§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Tinn.]
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)
In a typically incisive analytical passage in his last major speech, Tony Crosland at Luxembourg defined the essence of Britain's changing relationship with the world. He said:Looking back over a long span of history, we see that there have been two main strands in our relations with the outside world. At times we have been deeply involved in the European continent. Then, more recently, due largely to the preoccupations of empire, we pursued what has been described as the blue-water school of diplomacy. But one strand has never been completely exclusive of the other. It is now natural that, with the change in the relationship with our former imperial territories, there should be a change in the relationship with our neighbours in Europe. What we have learned from our blue-water school will, of course, continue to influence us and colour our contribution to Europe. But it is with Europe that, by will of people and Government, we are now inextricably involved.This central reorientation of our relationships is one which I have long supported and am perhaps particularly identified with. Yet this strand in our foreign policy cannot be pursued exclusively. It is not a British instinct to seek to restrict our horizons and to think and act as if in a continental cocoon. The maritime influence is strong within many of us, and certainly within myself. I was born in Plymouth which I have represented in this House for nearly 11 years, and I was for two years Minister for the Navy.
We are an island race, part of Europe, but with the Atlantic breaking against our coast. An accident of history brought the industrial revolution to Britain before any other European country. This, coupled with British sea power, gave us the wherewithal to trade with and invest in almost every corner of the globe. Today our future lies with Europe as a member of the European Community. But the scale of our international interests is not such that we could withdraw from them even if we wished to do so.
196 There is in Britain today little yearning for past imperial glories. Over the last 10 years we have, all of us, become realistic about our influence in the world. Yet equally it is time to stop selling ourselves short. We need more self-confidence, more national buoyancy. We are in danger of exaggerating our weaknesses and of under-playing our potential. Let us examine our strengths first.
We play a leading part in the European Community. It is not just one of the wealthiest and potentially most economically powerful groups in the world. The aspirations of the member States go beyond immediate national concerns. They are in principle and in practice prepared to forgo national advantage in return for longer-term Community advantage.
We are a country which is unusually dependent on foreign trade with overseas investments second only to those of the United States and still the financial centre of the world. So we have to be actively involved in the major international economic institutions—the OECD, the IMF and the GATT.
We are a vital element in the Atlantic Alliance and the only European member State of NATO which contributes to the strategic, tactical-nuclear and conventional forces of the Organisation. We have a continuing responsibility for Berlin, the exercise of which is vital to the stability of Europe. We are a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
We are a member of the Commonwealth, which gives us a unique insight into the preoccupations and interests of 35 independent countries, representing a broad cross-section of the world's population. The Commonwealth embraces countries at almost every stage of economic development, but its diversity is a strength, not a weakness. The process of understanding each other's problems can only benefit from the frank and informal exchange of opinions which a shared language and, a shared history make possible.
We have established a democratic system and a tradition of political stability of which we in this country, remain justifiably proud. By 1980 we shall be self-sufficient in oil and will be for the 197 next few decades the only major industrialised nation self-sufficient in energy. We have developed a way of life culturally and morally which is not only one of our most valued national assets but also a long-standing source of influence on Europe and on the world.
This is the positive side. I restate it today at the risk of sounding jingoistic because I think that our strengths are too readily overlooked at home and abroad. But, of course, there is a negative side, too, which no one but a fool would ignore. In today's world we can no longer rely on the natural advantages of our insular position to safeguard what we value. With the growth of interlocking relationships, we in Britain find ourselves increasingly limited in our ability to protect our interests on our own. We are of course not unique in this.
We live in a world in which probably no nation, and certainly no industrialised national, can any longer guarantee its prosperity and security without regard to the outside world. This in essence is what we mean by the vogue term "interdependence". It is interdependence which has, since 1945, transformed the international context in which British foreign policy has to operate. The central task of our foreign policy is to decide how best we can realise our fundamental objectives—to promote national prosperity and to safeguard national security—in an interdependent world.
We have first to recognise the link between prosperity and security. Prosperity is of little use without security. But, more important, our security, our reliability as an ally and our capacity to play a useful rôle in the world are infinitely more difficult to sustain if we are economically weak.
Against a five-fold increase in oil prices in 1973 and the subsequent runaway inflation of the summer of 1975 a great deal has already been achieved. But unless we complement sound domestic policies with international economic co-operation, most of our efforts at home, and in particular the benefits gained from the social contract, could very quickly be eroded.
We are increasingly vulnerable to decisions taken far from our shores and over which we have little, if any, control. Our 198 exports of goods and services represent something like one third of our gross national product. We import half our food and even more of our raw materials. Developments therefore in the international economy can and do have a direct impact on the prosperity of every inhabitant in this country.
It is an extraordinary comment on what the Foreign Office once was that one can peruse those volumes of official documents on British foreign policy between the wars and find barely a reference to economic problems. And this was at the time of the great slump and when Britain's decision to move off the gold standard was the most far reaching in its influence on international affairs.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is very different today. Contributing to the export drive is a central task of every overseas post and my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Judd) plays a key co-ordinating rôle between home Departments in Britain and the European Community so that we are deeply involved in domestic matters.
Since 1945 the management of national economies has become almost as much an area of international, as of domestic, decision making. The industrialised democracies have a common interest in stable currencies, the expansion of free trade and the overriding need to avoid a repetition of the slump which took place so tragically in this country and in others in the 1930s. The world economic crisis of the last three years has underlined still further this mutual dependence. The economic summits at Rambouillet and Puerto Rico represented a joint recognition of the power and responsibility of the industrialised countries to promote the prosperity of the developed and developing nations alike. They also marked a concerted effort to avoid competitive beggar-my-neighbour measures at a time of crisis; and to co-operate in bringing the Western world out of recession, without refuelling inflation.
The forthcoming economic summit will enable us to consider further ways of stimulating world economic recovery. It is clear that such recovery depends first and foremost on an expansion of demand in the stronger economies of the world. A central economic issue is what to do about the OPEC surpluses. Then there 199 is the problem of unemployment: increasingly structural and long-lasting, not cyclical; increasingly an international, not a national, phenomenon. Any summit meeting of the world's leading industrial powers must examine closely and urgently the possibility of co-operation on an international scale to rid us all of the scourge of unemployment.
An equally important aspect of economic inter-dependence which is of concern to many hon. Members, the relationship between the developed and developing worlds. The fundamental and most intractable features of this relationship are that in the international economy one third of the world's population has a per capita income of less than £100 per annum; and that the present population of the developing countries is likely to increase by 60 per cent. before the end of the century.
But the gap between rich and poor countries is not simply a matter of statistics. It is supremely a moral question which demands a firm and principled stand. It is even a question of security. Gross and ever-increasing inequalities are in the world at large, as they are in our own national societies, a source of confrontation and ultimately open conflict. The British Government are committed to working for a more fair and rational world economic system which will offer the people of the poorer countries the possibility of lives no longer dominated by malnutrition, want or chronic insufficiency. The fact that it is simply not possible, within the framework of national consent, to meet the demands of the less developed countries immediately or all at once does not diminish the force of our commitment. Our national resources are finite, although the influence that we can have in redressing the imbalance in the world economy is greatly enhanced by our membership of the European Community and such things as the Lomé Agreement to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) made such a major contribution. The countries involved in the North-South dialogue are engaged in a complex and long-term process that virtually amounts to a permanent state of discussion and negotiation. It is vitally important that both sides should try to work together, despite their differences, in the forthcoming Common Fund 200 conference and the ministerial session of the Conference on International Economic Co-operation.
Increasingly since 1945 Britain has been voluntarily placing herself in common decision-making structures with other nations. This has meant compromise; not always getting one's way; but also achieving through common effort solutions to common problems which on our own we, like other nations, would be incapable of solving. This applies in particular to our membership of the European Community and our membership of NATO.
The unique quality of the Community is that it is an economic institution with a political future. It is also a solid buttress for democracy. There has been controversy about whether progress can be made towards political unity without progress towards economic unity and the interplay between the two. Experience shows that progress can be made at different speeds and that the two areas will not always move in tandem. But political advance and economic advance are inevitably linked. When one analyses the achievements of national Governments the linkage becomes obvious. Similarly, when measuring progress within the Community, one cannot escape a simple fact that the reason why the economically strong nations are prepared to consider helping the less well off members is political. It is polities not economics which is the decisive factor behind further enlargement—in the negotiations with Greece and in the discussions with Portugal and maybe later with Spain. [Interruption.] Turkey has shown no signs of applying yet. Over the next five years the Community must systematically face the problem of economic divergence between the member States. The immediate need is to restore economic growth to the Community so that we can establish the basic preconditions for successful policies which will promote convergence. While we can and must continue to make progress in political unity, there can be little doubt that were the present trends of economic divergence to become even more firmly established, then of itself it would present a serious threat to the cohesion of the Community.
The Community needs, if it is to command greater public support, to become more relevant to people's daily lives. We 201 can make it so, economically and socially, by taking action within the Community framework to reinforce and supplement national efforts to restore growth and fight inflation and unemployment. We can avoid creating butter mountains and selling off the surpluses to the Russians. We can do so democratically by giving people a say in directly electing the Members of the European Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If direct elections are to make a positive contribution—
§ Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)
Why does my right hon. Friend so disparage the efforts of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and suggest that his right hon. Friend cannot settle the problem of the butter mountain in a way that he suggested elected Members could do so?
§ Dr. Owen
Far from disparaging the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, I strongly support them. The stand that he has taken over the butter mountain is part of a continuing policy to try to reform the common agricultural policy so that we eradicate the surpluses that exist. That is the Government's policy.
§ Dr. Owen
I did not claim that. If my hon. Friend had listened, he would have heard that what I said was that there were a number of different ways in which we could make the Community more relevant. One was to deal with issues such as unemployment. One was to deal with the question of surpluses, which has caused in the public mind a great deal of feeling, and it is something that damages the Community. We can do this—and I know my hon. Friend's view on this matter—democratically by giving people a say in directly electing the Members of the European Parliament.
I recognise that there are different views on this matter. But if direct elections are to make a positive contribution, then any electoral system adopted in the United Kingdom, as in other member States, must carry conviction and must be truly representative. It is in this spirit that the Government genuinely intend to use their best endeavours, along with other member States to meet the 1978 May or June target date. 202 A White Paper which will contain some points still for decision in the light of the further discussion will be presented to Parliament within a few weeks. Then some of the problems and difficulties of electing 81 representative Members for Britain already discussed by the Select Committee will become more apparent to the House.
Constitutional changes need to be very carefully considered by Parliament as a whole. The cause of European democracy will not be served by repeating the problems we face on the Floor of this House with devolution. Nor will democracy be served by adopting in a hurry any system whose result will not add, when it comes, to people's confidence. in the directly elected Parliament. Of course, there are timing difficulties in delay. But no other member State has yet carried through the legislation necessary for direct elections. The more agreement we can reach now, the easier it will be to pass the legislation foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech.
The formation of NATO in 1949 reflected the fact that individually the States of Western Europe could not defend themselves and that security could lie only in collective effort made with the United States. The relationships of Britain and Europe with the United States are an integral feature of the interdependent world in which British foreign policy operates. This is the logical consequence of the United States' position in the international economy. It also reflects the United States' military strength. Anglo-United States relations rest on the strongest of foundations: shared ideals and shared principles.
Membership of NATO is the foundation of British security. The Organisation is as essential in an age of détente as it was during the cold war. For détente without security is a contradiction in terms. The continuing cohesion of the Atlantic Alliance and of NATO is therefore vital. Fortunately, the basic feature of this particular aspect of Europe's relations with America is its reassuring stability despite rapid change in international affairs. It is remarkable that after 30 years of peace and profound economic and social changes the Atlantic Alliance—an association of 15 free and democratic nations—should still be 203 strongly united and confident in its common objectives.
We are equally committed to détente, to the continuing search for a more constructive, more manageable and safer relationship with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe.
One of the priority tasks of détente is arms control and disarmament. This lies at the core of détente. The success of the present talks between the United States and the Soviet Union on strategic arms limitation is in everyone's interest. I hope that we can also move forward at the talks on mutual and balanced force reductions at Vienna.
A positive feature of our relations with the Soviet Union and some of the Warsaw Pact countries is the degree of cooperation which we have already achieved in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. We intend to build on this further so that we can together encourage further accessions to the non-proliferation treaty, and eliminate the risks inherent in the uncontrolled spread of nuclear technology. This whole area of policy is one which has interested me for many years. Britain takes very seriously her current chairmanship of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
We must also ensure, as best we can, that the Helsinki Final Act is fully implemented and that we can bring a much needed human dimension to the development of detente. The Belgrade review conference in the summer gives the 35 signatory States the opportunity to examine progress on implementation over the last 18 months. The British Government's approach to the review meeting will be constructive. We do not want fruitless polemics. But we shall not hesitate to state our views frankly where we consider the performance of other countries to be unsatisfactory.
It would be a serious error to see detente as an exclusively European process or one confined to a bilateral relationship between the two super-Powers. There are a number of areas outside Europe where tensions present a chronic threat to world peace. The future credibility of detente depends on the restraint and responsibility of all States in their approach to crises inside and outside Europe. This is what we mean by the indivisibility of detente.
204 There are three major potential areas of conflict where Britain has an interest and where its policies will be tested over the next few months. In Southern Africa the intractability of the problems of the region, mainly stemming from racial discrimination, puts an increasing premium on violence. We shall uphold the principle of democracy in Namibia. The people of Namibia must be given the opportunity to determine their own political and constitutional future. We have repeatedly stated that it is an essential requirement that there should be countrywide elections in which all the political parties, including SWAPO, should be free to participate, and which would take place under United Nations' supervision.
The tensions are probably at their most acute in Rhodesia. Over the past year and especially during the last five months we have devoted a very great deal of effort to trying to bring about a settlement by negotiation—an orderly and peaceful transfer of power out of the hands of the white minority and into the hands of the majority, where it properly belongs.
The present position is that the Geneva Conference, of which we had high hopes, has had to go into recess while we seek a new basis for negotiation. In the course of this search we have ourselves put forward our own proposals for a transitional government. These were laid before the House on 25th January. Given good will on both sides, and a real desire to make progress towards early majority rule and independence, our proposals would, I am convinced, have enabled us to obtain agreement to the establishment of a transitional government. I much regret that, on 24th January, Mr. Smith rejected them even as a basis for negotiation.
Since then we have been considering with our American allies the options that remain open. We remain in contact with the nationalists and the front line presidents. We and the Americans have recently had joint discussions with South Africa at official level. In the light of our continuing consultations with all the parties concerned we shall decide in what form it may be possible to resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement.
§ Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)
Will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to introducing more moderate 205 black and white spokesmen in Rhodesia into the discussions?
§ Dr. Owen
One of the problems is that it is not for me or the Government to introduce leaders. We have to deal with the leaders that are there. What we must do is to make sure that they are properly representative. That is the main issue. We must try to see that all shades of opinion are able to participate. I must say that I think the Geneva Conference did achieve that.
I was saying that with regard to a peaceful settlement it is still not too late, but time is rapidly running out and nothing we have heard over the past few weeks gives any ground for optimism. But we cannot allow our vision of a free, prosperous and non-racial society in Rhodesia to become dimmed. This applies with equal force to Namibia and to South Africa itself. The situations in all three areas demean human dignity, create tension between races and sow the seeds of violence. We must do everything in our power to help establish conditions in the region in which people of all races can work together in equality and mutual respect. The alternative is the bleak prospect of bloodshed and chaos. Even now appalling tragedies are becoming more frequent.
This House rightly, feels moved by compassion and wishes to intervene, but we must realistically face the limitations of our power. I for my part stand ready at any time to go anywhere and talk to anyone if I judge that it will make a genuine contribution for a peaceful settlement.
In the Middle East there is now some prospect of breaking the deadlock. Let us hope that fresh minds and fresh opportunities will enable early progress to be made. I am hoping to visit Egypt and Israel in the next few months to talk to their leaders and to assess the situation at first hand. We recognise that, for the time being, the rôle of the United States in getting negotiations under way will be decisive. But Europe cannot and should not stand aside. Europe's interests in the Middle East are enormous. The nations of the area have become Europe's major trading partners and we have strong links based on traditional friendship and history as well as commerce.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
As a preliminary, may I just say how much we warmly welcome my right hon. Friend to the Dispatch Box? Does he not agree that one of the absolute prerequisites for any settlement in the Middle East is the cessation of the continuing colonisation of Israeli settlements in the Arab occupied territories?
§ Dr. Owen
The Government's view on this subject was made clear in United Nations' debates and United Nations' discussions. This is one of the factors that need to be corrected if we are to reach a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. There are factors on all sides which need to be considered. One of the ways of forging peace will be to try to balance all these different factors and bring them together possibly in some overall settlement.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
In order to avoid doubt, when my right hon. Friend said that this is one of the matters to be corrected is it not part of the Government's policy that there should be secure and recognised frontiers for all of the countries in the Middle East, including Israel?
§ Dr. Owen
Yes, that represents the Government's policy. When we look at the whole question of boundaries we have to look at all these aspects. But as I understood it my hon. Friend's suggestion touched on the specific question of some settlement.
In Cyprus, the recent meetings between Archbishop Makarios and Mr. Denktash are a hopeful sign and yesterday I discussed the situation in detail with the President's emissary, Mr. Clark Clifford. It is too early to say whether substantial progress towards a settlement will be made in the inter-communal talks in Vienna starting on 31st March. We shall remain in close touch with our allies and our partners in the Community to decide what, if any, initiatives we can take to further a negotiated settlement. The recent declaration of the Nine on Cyprus reflects our concern.
§ Mr. John Corrie (Bute and North Ayrshire)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at the moment a delegation of Greek Cypriot Members of Parliament 207 is on its way to this country to discuss this problem with him? Does he not feel it unfair that either side should be coming here while delicate talks are going on?
§ Dr. Owen
I have tried to make myself available to all sides. I visited Cyprus myself and spoke to Turkish Cypriot leaders and Greek Cypriot leaders. I have spoken to individual Greeks, Turks and Greek and Turkish Cypriots coming through London. What I have always felt in this complex situation is that one needs information about how people feel on the island. My door has been open to many different sides and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no discrimination.
It is concern for the rights of the individual that govern our policies towards our few remaining dependent territories. We cannot avoid responding to changing circumstances but we must consider at all times the wishes and interests of the people who are dependent upon us. My hon. Friend, the Member for Merthyr Tydfil (Mr. Rowlands) has just returned from a gruelling and very hard-working visit to the Falkland Islands. He will give the House an account of his consultations and conversations there and in Buenos Aires when he speaks at the end of this debate but I should like to remind the House of the purpose of that visit.
The Government believe that a framework of greater political and economic co-operation in the region of the South-West Atlantic is necessary if we are to have any prospect of achieving a prosperous and durable future for the Islands. The Government therefore decided that the time had come to consider both with the Islanders and with the Argentine Government whether a climate existed for discussing the broad issues which bear on the future of the Falkland Islands and the possibilities of co-operation between Britain and Argentina in the region of the South-West Atlantic.
As my predecessor indicated, any such discussions would inevitably raise fundamental questions in the relationship between the Islands, Britain and Argentina. However, any changes which might be proposed must be acceptable to the Islanders whose interest and wellbeing are our main concern. In conse- 208 quence there must be full consultation with the Islanders at every stage; nothing will be done behind their backs.
I now reaffirm these pledges. My hon. Friend had very full discussions with all sections of islander opinion and made it clear that the issue of sovereignty is bound to be raised in any negotiations which might take place with the Argentines. He also assured them, however, that such negotiations would take place under the sovereignty umbrella; that is, Her Majesty's Government would wholly reserve their position on the issue of sovereignty which would in no way be prejudiced. It was on the basis of this assurance, and on the understanding that there would be full consultation at every stage, that the Joint Legislative and Executive Council of the Islands gave their approval for the Minister of State to hold talks in Buenos Aires to try to establish a basis for negotiation with the Government of Argentina. These talks have not yet been concluded but I can assure the House that there has been and there will be no sell-out. That would be to betray the very principles which I believe guide our British foreign policy.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
The right hon. Gentleman said there would be the fullest consultations. As with the analogous position of Gibraltar, it has been the position of successive British Governments that there would be no question of handing over sovereignty without the consent of the population. Can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that consultation also involves consent in this case?
§ Dr. Owen
One assurance I can give is that any change in the sovereignty would have to come before this House. I am confident that this House would not pass any legislation involving the sovereignty of the Islanders if it was not satisfied that this was in their best interests. The fact that their interests will be looked after not just by this Government but by this House is the best safeguard for the islanders.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
In spite of that why can my right hon. Friend not give a plain assurance that there will be no transfer of sovereignty without the consent of the islanders, as has been done in other cases?
§ Dr. Owen
The wording I have used has been carefully phrased. There are no weasel words in what I have said. I have weighed this issue very carefully. I think the conduct of foreign affairs in this very difficult situation is quite clear. This House has to pass legislation before there are any changes in sovereignty. This House has always zealously guarded its reputation for looking after the interests of minority groups wherever they are, and of respecting democracy.
I recognise the Government have that reputation, too. Although I give an assurance on behalf of the Government I have to recognise that it is not always a decision just for the Government. It is not a decision which would be made just by the Government. It will also come back to this House, and that is the essential safeguard.
In conclusion, an effective foreign policy does not simply depend on a sound and prosperous economy; nor even on the vigour and stability of a nation's political institutions, vital though these are. Equally important is our commitment to the proclaimed values and beliefs of our society, based upon the ideals of morality, equality and justice. These ideals must permeate all aspects of our foreign policy.
In the field of human rights, this means that we must take our stand in any corner of the globe. We must not discriminate. We will apply the same standards and judgments to Chile as we do to Communist countries or to Uganda, or to South Africa. For, without respect for human rights, we cannot hope for peace and stability in the long run. It is not a question of interfering in other people's internal affairs. The United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UN Covenants on Human Rights demonstrate clearly that abuses of human rights, wherever they may occur, are the legitimate subject of international concern. Of course, we have to balance morality with reality. In the last analysis, it is the Government and this House which must judge how best to give effect to the beliefs to which we all aspire; and, inevitably, different circumstances and different countries will require different measures. Governmental action must be hard-headed and practical. Above all, it must have realisable objectives, for otherwise it is all too easy 210 to drift into a combination of what Winston Churchill once called in this House "mush, slush and gush".
It is early days for me as Foreign Secretary. I have much to learn, but on one matter I shall be unshakable. Foreign policy must project outwards the values which lie at the core of British society. This is the only way in which a Foreign Secretary can hope to carry public opinion, and without public support any foreign policy is ultimately doomed to failure. I will apply this standard as best I can to the decisions which I take during my tenure of this office.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Mr. John Davies (Knutsford)
May I first extend to the right hon. Gentleman my compliments on his speech today and my good wishes for his tenure of his present office? He will understand if I say that I hope that that occupancy will be brief but successful.
I have a real sense of sympathy and fellow-feeling with the Foreign Secretary because I, too, was rather precipitated into a position on the Front Bench following the death of a great and much-respected parliamentarian in the person of Iain Macleod. Therefore, I have a strong sense of feeling for the right hon. Gentleman at this time.
In some ways, today's debate on foreign affairs comes as a very welcome one, because the Opposition have been pressing for it for a long time. However, to some degree it comes as a pointed commentary on the Government's assessment of priorities. It cannot fail to appear to the Opposition that the occasion for this debate arises largely from the fact that a sudden vacuum was found in the Government's programme as a result of the devolution disaster and that otherwise we might have been going on week after week calling for such a debate.
It would be hard to fault a lot of the general statements made by the Foreign Secretary today. Most of us will find ourselves at one with most of his broad feelings and with his general approach to the task facing him. But it is inevitable that on individual issues that may not be the case. Indeed, there may be—and it is illustrated by what I said about the occasion for this debate—a sense of difference in the fundamental approaches 211 of the two sides of the House to the purposes of foreign policy. I should like to consider, as the right hon. Gentleman did, some of the issues where the principal areas of tension lie at the moment rather than to dwell on other longer-term issues, such as the problems facing the less-developed world, which I hope we shall have an opportunity to debate in due course.
In foreign political terms, it seems to me that 1977 is a year of both dangers and opportunities. It is perhaps a singular year in this respect. The dangers are very great. The opportunities are quite exceptional in some senses. In considering the various areas of tension, perhaps I may be allowed to dwell upon those opportunities. I do not necessarily observe exactly the same order as that chosen by the right hon. Gentleman. But I do not seek, either, to assess what I have to say in terms of the precedence of individual questions.
The Foreign Secretary spoke last of all about the Falkland Islands. As he will know, there is a widespread feeling of anxiety on both sides of the House about the sovereignty issue and the position of the islanders. We are not unaware of the dilemma which the right hon. Gentleman faces. We know that although he is faced by proposals that might be made for the improvement of the islanders' economic prospects, they involve very heavy capital expenditure at a time when obviously that is unwelcome. The right hon. Gentleman will have in mind the extremely interesting Adjournment debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) some time ago when these issues were carefully and sensibly rehearsed.
However, in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman said, we do not feel completely satisfied and assured about this problem of the absolute sovereignty and the islanders' wishes in this respect. "Consultation" is a word that has all sorts of overtones. Too often it implies an endeavour to bring people into line with an existing state of decision. This is a kind of consultation that is totally inappropriate to the circumstances of this issue.
