§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Frank R. White.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce), may I tell the House that a very large number of Members wish to speak? I make an appeal to Privy Councillors, as well as to the other hon. Members, to make their speeches as brief as possible, otherwise many hon. Members who want to express their point of view wig not have a chance to do so.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Luce (Shoreham)
It is perfectly natural that the debate so far should have focused on East-West relations and also more specifically upon the problems which exist today on the continent of Africa. There is always the danger in a roving foreign affairs debate that the debate will tend to become very disjointed in that so many disjointed issues may be raised. In the second part of my speech, I propose to address my remarks more specifically to how I believe that we in Britain and in the West as a whole should adopt a moro cohesive approach to the problems in Africa. Before doing that, however, I should like to follow through one or two other matters which have been raised in the debate so far and which to no; mind are extremely important.
Perhaps I may say in passing that it is regrettable that the Foreign Secretary, who carries overall responsibility for foreign affairs, was not here last night for the winding-up speeches and is not here today. I hope that he will find it possible to attend as much this debate as possible.
I want first to refer to the position of the United Kingdom in the world today. Yesterday we had the privilege of hearing what I thought was a most eloquent and impressive maiden speech from my hon. Friend the Member for 385 Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) based on his very broad experience in dealing with foreign affairs matters. He described how, in his experience, Britain's voice in the world today was weak, muted and unconfident. I agree with my hon. Friend, and I think that we should be questioning why that should be the case.
I think that it is because we as a country lack self-confidence. We have for a very long time been a demoralised nation. It is because we lack the domestic strength that we should have to exercise more influence in the world today. I refer specifically, of course, to the lack of strength in our economy. It is also because we have a misplaced inferiority complex even in our subconscious mind about our empire, which is now long past. There is, too, a lack of real faith in our democratic system and our way of life.
We feel that we in the West are on the defensive and that the Soviet Union is exploiting our weaknesses. In consequence, for a long time now—throughout this decade and for much of the 1960s—we in the West, especially we in Britain, have been introspective and ineffective in our foreign policy. In my experience and, I am sure, in that of many other right hon. and hon. Members, this has been a source of great sadness to many of our friends in other parts of the world.
The position which I have analysed is both unjustified and harmful to the nation. It is time that we as a country entered into a new era of self-confidence with regard to our foreign affairs. We need to go on to the offensive both politically and diplomatically, in conjunction with our allies, of course. We need to base this new approach upon the duty, which is the duty of any Government, to protect and defend the interests of the British people. We need to be on the offensive based on a renewed faith in our democratic system and the belief that it is superior to any other system in the world and is the system most likely to lead to peace in the world. We need to go on to the offensive, as we must in the 1980s, based on a stronger economy and a stronger faith in ourselves.
We need to move on to the offensive because I find wherever I go—in all parts of Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America and elsewhere—an enormous 386 ground swell of good will towards the United Kingdom. I believe that we should acknowledge this and that we should seek to use what influence we have in the world to the advantage of both ourselves and our allies.
Let me pick up one significant factor which has been brought out in this debate. A number of Government supporters have accused the Conservative Party of being hysterical and of exaggerating the dangers of the Soviet Union and its policies. Indeed, we have been accused of trying to introduce a new cold war and of trying to bring an end to detente. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Opposition's objective is the objective of any sensible Member of this House. It is to seek the relaxation of tensions between different nations. We want detente as much as anyone else in the world. Our objective must be to live in peace with all nations. It must be to try to obtain a friendly relationship with the Soviet Union, to trade more with it and to have more exchange with and more understanding of each other.
Last year, I had the privilege of visiting that country with a number of right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House. I was impressed by a number of factors. One of them, which I had not acknowledged before was that in the last world war the Soviet Union lost no fewer than 20 million people killed. Of course, the people of the Soviet Union have a genuine desire to defend themselves. But we cannot ignore the facts. There are certain areas in which the Soviet Union clearly is seeking confrontation with and provocation against the West. One area is in human rights matters, where, despite the fact that the Soviet Union has signed the Helsinki agreement, it is demonstrating a gross abuse of human rights. Another is in military matters, where we see a growing strength both in naval and in conventional forces. Another is an area already much debated—that of Africa.
