§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mrs. Ann Taylor.]
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Dr. David Owen)
I know that the House is pleased to have two days to devote to the subject of foreign affairs. There must be few occasions in recent history when there has been so much genuine concern about the direction of foreign policy and such a questioning of the relationships between East and West.
I shall speak this afternoon mainly about Africa. I shall relate my remarks about Africa to the whole nexus of problems, particularly to East-West relationships and what we increasingly describe as detente.
Nobody in the House wishes to question the fundamental principle underlying detente—the need for a closer working relationship between the two major super Powers in the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. Although no doubt different opinions will be expressed in this debate as to how the process of detente should be managed, and although there will be different intepretations as to what each of us can legitimately expect to extract from our relationships in that process, particularly about the motivation of the Soviet Union in entering into detente, I hope that no voices will be raised in this debate asking us arbitrarily to stop the process of detente.
Certainly if that view were to be advocated, Her Majesty's Government would reject it decisively. There can be very few people who would wish to return to the situation that obtained at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, when Mr. Khrushchev said so graphically that the smell of burning hung in the air. For those of us who lived their early adult life through that experience, there can be no wish to return to that kind of dangerous situation.
Equally, although detente has made considerable progress, and although under successive Governments there has been a fair and broad measure of agreement as to how it should be pursued, there are still grave dangers in the world. I believe that it is vitally important that relations 210 between the two super Powers should be of such a managed quality that the element of risk and of danger is reduced to the bare minimum.
I believe that the President of the United States is totally committed in pursuit of that aim. I have no doubt whatever that, provided he can satisfy himself that he can negotiate a strategic arms limitation agreement which is fair to both the Soviet Union and his own country, an agreement that protects the vital interests of his partners in NATO, he will make the second strategic arms limitation agreement. I believe, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday that such an agreement will be negotiated before the end of this year.
Furthermore, I believe that the involvement of the United Kingdom Government with the United States and the Soviet Union in pursuing a comprehensive test ban treaty is a most important development. I believe that we are near to the stage of reaching agreement and that we should pursue that end.
In seeking that element of detente, in wishing to make a contribution to the discussions which are now taking place at the Special Session of the United Nations in our work in the detailed disarmament discussions, in pursuing a complete eradication of chemical weapons, and in advancing many of the initiatives put forward by the British Government, with the support of many of our allies in the United Nations, I am certain that there is common ground.
Furthermore, I am convinced that there is common ground in the Soviet Union. It is sincerely and deeply committed to detente and to the element of arms negotiations, particularly relating to nuclear questions. I am less convinced yet of the Soviet Union's determination to put the same effort into conventional arms negotiations as it is prepared to put into nuclear arms negotiations.
It is extremely important, as the world sees its scarce resources bound up in ever-increasing arms budgets, that we do not lose sight of the dimension of conventional arms and the extremely large budget which is now forming part of the Third World's budget on conventional arms, which it can ill afford, certainly often fuelled by Soviet Union arms supplies but also often fuelled by the Western World as well.
211 The first test of a real commitment to conventional arms control measures will come before the end of the year in the attitude of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries to mutual and balanced force reductions. The negotiations have been continuing for some years. It is extremely important, if those negotiations are to survive and we are to build on the years of dialogue that have gone before, that we should move them off dead centre and make progress. When President Brezhnev visited the German Chancellor he signed a joint agreement with the Federal Republic which indicated that they were not seeking exact equivalents on all weapons systems but accepted parity in nuclear and conventional weapons. The acceptance of parity underlay SALT I negotiations and is part of the current SALT II negotiations. The concept of parity is essential in mutual and balanced force reductions.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
The Minister says, I am sure with sincerity, that Mr. Brezhnev is anxious to achieve arms limitation. Has the Minister also seen President Carter's statement of this morning in which he said that the Soviet Union is now engaged in an extensive and excessive military build-up far beyond any legitimate requirements for her own defence? How does he square those two propositions?
§ Dr. Owen
It is always wiser not to give way too early in a debate. I was talking in terms of conventional arms. I drew attention to the fact that the degree of commitment to it has not been proven. I was isolating the lack of progress over MBFR. I was going on to say that during the time which we have been discussing MBFR and the concept of parity there has been an ever-increasing build-up in Soviet conventional weapons, particularly banks and particularly in the central front. There has also been the development of a new weapons system, the SS20, which though called a strategic nuclear weapons system and which therefore comes into the SALT negotiations, is strategic for all of us in Western Europe. It could be targeted on all the major cities of Western Europe.
During this time, particularly in the area of conventional weapons, there has 212 been no evidence of the same commitment to parity and to a readiness to accept arms control methods. I was to develop the argument. I believe that that requires a response from the West. When there is a clear trend of increased defence expenditure and increased quality of defence equipment across two alliances, it is extremely foolhardy for the Western Alliance not to respond.
Far too little publicity was given in the recent NATO Conference to the central achievement of that conference. It started when President Carter in the London NATO Summit a year ago called for a response from the West to the continued arms build-up of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact countries. Many people a year ago were very sceptical whether there would be a response. Over the last decade there has been an understandable reluctance—because none of us wants to increase our defence budgets—to match the increase. Each year people had thought that perhaps we could make progress on MBFR, or that it was simply the Soviet Union deciding that it wanted a world maritime role and, that since it was a major super Power, there was bound to be a rapid growth, building up its navy from virtually nothing in the late 1940s and going through the 1950s and 1960s. There were a lot of rational explanations.
When I was most involved in the balance of forces in 1969–70 there was some exaggeration of the imbalance then existing, but nobody, looking back over the last five or six years, can mistake the trend. We can argue about the percentage of gross national product and about particular weapons, but the trend is clear. It was that trend to which President Carter asked the Alliance to respond. Therefore, the long-term defence improvement programme was set in hand, and a contribution was asked for of a 3 per cent. increase in the defence budget from the member States. In Washington the decision on that contribution was taken. That was an important decision. I dare say that it was the first time in the history of the Alliance that it made a concerted response. That was the right and necessary response.
However, there is nothing incompatible between making that response and in Washington taking the decisions to make 213 that response effective in detailed planning of weapons' systems and the deployment of forces, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the world and the NATO powers contributing to the debate in the United Nations on how we can do something about disarmament and arms control. It is consistent, given the present situation, that we should respond to an increase in Soviet Union spending and in the quality of forces but redouble our efforts to achieve balanced arms control measures and reductions in budgets, in numbers of men and in quantity of weapons. That has been the British Government's position.
On that aspect of detente there is a great deal of understanding between the Soviet Union and the West. The question for us is: why the Soviet Union, at a time of genuine commitment to nuclear arms control measures, has allowed this very large increase in its conventional arms in particular and the build-up of forces in Europe. That has been done at the same time as the Soviet Union has built up its forces on its border and in the immediate area around China.
There has always been the argument that the Soviet tendency is to over-insure. That is deep-seated in history and has not come about since the Second World War. There is the legacy and there are the memories of the Second World War, a subject referred to by President Carter in his speech. That is an obvious motive. Whereas when Khrushchev was in power we were always conscious that there was a debate taking place between the executive branch of the Government in the Soviet Union and the military about the relative spending and of the competing claims on scarce resources—an argument which is well known in all of our democracies—it is striking that that argument has not seen any obvious light of day over the last few years. I do not know whether this is a conscious decision, but the political leadership genuinely pursued detente in terms of arms control in nuclear weapons, and usually the closer one gets to nuclear weapons and the awesomeness of their power, the more there is felt to be a commitment to try to do something to contain them. If there is not a conscious decision, there is at least a seeming acceptance that the military should continue to expand and 214 to go for the weapons systems of its choice and that it should not be faced, as the military has to be faced in most of the Western democracies, with the balance of priorities between spending on defence and spending on other matters. One of the central issues that the Soviet Union will have to face if we are to make serious progress in detente is that it will have to come to grips with defence expenditure and with the arguments of its own military.
There are two other areas of detente where there would be nowhere near as much agreement. The first is human rights. This was an aspect which was put into the negotiations in Helsinki in 1975 and which is resented by the Soviet Union which feels that the West pursues this aspect of detente in a way which the Soviets would call almost aggressive. They would certainly see the West as giving an unbalanced priority to human rights. The other area is the extent to which detente operates outside Europe and worldwide. These are the contentious areas.
As to human rights, it may well be that in Western democracies, where there is an automatic assumption that most of those rights are both natural and self-evident, there may have been a tendency to believe that there would be more rapid progress as a consequence of the Helsinki conference than was ever likely or possible. I do not believe that Western democracies should shift one inch from their commitment to human rights. It has always been inherent in the process of detente that while we would make progress towards managing relations between countries in a more orderly way, there would not be a cessation of ideological disputes and arguments. The Soviet Union has never claimed that this was involved in the detente process. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said when he was Foreign Secretary, there is no armistice in the wars of ideas.
There can be no agreement to hold off discussion of central issues such as the weight we respectively give to democracy, to individualism as opposed to collectivism and to dissent as opposed to unanimity. Therefore, the Western world is bound to pursue those issues and those who hold a different ideology are bound to pursue their views.
215 As the process of detente continues, we are faced with the inherent contradiction that is implicit in detente. On the one hand, we try to widen the areas of agreement, but on the other, by the mere process of coming closer together, by working together in terms of industry and cultural exchanges and by the mere juxtaposition of our peoples, some of the different ways in which an individual lives his life in either of the two ideologies create tensions and conflicts. This is bound to happen. That tension is inherent in the detente process.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Does my hon. Friend agree that we also feel strongly about what happens in relation to human rights in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay?
§ Mr. Heffer
I am talking for the moment about those countries that are not part of the East European bloc. There would be no suggestion on our part that we should go to war with those countries, but that should not stop us from saying that they should restore human rights and civil liberties at the earliest possible moment. In the same way, we say that to the Soviet Union, to East European countries and—Conservative Members should take note of this—to China.
§ Dr. Owen
I agree with my hon. Friend. That is why the concept of human rights is such a powerful concept in foreign policy. It does not discriminate between countries and ideologies. Those who hold dear the values of democracy are able and should uphold the values of human rights whether in Leftist Communist regimes or in Rightist Fascist regimes.
One of the most interesting developments in the House in the last few years is how the voices on both sides have increasingly tended to show concern for human rights under Left or Right extremist Governments. Two or three years ago, my hon. Friends were always being accused of selectivity in human rights. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), by his concern about what has been occurring in some East European countries and with his well-known views about Chile and South 216 Africa, has shown the sort of balance that ensures that our voice carries more strength because it is not selective. It is directed at any abuse of human rights.
In the relationship of East-West issues, we should not disguise the fact that progress will not be as fast as we wish. It will be contentious and it will create tensions in our relations. However, having said that, I do not believe that we should back off or change our policies. It is right, though, to make the distinction that the Government have consistently made. There is a difference between the way in which a Government pursue the issue of human rights in direct governmental relationships and the way in which individuals pursue the issue.
The most powerful concept of human rights is that it works through the public and through the attitudes of a country to its foreign policy. No Government can have a foreign policy in isolation from the attitudes of their fellow countrymen. This is one issue which the Soviet Union must start taking more into account. If it pursues a policy that ignores the valid concerns of Western democracies about human rights, it will contribute to a build-up of public attitudes in those democracies to which every Government will be bound to react.
That is not to say that Government policy must be wholly reactive to public opinion. It must be prepared to lead public opinion, but if the public feels that the process of detente is all give on our side and that nothing is being returned from the other side, it will soon ensure that we do not make agreements that the Government may wish to make. We would be restrained. That is the sort of pressure that we are beginning to see operated in the limitations on the freedom of manoeuvre of the American President and it would soon be felt by a British Foreign Secretary.
The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries must recognise that our concern over human rights is a legitimate part of detente. It is a matter that we shall pursue. But we must recognise that it is only one aspect of detente and we should not bring the whole process to a crashing halt because we are not making progress as fast as we may wish in this extremely delicate area which goes to the root of many ideological disputes.
217 I turn to the subject of Africa. Here again there has been a tendency, particularly in the last few months, for people to feel that detente is threatened. I do not think that any of us has denied that if detente is to gather momentum—and I have never believed that it is a passive process; there is a passive policy of detente, but there is also a dynamic policy—it must go into new areas and must take a managed relationship and greater harmony out into areas such as Africa.
There is little doubt that in the past year or more there has been growing evidence that some of the ideological disputes and East-West tensions have been taken away from Europe to other areas, particularly Africa. However, it would be a gross travesty and a corruption of the evidence and the facts to say that Africa is solely an East-West issue. It is not.
In going through each of the different issues that we face, I wish to say to the House why I believe that it is not the case. I believe that it would be gravely damaging for our policy and standing in Africa if we were to allow this to be portrayed as a purely East-West struggle, although there are elements of East-West tension within it. There are elements of East-West competition within most of the trouble spots. But the Government stand absolutely firm on their belief that African problems are by far best dealt with by African nations.
We stand firmly behind our support for the Organisation of African Unity, which faces some extremely difficult problems. This is a grouping of 49 countries with diverse economies, diverse religons and diverse languages. It would be extraordinary if they were able to have the degree of unity, for instance, that we manage to get within the Community of the Nine. We may think that our own unity is not strong but it is certainly envied by many other nations. We have shown an abilty in the European Economic Community to come together and make collective decisions over a wide range of areas. Many other regions envy this and are far from being able to achieve it.
I turn to Zaire, which is the most immediate issue facing us. What should the response of the West be in Zaire? Let us go back in history to the spring 218 of 1977, when there was a similar incident on the borders between Angola and Zaire. At that time the French Government responded to a request from a sovereign Government to fly troops from Morocco down into Zaire. The troops were requested of Morocco by Zaire, and Morocco asked whether France would fly troops down there.
At that time we had a political cooperation meeting in London and I was in the chair. The entire European Community supported the decision that was taken on that occasion. In retrospect, I think that we ought to have done more to try to stabilise the economic and political factors in Zaire. We were given a warning sign then, although I may say that a great deal of effort was made, particularly by the Belgian Government. This is an example of how deep-seated is the problem and how very difficult it will be to establish economic and political stability in Zaire, because so little progress was made during that time.
We have made a modest contribution, helping in every way we could, to the efforts to deal with the current problem in Zaire. I believe that, faced by the danger to the lives of expatriates in part of Shaba Province, the French, Belgians, Americans and British were right to do what they could on a humanitarian basis to save life. Tragically, we were too late for many people. I have no doubt that we were right about that action that was taken. I have also no doubt that the Belgians and the French, when asked to keep their forces in the area for a short period of time, to try to ensure the establishment of law and order, were right to keep their forces there. They have had our support.
The next question is much the hardest one. What should be done once the emergency is over? I believe that, through a combination of Press stories and statements, the West has been in danger of getting its priorities somewhat wrong. I believe that the first priority now for Zaire is political and economic stability.
In this connection a most important event has taken place over the last three days. The decision of President Kaunda to meet President Neto was extremely important, as was the decision of President Kaunda to meet President Mobutu. There is no doubt whatsoever that the three countries concerned—Zambia, 219 Angola and Zaire—will have to come together in a political agreement to settle this long-standing problem.
This is a problem that the world has known about for some time. The Congo is still with us and its legacy still lives on in Shaba Province. This is shown by the number of refugees. I was talking this afternoon to the High Commissioner who is dealing with the refugee problem, and he told me that there are over 200,000 Angolans in Zaire and Zaireans in Angola. There is a lesser number of refugees in Zambia. Those three countries have a deep-seated political problem which has its roots in the Lunda tribe. The problem has a long legacy. There is much suspicion and much fear, and a very enlightened political leadership will be required in order to resolve these problems. These political problems cannot be resolved against a background of military and economic instability.
With regard to the economic instability, a meeting is to take place in Brussels, called by the Belgian Government, on 13th and 14th June. This has been in prospect for some time. It is a meeting between the Government of Zaire and other concerned countries, and the International Monetary Fund, to tackle the economic problems of the area. The Paris meeting was also addressed to the question whether five of the Western countries most concerned could develop an economic and political policy, and also a policy on some aspects of the security position, in order to try to stabilise Zaire. Unfortunately, we allowed the military aspects to dominate the headlines. We allowed the military issue to come first, important though it is. It is immensely important to try to get the key technicians for the copper and cobalt mines in Shaba to stay. This is the key to the economy of Zaire. They will not stay if they think that their security is threatened. In that respect the security position has to be addressed.
§ Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)
As three of the Governments represented in Paris are intervening militarily in Zaire—and the British Government have rightly disavowed this intervention—will the British Government withdraw from the gang of five? If next week at the Brussels conference there is any sugges- 220 tion of military intervention, will the Government dissociate themselves from it?
§ Dr. Owen
I do not think that my hon. Friend has followed my argument. I said that I thought that we were right in sending RAF Transport Command to Zambia. In fact, it flew into Zaire at one stage. This was for the purposes of humanitarian assistance and it was part of a collective response. My hon. Friend said that three Governments are involved. Only two Governments are involved on the ground. The Americans were involved in transport. The Belgian Government have today made a decision about withdrawal, and so have the French Government. The French Government have said that they would withdraw. The United States Government have been faced with the problem that the Government of Zaire have asked them to do what the French Government previously did—that is, to fly Moroccan troops down there to replace the departing French troops—and the Americans agreed to do this. I do not think that they could have done anything else in the circumstances.
I want now to move on to the longer-term problem—
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Without any reservations whatsoever I condemn the killings in Shaba Province of whites and blacks and condemn whoever was responsible for it, but will my right hon. Friend address himself to the question how we can ensure peace and stability in the area for the indigenous population, as well as expatriates, if we maintain by military support a corrupt regime, whose record of killing of people in Angola and in Shaba leaves us all with feelings of great horror? How can we provide any stability if we support corrupt regimes by military means?
§ Dr. Owen
This is one of the greatest problems that we face. We have to live with the Government who are there. I believe very strongly that the problem which my hon. Friend puts forward is a central one. If the West's support for Zaire—and I stress that it is for Zaire—was not to be contingent on certain conditions, we would be making a great mistake. I believe that our economic support and all other forms of support now must be clearly and deeply contingent on a monitorable plan for economic assistance, economic reform and restructuring 221 in that country to ensure that the money goes for the purpose for which it is allocated and for which it is given and also that it is accompanied by a readiness to look at political solutions to problems and, if possible, a widening of the decision-making structure and political involvement in that country.
I want to stress that I believe that we have an opportunity to create a strong Zaire. But if we do it in a way which says "This is carte blanche to do what you like" we shall make a grave mistake. I am not in favour of too much paternalism, but in this case I believe that it will be necessary to ensure that there is an agreed economic plan which is kept to and a degree of political commitment and widening out.
This is one reason why I am particularly against seeing these issues as an East-West struggle. If we see it as an East-West struggle, we shall be dragged in day by day to supporting purely a particular regime or a particular group of individuals, and we shall lose sight of our central objective, which is to support Zaire and the stability of Africa in that region.
As for the question of military intervention—and I deal with it because it is a serious problem—would that it were so easy and would that it were possible for security to come purely and simply from the indigenous forces of that country. That would be by far the easiest solution. But I believe that it is reasonable for troops from other African countries to be called in by other Governments if they wish to do so.
Here I come to this suggestion of a Pan-African force, and I must say that I still have great difficulty with what this concept is. I see a European Community which in 1954 failed to agree on a defence community. I do not know what people think of or mean by a Pan-African force. Are we asking the OAU to have a structure, and a command structure, or are we asking for a collective response? Certainly I think that we should involve the OAU as much as we can in any military questions which are being asked. I think that any questions which are being asked about military support there are more likely to come not from Africa collectively but from the region, and that it would be helpful 222 if the type of military response was always seen as a response by a Government asking for support from other Governments. For instance, in 1964 in East Africa when this arose, it was an emergency action initially and then one other African Government came in and put their troops at the disposal of the Government. That was a decision taken at an OAU meeting.
If we are to have that sort of response, I think that it should be geared to Zaire and Zaire's problems. There is no African country which will put troops at the disposal of any country. They will judge each one on its merits. They will ask themselves "If we put in our troops, which country, under what circumstances, and what are the arrangements?" If some permanent military defence structure for Africa comes, it will come from the OAU. The belief that such a structure can be built up by us in the West, with a lot too much talk of NATO involvement, has made some of the sensible security arrangements which ought to have been made over the last few weeks much harder to achieve. Now, by standing back a little, let us hope that we can provide a sensible security structure which will be seen to be supporting the Zaire Government and not polarising the issue into East-West relations and which will allow for a political framework.
We ought not to forget that the OAU has attempted before—recently not always with a great deal of success, but in the past with considerable success—mediation and conciliation, and I believe that we should encourage that process now. In the last Shaba incident in 1977, Nigeria worked very hard to try to achieve conciliation.
Concerned involvement from the West is helpful to Africa. Many African countries want it, and we should not be ashamed to demonstrate it. But it is the way that we do it and the manner in which we do it which is important. If we see it as being to help Africans solve African problems, I believe that it will meet with a response. But if it is seen as the West intervening in Africa, I believe that we shall not get the sort of response that is wanted.
I should like now to say a little about Francophone Africa and Anglophone Africa. Recently, I have tried to develop 223 closer relationships with many French-speaking African countries, and I believe that it is in British interests to do so. Similarly, I believe that it is in our interests that France should show more interest in the Commonwealth African countries, and I am glad to say that they have been doing so. There has been a considerable degree of discussion.
It does not matter if the West's response is not always identical. It is one of our strengths in dealing with the East that the West, because of its diversity and because of its pluralist democracy, does not always have an absolutely unified response. Someone said that the Soviet Union can sing in unison but that the West must try to sing in harmony. Sometimes we shall have different emphases and different shifts. It is helpful for the West—for the United States, for us, for the Federal Republic of Germany and for France—to work closely together in Africa, but not just exclusively. When Belgium has, as it has, a very intricate knowledge of Zaire, we should work with the Belgians. We worked with Canada in Namibia as part of the five-power initiative in the United Nations because of our membership of the Security Council. We worked with Italy over Somalia and Ethiopia.
Here again, I come back to some of the debates in this House of very recent memory and to some of the urging which I received, especially from the Opposition, that we should have intervened with arms supplies to Somalia, when I stood firm by the OAU principle that we should respect the territorial integrity of the countries and that we should not put ourselves on the side of those who would run down the easy route of trying to change the map of Africa by force. It might look easy for a few weeks, but it would result in total havoc for Africa—a Pandora's box.
At this Dispatch Box day after day I had to defend our decision to defend the territorial integrity of Ethiopia, not because I approved of what was going on in Ethiopia then, not because I approved of that Government's human rights record, but because I did not believe that a decision like the Ogaden and a dispute as deep-seated as the Ogaden could be supported by force, and I was not prepared to put the West on the side of the wrong on the issue of principle. I believe that 224 it has greatly strengthened our ability now to respond in Zaire that we did not put ourselves on the wrong side in that dispute.
Equally, I believe that by singling out Eritrea, which was an internal dispute, as an area in which the Cubans would be very ill-advised to intervene, in marked contrast to their previous support for the Eritrean Freedom Movement, and by questioning their non-aligned status, we contributed to a rethink of the Cuban position. I believe that Cuba now is finding some difficulty in establishing itself with others in the non-aligned world as truly non-aligned. I believe that that worries them, and well it might, because their actions have not been the actions of a concerned non-aligned country. They have followed slavishly the line of the Soviet Union. If they wish to re-establish their non-aligned credentials, I believe that they must now show their willingness to withdraw or at least to reduce their forces in Africa. They have a perfect example to reduce their forces in Ethiopia. The issue of the Ethiopia-Somalia border dispute which they went into is now, we hope, being resolved. The Minister of State is now visiting Kenya and will be visiting Somalia. I wish to improve our relationships with Somalia, but I do not wish at the same time to have no relationships with Ethiopia.