It was a disappointment to the House that the Foreign Secretary could not in clean terms say in response to my [...]ight 212 hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that he could assure the House that there would be no transfer unless there was consent. I hope that the Minister of State will feel able to go somewhat further than the right hon. Gentleman did just now.
§ Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)
Might not my right hon. Friend seek an assurance that if this matter is to be determined in the House of Commons it will be determined by a free vote and that the Government's majority will not be used to push through a measure that will be opposed by the islanders?
§ Mr. Davies
That is an important concomitant. But I should still like a clean statement to this effect. The House will make its decision in the way that it thinks fit, but it would be terrible if we were in any sense compromising the right of these people to decide their own future.
The Foreign Secretary dealt with Cyprus. In this area I believe that the opportunity is brighter than in almost any other and in some ways rather unexpectedly brighter. The developments which have taken place following the encounter between Archbishop Makarios and Mr. Denktash, and followed up by Mr. Clark Clifford's mission, all seem to suggest that it is possible now to find a degree of flexibility between hitherto immobile parties that will lead to a conclusion.
But the issue does not stop at Cyprus. The area of concern is the whole of this NATO flank and not least the very important problems that arise in relation to the eventual expansion of the European Economic Community. All these issues are involved in finding some sense of stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and one's feeling that the long-standing disputes and disagreements which have damaged the interests of Cyprus itself and those of Turkey and Greece can at long last be set aside. I feel sure that the House will only support the right hon. Gentleman in his endeavour to pursue the action of this reconciliation to a finality.
In the Middle East the prospects again are substantially better. There, however, there is a dangerous factor as well. The opportunities are perhaps not very long-lived. The alternative to seizing the 213 opportunities at this moment to bring about a settlement in that highly vital area can have the most incalculable consequences. The Middle East situation would seem to be characterised by extreme possibilities—the possibility of at long last an understanding and settlement or, failing that, the possibility of a most frightening explosion. Therefore, the issues of opportunity and danger are at their most evident in that area.
The deadlock must be broken. There is obviously a peculiarly delicate situation obtaining during the run-up to the Israeli elections. It is hard to see a situation emerging before then that will allow the reconvening of the Geneva Conference, but from all the discussions that I have been able to have I believe that there are signs of good will on both sides to create acceptable circumstances for the reconvening of that conference thereafter. I am sure that the visits of Dr. Waldheim and Mr. Vance have contributed to that situation.
The primary obstacle, the biggest hurdle in the way, is the whole issue of the Palestinian representation at such a conference, on the one side, and, on the other, the whole problem of the Palestinians' attitude to the State of Israel. It seems to me that inevitably a prelude to the conference must be some relaxation on both sides of their respective views. It seems to me inevitable also that in order to reach the far wider and more vital ultimate interest which exists both parties have to recede from their more extreme positions so that the purposes envisaged in Resolution No. 242 of the Security Council can at last be tabled as a matter for conference negotiation rather than for assertions of rigid positions by both sides.
There is an infinite number of intractable problems to solve at the conference table itself, but I believe that it is the first step now that counts, the approach to this essential tripwire of interest, represented by the real interests of the Palestinian people on one side and the real interests of the Israelis on the other. Again, the interest in the situation goes very wide. The United Kingdom and the whole of the EEC have deeply entrenched interests in the area. The right hon. Gentleman referred to them—the very high state of investment 214 there, the great reliance of Western Europe on Middle East oil.
There is no doubt that in the event of an explosion in the area the first issue which would almost fatally ensue would be an interruption of oil supplies, with all its incalculable effects on the Western industrialised countries. Then there is the strong trading relationship, which has recently intensified to the extent of movement in and out of the area. I welcome that, and I believe that the influence of our business men going there and of their business men coming to Europe serves again to try to reconcile the interests of all the parties in the area, to their eventual benefit.
Are we mobilising adequately the depth of interest of the EEC in this area in order to support the welcome efforts made by the United States and the United Nations to this end? Have they been adequately persistent in bringing home the immense importance of the interest there is in a resolution of the problems? At the last meeting of Foreign Ministers within the political forum of the EEC conclusions were reached which are not known outside at the moment, but it is to be hoped that they are not simply banal conclusions arrived at, thrown up in the air and left at that. They needed to be brought home to the people concerned.
I turn now to the question of Southern Africa. My hon. Friend the Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell), if he catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, will deal in more detail with the problem of Rhodesia. It is my intention to deal with the problems of Southern Africa in their wider sense, and he will try to draw together some of the views which may be expressed by my right hon. and hon. Friends on these intractable problems. Nor is it my intention to try to reopen a kind of post-mortem on what has happened—that would be valueless—but I want to try to look to the future.
It is no secret that on this side of the House we were and continue to be deeply dissatisfied with the Government's handling of this matter, both for its dilatoriness and for its lack of any purpose. But that is in the past. The future is before us and it is to that that we must address ourselves. The issues go far beyond that 215 of Rhodesia itself. The ultimate question embraces the relationship of the whole of the continent, including, and not unimportantly, Nigeria. The whole continent is involved in what may now happen and what may happen in the very near future.
The strategic issues arising concern not just the vital mineral resources of that important continent but the key importance of the Cape route. Is it realised that the EEC is dependent upon imported hydro-carbons for more than 50 per cent. of its energy needs now and that it will continue as far almost as one can see forward in the light of present energy policies to import a very large proportion of its supplies round the Cape?
Again, 40 per cent. of the hydrocarbon needs of the United States are being imported. Not all of that comes round the Cape—a considerable proportion comes from nearer sources. But the situation of both the United States and the EEC illustrates the immense importance of this area, not just as an area of potential political, social and racial unrest, but as an area of practical importance to every industrialised Western country.
It is vital from our point of view, and for that reason it is necessary to lose no time. Time is not on our side in relation to the issues of Southern Africa, and there is no room for a long-winded reappraisal of the issues. There must be urgent action by the Government, including inducing the United States to take a far more forward rôle in prosecuting the whole of the need for a settlement for the future.
While the denial of minerals or port facilities is itself vital, it is not just a question of having the risk of a hostile force and a hostile interest launching missiles at tankers round the Cape. Let us think what the situation would be if there were implanted in the whole of the Cape area people whose interests were directly divergent from the interests of the future of the Western industrialised world. It would have the most overwhelming effect upon our whole strategic and tactical situations.
I turn now to issues nearer home, particularly to the question of the EEC. Much as I agree with a lot of what the 216 right hon. Gentleman has said, when it comes to the EEC. I am in much greater difficulty. My whole impression in many contacts with the Community at all levels and with all its member countries is that disenchantment with this country was never greater. It is pitiful to contrast the situation with what it was five years ago at the time of negotiation for our accession. There were difficulties, but most of the countries were avid to see us in the EEC, because they believed that we had something of a broad nature to contribute to its future.
Yet I am bound to say that petty-mindedness has been the hallmark of the United Kingdom contribution to the Community since the referendum. I deeply regret this. The whole of the Government's behaviour in relation to agriculture, the green pound, the problems of dairy produce and most recently the pig-meat arrangements, in relation to energy and the minimum safeguard price and all that it implies, its intervention in the North-South dialogue and its original terms and its original purpose signifies a failure to understand the rôle that this country had to play in the future of the Community. This is deeply disappointing to me and, I think, to many other people in other countries.
We now face the problem of direct elections. The right hon. Gentleman could not have been proud of his Minister of State's handling of European business questions yesterday. His rather smirking attitude to what was meant by the phrase "best endeavours" was particularly disagreeable to us. We believe that the phrase "best endeavours" means what it says—that one will act to the limit to achieve something one has undertaken, not to use it as a cloak for one's own pusillanimity. It will not be easily forgotten or forgiven if we are the people who bring the whole process of direct elections to a halt and frustrate it.
There is no need for a White Paper with green edges. It is a whole year since we had the original Green Paper, and since then we have had a Select Committee, which worked diligently and quickly. Why cannot we have the Bill before us now? None of us can understand that. The Foreign Secretary spoke movingly about the need to reinforce the buttress that the Community represents for world democracy—
§ Mr. Eric Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree—obviously he does not agree—that there is no enthusiasm in this country for direct elections except among the Euro-fanatics and that most people in this country are about as enthusiastic for direct elections as they were for devolution? The right hon. Gentleman must know that if a referendum were held now on the subject of Common Market membership it is quite possible that the answer, based on experience, would be very different from what it was last time.
§ Mr. Davies
Not content with answering himself, the hon. Gentleman also puts himself forward as a person who can accurately define what the balance of opinion is in this country, but I take issue with him. I think that if it were put to the House, there is little doubt what the outcome would be.
§ Mr. Davies
That is why I ask for the Bill now. Let us have it and put it to the test. I ask for nothing better.
It is lamentable that we should be speaking of the Community as a buttress of democracy but denying it the opportunity to be so in a more real sense.
I remember attending with Mr. Speaker the conference of European Speakers and registering that we then represented two-thirds of parliamentary democracies in the world. Yet the Government are apparently too inept to wish to pursue that to the logical conclusion of making the Community more democratic.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to other Speakers in other legislatures. Would he not agree that because of the history and the unwritten constitution of this country, the implications of direct elections to the United Kingdom might be of different and fundamental constitutional importance when compared with the implications for some other members of the EEC?
§ Mr. Davies
I believe that they are of fundamental constitutional importance to every member of the EEC and that it was because constitutional change was regarded by all member countries as necessary and desirable that each of the 218 Prime Ministers of those countries gave his undertaking to use his best endeavours—meaning it—to that end last September. It is incredible in some ways that there should now be an endeavour to withdraw from an undertaking given solemnly at that time by the Labour Prime Minister.
I turn briefly to the Foreign Secretary's problem in relation to the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly overshadowing so many of the problems that we face is the brooding and enigmatic presence of the USSR and the difficulty of understanding precisely what its objective is, how far it goes, and how far it can be contained and shifted. What is undoubtedly the basic pervasive issue within the Soviet Union is a relentless pursuit of ideological struggle.
The USSR wishes by all means to obtain a state where more and more countries are brought into the net of the Russian attitude to political dominion. It does not do this in terms of following a precise, well-planned blue-print. It pursues its needs with a degree of inexorable relentlessness that the West has shown itself poorly equipped to match. But whereas for the USSR all the issues involved in the ideological struggle are related and interlocked and each issue is seen as the motive force of the next, that is not matched on our side. We look at these things as individual bits of a sectionalised proposition and therefore we are weak in front of them.
I have frequently visited the Soviet Union in other capacities. One can complain about much, but not about any lack of a determined sense of purpose. It is this sense of purpose that we have hitherto failed to match. That is what worries me above all in our relationship with that country. We cannot see that that linkage is not simply a linkage in negotiation but a comprehension within the Western World, whether in NATO or in the EEC, or in the other organisations with which we are concerned.
We cannot see how closely inter-related these issues are. We cannot match the monolithic purpose of the Soviet Union in this issue, but we must, for otherwise all these issues of current tension, which are all in some way or another related to the massive problem of the reconciliation of the East-West struggle, will be totally nugatory in their ultimate effect on us.
219 I ask the Government to reconsider their position, whether it is at the Belgrade meeting concerning the Final Act of Helsinki, or the question of the support of the SALT initiative between Russia and the United States, or in the MBFR arrangements, or in any other field. They have close inter-relationships which are to be seen from the side of the West. These relationships must be comprehended and the negotiating position seen as a whole, not as separate bits. If they are seen as bits, they will be picked off as bits.
A great anxiety on this side of the House, particularly in the Conservative Party, is that the Government, in the all-important field of our relationships abroad, have had a sense hitherto of almost disinvolvement, a desire to be clear of so many issues without too great exposure.
§ Mr. Townsend
Does not my right hon. Friend feel as I do that it is rather shameful that the new President of the United States should be so much more outspoken on the subject of dissidents than the Prime Minister is? Is it not perfectly possible for the leader of a Western democracy to criticise Soviet attitudes to dissidents at the same time as conducting talks on arms control?
§ Mr. Davies
I do not believe that any one part of our concern over our relationship with the Soviet Union is a separate and intact matter which may be segregated from the rest. All aspects of the relationship have an inter-involvement which is of fundamental importance in trying to devise a proper strategic method of handling our relationships with the Soviet Union, and only when that is done, embracing the point my hon. Friend has raised, shall we be on even terms.
So I believe that if the new Foreign Secretary is now to show a sense of reinvolvement in the world's affairs, reflecting what he said at the opening of his speech, he will find nothing but support from here. It is when he shows, as has been shown too often over recent years, a sense of withdrawal, a sense of indifference, negligence or incompetence in the face of the world's problems that he will have no sympathy from here and no support for such action.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey de Freitas (Kettering)
I join the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) in offering kind words to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and in wishing him well. I disagree, of course, about the length of time that he should be at the Dispatch Box. I hope that he has a very long period there.
My right hon. Friend referred to Tony Crosland's speech in the European Parliament in January. It was an impressive speech and, as the Foreign Secretary commented, he made clear that we were not only a European—he was there, of course, as a European—but also an Atlantic and a Commonwealth Power. In the European Parliament we often find ourselves involved in all three areas. For example, it is no accident that British MPs play a disproportionate part in the European Parliament's Development Committee. Many of the questions answered by Tony Crosland on that day concerned Africa, especially Rhodesia. Rhodesia is one of the greatest problems facing my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
I welcome the emphasis that the right hon. Member for Knutsford put on the subject of Rhodesia, telling us that his colleague on the Front Bench would be bringing up this matter again later. I have no solution to offer, but I have a few words of encouragement based on the experience of Kenya. Twenty years ago it was impossible for us in this House to believe that in 1977 tens of thousands of white people could live and work in peace with blacks under a black Government. By 1963, however, when independence came to Kenya, it was accepted by the British Government—Sir Alec Douglas-Home was Prime Minister then—and by the whites living in Kenya that there was a reasonable chance of whites and blacks living and working together under a black Government.
I well remember the doubts which existed at the time. I was the British High Commissioner at independence. We went ahead, and today, 13 years later, blacks and whites live together in peace under a black Government. It can be argued that the figures of blacks and whites in Kenya are different from those in Rhodesia, but I feel that we have something of value 221 to learn. In Kenya at independence there were only 50,000 whites, while in Rhodesia there are about five times as many as that. The really important point is that in Kenya today there there are 20,000 whites living and working under a black Government—nearly half as many as the 50,000 there were at independence.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)
In addition to the numerical comparison that the right hon. Gentleman makes, there are two other factors to be borne in mind as differentiating the two cases. The first is that the harmonious relationship to which he refers in Kenya appears to depend to an alarming extent on the continued existence of one man. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs for a European community. The second consideration is that Rhodesia, different from all the independent African countries, is a highly advanced, sophisticated and industrialised country. Does that not make an almost crucial difference?
§ Sir G. de Freitas
Of course it is a difference. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked me a question, and I shall try to reply to it. I was making the point that it was once thought impossible for blacks and whites to live and work together in peace under a black Government. It has been proved that it is possible. There are half as many whites in Kenya today living and working in peace with the blacks. I mention that as a point of encouragement. It is a relevant factor, but it is not a solution. I said expressly that I was not offering a solution, but we should bear in mind that these things are possible.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke about the European Parliament and directly-elected Members. The Government promised to use their best endeavours to bring in legislation in time. On 20th October, the present Foreign Secretary said that it was our "firm intention" to "use our best endeavours". He repeated that statement, but now we are faced with the problem.
Every two or three weeks there is a meeting of the Bureau of the European Parliament. At every meeting the question of Britain's progress on direct elections is an item on the agenda. It is all very well to say that other countries 222 have not completed their task. They have not, but they have got far along and we have not even started. As a British MP and a Vice-President of the Parliament, I have had to reassure the Committee that Britain will stand by its undertakings. I have explained the delay caused by the overloading of parliamentary business. I have explained the Committee system and said that constitutional matters must be taken on the Floor of the House. Yesterday, however, my hon. Friend the Minister of State went as far as to talk of the danger of rushing ahead impetuously. That was unbelievable in view of the undertakings that were given so long ago.
What on earth have the Government been doing these last six months, or even this year, if they were not working out how to implement their undertaking? I know it is no duty of the Government to make my life any easier. They have other problems. But what am I to tell my colleagues in the European Parliament? On the strength of the Government's undertaking of September, I fear that I have misled them.
§ Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
Is not the position of the Government at the moment dishonourable on this matter? Have they not been coming before the House saying that they will use their best endeavours, and did not the Minister of State make it clear yesterday that they have no such intention? Would it not be more honourable for them to come to the House and say that they have changed their minds and that they will not bring in the Bill, or, alternatively, tell us that they will bring in the Bill instead of sheltering under a facade of dishonour?
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I have never used the words "honour" and "dishonour" lightly inside the House or outside, and I do not intend to do so today. I am encouraged that the Foreign Secretary repeated today that the Government would use their best endeavours. I am encouraged by that, but I was deeply discouraged by what happened yesterday.
Let me set out certain facts. First, the Government are bound by a solemn undertaking. Secondly, they have reached only the White Paper stage. Thirdly, the Select Committee which recommended the single-Member constituency system and 223 that the first direct elections should be on our Westminster model has been overtaken by events. It was recognised that it would need 15 months after Royal Assent to get such a system established. Fourthly, the Governments of the other member countries of the Community want the European Parliament to be infused by this shot of electoral democracy. It is interesting, in view of what certain of my hon. Friends have said in interventions, that the more unpopular the Commission has become, such as the nonsense about selling cheap butter to the Russians, the more people appear to want direct control through election of their Members of Parliament in the European Parliament. Presumably this is to get a grip on the inefficiencies which they see in the Commission.
In the autumn of 1973, the Commission's public opinion poll showed that in the United Kingdom only 33 per cent. of people wanted directly-elected European Members, but by the autumn of last year that figure had risen to 57 per cent. The Foreign Secretary made the point that there is a lot of public criticism of the Community, especially of the Commission, and that there is a wish to have a choice in the selection of MPs to go to the European Parliament. Because of the time which has passed, it is impossible to offer the Select Committee solution. I know no one who has applied himself to this task who thinks that 81 constituencies can be drawn up by the Boundary Commission in tinme.
Fortunately, two years ago we had the experience of the referendum. It proves that we can count votes by counties and regions and arrive at an expression of public electoral opinion. We know that the machinery exists. We have the possibility of using proportional representation on a national list, in the same way as the French will use a national list. The French have a constituency system just as we have, with single Members. For this first European election, however, they have decided to use proportional representation with national lists. One of the reasons why they have done this is because their single-Member constituencies, like ours, will not be accepted by the other countries for the second European election in five or six years' time. We should have some form of proportional 224 representation to the European Parliament in five or six years' time.
The Times, in a leading article on Saturday, 26th February, said:The arguments for PR in the European context are overwhelmingly strong.… The list system…is the commonest system among our European partners. It would therefore not be an inappropriate choice for European elections which eventually are to be standardised throughout the Community.I ask the Government to note this when they start work on their White Paper. It is an important point, and I do not see how there is anything inconsistent—certainly the French do not—between having single-Member constituencies for national parliamentary elections and a system of proportional representation for elections to the European Parliament. Under our system, when we come to Westminster our first rôle is to serve as an electoral college and to choose our Government. There is no such rôle foreseen—certainly not in our lifetime—for the European Parliament.
The European Parliament's task is to reflect the opinions of democratic Europe, and the rôle is in no way that of an electoral college. If we are to have the White Paper, let the Government be realistic and admit that it is impossible to arrange the 81 constituencies in time. One of the reasons for that is that the Liberal Party will oppose every single Boundary Commission report, and it has said so.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
It is a well-known fact that it wants to hold up the establishment of these constituencies. I want the Government to bring forward a plan for having national lists, one each for England, for Scotland, for Wales and for Northern Ireland. I admit that there is an obvious undemocratic feature of the list system. It gives the power of selecting candidates to the party machine and not to the people in the constituency. In the interests of getting the 81 elected Members to the European Parliament in time, we have to face that obvious disadvantage and—
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would agree that the real difficulty, which I wholly concede exists, could be overcome by having primaries.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
I want to make this as simple as possible in order to get our 81 people on parade. There is a lot to be said for primaries, and there is a lot in favour of the French system of single-Member constituencies and an effective primary. I am not arguing that but I am trying to obtain the simplest method of getting our people to the Parliament in time. After all, the same system will not be adopted in future elections.
We have to recognise that the list system hands power to the machines of our parties. I am convinced that the parties will have enough sense of responsibility to the public to balance the lists to reflect minorities on European views. The Labour MPs who go to the European Parliament have found it easy for pro-Europeans and anti-Europeans to live together. This is helped by the fact that in the European Parliament we are organised into transnational political groups. The Labour Party Members belong to the Socialist Group, and our leader is a German.
The differing views of Labour MPs are diffused among 66 Members of the Socialist Group of nine nationalities, so there is little opportunity for disagreement among ourselves. One result, for example, is that we British Members of the Socialist Group have elected unanimously as our chairman my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who has not supported direct elections. I am convinced that our parties will be big enough to consider their responsibility to the public and to reflect minorities in their lists.
I ask the Government whether they are prepared to face the fact that Britain may be the only one of the nine countries unable to fulfil its obligations and that we will have to nominate Members to the European Parliament. I remind the Government that our country, not our Parliament, was described more than 100 years ago by John Bright as the Mother of Parliaments. I feel that our Parliament has the duty not to let down the Mother of Parliaments in this way.
§ Mr. John Davies
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether the Government would be prepared to envisage a situation in which they alone were nominating Members to the European Parliament. But that is not the situation. 226 It is that if the Government fail to take the action they must take, all will be frustrated.
§ Sir G. de Freitas
That is the present position. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman, however, that a lot of thought has been given to the matter, and, despite the Government's assurances, it is very likely that the eight other countries would go ahead in their own way. I do not see exactly how it can be done, but the point is that some assurances must be given. We may bring the whole lot down, but, even if we do not, failure will certainly prevent us from being represented by democratically-elected Members at the European Parliament.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)
I congratulate the new Foreign Secretary and I wish him well. He will find that we shall chide and criticise him, but when he speaks for Britain in the world we wish him well and we want him to succeed. Our objective is to see that his voice speaks as accurately and as effectively as possible. It is very tempting to range over a whole number of topics in a debate such as this, delayed as it has been for a long while, but I want to deal with three points.
First, I agree strongly with the Foreign Secretary that there are new opportunities in the Middle East. I am delighted that he is going there, and I am sure that he will have a warm welcome. Indeed, the initiative that Britain and Europe can take is important.
Secondly, concerning Rhodesia, I have never yet understood—and I should like an answer to this if possible—why the Government blame Mr. Smith for turning down their proposals when we were told by the Foreign Secretary's predecessor that those proposals differed in nothing but detail from the Kissinger proposals which had been turned down by the nationalists. Why should the blame fall on Mr. Smith when previously the nationalists had turned down the same proposals? That is a mystery that has so far not been explained.
I seriously ask the Foreign Minister not to underestimate the prospects of what is called an internal solution. He should not too easily assume that the guerrilla forces outside speak for the 227 people of Rhodesia as a whole. Nor should he too easily assume that the front-line Presidents speak entirely for the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
I took note of what the right hon. Gentleman said about Namibia—that it was for the people of Namibia to decide their future and that there should be country-wide elections to decide what they want. It seems that the fundamental problem of Rhodesia is, first, to find out what the people who live there want. Secondly, it is necessary to find some means of guaranteeing to the European population there that a constitution for majority rule which will, as it must, guarantee individual rights and free courts of law will be a constitution that endures, as in Kenya, and is not torn up within a few months by some Rhodesian Amin.
My third incidental point concerns the Falkland Islands. I was a little disappointed with what the Foreign Secretary said about this subject. He should be a little more explicit and I hope that the Minister of State will be more explicit when he replies. There was talk about consultation and about acceptance by the islanders. When asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) whether he would give a firm undertaking that he would not agree to a transfer of sovereignty without the consent of the islanders, he said that that was a matter for Parliament.
With deep respect, that is not true. What we want from the Government quite categorically is an assurance that they, as Her Majesty's Government, will not propose to Parliament a transfer of sovereignty without the full acceptance of the islanders. It is a simple question to which I hope we shall receive a simple answer this evening. Unless we do, disturbance, doubt and worry will abound. That is not the right climate in which to find a lasting solution.
The main issue to which I wish to refer is that of East-West relations, which seems to overshadow everything else. There seems to be a state of confusion, and confusion in these matters can mean danger. There is apparently a deepening difference between Russia and other Communist States. There is a loosening of ties in Eastern Europe and a growth 228 of the Communist parties in Western Europe as well as a growing feeling of independence among those parties. For instance, there is the conference about to take place in Madrid.
One sometimes feels that the NATO Powers, and in particular the United States, are uncertain how to react to these new developments within the Communist world which are of such great importance. There is disappointment over the result so far of Helsinki. Yet there have been mixed reactions. The Russian forces continue to grow and expand while we are cutting down ours and the Americans are apparently concentrating on the SALT talks.
There is continued political aggression from the Communist world, throughout Africa in particular. The attitude of the new United States' Administration to the Cuban arrival in Africa seems a little ambivalent. There is no truce between the two sides in the political battle. There has been little movement by the Russians over Basket III. Yet we continue in our economic relations the extraordinary system whereby we transfer resources to the East at our expense.
I am not talking just about the butter mountain which, whatever the technical details, is manifestly absurd. I am talking about the massive transfer of resources involved in the extension of credit running to tens of billions of dollars from the West to the East. Any transfer of resources on that scale must mean an addition to the economic power of the East and therefore to its ability to build up its armed forces. It seems that the West is still uncertain what it wants and expects.