It is not the West but the Soviet Union which has broken detente. We in the West want detente. It is the Soviet Union, by its policies, which is breaking the policy of detente. It is a dereliction of our duty as politicians if we fail to expose the real dangers and the threats which face 387 us and if we fail to respond in a robust manner to those dangers.
In the last few weeks, we have seen the danger of what I call the ostrich syndrome—the desire to bury one's head in the sand. The Russians understand and respect blunt speaking. They respect blunt action still more. I believe that real peace in the world will come only when we act in that sense through strength.
Perhaps I may be permitted, having in my opening remarks criticised the Foreign Secretary for not being present, to welcome his arrival and to repeat my hope that he will listen to as much of the debate as possible.
I believe that the Opposition were right to criticise the Prime Minister in the last few days for implying in certain statements made both in this House and in the United States that although there was a danger from the Soviet Union the British Government intended to take no action. I believe that his reference to "certain Christopher Columbuses" in the United States was patronising and insulting to certain individuals in the United States and, moreover, totally discouraging to a nation which after Vietnam and the Watergate affair has been through an understandable period of introspection. At a time when the United States Government are trying to evolve a more robust approach to the problems in the world today, they should be receiving encouragement and support and not discouragement.
I want in passing to mention one continent which is in danger of being forgotten. I refer to Latin America. In the last century the United Kingdom had a close and important relationship with that continent. We helped many of the nations there to achieve their independence and to reach a level of democracy. We also helped them economically in investment and the improvement of their standards of living. In that continent there are many examples of the amount of good will that exists towards us.
I believe that with the EEC we need to enter into a new relationship with that continent in political and economic terms. We have only a 3½ per cent. share of the total trade there. There is much we can do in trade, aid and investment to help the people to develop their countries and 388 to close the gap between rich and poor. By using the influence that we build up, there is much we can do to persuade them that gradual evolution to a democratic way of life, with greater respect for human rights, is in their interests as well as ours.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
A moment ago the hon. Gentleman spoke of his belief in democracy as being the best method of keeping peace in the world. Does he agree that we must be as critical when our values of democracy and human rights are infringed in certain Latin American countries as we are when they are infringed in the Soviet Union and the Communist world?
§ Mr. Luce
That was precisely what I was trying to say when I picked on the Latin American continent. I believe that the credibility of our approach to human rights depends on our ability to be totally objective. If we in this House share a belief, as I hope we do, in the crucial importance of democracy and the right of individuals, a regime that is Right-wing, totalitarian or Fascist is as objectionable as a Left-wing dictatorial regime. The whole survival of the policy of human rights and its credibility depend on that kind of approach.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe)
Will the hon. Gentleman kindly explain why the Conservatives in the European Parliament felt unable to support the demand for a hearing on Argentina and the abuses of human rights that take place there every day?
§ Mr. Luce
Since I am not a Member of the European Parliament, I am not in a position to answer that question. However, if we begin to go down that road we shall have to have inquiries into 99 out of 100 countries. I am sure that other hon. Members, if they have the opportunity to take part in this debate, will seek to explore that matter further. I wish to emphasise that I deplore the abuse of human rights in any part of the world.
I wish to turn quickly to two interrelated problems—the Middle East and Africa. Many hon. Members yesterday mentioned our relations with the Middle East. It is not only a question of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also important that we maintain what are already 389 extremely good relationships with the Gulf States, with which we have strong and historic ties. It is important that we should try to bring about stability in that area and that economic and political development should take place.
Two days ago I had the privilege, with a number of hon. Members from both sides of the House, of meeting the Shah of Iran. We had an exchange of views not only about the important progress he is making in his own regime in Iran and in bringing about economic progress and liberalisation in that regime but about the important ties that exist between our two nations. Iran, together with Pakistan and India, has a political role to play in helping to maintain stability not only in the Gulf but in the area of the Indian Ocean. I believe that the visit of Her Majesty the Queen this winter to the Gulf States will do much to cement the bonds between us.