At this stage I would like to suggest what the West can do, and why I believe that the last few weeks have shown a lack of confidence in the West's policies in Africa. Over the last few years, I believe, the West has improved its standing, its position and its ability to influence in Africa. I do not take the defeatist view of our lack of influence in Africa.
We shall carry influence in Africa by sticking to principle. It will be achieved by pursuing, even through long-drawn-out negotiations, the negotiated path to independence in Namibia and by doing the same thing in Rhodesia and bringing Zimbabwe to independence. It will not be achieved by having a foreign policy that flutters around on the wind of editorial policies that often change three times in ten days. It will be achieved by having principles and sticking to them, by refusing to simplify extremely complex issues and by being prepared to take one's stand on principles.
225 Because it has been prepared to condemn abuses of human rights in Africa—not just South Africa and apartheid, but in Uganda and action over the Central African Empire—the West will have some influence long term on that pattern of government.
I believe that if we hold steady, even on Rhodesia, in dealing with the problem that has bedevilled us for more than 12 years, there is a prospect of a negotiated settlement. I believe that the atmosphere in that country and around it is coming close to a recognition that there must be negotiations between all the parties and that the round-table talks must take place. Given persistence, given that we stick to our principles and are not backtracked into other parts of Africa, and given that we do not damage our standing in other parts of Africa, we can achieve the settlement that we all want to see in Rhodesia.
That settlement will not be achieved by going down one side or another or by embracing the internal settlement, which has many features that are inadequate and will have to be negotiated. It will not be achieved by attending meetings of the internal settlement. It will be achieved by holding our position on principle and by being prepared to bring together all the parties, those outside and those inside. I believe that that could happen. The settlement will be achieved not by being thought to be, or being seen to be, supporting any one group of nationalist leaders but by letting that decision be taken by the electors.
In Namibia and in Rhodesia we have the chance of an internationally acceptable solution as a result of fair and free elections, with United Nations peacekeeping and involvement if necessary. That is a great prize. It is a prize which the Soviet Union has never been able to contribute to Africa. We want to achieve that type of high-level commitment to a negotiated settlement, to peaceful objectives and to the principle of an African solution. We ought to help with aid—
§ Dr. Owen
The hon. Gentleman can always be guaranteed to introduce that sort of comment. I suggest that he should ask himself about his own contribution to Africa. Given the position of demo- 226 cratic countries and our policy of not supplying arms to freedom movements, he should ask himself whether in standing aside from them altogether, having no relationship with them, and not giving any form of humanitarian help, we would not do the very thing that the hon. Gentleman so dislikes—push them ever further into the arms of the Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union. One of our greatest problems is that because we do not supply them with arms and other countries are prepared to do so, we lose influence and we have to redouble our political efforts.
It is wise for us to put economic aid into these countries. I am not at all apologetic to the hon. Member over the fact that we have an aid budget for Mozambique. I believe that it is a great mistake to believe that one influences countries by cutting oneself off from them. It is very rare that one can totally cut oneself off from countries which have governments which are recognised in the United Nations and free and sovereign governments recognised by the OAU. The fact that we have relations with Angola and Mozambique helps us to influence their policies.
§ Mr. Brotherton
While conceding that the Foreign Secretary may be convinced by his own argument, I want to press him on how he can reconcile his high-minded argument about principle with giving money to people in Mozambique and Angola in order to enable them to murder blacks and whites alike in Zaire and Rhodesia.
§ Dr. Owen
Of course we are not giving money to them for this purpose and all the money is contingent, qualified and carefully selected so that it cannot be given for such purposes. If some of it slips in the wrong direction, I would be very grateful to have information about it and I will do my utmost to stop it. But given the choice, it is wise to keep relations with those countries, to keep our influence with them and to try to ensure that they remain non-aligned so that they are not driven ever-increasingly into a Marxist ideology and total alignment with the Soviet Union. I believe that same policy is applied elsewhere.
I am perfectly prepared to believe that wherever possible one should open a dialogue. I know that there are some 227 hon. Members who criticise us for not holding a dialogue in the Middle East and there is some substance in some of those arguments. It would be very much easier if some of the groups with whom hon. Members think we should have a dialogue would at least recognise the state of Israel. It would be very much easier to have a dialogue if that formal recognition could be given.
I have tried to relate in a whole variety of different parts of Africa these complex issues of East-West relations. They are very difficult. There is no doubt that it is not in our interests to see a Marxist ideology spread across Africa. I do not believe that it is in Africa's interests either. Many people in Africa know this.
We should be more confident about the whole of our aid budget. The Soviet Union spends less than 0.1 per cent. of Soviet GNP on foreign aid. In fact the value of Soviet aid to developing countries has declined since 1973–74. The Soviet Union makes no contribution whatever to the North-South dialogue. The Soviet Union is not making friends in many of these countries. Where the Cubans have involved themselves they have often found themselves very soon in dispute with the country into which they have gone. In the Horn of Africa the Russians supplied arms to Somalia and to Ethiopia. Both those countries were under Soviet influence but, hopefully, one of those countries will come increasingly into a friendly relationship with us now that it has withdrawn to its own boundaries.
In acting as we have in this matter we have retained the friendship of Kenya which, at one stage, could have been gravely damaged had we followed some of the advice that some right hon. and hon. Gentlemen urged upon us in the House.
There is no simple easy one-paper policy for dealing with Africa. But I believe that if we apply principle, if we have courage and steady nerves, we shall have a policy for Africa which will enrich Africa, contribute to that continent and its future and in the process increase the standing of Britain, increase our export effort and our industrial involvement in that continent, and bring greater peace to the world.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ Mr. John Davies (Knutsford)
I can certainly agree with the Foreign Secretary about the extent to which his speech has concentrated upon the problems and the areas of confrontation between the Soviet Union and the Western world. It is all too evident. As we look around the areas of tension world wide, it is very rare to find one where the Soviet Union's finger is not somewhere in the pie.
I realise, of course—and the Prime Minister said so yesterday—that not all these problems are matters of straightforward East-West confrontation. We know that underlying them in so many cases there are many ancient arguments and discussions, some which—in Africa certainly—pre-date the colonial period. They go back to tribal origins of which we are all well aware. The fact is that in each of them we see appearing the finger of Soviet involvement, to the damage of both the people themselves and certainly of our Western way of life.
If we review the areas of tension we think of Southern Africa. We need not dwell on that area because the Foreign Secretary has said a great deal about it. However, the extent of the involvement of the Soviet Union is all too evident. It is all too evident in the Horn of Africa. We have the recent events of Afghanistan. I am far from being able to state—I doubt whether many people would be able to do so—the exact nature of the situation in that country. However, there can be little doubt that there again the long tentacle of Soviet interest has been reaching out.
There is the problem of South-East Asia. There is the problem even of the South Pacific. In a different sense entirely there is the extraordinary effect of the build-up of the USSR merchant marine, with its predatory effect on the whole of the world's merchant shipping. All these factors are evidence of the Soviet Union's reaching out to damage not only us but so often the countries concerned.
There is a great danger that we may adopt and accept some sort of false hypothesis that there is an equivalence of threat from us to the Soviet Union. That is not true. It is totally unrealistic to ascribe to the West a desire to disrupt and overthrow the Russian way of life. That has not been our objective, and it 229 is not so today. There is a great contrast between the West's approach, which seeks to achieve change by its example and experience, by demonstrating that it runs things in a way that works better, and trying to convince others that as a result they should adopt our way of life, and the approach of the Soviet Union, which seeks to achieve exactly the same objective so often by force.
§ Mr. Heffer
The right hon. Gentleman does not understand what is going on in this world. Has he not read the recent revelations of what happened in Chile with the involvement of the CIA? There were measures taken to try to assassinate certain political leaders. That sort of thing was going on the whole time. Some of us condemn what the Soviet Union does, but it is about time that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends stopped mouthing rubbish about what happens when the CIA and others involve themselves in the internal affairs of countries that sometimes have elected leaders democratically, only to be undermined by the so-called Western standards of the CIA and others of that sort.
§ Mr. Davies
That interjection is totally wrong as regards what I said. Is the hon. Gentleman trying to tell the House that it is the purpose of the West deliberately to disrupt and undermine the life of the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)
Order. I understand that the hon. Member for Liverpool. Walton (Mr. Heffer) might want to catch my eye at a later stage in the proceedings. He is not doing very well at present.
§ Mr. Davies
The contrast to which I have referred is starkly revealed in the whole of the Belgrade review of the Helsinki Final Act. The whole effort of 230 the West was to reduce tension and to improve relations by a systematic reduction of the causes of conflict within international relations generally within human rights, within normal humanitarian interchanges between States and within information on troop movements and the like.
What was the response? It seems that it was as near to a complete negative as it could be. The reality is that the Soviet Union pursues ruthlessly the imposition of its own brand of ideology worldwide. Indeed, in President Carter's speech he said:To the Soviet Union, detente seems to mean a continuing aggressive struggle for political advantage and increased influence in a variety of ways.That seems to be a just and correct statement.
It is necessary that we seek to ascertain what is happening in the Soviet Union's approach to the whole of its relationships with the Western world. I make some contrast with the analysis that the Secretary of State outlined. It seems that over many years the Soviet Union has been concerned with achieving equivalence or, where possible, superiority in its military preparedness, both in the strategic area and in conventional armaments, in the presumption that once that has been achieved it may argue from a position of strength and always ensure that negotiations with the West will so preserve either its superiority or at the worst equivalence, allowing it to act in other ways in regard to its own interests.
I ask the House to take note of the fact to which the Secretary of State refered, namely, the whole conduct of the mutual and balanced force reduction discussions. That conduct has been based upon the presumption that nothing could be lost to the Soviet Union by loss of time. During the whole of that period conventional arms were being built up, so the certainty of superiority was assured. By that means the negotiations could be protracted. I fear that exactly the same approach is to be repeated in respect of the strategic arms problem. There is no change acceptable within that framework that is acceptable to the Soviet Union, and thus its superiority is either preserved or reinforced.
Having achieved that position disarmament becomes desirable. It is obvious 231 that when one is assured of at least equivalence, and perhaps superiority, there is every interest in pursuing the whole objective of disarmament. I do not believe that the claim made recently by Russian leaders that they wish to achieve disarmament is false. I believe it to be a true claim but one which would preserve the Soviet Union's superiority or at least equivalence.
§ Mr. John Watkinson (Gloucestershire, West)
The right hon. Gentleman is right to emphasise the increase of Warsaw Pact forces in the Central Region. However, will he concede that if we take the totality of the forces and equipment available to the Warsaw Pact forces and the totality of forces and equipment available to NATO it is clear that there is parity in a large number of areas, with distinct superiority to the West in many others?
§ Mr. Davies
That superiority has been eroded to a large extent. If we consider the totality of the balance, it is quite clear that it has shifted the other way. The balance of force has changed and a new phase of Soviet strategy has now emerged. From the time that there has been a change in the balance, objectives have been pursued by the Soviet Union by indirect intrusion rather than by the threat of overwhelming force. The exploitation of any potential weakness worldwide that reveals itself is part of the Soviet Union's scheme. It watches out for cracks in the whole armour of global security and inserts itself in them.
It is wrong to imagine that the Soviet Union's whole purpose is to secure dominant situations of threat to the West. I do not believe that to be so. In many instances the internal disruption of key areas is equally as effective as the adoption of a dominant position. If it is possible to undermine areas that have an essential contribution to make to Western interests in future, as much is achieved as if a military superiority or a philosophical one had been attained. The Soviet Union has adopted a quite different approach to the problems of progressively asserting its own ideology and imposing it worldwide. The confrontation now is not a contemplation of a head-on assault but rather one of sapping the resources and morale of the West by indirect means.
232 The analysis and recognition of the problem is in no way warmongering or the resumption of the cold war. That is far from my mind. Still less is it a desire to break off contact and to reject negotiation. That, too, is absolutely absent from my thoughts. However, as the Prime Minister spoke yesterday he would dangerously mislead us into seeking to infer that the true appraisal of the real confrontation is in itself evidence of belligerency. In my view, it is quite the opposite. It is reminiscent of the days of appeasement of the 1930s to suggest that a revelation and recognition of the dangers surrounding us constitute a provocation.
It is equally dangerous to reveal dangers and to be unprepared to take what steps are possible to improve our negotiating status. Yesterday the Prime Minister, perhaps not uncharacteristically, was long on sententious utterances but, as usual, rather short on positive steps to strengthen our negotiating stance. Yet both are available. There are means of doing both. There are the instruments at hand to do so and there are the things which want doing for that strengthening.
As regards NATO, yesterday I was concerned to hear the Prime Minister say:But there is no intention that NATO should become involved in Africa."—[Official Report, 6th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 29.]But NATO is involved in Africa. It happens to be involved in Africa by its very proposition that its operational limits reach down to the Tropic of Cancer. Apart from that, it is involved in Africa because from Africa emerge many of the dangers which can provoke the very confrontation which NATO is there to face. Therefore, it is not right to try to eliminate NATO's role from the whole of this important and fundamental area.
Of course, I understand that there is no desire to extend the operational zone of NATO, seeing that already the disparity of forces makes the existing zone overstretched as far as we are concerned. Indeed, as regards the United Kingdom, that is all the more sorrily true when we think of the immense reductions in our own force capabilities which have taken place in the last few years. How unhappy it is that the incapacity of NATO to live up to its own necessary 233 commitments should have been so largely caused by our failure to maintain that level which we should maintain.
NATO is undoubtedly the linchpin of Western defence. Therefore, it must take account of the causes of danger which arise globally. It cannot restrict itself to a limited zone of interest.
Surely there must be a need for the improvement of the assessment and alarm system which detects areas of incipient danger before they arise and concerts plans to meet them. It must be done. Where else would the overhead strategy be engineered to ensure that the whole mechanism of response becomes more effective were it not within NATO itself? This surely is a sphere of action to which the Government must give more attention. It is important that NATO should be involved deeply in the constant forward analysis of those areas where tensions arise and where, as I said, the Soviet Union is so prepared and quickly able to insert itself to the damage of us all.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Could the right hon. Gentleman say in which areas of Africa recently he has been surprised at developments where there has been tension?
§ Mr. Davies
I think that the changing situation in the Horn of Africa could be said to have contained a number of surprises for many people, not least for myself, I freely admit, for many countries and certainly for the Government. There are areas where changes take place. The switching of allegiance has caused intense problems. Indeed, the Secretary of State referred to that matter earlier. In the framework of all these spheres, the interrelationships which exist between the SALT II and the MBFR talks and the whole question of nuclear disarmament, in whatever form it takes, need some point where the correlation of the West's attitude and response to the issues concerned can be thrashed out. To my mind, it is useless to imagine that NATO has not got a fundamental part to play in that analysis.
§ Mr. Davies
If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue, I shall give way to him later.
234 Another instrument which has been inadequately used up to date is the Community. I think that the political cooperation system which was developed in the Community to seek to concert political action within the member countries has found itself too much involved in simply mouthing utterances of exhortation and philosophy which have had extraordinarily little effect on the real outrun of events.
The use of the Community's negotiated arrangements, either through the Lomé Convention or its association arrangements with many other States, is an area where much greater involvement of the Community in the political stability of the countries with which it is dealing can be achieved.
A further instrument may be the OECD. The OECD has been concerned within the West and amongst the Western industrialised countries in seeking to procure certain rules of order amongst them. How much more important that it should do so in relations between Western and Eastern countries. It is ridiculous that we should find ourselves offering terms of contract and credit to the East for the purchase of ships and other materials which we would by no means offer to our own industry. Surely this is an area where again instruments are available and can be turned to the advantage of the West.
Of course, the Foreign Secretary dwelt at considerable length—I understand it—on Africa. Africa is a case study in itself of the current confrontation. The Secretary of State spoke a great deal about the Zaire problem, and I understand that.
§ Mr. MacFarquhar
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the whole question of Western instruments, obviously there are three levels at which these can be discussed in the new way. There is the level of rhetoric, and I assume that he does not wish to limit himself to that. There is also the level of analysis. The right hon. Gentleman talked of NATO being able to provide analysis. But I think that the rght hon. Gentleman has to go further, especially as regards NATO, if he means that NATO has got not just an interest but the means of doing almost anything in Africa, which would mean that the NATO treaty should be changed.
§ Mr. Davies
I said earlier that I doubted whether NATO's operational zone could be extended for want of the capacity effectively to handle it. At the moment that must be the truth. But its importance in terms of correlating the activities of either groupings or individual States which may be involved seems absolutely intense and needs to be most actively pursued.
The Secretary of State dwelt particularly on the issue of Zaire, and I understand that. But the problem is far more generalised. It seems unquestionable that Europe and Africa are irrevocably bound up with one another in a mutual interest. Europe's deep dependence on Africa's natural resources, be they mineral or food, is one side of the equation. But Africa's equally deep dependence on Europe's contribution to its development and management is no less serious. These two continents have got to find means of helping one another and they have to engineer, through their institutions, arrangements to ensure that help. Either deprived of the other's contribution becomes precarious or worse.
One has only to see the problem in many countries in Africa today when, either by their own will or by some accident of fate, they have deprived themselves of the input which the Europeans can and should effectively make. It is tragic to see it. We must find means round this immensely difficult problem.
In no sense is what I am talking about a kind of neo-colonialism. It is not that, whatever. There is a state of interdependence which is fundamental. When the Foreign Secretary speaks of methods of monitoring the adequacy with which aid moneys and the like are utilised, of course we are immediately faced with the smack of neo-colonialism and the paternalism which he condemns. But it is necessary to find methods by which this interflow of materials and products resources on one side and of knowledge and ability on the other is preserved and improved.
It suffices only for the disrupter to disrupt that interflow—to disrupt the ability of those countries to be able to count on the continuing movement and source of their own needs—for the whole situation to be damaged beyond repair. It is not necessary to instal hostile regimes. The spread of Marxist 236 philosophy is not necessary, provided one can so ruin the countries concerned that they can neither take advantage of the Western input of ability nor provide the resources which are their principal source of prosperity.
The evidence is all too easily available of just the kind of deterioration of which I am speaking. In the last few days I have been speaking to several major employers of European staffs in Africa. I spoke to both African and European employers. They ask—and I understand why—"what chance is there now of getting our people back into these areas?" I believe that 30,000 Belgians are employed in Africa. Many of them are leaving because they have no assurance of the future in that continent.
Unless we take urgent steps to help, the same will happen in Rhodesia. All those people upon whom the development and prosperity of that country depend will find it impossible to retain their livelihoods there and they will seek to go elsewhere. This is a role for the European Community, perhaps within the framework of the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention.
Surely the Community could find some way whereby it interposes itself, on the one hand, to guarantee Europeans against massacre—and that involves the question of whatever forces are required—and to guarantee them against being deprived of property and unreasonable political interference; and, on the other hand to guarantee the Africans against exploitation, which they fear, and external domination which they also dread and which they see as a continuation of overbearing colonialism.
A composite approach to the problem is required involving not only firefighting forces, although they are necessary. Without such an approach we shall not persuade people back into Africa. It must also provide technical and managerial pools and financial guarantees.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
The right hon. Member is right to concentrate on the political and economic stability. But in a significant passage he said that there must be protection for Africans and Europeans alike. I accept that we have seen certainly a Cuban and possibly a Russian involvement, the presence of Belgian and French troops, an 237 American airlift and a Chinese interest in Zaire, but what form of firefighting force has the right hon. Gentleman in mind? He says that NATO is overextended. Does he have in mind a European force, a United Nations force or an OAU force?
§ Mr. Davies
In my view such a force, particularly in Africa, would be formed within the framework of the discussions between the European Community and the African members of the Lomé Convention, in order to give the mutual guarantees that both sides ardently require. I do not know whether it should be formed entirely from African sources, entirely from European sources, or from both sides. Within the framework of that convention, the whole purpose of which is to do what I ardently plead for—to try to make Europe and Africa combine for their mutual advantage and protection—it must also be possible to provide for that type of security.
§ Dr. Owen
The right hon. Gentleman is developing an interesting argument about the use of the Lomé Convention. I am sure that he knows that this suggestion would be strongly opposed by our European partners who are currently opposed even to a human rights clause in the convention. They believe that the convention should not involve any form of political interference. The British Government have argued for an ability to intervene on human rights. If we were to extend such intervention to political and defence issues we should be met with considerable resistance, not least by the French Government.
§ Mr. Davies
I understand. But two things must be said. First, the inclusion of the human rights clause, which I applaud, is a unilateral proposal. What I am proposing is something which has benefits for both sides. Secondly, there has been a substantial change of mind in the last two or three weeks because of what has happened. I find it remarkable that it was the French Government who earlier this week were trying to feel their way towards some composite form of safeguarding force. That is a new attitude for the French Government. Let us take advantage of that new mind, if it exists.
§ Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the human rights 238 clause for the convention is being opposed by the frano-phone countries and many others in the Community because it would interfere in the internal running of the countries which are signatories to the convention? But a non-aggression pact would not be open to the same criticism.
§ Mr. Davies
The mutuality of what I am suggesting has a strength which the unilateral approach does not seem to have.
There are many other spheres in which the European Community can be advantageously deployed if there is determination and effort. Undoubtedly, in strengthening and reinforcing the growing and more encouraging developments in the countries covered by the ASEAN agreement there is an opportunity for action by the European Community which it has not yet adopted and has not been encouraged to adopt.
It has a less evident but significant role to play in Middle Eastern disputes. The same is true in the Greek-Turkish dispute. The instrument of the Community can, by political will, be turned not only to consider the economic interchange but the political difficulties in the areas concerned. The Community must be led to take a more positive view of the need to take action to assure the maintenance of the great outposts of Western life in the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand.
There is much action which should be taken and which is positive and useful. It is fine to stand on principles. I thought that what the Secretary of State said was of a noble-sounding character. But it sounded as if he were standing off from the problem. We have to stand into the problem and really get to grips with it. Our complaint about the Government is that they seem to vacillate while the President of the United States has today reiterated his more positive and determined attitude to resist the inroads into our Western way of life. I believe that the world can be made a safer and more prosperous place. We have a part to play. We can and must play it.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) will not be disturbed if I do not follow his interesting arguments. But I know that 239 many hon. Members wish to speak and I wish to limit my comments. I shall concentrate on some of the developments in Africa and some of the interesting items in the news from the Near East.
It is easy to discover what is wrong with Zaire and Africa but it is more difficult to find a solution and discover how to put things right. In the United States there are three different points of view at the highest level. There is Mr. Brzezinski. It is interesting that those in history who have been oppressed in Eastern Europe have a most indelicate attitude to those who have been oppressed elsewhere. Mr. Brzezinski is the cold war warrior—one is always safe when one is a good distance away.
There is Mr. Andrew Young, shooting from the lip and using all the jargon which we on this side of the Atlantic do not understand—"Let it all hang out"—whatever that is supposed to mean. There is President Carter and his well-known attitude of being determined to be undecided. It depends which day it is what the policy is. But he is always concerned about human rights, forgetting Mississippi. He never makes a comment about the situation in Israel. I shall be able to rectify that omission later.