The basic document is the Final Act of Helsinki. I agree with the Foreign Secretary about the need for a thorough review of this, not a shouting match, but a sensible review. Different views can be taken about Helsinki. It can be said that it is the dawn of a new era of peace, or that it is a complete sell-out by the West and détente is a sham. I do not accept either view. Helsinki achieved nothing in practice. But it created an opportunity and now time is needed to develop this opportunity—far more time than we realised when it was being made. Above all, let us not throw away this opportunity.
229 Because the dangers of war between East and West are so stupendous it is almost impossible to envisage them. People talk in terms of tens of millions of casualties. I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill who spoke of "roaming and peering about around the rim of Hell." This is precisely what will be happening if we are not careful. I say to those so anxious to dance on the grave of détente "Beware. You may be dancing on the grave of civilisation at the same time."
Yet another thing we must remember is that to let down our guard would be the greatest folly. That is why we on the Conservative Benches are concerned about the latest defence White Paper and the Government's attitude to defence generally. This applies not only to military weapons but to intelligence weapons, too.
The danger to peace comes from an imbalance of forces. No one will attack us because we are too strong. They are only likely to attack us if they think we are too weak. In this balance of forces intelligence is just as important as guns or tanks or bombs or aircraft. Without an intelligence service forces are blind and cannot operate. That is why, when I hear this constant denigration of the CIA I reflect that people do not realise that the CIA matters as much to our defence as does the American Fleet or the American Air Force.
§ Mr. Maudling
It does. Without intelligence these things are useless. Perhaps the CIA makes mistakes. Maybe the KGB makes mistakes—we do not hear about them. Without intelligence our defence system is completely useless.
What is the Russian aim? It is impossible to tell whether it is world domination or whether Russia merely wishes to defend itself within Mother Russia. Whichever it is, the tactics of the Russians are obviously to weaken the West for offensive or defensive reasons. If it is trying to weaken us, we must also try in any way we can to weaken it. I want to see mutual and balanced force reductions not only in weapons but in intelligence. Until the Russian intelligence 230 service is reduced, we cannot afford to reduce ours.
§ Mr. Newens
In his defence of the CIA and intelligence operations is the right hon. Gentleman also defending the covert operations carried out by the CIA?
§ Mr. Maudling
I am not defending any particular operation, about which I probably have no knowledge, by intelligence forces on either side. All that I am saying, with the greatest conviction I can muster, is that to cast away our intelligence services is to cast away something vital to the defence of the West.
Human rights is the most difficult area of all. Much that happens in Russia, and even more in Cambodia is totally repugnant to us all. It is right that we should say so and say why we find it repugnant. It is also wise of the Foreign Secretary to remember that we want to get practical results. How do we do that? I do not think that simple denunciation of the Soviet Union and all its works is a form of statesmanship that is likely to get results. The Russians have their own ideas, which are often different from ours.
I remember last year discussing with Mr. Gromyko the question of Russian citizens coming to this country, something about which we feel very strongly. He argued that it was a privilege for a Russian to leave his country. I said "Mr. Foreign Secretary, this is where the gulf lies between us. For us in Britain it is not a privilege to go abroad; it is a right. You as a Russian consider it a privilege." This is something deep in the Russian character. But it is not a new feature of Communism. I would imagine that it was equally true in the days of the Tsar and has been present throughout Russian history.
We must never under-estimate the different backgrounds and outlooks of various peoples. We shall not change points of view by force. That can only be done by persuasion and in particular by showing people in the world as a whole that our way of life is a better way of life than that in a Communist country. It will take a long time and while this is going on we must maintain our own position in defence in the interests of maintaining peace. So long as the Communist Powers try to subvert Western countries, 231 we are entitled to support resistance in Eastern Europe. But in the short term, at least, that cannot be a productive process.
It is essential to achieve understanding in the long run with the Soviet people, who form such a vast proportion of the population of the world. The West must work together to do this. The West needs to increase the attractiveness to the ordinary human being of our system of life and society. The West needs to maintain its defences and it needs to promote a contest of ideas between the two sides. This should not be a war of subversive propaganda, but a genuine contest of ideas.
This may be very idealistic, but it is a course that we must pursue, because the alternative in the long term to co-existence and understanding with the Soviet Union could be the charred remnants of all civilisation.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I also congratulate the Foreign Secretary on his appointment. As a fellow Devon Member I say to himUs be mighty proud of 'ee, m'dear, and us hopes you'll do a proper job.Since the right hon. Gentleman is a lineal descendant of Lord Palmerston, I must warn him that there are those in Devon who expect him to blow the Russian and the Scottish trawlers out of the sea when they are overfishing within our fishing limits if we fail to get rid of them by negotiation.
It is a pleasure to welcome the right hon. Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) to the Government Front Bench once again. Although she says it is her last performance, she is rather like a prima donna making her third return. I hope that her absence is only momentary and will not last several weeks or months, as on previous occasions.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) in that I think there are exciting initiatives which could be taken by this country. Some of these we could take on our own, some within the EEC, some within the Commonwealth, and some as a permanent member of the United Nations.
Among those we should take on our own within Europe is the initiative on the 232 reforming of the common agricultural policy. I support the robust remarks of the Minister of Agriculture about the butter mountain. I would rather see a surplus than a grave shortage, but to spend £910 a ton to export butter to a third country which is not even a developing country is lunacy on stilts. We must look at that situation and renegotiate the common agricultural policy. I hope that we shall take a major initiative in this respect.
I do agree with the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) about direct elections. It is a year since the Green Paper was published and in that time there have been three reports from the Select Committee. We know exactly why the Government are in difficulties. It is not because this is a major change and they cannot make up their minds. They have discovered to their horror that under our existing Westminster electoral system certain minorities will be gravely under-represented. One of these minorities is the Roman Catholic element in Northern Ireland and another is the Labour Party itself. That is a wonderful way of concentrating the Government's mind.
This sort of under-representation can happen under our electoral system and it is no coincidence that our European colleagues, who were persuaded to give us an additional seat so that the Roman Catholic minority in Northern Ireland could be represented, know that any Roman Catholic candidate who got more than third of the vote would not have any guarantee of being elected. In fact. the probability is that he would not be elected.
It is inevitable that we must have a list system on a regional or national basis. The Government have not a hope in hell of getting 81 single-Member constituencies delineated by the Boundary Commission because there would be strong protests about every possible permutation. It is also a fact that every possible permutation of four, five or six constituencies could give any result that one wanted to see, and the Government would be open to charges of gerrymandering from any party that felt disadvantaged.
I accept that the Government have problems, but I am certain that if the fair representation of the Labour Party 233 is at stake, they will persuade the Leader of the House to defend proportional representation for the European Parliament elections as passionately as he attacked it for the Assemblies in Scotland and Wales. If he was asked why he had changed his mind, I suspect his answer would be like that of the High Court judge who on one set of facts found in favour of the plaintiff and 10 years later on the same set of facts found in favour of the defendant. When asked why he had changed his mind in this way he said that things did not appear to appear to him now as they had appeared to appear to him then. When the right hon. Gentleman is raised to the peerage, I suggest that he take that as his motto.
I think that we should drag him and his colleagues into the twentieth century. The only passionate defenders of the present electoral system are the two Front Benches. There is no alternative—we must have a modern electoral system. The Government should welcome something which would have the majority support of this House. That would be a refreshing change. I do not think that there is a shadow of doubt that there would be a large majority for direct elections to the European Parliament as there was for staying in the EEC on the renegotiated terms. I suggest that the Government take their courage in their hands.
On the problem of Cyprus, I understand why the Foreign Secretary cannot say more on the talks with Mr. Clark Clifford, the President's special adviser. The talks that have taken place between Mr. Denktash and the Archbishop, one of which was chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, give us great hope. I hope that the Secretary-General himself or some other senior UN representative will take the chair at the talks in Geneva. Obviously, a continuing peace-keeping rôle by the United Nations is needed for a considerable period of time.
Also I hope that we shall consider the possibility of the EEC having a rôle in Cyprus in the settlement. We cannot force it upon it, but we can make it clear that if there is some need for a European Community monitoring system, we should be willing and ready to help. 234 We have the NATO connection with both the Greeks and the Turks and Common Market negotiations are proceeding with Greece. I hope that we can bring about some meaningful economic connection between the Community and Cyprus itself. I am fairly optimistic about that. I hope that the Turkish community will realise that there will have to be a very thorough inquiry and investigation into the list of undeclared prisoners and missing persons. This is well-documented and there is considerable disquiet on the part of Greek Cypriots who believe that a large number of prisoners are being held in Turkish-held territory and on the mainland itself.
I welcome the visit of Mr. Cyrus Vance. But having listened to the speeches at the 31st General Assembly of the UN on the Middle East, I was disappointed by the repetitiveness of the arguments. As far as public performance is concerned, the UN has changed very little. I say this with some regret as I am chairman of the United Nations Association, but I do not believe that the next initiative on the Middle East will come from the UN. While one supports the reconvening of the Geneva conference to see how we can clothe Resolution No. 242 with flesh and blood, there are still very grave problems and stumbling blocks, in particular the recognition of the PLO.
I believe that what we shall see is a series of bilateral agreements—between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Egypt and possibly Israel and Syria. If this could be brought about successfully, there would still be a need for a UN presence and guarantees. There is no question about the desire for a settlement; it is a question of how best to keep people round the table. I am not convinced that a full-scale Geneva conference with all the problems of PLO recognition is the best way to go about this.
I turn to Africa and particularly to Uganda. I was a member of an all-party delegation which in 1961 went to see Pandit Nehru as Prime Minister of India. We urged upon him the view that if the Commonwealth was to be a multi-racial organisation, it was quite inconsistent to have the continued membership of countries such as South Africa that practised blatant racialism. Not only was Mr. Nehru sympathetic, but at the Commonwealth Conference the presssure of 235 Commonwealth opinion, led notably by the then Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Diefenbaker, caused Dr. Verwoerd to withdraw South Africa from the Commonwealth.
I take the view that the same vital principles are at stake in the case of Uganda, because the Commonwealth subscribed to a certain degree of human rights. We must accept that in this regard there are several members of the Commonwealth which are far from perfect, and I do not intend to enumerate them because they are well known to the House. Others have military or other forms of authoritarian government, but what is happening in Uganda is unique.
There is a regime of oppression and terror that constitutes a total rejection of the principles for which the Commonwealth stands. The expulsion of the entire Asian community from Uganda was blatantly racialist and has brought appalling hardship to many. The pattern of repression and violence culminated in the deaths of two Cabinet Ministers and Archbishop Luwum, and led to acts of genocide against members of the Langi and Acholi and acts of unparalleled barbarism and offences against civilisation.
Our quarrel is not with the people of Uganda, with whom we maintain friendly relations, but with the dictator who at present misrules them. In my view, unless the Commonwealth is to be regarded as an organised hypocrisy we should agree collectively to suspend Uganda from membership. I hope and believe that the Commonwealth will take that line.
I turn to another troubled part of the African continent—namely, Rhodesia. There is one positive sphere of influence in which we can give practical help, and that is in regard to Rhodesian students who are in this country. When I saw the Minister of State who received a United Nations Association delegation, I pointed out that since 1970 there has been a dramatic fall amounting to 75 per cent. in the number of students who come from Rhodesia to the United Kingdom.
The right hon. Gentleman who was then in charge of the Ministry of Overseas Development and who is now a Minister of State at the Foreign Office has agreed to set up a special scheme for those students from Zimbabwe who did not get awards under the regular 236 programme. That will help 120 more students who are in this country from Rhodesia. I refer principally to African students—not for racialist reasons, but because they do not obtain the training in Rhodesia that is readily available to Europeans.
This is one area in which we have a great and continuing responsibility that we can discharge. That responsibility involves training people who cannot otherwise obtain the necessary training in Rhodesia. If I am told by the Government that we cannot increase the public expenditure involved, we shall have to do what we did in regard to the Maltese with work vouchers by giving priority treatment to students from Rhodesia in the same way as we gave such treatment to Maltese citizens.
I hope that the Government will examine the activities of Shell and BP, which allegedly are subsidising Freight Services in South Africa, which is directly re-exporting to Rhodesia and therefore indirectly breaching sanctions. I believe that it is possible successfully to bring pressure to bear on responsible companies.
My colleagues, led by Sir Anthony Nutting, wrote to the Chairman of Barclays Bank the other day about the £10 million purchase of defence bonds in South Africa through a South African subsidiary. The Chairman of Barclays Bank—and I wish to pay him full credit—has reacted responsibly by recognising the dangers and the emotive situation throughout the rest of Africa. When the moment is right, he has agreed to switch that holding back into normal gilts.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) that there is no instant formula for Rhodesia. Is the two-year commitment to majority rule still accepted by Mr. Smith? By "majority rule" I mean the rule of the majority and not what Mr. Smith referred to as the majority of "reasonable people". If the idea of majority rule is still acceptable, we must try to set up a working party in the transitional two-year stage. That is what must be put in a referendum to all the people of Rhodesia. I do not believe that the referendum should be a popularity choice between Mr. Mugabe and Bishop Muzorewa, but it should broach the question whether interim arrangements are 237 acceptable to the Rhodesian people as a whole.
The bargain would have to involve the consideration that violence would be called off during negotiations. It would also mean that the verdict would have to be accepted by both sides, and thereafter I suggest the possibility of a Commonwealth monitoring mission to ensure that the transitional agreements are honoured. That monitoring agreement should be involved at ministerial, military and police level, rather as the United Nations carried out its rôle in the Congo shortly after the war in that area.
If Mr. Smith does not accept the concept of African majority rule in two years—and even if he does and is not prepared to use his best endeavours to move towards an interim settlement—we must be blunt with him and say "Sorry, we have tried, but you are now on your own, and there is nothing more we can do to help." At some stage Mr. Smith must be brought up against the facts of the situation, or the situation in Rhodesia will be appalling month after month. We must seek to establish whether that two-year acceptance still stands and we must try to work for an interim settlement.
There are certain other hopeful signs. I was delighted that one of the actions taken by the Foreign Secretary was to instruct our delegate at the United Nations to raise before the Human Rights Commission the situation in Uganda with particular reference to the Archbishop and the two Ministers. I hope that we shall he able to see the appointment of a commissioner for the United Nations Human Rights Commission, but even if that does not happen it is very much better that cases are referred to the Commission and that the offending country should refuse to entertain those objections than that the world should be silent and do nothing. There is now a movement to try to obtain some agreement on human rights, and I hope that when the General Assembly reconvenes the German initiative on terrorism will be given a fair wind.
The position of President Carter—with his obvious intention to achieve success in SALT II and to move on to SALT III and to disarmament questions generally, as well as his firm stand on human rights—is enormously encouraging. I agree that when we reach Belgrade we must 238 be firm and make plain our reaction to continued repression in the Soviet Union. One of the most frightening developments has been the arrest of Mr. Orlov, whose main crime was that he was the head of a committee that sought to monitor the Helsinki Agreement in the Soviet Union.
The fight against terrorism was not greatly helped by the French and the Abu Daoud affair, but since the European Convention on Human Rights is to be ratified in the next few weeks, we may soon look on that episode as a thing of the past.
If I may sum up, I am optimistic about the situation in Cyprus and think that the Community may have a rôle to play. On the Middle East, I think that progress will be slow and probably on a bilateral basis. I am gloomy about Rhodesia and I believe that it will be saved only if Mr. Smith genuinely wants to save all the people from the catastrophe that will follow.
The situation in Europe depends on whether the Labour Party has the courage to honour its commitment on the subject of direct elections or whether it wishes to gerrymander—which it will not succeed in doing—or whether it is prepared to come into the twentieth century and adopt electoral practices which are well known in other parts of the world but which have not yet reached these shores.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
I wish the new Foreign Secretary well in his vital job. If he succeeds in bringing peace and disarmament to a world that needs both so badly, he will do well for his country and for all mankind. He would, incidentally, achieve personal greatness.
I propose to make two suggestions. I want to tell the House about a discussion that I had with Tony Crosland three days before his fatal stroke. It took place in the Corridor outside the Library of the House of Commons. I raised with him the speeches that President Carter has been making about arms reduction. I referred, in particular, to the President's determination to reach agreement in the SALT talks; to cut the colossal American arms bill; and to stop all nuclear test explosions, not only in the atmosphere but underground.
239 Admittedly not all Presidents—and, if I may say so, not all Prime Ministers—have been known to carry out their election pledges entirely once the votes were in the ballot box. Nevertheless, it is exceedingly encouraging and significant that throughout his election campaign, and subsequently, Jimmy Carter gave such prominence to disarmament. It suggests that peace is an electoral asset.
Moreover, I understand that President Carter is expressing strongly-held personal views. There is no doubt that he will encounter tremendous pressure from the military-industrial complex to which President Eisenhower referred in his powerful valedictory address—the combination of big businessmen and top military officers with a strong vested interest in war scares and a vast military programme. So, Jimmy Carter will need all the support he can get.
I put it to Tony Crosland that it was high time that Britain made a public initiative to support the Carter proposals. The Foreign Secretary could not have been more amenable and I left his company feeling tremendously encouraged and hopeful. This made his death, for me, all the more tragic, I appeal to his successor to pursue this matter right away. It is noticeable that Sweden is doing so whereas, so far, our country has been almost completely silent. Why is that?
Thanks to that tireless veteran and highly respected worker for disarmament, the right hon. Philip Noel-Baker, I have been supplied with a detailed report of all Jimmy Carter's speeches on this subject. I hope that the Secretary of State and other Foreign Office Ministers will study them, if they have not already done so.
I regard the proposals for stopping all nuclear test explosions as being of tremendous importance, for if one stops the testing of new weapons that helps to prevent such weapons ever being developed and produced. There has recently been a response from a leading Soviet spokesman saying for the first time that the Russian Government will agree to inspection on site within Soviet frontiers, though I believe that seismic technique has so advanced that this is hardly necessary.
As for arms spending, a week ago Carter cut back the bill. It was not as 240 great a reduction as had been promised, but, all the same, it was a step in the right direction and I believe that there will be more to come. There has been another vital development and that is the statement by Cyrus Vance, the new Secretary of State, a statement that clearly could not have been made without the President's approval. Vance dealt with the dangers of the vast exports of arms. He said that America should not be guided by commercial motives so much as by peace and political motives. That should go for Britain, too.
In addition the Catholic and other Churches are now taking a forthright line on peace. But what about the British Labour Government? The Foreign Secretary should show his determination in some dramatic way, such as by going to the United Nations and voicing there his support for President Carter's proposals. The Foreign Secretary should seize this favourable opportunity. Otherwise some incident may arise somewhere which would make progress more difficult. He should note the sympathetic reaction by Mr. Brezhnev who in speech after speech has appealed for a cut in arms spending in the East and West.
This is particularly significant for us in Britain. Yesterday's defence White Paper, presenting expenditure of nearly £6½ billion a year, means that the average family of four is now spending £8.40 a week on military preparations. People may not realise this, but that is the sum that they pay in income tax, VAT, petrol and other taxes.
I add in passing that I am sometimes referred to in the Press—and more recently in Joe Haines's book—as a pacifist. I am not. A pacifist says that in no circumstances would he use violence. As Fenner Brockway said in 1936 when General Franco staged his military revolt against the democratically elected Government of Spain, there may be occasion when force is a necessary resort. But one does not need to be a pacifist to say that arms spending must be cut or that our aim should be not to try to win an East-West war but to avoid it.
I wish to warn the new Foreign Secretary of the danger of reactionary views being pressed on him by top figures in his Ministry. Two chapters in Joe 241 Haine's book,"The Politics of Power", are relevant. I am not referring to the kitchen tittle-tattle that seems so to excite the Press—almost exclusively so—but to far more important and serious sections of the book which I have scarcely seen mentioned in the Press. I ask the Minister who will reply to the debate to make a specific admission or denial of four particular allegations. I hope that this will be taken up by the civil servants who are present today and that it will be referred to in the Minister's speech. In addition, I ask the Foreign Secretary to be on guard to see that things never again happen in this way in future.
Dick Crossman's diaries showed the great pressure, usually based on mistaken views, exerted by the Civil Service mandarins over their so-called masters. He described how top Treasury officials manipulated a financiad crisis to stampede the Cabinet into a policy of wage restriction. Joe Haines's chapter on the Treasury entitled "All Brains, Little Sense" gives detailed confirmation. I might add that there are growing grounds for suspicion that civil servants did precisely the same thing recently—using a run on the pound to scare the Cabinet, or a majority of it, into drastic cuts in housing, health, education and war on want. Facts are now coming to light showing that the Government never really needed to make those cuts at all.
In his chapter on the Foreign Office, Mr. Haines says that the main characteristics of most of those gentlemen is their:enthusiasm bordering on the fanaticalfor the Common Market and their "implacable hatred" of Russia. He recounts four incidents in which even the Prime Minister was deliberately disobeyed and embarrassed by Foreign Office officials. He writes:At times the Foreign Office was acting like a State within a State".His first instance was when the Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister, was standing firm on Britain having a seat at the International Energy Conference. His position was being undermined at home here in Whitehall.
Secondly, there was the Soames affair. General de Gaulle had given an interview to Sir Christopher Soames in which he said that he wanted Britain to promote 242 a new free trade association in Europe instead of the EEC. He would later—but not until later—come out and publicly support a British initiative.
The Prime Minister refused the Foreign Office demand to divulge this proposal to the German Federal Chancellor. Despite this, when the Prime Minister returned from a visit abroad he found that the Foreign Office had leaked the news to other EEC Governments and to Washington. Of course it reached the international Press and the Foreign Office Press Office flouted an express Prime ministerial edict and briefed the British Press in detail. This did serious damage. If this allegation is incorrect, there has so far been no correction or denial.
The third occasion was in 1973 when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) visited Czechoslovakia and secured the release of the Rev. David Hathaway, who had been imprisoned for smuggling Bibles into that country. The Foreign Office belittled his success and attempted to claim that it was due to pressure from Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the then Foreign Secretary. Once again a private telegram was deliberately leaked.
Far more serious was the fourth incident, during the Labour Prime Minister's visit to Moscow in 1975. He carefully prepared a speech urging peaceful co-existence—but the Foreign Office knew better. Officials said that reference to peaceful co-existence must be deleted because the phrase did not mean detente as the Prime Minister understood it, but some sinister Soviet scheme for ideological struggle.
The Prime Minister dug in his heels. He went ahead and explained his own interpretation in Moscow. Mr. Brezhnev was greatly impressed and said so. But that was not the end. Six months later—just before the Helsinki Conference—the Prime Minister prepared to refer again to peaceful coexistence. He was asked by a senior diplomat to drop the reference, but replied that he did not intend to be diverted.
Later that day, the Prime Minister was told by the Foreign Office that the British Foreign Secretary, the present Prime Minister, who was in Hungary had written saying that he felt strongly that the Prime Minister should not use the 243 phrase "peaceful co-existence" at Helsinki. Fortunately, the then Prime Minister refused to accept that this was an accurate report. He went ahead and his speech received wide acclaim.
The then Prime Minister mentioned the matter to the then Foreign Secretary when he arrived at Helsinki and discovered that the purported message was a fabrication—to put it more bluntly, a lie. The Foreign Secretary sacked the Private Secretary on the spot, but the real responsibility was that of a more senior colleague, who is probably still across the road in Whitehall.
Mr. Haines writes on page 91 of his book:Officialdom had deliberately set out to deceive the Prime Minister.I repeat my question: will the Minister who is to wind up say whether Mr. Haines is right or wrong? Will he ensure that this sort of thing never occurs again?
I conclude with an appeal to the Foreign Secretary to heed more the Labour Party foreign policy than that of his official elite, who have an innate class bias. If my right hon. Friend does that, he will do great things for mankind at home and abroad.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
I hope that the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his revelations from Mr. Haines's book, but rather turn to some of the Foreign Secretary's remarks.
The right hon. Gentleman rightly referred to areas of the world which are of particular significance, and there are two that stand out not only for their importance, but because the consequences of failing to achieve an acceptable solution to their problems would be serious, dangerous and damaging to Britain, Europe and the western world. They are Central Africa and the Middle East.
In Rhodesia, as a result of powerful American pressure exercised via South Africa, Mr. Smith took a tremendous step forward which opened up the possibility of achieving a peaceful transition to majority rule and a reasonable settlement. This was an opportunity that should have been seized by the British Government 244 with the utmost vigour and a tremendous sense of urgency. In particular, British diplomacy should have kept as one of its primary objectives the need to maintain the total involvement of the United States in any negotiations.
The Americans were primarily responsible for breaking the log jam. Without their involvement, it was going to be impossible to achieve a soluton, but the British Government instead allowed themselves to get bogged down in the Geneva conference and allowed that to take place without American participation.
The result, as everyone knows, was a slow-moving fiasco that ended in complete failure. I urge the Foreign Secretary to use his best endeavours—I use that maligned phrase in the sense in which it was used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies)—to bring the United States back into the centre of the negotiating arena. The Foreign Secretary's reference to keeping in touch with America over this is not enough.
Rhodesia should be one of the first items on the agenda of the dialogue between the United States and the Soviet Union. The other item at the top of the agenda should be the Middle East.