I now wish to deal with the Arab-Israeli dispute. My hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters) referred to this matter yesterday. There have been no fewer than four wars in that area in a period of 30 years. That area has been unstable, and that instability is a problem not just for the Arabs and Israelis but for us. Indeed, another war could be catastrophic not only for Britain but for the West.
I believe that the basis for progress must remain United Nations Resolution No. 242, which is based on the key suggestion that the Israelis must withdraw from occupied Arab territories, that there must be recognition of the rights of every State to live within secure boundaries and that there must be a just settlement to the Palestinian problem. We face in the Middle East, as we face in Africa, the problem of people's anxieties.
I think that we should acknowledge as strongly as we can the enormous courage shown by President Sadat in visiting Israel last November, and we should also pay tribute to the people of Israel for their willingness to receive the President and to discuss long-standing problems. But it is also a tragedy and a condemnation, not only of the people of the Middle East but of ourselves too, that President Sadat so far has been unrewarded in his efforts to seek peace in the Middle East.
390 Time is running out, and President Sadat only yesterday expressed anxiety about the serious situation in that area. We in Europe must do all we can to help the sides to get together and to keep up the momentum of the discussions. In my view, it is regrettable that insufficient support was given by his neighbours to President Sadat's initiative. Equally, as many Jews in this country and in the United States would agree, it is regrettable that the Israeli Government should have persisted with a settlements policy in regard to the occupied Arab territories. I very much hope that we in Europe can do more than we have done so far to facilitate discussions between the two sides.
Finally, I wish to deal with the subject of Africa, which has already been dealt with at length. The Middle East and Africa are closely intertwined. I believe that the Arabs have an important role to play in Africa itself. They have a major role to paly in the development of the Third world countries in Africa. They also have a great role to play in providing investment finance, in which we in Europe can help to assist by giving technical expertise. I also believe that they have a role to play in helping African States to build up stability. We have already had one or two examples demonstrated by the actions of the Egyptians and the Moroccans.
The Prime Minister told the House on Tuesday in the course of exchanges that the problems of Africa go much deeper than that thrown up by the East-West confrontation. Of course they do. Anybody with any knowledge of Africa knows that what we and most Africans want is that the African nations should have their own independence and should develop their own way of life. We acknowledge the complexities of the problems of Africa. But it is the activities of the Soviet Union and its Cuban mercenaries that are forcing the East-West problem and the confrontation aspect of cold war into Africa. It is not the West that wants to see this happening. It is Soviet policies that are aimed at bringing this process about.
I believe that the African continent is likely to be unstable for a long period ahead. The African scene is highly complex. There are problems involving tribal animosities, border disputes, many 391 of them inherited from our colonial days, and internal civil unrest. Anybody who has been to the Horn of Africa recently will know what a jigsaw puzzle of complexity that area is. But the Soviet Union and Cuban mercenaries are fishing opportunistically in the troubled waters of Africa. This is a new form of imperialism.
We must be penetrating in our analysis of the situation. The Russians take the view that we in the West are on the defensive in Africa. They believe we are in that position because we have a colonial past and because they would like to think that we support a white racialist regime in South Africa. They are trying their best to make us look as though we in the West are the baddies and that they are the goodies. They say that their policy is aimed at supporting liberation movements—the criteria for liberation being left open to assessment by the Soviet regime.
In practice, however, the Russians are using the Africans as pawns in a ruthless game of chess, bringing devastation and destruction in their wake for the African people. Their arms sales to the Third world have doubled in the last four years—twice as much as those of the United States. They are merchants of death. They arm Somalia and then they pull out of Somalia and arm and support Ethiopia. They encourage the two sides to commit atrocities on each other. They are largely responsible for much of the death and destruction that have taken place in the Horn of Africa.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the three major suppliers of arms throughout the world to other countries are the United States, France and the United Kingdom? It is hypocrisy to talk about arms sales in terms of the Soviet Union unless we consider what the West is doing throughout the Third world.
§ Mr. Luce
I want to say something further about how the West should approach the problem of arms sales. What I said was that the arms sales of the Soviet Union to Africa in the last year were twice as much as the arms sales of the United States to Africa.
