Middle-East docs not accord with the view of the United States. The Soviet Union has sought to align itself with what it regards as an almost irresistible tide of nationalist sentiment and I think that in the end its judgment will prove to have been right. If the Western world shares my desire for a peaceful, permanent and stable settlement to this appalling conflict, which has been going on for three decades, it must come to terms much more definitely, clearly, and sympathetically with the legitimate feelings and aspirations of the Palestine people than it has so far shown any inclination to do.
There has been movement and a drastic change in opinions in Western Europe, but the United States still seems to cling to the notion that at all costs it must sustain this foreign body within the Arab world. I want to see not an exacerbation of the conflict between the Soviet Union's attitude and the view of the United States, but a more statesman like attempt by both super-Powers to see where their common interest lies and to exert their influence on both sides to hasten a just settlement of this terrible problem. Otherwise, this is one part of the world which might still spark off a terrible nuclear conflict.
§ Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)
If there is such anxiety to get a settlement in this part of the world, what contribution to peace is my hon. Friend making 299 when he refers to part of this area as a foreign body sustained by the United States?
§ Mr. Hooley
My hon. Friend must make his own judgment. I am developing my own arguments. I would say, however, that it makes no contribution to peace to make a wrong analysis of the real nature of the conflict. If we fail in our analysis, as we failed in Vietnam, with the resulting terrible suffering and 20 years of war, the situation in the Middle East could go the same way as it went in Indochina.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller
Ordinarily, I would let my hon. Friend make his speech in his own way and in many respects condemn himself out of his own mouth. But is he seriously suggesting that if at the time of the invasion by the Arab armies in 1948 of what became the State of Israel the Arabs had come to an agreement with Israel and accepted the position, Israel could not have developed as a country within the Middle East and made a very valuable contribution to the whole area? Could not Israel have done that without obtaining help from anywhere in the world, let alone becoming, as my hon. Friend claims, a pawn of the United States?
§ Mr. Hooley
I do not intend to go over the entire history of the Middle East conflict, but if my hon. Friend suggests that Israel could have developed to its present economic, military and diplomatic position without this gigantic flow of money and arms, I have to tell him that I believe that it would have been totally impossible. My hon. Friend is blinding himself to the simplest facts if he thinks otherwise. If we want to avoid conflict between the super-Powers and between East and West—and I do, because I want friendly relations with the Russian people—the Western world has to move closer to a sensible and correct appraisal of the nature of the Middle East conflict.
The situation in Southern Africa is parallel in some respects. For 10 years the Western world in the United Nations gave a Portuguese Fascist Government in Southern Africa diplomatic support. NATO gave a Portuguese Fascist Government military support. EFTA gave a Portuguese Fascist Government 300 economic support. On every major issue the Portuguese Government under the Salazar-Caetano régime enjoyed full military, economic and political support from the West, from Europe and the United States.
While we were supporting a régime with which Labour had no sympathy, the African Socialists were fighting and dying in Mozambique and Angola for freedom to run their affairs in their own chosen way. It is nonsense for Opposition Members to suggest that it was outrageous and absurd for Dr. Neto of the MPLA to look for support to the Soviet Union and her allies and not expect anything from the West.
That is the record. It was the African Socialists, not the European Socialists, I am sorry to say, who destroyed the Portuguese Fascist Government in a bitter, bloody and brutal 10-year battle. It is no use our saying that we are their friends and that they should not get themselves tangled up with the Soviet Union and Cuba. If we are their friends, where were we in those 10 years. I read in The Guardian this morning that Dr. Neto, the MPLA leader, on one occasion was dragged out of his house by the Portuguese authorities and flogged. One can imagine the reaction of a man like that who knows that the Portuguese authorities who did that to him did the same to thousands of far less well known compatriots of his in Angola, many of whom were killed in the conflict. His attitude clearly is "I know where my friends are, and I know that they are not in the Western world."
In South-West Africa, in Namibia, a battle for national freedom is going on. All international bodies—the International Court, the Security Council, the General Assembly and every important United Nations body—condemned South Africa's behaviour and the occupation of Namibia and called upon South Africa to withdraw. What has been the response of the Western world? It has been that we must not do anything to upset South Africa's power to hold down Namibia. Even while the South African forces were fighting and killing in Angola—not legally, for they had no right to be there—the Western Powers made clear that they would move no resolution in the Security Council to invoke Chapter VII of the Charter or determine that there was 301 any threat to peace, although a major international war was going on.
What is the consequence? What conclusions will the Africans living in the Republic of South Africa, the African nineteen-twentieths of the population in Rhodesia and the nationalist African movement in Nairobi draw from this kind of behaviour? They will say that if we backed the Fascist Government in Portugal when it had power in Mozambique and Angola and if we will do nothing effective against South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia—an occupation which is contrary to the express judgments of every international authority—they will go elsewhere. That is what happened in Angola—they went elsewhere. They obtained their arms and their men from the Soviet Union and from the Soviet Union's allies.
If we persist in this foolish and shortsighted policy concerning Namibia and the equivocal policy on apartheid which the Western world has pursued over the past two or three decades, that day will come, not because the Soviet Union is pushing its way into Southern Africa, but because the African people will reach the conclusion that their interests cannot possibly lie with the Western world. That is the danger to our diplomacy and the knife-edge upon which we are now poised.
We must decide whether we are to come out absolutely against apartheid and to take firm action on the issue of Namibia, in respect of which we have international judgments by the International Court, the Security Council and the General Assembly. Are we prepared to take action on that and make clear to not only the Africans in Southern Africa, but the OAU where we stand on this issue? If we equivocate further and make ourselves accomplices in apartheid, the Africans will draw their own conclusions and will look elsewhere for weapons, money and diplomatic support.
I shall not pursue this argument much further. I know that there are many hon. Members who wish to speak. I shall mention one crucial area where I believe the West—especially Europe and the United States of America—has the advantage of a better and more enlightened policy than the Soviet Union has so far shown concerning the concept 302 of the new international economic order. In this respect I believe we have an immense opportunity.
There is tremendous striving by the Third World for a fairer share of the wealth of the natural resources and the manufactured wealth of this planet. Those countries made it clear in the Sixth Special Session of the General Assembly, the Seventh Special Session last September and will again at UNCTAD in Nairobi in May that they want a fair share of the world's resources. We have a great chance to move towards them and to say that we are prepared to enter into commodity arrangements, to give more aid and to share our technological know-how.
Last September, at the Seventh Session the very muted and negative contribution of the Soviet Union was most astonishing. The Western world has a great opportunity at UNCTAD. If we take that opportunity, we may wipe out some of the errors we have committed in Vietnam, the Middle East and Southern Africa.
§ 9.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
As the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) was speaking I was reminded of a phrase—it may have been said by Solzhenitsyn—that Lenin killed his thousand but Stalin has killed ten thousand times one thousand. Of course, the hon. Member is right. The Portuguese, and indeed most other countries, including our own, have been responsible for cruelties and actions that we can all regret. However, I hope that in his passion to condemn the Portuguese or anyone else he will remember that we are now debating East-West relations and will not forget the enormity of the cruelties that are perpetuated today by the Soviet régime.
This is the first occasion on which I have had the opportunity to speak in a foreign affairs debate since ceasing to be an Opposition spokesman on the subject. I hope to break with tradition in these matters by not condemning my right hon. Friends but by praising them. I have been impressed by the perspicacity and courage of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in her approach to foreign affairs over recent months. She was right about, and was right to speak 303 out about, Helsinki when she did. She has been right in warning the nation of the extent of Soviet military expansionism.