Before dealing with the situation generally I shall refer briefly to the Euro-Arab dialogue. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will understand the disappointment and frustration among those who had great hopes when the dialogue began in 1974 that there would be a real breakthrough to a new mutually advantageous partnership between Europe and the Arab world. There was the prospect of a new start, a new era of partnership as equals.
The prize to be gained was immense not merely for the material advantage that would accrue to both parties from their partnership but for the contribution that the combined economic and political power of Europe and the Arab world could make to the economic welfare and progress of poor and under-privileged peoples elsewhere. During his chairmanship of the EEC Council of Ministers perhaps the Foreign Secretary will try to ascertain what has gone wrong and will put the dialogue back on the rails again.
According to a number of reports, and one in particular that appeared in The Times of 14th February, the dialogue is 245 still blocked over the question of the PLO. If that is so, I ask the Foreign Secretary to take a fresh look at realities. Whatever may be its faults, the PLO is the only leadership that the Palestinians now have. There is no reliable evidence to support the allegation that it does not have the bulk of the Palestinians behind it. The elections that took place on the West Bank last year were a strong indication that it has a wide measure of popular support.
The whole Arab world, including Jordan, acknowledges the PLO to be the sole legitimate representative organisation of the Palestinians. The General Assembly of the United Nations has accepted this judgment. Surely it is high time that the EEC followed suit.
I was delighted to hear that the Foreign Secretary is to visit the area in the near future. As the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford said, there has been a good deal of optimistic talk lately about getting a settlement—at last—in the Middle East and indeed there are many hopeful signs. In the Arab world there is overwhelming evidence of a real and widespread desire to have done with the destructive conflict with Israel. The bogy of Arab insistence on the elimination of Israel and the refusal to accept Israel's existence has been laid to rest. President Sadat, President Assad, King Hussein and most influential Arabs, including leaders of the Palestinians, have swallowed what was to them the rather bitter pill that Israel is an established fact and cannot be undone, except, perhaps, in the distant future, and then only by a process of agreement and gradual change.
On the Arab side the substantial threat to peace that still remains is that, if the present opportunity is lost, the Arabs may conclude that peace with Israel is unattainable on any terms they could accept and that renewed war sooner or later, and probably rather sooner than later, had become for them inevitable. If that happens their present mood for peace might disappear and they might well revert to a more uncompromising stance.
In the United States a new Administration has come to power that proclaims its concern for human rights and for morality in the conduct of foreign affairs, and it has the opportunity for a fresh start towards peace in the Middle East. The 246 question is whether it has the will to seize it.
In the world at large a consensus has now emerged in respect of the form which a settlement should take and this, too, is an encouraging sign. There is wide agreement within the international community that a settlement should be based on the principles laid down in the Security Council Resolution 242, supplemented by the creation of a Palestinian State on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip so as to afford some satisfaction of the Palestinians' right of self-determination.
On the question of the extent of the withdrawal from occupied territories required of Israel by the resolution there is wide support for the interpretation enunciated in 1969 by the then American Secretary of State, Mr. Rogers. The Secretary of State then declared thatwhile recognised political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the pre-existing lines should not reflect the weight of conquest and should be confined to unsubstantial alterations required for mutual security.There is also wide agreement within the international community that a virtually total withdrawal by Israel from the territories occupied in 1967 must be accompanied by international guarantees and other safeguards, such as demilitarised zones, to ensure the security not only of Israel but of all States in the area including any new Palestinian State that may be established.
Against the consensus that has now emerged so widely throughout the world Israel stands virtually alone. Echoing Mrs. Meir's frequent "Noes" we have Prime Minister Rabin proclaiming a series of "Nevers"—never talk with the Palestinians, never negotiate with the so-called PLO, never accept a West Bank Gaza Strip, and never withdraw from Jerusalem. Worse than any words, the Government of Israel, day by day, consolidate their illegal annexation of Jerusalem—that is of East Arab Jerusalem—and extend their colonisation in the rest of the occupied territories. In doing so they fly in the face of the rest of the world.
There is indeed no reason to doubt that any Government of the United States would come out unequivocally in favour of the sort of settlement that has such 247 wide international backing if it were not for the pressures of the Zionist lobby in Washington. What is in doubt is not Washington's acceptance of the consensus but whether it has the will and political courage to enforce it. That is where serious questions begin to arise about the present current of optimism about a settlement.
In spite of the present hopeful signs, the probability is that if ever a peace conference is reconvened at Geneva it will break down over three crucial issues—namely, that the Israelis would not agree to relinquishing Arab Jerusalem, that they would not agree to anything approaching total withdrawal from the occupied territories and that they would not agree to any return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948.
We hear a great deal of comment about the vital importance of Jerusalem to the Israelis, but we do not hear so much about the equally unshakeable determination of the Arabs to recover the Arab city of Jerusalem and not to make peace without it. If that is a breaking point for Israel in negotiating peace, so too, it could be a breaking point for the Arabs. That is why some compromise must be found.
One such compromise could be something on the lines suggested by Lord Caradon, by which the city would remain physically undivided but with the Jewish and Arab parts under separate sovereignty. If there is not some such compromise, on this issue alone a peace conference is very likely to break down.
We also hear a great deal from Israeli politicians about the Golan Heights, Sharm el Sheikh, the Gaza Strip and large areas of the West Bank being essential for Israel's security and, therefore as they put it, non-negotiable. But if the Israeli leaders believe that they can get peace while still hanging on to substantial parts of the occupied territories, they are mistaken. As King Hussein has said, they can have peace or they can have territory, but they cannot have both. To judge by what many leading Israeli politicians have been saying, it looks as though they have already made their choice and that it is for territory and against peace.
If that is so it is intolerable and deeply worrying, because, despite the many 248 difficulties, not for a very long time has there been a better chance of achieving an acceptable peaceful settlement. The relevant Arab leaders have all made unequivocal statements indicating their desire for peace and the Palestinians are also ready for a compromise.
Should there be another war, with the exception of the countries directly involved, Western Europe would suffer most. Europe must therefore use its influence to persuade the United States to act in its interests and in the interests of the West by putting pressure on Israel and persuading it of the need to compromise as well.
Western Europe must also indicate its willingness to share in the responsibility for any peace talks and its preparedness to participate in guarantees and, if necessary, in the policing of demilitarised zones which might be established as part of a peace settlement.
The situation is not static and time most definitely is not on the side of Europe or on the side of peace.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I should like to join in the congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on his assumption of office. Many of us will no doubt want to raise points with him on the various parts of the world for which he is now responsible.
I agree with a good deal of what was said by the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters). In fact, the hon. Gentleman has almost made my speech.
Before turning to the Middle East, I should like to comment on India and Cyprus. First, when the Foreign Secretary goes to Egypt and Israel—I shall come back to that subject—I hope that in his peregrinations he will not forget in the reasonably near future to visit our Commonwealth colleague, the Republic of India. I have been a Member of this House on and off for 13 years. Visits by Heads of the United Kingdom to India in that time have been shamefully infrequent.
There are to be elections in India. They will be a new paragraph in the Indian story. It is incredible that the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary can almost monthly or bi-monthly go to 249 America or Canada, Washington or Ottawa, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, but not visit the largest, most populous nation of the Commonwealth. I hope that in what I trust will be a reasonably optimistic year for the world at large India will be included. I hope that India will also get a fairer crack of the whip from the British Press and from some of our broadcasting personalities.
I believe that this could be the making year for Cyprus. It is extremely encouraging that Mr. Denktash and President Makarios should have had talks, which have clearly been positive. Mr. Clerides, another leading politician in Cyprus, has also sounded optimistic.
The key point to getting a settlement, if it can be arranged, is for the new part of Famagusta, which is uninhabited, to be returned to the Greek Cypriots. There is also the Morphou area which is important agriculturally to the Greek Cypriots. If we can get agreement on this fairly limited point with regard to the new Famagusta—the Greek Cypriots have made a remarkable recovery in their part of Cyprus—matched by progress on the part of the Turkish Cypriots, we might in 1977 be able to say that that is an area where a settlement has been properly and genuinely achieved.
I think that this is a year when we might get nearer to a settlement of the Middle East crisis. For many years a settlement has been ruled out. We were waiting for the American elections or just recovering from them. Europe, too, has been somewhat preoccupied. I know that the Israeli elections are coming up, but I cannot see why there should not be a real possibility later this year of the Geneva conference being reconvened.
I was pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he will be visiting Egypt and Israel. I could not help feeling that if Cyrus Vance could go to six countries in seven days, a younger British Foreign Secretary might include Saudi Arabia or Syria as well as the two countries to which he referred. I hope that he will listen to this request that he should step up his programme and visit two Arab countries and Israel.
§ Mr. Jackson
I should also like to see Britain play a more prominent rôle, first, in our bilateral relationships with the Arab world and, secondly, in the European Community. It is extraordinary that a nation that had such influence and was and is now widely acceptable in the Arab world should be lagging behind not only the Americans but the Germans and the French. It is not that the Arab nations would like to see us more, but that they would like us not to forget them.
As this is a new chapter and as we have a new Foreign Secretary, I hope that in 1977 we shall get increased trading contact with the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia the Germans and the Americans are leaving us behind. That does not mean that we do not have a lot of hardworking civil servants at the Foreign Office. However, it is disappointing. A similar story applies to the Gulf. We seem to lack the energy, the drive and the push among the Arab nations.
As the hon. Member for Westbury said, there is also the question of Eurabia—contact between the Arab nations and European countries. At one stage in history Europe was dominant. Rome was in Cairo. At another stage—the Dark Ages—the Arab peoples were flourishing as the civilised world and then they retreated as France and Britain came to supremacy. It is strange that the Arabians and the Europeans should not have had closer consultation.
Reference has been made to the conference in Tunisia, which got nowhere because people were asking who should represent the PLO. The Palestinians in their West Bank elections seem to like the PLO. I suggest that it must be the PLO, particularly as it is recognised by the United Nations and by other agencies.
There should be greater economic cooperation between Europe and the Arab world. I have always liked the idea of a triangle of effort. Here we bring in America and Japan. First, the Arabs with the oil wealth; secondly, the Western industrialised nations with their technical know-how; and, thirdly, the vast Fourth World, with the people who could use that wealth and technology. That is one way in which European 251 activities could help with the co-operation of the Arab world.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Thanet, West)
What the hon. Gentleman said about Eurabia—the development of the European countries and Arabia—was interesting. However, he adverted to the question of Cyprus. Does he agree that it is about time that we had a European policy directed to trying to solve the problems of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus and that we have a part to play? Does he also agree that the new Foreign Secretary should go to those countries as well when he visits Egypt? There is plenty of time to take in the other countries quickly and to try to assist the initiative introduced only yesterday by the American special envoy who came to this country to discuss these matters.
§ Mr. Jackson
I do not want to rule out other visits by the Foreign Secretary, but if we do not watch out they might not be too fruitful. I am not planning the Foreign Secretary's itinerary, but if he wanted to stop off at Nicosia on the way, that would be encouraging.
The continuing occupation by Israeli settlers of large areas of Arab land is another matter about which I am concerned. Already 80 have been settled and another 27 or 28 are planned. How can anybody in diplomatic or international life possibly condone occupying areas which belong to someone else and in defiance of the United Nations? The chance of peace is blocked by an arrogance which says that the Israeli army has the right to sit where others might not sit.
I hope that this year, with the possibility of a conference, Israel will realise that. It is for her own benefit to withdraw from areas which might be inflammatory in the future. The year of 1977 could be a better year for the Middle East, for India and for the world in general.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
I should like to follow the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) in his references to Cyprus, which is an island in which I have long taken a close interest. On these occasions one must practise selec- 252 tivity, and I must therefore impose a self-denying ordinance on myself on that subject, without any disrespect to the hon. Member.
In my experience, foreign affairs debates take on a familiar pattern—a massive tour d'horizon by the Foreign Secretary followed by, I shall not say a debate of shreds and patches, because that would be disrespectful to the House, but a debate of unco-ordinated contributions on particular aspects of foreign affairs.
Seeing the Foreign Secretary at the Dispatch Box today takes my mind back to the days when I used to listen to the tour d'horizon of Ernest Bevin, not in this Chamber, because it was not built then, but in the House. It is a stimulating thought, although not without its sobre implications for me, that our present Foreign Secretary—and I join in the cordial congratulations that have been made to him—was in those days, like Shakespeare's schoolboy,with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like a snail Unwillingly to school.I am sure that in the Foreign Secretary's case there was nothing snail-like in his progress to school. I am sure that with his love of learning and zest for advancement he galloped along on his way to school like a gazelle. The right hon. Gentleman now occupies this high office. If he can emulate Bevin in being a great British Foreign Secretary commanding world respect, he will succeed beyond his own expectations and perhaps even beyond the expectations of his well-wishers. I certainly wish him well if that be his lofty and praiseworthy endeavour.
Unfortunately, the rôle and status of a British Foreign Secretary today is scarcely that of a Bevin, still less of a Curzon or an Austen Chamberlain, still less again of a Canning or a Palmerston. However, the prime objectives of British foreign policy remain within the same parameters even if they have to be pursued against a diminished background: first, the security of Britain and the maintenance of her material position and free institutions; and, secondly, international harmony, based on the widest possible acceptance and practice of those principles for which Britain has traditionally stood—political democracy, individual liberty, tolerance 253 and fair dealing between man and man. Of course, these two are linked aspirations. Britain cannot have security except within the ambience of international harmony, based on a reasonable acceptance of those principles.
On the other hand, it is an act of self-deception to think that we can pursue foreign policy on a purely ideological basis. Indeed, that is a self-defeating concept because Britain can actively contribute to such international desiderata only in proportion as she is strong, secure and respected in the world.
Those being our objects, what is our most hopeful line of approach? First, whatever progress is made towards détente—and it is at best halting, erratic, plodding and painful—we must operate closely within the North Atlantic framework, acting our traditional part as interpreter and catalyst between Europe and the United States.
In the European context I should like to advance this proposition. On joining the EEC we made some sacrifice of national sovereignty. Having done so we should, by way of recoupment and consideration, use our membership of the EEC to further and assist those high international endeavours in which we are engaged. I shall explain the background against which I advance that proposition, give one or two examples of spheres in which we should apply it and indicate ways in which we can and should improve the structure and working of the Community.
Entry to the EEC inevitably entailed some sacrifice of sovereignty. I spelled out repeatedly both the loss of sovereignty and its irrevocability during more than a decade of debates in the House. Having done so—and those warnings having gone largely unheeded in the business community—I confess to a certain wry amusement when business men now complain to me about the things of which I warned them in earlier years. Deaf ears sometimes cause troubled minds and even querulous tongues.
During the decade of debate I pointed out that we would be bound by an Act of Accession and I reiterated the constitutional and legal reasons for that in some detail in our debate on 9th April 1975, leading to the clear conclusion that Britain is now committed to the 254 Community in law, in good faith and in fact. That being so, our duty is to improve the workings of the Community and to make them reflect in the highest degree the characteristics that we seek.
I shall give two examples of spheres in which the Community can help to promote and reinforce our proper objectives. First there is Africa. It would be an incorrigible and irrational optimist who could take much satisfaction in the outlook in Southern Africa today. An appropriate Rhodesian solution continues to elude us. The problem of restoring Southern Africa to its former place in the comity of nations is still with us. One party government supersedes democracy in too many of the African States. The abominations of Amin desecrate the East African scene. The events in Angola resulted in a victory not of black men over white, nor even black men over black. but put Angola under Cuban and, therefore, Soviet domination. That was a result which was a notable defeat for the West with ominous strategic implications for our vital sea routes. It was a major success on the cheap for Soviet imperialism.
Events have shown that Britain lacks the power to be effective in Africa, at any rate on an individual basis, and that the United States lacks the purposeful effectiveness and confidence that comes of knowledge and experience of that continent. It is right, therefore, that we should do all we can to redress the balance and reinforce the position of the West, standing as it does for free institutions and parliamentary democracy. The instrument, of course, is to hand in the economic sphere, particularly in the Lomé Convention.
We should seek to involve the Community, through its economic influence, in assisting the defence of democracy in Africa. Economic aid and advantage, the sort of preferential treatment assured to African products in Community markets under Lomé, should be geared to the acceptance of democratic practices. Certainly it is a patent absurdity if Community countries direct their economic efforts in ways that increase or maintain the strength of Soviet imperialism in Africa. Here I echo, much less eloquently and persuasively, what was so well said by my right hon. Friend the 255 Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling).
My second example is relations with the Soviet bloc and, in particular, the implementation of the Helsinki Agreement. In this is involved the question of human rights in Eastern Europe. All nine member States of the Community were signatories on 1st August 1975 of the Helsinki Agreement, but not, of course, the Community as such. As with the United Nations Organisation, only States could participate, and, therefore, the Community was ineligible on jurisdictional grounds. But since all member States are participants, clearly the Community can and should have a common view, which can be expressed in a common voice, reinforcing though not replacing, the voices of member States.
The Soviets do not recognise the Community, but this is only a question of time, as the fisheries negotiations have tended to suggest. After all, the Soviets resisted for a long time the idea that the United States had a proper rôle in security and co-operation in Europe; but participation in the Helsinki Agreement and the force reduction talks shows that they now accept the indispensability of a United States rôle in Europe. In this sense at least, the Soviets are realists and no doubt will increasingly recognise the relevance of the Community.
The stronger the pressures from both sides of the Atlantic, the better the prospects for a more liberal approach to human rights in Eastern Europe. The Soviets and their satellites are all formally committed under the terms of the Final Act at Helsinki. We get it in very clear terms in Article 7:The participating States will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.Then it goes on to express the same intention in regard to national minorities.
It is sad and disappointing, therefore, in the face of this clear commitment, to find breaches of the Helsinki Agreement in respect of human rights, in respect of the treatment of dissidents and minorites, in the refusal to allow free expression of opinion in the country or the uninhibited right of egress from it, and the failure to carry out so many 256 requirements of Basket III—co-operation in humanitarian and other fields.
All this inevitably gives rise to the suspicion that all that the Soviets were really interested in was the provision relating to the inviolability of frontiers—the formalisation, in effect, of the Potsdam Agreement—and that, with human rights provisions being a sort of quid pro quo, the Soviets are now trying to have the quid and to withhold the quo.
Against this, the West should protest with a united voice and is fully entitled to do so. The Soviets seek to resist international pressures by claiming, as in the case of President Carter's timely letter to Dr. Sakharov, that they constitute interference in their internal affairs and an infringement of their sovereignty. But this argument is inconsistent with the terms of the Helsinki Agreement itself. The participating States contract inter se to respect human rights. This is a collective and reciprocal obligation. Just as the indivisibility of security is expressly recognised in the Helsinki Agreement, so by clear implication at least is the indivisibility of human rights when it saysThe participating States recognise the universal significance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.The Governments and peoples of the participating States have, therefore, the right and duty not only to confer and observe human rights and fundamental freedoms within their own boundaries but the right and duty, jointly and severally, to expect and require observance in the other States. That right and duty vests, among others, in the nine member States, which should exercise it in close co-operation with the United States and Canada, and with each other within the framework of the Community. That they should do so is obviously a matter of paramount importance. Observance of those provisions of Helsinki which guarantee human rights is vital and indispensable. It is a condition precedent to true détente and would powerfully assist a successful outcome of efforts at mutual force reduction.
I am not saying that we should take a purely external, still less complacent, view of human rights. I am not suggesting that our duty can be discharged solely by criticism of others. On the 257 contrary, I am on record, both in this House and in the European Parliament, with suggestions for strengthening the apparatus for the protection of fundamental rights within the Community itself.
The Community is fortunate in respect of fundamental rights when viewed in context with other countries. Nevertheless, there is a curious paradox in its structure to which we should give attention. Although some articles of the EEC treaty, the so-called Treaty of Rome, afford protection to particular rights—Articles 7, 48 and 119, for example—there is a void in respect of the protection of fundamental rights as such. There is no provision in the treaties for that comprehensive protection which one would expect in a written constitution of a national State. There are no entrenched provisions, as they are normally called in the constitutional idiom.
The reason, no doubt, for this curious omission was that member States adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights at Strasbourg, and it was thought, no doubt, that this would suffice. But the Convention is concerned with civic and political rights and the Community is primarily concerned with economic and socio-economic matters, and it is in respect of those that there is a void that needs to be filled.
Much thought and preliminary work is being given to this now in the Community and in the various member States. The importance attached to it is illustrated by the Common Declaration of the institutions of the Community respecting fundamental rights, which the European Parliament for its part approved last month on my motion as Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee of that Parliament. Though the European Court of Justice can do much in this regard, I hope that in the long term we can evolve a code or charter of fundamental rights in the Community. I hope, indeed, that we can also set up a Community Ombudsman as the citizens' watchdog over the administrative acts of the institutions. This improvement in the apparatus of fundamental rights in the Community would serve two purposes. First, it would benefit the individual citizen. Second, it would strengthen the position of the Community and its member States in pressing for 258 the observance of human rights elsewhere. This is likely, perhaps, to be a long and difficult path, but it is one well worth treading. I commend it to Ministers and wish them well in this and in the great tasks on which they are embarked.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
I remind hon. Members that the debate finishes at 10 o'clock. One expects the winding-up speeches to begin at about 9.20 p.m. There are still 20 right hon. and hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. The reason for my intimation of those statistics lies in the hope that Members will keep their speeches as brief as possible.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)
Like others who have spoken, I express my congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and wish him well. I was glad to hear him refer to the principles on which foreign policy should be based.
Just over a year ago, on 9th February 1976, I initiated a debate in the House under the title "Foreign Policy and Morality". I argued in that speech that the conduct of foreign affairs by major Powers was not infrequently utterly devoid of concern for the lofty principles of freedom, national self-determination and human rights to which their spokesmen so often paid fulsome lip service.
During that speech I strongly attacked the treatment of dissidents by the Soviet Government. I utterly deplored the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces in 1968 and the denial of basic freedoms to its opponents by the régime foisted on the Czech people. I believe that there is a continuing need for this House to raise its voice on behalf of those dissidents and those people. I was also bitterly critical of the foreign policy of United States Administrations, and particularly of their involvement in covert actions which led to the overthrow of Governments such as those of Mossadeq in Iran, of Arbenz in Guatemala and of Allende in Chile.
I am, therefore, unable to agree with the defence of the CIA voiced today by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling). I referred in February last year with particular revulsion to CIA assassination plots designed 259 to kill—frequently by making use of criminals—leading world statesmen such as Castro, Ngo Dinh Diem, General Schneider, Trujillo and Patrice Lumumba. I cannot believe that anyone who defends the CIA can seriously be defending activities of that sort, which are now clearly documented, and at the same time believe in human rights.
Most of the information that I quoted previously was drawn from the reports of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities chaired by Senator Church. The facts which were known a year ago have since been greatly augmented, both by the Church Committee as well as by the committee established by the United States House of Representatives under Congressman Otis Pike.
There is now a new President of the United States and a new United States Secretary of State. It is too early to draw conclusions, but initial indications from President Carter's statements and appointments seem to suggest that the new Administration does not intend to rely on covert operations to anything like the same degree as did their immediate predecessors. But I believe it is appropriate at this time for the British Government to take stock of this change of direction by our major ally and to cast such weight as they may have against any reversions to the policies of covert intervention associated most recently with the activities of Dr. Kissinger.
Page 445 of book I of the final report of the United States Select Committee stated:The Committee has found that the CIA conducted some 900 major or sensitive covert action projects plus several thousand smaller projects since 1961.These, as the committee concluded, had not been subjected to therigorous public scrutiny and debate necessary to determine their compatibility with established American foreign policy goals.In fact, even the President of the United States did not adequately control them. Page 429 of the report states:The Committee finds that Presidents have not established specific instruments of oversight to prevent abuses by the intelligence community. In essence, Presidents have not exercised effective oversight.I believe that this is an extremely disconcerting state of affairs which undoubtedly 260 concerns us, not merely because the United States is our principal ally but also because of the close links between the British intelligence apparatus and the American National Security Agency.
It is precisely for that reason that I do not take the view that the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet takes. Of course, I accept that there are legitimate intelligence activities, but I believe that we are called upon to speak out firmly and strongly against the covert activities which have been indulged in in the past.
We in this House have a right to know to what extent the very considerable establishment of British civil servants and intelligence staff—paid for out of funds approved by this House—have assisted in all those covert operations, frequently, as I have quoted, not under the full control of the United States President, let alone Ministers of the British Government with responsibility for the conduct of foreign affairs.
I should like to refer in particular to two covert operations which are dealt with in the Pike Report and which have been carried out by the CIA. The first concerns Angola. Much alarm has been expressed in this House, particularly by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side, about the proclivities of the MPLA. It is interesting to learn what Mr. William Colby, the former Director of the CIA, said to the Pike Committee about the different groups contending for supremacy in Angola—the MPLA, UNITA and FNLA.They are all independents. They are all for black Africa. They are all for some fuzzy kind of social system, you know, without much articulation but some sort of let's not be exploited by the capitalist nations.Mr. Colby was then asked why the Chinese were backing the moderate group. He replied:Because the Soviets are backing the MPLA is the simplest answer.When the questioner commentedIt sounds like that is why we are doing it",Mr. Colby replied:It is.In other words, on this basis the CIA expended by the end of 1975 alone at least $31 million in military hardware, transportation costs and cash payments—perhaps more—to finance a war. Some of the money filtered into the pockets of 261 the self-appointed recruiters of mercenaries in the United Kingdom whose activities were denounced in this House by the Government. Is it reasonable that covert activities of this nature should be tolerated? The mercenaries—one of my constituents died in the massacre—were, in my view, pathetic dupes manipulated, like the people of Angola, by the interests of the great Powers. We have to say quite frankly that this sort of thing was wrong and must not again be tolerated.