Another factor is that the Soviet Union is supporting regimes such as the Ethiopian regime, which shows no respect for human rights. The Soviets are largely 392 responsible in many parts of the continent of Africa for the creation of refugees as a result of bloodshed and warfare.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler) said yesterday, in an excellent speech, that there were about 3 million refugees in Africa today. The Soviet Union gives virtually no economic assistance to the African continent. Its assistance, if we can call it that, is destructive and military. In 1976, the aid given from Communist countries amounted to only 1 per cent. of the total receipts of the developing countries in terms of the flow of resources from the more developed world.
The Western response must be to demonstrate that our interest and that of the African continent coincide that is to say, to bring about stability. We need to move on to a new political and diplomatic offensive.
First, we must demonstrate the indivisibility of detente. We must say to the Soviet Union and the Cubans that until they withdraw their military intervention in the continent of Africa it will not be possible for us to pursue detente in other areas. The subject of credit facilities has been brought up in the debate. It is not right that we should provide concessionary credit facilities for trade with the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union is undermining us in Africa.
Secondly, why have the Government not raised in a forceful manner the fact that the Soviet Union is an international threat to peace in the continent of Africa? What is the United Nations for unless we can raise such matters at the United Nations?
Thirdly, as to the Organisation of African Unity, we in the West and in Britain must work closely with Africa to draw up guidelines with a view to preventing destructive military intervention by non-African outside Powers. We must help the African countries to devise a more even balance in the principles which they hold in regard to self-determination and non-African intervention in the context of the need to preserve territorial integrity.
Fourthly, we should encourage regional solutions of the problems that exist in 393 Africa, whether they are in Eritrea, in the Ogaden, in North Kenya or in Zaire. Many Arab countries can help us with those solutions.
Fifthly, as to Southern Africa, which is one of the most major problems, we must continue and do more to encourage the achievements of the internal regime in Rhodesia and to build on the achievements which it has begun to obtain in working towards majority rule. The internal regime must—the sooner the better—keep up the momentum by announcing measures to end racial discrimination as soon as possible. We must encourage a settlement in Namibia based upon the work of the five Western Powers.
In South Africa we face the stark choice of how we can best help it to evolve peacefully a final settlement of its racial problems. Here we face the stark choice, which we shall have to face at the United Nations and elsewhere, between economic sanctions and using our influence in a constructive manner. The only way, based on the experience of this century, is to use our influence constructively, to maintain our investment and our trade, to try to improve the standard of living of the Africans and to enable them to get on a more equal basis with the whites in South Africa.
We in the West must devise, with the OAU, a policy of restraint in the sale of arms to African countries. We in the West must take the lead, and it must be based on agreed criteria between ourselves and the Africans.
We need to evolve contingency plans to deal with emergencies. There are two distinct problems. There is the question of rescuing expatriates who serve in Africa. Here we must learn the lessons of Zaire. Then there is the question of devising machinery to help African nations to maintain stability. The contribution of African and Arab troops to regional problems is the right one, but they are entitled, if they so wish, to have modest Western help.
I come finally to an extremely important suggestion that we, led by the EEC, must adopt a more cohesive approach to aid, trade and investment in the African continent to demonstrate that we want to help Africans to improve their 394 own standard of living. We must harness Arab financial support and we must reach a mutual understanding, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) rightly said yesterday, on the important role that the European expatriate corps can play.
All these policies must be based upon a solid European foundation. We cannot do it on our own. We can only do it together. We in Britain must be more robust than we have been in the last decade or so in our foreign policy. We must say what we believe is right and we must do what we believe is right We must demonstrate our faith in the liberty and the rights of the individual. We must let our voice and the European voice be heard, and we shall be respected for this. Charles Peguy said:The worst of partialities is to withhold oneself, the worst ignorance is not to act and the worst lie is to steal away.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Evan Luard)
I intend to devote the majority of my remarks to subjects that have not been the subject of debate so far but I would like first to answer a few of the points made by the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce). The hon. Member made a charge against my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for not being here for the winding-up speeches last night or at the opening of the debate today. Last night, the Foreign Secretary was present at an extremely important dinner given by the Indian Prime Minister, who is paying a visit to this country. It would have been the height of discourtesy for the Foreign Secretary not to have been present then. This was explained, and I hope that it was understood by the Conservative Opposition.