I know from personal experience in the United States that she had more impact, and a more favourable impact, on that country, its leaders and its Press than any British statesman, certainly since Mr. Macmillan. I also know from experience that her recent visit to the Middle East was timely and very well regarded. I believe that we are in the presence of a new phenomenon in foreign affairs. Our leader is much sought after across the world. When I was in Australia the new Australian Government was asking how soon she could visit them. In India I spoke to Mrs. Gandhi, and her first question was when the leader of the Conservative Party would be able to visit her. When I was in the Sudan, President Nimeri expressed a similar wish. I am glad to be able to say, as one who recently ceased to be a spokesman for this party, that my right hon. Friend is a credit not only to my party but to my country for what she has said and done on the international scene.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller
When the hon. Member points out to the House—a House which is so anxious to know—the peripatetic adventures of his right hon. Friend who is much sought after by foreign countries, he should consider whether that is so surprising when the Chinese have even asked a man like Mr. Nixon to visit them.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)
Is my hon. Friend aware that there has been hardly any mention of Britain in the English-speaking Press in the Far East? The one thing which got banner headlines and full attention was the speech which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made attacking the Russians and making clear the danger which Russia presented to the West.
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. and learned Friend is, of course, quite right.
I now wish to turn to Iceland. It is time we got off the hook in the cod war. I in no way underestimate the difficulties of the problem. I pay my tribute to 304 the courage of our fishermen and the coolness and efficiency of the Royal Navy. However, the Government have made a number of fairly elementary mistakes in their handling of this difficult problem. They underestimated—perhaps we all did—the intransigence of the Icelanders. They rejected until too late the suggestion from these Benches of an independent arbitrator. They failed, at least in the early stages, to place the problem in the context of the EEC, bearing in mind that the leverage of the Community on Iceland is far greater than can be ours alone. But most of all they ignored a cardinal rule of international crisis management. It is that no large nation should commit its prestige and armed forces to a confrontation with a small nation on an issue which is important but not vital to that large nation but on which the small nation is prepared to go to the death.
I am afraid that that is the basic reason why we have got into a "No win" situation with Iceland. I am sorry to say this, but I think the cod war is lost. The question is only, how do we get off the hook? I do not have the time to develop this matter in detail, but it is time to place the matter in an EEC context and seek a common fisheries policy that will help to resolve the matter.
Secondly, I hope that the Minister will try again, knowing the difficulties, to persuade Dr. Luns to act as a mediator. Thirdly, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider an offer in an international context for a study of the fish stocks and the whole conservation problem. Finally, I hope that through the EEC he will offer help to Iceland to diversify its economy over a period of time so that it will not be so totally dependent upon fish.
I turn to the major theatre that we have been discussing. I was recently in the Soviet Union. I have been lucky enough to go there many times. Like most hon. Gentlemen, I have no quarrel with the Soviet people—indeed, I admire them. However, one thing was plain during my visit a month ago, namely, that we are in the presence of a massive transfer of resources away from consumption and domestic investment to military expenditure. Here is a nation which cannot adequately feed itself and which does not adequately house its own people but which is nevertheless shifting resources, 305 quite massively, to armaments. It is right to give the House some of the recent evidence.
First, I refer to the nuclear sphere. Despite the SALT I agreement of May 1972 the Soviets have gone full steam ahead with the testing of four new intercontinental ballistic missile systems, with the development of huge new warheads—larger than anything in the West—and with the building of so-called "cold launch" silos which, because they use compressed air, are not damaged by engine ignition and therefore can be used a second time for the launching of ICBMs.
Then there was SALT II which, as far as it went, was highly desirable. However, it put no ban at all on the building of missile factories and the Soviet Union has now gone ahead to the point where Mr. Krushchev predicted:they are turning out ICBMs like sausages—his words, not mine. That is why the Soviet Union today has deployed more than 1,500 intercontinental ballistic missiles compared with only 1,054 for the United States. We are entitled to ask whether that is détente.
I shall give some of the figures for the conventional sphere in relation only to Europe. Over the past three years on manpower alone the Soviet Union has increased its forces in Eastern Europe by 120,000 men, its armoured fighting vehicles by more than 5,450 to a point where it now has a total of 19,000 compared with NATO's 6,100. Meanwhile the quality of the Soviet divisions in Europe has improved quite massively. Over the past four years the number of battle tanks per motor-rifle division in the Soviet Army has almost doubled and the number of howitzers has increased by 60 new heavy guns per division. The number of multiple rocket launchers has increased from 192 to not fewer than 720 per division, and all the time we are reducing our forces in Western Europe. Again I ask, is that détente? It is for us. It is not for the Soviet Union.
I shall not weary the House—I have not time to do so—with all the figures on Soviet air power or on the Soviet navy. My right hon. Friend has quite adequately deployed the facts on those matters. 306 However, there is one other fact that the House should consider, and that is the current level of Soviet war production. I am obliged here for the work of Professor Erickson of Edinburgh University who, in his excellent analysis in the Sunday Times last month, produced these frightening words:The near frantic rate of military production as well as naval building suggests something akin to a war tempo. Averaged over the past two years, Soviet tank production is six times that of the United States…Soviet artillery production is almost nine times that of the United States, and the Soviet Union is producing annually almost twice the number of tactical aircraft.He concludes:The most staggering statistic, however, relates to surface warships, with the Soviet Union—over the past two years—producing 36 compared to a mere half-dozen for the United States.I simply ask the question, is that detente? It is detente for the West. It is build-up for the Soviet Union.
What do they want it for? I understand, and the House understands, that the Soviet people have suffered invasion and terrifying slaughter. I understand that they, perhaps more than any other people, want to build up their forces to defend their country. I accept, too, that they are anxious, and rightly anxious about China. Who would not be in their circumstances? But can anyone say that the figures that I have given to the House are relevant only to China?
The most recent evidence is Angola. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said more eloquently than I can, what they judge to be the nature of the Western defeat. I think that we must recognise the very great military achievement of the Soviet Union in Africa. They have done something that I doubt any nation has quite done previously. They have successfully stage managed the air lifting of a whole army of Cuban mercenaries from one continent to another, the arming of these Hessians with heavy weapons brought in surreptitiously—and loaded, incidentally, some seven months beforehand in the ports of Northern Russia—and they have been able to join their chosen Marxist allies in conquering a large rich country in Africa. Never before have the Russians pulled off a 307 military success of this magnitude so far from their own borders.
The Russians have also won a major political victory. They are now a power to be reckoned with on the ground in Central Africa. A Communist-influenced Angola—I put it no higher than that—opens the door not only to future attack on South-West Africa, and conceivably on the Congo to the North. It also offers a prospect—I put it no higher than that—of the Soviet fleet and the Soviet air force establishing themselves in the South Atlantic, across the trade routes of Europe to South America as well as the Far East.
This is a new situation, and alas, the West, either through blindness or weakness, has acquiesced in its own defeat. It is the lack of any response, or any effective response, from our own country that I find the most painful and. shaming. It is a tragic commentary on the moral condition of our nation that while Angola was lost, the British seemed more concerned with the perversities of Miss Linda Lovelace.
What can we do? Many of my right hon. Friends, as well as the Government, have been wrestling with that problem. I believe that we should have raised the matter in the Security Council as representing a threat to peace. There may be reasons for the Government not having taken that course which the Minister of State might explain. I believe that the Prime Minister should have visited Washington to discuss the matter with President Ford. But when we consider the realities there are only a few things we could have done with any hope of success.
I am glad that Lord Greenhill has gone to Rhodesia—
§ Mr. Ennals
I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to say what we should have done. He has said that we should have gone to the Security Council as though somehow that would have produced a result. Perhaps he will tell us what the British Government should have done.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Yes. I was turning to Rhodesia as I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept that there is a context within which we need to act. As he would be the first to recognise, Angola does not stand alone. We have a direct 308 responsibility and interest in Rhodesia. I very much welcome Lord Greenhill's mission. I do not believe that the Government could have chosen a better man. All that we can appropriately do at this stage is to wish him well and to say as little as possible that might make his mission the more difficult.
If, as I hope, his mission is the beginning of movement that will lead sooner or later to success, I think it would be the concomitant of an agreement to offer Rhodesians, black and white alike, the full protection to which they would be entitled as lawful citizens of a British country. As the right hon. Gentleman implied in his intervention, Rhodesia cannot be regarded as standing alone. Rhodesia is part of the wider picture in which Angola has its part.