Brzezinski's policy is crazy. It is about as crazy as Molotov's policy was some years ago, and that got short shrift. Dr. Kissinger could have been right. But, strangely enough, I think that Mr. Andrew Young, of whom I shall have one or two unkind things to say later on, has it about right with the Russians. The Russians are rather like some French wines. They do not travel well. I have seen the Russians at work in Egypt. I have seen them attempt to suborn the independence of that country. I have seen them with their heavy-handed imperialism. After all, they are the last imperialists left. One has only to ask the Czechs to clear that point up. I have seen them try to take that ancient country of Egypt and turn it into a satellite. With all the problems that Egypt faced, perhaps they did not have much option. Nevertheless, the Russians were asked to leave, and they left.
Recently I was in the Sudan where the same kind of narrow imperialism was attempted by Moscow. Its attitude was "We give you the arms and we tell you 240 what the policy is." The Russians were asked to leave. The Chinese are much cleverer in their policies abroad and in influencing other nations. Now the Soviet Union has lost out in Somalia.
I do not encourage overseas bases. I believe that people should be allowed to run their own countries. But the Soviet Union was stupid. It had an excellent Red Sea port at Berbera, not to mention the bases elsewhere in Somalia. It threw them all away with its greedy and grabbing attitude when it thought it was on to a good thing in Ethiopia. But the Russians plunged themselves into a quagmire. They have been trying to balance themselves on the top of a pin that has been collapsing. They have lurched from one disaster in Somalia to the humiliation which will arise in Ethiopia, particularly when Eritrea gets its freedom.
Like Mr. Andrew Young I think that if the Soviet Union is given time it will evict itself from Angola and Mozambique. After all, these people did not wait 500 years to get rid of the Lisbonites just to invite in the Muscovites. Both of them are equally stupid from a different point of view in the political spectrum. I am not a great believer in "wait and see", but I have the feeling that in time the inevitability of independence and pride will require the Russians to leave. The Cubans are lackeys. One cannot describe them in any other way. I am sorry if other hon. Members do not agree with me, but the Cubans cannot do the work of a nation like the Soviet Union and avoid being viewed in most parts of Africa with contempt. Of course they, too, will go.
I turn now to the British view about the present position in Zaire. I agreed with a great deal that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said about this troubled land. My memories go back to when the Congo was handed its independence by a despairing, desperate and greedy Belgium. I was BBC correspondent in Katanga and Elizabethville. I recall the cannabalism which destroyed the Baluba. I remember, too, the desire of Tshombe for the separation of Katanga from the rest of the Congo. Later we had debates in the House about the independence of Biafra. It was interesting to see who supported Katanga and who supported Biafra—the Portuguese and the South Africans.
241 Now there is injustice in the situation in the Ogaden. I do not believe that we shall improve things by trying to move that frontier again. A mistake has been made with British, Portuguese and Belgian imperialism in setting the boundaries for the Shaba people, who desire a home, but who, through this imperialism, could find themselves fragmented. We cannot now go back. I am most encouraged by the meeting today between the leaders of Zaire and Angola and our good friend President Kaunda. They will tackle the political side of something on which we cannot go back. They will stabilise it.
The British view is based on seeking economic stabilisation. One does not have to be an imperialist to see that we need, copper and cobalt. It is clear that the materials of the world must be properly provided for the rest of the world. We need also rubber and tin, but we do not have to be held up to blackmail. The economic stabilisation in Zaire should be furthered under the general encouragement and umbrella of the Organisation of African Unity.
The contribution of the outside world also must be made. No mention has yet been made of the IMF or the World Bank. The intervention must come on an international basis so that the copper and the cobalt supply, through an international agency, with the encouragement of the OAU, can develop and succeed. Britain will be playing a considerable and proper role if it concentrates on economic stabilisation.
It is difficult to look around at the Governments of the world, at Chile and Uganda, for example, and decide which should have first prize for the most discredited regime. However, Colonel Mobutu would be pretty high up in the stakes for corruption, for torture, for suppression and for his Swiss numbered bank account activities. I imagine that he will go just as a great number of other corrupt dictators have gone. But if there is an economic underpinning, whoever replaces him will find that his country has been serviced or provided for not by some NATO intervention or some strictly Western group but by an international body with the OAU acting as the central force.
I turn now to the Near East. I do not have a fixation about Mr. Andrew Young, 242 but I should like to commence these remarks with another of his malapropisms. The late Senator Hubert Humphrey, of whom I was a great admirer, was said to have approached every problem with an open mouth. One cannot help feeling that Mr. Young, who is a great democrat, has become one of the less pleasant aspects of the Democratic Party.
He said that Britain walked away from crises—he seems to have a fixation about the British walking out, but usually we drive out—whether in Rhodesia or the Middle East. Coming from an American, albeit an adopted American, that is an extraordinary remark. Let us look back to the events directly after the Second World War, and at the 1947 story. There were elections in New York. Harry Truman was frightened that they would be lost to the Democrats. He had a great friend of a certain faith in Main Street, Kansas City, that led him to ask Mr. Lewis Douglas to tell the then Under-Secretary, Mr. Christopher Mayhew, that it would greatly help the United States to make a loan available to Britain if we would allow a large extra contingent of people of the Jewish faith into Palestine. What might have been a peaceful settlement was sabotaged, for the most discredited domestic political reasons, in the United States. Here we have Mr. Andrew Young telling us that we walked away. To put it truly, we were pushed out under the most unfortunate circumstances.
What can one say, incidentally, about a State that has as its basis a religion? I have always believed that countries that are based on religion have the wrong start—Ulster; Pakistan in India; and Israel. I cannot help asking what there is in common between someone such as General Dayan and some of the great international spokesmen of the Jewish will in years gone by.
But the situation now is that there seems to be a lack of concern, a lack of feeling of urgency, about the present position. We are told "Why do we not wait? Why do we not leave it to the Americans?" But I am afraid that time is not really on our side.
We have to ask ourselves what kind of Government are now in control in Israel. Whatever prejudices we have—we all have certain attitudes and certain ideas—there is no doubt in my mind that the Government of Israel is led by a 243 man who at one time, undoubtedly, was a leader of terrorists, and a man who, at present, does not believe in responding, for example, to the approaches of President Sadat, but who believes in closing the door.
We fool ourselves if we think that we have a lot of time left. The world has experienced four wars. The fifth war could be the last one, and a fatal one.
For personal reasons, I have known this part of the world for over 30 years. Far from becoming more stable, it has become less stable. I am astonished at the patience that someone such as Sadat has shown. He offers the hand of peace, and what does he get back? A slap in the face. I am astonished that King Khalid and the Saudis have been as patient as they have with the United States lobbies.
Slightly to change a phrase of Dr. Johnson, I think that he might have said "A shortage of gasolene clarifies the mind wonderfully". I am afraid that the United States will have to face up to the fact that in a fifth war there will be no question of, as Dr. Kissinger said, moving troops in to stabilise the situation. The oil wells will be imploded. Anyone who knows the Near East well enough, as I think I do, will know that that is what would be the minimum reaction of people such as the Saudis.
I believe that we in the United Kingdom have to adopt a more positive policy. It is no good saying "Leave it to the Americans". After all, there are these two super Powers. I am always slightly amused by the United States when told that Britain is no longer a first-class Power because she has not got the capacity to blow the world 10 times or a thousand times to smithereens—although we may have the best scientists in the world. But the nations that have ruined the Middle East are the two super Powers—the Russians, with their cynicism, moving into Egypt and into Libya because of the feeling of frustration that the Arabs have about the position of Israel; and the United States, for domestic political reasons, backing up Israel.
Sixty per cent. of the funds for the Democratic Party come from people of Jewish origin. Forty per cent. of Republican Party funds come from Jewish origin. I have nothing at all against people of 244 the Jewish faith, but, of course, that makes for a biassed policy by the so-called leader of the West.
We want free Europe to play a much bigger part. After all, in history, in culture, adversary and friend, what two closer groups have there been than the Arab world and the Europeans? Sometimes the light has been in the Arab world, sometimes in Europe. It is not right or corect to say "Leave it to the Americans." Chancellor Schmidt has said that he believes that the Palestinians have a right to self-determination, just as any other nation. If he can say that, I hope that the United Kingdom and our Government will say that. There is no need to be ashamed about it.
Israel has been talking about rights. Israel is a nation that has flouted the rights of citizens in Jerusalem. By an unanimous vote, the activities of the Israelis in Jerusalem have been condemned in the Security Council. I have been there and seen their activities, when the shops in Old Jerusalem had been closed at times of Israeli celebrations. The ironic thing—I am sure that the young Israeli soldiers did not realise this—is that the shops that had been closed in protest had a yellow sign on the outside of them. Some of the fathers and mothers of those soldiers might have remembered another time, before the war, when yellow signs were put on doors.
The Israelis cannot claim any great advance in the world when they continue to occupy land which does not belong to them. Even worse than that, of course, with this gentleman Mr. Begin, they are putting in new settlements, building hostages for tomorrow and the day after.
I hope, therefore, that Europe will play a more positive role in the Middle East. We do not have to apologise. Trade, commerce and education are always there to be developed. But to say "Wait for someone else; leave it until tomorrow", is wrong. If one spends a lot of time talking about international relations, one tends to acquire a habit of seeing how things are likely to turn out. Everyone knew that Vietnam would not remain in the hands of General Thieu, and that Formosa would not be China for ever. Everyone knows that, indefinitely, the Middle East will not allow the injustices to the Arab people to be perpetuated. If 245 we wait and if we leave it to someone else, the fourth war will be followed by the fifth.
I have a great fascination for the period after Sarajevo, when time was running out. As A. J. P. Taylor said, in the end it was easier to have World War I than to stop the mobilisation of trains. We are drifting into that situation today, and I hope that Britain and Europe will play a more positive role. Otherwise, Israel—in whose right to exist we believe—will vanish, and so will Egypt vanish, with an atom bob on the Aswan dam. Shall we then ask, "How did it happen?". We shall not say that because, the world will be involved in the conflagration, and the great Powers will be brought into it. Then we shall all wonder why we said "Let us wait and leave it to someone else."
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Maurice Macmillan (Farnham)
I take the view—and I hope I am not alone in doing so; certainly I am not alone on this side—that there can be only one objective for the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. That is to protect the realm and further the interests of the British people. That and that alone is the function of the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Office.
The Foreign Secretary said a great deal with which I can agree, but he talked as though foreign policy were a factor of ideology rather than one of power. I take the view that for the Soviet Union ideology is but a cloak with which to make more respectable an imperialism which far antedates the work of Marx and the development of Communism.
It has been said that war is but an extension of foreign policy. That is true of States which have the military or economic power, or both, which have the will to use that power, regardless of the effect it may have, entirely in their own narrow interests and which have the ability to define and pursue a single object, knowing precisely what results they are trying to achieve. That is true of the Soviet Union today—as true as it was of Tsarist Russia.
It is worth remembering that one of the major factors in this country's foreign policy—both direct from the United Kingdom and carried out through the 246 foreign policy of the Indian Government—was to prevent the penetration of Russia into the Middle East, into Central Asia, including Afghanistan, and into the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Essential British interests were regarded even then as threatened by any advance of Russian power or even influence in those areas.
That was before we in Britain were quite so dependent on oil and raw materials from those areas and from Africa, and in the days when the British Navy was dominant. Now, the high seas of the entire world are dominated by the Soviet Navy. We are seeing an extension of Soviet influence—whether through insurgency or through the use of advisers or surrogate troops. We have seen it in Afghanistan, whatever the situation now is in that confused country, and in the South Yemen and in Iraq. Iran is surrounded by the Soviet's friends. We have seen it in Ethiopia, and in the rest of Africa.
I would say to the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson) that perhaps the Soviet Union does not always stay for long, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said, it is the disruption that it causes as much as its continued presence which damages our interests. We have seen this in Angola, in Mozambique and in the potential threat to Rhodesia.
It is that which makes me question the validity of detente as defined by the Soviet Government. It is that which makes me believe that detente as pursued at the moment is beginning to look very similar to appeasement as pursued by the British Government before the Second World War. If it is true that war as an extension of foreign policy, the reverse is equally true but often forgotten—that countries which are not strong militarily or economically must rely for their defence on a skilful foreign policy.
That applies to the United Kingdom. Our sole protection is our diplomatic ability, our capacity to use such economic strength as we have, our ability to make alliances and to maintain them, to extend them and to use our friends throughout the world for our joint interests. That is something which does not seem to be fully understood by the West generally, except perhaps by France.
247 Like my right hon. Friend, I hope that, in the present situation in Africa and elsewhere, we can use the European Community as a means of achieving concerted action—concerted, that is, with those African States whose interests are so closely allied to those of the countries of Western Europe. I know that the Foreign Secretary has said that that is not on at the moment. But it is one of the roles of Her Majesty's Foreign Secretary to take an initiative—not to sit back and wait to see whether someone else will make it possible for the British Government to co-operate but to try to use our position within Europe and NATO to influence our friends and allies so that we may work together in our joint interests.
It is likely to lead to a far better and more genuine form of detente if the Western countries in general and the EEC in particular will realise, as France recognises in her actions, that their foreign policies, both political and economic, must be seen as adjuncts to their defence, and perhaps its main instrument.
I accept that that requires a certain moral courage and singleness of purpose. We must have the skill to identify the threat and the willingness to admit it. We have to be prepared to treat for the time being as allies those countries which are the enemies of our enemy, whether we approve or disapprove of their internal regimes.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I am listening with interest to the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has treated, rather undiscriminatingly, the concept of ally. Is this not an ironic repetition of the very policy which was pursued in 1941? Would he have said then that we should have nothing to do with the Soviet Union? That might have been the right thing to do, but is this a repetition of that policy?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I think we had to deal with the Soviet Union in 1941 because it became the enemy of our enemies. That was the basis of the alliance with the Soviet Union. The mistake was made later, at Yalta. It lay in not realising that the situation by then had changed and was changing fast. That is why I referred to countries which "for the time being" are on our side.
248 I think for example of South Africa, a potential ally and help in Africa—
§ Mr. Macmillan
There could be no threat there to the United Kingdom, the United States or the rest of Europe, or to other African countries.
I agree with the Foreign Secretary and not altogether with my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) about aid to Mozambique. Let us remember who else is helping Mozambique: South Africa as much as the United Kingdom, for perfectly valid reasons according to South African policy.
Therefore, we cannot afford to be choosy about with whom we work from time to time, although we should of course maintain the main structure of our longertenn alliance. Also, we must be able to define clearly the national objectives that we need to achieve and the national interests we need to defend, regardless of what may be the effect of them on the domestic situation and electoral pressures in our country or in others.
Until the Soviet conception of detente includes a non-interventionist attitude to the Third World, our foreign policy must include some element of countering the revolutionary and insurgent pressures which are being exerted directly or indirectly, by the Soviet Union because world revolution has been expressly excluded by the Soviet Union from all processes of detente.
People like to be on the winning side. I believe that our failure to give a lead and our failure to see that detente is a two-way process, our willingness to give and go on giving and obtaining precious little in return, will have certain effects. In the longer term—perhaps this is the more dangerous alternative—we shall face the danger of giving an incentive to our allies—an incentive which they have not yet got—to do a separate deal. We have seen this beginning to happen in Turkey where the implications of recent statements have been quite clear, and from out point of view increasingly dangerous: "Perhaps the others are a better bet than you are." It is our fault if this is the Turkish view.
If the worst came to the worst, we could face similar problems with Japan. which is as dependent as we are on oil 249 from the Middle East, on minerals and raw materials from Africa and whose sea route is a good deal longer. If the Soviet Union were in a position to interrupt the flow of raw materials to that country, it would produce an incentive for Japan perhaps to take the view that some accommodation with the Soviet Union would be better in Japan's own interest. Who would blame them if that were to happen? We could even reach the situation, if Western Europe and the NATO Alliance gets into a weak enough position, where there would be an attraction for West Germany in the reunification of a neutralised Germany.
But in the shorter term I think that our weakness in foreign policy will result in a lack of credibility in the existing alliance, perhaps leading to a collapse of the political will within the Community and the ending of the Community as a political entity. That process would also contribute to the despair of those behind the Iron Curtain who are known as dissidents and who do not agree with the idea that Marxism is an excuse for operating outside the rule of law.
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary pointed to the importance of the fact that policies of principle should gain the adherence of those who live behind the Iron Curtain and of people in the Third World and elsewhere. It is true that high principles are important, but it is also true that high principle, without the courage to stand up for them do not give much encouragement to others to adopt those principles.
The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister made a valid point when he said that Soviet imperialism was not the sole African problem, but I believe that it is a large part of it. It plays a large part in preventing the development of domestic solutions to the problems of African countries and is beginning to drive out the white experts, the technologists, on whom the development of African economies depends. Therefore, Soviet imperialism impoverishes and destabilises the independence of African nations. I believe that both the Prime Minister and his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary ignore other aspects of Soviet imperialism, linked as they are to the situation in Africa, in developing pressures in Asia, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and the Indian Ocean.
250 The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said that the pursuit of the ideological argument should be allowed to take place freely and that there was nothing we could do about it. He was right to take that view, but I object to his implication that the Soviet Union has a right to carry on the ideological argument by physical means, because that is something we cannot tolerate. The right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister for one reason or another seem to me to be guilty of failing to tell the whole truth. Furthermore, they fail to encourage, and indeed even take active steps to discourage, that element in the United States Government which is beginning to see that the interests of the United States, of the NATO alliance and of Western Europe are best served by helping the African countries to counteract the Soviet-inspired insurgence against African Governments.
When the Foreign Secretary was describing what he thought should be done about Zaire, I was reminded about what in fact was done in Malaya. That was a long process; it did not require massive military intervention, but it required skilled military advisers, help to organise the police forces, a heavy aid programme and a monitoring process to ensure that aid was used to develop the country economically and was not misdirected. If that is in the right hon. Gentleman's mind, there is a great deal to be said for that kind of policy, but it must be pointed out that it will take a long time. In Malaya the process took 12 years. However, it is a process that can produce eventually a stable and firm Government with a stable economy.
Nobody will argue with the Foreign Secretary's view that the situaton is difficult, but what he did not appear to realise, or was unwilling to admit, is that Soviet policy has as its object the aim of making things more difficult. The point of that policy is to prevent these political and economic problems from being solved—to prevent the difficulties in Zaire, Angola and Zambia which he quoted being settled except on the basis of the establishment of client States in Africa which are hostile to the West, and except through the support of one particular form of government that meets with the support of the Soviet Union and is willing to act in its interests.
251 The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary is right to stick to his high principles, but by themselves they throw up a danger. The danger is that they will encourage those who are seeking solutions to act not through the ballot box, but through the rifle and the bullet.
Looking back at what has happened, one can say that where countries with difficult, unstable, sometimes corrupt and inefficient governments have been threatened by the forces of insurgency within and have sought help from outside, there has been a mixture of success and failure. I believe that Vietnam was a failure because the attempt was made to rely too heavily and almost exclusively on military power.
The Foreign Secretary's policy in Africa may well fail because he has underrated the Soviet role in forcing an East-West conflict in Africa and therefore underrated the need for the sort of military force which my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford suggested in his speech. There is, therefore, a solution on the lines proposed by my right hon. Friend, but I suggest that there is another way in which pressure could be brought upon the Soviet Union through the ordinary processes of negotiating detente.
The Foreign Secretary said that there was a need to concentrate a little more on conventional arms. Why, if we are worried about Soviet conventional arms and influence in Africa and about Soviet penetration in other parts of the world, do we subsidise it? Why, when the Soviet system is unable to feed its own people, do we feed them? Why do we give them cheap credit and cheap technology when all they do is use it to build forces which are primarily used for aggression? Why do we play their game?
Lenin in 1920 prophesied that we would play the Soviet's game when he told his Foreign Commissar that there was no need to worry about money because the capitalist countries would pay for the rope with which they would be strangled. Must we make that prophecy come true? I suggest that we should think a great deal more carefully about our general economic and political policy towards the Soviet Union and relate it to a concept of detente which is 252 nearer to Western interests and not solely in accordance with those of Soviet Russia.
The danger which we are facing goes back far beyond 1920 and far beyond the Russian revolution. The whole history of Russia shows it to be a country which has grown through imperialist expansion, by conquest, frequently by genocide, by subversion, by disruption and by increasing political influence by every possible method open to it. That imperialism has in no way been altered by the Communist revolution. All that the Communist revolution has done is to give it a phoney ideology with which to clothe this naked imperialist policy to oppose which must be the main object of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. John Watkinson (Gloucestershire, West)
Having listened to the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) speak about Africa, it is hard to realise that it was his father who made such a distinguished contribution to the resolution of the problems of African affairs in that celebrated "wind of change" speech. Had Portugal and Belgium listened more closely to those words of wisdom, perhaps today we would not have the problems that we have in Zaire, Angola and in the southern part of the continent of Africa generally.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to be burying the policy of detente. That policy was finished, according to him, and we were back on the path to cold war. I cannot accept that. I reiterate the remarks of the Foreign Secretary in his opening speech when he urged upon the House the necessity not to kill off the policy of detente, because the only other policy is a return to cold war politics and cold war confrontation. None of us wants to see that. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that detente is in danger. It is at risk.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Has it occurred to the hon. Gentleman that the argument that he is putting forward is similar to that put forward, I regret to say, by a large element of the Tory Party about the Nazi occupation of the Rhineland, the Austrian Anschluss, and the invasion of Czechoslovakia?
§ Mr. Watkinson
The right hon. Gentleman is being over-dramatic. Europe is 253 not faced with this degree of problem. Nor is the world. I hope to show this during my speech.
I should like to deal with the attitude of the Soviet Union to the question of human rights. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have said that the Government must take a certain position beyond which hon. Members may feel that they would like to go. I certainly would like to go beyond the Government position. I condemn outright the attitude of the Soviet Union to dissidents within the USSR at present. The whole world is outraged by the trial and sentence of Yuri Orlov. The whole world awaits with grim expectation the fate which could befall the dissidents Shcharansky and Ginsberg.
It would be bad enough if these events were taking place within the ambit of conventional Soviet policy. What makes matters worse and places a special burden upon persons such as ourselves is that the USSR is a co-signatory with ourselves and many other nations of the Helsinki agreement. In that agreement the obligations placed upon those co-signatories are spelt out clearly. It says:The participating States will promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms all of which derive from the inherent dignity of the human person …This is precisely what the Soviet Union is denying to the dissidents at present and the Foreign Secretary is right in saying that the Soviet Union must misunderstand the impact of public opinion in the West if it believes that the trials of these solitary individuals do not have a marked and significant impact upon opinion in the West.
On occasions I find disquieting and even nauseating the response of Conservative Members to persons such as my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) when he seeks to promote and defend human rights in the West and in the East. My hon. Friend seeks, as do many of my hon. Friends, to uphold human rights in whatever country those rights need defending. I have had the pleasure of working with my hon. Friend in seeking to uphold human rights in Iran. My hon. Friend and his colleagues have condemned abuses of human rights not only in so-called Fascist States, but in Communist States. It does no credit 254 to the Conservative Party to pour scorn upon the rightful demands of my hon. Friends that these human rights should be upheld.
The crucial point in relation to detente is the effect that the policy is having upon public opinion in the West, particularly in the USA. The USA faces mid-term elections at present and Congressmen will be very sensitive to the demands of the people of the United States. We must accept that these trials perhaps more than anything else present to the West the inhuman face of Communism and must undermine public support for detente. It is in the interests of the East and the West that such support should be maintained and that detente should continue. If the Soviet Union pursues dissidents in the possible further trials of Shcharansky and Ginsberg, it cannot but damage itself in the eyes of the world and actively undermine the policy of detente.