A callous disregard of all principles of morality, and of the enunciated aims of spokesmen on foreign policy, was demonstrated even more clearly in the case of the Kurds. That is the second case which I wish to quote from the Pike Report. The Kurdish people tragically missed their opportunity for national self-determination and are now divided between five States.
It is clear from the Pike Report that the United States Government, at the request of the Shah of Iran, who earlier in his reign had crushed his own Kurds quite barbarously, decided to provide covert financial support—some $16 million has been mentioned—for Iraqi Kurds led by Mustafa Barzani in their revolt against the Iraqi Government. At the time that this struggle was going on, a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House asked Questions about the suffering of these Kurds as a result of Iraqi bombardment. Apparently Mustafa Barzani distrusted the Iranians but sent gifts to Dr. Kissinger—three rugs and, on the occasion of Dr. Kissinger's marriage, a gold and pearl necklace. None the less, after three years of fighting the Shah of Iran reached agreement on his border dispute with Iraq early in 1975, and at a stroke all aid to the Kurds was cut off despite desperate appeals by their leaders to Dr. Kissinger and the United States. In fact, the United States administration even refused humanitarian aid to the refugees created by the war, and one high official stated:covert action should not be confused with missionary work.Both these cases—Angola and that of the Kurds—like CIA activities in many other countries, demonstrate the need for basing foreign policy on different principles. Many people in the Third World are struggling to achieve social change, 262 and a Labour Government should be on their side. We should not be allied with any Power which is seeking to thwart or divert the aims or such people and to protect the rights of privileged groups or multinational companies to continue to exploit. In the long run, our own interests will be better served by basing foreign policy on the principles of humanity rather than on those of Machiavelli.
The case of Cyprus, where again there has been enormous suffering, is another one in which secret plans and other activities which have yet to see the full light of day have produce tragic results. Richard Crossman, in his diary of July 1967, quotes a paper on Cyprus which came before the Cabinet in which apparently is was suggested that, if the Greek Colonels staged a coup against President Makarios, British forces should stand aside. Although that policy was turned down, in effect that is what happened a number of years later, and the people of Cyprus have suffered grievously as a result, demonstrating once again the cynical disregard for the principles of self-determination and humanity which so many of the great Powers are only too content to mouth without putting them into practice.
I am one of those who believe that, in the long run, the division of the world into armed camps is undesirable. Therefore, I do not for a moment exonerate the Soviet Union from blame. But we have to consider seriously at some time the need to wind up the military alliances. Certainly we should not be thinking of extending them. I view with considerable concern some of the reports which are made from time to time about discussions taking place between Brazil and various racialist régimes in South Africa about a possible extension of NATO to the Southern Atlantic or some sort of Southern Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
I believe that British interests would be better served by a policy of non-alignment. I am not in favour of our indefinitely remaining a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its sister alliances. I am anxious to make it clear that that is my view.
I recognise that it may not be possible at present to make all the changes which those who take my point of view wish to 263 see. But I make an earnest plea to my right hon. and hon. Friends who are responsible for our foreign policy that foreign policy should be conducted on a different basis in the future from that which characterised the foreign policy with which we were associated when Dr. Kissinger and his predecessors were in power, with their reliance on covert operations.
My right hon. Friend referred to the abject poverty in which so large a proportion of the world's people continue to exist. The major objective of all people of good will should be to work for the uplifting of their living standards and to enable the suffering millions to achieve their full emancipation as human beings. That cannot be achieved by covert operations, by boosting arms sales and by activities of that kind.
I welcome what my right hon. Friend said about his attitude to the problem of world poverty and human rights. In the future, I hope that we shall see these issues exercising an ever-increasing influence over the formulation of British foreign policy.
§ 6.56 p.m.
§ Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Derbyshire, West)
I, too, join in the good wishes to the Foreign Secretary. When he is speaking for this country he willl have my support and that of all my right hon. and hon. Friends.
The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) will, I am sure, excuse me if I do not take up many of his remarks. I think that he was misguided in almost everything that he said. What really upset me was that his speech was so one-sided. There was one short sentence in which he suggested that the Soviet Union was not blameless. I suggest that, when he next speaks along these lines in a foreign affairs debate, he does not spend three-quarters of his time condemning the CIA without also condemning the KGB and underlining the disastrous and bloody events it has caused.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
It would not be a bad idea if this House followed the example of the European Parliament and imposed a time limit on speeches. I 264 intend to adhere to the time limit that I should be given in that Assembly.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I do not share every view of my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens), but it is quite unfair to say that he has not frequently condemned various events which have occurred in Eastern Europe.
§ Mr. Greville Jannerrose—
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
I do not think that I ought to give way again for a moment or two. I am sure that the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) will have his opportunity to make his own contribution.
In reply to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), I say merely that, whatever the hon. Member for Harlow may have done in other speeches, he did not do it today.
As I said in my opening remarks, I shall back up the Foreign Secretary in any action that, in the name of Britain, he takes to our advantage.
I intend to confine my remarks to the European Economic Community and the task of our Foreign Secretary there. He has a great deal of leeway to make up in the Community. Our reputation has never been lower than it is at the moment. Anthony Crosland, whose death we all regret, was beginning to make headway in restoring some of our lost prestige and good will. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to continue along those lines.
If the right hon. Gentleman is to continue prevaricating about direct elections, if he intends to back up the idiotic remarks of the Minister of State yesterday, and if he will not push harder than he indicated he would today, our reputation in Europe will sink even lower. It would be disastrous if this country were the only one not able to fulfil its commitment. Our honour is at stake. If we do not fulfil this commitment no other country in the Community will be able to hold direct elections, but it is clear that direct elections are what are needed to control democratically the European institutions of the future.
I agreed with a lot of what the right hon. Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas) said. A national list for the 265 direct elections is not, I believe, acceptable generally, and it is certainly not acceptable to me. I believe that the Government, even in the face of deliberate obstruction by the Liberals, whose Bench is nearly always empty on these occasions, could get through this Session a Bill which would allow our 81 seats in the European Parliament to be delineated by a boundaries commission.
As Chairman of the Council of Ministers, the right hon. Gentleman also faces the situation over applications to join the EEC. Greece is knocking at the door. Three other countries, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, will be knocking soon. What is the right hon. Gentleman's philosophy on that? Their entry, as did the entry of Britain, Denmark and Ireland, will mean tremendous upheaval for the Community. Does he want to see it happen quickly?
I am particularly concerned at present about the Greek application, which has proceeded smoothly in the recent negotiations, but what is the right hon. Gentleman's view of the way in which we should be dealing with our Turkish friends? This is very important. Both Greece and Turkey are associate members of the Community. We must avoid being seen to favour one as against the other. I hope that the negotiations with Greece are successful, and that Greece will be able to join the EEC in due course, but I hope that while we are negotiating with Greece we shall be able, as a Community, to deal with Turkey as well, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, will be able to reassure the Turks that we have every intention, if they ask to join, of dealing with them as generously as we are and will be dealing with Greece.
This attitude would help him to deal with the Cyprus situation as well. The EEC also has a role to play there, and I am glad that the European Parliament also takes that view. If that is so, every move the right hon. Gentleman can make in reassuring our Turkish friends will be of great advantage.
Equally, we want to know what the situation is regarding Portugal's probable application and that of Spain after its coming elections. Will the right hon. Gentleman encourage his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to look favour- 266 ably on the applications of Portugal and Spain?
I recently had the privilege of going to the Dutch Antilles and presiding over a preparatory meeting with representatives of Latin American countries, including Mexico. One of my main impressions is that we in this country seem almost to have ignored in our foreign relations the countries of the north of South America, The Minister of State has been to the Falkland Islands and the Argentine, but countries in the north of South America, such as Mexico, Venezuela and Nicaragua, are developing countries with enormous resources. In talking to their parliamentary representatives, it seemed to me that the influence of Britain, and, indeed, our name, is little heard and felt in that part of the world.
I was approached by Mexicans who wanted to open negotiations here for the development and improvement of their agriculture. I asked why Mexico had joined COMECON. They replied that basically they would join anything but that there had been no advances from this country or from Europe on a commercial basis. There is a great deal that we can do to strengthen our relationship with the countries in the north of South America, and it would be greatly to our advantage.
The EEC could play a great rôle in that area as well. I hope that when the conference between the European Parliament and Latin American parliaments takes place in July it will be able to lay the groundwork for Ministers to be able to reach fruitful conclusions for the Community and that part of the world.
I wish the Foreign Secretary well. He has a formidable task. Apart from what my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said about the relationship with America, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will concentrate on rebuilding our reputation in Europe, which is where our future has to be made and secured. We have a great rôle to play there. I wish him well in trying to further our interests.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. On behalf of the House, I thank the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) for taking only 10 minutes.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. David Watkins (Consett)
I, too, join in the congratulations and good wishes to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on his appointment. I agree with the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) that he will need our good wishes and our backing in the tremendous task that he faces.
I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend, in his opening speech, give some priority to the situation in the Middle East, because it is that on which I want to concentrate my remarks. It is an important area because, above all, it is one of considerable British interest. I hope we all recognise that we are basically elected to represent the British people and that it is British interests that we fundamentally seek to push in foreign policy in all parts of the world.
While it is true that Britain has little economic or military power in the Middle East, or in many other areas, we have one major advantage there: amongst the European countries, we are more trusted in the Arab world than any other. We should build on that trust by taking a more active rôle than appears to have been the case hitherto in securing the resumption of the Geneva Conference on the Middle East, and in doing so we should put forward the idea that the Palestinian people must be independently represented at Geneva.
I remind my right hon. Friend that his distinguished and so sadly missed predecessor told the General Assembly of the United Nations last October that any settlement in the Middle East must include a homeland for the people of Palestine where they would be free to look after their own affairs. Mr. Crosland appeared to have reservations about a sovereign Palestinian State. Nevertheless, his ideas went a long way towards that objective. I hope that my right hon. Friend will now be prepared to go just a little further, which is all that is now required, and support the general proposition that there should be a Palestinian State on the West Bank of the Jordan and in Gaza.
The idea itself has already been agreed in Pan-Arab circles, and very shortly the Palestine National Council will meet to decide its policy upon it. It is not for me or any other hon. Member to tell 268 the PNC what to do, but I hope that it will support the proposition. Whatever it decides, the world must note its decision, because one of the greatest tragedies and the greatest immorality of the conflict in the Middle East is that the people of Palestine who have suffered most have been consulted least. They are the most injured party. The whole conflict can be settled only when they are involved, in their own name and in their own right of nationhood, in settling it.
I wish to turn to the dialogue between the League of Arab States and the European Economic Community. In view of this country's long experience in the Middle East and the regard in which we are generally held there, it seems that we have been rather more reticient about playing an active part in this dialogue than our experience and the regard in which we are held justifies. For example, on 31st January at a Common Market meeting held in London, an important statement of policy on the conflict in the Middle East was agreed but was not published. Newpapers being what they are, the statement has since been published in Al Ahram on 21st February and Le Monde on 22nd February. Therefore, informed students of the Euro-Arab dialogue know the contents which go little further forward than previous statements on Common Market policy towards the Middle East.
I am rather surprised that the statement should not have been made public, and I hope that the Government will make clear that they support open covenants, openly arrived at. It is not good enough for Britain to connive at secret agreements, because secret agreements have no place in advancing the cause of peace anywhere. This was demonstrated by Dr. Kissinger's form of diplomacy, where, by having secret meetings with people at various stages of various conflicts and making statements which tried to be all things to all men, in the end his statements were nothing to anybody. That form of diplomacy and Dr. Kissinger's disastrous intervention in Rhodesia indicates the failure of that type of approach to settle conflicts in various parts of the world.
Turning to the question of energy, no one can talk about the Middle East without the subject of oil being raised. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of 269 State pointed out, Britain has a unique position in that by the 1980s we shall be the only advanced industrial country which will be self-sufficient in oil, and a major exporter into the bargain. We shall have a strong claim to join the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In that connection I wish to refer to the policy of one OPEC member which has been little publicised in Western Europe—that is, the policy of the United Arab Emirates, a major exporter and a friend of this country. The UAE has pointed out that in the modern world no nation can exist independently of all the others, that oil producers and consumers have a mutual interdependence and that co-operation between them is vital for developed and underdeveloped countries. In our own unique position, as we are and as we shall be, we ought to take up and develop that policy.
By the 1980s our exports will be not only in oil but in all forms of energy, especially coal and gas. We shall be a major consumer and a major exporter. We ought to support the UAE's position and embrace world co-operation in the production, distribution and consumption of energy in all its forms. This may be a matter for the future, but it is for the foreseeable future. We ought to be acting now and taking a lead. We should take the opportunity of using the Euro-Arab dialogue to do so.
I put it to the Government that two British initiatives are needed. The first is the reconvening of the Geneva Conference, with the Palestinians represented there, and the second is in the field of energy along the lines that I have outlined. The reconvening of the Geneva Conference is more urgent but there is also an urgency about the second initiative, which will become ever more urgent as the demand for energy grows and resources diminish. The two are linked. The second would increase our credibility in advancing the first.
The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) made a very valid point when he said that our field of activity and influence in the world is much restricted compared with what it was even a relatively short time ago. Initiatives like those that I have proposed are well within this country's capability in present- 270 day circumstances, and if my right hon. Friend takes the initiative he will have made a great start.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
I follow the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Watkins) in congratulating the new Foreign Secretary and extending my good wishes. The right hon. Gentleman goes to the big table in the international card game with an unfortunately weak hand of cards. The foundations of foreign policy are a firm political base, economic strength and military power, and the right hon. Gentleman has none of these things. Nevertheless, as he himself said, I think that with skill and with the support of the House he could play a great part.
Britain is not a Power in the sense that it used to be, but we remain a very considerable influence, partly because of our membership of the European Community, where we have a very special part to play, with our financial expertise, our military nuclear power and our technology, and partly because of our relationship with the United States. Perhaps there is no longer the special relationship with the American Government that there used to be, but nothing can take away the relationships that exist between human beings and contacts between business men, financiers, industrialists, Rhodes scholarships and the academic world. All this is still very much alive.
Then there is our position with the European, Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which have become considerable Powers in recent years, and with the African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries which were previously associated with our system. There is still a considerable hand to be played. It will need a great deal of skill to play it. But the right hon. Gentleman can count on the support of the House if, basing himself on our interests in the European Community, he develops the themes that may flow from what Winston Churchill once called the three concentric circles.
The job of the Foreign Secretary is to promote and protect the interests of Britain, and the greatest of those interests is peace. There are many dangerous 271 situations in the world today. A number of hon. Members have referred to the Arab-Israeli situation. That is one danger. Another is the black and white confrontation in Southern Africa and the increasingly dangerous situation in the horn of Africa and East Africa. Then there is the gap—about which little has been said today—between rich and poor countries. All these situations contain the seeds of crisis and conflict, but the only real danger and the only real threat to peace is the threat posed by Soviet imperialism.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said in a brilliant opening speech that he believed that the leaders of the Soviet Union were bent on prosecuting their ideological struggle with increasing intensity. I do not think that anyone should overlook the intelligence report which, like everything else in America, has recently been leaked. The report, from a British source, printed in an American paper, stated that Mr. Brezhnev had said at a meeting in Prague that by 1984 or 1985 he would be in a position to impose his will on the free world.
I do not want to pursue the intentions of the Soviet leaders, however. Nor do I want to deal today with the manifestations of Soviet imperialism in terms of its military power. These would be better discussed in our defence debate on the not very illuminating White Paper which has just been published. I believe that in this foreign affairs debate we would do better to look under the surface at the economic and social causes of Soviet imperialism.
The clearest of those causes is the development inside the Soviet Union of a military industrial complex far greater in proportion to the rest of Soviet society than anything that was seen in Europe in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, or in America since the war. I make no apology for repeating what I have said before on this score. This is still something that we are very slow to understand. There are 4 million men in the Red army. There are 1 million in the navy and air force. There are 1 million in the KGB. That is a total of 6 million. Behind them is an unquantifiable military-industrial complex which supplies them and extends into the 272 space industry which cannot easily be divorced from the military side.
If those of us with any military experience think of how many lieutenant-colonels, colonels, brigadiers, major-generals, generals and field-marshals, with all their staffs, are represented by 6 million military men; and add to it the industrial complex behind them, and if we think of the ADCs, the motor cars, the married quarters and everything that goes with them, we see that there is an enormous ruling class in the Soviet Union. It is a far greater proportion of the ruling group than anything that post-war America has known or that was ever known in Britain in the nineteenth century.
Of course we had a military industrial complex, but it was always a small proportion. In Britain before the First World War the Empire represented perhaps one-quarter or one-third of our interests. In America post-Second World War this complex was very small in comparison with the enormous interests of American industry and finance which were meeting the requirements of the American market. In the Soviet Union, however, this element enjoys privileges and power out of all proportion to those enjoyed by any other section of Soviet society. It is this which has led Mr. Brezhnev to proclaim himself a field-marshal.
The other day I received from the Soviet Union the latest photograph of Marshal Brezhnev which is being circulated to post offices and Government Departments in the Soviet Union. He sits in a blue uniform with enormous epaulettes, and the whole of his right chest is covered in decorations. His military record is not much better than mine! On the wall behind him is a photograph of Lenin in a crumpled lounge suit. This is the whole story of the Russian revolution from Robespierre to Bonaparte.
The privileges which this military elite enjoys are enormous. These people are parasites in that they create no wealth. They contribute nothing to the welfare of the Soviet Union, and their very existence intensifies the social, economic and national contradictions inside the Soviet system. The Ukraine, the 273 Caucasus and the Central Asian republics are very conscious of their independent nationalities. God knows we have talked enough about nationality in this House in the devolution debates during the last few weeks. The only way that that elite can justify itself is by maintaining an atmosphere of international tension, and that means, when the opportunity arises, expanding.
I had the opportunity not long ago to talk to a high-placed Communist in one of the Warsaw Pact countries. I reproached him with the Angolan affair and said that if they went on with this kind of adventure they could not expect to get credits from the West. He said that he absolutely understood; he shared my anxiety; but he said that he had to tell me that, although they did not have a public opinion as we had it, they had a military public opinion, and even if Marshal Brezhnev had wanted to stop the Angolan adventure he could not have done so.
What is to be our response? First, I agree very much with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) said. It is unwise to give the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact, unwilling though some of them may be, the kind of credits we are giving at very preferential rates. I was in Peking the other day, and a senior Chinese Minister told me that we might as well give them guns. He asked why give them money, why give them know-how? He said that by giving them guns we would be giving them less because it was the know-how that they needed. We must look more carefully at this side of our policy.
But the basic need is to maintain the alliance of free nations and to build it up. Here I disagree with those who want to pull out of the alliance. Washington is the leader of the alliance. However, we have to recognise that after the defeat in Vietnam, the devaluation of the dollar, Watergate and all that the Americans have been through, they may not be prepared to carry as much of the load in the future as they have in the past. Therefore, all of us in the free world may have to assume rather more of the load. We shall discuss in the debate on defence what this country should do, but I would not be surprised 274 if many of us recommended a measure of rearmament for Britain instead of cuts in defence.
I realise that the Government are in a certain straitjacket imposed by the IMF and that this prevents them from reflating the economy as the TUC would like. But I suspect—the Foreign Secretary can take soundings on this when he goes to Washington with the Prime Minister—that the IMF would not make too many difficulties if we had a measure of reflation in the interests of rearming. Equally, if we are to maintain arms we must maintain intelligence and security.
Let me utter here a word of warning that the attack on the CIA and on our own intelligence and security services is, wittingly or unwittingly, mounted on behalf of the KGB. This secret underground war between the intelligence services rages continuously. We would be mad if we were to disarm on that front.
There is one aspect on which the Foreign Secretary may have a special part to play. It is important that we should develop the EEC into a European defence community. An economic community is intended to produce and promote economic and financial interests in common. If we have economic and financial interests in common, it is only reasonable to have a foreign and defence policy to protect them. Of course we must do it within NATO, but perhaps we should take another look to see whether NATO could be improved. It seems to me deficient in two respects. In view of the way that the world has shrunk since the start of NATO in 1948–49, the geographic limitations of the Alliance seem to me to be absurd. The other great deficiency is that the Alliance does not include France, and we cannot defend Europe without France.
I was glad that the Foreign Secretary's first visit was to France. Reading reports of that visit, I was struck with the thought that in 1959 General de Gaulle circulated a memorandum to the Heads of Government in Washington and London advocating transforming the NATO Alliance or superimposing upon it a world-wide triumvirate of America, Britain and France. It received cautious support from Mr. Harold Macmillan. It was turned down by the Americans, not 275 surprisingly because we were only just a nuclear Power. The French were not in the league at all. That concept would now be out of date.
But I wonder whether we should not now be thinking of a triumvirate of Europe, America and Japan. A good deal of thought has been given to what is called trilateralism. Mr. Carter and many of his advisers have taken part in the trilateral group. I think the Foreign Secretary will find that discussions in Washington on the trilateral concept would not fall on infertile ground. I do not know whether the Americans are wise in proposing to withdraw from South Korea. I notice that the South Korean Opposition as well as their Government have doubts about that. But what seems clear is that if the Americans do withdraw, Japan must rearm. Japan cannot go on enjoying all the advantages of economic growth without carrying any of the burdens of security for those advantages.
On a recent visit to China and South-East Asia, I was interested to find that there is substantial acceptance there of the need for Japan to rearm. I was also impressed by the emphasis which the Chinese Ministers to whom I spoke placed on the importance of Japan maintaining the closest possible links with the United States. This, they said, should be its first priority.
I shall not weary the House with my impressions of China, but I should like to say a word about a problem which is sometimes in doubt. The new Chinese leadership is pragmatic and likely to move in the direction of greater industrialisation. Some people have asked whether, if China moved in that direction, there would be a reconciliation between China and the Soviet Union. I do not think so. In the first place, there is the old saying that two dry pieces of paper do not stick together; one needs a wet piece and a dry piece. The Russians are too poor to help the Chinese in any significant way. In addition, the Chinese have had a bitter experience of their alliance with the Soviet Union. Then there is the frontier problem.
Far more serious than any of these, however, is the conviction of the Chinese that the Soviet Union is out for world 276 hegemony. This is an obsession with them. They do not believe that they will be attacked in the first place. They think that we shall be attacked; and if we were overwhelmed they would be in a hopeless position. They see themselves as sinking or swimming with the West, particularly with Europe. Therefore, I think we should be wise to cultivate a good understanding with them, and in any trilateral development which we may pursue and in any alliance which may develop between the United States, Europe and Japan we should be in close consultation with the Chinese.
I think that a main objective of our new Foreign Secretary should be to encourage the development of the world from a bipolar world where there is only the United States and the Soviet Union to a polycentric world in which the new European Community, Japan and China all play their part.
President Theodore Roosevelt saidSpeak softly and carry a big stick.President Carter seems to have dropped the stick but seems to be stumping up the pulpit denouncing all and sundry. I am all in favour of his letter to Dr. Sakharov. President Brezhnev signed a paper at Helsinki, and we have every right to hold him to it and every right to say "If you dishonour your signature on Basket III, how shall we trust you on any other document?" But denunciation and disarmament go ill together. I would prefer denunciation to be accompanied by a written go-ahead for the B1 and the X missile than the other way round.
Of course, we must stand out for human rights; this is the essence and basis of our values. But there is another principle which is no less important, and that is self-determination of nations, our refusal to accept the so-called Brezhnev doctrine. There is a real danger in Eastern Europe. The speeches made by both presidential candidates in the presidential elections were alarming, especially when President Carter said that he would not help Yugoslavia if it were invaded. That came on top of reports in London of the Sonnenfeld speech to American ambassadors and all the talk about not wanting to destabilise Europe. All this had a bad effect, in Yugoslavia, Romania and, for all I know, Albania. We should 277 seek to restore confidence in those countries. We have powerful means of discouraging any Soviet adventure in that direction. I hope that this will be kept on the NATO and European agenda consistently in the months ahead.
Some deprecating things have been said about Dr. Kissinger. I had the privilege to work to some extent with Dr. Kissinger. Kissinger, like his hero, Metternich, was master of American diplomacy but never master of America. He perhaps exaggerated the weakness of America and exaggerated the strength of the Soviet Union, but no one can deny that he secured an immense triumph in the Middle East, ousting the Soviets from the influential position they had in Egypt and finally in Syria.
There have been a number of speeches on the Middle East in the debate about the Arab-Israeli problem. If we look closely at the problem it seems that the main issue is the relation between the Arab States and the Israelis. But if we stand back and look at it from the Far East—as I did a few weeks ago—one gets the impression that the tide of Soviet imperialism in the Middle East broke on the rock of Israeli military strength and ran out on the sands of the oil-rich conservative Arab countries. Although they are not allied or in collusion in any way, they are pursuing parallel policies with the primary aim of keeping the Russians out of the area. If that is so, I do not see why we could not work for a situation where they live, if not in friendship, at least in mutual forbearance. But the key to this is the fact that the Arabs have understood that they can get no concessions out of Israel through the Soviets, but only through the Americans.