I suggest that there are three keys to the situation. The first key is the United States. The second key is formed by the countries of Central and Southern Africa—notably Zambia, Zaire and South Africa. The third key is the security of the air space and sea space on either side of the Southern African continent. As for the United States, where I have spent much of my life, I think we can all see the appalling effect on the world when the United States even temporarily withdraws from the international scene. Of course, the United States has its difficulties. There is the election, the aftermath of Vietnam, Watergate and the CIA. There is also the black veto. There are 35 million black Americans, and they will veto any involvement of the United States in large numbers on the land mass of Africa.
This being the two hundredth anniversary of 1776, there is also a certain inwardness that is absorbing many of the energies of the great republic. But let no Government sell the United States short. Perhaps it is now going through a period of lack of confidence, but I hope that the Soviet Union will not underestimate the basic power and fortitude of the American Republic. One of the Government's first duties in respect of Southern Africa in the wake of the Angola affair is to stay close to America and to concert our polices with their.
Second, I believe it is right to offer economic help to Zaire and Zambia via the European Economic Community. My right hon. Friend the Member for 309 Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) put that point very well. I hope that I take my right hon. Friend with me when I suggest that we should also offer Zambia British military advisers if it wishes to receive them.
I confess to a dilemma in regard to South Africa. I take seriously the importance to our economy and to the level of employment of the British people of South African minerals trade and investment. Therefore I have nothing but contempt for the humbugs in the Church of England who have not thought their way through this problem before making great moral pronouncements without having considered their consequences.
While recognising the importance of South Africa to Britain, I abominate apartheid as a principle. We must try if possible—and I do not know whether it is possible—to encourage liberal policies in South Africa. A few days ago I entertained in this House leaders from the Transkei and some of the other small black States within the Union, and I believe that there has been progress. We should encourage that progress, but we shall not do so if we push the South Africans further into a laager mentality.
We should also encourage Mr. Vorster's courageous attempt to open up South African policies to the black States around its perimeters. If we wish South Africa to liberalise her policies and to open her windows abroad, we must as a quid pro quo provide her with NATO—or at least with Western, if not exclusively, British support—as a protection against external pressure. That is a reasonable provision for any independent nation.
I have also come to the reluctant conclusion that it would now be right for the British Government, in concert with the United States and the EEC, to discuss the South African need for weapons for external defence. I refer in particular to maritime reconnaissance and strike aircraft such as the Buccaneer, frigates, submarines and possibly air transports, too. I believe that this should be carried out in conjunction with our Western allies.
It is necessary to place the problem of the political evolution of Southern Africa and its security in the wider context of the air and sea space surrounding the 310 Southern African continent. I had the pleasure in Washington no fewer than six years ago of proposing that there should be a standing force of NATO navies for the Southern Atlantic. That is the correct course and I still believe that it should be developed. I believe that the time will come when on the other side of the Southern African continent it will also be necessary, perhaps in conjunction with Iran, and certainly with Australia, to provide security on the long-range sea routes in the Indian Ocean.
I apologise to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for having taken a little longer in my remarks than I originally intended. I conclude by saying that we are living in a time when, for every possible reason, public expenditure must be reduced. I have nevertheless reached the reluctant conclusion that we can no longer continue to reduce our Armed Forces if we wish to play a rôle in preserving peace. We must strengthen rather than weaken our Army, Navy and Air Force—because, although power it not the whole of foreign policy, no policy can be conducted without power.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ Dr. M. S. Miller (East Kilbride)
I have a high regard for the ability of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), for his application to the task before him and for the way in which he pursues his objectives and gathers knowledge and information to deploy his case. But I believe that his recipe for South Africa would lead to disaster not only on the African continent, but in the rest of the world.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) utterly condemned the State of Israel. If he believes that Israel has no right to exist, as the unfortunate speech he made seemed to indicate, everything he said after that is understood and no iniquity perpetrated against Israel, from his standpoint, is unjustified. But he did not answer my comment about his accusation that Israel is a foreign body in the Middle East. It is a foreign body that has been in the Middle East a very long time—some 5,000 years. As a doctor I find it very difficult to accept that a foreign body can remain so long without its being an intrinsic and integral part of an area.
311 Although my hon. Friend has left the Chamber, I put it to him again that, were it not for the fact that Israel from the very beginning had to defend herself against aggression, she would have developed into an economically sound and viable country, without any need to buy the arms which at the moment are forced upon her as an unfortunate necessity in the situation in which she finds herself.
I turn to the situation in that part of Southern Africa in which Rhodesia is located. I do not think that it is productive to resurrect old cold war shibboleths. Like many hon. Members, I am against military intervenion by any nation in the affairs of another. I am against attempts by all kinds of subversive means to overthrow the Government of another country.
I was in the United States at the time of the overthrow of the Allende Government in Chile. My friends in America—who by no stretch of the imagination could be considered friendly to the Communist cause—were appalled by the overthrow of a democratically elected Government by what they openly admitted to be the intervention of their own CIA.
I was against the intervention of the Americans in Vietnam, just as I am against the military intervention of the Russians and the Cubans in Angola. There are differences, of course, and one would be blind not to appreciate the differences in situations which on the surface—if we adopt an inflexible and blinkered outlook—seem very similar. The Allende Government was a freely and democratically elected Government. In Angola, rightly or wrongly, the Angolans consider the Russians and the Cubans to be liberators, and we are ourselves very largely to blame for that. It is unfortunate, but that is what the Angolans feel about the Russians and the Cubans.
I visited Vietnam. In my opinion the majority of the Vietnamese people were totally opposed and hostile to the American intervention, with the massive military commitment involved.
The situation in Rhodesia and in the southern part of the African continent has radically altered because of events in Angola. We now have the Smith regime with a hesitant South Africa on her southern border, a South Africa which recognises that the price of continuing 312 to support an illegal Rhodesian regime is too high.
With Angola and Mozambique on Mr. Smith's flanks we now have an entirely new ball game. These two countries are no longer the subjugated colonies of Portugal. Mr. Smith has cocked a snook at this country for more than 10 years. For as long as Mr. Smith retains his illegal position, my right hon. Friend should think carefully before extending any kind of assistance to that regime.
Mr. Smith cannot expect help from this Government while he retains his illegal posture. Often we talk glibly about the right of this situation without seeing clearly what it is that is happening in that unhappy and unfortunate country. There are 250,000 white people ruling completely over 3 million black people who have little or no say in their affairs.
This is a situation which, regardless of the part of the world in which it occurs, cannot and will not be tolerated by the majority. The Minister must stand firm, despite the advice he may be receiving from other parts of the world, despite the blandishments that could be coming from Rhodesia or South Africa. I cannot view with equanimity the terrible position which could develop in Rhodesia. The answer lies in Mr. Smith's hands. He must stop his illegal posture and return to legality. He must bring Rhodesia once more under the aegis of Her Majesty's Government—in other words, Rhodesia must revert to self-governing colony status.
Even then it may well be that we shall have to consider the situation in the light of what has happened in the past 10 years. A rebellion of this kind cannot go without any punishment. This country should take the initiative of inviting Mr. Smith to return Rhodesia to the sovereignty of this Government. It should not be Mr. Smith who makes the moves, with this country following in his wake. We should be telling him to return to legality and then we will work out a new deal whereby there can be majority rule—not, as Mr. Smith has said, outside his lifetime—worked out by representatives of the African people. They must have control over their own affairs not in 25 or 30 years, but in a much shorter time.
I hesitate to put a figure on the number of years. No doubt my right hon. Friend 313 has had this drummed into him by African representatives. I should be surprised if they have spoken in terms of longer than two or three years. I counsel him to be extremely cautious about the kind of approaches made by other organisations in other spheres. He should be working towards majority rule in that country, certainly within the next two or three years.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant and Waterloo)
I am glad of this opportunity to intervene in this important debate on Southern Africa in the context of East-West relations. The hon. Member for East Kilbride (Dr. Miller) said that the Africans in Rhodesia had little or no say in their own affairs. This is a commonly-held view, with a good deal of accuracy in it, but I would ask hon. Members to put three questions to themselves. First, did they have it before? Does the hon. Gentleman know his history of Africa south of the Equator and the sort of societies which existed there? They were brutal and savage societies, and there was no such thing as having a say in their own affairs.