I turn to the question of arms buildup which has been referred to on both sides of the House. Any reasonable person must accept that there has been a massive build-up of forces in the central region of Europe. It is well known that in this region the Russians have three times as many tanks and one and a half times as many men as NATO and that they have created a new tactical offensive air force in this region. As the Foreign Secretary indicated, it is clear that the forces of the Soviet Union in the central region go way beyond what is necessary for any defensive strategy.
However, there is a danger of becoming totally obsessed by the central region. If we study the totality of forces and equipment available to the respective alliances, we find that, in many areas, NATO's troops and equipment are well in excess of those of the Warsaw Pact. While the combined number of persons in the armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact are about equal, NATO has twice as many men in its navies and one and a half times as many men in its air forces as have the Warsaw Pact countries. If we go through the various elements, we see that, in the totality, NATO numbers exceed the Warsaw Pact in the men available for defence and in many areas of equipment.
However, I do not wish to belittle the threat that has emerged in the central 255 region. The threat is there and it cannot be ignored. I also accept that the Soviet Union responds to power and I believe that peace in Europe has been maintained by a balance and, reluctantly, I have to accept the necessity for us to build up forces in central Europe.
The Foreign Secretary was right to refer to the paralysingly slow development of the MBFR negotiations. Clearly, it is in our interests and in the interests of the Soviet Union, if it is sincere about the policy of detente, that these negotiations should take on some impetus. The delays in the negotiations in dealing with this vital area of the central front have been scandalous and I welcome the Foreign Secretary's initiative in proposing that the negotiations should be raised to Foreign Minister level. I hope that this initiative will inject a drive into the talks.
In the past, there has been difficulty over the concept of parity and its meaning in the context of the negotiations. The Foreign Secretary slid over the problem. The Soviet Union has always taken the view that there should be equal reductions in numbers, while we have said that there should be parity in the form of a common ceiling.
In the central region, it can be claimed that, in terms of numbers and quality, the Soviet Union is the equal of NATO. The Russians' argument that they needed greater numbers to counteract our superiority in quality no longer exists, and I hope that there can be speedy improvement within the MBFR talks.
The Opposition seem to get obsessed by the Soviet Union. I am not denying that there is a threat, but the Opposition have an obsessional attitude. One can see that, in the global context, the Soviet Union is confronted with problems. For example, I would cite four areas where it could face potential difficulties. It cannot rely upon the Warsaw Pact alliance in the same way that we can rely upon NATO. The Soviets do not know that they can ultimately rely upon their client states. The fact that their alliance is based on a tyranny means that the forces within that alliance do not have the same motivation or commitment as the forces within NATO.
The fact that the Soviet Union is spending such vast amounts on defence equip- 256 ment puts its own economy under strain. There are well-founded economic arguments to indicate that within a matter of years the Soviet economy will face insupportable strains as a result of its vast defence expenditure.
Fourthly, the Soviet Union faces the possibility, however remote, of war, not just on one front, but on two. It has problems in the West and in the East. We should not over-estimate the stance of the Soviet Union in world politics. We shall do so to our disadvantage and shall undermine ourselves by so doing.
I turn briefly to the problem of Africa. I agree very much with the analysis presented to us by the Foreign Secretary. The Prime Minister has stressed the importance of analysing the situation. If one analyses the historic circumstances, particularly in Angola, one can see disturbing interventions by the CIA there. These revelations have come out in a book by Mr. Stockwell and have been confirmed by Mr. Colby, a former director of the CIA, before a Congressional committee when he said that, were it not for the intervention of the CIA in Angola, it would not have been necessary for the Cubans to intervene. In the build-up of the problems of Africa, the CIA has not been guiltless.
A second point is the scepticism shown by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary about the possibility of a pan-African force and the dangers of such a force with European involvement. This comes out especially in relation to Zaire. It has been pointed out that the regime there is, tragically, one of the most corrupt in Africa. Indeed, it is a regime that many of us would rather not be put in the position of having to defend.
When we read in reliable publications of the amount of the gross national product of Zaire that finds its way into the pockets of Mr. Mobutu and his immediate family, it must be a cause of enormous concern and I remain sceptical about my right hon. Friend's view that an injection of funds can save that country. Not long ago the IMF came back from Zaire and reported that the economy of that country was in such a state that it was beyond repair.
There are enormous dangers for Europe in getting involved in a pan-African force. We could find ourselves coming to the 257 aid of regimes that we could not morally defend. It is a truism, but we must learn the lessons of Vietnam. We cannot afford to get involved again as we did in South-East Asia.
As the Prime Minister has accepted, there may be short-term advantages to the Cubans in Africa, but it is doubtful whether they will be long-term gains. The essence of African politics is that they are the politics of nationalism and I believe that nationalism will re-assert itself in Africa.
I endorse the view that it is incumbent upon us to uphold the territorial integrity of States within Africa, but it serves our interests and those of Africa if African problems can be solved by Africa itself.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Whitney (Wycombe)
In the few weeks that I have been privileged to be a Member of this House, I have come to learn quite a lot already about the traditions and the conventions which govern our proceedings. The more I have learned, the more clearly I have come to appreciate the practical value of those conventions.
Especially at the moment I am conscious of the appropriateness of the custom whereby a Member rising for the first time should ask for the indulgence of this House. I am quite sure that few new Members have stood more in need of such indulgence. There can be none who has arrived here with less experience of the political arena. Having spent all my working life in the public service—and therefore subject to the rules of political neutrality which that so rightly involves—such practical experience and knowledge as I have of the proceedings of this House have largely been gained in the two or three appearances that I have made, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in the Box just behind your right elbow.
My apprehension in rising this afternoon might also be increased if I contemplate the experience of someone who, in that he lies buried in Hughenden churchyard, I am proud to claim as a deceased constituent of mine. As you will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, when Disraeli made his maiden speech in this House he was given such a hostile reception that he was obliged to resume his seat, with that prophetic shout 258Though I sit down now, the time will come when you will hear me.I hope that those outside critics who are disposed, on the basis of the broadcasting of this House, to deplore the decline in our standards here will pause to compare the treatment which Disraeli suffered in 1837 with the courteous way in which, so far at least, right hon. and hon Members have listened to my remarks.
The sense of privilege which I felt on arriving here was greatly increased by the fact that I did so in succession to the late Sir John Hall. It is not just as a matter of parliamentary convention, important though that is, that I should like to pay tribute to John Hall's memory. It would be presumptuous of me to comment on the high standing that John Hall had in this House, but I should like to record the tremendous respect and affection felt for him by his constituents in Wycombe, whom he—and to an extraordinary extent his wife—served with such devotion and distinction for over a quarter of a century. Indeed, the memorial service in Wycombe parish church, which was filled to capacity, was an occasion which was unforgettable for those who were present, and a tribute to a fine man and a great Parliamentarian.
The electors of Wycombe recognise that they were fortunate in being served here by John Hall. They also recognise their good fortune in living in a part of England which, even in today's conditions, is able to combine beauty with relative prosperity. Nevertheless, they feel rightly worried about a number of issues which I hope on future occasions to have the opportunity to raise in this House, such as the preservation of their education system and the need to improve the climate for small and medium businesses on which the prosperity of the Wycombe district so heavily depends.
With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to offer a few very general thoughts on various aspects of foreign affairs, which seems to me to be a subject of rather greater concern both to many of my constituents and, I suspect to many more other British citizens than the Government or the national or the local media usually seem to be prepared to believe. If I may use the jargon that was current a few years ago, the British people are very well aware that they cannot stop the world and get off. They 259 know that they are on it to the end, and they want a say in the direction in which we are all going.
It is my impression that we in London have all grown accustomed to exchanging platitudes about the shrinking globe caused by improved communications, about the need to get out and increase our exports, and about the increase in military and other threats posed to our national interests overseas. The same messages have penetrated the national consciousness outside the confines of Westminster, Whitehall and Fleet Street. There is a deep-seated unease, and there is a message coming back to us here in Parliament. That message can be put in just a few words. It is "Stand up and speak for Britain." It is a message which I should also like to bring to this House from my years of service in the Diplomatic Service.
For too long Britain's voice has been muted, uncertain and nervous. We can all offer our explanations of why this has happened. The famous gibe of the former American Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, that we had lost an Empire but had not found a role, was very much resented when it was made in 1962, but it contained a good deal of undeniable truth. Our poor economic performance, compared with other industrialised countries—and even compared with many developing countries—has gravely damaged national morale, the latest manifestation of that being the dismal premise on which Sir Kenneth Berrell and his colleagues in the Think Tank based their profoundly disappointing review of our overseas representation.
We have even seemed to be losing the ideological battle, which is not precisely the same thing as the battle of ideas. The very intellectual fertility of our own society, where all ideas and attitudes have long been subject to challenge and attack, have made us seem to foreigners even weaker and more divided than we have seemed to ourselves. Here the universality of the English language, which can help so much to advance the principles for which we stand, has tended to work against our interests. Every note of discord struck in our society is more likely to echo round the world just because it is carried in English. By contrast with the maelstrom created by all this questioning 260 of the old verities here in Britain, people in many countries have found the misleadingly rigid certainties of Marxism and other authoritarian doctrines to have more appeal.
We have lost our nerve and with it our power to influence world events. I am conscious that to use such a phrase today in this House as "influence world events" may well strike some right hon. and hon. Members as anachronistic and as an unjustified harking back to some Imperial heyday. As a practising diplomat until a few weeks ago, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I assure you that such a concept is not just a piece of unrealistic jingoism. This country—and, indeed, Western Europe as a whole—has a great deal more to offer than it has offered in recent years in helping the nations of the world to strike a proper balance in their relations with each other.
If we are to do so, we must first rid ourselves of many of the complexes which have afflicted us for so long. We have generated some of these complexes our selves. Others we have allowed to be thrust upon us. Let us at last have done with the so-called guilt of Empire. Let us stop falling or permitting ourselves to be pushed into the trap of the Leninist myth about our alleged role as the capitalist exploiters of the underdeveloped countries—a myth which has been peddled so widely and with such baneful effects both for the Western and for the developing world. Let us stop castigating ourselves as being a nation which is fundamentally more racialist than any other.
For too long we have allowed such complexes to inhibit and bemuse our performance on the international stage. It is high time that we took another and much more positive look at what we have achieved and what we can offer the world.
Over the centuries, we have created and preserved a functioning democratic system which has provided a legal framework to protect the basic liberties of the citizen and a mixed economy which still offers a standard of living far higher than that enjoyed in most countries. Of course, it is a system which is much less than perfect and which is now, as indeed it so often was in the past, under threat. But even now it remains the envy of many in the world. They want to believe in 261 our system and its efficacy and durability in the hope that the best elements of it can be transplanted to their own societies. But their inclination to do so is undermined gravely when we appear so often to lack faith in ourselves and in our traditional values.
The most organised and aggressive, although not the only, threat to these values comes from international Communism. Over the years, whatever the current state of the attempt to reach detente, the Soviet leaders have never made any secret, by their words or by their actions, that for them what they choose to call the international class struggle and the world revolutionary process goes on. A whole catalogue of events since, for example, the Helsinki conference testifies only too clearly that this is a fact.
But there are other challenges to British and Western standards and interests. In the countries of the Third world, for example, these have been reflected in the campaign of some of their leaders for what they are calling the new international economic order. I believe that if those leaders achieved all their declared objectives—for example, with regard to the operation of multinational companies—the consequences would be harmful not only to our interests but also in many respects to the interests of millions in the developing world.
But this, my maiden speech, is not the occasion for me to become involved in a detailed critique of the negotiation of a new relationship between the developing and the industrial world. I wish only to make one simple appeal. It is for an approach to all the problems of international relations which speaks more boldly, more consistently and more clearly for Britain and for British values.
Let us resist the temptation to which we have succumbed all too often to elevate compromise into a fundamental principle in the conduct of our foreign affairs. Let us be more aware of the dangerous hypocrisy of double standards. Let us be readier to speak up for and to act upon those principles in which we believe and which have served well so many generations of our countrymen.
We must not be afraid if such an approach is called provocative by those who are opposed to democratic values, to justice and to the rights of the individual. 262 We must be prepared to face those accusations by those on the Left and on the Right of the international political spectrum.
We must not be detracted by charges of cold war or even, to use Mr. Brezhnev's latest concoction, lukewarm war. We should remember that the Soviet manipulation of the very term "cold war" was one of the supreme examples of how words can be used to permeate the thinking of a whole generation.
Of course, we live in a complex world. There are inevitable conflicts between the interests of the nations. Bargains must be struck. But we let down ourselves and those in the rest of the world who still look to us for the projection of our traditional values if we show that we are ready to yield our position before we start.
I believe that the timing of this foreign affairs debate is extremely fortunate. Events which have occurred during the past few weeks have caused the whole international kaleidoscope to be shaken up. New factors are emerging. New positions are being taken. There is great uncertainty and increased tension. What better time could there be for the voice of Britain to be heard more clearly once again?
It can be no exaggeration to say that never before has the world presented such a difficult terrain over which Britain's foreign policy must be conducted. The destructive capacity of the super Powers hangs like a shadow over us all. But the very precariousness of the balance between them provides its own opportunities for countries like our own. New international trading relationships must be evolved. World problems of energy, food supply and population increase have yet to be tackled effectively. National, racial and tribal issues in Africa and human rights problems across the globe threaten to concern us all.
This is already a formidable list, but I am convinced that Britain can make a much more positive contribution in all these areas if only once again we are prepared to believe in ourselves and to speak and act with courage and with a sense of realism. Of course, if we are to be effective we shall need the support of other nations. But there have been few moments in our history when this has not been true. I am certain that a 263 stronger British voice on the international scene would be welcomed by those who sent us to Westminster, by our allies and by many others in the rest of the world. It is time for us to shake off our self doubt and to put our collective experience to the more effective service of mankind.
I am most grateful to the House for listening to me with such tolerance and courtesy and for sparing me the reception given to my deceased constituent, Benjamin Disraeli.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)
Although my standpoint is very different in a number of respects from that of the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney), I have great pleasure in congratulating him on his maiden speech. With his expertise and knowledge of international affairs, I am sure that he will have much to contribute to our debates on foreign affairs in the future.
On one issue I am certain that the whole House will agree with the hon. Member. It is in the tribute which he paid to his predecessor, Sir John Hall, who was widely respected on both sides of the House. Sir John Hall was well known for his knowledge of economic matters and for his participation in Treasury debates. Many of us who did not agree with him very much regreted his passing, and accordingly we look forward with pleasure to the contributions which his successor will make in the House on future occasions.
A number of other right hon. and hon. Members who have spoken already in this debate have dealt with some of the issues which I wished to raise. I refer especially to the increasing alarm which has been expresesd from the Opposition Benches, not only today but over recent years, about what is regarded as the growth of the Soviet threat in Europe, in Africa, on the high seas and elsewhere in the world.
Many of us who sit on these Benches below the Gangway as democratic Socialists have been critical for many years of different aspects of Soviet policies. We condemned the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and we continue to give support to those who stand for Socialism with a human face. We deplore the harassment and persecution 264 of Soviet dissidents, and we disapprove of the Soviet Union's acceptance of the imperatives of the arms race.
However, it is necessary to examine the allegations being made about the nature of the Soviet threat with a little more care than that which has characterised the speeches from the Conservative Benches today. Claims have been made that militarily the balance is shifting decisively in favour of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly, in terms of conventional forces stationed in Europe the Warsaw Pact has a quantitative advantage although there are many reservations about the quality of their arms. In terms of the strategic balance, however, the West continues to have very great superiority in deliverable nuclear warheads.
Furthermore, the United States remains well ahead in technological terms, as is demonstrated by the development of the cruise missile and in other respects. Last year the director of the CIA, George Bush, told the United States Congress:The Soviet Union does not have a single weapons system that demonstrates technological superiority to the United States. On the other hand, the United States has many weapons systems that the Russians cannot duplicate.If one considers arguments about Soviet naval prowess, no one can doubt that the West as a whole is still more powerful at sea. The arguments of the Opposition are based on a considerable exaggeration of Soviet strength. I contest very strongly the conclusions that many Conservative Members have drawn from the arguments they have advanced.
In Africa the charges of Soviet aggression have been such that the uninitiated might be forgiven for concluding that the first foreign troops ever to set foot on the African continent were Cubans and that the first attempt by a great Power to influence African events was made by the Soviet Union. The uninitiated might imagine that up to now the Africans had enjoyed many years of sturdy independence and Ruritanian bliss and that now rudely, for the first time, they were being threatened by an alien incursion.
The truth is slightly different. Africa was subjected for centuries to the most ruthless acts of aggression, the most rapacious exploitation and the most flagrant atrocities against human beings.
265 Although history refers to the involvement of the nationals of Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, there is precious little mention of the Russions or the Cubans before the last year or two. Of course, some of the ancestors of the Cubans probably were involved in some of the events in the remote past of Africa, as victims of the slave traders who shipped them across the Atlantic. That was years ago and they certainly were not the aggressors.
If one examines the history of the last few decades, by which time most countries in the West officially accepted the right of Africans to rule themselves, despite some glaring ambiguities in Southern Africa, the notion that Africa has been free from military intervention and great Power involvement apart from the Soviet Union and Cuba is utter nonsense.
Take the case of Zaire, which became independent as the Congo on 30th June 1960. It was then under the premiership of Patrice Lumumba who had emerged as that country's leader—I remind the House—in elections supervised by the Belgians. There was a revolt against the new Government in Katanga, in what is now known as Shaba Province, which was nominally led by Moise Tshombe but which was sustained, even against United Nations policies, by European mining interests and an army of white mercenaries drawn from Europe, Rhodesia and South Africa.
Lumumba himself was the objective of a clandestine assassination plot organised by the United States CIA under the auspices of Allen Dulles which is documented in detail in the hearings of the United States Senate Select Committee chaired by Senator Church in 1975. I was surprised to learn that the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) apparently has not heard of these assassination plots and I strongly recommend that he goes to the Library and reads about the sort of policies which were pursued by the CIA in that period.
In fact, Lumumba was afterwards murdered with two of his Cabinet colleagues, Maurice Mpol and Joseph Okito, in February 1961 in Katanga. The subsequent ill treatment, atrocities and massacres of those who had supported 266 Lumumba and many others continued for years.
To give an example, on 11th January 1965, The Times reported that 500 suspected rebels had been executed at Stanleyville since the town had been taken by Government forces. The Observer of 29th August 1965 reported that senior mercenary officers had produced a set of pictures showing atrocities committed by his men. One was published and I have it with me today. I will show it to any hon. Member opposite who doubts me. It shows two so-called Simbas being led through the street by ropes around their necks with smiling mercenaries contending for the privilege of "stringing them up".
The bloodstained course of the history of the Congo, subsequently Zaire, from the date of independence was fundamentally determined by external Western interests—the CIA, white mercenaries and others. It is totally hypocritical of those who were silent then to affect a humane horror at the notion of outside involvement by Cubans and Russians elsewhere in Africa today.
Recent events in Zaire flow from the sort of intervention which took place in the period to which I have referred. Anybody who does not recognise that the present Government of Zaire is an extremely unpleasant one, about which we should have no particular pride, should do some reading and find out what we are letting ourselves in for by backing that regime.
Of course, intervention by the United States by covert action, by support for reactionary military coups and by involvement of United States' forces has occurred regularly throughout the developing countries up to the fall of President Nixon. The record in Guatemala. Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia and Chile, not to speak of the Bay of Pigs in Cuba itself in 1961, hardly demonstrates a principled distaste in the West for greater Power intervention. It should be made clear that many of the events that have taken place where the Cubans and others have intervened may not have taken place had the West's record been different from that which history shows it to be.
For example, in the case of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau, NATO 267 continued to accept Portugal as a member of the organisation and to supply arms to it throughout its efforts to suppress the movements in those countries for self-government. Following the Portuguese revolution of 1974, when the independence of the colonies was conceded, the United States Central Intelligence Agency intervened in Angola and paid out about 31 million dollars to the FNLA and UNITA in a bid to prevent the MPLA, previously recognised by the British Labour Party and many other sections of the democratic movement in the West, from gaining power.
The Opposition should study some of the documents that relate to that history. The story is revealed in the report of the Select Committee of the United States Congress chaired by Congressman Otis Pike in 1975, which was leaked to the Press. Some of the money that was paid out by the CIA was probably used to recruit mercenaries such as one of my constituents who was subsequently murdered, apparently at the behest of the Greek Cypriot mercenary nicknamed Callen. Furthermore, Angola was invaded by South African troops.
The West must realise, including Opposition right hon. and hon. Members, that if we align ourselves with and give moral and military support to those who are prepared to prevent the mass of the African and other Third world peoples from achieving their full national, political, economic and social independence, their leaders will turn elsewhere: to Cuba, the Soviet Union or to anyone else prepared to give them succour and aid. Before we blame them for taking that course, let us remember that Britain and the West were prepared to be allied with the Soviet Union to overthrow Fascism and racialism in Europe nearly 40 years ago.
In many instances Opposition Members have been prepared to co-operate with and even to support regimes such as those of Rhodesia and South Africa, which have existed on the basis of discrimination and tyranny. I am sad to say that even the Government were prepared to provide military sustenance to the regime of the Sultan of Oman, which is totally undemocratic and in no way recognises the values for which we claim to stand in the House.
268 If we identify ourselves with the forces of reaction against those who will take over inevitably in future in other countries as their peoples become more educated and demand their democratic rights, we cannot grumble if we lose out to Cubans and others of that sort who are prepared to take a different view. I know a little about the Cubans, and anyone who writes them off as mere puppets of the Soviet Union and discounts their genuine commitment to the ideals of national liberation is turning away from the realities of the situation.
The policy of the West, and above all that of a Labour Government, should be to recognise the cause of the peoples of the Third world and their right to rid themselves of regimes that deny them the freedom, democracy, human rights and economic emancipation that the British people struggled to achieve and obtained.
In that respect I pay tribute to many of the statements made today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. I believe that the Government are at least cognisant of many of the issues and are moving in a direction that I regard as being decidedly better than that which we have followed frequently in the past. Those who want to consider what would occur if the Opposition should come to power should study carefully the contrast between the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Knutsford and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
We have the duty, together with all other Powers in all parts of the world, to press for peaceful settlements. I hope that the Government will use such influence as they have to seek to bring a peaceful end to the fighting and internecine strife that has characterised the position in the Horn of Africa over the past year or two. I am disturbed by the present Ethopian regime's record on human rights. I would not approve of any support being given to an Ethopian reconquest of Eritrea by force of arms. I hope that the Government will do all that they can to prevent an injection of further arms into that area, and will enable the deprived peoples who live there to turn their attentions to the real problem that is facing them, that of starvation.
269 In the circumstances that prevail, there is no case for a revival of the cold war hostilities that has been expressed by many Opposition Members over recent months. Those who seek to engender war fever and to stoke up the arms race in a world in which the major enemy for all mankind is still primarily economic—that means hunger for hundreds of millions of people—will in the light of history be seen ultimately as the real enemies both of our people and of humanity as a whole. I hope that we shall rededicate ourselves to the cause of disarmament and detente. I hope that we shall stand firm by the principles of human rights, whether in the East or West, and shall resist to the utmost the bellicose calls that have been made by the Opposition over the recent past for a return to cold war postures.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
May I first of all pay a warm tribute to the eloquent speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney). It was an impressive maiden speech. I hope that we shall hear many more from him and benefit from his wide experience in foreign affairs.