§ Mr. Luard
I was referring only to the situation last night. This afternoon, my right hon. Friend had an important engagement with the Zambian Foreign Minister, which explains why he was not present at the beginning of the debate.
395 The hon. Member for Shoreham began his speech by suggesting that Britain was a demoralised nation, introspective and ineffective in its approach to world affairs. I totally reject that suggestion. It reflects much more demoralisation and introspection on the part of the Conservative Party than on the part of the country as a whole.
The hon. Member for Shoreham referred to yesterday's speech by his hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney). I join him in congratulating the hon. Member for Wycombe on his maiden speech, but the hon. Gentleman said that he felt that there was a lack of self-confidence in Britain's policy at present, and that his view was based on long experience of foreign affairs.
I have been engaged in foreign affairs for more than 25 years—quite as long as the hon. Members for Wycombe and Shoreham. I travel around the world a great deal, particularly to the United Nations and other international gatherings, and I can remember no time in recent history when the regard in which this country is held was as high as it is now. The reason is precisely that the Government have departed from the sort of policies that the hon. Member for Shoreham and the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) have been advocating that we should pursue. They are policies that are difficult to distinguish from neo-colonialism and the cold-war attitudes of the past. I know that the right hon. Member rejected this charge, but I shall show why I believe that the Opposition reveal many signs of wishing to return to the attitudes of the past. We stand in higher regard today than at most times because we are willing to approach other countries, especially developing countries, on the basis of equality and not on the basis of the patronising superiority that is inherent in many of the policy proposals of the Opposition in the debate.
Second, the hon. Member for Shoreham criticised the Prime Minister for remarks that he made in the United States which were designed to inject a greater sense of realism into the debate that was taking place at that time about the response of the West to events in Zaire and to cool the somewhat feverish atmosphere that existed then.
396 No one could suggest that there was anything in what the Prime Minister said that could be taken as desiring or advocating any sort of appeasement towards the Soviet Union. In fact, it is well known, and was reported in the Press, that in his main statement to the NATO meeting in Washington my right hon. Friend expresed downright criticisms of the Soviet Union on three scores—the massive build-up of arms in the Soviet Union, its intervention in Africa—precisely the point about which the Opposition are concerned—and the violations of human rights in the Soviet Union.
My right hon. Friend doubted, as I and many thinking people in this country doubt, whether the right response to events in Zaire was overt intervention by military means, particularly on a collective basis. The wisdom of what the Prime Minister said has already been endorsed by two facts. First, President Carter, in a speech yesterday, clearly reflected views that were much closer to those of the Prime Minister than to those expressed in the House by the right hon. Member for Knutsford and other Conservative speakers. Secondly, the Paris meeting, which was held to discuss precisely the problem that we are debating, also adopted a position very much closer to that taken by the Government and the Prime Minister in his Washington statement than to the position advocated by the Opposition. Both these facts totally endorse the Prime Minister's position.
My final comment on the speech of the hon. Member for Shoreham relates to the attitude taken by the Opposition on the events in Africa, particularly Zaire. I find surprising and extraordinary the proposal that the EEC might take collective action with the Lomé countries for the defence of Africa. I have read the speech of the right hon. Member for Knutsford with great care, and that is precisely what he was advocating.
§ Mr. John Davies (Knutsford)
I made this point so specifically clear that if the Minister says that he has read my speech I do not understand his incapacity for understanding English. I made abundantly clear that it was not a question of defending Africa; it was a question of providing adequate safeguards in order 397 to ensure that there was not such disruption of individual countries as to undermine their economies. Surely the Minister understands that.
§ Mr. Luard
I have read what the right hon. Gentleman said. He appeared to be implying, and the newspapers took him to be implying, that these arrangements would include some arrangements for collective defence. What concerns me about this attitude is the patronising approach that is taken towards countries in Africa. It seems to be assumed that they cannot make their own decisions about what action is required to be taken for their defence.