Second, why do they not have it now? When one asks that question, one finds that one is dealing with a problem of immense resources. South of the Zambezi, 4 million people have been expected in this century to create a massive civilisation for 25 million others out of their own resources. This is a resource problem. The House, Britain and the West do not like to recognise this fact because it makes things difficult and embarrassing, but this is one reason why they do not have a say in their own affairs now.
Finally, how soon will they have such a say? It is not simply a question of the political will, judgment or common sense of Mr. Smith or Mr. Vorster. It is once again a question basically of economic resources as well as will. Perhaps that is where the West can make a reasonable and important contribution.
Before dealing in more detail with this question, I should like to refer to two remarks by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), who is no longer in the Chamber. The more important was a general question. The hon. Gentleman said how much import- 314 ance he attached to the fact that the French Communist Party was now refusing to sit at the same table as the Russian Communist Party. He said that this represented progress and we should make appropriate judgments for the West about it.
I accept that as a limited sign of progress. I should accept it possibly even as an interesting phenomenon if a Communist Party in Western Europe were elected to power and became a government. But I should not regard it as in any sense a significant test until such a government was defeated at the polls in a democratic Western election and thereafter resigned. If and when that happened, with the sort of freedom, liberty, democracy and all the other factors that the MPLA thinks that it is bringing to Angola and the Communists are trying to bluff us into believing they are trying to bring to Western Europe, we should take them more seriously.
I should like to concentrate on the question of Southern Africa. It was said by a former Lord Chancellor, Baron Westbury, that he abolished an eternity of punishment toward the close of his earthly career, that, in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, he dismissed Hell with costs and took away from the orthodox defenders of the Church of England their hope of everlasting damnation.
That seems to me, and has often seemed to me, to embody the attitude of many Labour Members towards Southern Africa. The only difference is that, unlike the late Baron Westbury, they take pride in whatever steps they believe will preserve the hope of everlasting damnation for the Europeans in Southern Africa.
Let us look briefly at the record. The Portuguese, by far the most multi-racial of all the Europeans to have occupied Southern Africa, were condemned because, although impoverished and multi racial, they were autocratic. So be it. The Afrikaners are condemned because, although successful, enterprising and self-confident, they have created in English-speaking South Africa the most successful underdeveloped country in the world bar none, and have allowed a social and economic stratification to become a myopic legal stratification known as apartheid. So grave is that error that 315 they are conceded no virtues, permitted no achievements and denied social and political intercourse with the West.
The British—and there are about 2½ million of them in sub-Saharan Africa—are considered to be so lacking in political judgment that they have decided to imperil the whole future of their communities, whether in Rhodesia or South Africa, merely to preserve economic and political privilege. Whether they support or oppose segregation, whether they work actively for economic development or restrict it, or promote African welfare or retard it, all are tarred with the same brush.
This is the basic error of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Time and time again they refuse to make any form of the right kind of distinction between those in Southern Africa who work, have worked and are continuing to work for exactly the same ideals as they are. Very little account is taken of this, no credit is given and when the embarrassment—and it is a major embarrassment—which comes from the present situation—arises they say, "Of course it would be very dangerous for us to ally ourselves with these racialist, imperialist States".
All the vocabulary of the Communist language is employed willy-nilly by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to give it the same meaning as the Communists give it, because they are unwilling to discriminate. What a total travesty of reality it is. What a violent oversimplification of the world's most complex political situation.
What can we now propose? I would like to come to what was said by the Minister of State earlier this afternoon—that détente was an attempt to reconcile fundamentally different political systems and that it was not the product—and I use his phrase—"of sentimental liberalism". I ask the Minister, why does this apply to the USSR and its satellites but not to other States with whom we may have fundamental disagreements about the character of their political system? The document produced by the Common Market Commission this afternoon, which I have here, states in Section 2:Respect for the independence of all African states and their right to determine their national policies in complete sovereignty and without outside interference"—316 which is apparently a general statement of principle. But not for South Africa, it seems, because we must imply that we condemn the policy of apartheid in South Africa. It may be necessary on every conceivable occasion to keep the record clean, so there has to be total condemnation of apartheid. But this is inconsistent with Section 2 of this declaration>:…the independence of all African states and their right to determine their national policy in complete sovereignty"—and what does "complete sovereignty" mean?—and without outside interference".
§ Mr. Ennals
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that by accepting the sovereignty of every State the rest of us are denied the right to criticise? Surely he is not denying that every member of the European Community abhors apartheid. Surely we have a perfect right to say so. It does not necessarily interfere with a country's internal affairs if we make a corporate statement in that form.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I will not disagree but there is a vast difference between verbal criticism and interference, implying not so much a discussion of South Africa as direct physical interference, not just verbal criticism.
I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that so often when these vast lapses in human charity are brought before the House, over and over again it is the South Africans who are singled out to be condemned. What about the Gulag Archipelago? Do we hear much about that, or about its modern equivalent? Occasionally one or two honest Government supporters bring it to the attention of this House. But the ratio is about 50 to 1. At the same time—and the events of the past few weeks have brought it significantly before the House—it is the South Africans and the Rhodesians who are pilloried before this House.
I would go so far as to argue that there is no group of 2 million people in Western Europe, whether they be in Great Britain, in Sweden, which is another country inclined to do this, in Switzerland or anywhere else, who, put down in Southern Africa and given the responsibility—that is the key phrase—for solving these problems, would be able to do so. They would find themselves making the same errors and the same 317 philosophical mistakes and undoubtedly we would be back where we were before.
The Minister said that in Africa we had a new sort of imperialism and that it could not be fought and beaten by those who allied themselves with the old imperialism. As is fashionable, he condemned the South African intervention. He said that the United Kingdom would have allied itself more conspicuously with the new African Governments. Did he mean all of them? Did he mean without conditions? Did he mean Uganda, Tanzania, the Governments in the Horn of Africa, Burundi where there were 100,000 people massacred within living memory, Somalia and Ethiopia? Are these the allies with whom we must ally ourselves to avoid being tainted with the old imperialism?
These questions are not asked. They are too embarrassing and too difficult. "Let us pretend that there is a homogenous solution, and it can be easily presented." That is the argument advanced.
The unequivocal support for the policy of African nationalism is something which I cannot give. If we look at the sad, sorry and savage record of Africa in the past 15 years, we see that nationalism has a good deal to answer for. It is a ghastly and destructive, force, and I should not like to see this country, this House of Commons or the Conservative Party aligning itself unequivocally with the forces of African nationalism.
The Minister went on to say that we would not support a country fit for Tanganikya Concessions to live in. It sounded so clever. In one facile phrase he condemned all the great enterprise of all the great British mining companies in Africa over the past century—
§ Mr. Ennals indicated dissent—
§ Mr. Lloyd
The Minister denies it. If it is not fit for Tanganikya Concessions to live in, what is wrong with Tanganikya Concessions? What is wrong with the enterprise of the great British mining companies in Southern Africa? They have produced most of the raw materials on which the British industrial system depended. What is wrong with their efforts? Why are they condemned so unequivocally in the House of Commons? They seldom, if ever, get a chance to speak for themselves.
318 If the great British multinationals had not had the opportunity to act as channels for British capital to be invested in Southern Africa as well as elsewhere in the world, these countries would have been vastly more impoverished than they are now. The Minister of State knows it, and his right hon. Friend knows it. I should like to see it recognised more realistically and honestly.
We are not in a situation where we can solve these problems easily. They are problems of immense difficulty, and we shall solve them only if we approach them on the basis of honesty, recognising the facts as they are and not as the Left wing has portrayed them year by year and decade after decade until it is almost impossible now to treat the real situation in Southern Africa in a way that people will accept.
So great is the distortion that the real faults of South Africa are buried. No one will deny that any great community has faults, and South Africans would be the first to admit that there are faults in South Africa, but those faults are hidden in a sea of criticism from many Labour Members who find it necessary to make their criticisms in the House for all sorts of political reasons.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South-West)
I shall be brief and put away the notes for the speech that I had hoped to make, because I want at least one more of my hon. Friends to catch your eye before the debate ends, Mr. Speaker.