I wonder whether the same does not apply to the situation in Southern Africa. Here I venture a word of criticism of the Government. The Kissinger proposals were accepted by Mr. Smith after great pressure had been exercised by the British, American and South African Governments. In my judgment, they gave the African nationalist leaders all that they legitimately could ask for. When I say "legitimately", I mean African rule after two years but on the assumption that it would be a moderate, democratic rule taking into account all the rights of the minorities.
278 When the Africans turned down the proposals, our Government and the Americans made no attempt to put equivalent pressure on them to accept the Kissinger proposals, yet we had plenty of means at our disposal. We could have threatened to lift sanctions and the arms embargo and could have refused to give them aid. Instead of that, the British Government produced proposals which virtually amounted to asking Mr. Smith to surrender at once and not even to the representatives of the majority. The moment he began to talk about an "internal" solution, both we and the Americans ruled out such a solution, although many experts believe—I do not know whether they are right—that Bishop Muzorewa is the representative of the majority. What we and the Americans have been saying is "No deal except with the guerrillas".
Ambassador Young, when asked why he did not talk to Bishop Muzorewa, went so far as to say "Because he is not doing the fighting." The answer is that we are pressing Mr. Smith to hand over to Nkomo and Mugabe and the guerrillas—that is, to men of the caste of President Neto and President Machel. This would lead to the installation in Rhodesia not of a democratic, moderate party but of something which would leave the Ton Ton Macoute of President Duvalier looking like the Salvation Army—and something which would be Soviet-controlled. This cannot be in our interests. Neither does it accord with our principles.
I am left firmly with the impression, which I hope the Minister of State will deny, that the driving force behind British and American policy in Rhodesia today is the desire to avoid a confrontation with the Soviets in Southern Africa at any cost. We can sacrifice our interests, our democratic principles, everything, to avoid a confrontation. No one wants a confrontation. But if there has to be one, and usually it cannot be avoided by running away, I cannot think of a better place to have it. It is thousands of miles from the Soviet homeland, and the surrogate forces are much stronger, black and white, on our side. There are not only the South Africans and the Rhodesian whites but the black troops in Rhodesia, UNITA, the FNLA and the guerrillas who are still active in Mozambique. 279 In the Middle East the Americans refused to apply pressure to Israel until the Arab States abandoned the Soviet alliance. We, too, might take a leaf out of the American's book and make it plain to the Africans that, while we want to see social justice in Rhodesia and South Africa, we will not act as long as they are lined up with the Soviet Union. This is the case certainly in Angola and Mozambique, to a large extent in Tanzania and even, judging from the activities of Ambassador Solodovnikov, in Zambia.
I am sorry to have kept the House for so long. I come now to my conclusion. Soviet imperialism has been my theme. I do not underrate its importance but I ask the House not to exaggerate its power. The Soviets have their difficulties too. They are the heart of a double empire, an empire of the Warsaw Pact countries and of the minority nations in their own countries. Very few people realise that between the Urals and the Pacific there are 66 million Soviet citizens only 17 million of whom are Russian—what might be called a "South African" proportion of Europeans to Asians. The Soviets have their difficulties. If we stand firm, if we show strength, unity and resolve, I see no reason why the Soviet empire could not in due course be turned into a Soviet Commonwealth and the threat of Soviet imperialism lifted from us.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
No doubt the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who has apologised for taking so long, will be surprised to learn that he has taken longer than either of the two Front Bench speakers at the beginning of the debate.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Scotland Exchange)
We have covered many parts of the globe in today's debate. I want to deal with a small part of the world which is still under British rule, namely, the colony of Hong Kong. I have in my constituency the Liverpool "Chinatown", which is a large Chinese community consisting of Cantonese and also citizens born on the mainland of China in Canton, Shanghai and Peking. The majority are immigrants from the New Territories of Hong Kong.
From time to time I receive a number of complaints from these people about the 280 policies of the Hong Kong Government in the New Territories as they affect their families, their brothers, sisters, parents and in some instances their children. I refer the House to Earl-Day Motion No. 51, which stands in my name. This motion has been signed by 136 Labour Members, including 12 members of the National Executive and a number of ex-Ministers. There is also a counter motion. mainly inspired by Conservative Members, Early-Day Motion No. 68, which takes a completely opposite view to that expressed in my motion.
I visited Hong Kong last year during the Summer Recess, at my own expense. I spent a lot of time visiting the various pressures groups. Among those whom I visited at grass-root level were educationists, social workers, community leaders, housing and tenant groups, doctors, trade unionists and representatives from the villages and the New Territories.
These meetings showed clearly the inequalities in Hong Kong society, the exploitation of the workers that takes place, and the undemocratic face of the Hong Kong Government. That Government use any means to still the voices of those with social consciences. The Hong Kong Government threaten dissenters with dismissal from their jobs. If those who complain are employed by voluntary agencies, the Government even try to use pressure against them.
In a policy document submitted to last year's party conference the National Executive of the Labour Party was highly critical of the present system and society in Hong Kong. The document was adopted unanimously by the conference. The TUC has also shown a keen interest in the colony. I understand that at the request of the TUC the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers has drawn up a document which has been presented to the international committee of the TUC. The union is obviously concerned about the effects of textile imports on the British industry. The document covers the economic and social factors in Hong Kong—
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
When he was in Hong Kong, did the hon. Gentleman have the opportunity of seeing the quite remarkable housing which has been erected, particularly in Kowloon, thanks 281 to the astonishing ability of the civil servants there? Alternatively, and more particularly, did the hon. Gentleman see any of the factories in which these garments are made, the expertise with which they are made, and the general social conditions in which the people work? They are very good, indeed.
§ Mr. Parry
I visited a number of housing estates. Although some newer ones are very good there are thousands of very bad properties. I shall deal with housing later. I have not visited any of the modern factories. I have seen some of the sweat-shops in Hong Kong. There is no minimum working week or minimum wage in the colony. There are poor health and safety conditions. A number of people work a six-day week. There are no paid holidays. There is a divided and weak trade union organisation and a high level of child labour.
This was highlighted recently by the Granada programme "World in Action". This showed that many youngsters of 10, 11 and 12 were working in factories. When the Granada team was in Hong Kong, its members were accused of being Communist agents in one or two newspapers. The team members have taken legal action and the case is now sub judice.
I have already described some of the intimidation the Hong Kong Government use. I was a victim of a smear campaign while I was out there. When I visited the pressure groups, the Government tried to stop me from saying what I wanted to say and from opening my mouth. One morning I witnessed the eviction of several very small shopkeepers by the forces of the Hong Kong Government. The brute force that those forces used had to be seen to be believed. Armed policemen went along to the premises of these small business men and cut down the shutters and doors and threw their belongings and goods into the street. I was present at that incident with Councillor Mrs. Elsie Elliot and I was ashamed that this could have occurred under a British flag.
§ Mr. Rees-Davies
But would not the hon. Member admit that Councillor Mrs. Elliot is regarded as a sort of sick joke in Hong Kong? For years her opinions have been regarded as totally unreliable and no one has any respect for what she 282 says. Why did not the hon. Member visit the Governor and why does he not recognise the immense strides that Hong Kong has made against the background of its enormous population? Does he think that the fact that the people work a six-day week and long hours is anything to be compared with the strains that the Chinese Communists undergo just across the road? Why is it that the Chinese from Communist China want to move into Hong Kong in their thousands?
§ Mr. Parry
I did, In fact, meet the Governor, and I discussed a number of matters with him and also with several senior members of the Hong Kong Government. I refute completely the allegations that the hon. and learned Member has made most unfairly against Mrs. Elliot. Mrs. Elliot worked for some years in China with her husband, who was a missionary there. She is an elected member of the urban council and for many years has been re-elected by her constituents—admittedly on a small franchise. This lady is the champion of the underdog in Hong Kong and is well respected by the people there for her compassion and sincerity. Also, Mrs. Elliot was awarded the Magsaysay Medal, which is the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. She went to Manila to receive that award and it is amazing that when a country has awarded her that medal for her efforts on behalf of the downtrodden people of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Government have not seen fit to appoint her to the Legislative Council.
The Government have a built-in majority on the Legislative Council, and the majority of unofficial members are, in fact, big business men who are supporters of the Government. Surely the Hong Kong Government could have one or two people on the Legislative Council who are prepared to disagree with them.
The New Territories, with between 750,000 and 1 million people, do not have a spokesman on the Legislative Council, and that makes the people feel that there is no real democracy in Hong Kong. One of the major topics in the New Territories concerns land and the Government's policy on developing land use in the New Territories. The Heung Yee Kuk, a consultative body representing the villagers in the New Territories, 283 for years has been battling with the Government on this matter. The way the Government compulsorily acquire land causes considerable feelings among members of the Kuk. They feel so concerned about the situation that I understand they intend to send a delegation over here next month to meet the Minister responsible for Hong Kong affairs in this country.
One example of the unfair land policy is that villagers may have land compulsorily acquired for 10 Hong Kong dollars—about £1—a square foot. This land can then be auctioned or tenders can be invited for it and it may be sold for 400 to 500 dollars per square toot. That is real exploitation of the people—it is their land.
Education in Hong Kong leaves much to be desired. I met some members of the education action group in the colony. Free and compulsory primary education was not introduced into Hong Kong until 1971, and it is not compulsory in the sense that we know it. It is estimated that there are at least 50,000 drop-outs a year from school, and this figure has never been refuted by the Government. Many of these children are not followed up as there is no school welfare system and they are led into child labour Others are led into juvenile delinquency or even prostitution. There is no compulsory secondary education in Hong Kong at this stage.
Housing conditions are a matter of great concern and the Governor himself admitted this. However, I appreciate that great strides have been made in recent years to improve the position. There are hundreds of thousands of squatters in Hong Kong, thousands living in settlement areas and thousands living on boats.
I quote an article that appeared in the Financial Times on 17th May last year:The background to the housing problem is one of grossly substandard living conditions and over crowding on what may be the biggest scale in any major city in the world. Hong Kong has a continuing floating squatter population of about 350,000 (some estimates put it higher) in the urban areas of the colony alone since refugees started flooding in from China in the mid-1950s. There are also squatters in the new territories but they are generally considered to be living more tolerable lives. Squatters in urban areas may live in wooden shanties on steep hillsides where they 284 are liable to be swept to their deaths in typhoons, or on the roofs of factory or tenement blocks in the built-up areas.That report was not from a revolutionary anti-Hong Kong paper, it was not from the Tribune or the Morning Stre, but from the columns of the Financial Times.
I conclude by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on his appointment, and I hope that he will examine a number of these matters. I was recently pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mention the ratification of ILO conventions. Hon. Members who take an interest in Hong Kong affairs are well aware that many of those conventions have been approved by the House but are awaiting ratification by the Hong Kong Government. I beg my right hon. Friend to examine the situation, and I hope that the ratification of those conventions will lead to a speedy and urgent improvement in social and democratic conditions in Hong Kong.
I conclude by reminding my right hon. Friend that over 320 hon. Members have signed two Early-Day Motions, expressing anxiety, as have the Labour Party and the TUC, that a Royal Commission be set up on Hong Kong. If that is found to be impracticable, will my right hon. Friend consider setting up a Select Committee to examine all the factors affecting the colony and so leading to an improvement in human and civil rights in Hong Kong?
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
I know Hong Kong well, and the politest thing I can say about the speech by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) is that it was totally misleading. If conditions in Hong Kong are as bad as all that, why is it that so many people are still trying to get across into that territory from the mainland of China?
I shall not pursue that subject further, because I want to be brief. My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) remarked that we do not appear to be matching Russia's determination of purpose, and that is the theme I want to take up in my remarks. If I were in the position of the Russian Ambassador in London and seeking to assess the Government's policy to the Societ Union, I would describe it, with good reason, as boneless. 285 The first point I wish to make in substantiating that adjective is that the Labour Government have cut defence spending five times in a period of three years at a time when the Russians are increasing their defence expenditure. The second point, which the Russians would regard as significant, is that the Prime Minister refused to see Mr. Bukovsky and does not appear to have criticised the maltreatment of dissidents in the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Greville Janner
Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Foreign Secretary at an earlier period and recently as Prime Minister, privately, in the House and abroad, has frequently criticised the behaviour of the Soviet Union towards dissident minorities, and particularly the Jewish minority? The hon. Gentleman should try to be fair.
§ Mr. Blaker
I am doing my best to be fair. The Prime Minister was asked about this matter last month by my hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and in an answer on 20th January listed five answers and speeches which he had given in the House or outside it. I have checked them. Although the right hon. Gentleman said that he was in favour of the proper implementation of the Helsinki Agreement, he did not criticise the Soviet maltreatment of dissidents. If he said that on some other occasion, it was surprising that he did not list that in the answer to which I have referred.
We have certainly not heard from the Prime Minister in recent days any criticism of Soviet treatment of Mr. Orlov or of Alexander Ginsberg, who are working for the implementation of the Helsinki Agreement inside the Soviet Union. I do not know why we have not heard such criticisms. We have certainly heard it from other countries in the Western world, and we have had criticism on that score from President Carter. I do not know whether the timorous attitude of the Prime Minister is due to his fear of offending. Moscow or his hon. Friends below the Labour Gangway, but whatever is the explanation it makes no difference from the Soviet point of view.
I hope that the Prime Minister, following the example of President Carter and Vice-President Mondale, will be prepared, if only as a gesture, to see Mr. Bukovsky 286 when he returns to this country, as, indeed, he is soon to do.
Another point to which I would have regard if I were the Soviet Ambassador as a significant pointer to the attitude of the United Kingdom Government involves the fawning way in which successive Prime Ministers have pressed the Russians to take up the £950 million credit arranged for them by the former Labour Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Wilson), in 1975. That is a bad arrangement for Britain because, if that credit is fully taken up, it will cost our taxpayers more than £200 million. It means that we are helping the Russians to build factories with money on which they will pay only 7 per cent. or thereabouts when our own manufacturers have to pay 15 per cent. when they borrow money.
It is a good arrangement from the Soviet point of view because it helps the Russians to transfer resources into armaments and it relieves their serious debt problem. The Russians are openly contemptuous of the inability of Western capitalist countries, as they describe them, to regulate the competition between one another and of the way they fall over backwards in offering such generous help to the Soviet Union.
Perhaps the Prime Minister holds the fallacious belief that trade is a barrier to war. That is nonsense. If we want to go into history, we can find examples to show that war is more likely between countries which have a great deal of trade with each other. One has only to look at the position between Germany and the rest of Western Europe in 1939, and in 1941 between Japan and the United States, and the trade carried out between England and Spain in the 16th century.
If one can discern any coherent philosophy on the part of the British Government towards the Soviet Union, it seems to me that they believe it is right to treat the Soviet Union in the same way as Dr. Spock used to advise parents to treat a difficult child. The view he took was that a parent should not deny such a child anything and should not say "No" to him at any time or discipline him but should allow children to express themselves. Dr. Spock's view was that in due course those children 287 would grow up to be just like everybody else. However, there are two fallacies in that approach. The first is that Dr. Spock has recanted and no longer believes in that approach but believes instead in firmness on the part of parents. Secondly, the Russians are a fully mature successful people who for 60 years have governed their country, which has constantly expanded and which has enjoyed success after success abroad.
In the light of Soviet successes and the erosion of the position of the free world which has taken place in the past 10 years, I suggest that the time has come to review Western policy towards the Soviet Union. The time is suitable for such a review. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are about to meet President Carter, and that will give a good opportunity to look at these problems.
We should examine whether the policy of containment—a policy pursued by the West for 15 years—should be modified, because I believe that it has failed. It is bound to fail, because it does not involve any means of persuading the Soviet Union to drop its aggressive aims. It is time that we considered whether we should adopt a policy towards the Soviet Union that involves more firmness, more consistency and, in particular, the imposition of penalties on the Soviet Union for bad behaviour. Dr. Kissinger used to talk about a system of rewards and penalties vis-à-vis the Soviet Union, but in practice the penalties never seemed to be imposed.
What should be the elements of this new approach? I agree with Opposition spokesmen who have said that we must work together with our allies. The European Community has a rôle to play. It has had successes in the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and had a success recently over fishing. I hope that it will rapidly develop the practice of working together right across the whole field of foreign policy. NATO must also intensify its political consultations, take a global outlook and get together with the Japanese.
The European Community should consider with them whether we should modify the ridiculous policy of offering credits and technology to the Soviet 288 Union. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), who said that we must continue to develop our links with China. We must support the Soviet dissidents. We should strengthen the activity of the BBC Overseas Service rather than cut down on it, and we should encourage our allies to do the same with their overseas broadcasting services. In particular, we must show the Soviet Union that the West has the will to defend itself, because will itself is a form of deterrent and the absence of will is a form of invitation to aggressive behaviour by one's opponents.
I refer to an answer that was given by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 28th July to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew). My hon. Friend asked:How can credence be given to the good will of the Russian Government as long as the Berlin Wall and the death strip between East and West Germany remain?The Under-Secretary replied:I do not think that that kind of approach is particularly helpful."—[Official Report, 28th July 1975; Vol 916, c. 630.]That will have been noted by the Soviet Ambassador and reported back to Moscow. In the eyes of the Russians, the Under-Secretary will be seen as a man of limited strength.
The message I want to leave with the House is that the best way of preserving our liberty and of preserving peace is to show that we have the will to defend ourselves.
§ 8.13 p.m.
Mr. Alan Lee Williams (Hornchurch)
I always follow the argument put by the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) with considerable interest, but I disagreed profoundly with his massive generalisation that Western containment of Communism has failed. I had hoped to hear him argue the case, but he did not do so this evening.
There is much that encourages me. I agree with some of the comments of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) in his analysis of the Soviet Union, but I do not accept his conclusions. There is much to encourage us and we ought to be more confident about the future and not so deeply pessimistic. But perhaps we ought to pursue that argument on another occasion.
289 I should like to say a few words to the Secretary of State. He made a competent and buoyant speech, and I was interested to hear his analysis of British foreign policy. I was particularly pleased to hear that he is to continue with the outward-looking approach that has always been the basis of British foreign policy in the past.
I was also interested to hear him apply the argument to the European Community because I am sure that he would not deny that since Britain became a member of the Community—and there has been the problem of the oil crisis and the world economic crisis—developments within the Community to some extent have stalemated. The outward-looking approach that one would have hoped for at the time of Britain's membership has not yet emerged.
I am pleased that the Foreign Secretary is to play a major rôle in looking at problems outside Europe. I ask him to bear in mind that he will receive a lot of advice from his officials. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun), who referred to this, was totally wrong in saying that the officials who give advice to the Foreign Secretary have a class bias. I am often staggered by what my hon. Friend says from time to time, but I was frankly amused by that remark, because the former head of the Foreign Office, Sir Thomas Brimelow, is now a Labour Peer. My impression is that some Foreign Office officials vote Conservative, some vote Labour and some are Liberals. I have never noticed a class bias in their attitude, so the Foreign Secretary should not be too frightened of their advice.
I hope that he will listen to the advice given by Sir John Killick, the Ambassador to NATO, whom I have known over the years. His analysis of the Soviet Union is always interesting to listen to and it is not in any way as pessimistic as that of some hon. Members opposite.
There is no question whatever that the West is faced with a great opportunity with the forthcoming conference in Belgrade. But the Secretary of State must resist the advice that, faced with this opportunity, we should put the Russians into the witness box and put the maximum pressure on them. The room for 290 pressure is great and I should like to see greater pressure applied, but it would be a profound mistake—and this is where the hon. Member for Blackpool, South is wrong—to create a political atmosphere so that when the conference meets in Belgrade it will be abortive. Some constructive things have arisen from the Helsinki conference upon which we can constructively build, and unlike some hon. Members opposite, I do not dismiss detente quite so easily. There is a strong case that one can argue for the Secretary of State to do some important and constructive things in Belgrade to strengthen the Western position and not to weaken it.
I wish to conclude with a final word of encouragement to the Foreign Secretary, because what pleased me about his speech was that he made no attempt to hide his strong European feelings. It is sometimes not uncommon for Ministers when they go into the Cabinet to speak from the Dispatch Box as if all their past had no meaning for them and to try to lean over backwards to be absolutely fair—and sometimes it has even been known for them to turn on their friends. I am encouraged by the Foreign Secretary's approach. I know that we can expect that from him and he will have my full support.
§ Several Hon. Membersrose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
If hon. Members follow the example of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Williams) and give us five-minute speeches, there will be time for everyone who wants to speak.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)
I join with those who have congratulated the Secretary of State on his appointment, and I congratulate him on his maiden speech from the Dispatch Box. The content of his speech was not as controversial as it might have been.
The House is beginning to notice that Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House, and now the Foreign Secretary all have Welsh connections. In these circumstances one wonders whether the Government might not withdraw at least the Welsh part of the Scotland and Wales Bill, because devolution no longer seems as necessary 291 as it possibly was some time ago: Wales has the power already.
But in welcoming the Foreign Secretary I should like to be critical and in doing so to draw his attention to the ridiculous way in which we debate foreign affairs. Today is another example of what is and of what ought to be known as a scandal. The last general debate on foreign affairs took place over a year ago—in Government time in November 1975. On that occasion no more than 19 hon. Members spoke, of whom only 12 were Back Benchers. The time taken by the Back Benchers was substantially less than the time taken by those speaking from the Front Benches, by officers of party committees and by Privy Councillors—many of whom have fallen into the habit of using their privilege to speak frequently at great length without consideration for the Back Benchers.
During the course of today's debate we have had a tour d'horizon, with hon. Members going in depth into particular aspects of foreign policy totally unsuited to discussion in a major debate on the Floor of the House.
Will the Foreign Secretary consider with the Leader of the House arranging for foreign affairs to be discussed in a different way, either more frequently with shorter debates on fixed subjects or, preferably, by the establishment of a Select Committee on foreign affairs? It is impossible for hon. Members to have a sensible and informed dialogue with the Secretary of State in a broad-ranging general debate of this sort. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman's youth and common sense attitude will lead him to discuss this important subject with his right hon. Friends so that the quality of foreign affairs discussions can be improved.
The Foreign Secretary rightly referred to the increasing importance of foreign affairs now that so many aspects of foreign affairs have a direct impact on our domestic economy and policies. If he and the Government believe that, we ought to have a better way of discussing the subject.
For example, many of us would like a two-hour debate on the Falkland Islands, which have been mentioned today. If the Secretary of State wanted to be cynical, he could go away tonight knowing 292 that there will not be a general debate for another year and that as long as there were some published report of support for legislation to detach the Falkland Islands from their present status and attach them to Argentina, there might not be too much of a fuss in the House.
I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman would be that cynical, but many of us see dangers in the Foreign Office cheerfully going its own way and the Foreign Secretary never coming here to discuss in depth problems that are causing us deep concern. We should like to have more informed debates and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will play his part in making that possible.
The forthcoming talks in Paris and Geneva, following the Seventh Special Session of UNCTAD and the Kingston talks, are concerned with an agreement to help stabilise commodity prices. The Government and the Secretary of State recognise the new inter-dependence of Britain in this matter, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman also recognises our particular vulnerability, as a major importer of raw materials, to rapid fluctuations in international commodity prices.
I hope that the Government will play a leading part in trying to reach international agreement. After the Nairobi talks, in which there was considerable agreement, the gap between our view and that of other countries seemed to have widened. I understand that the Government now support a comprehensive programme in line with the Kingston proposals, are reserved on the integrated programme and do not accept the proposals for a common fund because the distribution of funds may be regressive.
If this is so and the Government recognise the importance of managed markets for commodities, which is central to achieving stability in commodity prices, and they do not like the systems under discussion, it is up to Britain to give a far higher priority to devising and promoting our own system for stabilising commodities instead of just sitting back and reacting to everyone else's ideas. The Government could, for example, put forward the St. Clair Grondona proposal, which has been discussed for 20 years and which could be implemented by the United Kingdom unilaterally.
293 I do not say that it is the answer, but I invite the Government to play a more leading part instead of just sitting back and reacting and saying "No" to everyone else's ideas. This attitude is being criticised in the Third World and those of us who care about Britain playing a part in helping the Third World to develop—which would also be in our own interests—would like to see this country playing a more leading rôle.
There have been many references to Rhodesia and I wish to add a word or two of my own. In recent months we have not understood the complexity of the situation there. We have been too ready to assume that the struggle is simply a struggle between black and white. It is nothing of the sort. In addition to being a racial struggle, it is a struggle between rival black groups who are challenging white power and competing among themselves for the right to lead the country. Part of that struggle is the tribal element that is not as well understood in this country as it was before the union. One must accept that in Africa tribal considerations are of supreme importance in deciding the outcome of political rivalries.
There is also a struggle between political systems and those who feel that military rule is the right way in a developing African country and those who favour some form of parliamentary rule, albeit one-party parliamentary rule. This is a conflict between those who believe in African collective Socialism, which is as near Marxism as anything I know, but which does not necessarily imply a particularly close relationship with China or Russia, but is, nevertheless, an extreme form of Socialism, and those in countries such as Kenya who support what might be called the African mixed economy Socialist State.
Within this superficially simple conflict, there are three other intertwined conflicts and we must add to that the fear of the minorities, which hon. Members opposite have not understood. Not just the white minority, but the coloureds, the Asians and the smaller tribal groups fear what might happen after the transfer of power if there is no general agreement on the manner in which the country is to be governed There will be no 294 co-operation from the minorities unless they are assured that their future will be safeguarded. I believe that British responsibility for Rhodesia is recognised by the Americans, that they will back us and that that is the right way round.