The hon. Member for Harlow (Mr Newens), like the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, concentrated almost entirely on Africa. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with the hon. Gentleman in dismissing so speedily the danger of the Soviet and Cuban threat in Africa. I do not intend to speak about Africa, but I make one comment about the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I regret that greater encouragement and support has not been given to the internal settlement, which would make it much more likely to succeed. The cold, critical and negative response that it has received has lacked imagination and statesmanship.
I shall direct my remarks to the Middle East. I was surprised that the Foreign Secretary did not mention it apart from making one oblique reference. The high hopes of October 1977 have been extinguished by Mr. Begin's intransigence. As a result, the prospects for peace have receded and a dangerous situation could develop relatively soon.
As the blame for lack of progress towards peace so manifestly falls on Mr. Begin and his Government, in my view 270 it was a serious error of judgment for President Carter to welcome the Begin proposals for the West Bank as a constructive response to President Sadat's initiative and misguided for the Foreign Secretary tamely to follow that particular lead from Washington.
As it was inconceivable that the Arab side could ever make peace on the basis suggested, the proposals were a destructive, not a constructive, response, and their general effect has been to wreck the Egyptian President's dramatic initiative. They are designed to shift the whole basis of negotiation away from the principles previously approved by the international community, including the United States and Europe, as the framework for a just and lasting peace and to establish an entirely new basis incompatible with all that has been agreed over the past 10 years.
It is impossible to produce a reasoned statement reconciling the Begin proposals in their essence with Security Council Resolutions Nos. 242 and 338, with the Security Council's consensus statement of November 1976, with the joint United States-Soviet statement of October 1977 and with the various EEC declarations ending with that of June 1977.
The attitude adopted by both Washington and London to the Begin proposals was bound to raise doubts about their constancy in sticking to the principles previously approved for a peace settlement. That being so, there was all the more ground for hoping that the recent NATO Summit Meeting in Washington would have adopted a resolution along the lines of the proposed American draft. That called for full Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab lands and recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
As no resolution emerged from the meeting—only an absurdly platitudinous expression of hope that efforts towards peace in the area would continue—it would be interesting to know what happened to the original draft. Perhaps the Minister, when he replies, will inform the House what action was taken by the British Government to try to stop that resolution from vanishing into thin air.
Moreover, I hope that Ministers will henceforth stick firmly to the well-tried formula that we stand by the Security 271 Council resolutions and the EEC declarations and that our policy is to see them implemented. That may not catch the headlines, but it is a great deal safer and a much more effective contribution to the search for peace than off-the-cuff comment which may be interpreted as indicating that the British Government are shifting their ground.
It is also highly desirable, especially after the mystery of the disappearance without trace of the American resolution at the NATO meeting, that we and our European partners break the strange silence that we have maintained over the past year since Mr. Begin began floating his schemes for sidetracking the search for peace and trying to lead it towards condoning Israel's illegal seizure and colonisation of Arab land.
Last year Mr. Begin made much of the appeal that he made to the Prime Minister and to the British Government to use their influence against further statements by the European Nine on the grounds that that would damage the process of negotiation and the prospects for peace. If in fact Her Majesty's Government did yield to Mr. Begin's pressure and so obstructed any joint or concerted action by the European Nine, that was an error of judgment. The past few months were a period when we in Europe ought to have been reasserting with all possible vigour the principles on which we have taken our stand and which we believe must regulate a peace settlement if it is to qualify as "just and lasting."
Perhaps we can do something now to repair the omission. Since the June war in 1967, one of the wisest and most constructive statements that has been made on the search for peace was that made by William Rogers, then the United States Secretary of State, in December 1969. I have quoted it before, but I believe that it is worth repeating. He said:We believe that while recognised political boundaries must be established, and agreed upon by the parties, any changes in the preexisting lines should not reflect the weight of conquest and should be confined to insubstantial alterations required for mutual security. We do not support expansionism. We believe troops must be withdrawn as the resolution (242) provides.Sadly, that admirable statement, although it stands on record and has not 272 been rescinded, has also not been reaffirmed by any United States Government since then. I believe that it would be timely and appropriate if the European Nine were now to incorporate that statement in a new reaffirmation of their position regarding the requirements for peace in the Middle East.
I should now like to turn to another point. Why has not the Arab side come forward with practical, constructive proposals of its own? The Foreign Secretary recently posed this question in almost exactly these terms, and he referred obliquely to the point in the one comment that he made this afternoon on the Middle East.
Part of the answer is the simple fact that on the Arab side there are five parties directly concerned. There are the four so-called confrontation States and the Palestinians. There are also other Arab States with legitimate interests in the search for peace. So, even in the best of circumstances, it is obviously more difficult for the Arab side to co-ordinate. Moreover, the sad and dangerous divisions which beset the Arab world at present make the task far more difficult and that has to be acknowledged.
Even so, it is a fact that a wide measure of agreement exists in the Arab world on the essentials of a peace settlement. This consensus includes the confrontation States and the mainstream of opinion within the Palestinian leadership and among the Palestinians generally. Some Arab Governments may dissent fundamentally from this consensus, but they are very much in the minority. Nor is it true that this consensus lacks precision and constructive formulation. The outline is perfectly clear and entirely adequate to serve as a statement of the Arab side's negotiating position.
There must be a total, or virtually total, withdrawal by Israel from occupied Arab territory, including Arab Jerusalem there must be a homeland for the Palestinians consisting of the West Bank and Gaza and they must be given the option of deciding their future for themselves within that homeland; and there must be a just settlement of the problem of the Palestinian refugees.
In return for satisfaction of these three requirements, there will be Arab recognition of Israel's right to live at peace and 273 in security within its pre-1967 boundaries; there will be freedom of navigation for Israel through the Suez Canal and other international waterways; and there will be guarantees of Israel's inviolability and independence, including the establishment of demilitarised zones. Demilitarisation of the West Bank is acceptable, and the proposal for a period of international control over the West Bank has not been ruled out.
All of this is of tremendous importance and significance. It means that the Arabs abandon their war against Israel and accept the legitimacy of Israel's existence. It means, moreover, that they are prepared to accept the fait accompli of Israel's possession of the large area of Palestine which Israel acquired by force of arms in 1948 beyond the boundaries proposed for the Jewish State in the United Nations partition plan. Before their victory in the 1967 war whetted the Israelis' appetite for other people's land, they would have been overjoyed to accept a lasting peace on this basis.
I should explain to the Foreign Secretary—although I feel sure that he knows already—why it is that the Arab side is not in a position to submit more detailed proposals for giving effect to the kind of peace that they are prepared to accept, although the consensus I have referred to is detailed enough. It is because the power to make peace is not in their hands. It is for others, not for them, to say how Israel is to be brought to accept those essential requirements without which there can be no peace.
Since the Arabs do not—for the time being at least—possess the means to recover their territory or to ensure respect for Palestinian rights, it is idle to chide them for failing to produce a detailed blueprint for the mechanics of making peace. The time to demand that of them will be when others have demonstrated that they are prepared, if necessary, to enforce Israel's compliance with the requirements for peace which have been endorsed by the rest of the world.
I urge the Foreign Secretary to turn his mind to what we and our European friends can do to create the conditions in which a genuine process of negotiation can take place before it is too late and before another war, immensely damaging to the interests of the West, becomes inevitable.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
I apologise to the House for not being here at the start of the debate, but the Prime Minister of India was speaking in the precincts of the Palace at that time. This great, remarkable, kind and witty man was entitled to be heard by as many of us as possible. This man of 83 has not only the spirit of youth but apparently also the celibate secret of how to stay young for ever. He is a most welcome guest to the country, and I am sure that the House salutes him.
This is a month for presidential visits. The President of Romania, Mr. Ceaucescu, is due here in a few days. It is right that he should also be an honoured State visitor to this country where we do not choose our friends necessarily because they share our form of government. The Government of Romania have their own special problems, but they have managed with remarkable skill to preserve a degree of independence of thought and independence, especially in foreign affairs, which has enabled them to act in many respects as a catalyst in a sad world where people do not talk to each other and where they cannot disagree across the Floor of the House in the way that the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) and I do It is when people cease to talk together that the troubles begin. Romania not only talks with most sides but has succeeded in many respects in bringing adversaries together. We shall accord a warm welcome to President Ceaucescu. We salute him and his small and embattled country.
We do our best to understand the problems with which other Governments must cope. I shall deal with those of two countries. First I turn to the remarks of the hon. Member for Westbury and my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson), concerning the Middle East. Then I shall suggest how this country may be of assistance to persecuted people in that country which is so very different from ours—the Soviet Union.
I listened with interest to speeches on the Middle East and waited to hear a tribute to the only democratic system in that area. It is true that many of us would never vote for the Government which came to power in Israel. But we are not citizens of that country. We must 275 recognise that in a democracy the Government of the day depend upon the support that they get from the people. Certainly in their General Election the Israelis were in no doubt about the support that they gave to their new Prime Minister.
I listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough with his meanderings and his own rewritten, fantastic and, unfortunately, often offensive version of the history of the Middle East. I hoped to hear some remarks about the feudal and dictatorial empires which he apparently supports in preference to an elected democracy. There was no such tribute. I expected none from the hon. Member for Westbury, but I did from someone who claims to be a Socialist. From such a person one would expect at least a recognition of the results of social democracy.
I hoped that when talking about terrorism many years ago my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough would have mentioned terrorism today. I expected no such mention from the hon. Member for Westbury and there was none. When talking of constitutions and rights I hoped that my hon. Friend would mention the notorious covenant of the PLO which, even under pressure from the Americans, it has declined to alter in any way. I did not expect such a reference from the hon. Member for Westbury, and neither he nor my hon. Friend mentioned it.
We are concerned with the rights of all refugees. We know the miseries that are caused by war and its aftermath. I did not expect to hear of the million refugees from Arab countries who found refuge in Israel from my hon. Friend and still less from the hon. Member for Westbury, because in this House we come to know who will attack and who will defend. We come to know the lack of even balance which characterises certain people and of the type of attack on Israel which comes from some who sit here, well away from the bombs which blew up a bus last week, killing the usual favoured victims of the brave PLO—women and schoolchildren—in the Holy City of Jerusalem.
It is easy for us to criticise the elected Government of Israel because we are not 12 miles from the former border of the 276 West Bank area. It is easy for us to recommend that Israelis should give up sovereignty over that area. But if we lived in Natanya I suspect that we might take a different view. It is easy for my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough and the hon. Member for Westbury to say that there should be a Palestinian State on the West Bank. I doubt whether they would say that if their own wives and children were at risk.
We might disagree about what is or is not right in the Middle East, but there is a consensus in Israel which stretches from the Socialist Left to the Government Right which says that there can be no hope of peace, security and safety if there is a Palestinian, PLO, Arafat and probably Russian dominated State established alongside the borders of Israel.
There has been talk about returning to the borders of 1967 and we have heard emotive phrases from the hon. Member for Westbury about abandoning wars But the Israelis do not forget what happened in 1967, because they were involved. Hon. Members may tell them how to behave, but any Government in Israel that saw fit to agree to the establishment of a terrorist State on the West Bank would not survive in Israel's democracy. It has a democratically elected Government.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
My hon. and learned Friend must be aware that there are important people in Israel who have been involved in the wars and fought in the conflicts who are advocating that there should be a Palestinian State.
§ Mr. Janner
I have just returned from Israel where I met a complete range of the people there. There are a few people there who hold that view. They are mainly Communists. Their share of the vote in the election was about 2 per cent. However, they have the ability to express their dissent in that country. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough said that he had been to Israel. Of course, he can go to Israel. It is a free and democratic country. Unlike the other countries in the Middle East it is a place where one can disagree with the Government. If my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) can find me an Arab who will openly disagree with his country, I can 277 find him a platform any day of the month. But there are no such Arabs. They dare not openly disagree with their Governments in public. They would be shot.
§ Mr. Walters
Bearing in mind that Mr. Begin in his day was a peculiarly bloodthirsty terrorist, does not the hon. and learned Member think that there is a chance of reform for all terrorists?
§ Mr. Janner
There is even a chance for reform of the hon. Member for Westbury, with luck. People change their views in the course of time. The Prime Minister of Israel was an honoured guest of our Prime Minister a short while ago.
The hon. Member for Westbury referred to the blockage in the negotiations being "manifestly due" to Israel's alleged intransigence. Whilst without doubt the gesture of President Sadat in coming to Jerusalem as he did was dramatic and great, so equally was the reception he received there. This exenemy was received with all the respect and courtesy of the Israel State Government and people.
Afterwards, when President Sadat left, regrettably in no area was he prepared to give way an inch in his policies. Negotiation for peace means that both sides move. Mr. Begin, with all his faults, without pausing long enough to allow the opposition in Israel to voice its complaint, conceded sovereignty of Egypt over 98 per cent. of Sinai and left the rest for negotiations which still continue. Strangely enough, the criticism in that country of Mr. Begin is not, in that area at least, for being inflexible, but for being too flexible too soon. It is indeed an odd world.
I turn now to one area which I should like to think unites us all in this House. It concerns the problems created for those of us who are concerned with human rights in the USSR. I believe that those rights—everybody's rights—the rights of Orlov, of Ginsberg, of Ida Nudel; the rights of Baptists; the rights represented by people such as I who are founder members of the International Commission on Human Rights in the USSR; the rights championed by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) throughout the country and in the National Executive of the Labour Party, of those who wish to form free trade 278 unions in the Soviet Union—all these rights are today more at risk than they have ever been.
The cosy way in which we in this country are able to enjoy the delights of democracy and the freedom to speak our minds is not experienced in the Soviet Union. The trial of Orlov was a travesty. I appreciate that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State staunchly expressed not once but often this deep concern about Orlov. But I greatly regret that the Government did not see fit to send anyone to his trial. The Americans and Canadians did so. We should have done the same if only as an expression of our concern.
Orlov and two other members of the Moscow Helsinki monitoring group have been held incommunicado in prison for over a year. It is rumoured that Ginsberg is coming up for trial probably next week, and that Shcharansky may be tried the week after. Another member of this group, Vladimir Slepak, was arrested last week, and the House will forgive me if I refer to this latest episode with deep pain. This man is a friend of mine. I have not been allowed into Russia to see him and he is not allowed out, although he has been waiting longer than anyone to get out. Last week, with his wife, Masha, he stood on a balcony in Moscow holding out a banner which read "Let me join my son". It was torn out of his hands. From above, boiling water was poured on to the head of Vladimir Slepak. But it is he who is now charged with malicious hooliganism—an offence which carries a maximum sentence of five years. They are charging his wife also with malicious hooliganism. Their son, who has been waiting to come out with them, expects to be arrested because he is not prepared to go into the Army. He wants to leave with his family.
This embattled family has become symbolic of the fate of Jews in the Soviet Union. But by Slepak's membership of the Helsinki monitoring group, he is symbolic also of the fate of all others in the Soviet Union who are desperate for the breath of freedom in their nostrils.
We who are deeply involved in these movements recognise the need to keep separate the campaign for people to come out from the efforts to change the way of life within. But we are equally concerned about both, and we recognise that 279 today is the time when either the Soviet Union is to be accepted into the community of nations and when it will do right by people who are asking only that it should abide by agreements it has entered into, or it will seek to crush for ever the freedom of its peoples.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in answer to a Question I put last week, said that we must live with or die with the Soviet Union. I wholly agree with him. He said that we must not cut off diplomatic communications with the Soviet Union. I entirely agree. I have never asked for that. The Soviet Union does not seem to appreciate that many of those who most deplore its methods are those who remember best the days when it was our ally in war and have the greatest, not the least, affection for the Russian people.
However, the Government must recognise that we must find some way in which to make our feelings plain. It is for the Government to consider in what way. If they are not prepared to come out openly and say so but prefer to use other methods, that may be well and good. But would the Government suggest to our scientists "Yes, we have to live with you or die with you, but we do not have to have scientific conferences with you"? Will the Government suggest to the Russians that we have to live with them or die with them but that we do not have to play with them in their country and frolic in the regatta of Tallinn or on the fields of Moscow whilst Orlov has served only two years of his 12 years' sentence? What will the Government suggest? Something must come from us other than mere words of scorn, distaste and passionate dislike, as the Prime Minister called them.
He said quite rightly that we on the Back Benches can sometimes spark off action. But it is for the Government, who speak with the voice of the nation, to express the views of the British people. It is also for the Government to represent us on the Back Benches and to take our views to the conference table and to those who visit from Russia.
I hope that at least on this issue this House is united in believing that freedom in the Soviet Uion is as important to us, if not now then in the future, as is our 280 own freedom in this country where we are also privileged to serve.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)
It is a pleasure and privilege to follow the second half of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner). I regret to say that I cannot agree with his partiality in the first half of his speech, which would seem to me to demonstrate, perhaps, the fallacy of seeing only one side of an issue. But it is a great pleasure to associate myself with his remarks about freedom in Russia, because I believe that freedom is indivisible. It is indivisible wherever the ideals which this country, of all the Western countries, probably represents more than any other, as was so eloquently expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) in his maiden speech, are under threat. If they are under such threat, freedom is under threat here at home.
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) often makes the point that there is an abuse of human rights in Argentina and in Chile. I dare say that there is an abuse of human rights in most of the lands on the earth. Tonight, as we sit here, there are, alas, very few peoples who live under the privilege of democracy. Some live under authoritarian regimes which are more beneficent than others, and some live under totalitarian regimes which are abominable.
Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam have been three examples of nations where the genocide and abomination that has followed Amercian retreat has been in stark contrast to the alleged humanitarian concern which echoed from the campusses of the free world when the Americans were there.
There is one distinguishing characteristic of the Government of Soviet Russia, dominating, as it does, so many other peoples. That is that of all the countries on earth, of all the totalitarian States or authoritarian States, they alone have a declared, avowed, total and continuous purpose to destroy Western ideals and Western civilisation wherever they are to be found and to extinguish the very human rights in other countries which they extinguish in their own. That is why I cannot equate Russia with all the other regimes of which I disapprove and 281 with all the other countries which extinguish the freedoms which we so value here.
§ Mr. Newens
I myself expressed strong views against the abuses of human rights and against all the terrible things that have happened in Cambodia. I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would mind giving the source for his statement that there has been genocide in Vietnam since the end of the war there, because I think that he is absolutely wrong about that, as distinct from the situation in Cambodia. Also, does he not agree that the bombings and the invasion of Cambodia that were carried out by the United States before the end of the war, together with all the other terrible things that occurred, also amounted to genocide against those peoples?
§ Mr. Fairbairn
No, I would not make that concession, for this reason: America was acting in the defence of freedom.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
America had no territorial ambitions to invade the nation and to turn it into a prison camp—from which now a few fortunate citizens are managing to escape.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
There in Cambodia, in Laos, and in Vietnam—one can call it genocide, arbitrary murder or arbitrary death—there have been abominable numbers of deaths brought about by the regimes that have taken over. Hon. Members may have objected, but we note the silence of those who claim to be so interested in the human rights and the dignities of Western civilisation whose vanguard is on the campuses of the universities. It is the absence of their voices when that is happening in those countries which is in such stark contrast to the attack upon a Western country which attempted to prevent the establishment of such horrific standards in those countries.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke earlier about even-handedness and looking at only one side of the problem. Is he not aware that in recent times there has been evidence coming forward that the people who 282 handled the defoliants that were spread liberally across Vietnam by the Americans are suffering from cancer? What does the hon. and learned Member think will happen to the Vietnamese who had this horrible stuff sprayed over them? How can that be a defence of freedom and civilisation? It is acts such as those that destroy the very values which we pride ourselves on trying to foster.
§ Mr. Fairbairn
All weapons of war have always caused wounds and have always been intended to do so. I do not intend to get into an ideological argument about what is a nice thing to be hit or struck by and what is a nasty thing, because I think that it is an unproductive argument.
The Government of Soviet Russia, certainly since 1917—one need not go back before then—certainly since 1940 and increasingly since 1942, have been singularly and solely minded to achieve the collapse of Western civilisation. At Question Time yesterday the Prime Minister said that his Government understood the nature of the threat. He did not spell out what the nature of that threat was. But I think that we should not imagine that Russia is to be equated with all other nations which merely wish to defend their territorial ambitions. I do not believe that there is a country on earth that threatens her territory, or her integrity or her Government, but I believe that she has ambitions on all other countries.
Let me just read the remarks of Admiral Gorshkov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, which were written just a month agoSoviet sea power has become the optimum means to defeat"—to defeat—the imperialist enemy and the most important element in the Soviet arsenal to prepare the way for a Communist world.That is their intention. It is to create in the whole world the very frightfulness of which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West so eloquently spoke.
That is the nature of the threat against the society and the values for which we stand. It is a threat which is not posed by other authoritarian regimes that have similar and detestable denials of human rights.
At present, in Soviet Russia, and in the nations of the world, plans are being laid, schemes are being developed and 283 ideas are being looked at for the destruction and the rotting of all the regimes, governments and systems in the world, by which they can bring about the collapse of Western ideals wherever they exist. That is the extent of the threat.
The simple concepts that we take for granted, of civilisation, of the genius of our ideals which produce freedom, tolerance and equality under the law, are things unknown in Russia, a country now so confident of its barbarism that it could stage what the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West called a trial, but I would call an inquisition, of Orlov, in public, in defiance of every Western value and for the purpose of demonstrating their contempt for us.
I believe that the system that they have invented, its internal strength and wickedness, is probably the most evil system that has ever been invented for the exploitation of the individual and of mankind. What is happening to Orlov now as we speak? What is he eating? What is his treatment? What has he done today? How many hundreds of thousands of others are there who have disappeared, gone without trial, gone with the mockery of a trial, gone because they offended the system? How many others of whom we do not hear, who do not have the bravery and the courage and, perhaps, even the luck to be heard in the West, are now suffering in torment tonight?
§ Mr. Fairbairn
Yes, in other countries as well, but in other countries which do not intend to try to put their system upon our country and upon all the other free nations which do not presently have to suffer under it. That is the distinction which I wish to make.
It is important to remember that ranged against that Sovet intention is a West in disarray. Ever since 1945, there have been spurts and spasms in the expansion and in the bravado of Soviet expansion. Except where they have merely made treaties of co-operation, if such they can be called, wherever their grip has extended it has never yet been released. Any attempt to loose it, as in brave Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany, has been summarily 284 crushed, without much significant protest or assistance, by their military machine.
The Russians' avowed intention of bringing down the West by their denial of its oil and materials in Africa and Arabia and so on has had further advances in Afghanistan. They are already making interested moves for the secession of North Pakistan, Baluchistan, and they are already fomenting trouble in the Yemen. Iran, with the withdrawal of Turkey, is isolated.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said, nothing is more dangerous than that those countries which have to live beside the Soviet tyranny should have to say to themselves, "Had we better treat with the tiger than try to form an alliance to protect our house and our family from its depredations?" That is the danger of Turkey. Next will be the danger of Iran. Next will be the danger of Arabia. That is the plan for our subjugation.
What is ranged against this formidable, purposeful, unremitting campaign by intrigue, by truth, by falsehood and by propaganda? I do not know whether anyone in Russia has read Marx, but they have certainly read Freud and they know how to undermine Western morale.