This has been a long debate. Some of us have had a long, weary wait. It has been depressing to look across the Chamber from time to time and see the Labour Benches virtually empty, as they are now, because this is probably the most important debate the House has had this Session. Certainly the subject is far more important than many of the domestic events that rightly excite us and rouse us to passion. Yet the Government are virtually unsupported by their Back Benchers.
That is a pity, because in foreign affairs the Government basically have their heart in the right place. I cannot say that for many of their supporters, because it is a regrettable fact that prob- 319 ably 60 or 70 Labour Members, because they want a full-blooded Socialist State, completely dismiss the menace of Soviet aggression. If they had their full-blooded Socialist State, if capitalism and the mixed economy fell in ruins as they wish, the Soviet menace would disappear, because that is what the Soviets want. Yet what the majority of the British people want is the maintenance of our freedom and democracy, which are totally incompatible with what the Soviets stand for.
We are threatened far more than we have ever been threatened. The cold war was far healthier than the climate in which we live today. I regret to say that, but it is true. I believe that detente is a snare and a delusion. We have gained nothing and have lost very much. The rot set in with the Ostpolitik. Whilst I do not impugn the sincerity or determination of Herr Brandt or Dr. Kissinger, I believe that they have both played with fire and that the West has been badly burnt. The mantle of Chamberlain has perhaps fallen on American shoulders. I greatly regret having to say that, because America is a sad country today.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) was right to point to some of the dangers within the American system and to say that we should support the Americans. Of course we should. America is the greatest nation in the free world and without her active support we should not be sitting in this Chamber. Nevertheless, it is regrettable that a new isolationism has crept in, a lack of appreciation of the full menace of Soviet power has perhaps begun to influence some of the highest counsels in America, and the Americans have begun to be a little ashamed of their great achievements.
I had hoped to speak at great length on this subject and I could do so if there were time, but I should like to say a few words about the fundamental reason for my feeling that détente is a snare and a delusion, and that we are beguiling ourselves because none of us likes to think of the harsh realities of international life. What troubles me is how we can possibly believe that there is any degree of real détente, real co-existence, a real desire by the Soviets and the nations they control to come to terms and live at peace 320 when all the basic rights and freedoms that we take for granted are severely curtailed or extinguished within their system.
I shall deal with just one right, the right to believe, and leave it at that. Without the right to believe, without a man's having the right to seek his own salvation as he sees it, there is no true freedom. Beyond the Iron Curtain we see Christians persecuted because they go to church. We see people like the great Baptist pastor, Georgi Vins, hounded and harried, persecuted and reviled because they stand for something and wish other people to be free to believe and to practice their beliefs.
We see the great Jewish community in Russia. I have been privileged in a small way to serve the Jews through the all-party Committee of this House. We know of the great harassment of these people. How can we believe that a system which treats these people and their faith in such a way stands on all fours with our own?
One hon. Member opposite talked about the Opposition's philosophy and seemed to espouse much of what the Soviets stand for. It sent a shiver down my spine. I believe that our ideology is shared by the Government. Our ideology is a belief in freedom, a compassion and an upholding of the basic essential human freedoms, above all, the freedom to believe.
We must tell the Soviets that we cannot accept that there is any genuineness in their protestations while they behave as they do towards so many of their own people. It is of fundamental importance that we defend our nation and spend more, and not less, on armaments in the difficult and critical days ahead.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour), I must say that I am deeply sorry for those hon. Members who have sat right through this debate. However, four hon. Members spoke for well over 20 minutes and they have taken the time of their hon. Friends.
§ 10.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour (Chesham and Amersham)
Inevitably, this debate has concentrated largely on Southern Africa. I was astonished to hear the hon. Member 321 for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) saying that we had concentrated on Southern Africa because our ideology had been defeated there. Surely most hon. Members Opposite agree that in Angola it is Western ideology which has been defeated and not just the ideology of this side of the House.
My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South-West (Mr. Cormack) said détente was a snare and a delusion and my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said it had meant abdication. Whatever its true meaning, we know two things that détente has not entailed. It plainly has not entailed a reduction in the fast and relentless growth of Soviet military power. If anything, it has meant the exact opposite. Nor has it meant any improvement of the lot of those Russians who are not over-enthusiastic about the benefits to the world and to Russia itself of the Russian Communist dictatorship. They are still liable to be given sulphur injections in their veins or suffer other barbarities. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short), who gave a somewhat idyllic picture of life behind the Iron Curtain, did not touch on that aspect.
There can be no dispute about the growing threat of Russian military power. Since the Leader of the Opposition's famous and highly successful speech on 29th January, there has been abundant confirmation of what she said. She has been backed up by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Haig, the former United States Defence Secretary, Mr. Schlesinger, the present United States Defence Secretary, Mr. Runsfeldt, the German Defence White Paper, the Brookings Institution and other authorities. Apart from the Russians, the only discordant squeak came from, of all people, the British Secretary of State for Defence. No doubt he would like to forget that outburst. But as he attempted to play down the warnings given by my right hon. Friend, and as we have heard in the debate from the hon. Member for Kings-wood (Mr. Walker) that the threat is grossly exaggerated, as well as having some fairly odd comments on defence from the hon. Member for Oldham, East, it is necessary to detail the threat once again.
322 As the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe has said, there has been an explosion of Soviet military capabilities. The Soviets are continuing to increase their land, sea and air forces, both in quantity and in quality, to an extent far exceeding anything that can be remotely justified for defence. It is evident that, apart from its size, the Soviet army is not the right shape to be used for defensive purposes.
To take some of the salient features of this threat, first, on land: in the number of tanks, which we know is usually considered to be a crucial yardstick, the Warsaw Pact has a nearly three-to-one preponderance. In Central Europe the Warsaw Pact has 150,000 more troops than NATO and has geographical advantages in build-up and reinforcements. In the air, the Warsaw Pact outnumbers NATO by two to one and, as General Haig recently said, the Soviet air force has become offensive in character.
But it is at sea that we are witnessing the most serious build-up and it is there that we face the greatest danger. The West depends entirely on the freedom of sea communication, and the Soviet fleet now exceeds anything that could be remotely justified simply for defence. Russia has 400 submarines, compared with Germany's 50 in 1939, and she has four times as many as she had 10 years ago. She is still building submarines at the rate of one every month. She has also doubled the number of her missile-equipped cruisers during the past six years. No wonder Admiral Lewin said last year that the maritime balance was "dangerously marginal".
Mr. Brezhnev who, we hear, made a five-hour speech today said last year:The materialisation of détente is simply inconceivable without an extension of detente to the military sphere. I believe that conditions have now become more favourable for this.There has been precious little sign of that assertion of Mr. Brezhnev's being put into action by the Russians.
In the face of this undeniable Russian danger, one would have expected any reasonable and well-intentioned British Government, first, to do everything in their power to promote and foster by their diplomacy and foreign policy the unity of the Western Alliance and the unity of Western Europe and, secondly, to foster and increase the military 323 strength of NATO. The Government have done neither of these things. They have done the opposite.
We shall be debating the Government's defence White Paper in detail after it is published, but I take it that even the Government propaganda machine will agree that the cuts announced last week do not exactly strengthen our defence forces or our contribution to NATO. Obviously, they weaken them.
It was notable that the Minister of State in a reasonably robust speech in some areas did not mention the defence cuts that his Government have made. There have been three cuts in the space of two years.
When the right hon. Gentleman referred to the talks on MBFR, he said that this was an area in which no risks could be taken. Surely the greatest possible risk in talks on mutual balanced force reduction is to reduce forces unilaterally. What conceivable incentive is given to the Russians to reduce their forces in exchange for our reducing ours when we reduce ours on our own in advance of the talks?
The propaganda machine cannot deny that the savage cuts in defence announced last year have greatly weakened our military capability and our contribution to NATO. The effect of these cuts is not just to weaken us and NATO as against the Russians, though that is their most important effect. Their other effect is to weaken this country within NATO and within the counsels of the West. Regrettably, the general behaviour of the present Government in Europe has had the same damaging effect. That is something for which the whole country may pay dearly in the weeks and months ahead.
First, we had the farce of the so-called renegotiations, which did enormous harm. Then we had the tragi-comedy of the Foreign Secretary's and the Prime Minister's much trumpeted demand for a separate seat at the Energy Conference and their finally settling for, I think, parity with Luxembourg. We must also include in this unhappy tale the cod war with Iceland.