The challenge for us in the United Kingdom, and specifically for Her Majesty's Government, is to evolve a policy that will have the full consent of the people who live in Rhodesia. The Government, in falling so rapidly behind the views of the front-line Presidents, are in my view doing nothing more than joining in the race to dump Rhodesia in a state of total chaos. That is what will happen if the front-line Presidents get their way and government in an independent Zimbabwe is handed over to a bunch of armed people who do not have the support of the black majority inside Rhodesia.
Surely the front-line Presidents were wrong to impose such leadership on the Rhodesian people. Her Majesty's Government should resist that view. If we make up our mind that a long-term solution to the Rhodesian problem is possible only with the support of all the racial groups inside the country, we shall begin to make progress. If we can only get broad-spread support for such proposals, I believe that the outcome is still far from gloomy.
Surely we must recognise the concession that was made by Mr. Smith in conceding the principle of majority rule as a result of the Kissinger initiative. We should not criticise Dr. Kissinger for leaving many loose ends, for that is the style of his diplomacy. Nor should we criticise Mr. Smith for asking some questions after the Kissinger proposal was put up.
The Government should now be calling for the interim government in Rhodesia to be decided as a result of a referendum or an election in which everyone may take part. The Commonwealth should provide guarantees for the police, military and political freedom of all people throughout the elections. I fervently believe that unless we have elections in Rhodesia prior to any transfer of power taking place, there is no chance of a multiracial society being established that will endure for longer than a few weeks or a few months.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
The hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) is right to say that we could have an evening's debate or a day's debate on most of the individual topics that are covered in our so-called tour d'horizon. In fact, I would call it a quick canter. Those of us who are heavily involved in foreign affairs have a certain expertise in various areas and this is our chance to air our anxieties and worries. We must do so as best we can in the time that is available.
I echo the congratulations that have been offered to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I hope that he will have a long and useful tenure and that he will enjoy it. There is some peculiar view in the House and country that we are not meant to enjoy what we do. However, I think that my right hon. Friend should enjoy his visit to the Middle East. I think that he should go to India and experience the splendour, the anxiety, the history and the variety of that marvellous country.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will find it possible to go to Spain, a country that has not been mentioned so far. In Spain there is a young and courageous king who is very much under fire from extremists on both sides, but who, in my view, is desperately anxious to re-establish democracy and freedom in his country. I think that he deserves the full support of our House and Government.
My right hon. Friend was right when he said that we should transmit our love of freedom and that we cannot keep it out of our view of any area of foreign policy. It is on that theme that I shall take a little of the time of the House to refer briefly to a few areas.
First, we have talked about Belgrade, namely the review of Helsinki. This is a matter that concerns many of us intimately. I regret that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not see Mr. Bukovsky. I have seen him, some Conservative Members now in the House have seen him and President Carter is seeing him. Although my right hon. Friend did not see him, he was totally informed and he is totally of the same mind as we are. 296 I am concerned about Belgrade because we are going there to sup with the Devil. We need a long-handled spoon. It must be held with care and filled with information. The Russians are preparing for Belgrade. We know that they are assembling information. We know that they are assembling propaganda. We know that they care about Belgrade. We have seen some transcripts of the material that they have put out over their own television. We know about the vicious attacks on their dissidents. Some of us have read copies of Soviet News, which arrives on our desks free and unsolicited each week.
I read it with enormous interest. I regard it as being part of the fantasy of a comic strip world, but it should be read so that we know how others are thinking. I believe that we should not only read the Russians' publications, but talk to and meet them.
However difficult detente may be, it is necessary. The alternative is war. If we do not have detente and if Mr. Brezhnev goes, I believe that we shall face a disaster that will afflict not only us, but the entire world. We must somehow try to let the Russians understand that those who attack their policies are not their enemies. The ones hurt most by their policies are those who wish to have friendship with them and those who have not forgotten that once they were our allies.
There cannot be true detente while the Russians treat their dissidents as they have. I applaud President Carter for speaking as he did. I should like to record, if only because when the word goes out from this House it will help to save people's lives, the names of people whom I am not allowed to see and who are not allowed to see me, but with whom I have been in close touch. They are great and courageous people. Their names are: Professor Azbel, Professor Brailowsky, Professor Lerner, Academician Levich, Mrs. Ida Nudel, Dr. Sharansky and Vladimir Slepak. I consider those people to be among the bravest of those to whom I have spoken and with whom I have had the privilege of working, but who are not allowed to see me and whom I am not allowed to see.
297 I am making certain applications to go to Russia. I hope that I shall be allowed to go there. If not, we shall keep working from the outside. The Foreign Secretary was right when he said that we must seek freedom wherever we can find it and that we must help in any way that we can.
I have a similar view about Uganda. I do not consider that we can assess a person's Hitlerian tendencies by his colour or continent. A man is no more and no less a dictator if he is in Africa. A man is no more and no less a racist if he is black. A man is no more and no less a genocidal maniac because he happens to rule a country in the middle of Africa rather than in the middle of Europe.
The thought of President Amin being allowed to come to this country sends shudders down my spine and down the backs of my constituents, who on this issue are united. It is monstrous that we should say that there is a distinction between allowing him to come into this country to see Her Majesty the Queen for the Silver Jubilee and allowing him in for the purpose of attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. When he comes here—if he does—he will have diplomatic privilege. So presumably will the 250 people whom he intends to bring, including the dancing girls.
From time to time it may be funny to hear him invite Ted Heath and his band and to offer to pay them with goats. He thinks that is humorous. But he is a very cunning, shrewd and, in a peculiar way, intelligent man who is not to be under-estimated. That would be a grave error—a repeat of the Hitlerian era.
President Amin slaughtered nearly everyone who could replace him. He destroyed Mrs. Bloch and had her buried. He would not allow her body to be handed back to her family. He slaughtered everyone who saw the killing of Mrs. Bloch, including the person who photographed her body. He has massacred tribes which were not of his persuasion. That is genocide. He was responsible for the killing of the Anglican Archbishop Luwum and two Cabinet Ministers, two of his former supporters.
298 We are apparently considering allowing that man to come into this country. Surely we have the freedom to say that we shall not have him here. There may be objections from some Commonwealth countries. But is it not sad that African countries have not seen fit to proclaim that Amin does not represent their views, feelings or attitudes?
We should make it abundantly plain that in no circumstances will we allow President Amin to come into this country, whether it be to sit at the table of Her Majesty the Queen, which would be a disgusting arrangement, or to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. If we are able, through the Home Secretary, to keep out a pedlar of pornography from Denmark, as was rightly done a month ago, we certainly have the power to keep President Amin out of this country. As a lawyer, I believe that if we let him in, we shall not to be able to contain him whilst he is here, because he will have total immunity from our law. Amin would not be a welcome guest in London nor in any part of the city of Leicester.
I now turn to the area with which so many hon. Members have dealt—the Middle East. That also involves the question of freedom. I am sorry that those hon. Members who saw fit to attack the State of Israel have not had the stamina to stay for the rest of the debate. I sat and listened, in the main with patience, but I can not understand why some of my hon. Friends who claim to be Left wing can ally themselves with feudal dictatorships and regard them as being somehow more progressive than a democracy. How can they draw strength from the elections on the West Bank without saying that they commend an occupation which arranges and honours elections? How can they ignore the fact that no Government in Israel can possibly take action that is contrary to the wishes of the people because if they did they would be thrown out? The Israelis have freedom and democracy. They have a freedom which allows them to absorb immigrants from the Arab countries—people who have been thrown out of their own countries.
There is talk of the problems of the Palestinian refugees but we hear nothing of the fact that over half of the population of Israel consists of refugees from 299 Arab countries who have been made welcome and given homes in Israel. Israel should have freedom to trade, but Arab boycotts are becoming more severe. The primary boycott affects trade between Arab States and Israel. It even has chinks in it. The secondary boycott is of companies which deal with Israel. There is also a tertiary boycott. Such an unpleasant example involves the Metal Box Company. Certain companies in the United States say that they will not trade with Metal Box because of its connections with Israel. Our own Foreign Office is authenticating documents on behalf of the Arab boycott. I hope that that will cease.
A Foreign Secretary does not change his views when he becomes Foreign Secretary. The present holder of that office remains committed to the Common Market. He has unequivocally condemned the Arab boycott and he has said that he believes that it will not serve the purposes which it is expected to achieve. I hope that he will bear that in mind and that he will draw some strength from the Americans, who are in the course of passing legislation intended to deal with the interference of the freedom to trade.
We are living in a world from which, if we stand back and look at it, we can draw little satisfaction. We see dictatorships, whether of the Right or of the Left, gaining strength. The number of democracies is diminishing. Spain and Portugal are the only only exceptions and we can draw strength because they are also going our way.
We must preserve our own strength and freedom. I hope that a certain infection from our ability to speak our minds in this country will spread across the world so that although our power of muscle and might will be diminished, at least we shall have the power given by the decency and the freedom of a country which retains the respect and affection of all the free world and of the persecuted people on whose behalf so many of us have spoken today.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)
By nature of the debate we range wide. I welcome the appointment of the Foreign Secretary to his new post because he 300 understands, more than many hon. Members in the House, that we are constrained in what we can do as a nation State in the future. He will work closely with our partners in the European Community to achieve that which we can through the Community but which we cannot achieve alone.
However, there is one area still left to us where we have not only an important rôle but a vital role and a duty. That lies in Africa and, in particular, in the area of the problems relating to Rhodesia. I have spent two years of my life in Africa, not living alongside a black African but being part of the black African's community and working with them within the King's African Rifles. I know only too well the truth of what was said just now by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) about the tribal problems in Africa. They are very difficult indeed to solve. The Turkana, Nandi, Kipsigis, Samburu and all the others instinctively have a fear of each other and a tribal relationship that is difficult for us to comprehend.
Sadly, the first fruits of independence for many of the newly emergent nations in Africa seem to be misery, famine and death. One can look around Africa and take Angola as a first stopping-off point. The people of southern Angola are at present being driven from their homes by Cuban-led bands who are establishing a zone of death and desolation along the southern border. The people are escaping in their thousands into both Zaire and South-West Africa or Namibia.
At this point I am delighted that the Minister of State is present this evening. Perhaps he will take up a point for me. On 21st February he replied to a supplementary question, saying,I can assure my hon. Friend that the British Government will continue to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees wherever they may be in the world and whenever that need arises."—[Official Report, 21st February 1977; Vol. 926, c. 1029.]That is not happening at present. A clear distinction is being made by the United Nations Commission for Refugees in relation to those refugees who have fled from Angola into Zambia and those who have gone into Namibia, and it is not recognised that there are refugees in Namibia. I ask the Minister 301 of State to take that point on board. I have established it on my own by contacts in Geneva. It is quite obvious that this is so. I should welcome an assurance from the Minister that help is being given to these people.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Frank Judd)
That was while I was Minister of State in another capacity, but I shall certainly draw that point to the attention of my colleague who has now succeeded me as Minister of State for Overseas Development.
§ Mr. Spicer
I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman.
Of course, one could move on and talk about Uganda—many others have done so—and the horrors of Rhodesia. In war there are horrors on all sides, but in Rhodesia some recent events, such as the kidnapping of the children and the murder of the missionaries, are all too horrifying. However, horrifying as those events may have been up to the present. matters will be a thousand times more horrifying unless we can find some way out of the situation at which we have arrived. It is quite impossible for any of us to envisage that any solution can be found in Rhodesia unless the initiative comes from outside.
I turn to the point that we must take that initiative. It is very easy for many hon. Members to trumpet forth the call "one man, one vote. Democracy. Everyone must do his own thing." We all know quite well that in the present circumstances the only form of democracy that would arrive in Rhodesia would come out of the barrel of a rifle. That is not what the people of Rhodesia want or what we, with our responsibility in Rhodesia, should be prepared to accept.
There may be those who wish to see that come about and to see that country go down in chaos. They may see that as the beginning of the final assault on Southern Africa. They may take joy and delight in that fact. However, there is another matter to consider, and that is that when Rhodesia went, if it went, is it not possible that, instead of initially turning southwards, the forces that have overrun Rhodesia might turn northwards against Zaire and Zambia? Already both those countries, land-locked as they are, are being strangled and their com- 302 munications with the outside world are being slowly but surely cut off. If Rhodesia went and that were to happen, those countries, and all the mineral wealth contained therein, would fall out of the Western orbit and cease to be available to us and would come within the grasp of Marxist-controlled Governments in those countries dictated to from outside.
We come back to Rhodesia. What can we do there? Not so long ago we made an attempt in Rhodesia to establish what opinion was. Many times this afternoon hon. Members have asked what the genuine opinion in Rhodesia was, rather than the opinion of the men with the guns. Comment has also been made about the way in which the United States' ambassador has moved around and said that they are not doing the fighting. That sort of attitude does not help. It is the opinion of the vast majority of the black Africans living in Rhodesia that we really want.
I make one suggestion which I hope the Minister of State will pass on to his right hon. Friend. In 1972 the Pearce Commission was set up for a specific purpose. I wonder whether there is not now some way of breaking the deadlock by establishing a commission along the same lines.
We may talk about going back to Geneva, but in our heart of hearts we all know that that road is closed and can never be reopened. A commission along the lines of the Pearce Commission should be led by a statesman from this country. I believe that it should be someone of the calibre of the noble lord, Lord Thomson, who has just relinquished the post of Commissioner in Europe and who has a wide-ranging background of foreign and Commonwealth affairs. I believe such a person should have the support of members from the United States, the European Community and the United Nations.
It would be a brave man, either in the shoes that Mr. Smith now occupies or in the shoes of the moderate African leaders, who would not give a warm welcome to a Commission of that type in Rhodesia. Of course, by throwing this lifeline and by establishing more carefully what the opinion of the moderate leaders is, we then have a continuing commitment within Rhodesia from that 303 moment on. The report of the commission would be the beginning not the end.
From that time we should be committed to support for a genuine multiracial society in Rhodesia and we should give all that we could possibly give towards that end. We could reactivate the offer made at the time of the "Fearless" talks for £50 million to be devoted to the education of black Africans. Besides that, the comments that we heard earlier about taking 120 more students into this country seem very small beer indeed. It would stretch far beyond that. I believe that there would need to be a commitment on our side, if need be a military presence under the United Nations banner but containing a large contingent from the Commonwealth as well.
I hope that at least this suggestion is worth a thought. At the moment we are suffering from a dearth of ideas about how we can get out of this mess. If we do not get out of it quickly, events will overtake us in Southern Africa and we shall all be the poorer as a result.
§ 8.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
I ask six telescoped questions of which I have given notice to the Foreign Office. First, what is the Government's attitude towards the proposed European Export Bank? Will they lay before us within the next three months their view on the idea developed by Mrs. Liliana Archibald?
Secondly, I ask a question arising out of the work of the European Parliament. What is the attitude of the Government towards a coherent refinery policy based on the needs and requirements of the whole of Europe? It is known to Ministers that, on average, refineries are working at 60 per cent. or less of capacity. We have gone through this endlessly in our arguments about the Cromarty Firth Petroleum Company and what is happening in the Cromarty Firth. According to officials in Europe, if we are to have an energy policy at all we must have a refineries policy. At some time in the near future, can we be told the British Government's view on that?
Thirdly, with regard to the so-called malt and butter scandals, my view 304 is that it is easy to cry "Scandal" rather than be prepared to do something about it. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the reputation of the Community is being eroded by constant Press criticism. Clearly it is an unsatisfactory situation.
As one who works on the Budget Sub-Committee of the European Parliament, I know that it is easier to attack than to offer constructive views on these things. At some stage, however, the Government ought to come forward with a statement, because it is not good enough for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture simply to say that it is up to Mr. Gundelach to solve the problem.
My fourth question concerns the issue in foreign affairs which has greatly concerned the European Commission, that of Lesotho and the Transkei. I know that my right hon. Friend has taken a personal interest in this, and at some time the British Government's attitude should be made clear.
The fifth matter to which I refer is one which, I hope, will have the personal interest of the new Foreign Secretary, namely, the view of Dr. John Kendrew, the Director of EMBL in Heidelberg, that we might turn the facilities at Porton into some kind of European anti-disease institution. At some time the Government should give their views on the future of Porton in a European context.
My last question is directed to my hon. Friend the Minister of State. When he was in the Falkland Islands, did he pursue, as the late Tony Crosland promised, the possibility of a link between the Falkland Islanders and not Buenos Aires as such but the Patagonian province or Argentine with which they have far more in common?
I refer finally, in all seriousness—I do not consider it a subject for merriment—to the issue of asking the Foreign Office whether it will prepare reasonably quickly a statement of the costs and the complications of separate Scottish representation in Paris, Bonn, Brussels, Luxembourg, The Hague, Rome, Dublin and Copenhagen, as the Scottish National Party has promised, also in Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Reykjavik, and also in Ottawa, Canberra, Wellington, Delhi, Islamabad, Washington, Moscow and the 305 United Nations. Again without merriment and in all seriousness, because clearly, as a result of what has happened to the devolution Bill, we are dealing with the possibility of a separate Scottish State, we want to know the costs and complications of a high commission or embassy from Scotland here in London.
I must say that in my approaches to Foreign Office Ministers I have not got very far on this subject. But, of course, this is part of the trouble. Until now, people have refused to believe that a separate Scottish State was a realistic issue. But, after what happened to the devolution Bill, will not Ministers for once take a warning and do something about it fairly quickly? Both in respect of separate Scottish forces and in respect of separate Scottish representation abroad, this now becomes a major issue. It will not be beyond the recognition of Ministers that my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) today or yesterday made some great speech talking about "a Home Rule front". People who talk about this ought to be confronted with the facts of the situation.
I hope that all three Ministers will be active in producing some facts about small country representation in all the capitals that I have mentioned. I warn them that some of us will go on and on with Foreign Office Ministers and even with the Prime Minister until we have elicited those facts.
Time spent on the finding of facts in the Foreign Office is time better spent in present circumstances than on many of the duties performed by senior officials. I have never knowingly asked officials to do anything which was unreasonable and out of proportion in terms of work to the end to be achieved. This is now an important matter, and I trust that my right hon. and hon. Friends will take it seriously.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
We are two-thirds of the way through the first 100 days of President Carter, a process that we might describe as the "education of the President". Whether he passes the examination at the end of the 100 days remains to be seen. Mr. Carter is a moralist who believes that the world is inhabited exclusively by Southern Baptists. There has been a clear shift in the emphasis of America's African 306 policy, as envisaged by the views of Andrew Young, and there is now support for the front-line Presidents, who reflect, as it were, the more extreme Marxist nationalist groups within and around Rhodesia.
The wiser course for American and British foreign policy is to prompt Smith to come to terms with the Bishop just as soon as is humanly possible. Rhodesia is a situation which has been brought about by obstinacy, ambition and greed, and the consequence has been a problem which is apparently insoluble. In life there are more problems than solutions. All that one can hope for in this case is that history changes the agenda, but if history refuses to do so, and a racial war is the consequence in Rhodesia, a number of consequences will flow.
The first one may be a sad and serious effect on race relations in this country if every night we watch on the "box" yet another atrocity of black on white, because we cannot disguise the fact that the overwhelming majority of our people have sympathy with the white Rhodesians, rightly or wrongly, and are probably hostile to the ambitions of black nationalism. Thus, the first consequence will he to worsen race relations here. We should spare a thought for the black Rhodesians, caught between the anvil of white supremacy and the hammer of black nationalism. It is the black Rhodesians who have suffered and will suffer most from the situation in Rhodesia itself.
I, too, shall be as brief as other hon. Members have been, and therefore I turn to some thoughts about United States policy towards Europe, again in the light of the Carter Administration. We can only hope that rhetoric is not the best guide to the policy that the Carter Administration will be pursuing. Mr. Carter's advisers—he has 3,000 jobs at his disposal but only 33 relations—are questioning the value of the American strategy of minimal deterrence, the Schlesinger doctrine. That doctrine is the means whereby the United States might use strategic nuclear weapons first, either against a Soviet nuclear attack or against a Soviet conventional attack.
If the doctrine is to be downgraded or removed, this can only reopen the rift between the United States and Europe, because it places before the Europeans the choice either of rearming or of 307 acquiescing in the face of a Soviet threat. Over and above the question mark that this would place over the strategy of minimal deterrence, it is likely that Mr. Carter will open a debate on the precise rôle of theatre nuclear weapons in Europe, and if their rôle is clarified there is a danger that they will be deprived of their usefulness, because the more we talk about the circumstances in which we might use them the less likely are we ever to use them.
Is NATO preparing for a long or a short war? In recent weeks there has been a great deal of publicity on the part of those who have said that a short war is the only military option for NATO. I think that a Belgian general commanding an armoured division, Lord Chalfont, who mentioned the point recently in The Times, and Senator Sam Nunn—more importantly—have stressed that the Soviets are so strong up front while we are so weak up front that the chances of a Soviet sudden attack are very much greater than ever before. But if military logic says that we should be preparing for a short war, political necessity argues in favour of a long one. A short war in Europe would be a limited war in which hostilities would be restricted to the continent of Europe, and such an event clearly cannot be in the interests of Europe itself.
In conclusion, I fear that relations between the United States and Europe might well be in for rough weather. It may not be very long before the message "Come hack, Henry—all is forgiven" is flashed from the chancelleries of Europe to the night clubs of New York.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Channon (Southend, West)
I shall not take long because I know that the winding-up speeches are about to begin. At this time of night one can speak only in shorthand, so to speak, so I hope that the Minister who replies will either answer now or be in touch at some later date.
First, I support what the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) said about President Amin. Both sides of the House have taken the view that it would be intolerable if he was allowed into the country. Secondly, on the international convention on terror- 308 ism signed recently, I hope that the Minister will use his influence to get the Irish and French Governments to ratify this. The problem affects both of those countries and also affects us.
If parliamentary time is available, I hope that the Minister will at least use it to bring forward a non-controversial Bill. which would be extremely important in combating hijacking, kidnapping, attacks on ambassadors, and bombers. I hope that the Minister will seek to ratify this convention, which will require legislation, at the earliest opportunity.
On the subject of the follow-up to the Helsinki Conference, all of us know that progress since Helsinki has been disappointing. How much better progress could have been is a matter of opinion, but the message that has come from both sides of the House is surely clear. Hon. Members on both sides have said that it is ridiculous that by helping the Soviet Union with food, giving loans to help its industrial performance and capital to help develop its natural resources we are helping the Soviet Union to increase the arms race rather than to slow it down. This is a ridiculous position that the West cannot stand for long, for reasons that have already been outlined.
Finally, there is no way in which the Government can fudge the issue of direct elections to the European Parliament. They will in the end have to come clean and come forward with proposals for direct elections or else state that they will not do so. The Secretary of State rightly said today that the Government remain committed to producing their best endeavours. The right hon. Gentleman knows that there is widespread scepticism in Europe and in the House.
The best thing to do is to tell the truth. If the Government have withdrawn from that idea, they ought to face their European partners and tell them at the earliest opportunity. If they have not—and I hope they have not—they should come forward with a White Paper and a subsequent Bill as soon as possible. If they do not do so, the elections cannot be held on the proper date. If we were the one country to hold up the rest of the Community, the price that Britain would have to pay would be extremely unpleasant. It would be something for which the Secretary of State, with his well-known 309 European views, would be extremely reluctant to be responsible. We urge the Government to come clean on this issue. They can fudge it for only a few more weeks. It would be more honourable to the House and more honourable to our European partners if they came to a conclusion straight away.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)
I wish to join all those right hon. and hon. Members who have congratulated the Foreign Secretary on his appointment. I wish him every success in his work on behalf of our country. The fact that this debate has been held only eight days after he assumed office is certainly a good augury, because it is 15 months since we last had a full-scale foreign affairs debate, and in that time the rest of the world has not stood still.
In that time Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai have died. Francoism has ended in Spain. Mr. Carter has been elected President. The North-South dialogue has been institutionalised. Saudi Arabia has imposed its authority on OPEC. The Lebanon has been almost destroyed by civil war.
In Southern Africa, the area on which I wish mainly to concentrate my remarks, this period has seen, among other things, the Cuban intervention in Angola, the Soweto riots in South Africa, the South African declaration of independence of the Transkei, four-month-long talks between Mr. Smith and Mr. Nkomo, the escalation of guerrilla warfare, the Kissinger visits, Mr. Smith's acceptance of majority rule within two years, and the failure of Mr Ivor Richard's mission.
Yet while all this and much else of the greatest importance has been happening in the world, there has been until today no full day's debate in this House on the whole range of foreign affairs. Indeed, a distinguished ambassador to this country recently pointed out to me that the omission from the debates on the Loyal Address last autumn of any debate on foreign affairs must be almost without precedent in our parliamentary history. I regret to say that the reason for this stems largely from an unwarranted loss of confidence in our role in the world accompanied by 310 an inward-looking preoccupation with our domestic concerns.
In spite of our self-inflicted economic wounds, there is small justification for this. Because we are no longer a super Power, we must not think and behave as though we had no power at all. On the contrary, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) so fluently pointed out, we possess many exceptional advantages capable of giving us very great influence on the course of world events. I was much encouraged by the fact that the Secretary of State also began his remarks with that theme.
Certainly our membership of the EEC and of NATO brings the opportunity to develop a concerted Western foreign policy. Our special relationship with the United States enables us to act as a bridge across the Atlantic and as a confidant and friend of the world's greatest Power. The Commonwealth provides a uniquely intimate forum for resolving some of the tensions between the richer and poorer nations.