Against the Soviets, we have had for some time an America unsure of her purpose, uncertain whether she should guard the ideals for which she stands in her own homeland or in Europe. Now, thank God, America, the leader of the free world, is seeing the real risks and the danger of the Soviet intention worldwide. Alas, in response to that, our Prime Minister has said, "Tut, tut, you must not be nasty to Russia."
Against that, in this country we have constant defence cuts. It is not surprising to me that the Secretary of State for Defence, being a Defence Minister in a Labour Government, has not much chalk. It is not surprising to me that he fell asleep during a review of what is left of our forces. It is more surprising to me that anyone could tell that he was asleep.
Today we have heard of warnings from two distinguished naval leaders of the West that the Russians have such a superiority in mining and we such an absence of minesweeping that our sea routes could not be defended. We have heard of another warning from another 285 distinguished naval officer that the West has never been in greater peril at sea—even at the height of the U-boat campaign in the last war.
These are real threats and they are backed by a system which means to carry out its purpose of creating a Communist world. Some Labour Members, one might say, are at best ambivalent, at second best neutral, and at third best—
§ Mr. Fairbairn
—at any rate not against our deadly enemy, who have as their guest Shelepin and Ponomarev, the principal instruments of the brutal regime of which the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West complains.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe that if we do not promote the ideals in which we believe, if we are not seen to stand for them and for a belief in their superiority and excellence, we shall not be able to defend them against the attacks which are upon them. Detente was useful for Russia. It was Goethe, I think, who said that every bird of prey wanted peace and freedom in order to devour its booty in comfort.
We now have a situation of great danger. We have been warned and warned again by Solzhenitsyn and many others in Russia that if the West does not stand for its ideals, they will collapse before her efficiency. Her strength is military. Her weakness is her evil. Within her confines are people bursting to get out, seeking freedom, people who, in East Germany, in Czechoslovakia, in Hungary and in Poland, want the ideals and freedom for which we stand. That is her weakness, and her system can never overcome those virtues so long as we are willing to stand by them.
But if we in Great Britain are not willing forcibly to be the champions of freedom, constantly to expose the Soviet technique of talking disarmament while rearming, of talking detente while doing nothing about it themselves, if we are not willing to stand for our values and for the things we believe in and against the things they perpetrate, no one else will—and their triumph will arrive.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Order. It would be very much in the interests of the House if I 286 were to appeal for shorter speeches. May I suggest perhaps 10 minutes for each hon. Member?
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I shall not follow the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) into his perambulations and condemnations, very graphically though he may have expressed them. Nor will I take up his insults to our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence—although one is tempted to trade insults with the hon. and learned Member One is tempted almost to describe him as a dinosaur when giving his political views, but there are a few things wrong with that description. One is that he does not have the bulk of the dinosaur—and I sometimes think that he does not have the brain of one either.
Also, the dinosaur is extinct. If the hon. and learned Member's views about the belligerence with which our foreign policy should be carried out were ever put into practice, the fate of the human race would be that of the dinosaur. It would be wiped out before long.
I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on a very thoughtful speech looking at the problems particularly of Africa. Far too often it looks as though the response of the Western Powers to events in Africa is the Pavlovian response of anti-Communism. We saw this with Dr. Kissinger's discovery of Rhodesia, like some latter-day Livingstone, during an American election year. The events of history repeat themselves time after time.
Just before Christmas last year, I came across a book entitled "South Africa: White and Black—or Brown?". It was written by a Colonel Silburn in 1927. In it, he argued for the precursor of apartheid in South Africa. He talked of the problems in different parts of the world. He said on page 113:The rumblings in India—reports of unrest among this or that frontier tribe; the insecurity of European lives in Egypt—seditious speeches of the political leaders of that country; attacks upon life and property of Europeans in China; insubordination of Native Chiefs in Bechuanaland; fanatical outbursts among certain small tribes of the Sudan and Somaliland, though widely separate geographically, can be traced to the same cause—propaganda from Moscow.Fifty years later we find the same kind of things being said by Opposition 287 speakers. My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens), in a remarkably good speech, said that one would imagine that Africa had been a dark continent which only latterly had been discovered by the West, or by the Cubans and the Russions, and that until the present time nobody had ever set foot in Africa, apart from the native population. If we adopt this Pavlovian response, we are not doing the prospects of peace and stability in Africa any good whatever.
I condemn unreservedly the mass killings of blacks and whites in Shaba province in Zaire, whoever was responsible. Some refugee reports have suggested that much of the killing was carried out by Mobutu's army. I am not trying to condone what happened, and I am not trying to explain it or excuse it, whoever was responsible. What happened was wrong, and it is a policy which unfortunately has been fostered over many years in Africa. If we think that we can help those people in Africa by propping up, by economic or military means, a corrupt regime in Zaire, we have no right to talk about "foreign affairs". What has been almost totally absent from every Opposition speech in this debate so far is any expression of care for the indigenous population of Africa. The population is regarded simply as an appendage to Western economic interests, an appendage to our strategic interests and our reaction to Soviet or Cuban involvement. The Opposition have no care for the Africans at all. It is because of our imperial past and our imperial history—some would say our imperial present—that many people in Africa are looking away from what we would regard as the traditional values of the West and of democracy. The view is "What have capitalism, imperialism and democracy brought to us except disaster, murder and killings?"
Millions of dollars and pounds have been poured into Zaire and that money has been used by Mobutu to support his brother-in-law, Holden Roberto, in the FNLA. Anybody who has studied events in Angloa will agree that the butchery by the FNLA of the local population in Angola and on the borders of Zaire were unsurpassed by anybody. It has a record of savagery and butchery that is unparalleled, and yet that regime is still receiving the covert support of the CIA.
288 When we put forward these arguments when these things were happening, we were told that we were talking nonsense. When we said that the Americans were putting arms and equipment into the area, again it was said that we were talking nonsense. Yet in the South African Parliament one Minister admitted that he saw equipment being delivered from America to assist the FNLA.
We have done everything possible to destabilise that part of the world for our own economic interests. We have not cared about who was harmed in the process, and as long as we take that attitude people will turn elsewhere for their friends. Nobody denies that Cuban troops are in Africa or that they were brought in to assist the Angolans to defeat the South African invasion, and the Cubans do not deny their involvement in Ethiopia, but it should be put on record that they have in Africa many hundreds and perhaps thousands of doctors, nurses and teachers who are trying to do something to improve the life of the people there. It is that kind of effort that makes people realise that Cuba and Russia are greater friends of the Africans than we are in the West.
I remember when I was in Angola hearing President Neto saying that he had fought for too many years and had lost many lives in the name of freedom as a result of Portuguese colonialism for him and his countrymen to turn themselves into the subjects of outside domination. Although they greatly praised the assistance they had received from the Soviet Union, they made it clear that they had no intention of becoming the colonial subjects of Russia or anybody else. But we do not listen to such pleas; we do not believe them. We prefer to rest on the proposition that people such as President Neto or President Samora Machel, who fought very hard to free themselves and to try to give their people a decent standard of living, are no friends of the West because they are Marxists and Leninists and all the rest of it. That is nothing to do with the real arguments.
It is because of the fact that many in this country take the view expressed by the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) that the object of our foreign policy should be as it has always been in the past—namely, the protection 289 of the realm and of British interests—that I believe that we shall fail in Africa and that we shall lose, if we have not already lost, the ideological battle about democracy, Socialism and human values.
All our history shows that we have never taken into account the interests of the people of the territories. If that had not been the case, there would have been a greater number of schools, medical centres, doctors and teachers trained by the imperialist Powers before they left the country. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
We are playing for high stakes. The people of Africa are naturally of paramount importance, but we must also bear in mind the future of the whole world. We are at last beginning to recognise what some of us have been saying for a very long time—that the key to the survival of mankind lies in Southern Africa. We are beginning at least to make some inroads into the problems of South-West Africa and of trying to solve the situation in Rhodesia. We have not done anything like enough, but I have not time now to go into this matter in great detail. We have not begun to think how we shall tackle the problems of freedom and democracy in Southern Africa.
The South Africans are playing the anti-Communist card very hard. They want to involve the West much more in a direct military way than we have been involved in the past. They want an ideological and military conflict. We should now be thinking about economic sanctions against South Africa as a method of trying to force the pace of change. If we take the view that people learn from history, we must also believe that people learn not only from the history of past generations but from recent happenings. People in Southern Africa and in South Africa itself look to the experience of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau and see the t the only way in which those people had any hope of obtaining freedom, and did in fact obtain their freedom, was by recourse to arms—in other words, by fighting for freedom.
If we cannot do something drastic to show whose side we are on, we are either on the side of the majority population of South Africa who have no rights in running the country and no prospect of democracy, or because of our economic 290 interests we are on the side of the whites. If we choose economic interests, we shall drive those people into the hands of the Russians. If we have an East-West conflict in Southern Africa, we shall put at risk the whole future of mankind.
Much has been said about pious speeches, United Nations resolutions and declarations on human rights with no resultant action. That to some extent is true. It is all very well for the British Government or the Opposition to say that we deplore the events in Zaire, Rhodesia or South Africa. But if we contrast those statements with what we actually do about the position, we still see that mercenaries are being recruited to assist the army of Zaire. Mercenaries are still being recruited to assist FNLA troops who are being used across the border. This has been widely advertised in this country and in the United States. What do we do about the situation? We say "Sorry, but we cannot do anything about it because one of the fundamental freedoms in which we believe is the right to go off somewhere else and butcher other people in the name of freedom."
I would point out to the hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, who has now left the Chamber, that if freedom and democracy are indivisible, if they mean anything at all, we should understand that if we are directly involved in maintaining corrupt regimes and supporting terrorist regimes, regimes that employ torture as everyday items of policy, we shall destroy the very ideals in which we say we believe.
My ideals of democracy and Socialism are not simply ideals in the abstract. Abstract philosophy is of no value. Only the direct application of the philosophies of Socialism will lead to a prospect of change in Africa and Southern Africa.
We have all too often made the mistake of choosing the wrong friends. If we choose the wrong friends now, the future is at stake not only of Africa but of the free world. If the free world can exist only by supporting the Mobutus and the Pinochets, some people—I am one of them—must wonder whether that is an ideal which we want to preserve.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)
It is my pleasant duty to congratulate my hon. Friend the 291 Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) on his maiden speech. He had a gallant and honourable career in the diplomatic service before he came here. Judging from the size of his majority, the House may be able to look forward on many occasions in the future to his experience being brought to bear in debates on foreign affairs.
Although, as the Prime Minister has recently pointed out, it is a new experience for our American colleagues to be involved in and directly affected by African affairs, this subject has been a major preoccupation with the House of Commons for over a century. There is a déjà vu quality about the subject which extends not only to issues but to personalities. Copies of Hansard in the early 1920s record the active interest of Members with names such as Churchill, Amery and Hurd, whose descendants' views are often heard in foreign affairs debates today.
Sir Winston Churchill, during his period as Secretary of State for Colonies, showed a greater understanding of the problems than most of his contemporaries and, alas, many of ours. He identified our task as ensuring that the native peoples of our African colonies should benefit from our administration. It has been the tradition of the Conservative Party from the beginning of colonial times that the colonial administration should show concern for the aspirations of the native peoples.
I have some apposite quotations to answer the misplaced charge of the hon. Member for Aberdeen. North (Mr. Hughes). Sir Winston Churchill, writing in 1908, in his book "My African Journey", which recorded his trio from Mombasa to Cairo in 1907, wrote of the natives of East Africa, through which he passed:Their care imposes a grave, and I think an inalienable responsibility upon the British Government. It will be an ill day for these native races when their fortunes are removed from the impartial and august administration of the Crown and abandoned to the fierce self-interest of a small white population. Such an event is no doubt very remote. Yet the speculator, the planter and the settler are knocking at the door.How prescient he was when we think today of the current situation in Rhodesia.
292 Speaking in the Supply Committee on the Colonial Office Vote on 14th July 1921, Sir Winston Churchill said:I have some knowledge of these native populations in these regions, and certainly we are bound to regard them as the greatest trust that is confided to us, because they are the most helpless of the population, and it is for us to see that they are better and not worse, for our responsible charge of the country.I wonder whether the people of Uganda today feel that we have discharged that trust.
Nevertheless, it was our broad concern for the well-being of Africans which enabled successive Governments to help to create the independent African nations which have emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. Our record compares favourably with those of some other European former colonial powers, but I regret that, unlike the French, we have been unwilling and increasingly unable to guarantee the stability of some of our former colonies.
Our comparative failure stems from a number of important misunderstandings as to the nature of African philosophy and history. Our insistence on handing over to democratic institutions has in many instances been counter-productive in so far as political conflict within the newly independent countries has detracted from the crucially important and difficult task of nation building and of securing economic advance.
In too many countries we have underestimated the importance of tribal rivalries and not foreseen the danger to peace and stability which has arisen out of those difficulties and led to coups d'êtat after coups d'êtat and the disruption of the stability which has resulted from Pax Britannica.
In too many countries our response to emerging African leaders has been to imprison them and to concede power to them only when the security situation became so difficult that it could not be contained by our own armed forces. In the colonies, where there were substantial European populations at risk in difficult security conditions, we have in some instances backed our kith and kin for understandable reasons to the detriment of the population as a whole. We have not always followed the advice of Sir Winston 293 Churchill who in that same speech on 14th July told the House… we must make a continuous effort to live up to the principle that racial distinctions do not determine the status or position of any man in the British Empire who is otherwise qualified to Occupy a position or exercise a function of responsibility." [Official Report, 14th July, 1921; Vol. 144, c. 1624.]We have allowed the barriers of race and sex to prevent us from having a real understanding for and sympathy with the aspirations of the indigenous population until it was too late for our help to be acceptable.
How unsatisfactory a contrast this is with the French achievement. Race was never the barrier in French colonies that it was in the British. They identified native ability and developed it. Whilst we sent putative leaders to prison they sent them to the Sorbonne. As a result francophone African States have enjoyed and profited from extremely close ties with the former colonial Power. The French have provided stability backed up by military force where necessary. They have guaranteed the currencies, encouraged substantial private investment, given generous aid and technical assistance and made a major effort to provide appropriate education at every level, but especially for the senior cadres in government.
The results are astonishing. The Ivory Coast is a particularly good example. It has established considerable prosperity by African standards with neither oil nor mineral resources. It has favoured free enterprise, under the guise of State capitalism, and a liberal foreign investment regime. Africanisation has been deliberately slow but based on merit.
The country is the fifth largest market in Africa south of the Sahara and has had a healthy balance of payments surplus based on agricultural exports for several years. Its main exports are coffee, cocoa, timber, palm oil and tropical fruit. Offshore oil was discovered last year and this could make a further contribution to economic strength. Industrial development, whilst important, has not been pushed at the expense of the agricultural base and in general the contrast with other African countries, which have squandered their economic assets, is marked.
This record illustrates—this was a point made by my right hon. Friend the 294 Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) earlier—the importance of political stability and good management. Despite their close relationship with France, the Government of the Ivory Coast, in common with Governments in most francophone countries, are extremely independent and pursue policies which will benefit their own countries.
Nevertheless, some African States are concerned at the lack of will of European countries vis-à-vis their former colonies. They consider that the former colonial Powers have a responsibility to help protect them against attacks on their territorial integrity and their stability which disrupt the growth of our mutually important relationships in aid, trade and development. We recognise the importance of the Pax Britannica in creating stability for our colonies to make economic progress. We should also recognise that peace and stability are vital to economic and social development in Africa today.
Many of our partners in Africa would like to see Europe play its part in bringing this about. They recognise, as we do, our interdependence. They look to us for markets for their raw materials and a transfer of technology and finance to help them exploit those materials. We look to them for markets for our more sophisticated industrial production. They also recognise that the Soviet bloc's threat to these sources of supply and potential markets is calculated to do the greatest damage to our mutual interests.
The Soviet Union and its allies are the new imperialists in Africa. Political speculation and foreign mercenaries are its weapons. In addition, its record on development assistance is quite dreadful. Chancellor Schmidt in the Buchan Memorial Lecture in London on 28th October last year pointed out that in 1976 the amount of official development assistance transferred by West Germany alone—and the United Kingdom's record is at least as good, if not better—was two and a half times as high as the total transfer of the Soviet Union and all the Eastern bloc countries together. One European country in the EEC is making a transfer two and a half times as big as the entire transfer of resources made by the Soviet Union and her allies. The official development assistance of all OECD countries is 27 times as high as 295 that of the COMECON countries, including the Soviet Union.
On the other hand—and I am sorry that those who defended the Soviet Union earlier are not still in the Chamber—the Soviet Union is the single largest supplier of arms to the African continent. In a report published this year, Christian Aid estimated that there are more than 3 million refugees in camps or in transit to and from their own homes as a result of warfare in Africa. Its census shows that a registered refugee in some countries may conceal a dependent family of six to 10 people. This could mean that the total number of people displaced by violence in Africa is as high as 5 million or 10 million. The Soviet Union's arms supplies have created human misery in Africa on a massive scale. The Soviets are the merchants of death while we, the much-maligned former colonial Powers, are building roads, schools, factories, dams and giving project aid and technical assistance.
Our European bona fides are widely recognised in Africa now and we should not be afraid to develop our partnership with independent African nations to protect our mutual interests. In the past Britain's most successful bilateral agreements have included trade and defence. Although our resources are not now universally adequate for that purpose, the resources of Europe in Africa clearly are.
At the recent meetings of NATO and of the francophone African countries, a number of spokesmen have advocated a European defence involvement in Africa. I believe that the most appropriate way to organise such an involvement would be to seek agreement to turn the Lomé Convention into a trade, aid and defence agreement between the EEC and its ACP partners.
The current convention, commonly known as Lomé 1, expires in 1980 and the renegotiation for a successor convention will begin later this summer. The present convention includes 40 African countries south of the Sahara. Indeed, only six countries, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia. Rhodesia. Sahara and South Africa, are not members and Angola, Mozambique and Sahara will qualify for membership when the Community is enlarged and presumably Rhodesia and 296 Namibia will qualify when there has been a transfer to majority rule.
The EEC has special agreements with all the Mediterranean African countries except Libya. By the middle of the term of the next Lomé Convention, the EEC will have special arrangements with every country in Africa except Libya and South Africa. If the new convention were to include all those countries, it would provide the only sensible contacts for a Pax Europaea.
The British Government should seek to have a non-aggression clause included in the new Lomé Convention. The ACP countries should be required to ensure that they are not used as a base for aggression against a neighbouring ACP country. Observance of such a clause should be a condition to qualify for substantially increased aid through the European Development Fund. Such a provision would encourage all Member States to police their borders more effectively than they have in the past.
In the case of some of the larger and poorer countries, this duty could be beyond their capabilities. This fact alone should eventually justify the establishment of an EEC-ACP joint military force in Africa on permanent standby. Such a force should be based and trained in ACP countries and Africa and should be constantly available for frontier patrols and counter-insurgency measures at the request of Heads of State. Had such a force been established a month ago, the Kolwezi incident could have been avoided as both Zambia and Zaire, as ACP countries, could have called upon the joint force to deal with the insurgents.
Such an initiative would obviously cost the EEC money. Of those who question the sensibility of such a new burden, I ask what is the cost to the West of the Kolwezi incident? Africa and Europe have paid the price of Soviet, East German and Cuban involvement with lives, disrupted communities, interrupted production, substantial financial losses and poverty for the African people. While the Soviets used stockpiled cobalt, Europe is buying at inflated prices because of new shortages. How much more sensible it would have been to prevent such incidents. We can prevent them in future to, providing security with our partners within the Lomé Convention.
297 The EEC-ACP countries must be prepared to defend their own joint interest in Africa, as an American involvement will provide only a convenient excuse for further Soviet imperialism and extend the formal international confrontation to the detriment of us all.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
I feel that at the outset of my contribution to this debate I should say a few words about someone who is no longer with us. I refer to our old colleague John Mendelson, who was always a great debater and played a fine part in our foreign affairs debates. We shall ail miss him very much.
I wish, first, to comment on the two speeches made from the Front Benches. They could not have been in greater contrast. On the one hand, we had a very sensible and reasonable speech from my tight hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, expressing a positive approach to the problems of detente and of Africa and to the question of human rights in every part of the world.
Next, I am sorry to say, we had a rather negative speech, to say the least, from the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). I do not blame him, because I do not think that he understands foreign affairs very well. He is something of a newcomer to these matters Perhaps he ought to discuss industry. Although I do not agree with him on industrial matters, he is undoubtedly an expert in that subject—in the sense that he spoke for the CBI and so on, and he had some knowledge, although he did not always get things right.
I sense a dangerous mood developing on the Opposition Benches. In what I thought an excellent and knowledgeable speech, my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) made the point that all the arguments and searchings for the influence of Moscow are not new. Of course, this idea is not new. Some people think that if a revolutionary situation is developing somewhere or there is a conflict in any part of the world it must be due to the Russians or it must be due to the Communists.
I do not for a moment deny that the Soviet Union, like the Russians of earlier days, prior to the 1917 revolution, is looking after the interests of Russia 298 and the Soviet State, trying to extend its influence wherever it can. Of course, it is, just as China is doing at this moment. Although both countries are supposed to have Marxist Governments and Socialist organisations, China also is looking after China's interests.
Indeed, we should be careful of some of the overtures at present being made. I was horrified by the speech of the Chinese Foreign Minister at the conference on disarmament, when he made the point that there would be an inevitable clash and conflict between the United States and the West, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other. That is a defeatist attitude which I hope that none of us in the House will share or support. It does not help when hon. Members from the Opposition Benches, such as the one who bears a very honourable name—the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) —make speeches of the kind that that hon. Gentleman is now making, speeches which are so damaging to the great objective of trying to secure peace in the world.
Of course, each country looks after its own interests—no one denies that—and to that extent Soviet policy is, in a sense, a new form of imperialism, like the policies pursued in other respects by the United States and by ourselves in the past, as well as by France, Spain and all the great imperialist Powers. Let us not get ourselves out of historical perspective.
Our great problem in the world today is the problem created by the presence of the nuclear Powers. At some time a false move may be made, the trigger will be pressed and the world will be destroyed. That is why we must always measure and temper all our arguments, all our words and all our international manouvring. With that thought at the back of our minds, we must make no step which could lead towards the development of the third world war. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, and the Prime Minister the other day, have made a first-class contribution in that direction.
I loathe and detest what happens to the dissidents and those who are in opposition to the Soviet type of Government. I loathe and detest it, and I shall fight for their rights on every conceivable occasion in every organisation to which I belong, whether here in the House of Commons, in the national executive of 299 the Labour Party, in my trade union or anywhere else. We cannot have double standards.
The hon. and learned Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) said that there was a great distinction between what was happening to people in Argentina and Chile and what was happening to people in the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Union wanted to impose its system on the rest of the world and the Argentinian Government and the Chilean Government did not. I have a horrible feeling that those who are now in prisons in Argentina and Chile, and those who have disappeared, do not quite understand the distinction. I have a feeling that they will not recognise it, and that from their point of view there is no such distinction—in other words, oppression is oppression is oppression. The destruction of human rights and civil rights is the destruction of human rights and civil rights, wherever it takes place.
The whole history of our country is one of fighting constantly towards the light of human freedom, and that is what we have always to set our minds upon. That is what our Parliament is here for. We have to fight anything that is out to destroy our basic democratic freedoms, and it does not matter what part of the world it comes from or what type of ideology it is. We have to be absolutely clear in relation to this question.