Certainly the attempt to safeguard the interests of British fishermen is undoubtedly laudable. However, I doubt whether many people could truthfully say 324 that they admire the way that it has been conducted. It is fairly certain that our allies have not been greatly impressed by what they have seen. It is a great pity that last year the Government did not adopt the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and appoint Dr. Luns as mediator. If they had done so, they might have avoided the danger of weakening NATO.
In these ways, amongst others, the Government have greatly reduced British influence in NATO and the EEC. The Government's inability to influence events has been further increased by the complacency and the lack of vision of the Ministers most closely affected. We never had great hopes of the Prime Minister and therefore we were not unduly surprised by his flight of fancy last autumn when he allowed himself to say that his Government could point toA record of influence and achievementin international affairsunparalleled by any Governmentsince before the war. No wonder politics and politicians are in disrepute in this country today!
If one pays the Prime Minister the compliment of thinking that he believed what he was saying—in this instance it is a pretty dubious compliment—one can only conclude that his divorce from reality in the area of foreign affairs is now complete. In fact, no previous British Government, either before or after the war, has had less influence in the world, and especially in Europe. Indeed, this Government's record is a particularly unfortunate combination of bluster followed by blunder.
We had some hopes of the Foreign Secretary. We are all extremely sorry that he is not here today. Like everyone else, I wish him a speedy recovery. Certainly I shall moderate my criticism of him in his absence, but in virtually everyone else's absence I cannot remove my criticism altogether.
The Foreign Secretary is responsible for a suprisingly jejune Fabian tract,Challenges and Opportunities for British Foreign Policy.It is largely the result of a lecture delivered at the end of September during the Labour Party conference. It was then revised and published in December. Even 325 as late as the end of last year the Foreign Secretary was evidently unaware of the extreme dangers of Angola. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) pointed out, the process of the Soviet-Cuban build-up must have taken several months. Yet many other matters are mentioned in this pamphlet, but the word "Angola" does not appear.
The Foreign Secretary did manage to mention the Soviet Union, but if anything his references to Russia are even more revealing than his failure to refer to Angola. Apart from mentioning Russia two or three times in passing, what he said on page 15 about Britain and the Soviet Union was:In an era of détente the successful efforts we have made to improve Anglo-Soviet relations enable us to play a more constructive part in those multilateral negotiations in which we and the Soviet Union are involved.His only other substantive reference appears on page 11 where he says:During our visit to Moscow in February the Prime Minister and Mr. Brezhnev signed an important declaration of common intent to prevent the proliferation of nuclear explosive devices while at the same time promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This was a unique declaration, and has heralded a period of particularly close Anglo-Soviet co-operation.That must have made even the Fabians sit up, although no doubt it would have pleased the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East.
The House would like to know of the tangible results in Angola and Southern Africa of what the Prime Minister claims to be the "unparalleled influence and achievement" in international affairs of his Government and what the Foreign Secretary claims to be a "particularly close" Anglo-Soviet collaboration. Where or when will this unparalleled influence and the particularly close co-operation achieve the departure of the Cuban soldiers and the Soviet advisers from Angola? When will this unparalleled influence and this close co-operation achieve anything at all? We look forward to hearing the replies to these questions from the Minister of State.
Certainly most hon. Members agree that our prime objective must be to get the Cubans and the Russians out of Angola, but that will not be easy. It is in this sphere perhaps more than any other that Britain's decline in power and influence with the Russians and the Western Alliance is to be most regretted. 326 As my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said, the credibility of the West has been damaged. Practically all my hon. Friends, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet, have asked why the Government have taken no action at the United Nations. There should have been the maximum of diplomatic activity. We heard also this afternoon from the Minister of State that the Government tried to get a group statement from Europe a few weeks ago, but they failed, and that, I fear, is another indication of our current lack of influence within the alliance.
The Minister of State interrupted my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham when my right hon. Friend said that he favoured helping Zaire with supplies and he asked whether my right hon. Friend would favour that course whether or not Zaire wanted it. My right hon. Friend replied very reasonably that he thought that it was a good idea to offer help to Zaire and other countries, a sentiment echoed by one or two of my hon. Friends.
We are inconvenienced by the Minister of State speaking last. It would have been much more helpful if we could have heard him on some of these matters at the beginning of the debate. I realise that this debate may have been further complicated by the illness of the Foreign Secretary.
We all agree that the attitude of the moderate African States is crucial and what the Government propose to do, if anything, to help them must be crucial, too. One of the clearest lessons of international affairs since the war is that smaller and poorer countries are much more concerned with local issues than with idealogical matters.
Below a certain level of wealth, ideological issues have no meaning, let alone importance. And it is vital, as many of my hon. Friends pointed out, that the struggle with Russia should not follow racial lines. If the West becomes identified merely with the whites in Africa and Russia with the blacks, we shall lose and so will the whites in Southern Africa. That is a lesson which Mr. Vorster seems very much to have taken on board. Apart from his incursion into Angola—and I agree that that is a big exception—he has pursued a sensible and 327 sustained policy of trying to accommodate the concerns of black Africa with the interests of his own country.
No doubt South Africa is now using all its influence to achieve agreement in Rhodesia. Certainly all hon. Members this evening are looking for a just settlement in Rhodesia, because we all appreciate that that is vital for everyone—both black and white—in Rhodesia and for the future of Southern Africa.
Russia's future conduct in Southern Africa will reveal its view of détente. This afternoon the Minister of State agreed that her behaviour in Angola was not consistent with the spirit of détente. One of the main causes of the present troubles and confusions is the fact that détente has tended to mean something quite different in the West from what it means in Russia. In the West many people have taken détente to mean the end of the cold war—a genuine attempt to ease strained relations and to begin to live in peace with the Soviets. In other words, détente has often been seen as an end in itself. The Russians see détente as something very different. To them it is not an end at all. It is merely a means to their end of Soviet aggrandisement and eventual Soviet domination of Europe and the world. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) said, the aims of the Soviets have not changed.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) said in his adaptation of Clausewitz, détente to the Soviets is merely the continuation of the cold war by other means. We are all in favour of détente, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said the other day, provided it is genuine, but to be genuine it has to be mutual. At present it is not. At present we get the disarmament and the Russians get the détente. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) disagrees with that. He is laughing now, but he could hardly argue that the Russians have been disarming. I understand that he agrees with me. Unless both disarmament and détente are mutual, the situation will deteriorate faster and faster.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion so forcefully said, there can 328 be no détente without effective containment of Soviet imperialism. My hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) said—and I am sure that it is true—that the Russians regard the world wide balance of forces as having shifted fundamentally against the West. They believe that that is why we support détente and that it is a sign of weakness by the West. It is therefore up to us to demonstrate quite clearly that that is not true and that it is not why we support détente.
Therefore, we must reverse the decline in Western self-confidence that has taken place over the past few years as a result of Vietnam, Watergate, the economic recession and Angola. No doubt some American reaction after Vietnam and Watergate was inevitable, but that reaction, as manifested by some of the antics, revelations and leaks of Congress, certainly seem excessive. In any case, the rest of the alliance can help America to recover its balance if we in Europe make it plain that we are prepared to play our full part in the defence of Western values.
General Haig said the other day that the super-Power rôle that the United State was no longer able or willing to play should be taken over collectively by the West. That should be our aim and that was very much what the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Williams) said this afternoon. Unfortunately, the British Government have given a bad example to our allies by down-grading defence. Regrettably, the Government have disregarded the Chancellor's wise warning of 1969, when he was wearing a different hat. It is a familiar quotation, but it bears and will get constant repetition>:once we cut defence expenditure to the extent where our security is imperilled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools. We have a heap of cinders."—[Official Report, 5th March 1969; Vol. 779, c. 551.]That was very true, and it has been disregarded by the right hon. Gentleman himself as Chancellor.
We in the West need to arouse ourselves to a proper awareness of our own inherent strength. Both economically and spiritually we are easily superior. Nowhere else in the world do individuals have the freedom to express their ideas and opinions without fear of arbitrary 329 punishment, and nowhere else in the world has an economic system with anything like the same skill and efficiency.