Our permanent seat on the Security Council, our fleet of nuclear submarines, the expert financial mechanisms of the City of London, the international prestige of our monarchy, our immensely skilled and professional Foreign Service, and, not least, the English language itself, which we should not forget is a greater and far more durable economic and political asset than North Sea oil will ever be, are all, along with many other assets, influential instruments at the disposal of an able and energetic Foreign Secretary, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will prove to be.
There are, of course, great countervailing dangers. The chief of these is the continuing thrust of the Soviet Union for world hegemony. Helsinki has been followed by the most overtly aggressive and provocative extension of Soviet expansion in areas far outside Russia's traditional spheres of influence since Mr. Khrushchev sent missiles to Cuba. Angola, as many of my hon. and right hon. Friends have pointed out, has been the worst and most blatant example of this.
As so often before, however, the Russians may have overplayed their hand.
311 Properly handled, there is an African and Western opportunity, enjoying the full moral support of China, to inflict a reverse on Russia in Southern Africa comparable almost with that it suffered over the Cuban missile crisis. So let us not always act defensively in these matters.
Angola could well become Russia's Vietnam. There are many analogies. Russia's lines of communication to Angola are extended and vulnerable. She has to operate through an incompetent, corrupt and unpopular local government over which she lacks effective control. She is publicly committed to one side of a genuine civil war which is as much tribal as ideological and can never truly be won, short of genocide. Her mercenary troops lack real stomach for the fight. World opinion is almost universally hostile to her intervention.
The longer the Cubans stay in Angola and the more African countries to which they are dispatched, the more difficult the Russian position will eventually become. She will be held responsible for their excesses, their failures, their growing unpopularity and their eventual ignominious withdrawal but she has not complete control over them. It is as if we had sent the Gurkhas to Malaya, deprived of their discipline, their gallantry and their British officers.
I should not like to be the head of the Angolan department in the Russian Foreign Ministry. He may soon become a considerable authority on Siberia. It is, however, a vital African, British and Western interest that Soviet imperialism should not be allowed to gain sway over Southern Africa or, what is probably her real aim, to create chaos there. In resisting this danger, let us not make our task harder by misreading the realities of the situation.
I believe that it would be a profound mistake to assume that most of the lead ing African politicians in Southern Africa—my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) made this point earlier—have become in any true sense Marxist puppets of either Moscow or any other Communist regime, or to think that what is happening in South Africa is simply a Communist conspiracy. What is happen- 312 ing in South Africa is something fundamentally different. It is a manifestation of African nationalism.
Nationalism, or racism, to use an uglier but perhaps truer word, is a much stronger force in the world, certainly in the Third World, than is Communism. That is why the Soviet Union has been so conspicuously unsuccessful outside Europe in country after country in the Third World. One thinks particularly of Egypt and Syria. The Russians have lavished treasure, technical skills and weaponry on other countries which were all badly needed by their own deprived people, only to find themselves first used, then hated and finally rejected. When, with or without their help, their friends temporarily achieve power, as in Cambodia or Ethiopia or perhaps even Uganda, their savage excesses help to discredit Communism everywhere.
Of course the Soviet Union will seek to exploit nationalism in South Africa, as it does everywhere else in the world, for its own ends. But Soviet Communism, as the Chinese never cease to remind us, is fundamentally anti-nationalist. The Africans want self-government. The Russians want to govern everything from Moscow. Even African Titos are not ultimately acceptable to Russia, as President Sekou Touré soon discovered in Guinea and President Machel already suspects in Mozambique. The Russians want to dominate.
One of the prime aims of British policy in South Africa, as elsewhere in the world, should therefore be to reveal the divergent and mutually hostile aims of Russian Communism and the forces of nationalism. Sensible nationalists can far better look to Britain and the West for constructive help, as President Carter's Administration seems determined to prove. We have long experience of these matters and can easily play a useful part.
When last month, along with most of the other right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken in this debate, I attended the memorial service in West-minster Abbey for my former master, Anthony Eden, I found that I was sitting near to the statue of George Canning, who died exactly 150 years ago and to whom my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion referred. Reading the inscription on Canning's statue reminded 313 me that the situation in Africa since the Hitlerite war has been not dissimilar to the situation in South America faced by Canning after the Napoleonic War. To the traditionalist-minded European politicians of the day, the upsurge of nationalism in Southern America then seemed to be striking at the roots of order and stability and to threaten to cut Europe off from the vital mineral resources of that continent.
In George Canning this country had a Foreign Minister of a different stamp. He placed the full weight of Britain behind the nationalists to help them achieve self-determination without foreign interference. He encouraged the United States to promulgate the Monroe doctrine of "Hands off South America". By doing so, Canning won for Britain a century of primacy in trade and investment in South America. Indeed, the good will which Canning's foreign policy engendered for Britain throughout South America survives even to the present day. We should encourage the new American Administration to promulgate a Carter doctrine of "Hands off Southern Africa".
It was Chairman Mao who told us that all power comes from the barrel of a gun. The extraordinary thing about the Rhodesian situation is the slowness with which it has moved towards violence and the still limited extent of the violence, despite the horror of particular incidents. In almost any other part of the world, or with almost any other people, given a similar racial, social, political and historical situation, the whole area would long ago have been a battlefield. The fact that violence and tragedy have not yet fully overtaken Rhodesia is to some extent a reflection of the essential decency and moderation of most of her leaders, both black and white.
Even today Rhodesia, despite its Land Apportionment Act—which I might add I attacked in my maiden speech in this House 17 years ago—has better race relations than many other countries I know. We do a disservice to the cause of peace if we paint the undoubtedly grave situation in Rhodesia in over-lurid terms, particularly if we are too quick to call this white man a Fascist, or that black man a Marxist, or someone else a friend of murderers. In many cases it is not true. 314 If it is repeated often enough, that may help to make it true.
For many years I have known most of the leading political personalities in Central Africa. They are mostly, whether black or white, decent politicians with the usual human frailties and personal ambitions, some of them not over-gifted with political talent. Almost all of them have been somewhat cut off from the wider world during the past decade. Very few of them are bad men. They are all frightened men, because they are conscious of being caught up in a historical movement which is bigger than any of them and heading remorselessly towards tragedy. What they need most of all is help. It is our duty to seek to provide that help.
Dr. Kissinger certainly did his best. I am not one of those who now seek to denigrate him. The Kissinger plan announced by Mr. Smith in his broadcast on 24th September last year seemed to mark a great step forward. In particular, as has been pointed out, there was Mr. Smith's acceptance that he would agree to majority rule in two years provided that the transition could be made orderly. That seemed, at long last, to offer the hope of a peaceful solution to the Rhodesian problem.
It is tragic that this opportunity was not more urgently and constructively seized by all concerned. There is no point in seeking to apportion blame for the failure to translate the Kissinger initiative into an agreed settlement. Instead, we must address ourselves to the question whether any part of the Kissinger plan can be salvaged from the breakdown of the Geneva talks and the apparent failure of Mr. Ivor Richard's last African tour. Although the original impetus obtained by the Kissinger initiative has been lost, it is possible that some elements in the negotiations can be retained. There are some encouraging straws in the wind.
It is significant that, following the breakdown of the latest round of talks, Mr. Smith has not repudiated his earlier statement that he will agree to majority rule within two years. On the contrary he has recently repeated that pledge. That is a most important and encouraging factor in the situation. For many years 315 unimpeded progress towards majority rule has been quoted as the most important single factor for any settlement. Let us keep hold of that concept as a possible way forward.
A second encouraging sign is that Bishop Muzorewa has reaffirmed his wish to see a settlement reached without force, and that is to be welcomed. A third factor is the personality and position of Mr. Joshua Nkomo. He is not a new and untried figure on the Central African scene. He is well-known to many hon. Members on both sides of the House. I have known and liked him for 17 years and I remain convinced that, despite some of his recent statements, alliances and manoeuvres—and we all know the political pressures on him—Mr. Nkomo remains a man of peace, if a peaceable way forward can be found. No doubt he is making his contingency plans in case it cannot be found.
It is surely fair to ask ourselves how many of us, after 11 years in detention, some of them in conditions of considerable hardship, and with many disappointments and rebuffs culminating in the brave but fruitless attempt to reach agreement with Mr. Smith in negotiations stretching for four months, from December 1975 until March 1976—talks as a result of which he found himself temporarily in a weakened political situation—would have emerged from that prolonged ordeal in a conciliatory and entirely peaceable state of mind.
The danger of Mr. Smith's policies which he has pursued for so long with courage and skill, is that they seem hound—as I have always maintained—to end by pushing almost every moderate African into an extreme position. That is precisely what the Russians want. It is very much in their interests that Mr. Smith should fight it out to the last ditch.
One sadness of the present political situation and the real crux of politics in Rhodesia is the apparent inability of Mr. Nkomo and Bishop Muzorewa to sink their personal and tribal differences in the common purpose of creating a united and independent Zimbabwe. I do not think that we should despair of this eventually happening. Mr. Nkomo must know that time is not on his side in a personal sense, It is not on the side 316 of Bishop Muzorewa. It is certainly not on the side of Mr. Smith, in any sense. Time is on the side of bloodshed, chaos, guerrilla warfare, and ever-growing foreign interference from many quarters. If a peaceful evolution towards African majority rule is not soon achieved in Rhodesia, one thing is certain—that Mr. Nkomo, Bishop Muzorewa and Mr. Smith will all perish on the funeral pyre of their beautiful country.
No doubt it was with this thought in mind and after many years of unsuccessful effort to met Mr. Nkomo and the Bishop together which prompted the front line Presidents to seek a short cut by announcing support for one Rhodesian political party, the Patriotic Front. I understand and sympathise with the motives that led President Nyerere and President Kaunda to reach this decision, but I, along with many of my hon. Friends who have spoken today, hope that the Presidents will not regard this as their last word on the subject.
Personally, I have always regarded Mr. Nkomo as an African politician who is well fitted to lead his country, but no leadership imposed from outside on a future Zimbabwe—whether by African President, however well-intentioned, or by bands of guerrillas, or by the Soviet Union, or by Mr. Smith—is likely to prove acceptable in the long run. Indeed, Mr. Smith's suggestion of an internal solution of his own, based on the Kissinger principles, although it has some attractions, has already been rejected by the United States President and by the African Presidents on those grounds.
An orderly settlement can best be reached by the peoples of Rhodesia by virtue of a decision of a majority in free elections. That has been the policy of successive British Governments, and until recently it has been the declared aim of President Kaunda and President Nyerere. It must surely remain the basis of our policy.
All the indications are that the United States is not yet ready to take a major new initiative in Central Africa, but when it does—and it should be soon—I believe that the initiative should be based on three fundamentals. First, it should be based on the firm intention of a move towards majority rule within a reasonable time; secondly, the amount 317 of time required to be conditioned by the need to establish machinery which can provide for an orderly transfer of power; thirdly, there should be international co-operation to end guerrilla warfare so that genuine elections and an orderly transfer of power may take place.
Nobody who examines the situation in Rhodesia can take other than a sombre view of the prospects. The risks are real, but so are the prizes that could be won. We have a clear moral and historical responsibility to bring our imperial rôle in Africa to an orderly and constitutional conclusion. We have a pledge of self-determination to fulfil to the African people. We have an obligation of humanity and consanguinity to the Europeans in Rhodesia to provide them with an alternative of peaceful withdrawal with compensation, or continued residence in a Zimbabwe launched with constitutional propriety into democratic nationhood. These are the glittering prizes that we should be straining every nerve of our fibre to win.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Edward Rowlands)
This has been a wide-ranging debate. In my previous incarnation at the Welsh Office I used to respond to debates on Welsh affairs by moving from the Menai Bridge to Monmouth, but in this foreign affairs debate we have grappled with much wider geographical subjects.
Obviously it will be impossible to respond to every point put by a large number of hon. Members in this debate. We have discussed the Middle East, detente, direct elections, human rights, the Falkland Islands and Hong Kong. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) even mentioned Joe Haines' book. It is impossible for me to respond in detail to all these specific points. We shall examine the debate tomorrow in the Official Report and follow up a large number of the points which have been mentioned.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun
If the Minister is not going to confirm or deny what Mr. 318 Haines said, I must assume that it is correct.
§ Mr. Rowlands
No such assumption should be made. Mr. Haines' book might be a mine of information, but it is also a minefield for any junior Minister to walk into.
I should like to concentrate on two issues, because most hon. Members have concentrated on issues as well as ranging widely. The first is the Falkland Islands, from which I have just returned. The islands have been mentioned by a number of hon. Members. I also want to respond to the speech of the Opposition spokesman about Southern Africa and Rhodesia. I shall deal with the Falkland Islands first because I have just returned from an exhausting and exhaustive range of consultations. I feel as if I was 6 ft. 2 in. tall when I went out there and I have been reduced in the process.
Just before he died, Tony Crosland asked me to go to the Falkland Islands and to Argentina. The reason for my visit was the statement he made on 2nd February, when he described the Government's attitude to the economic and political problems facing the 1,900 islanders. He spoke of the limited prospects that he saw for them without some form of political and economic co-operation with Argentina. He contrasted that with the considerable potential of the area that was identified in the Shackleton Report and that could be the salvation of the island.
The object of my visit was to discuss with the islanders and the Argentine Government whether a broad climate existed for discussing the future of the Falkland Islands. Mr. Crosland also said that any such discussions would inevitably raise the fundamental relationship between Britain, Argentina and the Falklands.
I had five days in the Falkland Islands and four days of full and close consultations with the Governor, the joint councils and people in all walks of life. In a score or so meetings I met and talked with as many islanders as I think it was physically possible for me to meet during the time available to me. Their numbers ran into several hundred. I talked to individual groups in their homes. I had meetings in the wool sheds and in the community halls and in the farmyards. 319 I do not think that anyone can challenge the claim that my consultations were unprecedented in the history of the colony and as comprehensive as is humanly and physically possible.
I put to everyone absolutely straight what Tony Crosland saw and the Government see as the main issue: the development of potential resources and the investment which could be severely inhibited if a hostile political climate and relations persisted, punctuated periodically by mini-crises that have been a feature of the situation not for just one or two years but over many years, as the Opposition spokesman explained.
I put forward that we should try to find a way forward to create a stable relationship that would encourage young islanders to stay—because they have been leaving—to see their future in and around the islands and not thousands of miles away and that would also ensure the continuation of a way of life which generations of kelpers have enjoyed. In all my meetings I made clear that any negotiations would have to include the issue of sovereignty, and that it would be a part of the negotiations on the twin themes of political and economic co-operation.
Anyone talking to the islanders—hon. Members on both sides know them well—both those in private life and those holding official positions in the islands, cannot fail to be impressed by their loyalty to the Crown and their desire to remain British. I am in no doubt about this. But the islanders also left me in no doubt that they were worried about their future. They have lived in proximity to Argentina for many years, and I found that many of them appreciate the practical realities which arise from their geographical location.
One major consideration to emerge from my talks is that many islanders, in considering their future, are looking not for a grand design or major projects—but for developments on their doorstep before the long-term development of offshore resources. The problems of internal communications, travel between Darwin and Port Stanley, small local industries, better schools and education and the problems of a few people trying to service a community are their main priorities.
320 I found a general acceptance among the islanders that I should go to Buenos Aires to talk to the Argentine Government to see whether terms of reference for formal negotiations could be established. At the conclusion of my tour, however, it was for the islands' councils to say finally whether, in the light of my discussions with them direct and how they viewed islander reaction to the meetings I held, I should try to have discussions to see whether we could set up negotiations with the Argentine.
The councils informed me that, in the light of all my consultations during my five days in Stanley and in the farm settlements, they could approve the Government's intention to try to establish a basis for negotiations with the Argentine. I should like to pay tribute to the spirit of realism and understanding and to the seriousness of approach to their problems which all those I met and who live and work on the islands have demonstrated.
I went to Buenos Aires and held two days of substantive talks with representatives of the Argentine Government. I gave an account of my visit to the islands and stressed the assurances given to the islanders by the Government that there would be full consultation throughout any negotiations and that any such negotiations would be conducted under the sovereignty umbrella.
My talks in Buenos Aires were solely intended to establish whether terms of reference could be agreed for subsequent negotiations. I believe that, as a result of the talks that I held, we shall be able to make progress towards a possible agreement on future negotiations. However, there is still some way to go before concrete terms of reference can be agreed.
It is essential that each side should be clear in its own mind from the outset how the other side is approaching the problem of negotiations. It is important to get the inter-relationship between the themes of economic and political cooperation absolutely right. We shall be exchanging further views with the Argentine Goverment on terms of reference through diplomatic channels and as a follow-up to my own talks.
A number of hon. Members have raised questions about sovereignty, particularly the Government's attitude to 321 bringing proposals to the House. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) asked for a specific assurance that the Government will not propose to Parliament a transfer of sovereignty without the full acceptance of the islanders. I can readily confirm that that is the Government's position, and I should like to emphasise that during any negotiations, as well as towards the end of the negotiations, there will be close and continual consultation with the islands' councils and their people.
As other hon. Members can testify, it was not a duty or a chore to visit the islands and carry out these consultations. It was a privilege. I can assure the islanders that, before any decisions are made as a result of any negotiations, a Minister will return to the islands. The islanders deserve a relationship that is better than the one we have created between them and ourselves. They deserve a better relationship with those here who have a say in their future and their destiny.
One cannot cull one's policy from objective assessments made several thousand miles away. We must go to the people themselves and talk to them. It is a criticism of successive Governments when I say that it is a shame that it has taken nine years for a Minister to visit the islanders and discuss their problems. It is nine years since a Minister last visited the islands. That transcends Ministers representing Governments of both parties. Before I went to the islands I cared objectively. I had come to understand and appreciate the problems. I now understand how one leaves at least half one's heart in the islands. I now have a subjective caring as well as an objective caring. I am sure that that has been the pleasure of hon. Members from both sides of the House who have had the pleasure of visiting the islands.
I have read a number of descriptions of our motives. They have described our discussions and possible negotiations. Some of the motives that have been described are not mine or the Government's. Neither I nor my right hon. Friend would be party to any sell-out of the islanders. I hope that I have been able to give the House a satisfactory account of my visit and of the problems and issues that still face us.
322 I turn to the second part of my remarks, which concern Southern Africa and the problems arising therefrom. There have been some interesting and constructive speeches. It has been said from both sides of the House that at present Southern Africa probably presents the international community with the greatest challenge in its efforts to solve not merely the great strategic problems that some hon. Members have spoken about but the fundamental conflicts of race, freedom and ideology. All those issues are boiling up in the crucible of Southern Africa. It is a challenge to the international community to try to solve the combination of the problems not by war or by the gun but by peaceful negotiation and discussion. That is at the heart of the issue and I challenge the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) that were directed to what he considered to be our attitudes. Certainly I challenge his attitudes to the problem.
Our whole policy towards a settlement in Rhodesia and Namibia is based on the belief that freedom should be established by negotiation and not by the gun. That has been the direction and aim of British and many other international efforts in trying to solve the problems facing both Rhodesia and Namibia.
§ Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler
If that is the case, why does the hon. Gentleman support free elections in Namibia and not in Rhodesia?
§ Mr. Rowlands
I shall tell the hon. Gentleman exactly what our attitude is to Rhodesia and Namibia. He will find that our attitudes to those countries are not in conflict. I was making the point that in Rhodesia and Namibia freedom should be established by negotiation and not by the gun and that the aspirations and wishes of the people of the two countries can be determined by democracy and not by dictation. That is exactly the policy that we have been trying to follow. What have the past nine years been all about in our negotiations with Rhodesia but to endeavour to achieve, first, an interim arrangement and then, hopefully, an independent settlement that will allow the democratic pressures and forces, if they can be so called, to reveal and demonstrate who genuinely represents African opinion and nationalist 323 opinion in Rhodesia as well as Namibia? I do not see any contradiction in the two approaches. They are extremely consistent. Indeed, they are part and parcel of a common approach and philosophy to the problems.
As has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House, there are two stark alternatives in the solving of the problems. Previous British Governments have belatedly recognised the need to accept the rapid and orderly transfer of power from colonial systems to the leaders of new nations. In some cases that process has been carried out with a certain degree of violence but in many cases it has been carried out peacefully. The problem that the House faces, along with anyone who deals with Rhodesia or Namibia, is that increasingly the liberation struggle looks more likely to succeed than does the process of peaceful negotiation.
Young blacks—not necessary Marxists or those representing any other particular form of ideology—are looking to the gun not because that is their choice but because it seems the only alternative to the frustrations to their ambitions and feelings. I am sure that the House does not wish me to go into detail about the problems that have arisen in respect of a large number of young people or children in the past few weeks. That is why an increasing number of young people are crossing the border and joining liberation guerrilla movements. They now perceive that as the only way forward to what they believe are their aspirations and wishes.
Unless we can find a breakthrough by peaceful negotiation through international diplomacy and discussion, the alternative will appear more attractive. The liberation struggle will be more attractive to young blacks who at the moment feel that their aspirations and wishes for freedom are being suppressed. We must try to prove them wrong. I think that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion was, broadly speaking, making much the same point. The international community and those Governments, including the British Government, who are and have been deeply involved in trying to resolve the issues, particularly in Rhodesia and Namibia, 324 must try to prove them wrong and that freedom can be obtained by peaceful negotiations.
§ Mr. Peter Temple-Morris (Leominster)
I should like to put to the Minister the two basic alternatives to prove them wrong. Could we have a positive response from him? Either à la Canning we back the guerrilla movements—for example, SWAPO in Namibia—and follow through as did Canning, as has been mentioned from the Opposition side of the House, or, together with the United States—much has been mentioned during the debate rather nebulously about the United States—we bring pressure, both economic and political, on South Africa so that, if successful, the West can make a common stand with her. These are the only two real alternatives. Without them we shall not get anywhere. What are the Government going to do?
§ Mr. Rowlands
That is interesting. I am trying to work out the hon. Gentleman's reference to Canning and the relationship between Britain and the liberation movements in Latin America and South America. I am trying to work out the implications of his remarks. In Latin America we are well thought of because of our historic rôle in nineteenth century terms in supporting independence movements.
When it comes to the question of Southern Africa and our relationship with South Africa, it is fatal for the West not to identify itself with the wishes and feelings of the overwhelming majority of Africans in Southern Africa. If we line ourselves up with South Africa and minorities in Southern Africa for some strategic Western ideological reason, we shall have no hope of identifying with and creating a peaceful change. That is where on previous occasions we have quarrelled with the views of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion. The greatest safeguard to the strategic issues in Southern Africa lies basically in trying to resolve the problems, allowing the wishes and feelings of the vast majority of Africans in Southern Africa to be expressed and helping them to achieve their aspirations through peaceful means. Otherwise, the alternatives will look more attractive to those people.
It is not the prerogative of a white minority or of any individual liberation 325 leader to dictate to the Zimbabwean people or to the Namibians the kind of political system that they want. That is where the danger lies. It is for the peoples of both countries to decide what kind of society they want.
In Rhodesia, as my right hon. Friend said, we have been trying since Mr. Smith's rejection of the British proposals on 24th January, to find a way forward. We are approaching the impasse with open minds. We have been in close consultation with and have the support of the new United States Administration, because any further moves will clearly be of vital importance.
Some hon. Members have talked about the internal options. The hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) cast grave doubts on internal options. Our view is that partial solutions of the kind envisaged, excluding representative nationalist opinion in Rhodesia, cannot work or form the basis for a durable and peaceful settlement.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion suggested that our proposals were blatantly one-sided, favouring only one group within the Geneva delegations. I cannot believe that he read the proposals, which were a genuine attempt to bridge the gap and include all delegations at the Geneva Conference in any interim Government. If the right hon. Gentleman looked at the proposals again, he would find that many of his remarks today were unjustified. We are trying to do all we can to assist in carrying matters forward in the best way.
Hon. Members have asked questions about Rhodesia. I assure the House that there is no lack of will and no reluctance on our part to try to solve the problems of Rhodesia. We have not been reluctant and we are not reluctant to see whether we can achieve a settlement that ensures a rapid and early transfer of power to the majority. There is no substitute for a genuine agreement which is thrashed out in negotiations between Rhodesians, both black and white. The Government stand ready to assume whatever rôle and whatever responsibility we regard as necessary to achieve majority rule and independence.
§ Mr. Rowlands
I did not hear my hon. Friend's remarks on that subject although I listened to almost every speech. I shall look at the problem. Our position on Lesotho and Transkei is clear. We have tried in the United Nations and by other means to resolve some of the problems that have arisen because of the non-recognition of the Transkei and the border incidents.
Some hon. Members have talked of the Government's disinvolvement in various world problems. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion talked as if we had refused to play a constructive rôle. I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman can justify that in view of our active involvement in the last nine months and because British Ministers have travelled 7,000 miles to talk to islanders about the problems between Argentina, the Falkland Islands and ourselves. I do not see how anyone can describe that as disinvolvement. We are involved. We are concerned about the wishes of 1,900 islanders in the Falkland Islands. We are concerned about majority rule in Southern Africa. We have been involved and we intend to continue to be involved.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary characterised the approach of the Government to these matters at the end of his speech when he said that we should champion and support in international diplomacy the values that we uphold ourselves nationally. We shall seek to support social justice and freedom. We shall uphold human rights wherever they are being challenged. We shall continue to be involved in international affairs on behalf of the British Government.
§ Mr. Donald Coleman (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.