I am a Socialist and I do not equate what happens in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries with Socialism. It is an authoritarian and bureaucratic type of society which unfortunately goes under the name of Socialism, and it does immeasurable harm to the views and beliefs of people such as my hon. Friends and myself. We want to build a society in which human freedom develops and extends, and not one in which it is destroyed. It is very important for us to have that in mind when we are discussing human rights and human freedom.
I should like to turn briefly to the situation in Africa. I suggested yesterday, in a Question to the Prime Minister, that we should not forget the role of the CIA. Immediately people said that it was terrible to talk of the CIA in that way because it is defending our freedoms. I do not know whether any hon. Members 300 saw the television programme "Tonight recently, in which Mr. Stockwell and Mr. Colby were interviewed. Mr. Stockwell was the principal agent for the CIA in Angola, and he outlined what he was doing there. He talked of the guns, materials and money that were being poured into Angola to support UNITA. The Chinese were also involved. It is very interesting to know of the unity between the CIA and the Chinese in supporting UNITA against the main group, the MPLA. Of course, President Neto could rightly say from his point of view that if the CIA was moving into Angola with its money in that way, he was perfectly justified, based upon what had happened in other parts of the world, in asking the Cubans to come in.
A great responsibility rests upon the CIA and upon Western Governments which have given any credence to that type of policy. We say that we do not want to see any interference in other people's affairs. We have to say it to the Russians, but we also have to say it to the Americans and to anyone else who interferes in the internal affairs of other countries, and particularly in relation to Africa. My hon. Friend was right to say that we had to concern ourselves with the position of the African people and their desires and not the desires of money, power, privilege, influence and economic interests that we had as a result of Western capitalism.
I touch on one final matter. I am afraid that this has been a slightly rambling speech. However, foreign affairs are not concentrated in one place. The subject of this debate is foreign affairs. Therefore, I have followed the example of both Front Bench speakers and moved around a bit, though you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be happy to learn that I do not intend to do it at such great length.
I want to say a word about Israel. I am sorry that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) has left the Chamber, because he spoke about Israel and prompted these remarks.
No one in this House who has been a Member for any length of time will doubt my support for Israel. At decisive moments I have made speeches in important debates supporting Israel in its fight for freedom, independence, and the 301 right to live in peace and to have secure borders. I do not go back on a word that I have said. However, I have to say to my Israeli friends that two wrongs never make a right. Their over-reaction to terrorist attacks on buses outside Tel Aviv was quite disastrous, in my opinion. They way that they moved in and destroyed the villages and towns of ordinary people in Southern Lebanon who had nothing to do with the attacks cannot be justified. I have to tell them that bluntly.
My hon. and learned Friend said that the only people in Israel who opposed this policy were Communists. He ought to know better. He ought to know that people such as Mapam, who are by no means Communists but part of the Labour Alliance, are very much opposed to what happened in Lebanon. My hon. and learned Friend should know that the reserve officers and young people who can be called up at any time and who organised that mass meeting are not Communists. They want secure borders for Israel and they want Israel to live in peace.
But they do not want the type of policy now being pursued by Mr. Begin's Government. They do not want unnecessary settlements established in areas which are a provocation. I have to say to my Israeli friends "As a friend, I tell you that we cannot accept it and that you must change your policies". The fact that the Israeli Government are democratically elected does not justify actions of that kind. On that basis, any terrible action could be justified because the Government were elected. After all, the Government of ancient Greece were elected but the slaves never had any rights. No one can argue along those lines. Certainly for me it is not an acceptable argument.
I say that with sadness. But I hope that the Israelis will change their attitude and put on more pressure of the sort that we are beginning to see in Israel. It is wonderful to see the reaction of the Israeli people, and it is not quite as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West tried to suggest.
I end as I began by saying that I trust that the Opposition will not use the problem of human rights in the Soviet Union to justify activities leading to a redevelopment of the cold war. It is too dangerous. It is too serious. By all means let us fight for human rights wherever 302 people suffer and are oppressed. Let us do all that we possibly can to help those who are suffering and to try by our pressure and influence to move the internal regimes in a more liberal direction. But do not let us get involved in a position where we could find ourselves setting light to the third world war. If we do, there is no future for any of us. Nevil Shute's novel "On the Beach" could come true and the world—or our world anyway—could be destroyed.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Channon (Southend, West)
I have a great deal of respect for the hon. Member for Liverpool. Walton (Mr. Heffer) and I agreed with a great portion of his speech. However, there were other parts with which I disagreed, particularly when he refeired to the so-called dangerous mood on this side of the House. There is a very sombre mood on this side of the House because my right hon. and hon. Friends are deeply and genuinely concerned about the trend in East-West relationships at present. It is their duty to put forward their anxieties and worries in order to avoid the situation that the hon. Member for Walton described in the last few sentences of his speech.
Nobody in his right mind wants the remotest possibility of a third world war, and the only difference between the two sides of the House in that respect is about the best way of tackling an extremely dangerous and difficult situation that exists in the world.
It is very interesting to see how the euphoria about detente of a few years ago has largely evaporated. At the time of the original Helsinki agreement there were a number of cynics who were scoffed at by Labour Members because they were thought to be unduly cynical about the chances of genuine detente. Unfortunately, as time goes by it looks as if the cynics were right. There has been a great deal of talk, but very little action.
Today's debate has concentrated mainly on East-West relations and on Africa. There is a very important connection between the two issues. When he opened the debate, the Foreign Secretary said that he hoped no one would want to revert to the cold war of a few years ago. Of course, no one in his right mind anywhere in the world wants to revert to it if it can be avoided. But it is right for hon. Members to express 303 what they feel is the reality of the situation. If they feel that the reality is very grave—as many of us do—they nave a duty to say so, just as we have done this evening.
I shall concentrate on two points, the first of which is the question of human rights. This was mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), and by the hon. Member for Walton. I think that human rights are important all over the world. But we must use what persuasion we can in the West, and state our disgust about the treatment of people behind the Iron Curtain. I believe that this disgust is felt by all hon. Members. In stating this, we do not derogate from the fact that there are grave breaches of human rights in other parts of the world by other regimes.
It is our duty to express this view about human right in the Soviet Union because all those people whom I have talked to from Iron Curtain countries believe that it is right for people in the West to express their views publicly on every possible occasion. We should continue to do so.
The Helsinki agreement of a few years ago, which in effect confirmed the status quo of European frontiers de facto, was a great help to the Soviet Union and its allies. Part of that package was the basket of human rights clauses and we are wholly entitled to express our views on that matter. This is not interference in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc. In talking about interference, I am not sure that I will take lessons from the Russians on that topic.
Let us consider the situation in Czechoslovakia. The people of Czechoslovakia lose their jobs if they support the Charter 77 movement, because they support what was agreed at Helsinki. They are then accused of parasitism. They cannot get a job, but it is a criminal offence because they do not have a job. They are punished and they may be expelled from their country.
There are other examples, especially in East Germany, where many families are still divided. Over the past couple of years there has been an appreciable drop in the number of families being united or being allowed to leave East Germany.
304 Many of us have visited Berlin and we know the appalling nature of the frontier between West Germany and East Germany. It is unlike any other frontier in the world. There are minefields, barbed wire and the monstrous SM70 automatic shooting device on which so many people have been killed while trying to escape from East Germany. No one can condone that. We all wish to condemn it. I believe that that is the feeling in all parts of the House.
I need not weary the House by setting out the details of the Orlov trial. The issue has been dealt with fully by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the barbaric sentence and the threat that other dissidents now face in the Soviet Union.
At the same time, we should give credit where credit is due. There is some credit to be given as well as condemnation of the appalling situation. There have been some improvements as well as deteriorations. In Hungary, Poland and Romania more people are allowed to leave and more families are being allowed to be united than a few years ago. That applies to not nearly enough, but the situation has improved. The number of Jewish people allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union in 1977 was, I understand, about 2,500 more than in 1976. It is confidently expected that the number will again increase this year. That is to be welcomed, and we can only press for further improvements.
From my discussions with those who are concerned, I firmly believe that Western pressure—for example, speeches in Parliament, speeches in other fora, including other Western Parliaments, and Press publicity—is still worth while. It gives some hope to those who live behind the Iron Curtain who are only too anxious to leave or to see some change in their status.
The issue of human rights in Eastern Europe will not go away. As Labour Members have said, nor will it go away in other parts of the world. In the second half of the twentieth century the issue of human rights will become increasingly important, whether in Russia, South Africa or any other part of the world. It is something that those of all political parties in the House have a continuing duty to express. Let us not disagree 305 where we need not do so. On the whole, I think that we are in agreement on the issue of human rights.
I turn to the general issue of detente. It cannot be denied that there has been an enormous build-up of the Warsaw Pact Forces in Central Europe in the past few years. If Western superiority exists, it cannot be seriously denied that it is getting less day by day. The Soviet fleet is larger than can be needed for any normal defence reasons. Russia has been invaded many times, but I do not know of any successful naval invasion of Russia in the past. I doubt whether there will be such an invasion in future.
The tanks and the conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe are extremely worrying. These are genuine worries. We would be ill-advised to believe that somehow Europe can remain a peacful island in the centre of a stormy world. Detente, if it is to exist, must be genuine detente all over the world, or at least in the overwhelming mass of the world.
§ Mr. Hooley
If we want a more peaceful world, why are we building up a massive armed force in Iran, immediately on Russia's border?
§ Mr. Channon
If there could be mutually agreed disarmament, nothing could be more beneficial to the world as a whole. Until we can get proper disarmament on both sides, the West is in grave danger if it does not heed the enormous build-up of Warsaw Pact forces.
As I said, we cannot imagine Europe being a peaceful continent when we see what is going on in Africa. There are also the fears of many Europeans about the apparent immobility of the American Administration. The inability of Congress to act causes fears in many parts of Europe at present.
The Russians, in the draft communiqué that they proposed at the end of the Belgrade Conference in January, stated thatthe Final Act, signed at Helsinki in 1975 … makes it necessary that efforts be exerted to make detente both a continuing and increasingly viable and comprehensive process, universal in scope".If they mean that, surely no one can be more delighted than the West. Unfor- 306 tunately, there is no evidence at present that that is so.
In the circumstances, are not the Opposition right—I believe this view is shared by many Labour Members—at least to put a serious question mark against events at the present time? Is it not right for us at least to say that it is madness to cut our defences and that it is important for us collectively to strengthen the defence of the West? Surely it is important, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) urged, that the EEC, whenever it can. should use a joint approach to try to tackle these crucial problems which otherwise will haunt us all in future.
I turn now to a topic which has not been mentioned in the debate. I ask the Minister of State: what is the timing of the negotiations for Spain, Portugal and Greece to enter the EEC? Whatever the economic arguments, I believe that the political arguments for strengthening the EEC with the inclusion of those three countries are overwhelming and that the timescale should be as short as is humanly practicable.
I believe that the situation in the world is extremely sombre. People have begun to wake up to this situation in the past month or so. It is a dangerous situation which can be resolved, but it is dangerous for us all on whichever side of the House we sit. Those of us who are nervous about what is going on in the world have a right and a duty to speak out. The onus on any reasonable-minded man is to point out that it is not the West, but the East—the Russians and the Warsaw Pact—which is causing the troubles in Africa and other parts of the world. Therefore, it is for us to look to our defences in future and to take what common stand we can to protect our own interests and those of the Western world.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Flannery (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
It was very good to hear the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) espouse the cause of human liberty wherever it has been violated. I am sure that he will agree that most Labour Members uphold that view. But the hon. Gentleman deviated somewhat from the double standards which obtained in most of the speeches which have come from the Opposition Benches.
307 For instance, the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) began his speech by saying that our aim—as though it could be taken for granted—was the protection of the realm and the furtherance of British interests. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is a democrat. I remember voices from the past saying that their aims in foreign policy were the protection of the Reich and the furtherance of German interests. That seems to be a very narrow definition of the policy which we are debating today. It is because of the narrowness of the standards set by the right hon. Gentleman that we have to try to infuse into the debate the protection of peace throughout the whole world and to prevent, for instance, the gunboat mentality which kept peering through the speeches to which we have listened today.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) laid bare the hypocrisy—I hesitate to use that word, but it must be used when we talk about Africa—of what happened in Africa in past years. Only recently we saw pictures of the Belgian Congo so-called. It was common for workers who did not work to the standards laid down by their masters to have both hands chopped off. Those pictures are on record. That happened in the country now known as Zaire.
My hon. Friend also referred to pictures taken some years ago of men of the Simba tribe being led away by mercenaries and to competition among the mercenaries to hang those men. They literally drew lots to hang them. That appeared in The Observer. Those mercenaries sent home to their relatives photographs which showed them doing these dreadful things. No Cubans and no Russians had been heard of in Africa. But the Western civilisations have done the most dreadful things to Africans.
Does anybody think that these people will easily forgive us for the deprivations, slaughter and carnage by so-called civilised people? Of course they will not. The people will struggle.
The idea is being propagated that the Russians are about to attack Western Europe. Does anyone in his right mind think that with every hydrogen and atomic weapon pointing at Moscow—there are thousands of them which could blow mankind skyhigh—an attack will 308 be launched to bring all those weapons onto Russia and destroy the whole world? I cannot believe that anybody would think that. This idea is being used as an excuse by every reactionary in the establishment to whip up all types of diversions from the real problems.
My hon. Friends and I have repeatedly denounced the tyranny that masquerades under the name of Socialism in the Soviet Union. It would be better if the Opposition, instead of concentrating on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and intoning that they believe in liberty everywhere, would use the examples of what is happening in Chile and Argentina where the "disappeared ones" have caused hunger strikes throughout the world.
We can give chapter and verse of individuals with British passports, such as the man who was put on a plane in Argentina and sent back to Chile. That man has a double passport from both Britain and Argentina. Our Government have done their best in that case. Why do not the Opposition refer to such cases? For instance, when will they protest about the case of the general secretary of the teachers' union in Argentina? That involves a man whose whole life has been devoted to teaching. A publication in this country reported the other day that he has disappeared. It is said that no one knows where he is, although his friends were with him only a fortnight ago. Trade unionists and liberals of all types are disappearing.
We condemn Soviet tyranny. We condemn the Orlov trial. But it would be helpful if the Opposition would mention individual acts of tyranny and brutality in countries other than the Soviet Union.
What is the basis of the struggle throughout the world? The reality is that the struggle of the oppressed and downtrodden is accelerating and striding ahead with seven league boots. Although most of the world lives under abysmal tyrannies the struggle continues. All over the world people are raising themselves. The peasants and down-trodden are no longer willing to put up with tyranny, whether it is in Bangladesh or in Burma.
In the last few days I have asked the Soviet Embassy to receive a delegation of some of my hon. Friends and myself. I doubt whether we shall be received. I have led delegations to the Chilean, 309 Argentinian and Peruvian embassies. I feel deeply about Czechoslovakia and those countries which suffer tyranny. If the Soviet Embassy does not accept my colleagues and myself, we shall denounce it. But we shall have made the effort. We shall have focused attention on the tyranny and lack of human rights in the Soviet Union. We want to do that at the same time as we struggle for human liberties everywhere else in the world.
No longer are the poor and the starving willing to be oppressed. In Bangladesh, in areas where I was a soldier during the war and saw people streaming out of Burma, these poor people are once more streaming out. I am sure that we shall try to help them. But they are moving away from a tyranny in Burma into a tyranny in Bangladesh. We have to raise our voices about these matters instead of pretending how sentimental we are and doing nothing about them.
It is no longer possible to discuss Africa without discussing the peace and progress of the whole world. I wish to refer briefly to the struggle in Rhodesia because although our Government have a very enlightened opinion about this matter, they have committed themselves to saying that the so-called internal settlement is an advance. In my opinion it is the last attempt of reaction to hold back the march of human progress in Rhodesia. No solution is possible in Rhodesia without the Patriotic Front. Muzorewa, Sithole, the so-called Chief Chirau and Smith would never have moved an inch but for the presence of the guerrillas. That is why these men have been forced to join forces to create a system in which 3 per cent. of the white electorate can decide whether Byron Hove shall be kicked out, as he was kicked out. Almost nothing was said from the Opposition Benches about that.
Smith is still in power and he is utilising these three Uncle Toms in order to force the pace. In the background, however, is the Patriotic Front, and no democratic solution is possible without taking these people into account. It is terrible to witness the agony of the Conservatives who cannot rid themselves of the old imperialist shibboleths. They cannot face up to the concept of one man, one vote in Rhodesia. They adopt that attitude and ignore the real political issues of Rhodesia.
310 As sure as I stand here, the Patriotic Front will struggle for elections but it will not give up and concede defeat to Smith who is still firmly in the saddle, held there by these men who will steadily lose the support of the people who have been gulled into supporting them at the moment.
The seeds of world war exist in Zaire. If the old mentality of the gunboat, of sending the troops and so on pervades the Opposition Benches, that will deepen the problem. Who is Mobutu? He slaughtered Patrice Lumumba. We have reason to believe that he has slaughtered a great number of his opponents. This is the man who has seen thousands of millions of dollars poured into his country, but who has no moral attitudes about mankind. He has plunged his country into the most terrible circumstances. That is a fact even though he may travel in an aeroplane with the BBC and 35 other television organisations to prove what a modern man he is. When a country is pushed into chaos like that there will be a revolt.
We cannot discuss Zaire without discussing Rhodesia, South Africa, Zambia, Angola and so on, because they are all component parts of the same struggle. Therefore we must adopt an enlightened attitude towards Zaire. None of the old imperial attitudes will solve the problem. The problem will not roll up and go away. We are talking about the struggle for democracy.
Of course, the Cubans are in the area. Whether or not they fought in Zaire remains to be seen, but we know that in that area was a bloodstained and brutal tyranny, and that at some point, if democracy had not overtaken that area from within, it would have been overtaken from elsewhere.
The right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition is now making pals with Marxist China. Does she think that the Chinese will not use her? Here are the Chinese, supposedly at one time en the same side as what has been known as Socialism, suddenly supporting a brute like Mobutu who is a mass murderer with a brutal regime. He is utterly bankrupt, politically, economically and militarily. He could not possibly defend his own borders. He is just like the Shah of Iran whose armaments have been turned on the people on the inside under 311 the guise of turning them towards the Soviet Union.
Those are the harsh realities that Opposition Members must face. They will have to rid themselves of the old imperial ideas because those ideas will solve nothing.
The harsh reality that we all have to face is that we live in a changing world. The speech by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary today was an enlightened and civilised speech. It stood out in stark contrast to the speech of the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). That speech, made on behalf of the Opposition, harboured every one of the old ideas. In a changing world, in which we have to face these harsh realities, whether or not we like it, that speech came from deep down in the bowels of the most backward-thinking of the imperialists on the Opposition Benches.
Those are the facts of the matter. Hon. Members can look aghast, but I would dread it if they were the Government when events such as what has happened in Zaire and Rhodesia were taking place, because their only argument would be to send in British troops. Then Armageddon would be on the agenda. Thank heavens for a Labour Government and an enlightened Foreign Secretary.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Dr. Alan Glyn (Windsor and Maidenhead)
In the very few minutes that I have at my disposal, I should like, first, to pay a tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) on his maiden speech. He is a constituent of mine.
The debate has turned much more on defence than on foreign affairs. I think that the reason for this is the one given by my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), namely, that people are beginning to realise that the real danger that this country and the Western world face is the Soviet menace and the very rapid increase in Soviet defence forces. It is not like the old balance of power, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) has said. There is a difference from the old balance of power. We now have the nuclear threat hanging over us. I entirely agree with what the hon. Member said.
312 The most dangerous thing of all, I believe, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said, is that there is a new threat from the Soviets, a threat that is different from that of the Tsars. The Tsars wanted to expand. But the Soviet Union wants to impose its regime on every other nation upon which it is possible to impose it. That threat is very realistic and it is one of which we have a duty to inform the people of this country. It is a danger to ourselves and the whole Western world.
The Secretary of State was very fair when he talked about the nuclear test ban treaty. He mentioned the inclusion of chemical warfare, but he never said anything about biological warfare. Any agreement that is made between the East and the West must be comprehensive and relate not only to conventional forces but also to bacteriological weapons and chemical weapons, because no other agreement is of any use.
It may well be that the Soviet Union has taken a very long time over the dialogue because that probably suited it very well. However, the Soviets have now developed the SS20. As the hon. Member for Walton said, it is a very powerful weapon. They have increased the number of their tanks. In fact, they have reduced from three weeks to three days the timescale that has existed between peace and war. That is a very dangerous matter indeed. Soviet tanks can penetrate right through our defences at the same time. If they wish to do so, they can destroy practically all our supplies.
If the Soviets continue with their policy in Africa, we must look at two vital matters. First, we must look at the sources of our supplies, which are limited and many of which come from the African continent. Secondly, what happens if the technicians in those countries are no longer able to operate? We shall be faced with a situation in which, even if there are reasonable regimes in Zambia, Angola and Zaire, they will get no technicians at all to work there unless they have a guarantee of security.
The time has come when NATO and the whole of the Western world must think in terms of a strategy which includes not only protection in the West against the enormous Warsaw Pact forces but also protection for our sources of supply, 313 wherever they may be. We must watch carefully what Russia is doing in regard to expansion, and not only in the Middle East, Turkey and Iran, from which we may well need the oil, but in every other area of Soviet expansion. We cannot rely on the military influence of China in restraining Russian expansion.
I read in the newspapers—I hope that it is right—that today President Carter has said "We are ready for peace and we are ready for war." I hope that, in the interests of the world, the Russians will begin to realise that there is nothing to be gained by warfare. Let us hope that they will see sense and make an agreement and that we may at last have some form of peaceful settlement.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Blaker (Blackpool, South)
It is rare that a former member of the Foreign Service should have the good fortune to be able to congratulate another former member of the Foreign Service on his maiden speech. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) cannot be in the Chamber at present, but it is with great pleasure that I congratulate him. He was witty. He was provocative without being controversial in party terms. He told us how Britain looks from overseas. We look forward to hearing him again in future foreign affairs debates and I hope that he has the opportunity to speak in such debates more frequently than the rest of us in the last few years. We look forward to hearing him on other matters as well.
In a vigorous speech, my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said that ideology for the Soviet Union was only a cloak to make Russian imperialism respectable. I agree about the importance of the Russian imperialist element in Soviet policy, but I would go further than my right hon. Friend. I think that ideology is more than a cloak, that it is in effect thousand-league boots. It is this ideological element which enables the Soviet Union to leap mountains and oceans and to establish client States thousands of miles from home in a way which the Tsarist empire could not do.
It is anxiety about the present state of the Western world vis-à-vis the Soviet Union which has run through the speeches 314 of most of my right hon. and hon. Friends today. I believe that the greatest danger to peace and to the survival of democracy at present is the weakness of the free nations. They are weak partly because they do not understand what the Soviet Union intends. Because they do not understand, they do not have the unity, the strategy or the resolve which they should display. Unless they acquire those things, and soon, I fear for the future of Western Europe. It is undoubtedly Western Europe which is the main target of the Soviet Union.
There has been a good deal of discussion today of detente. One of the Soviet Union's weapons is words. It uses them to deceive—and "detente" is a good example. We believe that detente is an end in itself, a relaxation of tension. For the Soviet Union, detente is a tactic in the strategy of peaceful co-existence—and "peaceful co-existence", again, is not what it sounds to Western ears. It is in fact for the Russians a continuation of the struggle between the Soviet system and free societies by all means—ideological, political and economic—short of a fighting war, until the final victory of the Communist system on a world scale. That is more or less the definition which appeared in the programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1961, and which is still valid.