On the other hand, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) said, the Russians still need the wall and barbed wire to keep their peoples inside. They deny all freedoms and individiual rights. Dissidents, those with so-called reformist tendencies, are sent to mental institutions. Despite vast expanses of agricultural land, they cannot even feed themselves.
Therefore, we are stronger, but it is no good being stronger everywhere else if we are weaker militarily. We are quite capable of redressing that balance. Only an effort of will is needed, and we must see that that effort is made.
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. David Ennals)
I am probably unique in being the only Minister in the present Government who has never sat on the Opposition Benches. It gives me a certain advantage, but though it gives me that, it also gives me an excessively jaundiced view of some of the more extreme propositions that I have heard from Opposition Members, and particularly some of those who were Ministers in a previous Conservative Government. I was interested in some of the propositions put forward by the right hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) and Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), and by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) and I wondered what they were like when they were Ministers of Her Majesty's Government. They must have been restrained. One thinks just how much easier it is to be sitting on the Opposition Benches than it is to be in Government.
I cannot say that I admired the speech of the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour), although I wish that I could say so. He had a good deal of denigration of my right hon. Friends, but I suppose that that is his task. He was decrying also the record of influence and achievement of this country in the world. I was surprised that he did that. As far as Europe is concerned, the decision taken to confirm Britain's membership of the EEC by the support of the public has given us an increased influence in Europe. I believe that our 330 relationship with the United States is better and closer than it was at the time that right hon. Gentlemen now of the Opposition were in Government. Our rôle and influence in the Commonwealth is stronger and more significant than it was when right hon. Gentlemen were in Government. I also believe that our influence at the United Nations is far more significant now.
This debate is concerned with East-West relations. I have listened to the speeches of many Opposition Members, and they might do me the courtesy of listening to my reply. If they do not want to listen they may as well leave the Chamber. I intend to reply to the debate.
As I have said, the theme of the debate is East-West relations. I shall not follow the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham in anticipating the defence debate. I shall concentrate on Southern African issues that have been central in speeches from both sides of the Chamber. In spite of what has been said by Opposition Members, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) that the most significant world division is not between East and West but between North and South. I hope that we shall have an opportunity to debate those issues before too long.
There has rightly been some strong denunciation of Soviet policy. There have also been some extravagant statements. I agree with some of the criticisms that have been made. I was impressed by the moving plea of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. The Government are not satisfied with the implementation of the Helsinki Agreement. We recognise that the CSCE symbolises a determination to build up more normal relations. It is for all the participants to see that the undertakings that were made in Helsinki are fulfilled. We cannot expect dramatic changes overnight, and especially on Basket III matters that were discussed at the opening of the debate. The Final Act represents the beginning and not the end of the process. The House will know that there will be a review conference when we shall consider and take note of the extent to which countries have fully respected the Agreement.
331 I agree with those who have said that the Soviet Union cannot expect to pursue policies which run contrary to the spirit of détente and at the same time expect the concept of détente to emerge unscathed. Of course, it would be folly to take the view, as has been taken by some Opposition Members, that the advantages of achieving a greater measure of co-operation with the Soviet Union and its friends are one-sided. It seems that some are opposed to the whole concept of détente. It seems that détente has become a dirty word on the Conservative Benches. I believe that it is in our interest to seek closer relations on a wide range of issues.
I believe that disarmament is a good example. Action to halt the spread of nuclear weapons is a good example of co-operation with the Soviet Union which has been greatly enhanced since my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister visited Moscow a year ago. Britain and the Soviet Union, together with the United States, are the depository powers of a series of international treaties designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. In his speech to the United Nations Assembly—I believe that this was another important initiative—in September last year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State proposed that all non-nuclear weapon States, whether or not parties to the non-proliferation treaty, should have their full fuel cycle under IAEA safeguards. We have therefore tabled at the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency a draft resolution of which the Soviet Union is one of a number of co-sponsors. Together with other Governments we have had useful and co-operative discussions about the supply of nuclear materials and technology. I believe that we must build on that and any other area of disarmament.
The draft treaty banning environmental modification for hostile purposes which is now before the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament is another good example of the practical co operation—
§ Mr. Cormack
Will the right hon. Gentleman concede that it is possibly in the interests of the Soviet Union to cut down on nuclear armaments while build- 332 ing up conventional armaments, including submarines, at such an enormous rate? The nuclear deterrent does at least stand for something today.
§ Mr. Ennals
As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are concerned not only with stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries, but with conventional weapons in MBFR. As my right hon. Friend has said, not much progress has been made, but it is an area in which we shall continue to make efforts.
I do not agree with those who have suggested from the Opposition benches that détente implies a concept of ideological truce. That has never been our concept of détente. The Russians, for their part, have made it clear that détente has nothing to do with the ideological struggle which they regard as an objective fact of international life. There is certainly to be no armistice in the war of ideas. Only today Mr. Brezhnev is reported to have said that it is quite clear that détenteis concerned with inter-State relations.…Détente does not in the slightest abolish, not can it abolish or change, the laws of class struggle.We must therefore make it our business to ensure that we prosecute our half of that struggle as firmly as we can, and I can see no reason why we should fight shy of it. We must go on arguing our case for our Western ideas and for human rights and freedoms, just as we expect them to argue their case.
§ Mr. Blaker
How is the Minister of State proposing that we should pursue the war of ideas in the Soviet Union? Does he think that the 40 copies of the Financial Times on sale in Moscow will be enough?
§ Mr. Ennals
I wish I had not given way to the hon. Gentleman. I hope they will be pushed up to 50 by next week. If this is the level of debate, I shall know when to give way again.
I want to move on to the central issue in the debate, which has centred around the dangers of a Communist expansion in Southern Africa.
§ Mr. Amery
The right hon. Gentleman said that some of us on this side of the House were beginning to think détente was a dirty word. Appeasement was a very honourable word before 333 Munich. It became a dirty word. I have a feeling that détente, since Angola, is coming into the same category as appeasement. The right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends should be very careful not to get too caught up with it.
§ Mr. Ennals
When the right hon. Gentleman was out of the Chamber, one of his hon. Friends was arguing precisely the opposite case. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will read Hansard for the reply.
I want to move on to one of the central issues of the debate—the dangers of Communist expansion in Southern Africa. Let us recognise that up to now the Communist Powers have not had much success in subjugating the people of Africa. Even those countries which are heavily dependent upon Soviet support have proved themselves to be African first and Communist second. Sometimes African leaders have kicked over the traces and sent their Communist advisers packing with a good deal of independence, which some of us may have respected. But, as hon. Members have pointed out, we have potentially a very different situation following the massive Russian and Cuban support for the MPLA in Angola.
There are those who say that we should not underestimate the ability of the Angolan leaders to disengage themselves from dependence on the Soviet Union when the military conflict is at an end. I hope they are right. I believe that Angola will want to pursue a policy of non-alignment and non-intervention and that the Angolans will find themselves embarrassed by a heavy Soviet and Cuban presence. Certainly it will be our wish to discourage them from over-dependence upon the Soviet Union.
I have to tell right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that I do not accept for a moment that the situation we are describing in Angola is in any way similar to that of the victims of Nazi aggression during the late 1930s, as implied by some of their speeches. Elsewhere in the Third World the Communists, and particularly the Soviet Union, have in the past gained from a willingness to arm and equip liberation movements which would usually have preferred western aid. This is still their great attraction for 334 politicians in areas struggling for independence, despite the fact that much of the developing world looks to the Western Powers for help in its economic development.
In Angola the prospect of taking in the Russians and the Cubans as permanent lodgers must be very far from attractive. But the power of choice still lies with the landlord and not with the tenant.
There are serious political problems in Southern Africa which must be squarely faced if the opportunities for Communist exploitation are to be reduced. One has to ask why it is that progress has been made by the Communists in different parts of Africa. The situation in Namibia, Rhodesia and South Africa is both a challenge to African nationalists who demand an end to White minority rule and an opportunity for those countries which are ready to supply the arms and troops to support the liberation movements. Whatever the arguments may be about whether the chicken comes before the egg, it cannot be denied that the continuation of white minority rule in Southern Africa has encouraged guerrilla activity and external intervention. Clearly the Communists do not intend to miss this opportunity. They have made that clear.
Indeed, Pravda said the other day that the MPLA is animportant link in the national liberation movement on the African continentand that thestrengthening of popular power in Angolawasa stimulus for the development of the liberation struggle of the people of Namibia, the South African Republic and Zimbawe".A similar message came from Havana yesterday.
What action can we take? This has been one of the central issues in our debate. First, we can condemn, as we have done, external intervention. The Soviet Union must be made to see that the Western Powers cannot be expected to play the détente game if they, for their part, break the rules of the game. Secondly, we must use all our influence to bring about a change in the political situation in Southern Africa which at present provides a challenge to the Western world as much as to the Communists.
§ Mr. Ennals
That is not the purpose of Lord Greenhill's visit to Rhodesia. I will deal with that in a moment.
We must not appear, as some Tory Members seem to appear, to be protectors of white minorities. As long as there is no progress towards majority rule in Rhodesia, as long as South Africa practises her policies of apartheid—and I was fascinated by the support which the hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) gave to this—and maintains her unlawful occupation of Namibia, there will be the threat not only of guerrilla activity but of external intervention.
I come to the Angola issue. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) and the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) argued that the struggle being waged in Africa today is ideological, not racial. That may be their view. It is certainly not the view of the vast majority of the African States represented in the Organisation of African Unity. Of course, some, especially Zambia and Zaire, are genuinely concerned about the Soviet and Cuban presence in Angola and its possible repercussions elsewhere.
The right hon. Member for Farnham spoke about Zambia and Zaire. We recognise that the economies of both countries have suffered gravely as a result of the dislocation caused by the Angolan war. I have in mind particularly the Benguela railway which is largely a British-owned company. The railway carries the greater part of the copper exports of Zambia and Zaire as well as much of their imports. It has been closed to international traffic since August and this has had a serious effect on the economies of those countries. Naturally we are giving this problem close attention. I can assure the House that we are taking a constructive view on the question of aid to Zambia and we have already given assistance to Zaire.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Can the Minister say something about how quickly a diplomatic mission will be established in 336 Luanda? Can he also say what is the Government's attitude towards bilateral aid for Angola, or multilateral aid through the EEC, or civil aid to those parts of Southern Africa which need it?
§ Mr. Ennals
We have already said that we want to establish diplomatic relations. Just as soon as the Government in Luanda are ready, we shall appoint a diplomatic mission. As for aid, some relief supplies are already being sent and we are ready to discuss with the Government of Angola the help they will undoubtedly need in the build-up of their country.
We seem to suppose that what happened in Angola happened all of a sudden. We should not delude ourselves. Much of what went wrong was due not to ideology but to the long period of colonial rule by the Caetano regime, to the pent-up frustrations of the liberation movements as they saw themselves being left behind and dominated from Europe while other countries moved towards independence.
A bad situation was made worse by South African intervention. I was glad that the two Opposition Front Bench speakers recognised the mistake made by South Africa. I believe that South African intervention in Angola changed the whole view of black Africa towards external intervention in that country. It gave the Communists the moral cover for their intervention, because it could be represented as making common cause with Black Africa's deeply-felt hostility towards South Africa's racial system.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan
Is the Minister seriously suggesting that this move by South Africa had any effect on the attitude of, say, President Kaunda of Zambia, considering that South Africa had been supporting the Zambian economy when it was selling copper at a loss for months, if not years?
§ Mr. Ennals
It is not for me in this House to attempt to speak for President Kaunda.
I want to turn now to Rhodesia. Many hon. Members have expressed anxious concern about the possibility of a conflagration in Rhodesia, which could bring unprecedented hardship and suffering to people there who are of British stock or who have close ties with Britain. I 337 am sure that that concern is shared in the country at large. It is a concern that we extend also to the African population of Rhodesia, who have already been denied full rights as citizens and who will suffer just as much as the Europeans from bloodshed.
Whatever our views about the responsibility for the situation in Rhodesia—I have no doubt where mine lie—no one can possibly want events to take the turn which some hon. Members have predicted. The question which we should be asking ourselves is how best we can serve the interests of the millions of British subjects of all races who will suffer if there is warfare in Rhodesia.
We do them no service by talking at the eleventh hour in terms of some sort of military intervention designed to fend off a guerrilla incursion assisted by foreign forces. Questions of military credibility apart, to do so now could only aggravate African suspicions of the basic good faith of our entire approach to the Rhodesian problem. If we could not contemplate an opposed intervention in Rhodesia in 1965 in order to suppress or forestall UDI, how could we seriously contemplate one now? To pose the question is to answer it. The truth is that we could not do so then and we cannot do so now.
The best hope for all the people of Rhodesia must even now lie in a peaceful solution of the underlying political problem which is the reason for their country's isolation from the international community.
I believe that realism obliges us to acknowledge that there may be great difficulty now in preventing a breakdown in the search for a settlement. But we can and must continue to do everything in our power to promote a peaceful solution. We must hold ourselves ready to make practical contributions not only towards trying to bring about a settlement but towards sustaining and implementing such a settlement if the opportunity arises. I believe that very much will depend on the response which Mr. Smith gives to the visit of Lord Greenhill, who is due to arrive tomorrow morning in Salisbury.
In considering our reactions to these developments in Southern Africa, we must recognise that the Africans will not welcome a further extension, as some hon. 338 Members have suggested, of the East-West conflict into Africa. As the EEC statement, which I am glad has been welcomed on both sides of the House, indicated, they want to conduct their own affairs. They want to maintain a relationship of co-operation with the West and especially with the EEC, and I have no reason to believe that this will not apply in the case of Angola, too. Most of all, they want to see an end to white domination, racial discrimination and privilege.
Several hon. Members suggested that NATO should play an active rôle in Southern Africa with a view to containing what they described as the "Communist threat" to the area. I think that this is a theme which was developed by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion and by his right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham. They seemed to be calling for a NATO force to be sent to the scene, with land and air forces on the spot and naval forces stationed just outside. The right hon. Member for Farnham went so far as to call for an end to economic sanctions against Rhodesia and a resumption of the supply of arms to South Africa. Others suggested a renegotiation of the Simonstown Agreement.
Really, have the Opposition thought of the effect of their policies on the people of Africa, where the hatred of apartheid is very deep and is seen by the Africans as a far more offensive challenge to them even than Communism?
What is the sense of the proposal that was made for NATO involvement? NATO is a defensive alliance between nations which have agreed to respond collectively to attack on any one of them. It has not been set up to act as a world policeman. It has not been asked by the continent of Africa to act in their defence. NATO has not been called upon to do so. It is not an organisation for military intervention outside the territories of its members. This effectively precludes the involvement of NATO as an organisation in the affairs of Southern Africa, even if that were welcome to the nations concerned.
Members of NATO are nevertheless concerned about the implications of Soviet and Cuban involvement in Angola for the spirit of détente. I am aware that 339 the Russians have argued that there is no connection between their activities in Angola and détente itself. For our part, we have made it clear that we do not accept this thesis. We have condemned their involvement, and we have called for it to end. In our view, the spirit of détente places upon us all an obligation to behave with restraint and responsibility. That applies to the Soviet Union. It applies to right hon. and hon. Members in this House, too. To disregard that principle could be damaging to the spirit of détente to which the Government rightly attach considerable importance.
§ Mr. Donald Coleman (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
§ 10.59 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
We have listened to a really disgraceful 340 speech by this Minister. He is the master of double talk, and it is no wonder that he has been deserted by his kith and kin, from every other Ministry and his own, in the present Government.
Just a moment ago, he said that this Government would not react to an incursion into Rhodesia by guerrillas even if such an invasion were supported by foreign troops. That is a most extraordinary statement. I should think that this is the first time in history that a Minister of the Crown has said that a Crown Colony would not be supported even if it were invaded. It is a statement the Minister should have to withdraw and for which the Government must answer.
§ It being Eleven o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put, pursuant to the Order of the House this day.