Detente, therefore, is a tactic which fits into that strategy. The object of detente is to lull the Western world into a state of torpor, to exploit our longing for peace and to extract for the Soviet Union at the same time the technology, the grain, and the credit from the West which it needs to rescue its inefficient economy.
In that tactic, the Soviet Union is succeeding very well, but one thing that it has made clear from an early stage is that detente will not prevent it from continuing its arms build-up or its support of wars of liberation, as it describes them, in the Third world. Thus Angola three years ago was not a freak. It could be readily foreseen that it would be followed by further Angolas, and indeed it has been. We now have in the continent of Africa seven or eight wars taking place, mostly encouraged and backed by the Soviet Union. We must expect further wars of that kind in the continent of Africa and elsewhere unless we make 315 clear to the Soviet Union that it is not worth its while to foment them.
My analysis of Soviet doctrine is not surmise but based on what the Soviet Union says. It is spelled out by Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev. The House will remember that he said "We will bury you", referring to the free world, and I think he meant it. It has also been spelled out by Brezhnev and others since Khrushchev's time. Solzhenitsyn said when he came out of the Soviet Union that he was astonished that the Western world, despite the fact that it was totally literate, did not seem to appreciate that this was the intention of the Soviet Union. He said it seemed that the Western world did not want to understand. We have a situation which we can compare with the failure of the West to read "Mein Kampf" in the 1930s, perhaps because it found the contents of that book too remarkable to be credible. I think that the West views the Soviet doctrine in the same light as the West viewed "Mein Kampf" in the 1930s.
If we have any doubts about Soviet intentions, we need not read only their theories or note what they write or say. We can, in Aneurin Bevan's words "Read the book." The Soviet Union has since 1939 acquired parts of Poland, Finland, Romania; the whole of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; parts of East Prussia, Ruthenia, the Kurile Islands, and half a dozen countries in Eastern Europe, culminating in the Prague coup in 1948, engineered by the Soviet Union. It conducted a blockade of Berlin in defiance of its treaty obligations in 1948. In the late 1960s and 1970s, it conducted, or certainly encouraged, a war in Oman—of which the hon. Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) has a distorted view.
§ Mr. Newens
Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear whether in his denunciations he applies double standards? As he knows, a number of hon. Members on the Labour Benches have made it clear that we deplore interventions such as that conducted by the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia. Does he equally deplore interventions by the United States and by Western forces in Angola, Vietnam and many other countries?
§ Mr. Blaker
I believe the hon. Gentleman suffers from the mistake of confusing one sultan with another. In his speech earlier he described Oman in critical terms as being a tyrannical State. The great thing about the present Sultan —and I have been to Oman—is that he is moving in a democratic direction and I think deserves encouragement rather than censure.
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) referred to gunboat diplomacy. Surely the greatest expert on gunboat displomacy, with the extension of the Soviet fleet to its present enormous size, is Admiral Gorshkov, who spells out his version of gunboat diplomacy in his book.
That, then, is the situation we face, and we need a robust Government. The object of having a robust Government is to persuade the Soviet Government to make detente real. The world is too dangerous a place for the Soviet Union to go interpreting detente as it has until now, which allows it to go in for wars of liberation in the Third world. I believe that we shall have a better chance of persuading the Soviet Union to make detente real if we are robust than if we are feeble. I have some experience of negotiating directly with the Soviet Union, and I have found that the way to persuade them to be more reasonable is to be firm but reasonable oneself.
The British Government are not at present robust enough. Indeed, I think that they are incapable of being robust enough because they are fatally handicapped. I remember Andrei Amalrik, the distinguished Soviet exile, saying to me that it appeared to him that Marxism was a stronger force in the Labour Party of Great Britain than it was in the Soviet Union, where the Soviet people and their rulers had discovered how catastrophically it worked in practice.
We have a Labour Party here which has a national youth officer who is a Trotskyist. We have a situation in which the report by the Labour Party national agent, Mr. Underhill, which was sent to the national executive committee of the Labour Party, describing the entryist tactics of the Trotskyists into the Labour Party, was shelved by the national executive committee.
§ Mr. Heffer
I happen to be on that committee, and I must tell the hon. Gentleman that the internal matters of the Labour Party are for the Labour Party and have nothing to do with foreign affairs. If the hon. Gentleman cares to suggest that some people in our movement are Trotskyists, he can say what he likes. Let him suggest that people are Trotskyists, Communists or anything else. That is our business, and it has nothing whatever to do with foreign affairs. It is just more of the slanders and smears whic hwe are getting used to—from the hon. Member in particular.
§ Mr. Blaker
I wish it were true that these matters were of no concern to the people of Great Britain. In fact, they are of vital concern to the people of Great Britain, and they are closely relevant to foreign policy, as I shall seek to show. For example, I have here a copy of a statement by the Tribune Group, carried unanimously on 23rd January 1978. As it was carried unanimously, I take it that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) subscribed to it. It says:Western European socialists need to agree upon active support for a policy of nonalignment with the great Powers.Does the hon. Gentleman deny that—non-alignment with the great Powers? That is the straight Soviet line. That is what the Soviet Union is calling upon us to do.
§ Mr. Blaker
The conference of the Labour Party—held in my constituency, so I am well aware of what occurred there—passed a resolution calling for a further cut of £1,000 million in our defence budget. That may be a party matter, but is it of no relevance to the people of the United Kingdom that that should be the official position adopted by the Labour Party national conference? The hon. Gentleman will have to do better than he has done to convince me of that.
The Foreign Secretary has my sympathy. He has a difficult problem. He is not a Marxist. I believe that he wants the survival of the sort of society which I myself want. But he has 80 millstones round his neck in the form of the mem- 318 bers of the Tribune Group, and that cannot but affect his credibility abroad.
§ Mr. Blaker
It is certainly very relevant to the policies which the Foreign Secretary is able to adopt for our country. He is bombarded daily from the Left with pleas to seek to reduce tension by removing the causes of misunderstanding. I am using the common plea that one hears from the Left. That plea, when expressed in that way, implies that the West is as much to blame for tension as is the Soviet Union., That is a very moderate statement coming from the Tribune Group. Much worse statements have come from it.
The truth is that the West is not responsible for misunderstanding. The Soviet Union understands the West only too well, and it understands the Labour Party only too well, too, and that affects the way it treats the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Blaker
The Russians understand that when they have a slogan to peddle they have a lot of willing tongues in the Labour Party who will take that slogan up. We saw it in relation to the neutron bomb only a few weeks ago. The Soviet Union knows that it has a lot of willing tongues in the Tribune Group, who say that if people in this country take the view that we should adopt a more robust attitude towards the Soviet Union, we shall risk losing detente. This is nonsense. Was detente a present to us from the Soviet Union? Not at all. Detente was something which the Soviet Union adopted very much in its own interests. If Conservatives call for, a more robust policy towards the Soviet Union, we are accused instantly of calling for a return to the cold war. That has happened three or four times in this debate. It is absolute nonsense.
§ Mr. Blaker
I do not know what experience the hon. Member for Walton has had of negotiating with the Soviet Union, but what we have been saying from these Benches would not be regarded by the Soviet Union, in reality, as offensive, 319 dangerous or a return to the cold war. It would be recognised as a sensible, robust position.
What should our policies be? The main thing that we have to do is to display to the Soviet Union that we have will. There are many measures in the political area that we could take. I do not have time to go into them all, but I am glad that the Foreign Secretary said that he would continue to support the dissidents and the movement for human rights in the Soviet Union. Respect for human rights is relevant to peace in the world. Those are not my words; they are the words of the Helsinki Final Act, and nowhere is that more true than in relation to the Soviet Union.
We should also be considering what action we should take in our economic relations with the Soviet Union because there are levers here which we are not using and which, if properly used, could induce the Soviet Union to adopt a more reasonable policy towards the West. I do not understand how it can make sense for Western countries to compete against each other to provide technology, some of it very important technology, grain and other things to the Soviet Union at low rates of interest and to compete in reducing that rate of interest. It helps the Soviet Union to put more effort into arms, to subsidise the activities of Cuba in Africa, which it is doing in a big way, and to maintain tyranny at home.
The House knows that I have been critical for a long time of the £950 million line of credit which the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) offered to the Soviet Union in 1975. I was interested to see that I am backed by Mr. David Warburton, who is reported in today's newspapers as having complained at the conference of the General and Municipal Workers' Union that goods are coming into this country from the Soviet Union at unfair cheap rates as a result of the factories that have been built there by British companies. He has criticised those companies, but he is directing his criticism in the wrong direction. He should be criticising the right hon. Member for Huyton, who offered the Russians that line of credit and encouraged British businesses to take it up.
320 I suggest that we should examine with our friends and allies how it is possible to use the leverage that our economic power gives us to persuade the Soviet Union to adopt policies that are less hostile to us and less dangerous to peace. This problem will stay with us and will become more important as the economic difficulties of the Soviet Union increase. My proposition is not simply negative. If the Soviet Union were prepared to alter its policies towards the West, the economic assistance the West could give would help the Soviet Union to raise the standard of living of its people—something which is badly needed.
Much of the debate has turned on Africa and the points that have been made fall under four heads. First, there is the importance of a united Western policy. I believe that the role of the Prime Minister so far on this subject has been destructive, especially in recent weeks. He started off by heckling the French and the Belgians about the timing of their withdrawal from Zaire. He then went on to insult the national security adviser of the United States President, in Washington. He did this at a time when the United States needs the support and encouragement of its allies, in view of the psychological and political problems caused by Vietnam and other events. The contribution of the Prime Minister to Western unity on the subject of Africa so far has not been very impressive.
Secondly, the events in Africa have given powerful confirmation to the case for a concerted foreign policy within the EEC. Africa has what Europe needs and Europe has what Africa needs. The Lomé Convention already provides the framework for co-operation. The Western and EEC countries provide the world's most powerful trading unit and its members are among the main aid givers in the world. As has been said in this debate, the amount of Soviet aid is derisory.
Taking all these elements together, there must be material for constructing at least one part of an EEC policy to cope with or forestall further Zaires. My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford made several suggestions and these were enlarged by my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) who suggested a non-aggression pact. I hope that these 321 suggestions will be studied carefully by the Government.
Thirdly, my hon. Friends and I reject a policy of doing nothing. The advice one gets to that effect—the do-nothing advice—comes in a number of forms. It is claimed that Africa will be Russia's Vietnam. I would not count on that The opponents of the United States in Vietnam were continuously and heavily armed by the Soviet Union.
The next advice that one gets in support of a do-nothing policy is that it does not matter whether Africa goes Communist. It is pretty clear that it does matter. If Africa went Communist there would be at least a serious interruption to supplies of minerals which would result in much higher prices. But it is clear from the experience in Zaire that it is not necessary for a country to be taken over by the Communists for supplies to be interrupted. They can be equally well interrupted simply by terrorist attacks which force the Europeans, who are essential to the economy of many African countries, to flee.
Another piece of advice is that Communism will not be accepted by the Africans, or in the words of the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson), the Russians do not travel well. I imagine that the same thing was said about Cuba before Castro.
The fourth point is that the Prime Minister has been telling us that the problems of Africa must not be seen solely in terms of East-West conflict. That is a statement of the obvious but it is no substitute for a policy. I was very much in doubt while listening to the Prime Minister yesterday what action, if any, he thought should be taken in the event of further aggression by the Soviet Union or Cuba as in the case of Zaire.
I was reassured to some extent by the Foreign Secretary today. At least he seemed to recognise that it is not acceptable for the West to appear to be allowing the Soviet Union and Cuba to win by default. If they are seen as the winners they will be seen as useful allies by any ambitious African who is greedy for power and is willing to adopt the language of Marx. Indeed, if countries in the Middle East were to see the Russians and the Cubans winning in Africa, there would be serious implications for Governments friendly to the West in the Middle 322 East. Finally, let us remember that before he places his bets, the African, just as much as any other person and perhaps more than most, makes a judgment about who is going to win.
I believe that even now, if the West is united, it has the means, whether political, economic or military, to persuade the Russians and the Cubans to stop their adventures in Africa. What the Africans, the Russians and the Cubans will want to know is whether we have the will.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. John Tomlinson)
May I say at the outset how sorry I was to be absent from the Chamber and unable to hear the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney)? I understand that he made a good speech which reflected well on the valuable work that he did in his former incarnation. His message, I understand, was that we should stand up and speak for Britain. I hope that he will be reassured when I tell him that the Government will long continue to do just that. I hope—as I am sure the whole House does—that the hon. Gentleman will have suitable future opportunities to speak for the people of Wycombe. I am sure that many hon. Members will look forward to hearing from him on future occasions.
May I say en passant— because I do not think his speech was worth much more than that—a few words to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). His speech was, I believe, so wild that it seemed to me first to indicate that there must have been a Gallup poll indicating something good for the Government today. He seemed to be flaying out in all directions, many of which had nothing to do with the subject matter of the debate. I think that he reached a new low in desperation. It made me reflect that, much as he may be appreciated by the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition, he will not be missed much in the process of diplomacy.
The hon. Member talked about defence and some of the things that might have been said at Labour Party conferences. He was conspicuously mistaken when he referred to what the Government had done. He seemed to prefer to talk about the myth of a £1,000 million reduction in defence expenditure rather than the 323 reality of the Government policy which has been put through this House.
The hon. Gentleman pursued at great length his obsession with Reds under the bed in the Labour Party, or the allegation of their presence, but seemed to forget that the Leader of the Opposition seems to be spending half her time trying to jump into bed with Reds of the Chinese variety. It was a speech of so many contradictions that I am sure that if my right hon. Friend—who was insulted earlier by one of the hon. Gentleman's Back Bench colleagues—were here he would have been excused for taking a sleep during the course of it.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West) rose—
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I shall not give way. The right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies), in his speech—which in some respects was, I thought, much more constructive than the speech of the hon. Member for Blackpool, South—referred, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Watkinson), to the problems of mutual and balanced force reductions. We regard these negotiations as being very important for the process of detente and for the strengthening of peace and security in Europe. The West's proposals, with parity as a goad, would help to stabilise the military position in Europe and reduce the overall level of forces without damaging the security of any country.
It was to inject fresh momentum into these talks that the West, on 19th April, tabled a new initiative. That initiative is designed to take account of legitimate Eastern concerns. We look now to the East to respond positively. We hope that it in turn will take account of our concerns and the Western concerns.
At the recent ministerial meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, at the suggestion of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Heads of State and Government of NATO countries involved in MBFR demonstrated their concern to see progress made in the talks by making an important new proposal. This was that as soon as there had been progress in the negotiations—and here the Eastern response to the latest Western initiative will clearly be very important—they would suggest that a 324 session of negotiations should be held at Foreign Minister level. I believe that a meeting of this kind, building on progress already achieved, could help to shift the negotiations decisively towards agreement.
The right hon. Member for Knutsford—and here I agree with him—referred to the disruptions to aid and other economic factors in Africa as being sufficient to disrupt the economies of African countries and the progress of their economies. Here I am in substantial agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. But I must disagree with him when he continues along the lines followed by his hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) and puts forward proposals for the renegotiation of Lomé 2.
It is inevitable that the general subject of defence of European interests in Africa will remain under active consideration by all the countries concerned. However, I do not believe that this is a question which can be considered properly within the context of Lome. Although it is true that member States as well as the Community are parties to the Lomé Convention, fundamentally the convention itself is economic in nature, and it would be inconsistent with its character to try to include within it or within any successor arrangements proposals such as those put forward by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West.
It is clear that the competence of the Community does not extend to defence. Defence matters so far have customarily been excluded from discussion even within the framework of political co-operation. The hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West went as far as saying that the renegotiation of Lomé should lead to an arrangement for trade, aid and defence in Africa. That is a proposal which I am sure, on more sober reflection, the hon. Member would not wish to pursue.
§ Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler
The Minister is quite wrong. On quite sober reflection, which took place before I made my speech rather than after it, I am determined to pursue my advocacy of this cause. We are not talking about European interests in Africa, as the Minister suggested. Does not he agree that we are talking about African and European interdependence in Africa? Does not he agree that it is that which is 325 threatened by Soviet activity in that continent?
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I recognise readily the interdependence. The line which is proposed by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West in the end would lead to a position which did not assist the process of interdependence but would be very divisive.
The proposal that a non-hostility clause could be included in a new convention does not need to be taken any further. One has only to consider that in the present convention there is a preambular reference to the principles of the United Nations Charter, which themselves refer at some length to matters to do with peace and security.
I cannot as readily as the right hon. Member for Knutsford appears to do draw the distinction between what he called the mutuality of his proposals and the unilateral aspect of any proposed human rights element in Lomé 2. The present convention already contains an indirect reference to human rights in the same way, through the reference to the United Nations Charter.
I believe that the recipe which has been put forward by the Opposition is a recipe for disaster, and I hope that the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West, who said that he had given sober consideration to this before putting it forward, will perhaps reflect further and come to different conclusions. He has a recipe there which will be extremely damaging to the economic interdependence of Africa and the European countries.
The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) spoke in generalised terms about the objectives of foreign policy. I think that we all agree with him about those generalised objectives as he expressed them. The protection of our national interests and the proper defence of the realm are objectives from which no one will seek to dissent. But from such a premise to lead on to a view such as that which he expressed about the process of detente is quite incomprehensible, in my view.
The right hon. Member questioned the validity of detente, and I understand that he likened it to pre-war appeasement. This is a view which all sensible right hon. Members will want to resist 326 vigorously. Detente is not an easy process. It is a long, hard process with the objective of getting more and better managed relationships between the super powers. Within this process we shall continue to pursue our essential interests. Some people—I suspect possibly the right hon. Member for Farnham—must have started out with unrealistic expectations of the process of detente. They now show unrealistic and excessive depression at the rate of progress.
Others of us were more cautious in our expectations but perhaps more insistent on ensuring that the process succeeds. Those who felt that the Helsinki Final Act would suddenly end ideological conflict are already disheartened with the process, but such expectations were always unrealistic.
The right hon. Member for Farnham also raised the question of the provision of credit and the transfer of technology to the Soviet Union and suggested that the Government should rethink their policies in this area. There are two separate questions here. On the credit question, I agree with him that it is in our interests that the major supplier countries should agree on minimum terms of credit and not indulge in cut-throat competition which would serve Soviet interests but not Western interests. That is common sense. Credit, however, is an essential part of trading with Eastern European countries. This trade clearly serves British interests. It creates jobs in this country. There are large contracts to be won in these markets, making a big contribution to British exports. Trade should and must go on and the credit which lubricates it should continue, but on sensible terms.
The second question is the transfer of technology. Here we have machinery. In the COCOM arrangements there is machinery which is precisely designed to prevent the transfer of militarily valuable technology to Warsaw Pact countries.
My hon. Friends the Members for Harlow (Mr. Newens), and Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) expressed particularly interesting views about the process of detente in general and the problems of the Shaba province in particular. It is against this context that again I take issue with the right hon. Member for 327 Knutsford. He criticised the Government for standing back from the problem and not taking the positive steps which he advocated, though it was not entirely clear to me exactly how he envisaged those steps should and could be taken.
On the other hand, there has been general agreement on both sides of the House that the Shaba problem is not new. Its roots go back to the colonial period, and there have been several outbreaks of violence in the area since then, including the serious rebellion of Moise Tschombe. Unfortunately, the Government of Zaire have not been able to bring about a reconciliation with many of the former inhabitants of Shaba who are now refugees in Angola. It is these people who strongly desire to return to Shaba who have produced the latest crisis. It has been pointed out by many speakers in the debate that the economic problems of Zaire, which are serious and complicated, cannot be solved successfully unless the Government of Zaire tackle successfully their political problems.
As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs said, our first priority is to encourage the kind of discussion which has begun between President Kaunda on the one hand and President Mobutu and President Neto on the other. We want to help this process. Our aim is to assist the African States to help each other, as provided for by the OAU charter, and not to intervene in Africa. This is a basic principle of our policy in Africa. As with the other principles which were expressed clearly by my right hon. Friend, we intend to stick to it.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
Recognising what the hon. Gentleman has said about non-intervention in Africa, will he give the assurance that where there are large numbers of British people—some 40,000—on the copper belt in Zambia who have problems similar to those which have arisen in the Shaba province the intention of the British Government, as with the French and Belgian Governments some weeks ago, will be to go to their rescue if there is a need to do so?
§ Mr. Tomlinson
No, I shall not go into any form of speculation about circumstances that we consider will not arise. 328 The hypothesis that the hon. Gentleman puts forward is unrealistic.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) made an interesting speech. He welcomed the impending State visit of President Ceausescu of Romania. It is obviously an important visit, which I am sure will be welcomed in all parts of the House.
My hon. and learned Friend, in company with a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House, spoke of human rights. The issue was referred to especially by the hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), and my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) and Sheffield. Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said in opening the debate, we should not shift one inch from our commitment to human rights.
Against that background, I clearly welcome the concern that has been expressed by many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House on human rights. We have expressed our concern clearly about Dr. Orlov. I share the worries and concerns about the Soviet citizens and others elsewhere who still face serious problems. However, those who are concerned about human rights and concerned about the denial of fundamental human rights in totalitarian regimes of the Left should always be prepared to be even-handed in their condemnation of denials of basic human rights wherever they occur. That feature was clearly much more evident on the Government side of the House than on the Opposition side during the debate.
My hon. Friends were clearly evenhanded in their condemnation of denials of basic human rights whether they occurred in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe or any other part of the world. Those who share that concern about human rights would welcome rather more even-handedness in the condemnation of some of the basic repression of human rights by Fascist totalitarian regimes of the Right. We heard much about the regimes of the Left and it would have been encouraging if we had heard some of the even-handedness that is claimed by those who utter those condemnations.
The other major area of the debate to which I shall refer briefly in the time remaining is the Arab-Israel dispute, 329 which was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Jackson), the hon. Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West. I understand the feelings and emotions with which hon. Members speak in defence of their viewpoint. I shall try to be somewhat less emotive and perhaps more constructive than was the debate about Middle East affairs as it impinged upon the general debate.
The Government have given their full support to President Sadat's initiative. Any settlement must clearly allow the State of Israel to live in peace within secure and guaranteed borders. The Government consider that in accordance with Resolution 242 Israel should withdraw to its 1967 borders on all three fronts subject to minor negotiated modifications. A settlement must also provide a homeland for the Palestinians. It is not for us to say what form the homeland should take. The Government believe that the Palestinian people themselves should participate in the determination of their future.
The Government equally take the view that the Israel settlements in the occupied territories contravene the fourth Geneva Convention and as such are obstacles to peace. However, against that background what is needed is good will on all sides of the argument. Just as we expect that process to be conducted with good will in the Middle East, it would be assisted if others, irrespective of their deeply held views, would be less emotional about the subject in the House and perhaps more rational in recognising the difficulties with which others have to deal many hundreds of miles away from this place.
The hon. Member for Westbury asked about the American resolution on the Middle East at the NATO summit. I can only presume that the hon. Gentleman was referring to the passage about the Middle East in the NATO communiqué. That is the only part that I can identify. The passage was unanimously agreed. I am not in a position to comment on the drafting process.
§ Mr. Walters rose—
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I cannot give way at this stage.
We have had a useful debate. It was perhaps inevitable that it should have 330 concentrated on Africa and on human rights. The African problem is one of long standing. It was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in terms which were worthy of the praise that they have received in the House.
The theme of human rights has run through the debate. The views of the House are clear.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.