There is a considerable difference between a particular African country calling for the assistance of a particular European country, such as France, as was done by Zaire in recent weeks, and the idea that there should be collective arrangements between African countries and European countries as a whole. There is no doubt that this will be taken by large numbers of African countries as an attempt to reimpose a form of neocolonialism. Such collective arrangements would cover only a small proportion of countries in Africa—those that would be willing to accept them—and would be seen as a means of dividing the countries of Africa.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I listened carefully to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) said yesterday and I read his speech. I do not wish to argue about details, but the Minister is speaking from the Front Bench on behalf of the Foreign Office and what he has said in no way accurately reflects what my right hon. Friend said. The Minister should withdraw his remarks.
§ Mr. Luard
I can quote one passage of the right hon. Gentleman's speech immediately. I should like further time to look at the rest of the speech. This passage is an indication of the sort of approach adopted by the right hon. Member for Knutsford. He said: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."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 234.]398 That is a suggestion that the Lomé Convention could be used as a means of securing political stability of countries within Africa. That will be taken by many countries in Africa as an attempt to use economic leverage to influence the political situation in particular African countries. If the right hon. Member does not recognise that, or does not understand that this is how it will be taken in Africa, he has a limited knowledge of the way that African Governments react and feel about such matters. That is why the meeting in Paris turned down the idea of proposing such arrangements.
I turn to other subjects that have not so far been mentioned in the debate. There are, as has often been pointed out, many unsatisfactory features in general foreign affairs debates of the kind that we are engaged in. Discussion tends to flit from one topic to another with alarming rapidity and often no single subject secures adequate attention or debate to cover it in any depth. Such a debate does, however, have one advantage; it provides the opportunity for the discussion of certain topics that are not, perhaps, central or immediate enough to demand separate debates of their own and which otherwise would therefore never get discussed at all.
I wish to devote most of my remarks to three subjects of this kind. They are not, perhaps, of such burning and topical interest as those that were debated yesterday, such as recent events in Africa, or developments in East-West relations, but none the less they are topics that may be of equal importance, in the long term, to the future peace and well-being of the international community. These subjects are the United Nations, the Conference on the Law of the Sea, and our policy on human rights questions—all subjects which I believe deserve an airing here from time to time and which since I have personal responsibility for them within the Foreign Office I am glad to have the opportunity to introduce, this afternoon.
Many hon. Members probably feel towards the United Nations in much the same way as do many of the public outside, that is, as a subject of pained disappointment. Most people want to believe in it and to give it support and want others to do so. They recognise that the world needs such a body and 399 that it could and should be an important force in securing the peace of the world, but they feel let down and disillusioned that it has not, in their eyes, achieved what it was originally hoped to achieve—above all, to secure for us a safer world to live in than we have today.
I understand this sentiment; indeed, I think that we all share it, to some extent. We all wish to see the world become a more peaceful place than it has been in the past 30 years, and we should all like to see a better, stronger and more efficient United Nations, equipped to keep the peace more effectively than it has in recent years.
I share that feeling, but I think that it should be tinged with a sense of realism. The United Nations is not a sort of ideal, amorphous entity floating somewhere in space, which can suddenly transform the nature of the world, the nature of States and the nature of human beings. The United Nations is simply the sum of its member States. It is as good or as bad as they are. It is inevitably a mirror of the world as it is. If that world is divided, so is the United Nations itself.
It would no doube be a great thing if all the nations of the world were agreed in their attitude to all the international crises that emerge in every corner of the world and could immediately join in a common response, within the United Nations, to resolve those crises. However, the sad fact is that the nations of the world are not united in that way. Governments have many differing views on the way that crises should be met. Within the United Nations they express these differing views and so often frustrate effective action by that body to keep the peace.
We do not yet have a supranational body that can intervene to impose an enforced peace on the world. The original hope that the United Nations Security Council could dispose of its own armed force, with which it could keep the peace of the world, which was enshrined in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, was disappointed almost immediately after the United Nations was set up. The negotiations that took place concerning the constitution of that force in 1946–47 broke down within a year. From that moment it has been clear that the United Nations would not enjoy the superiority 400 of power over individual States that would enable it to enforce peace all over the world.
Since that time the United Nations has had to be dependent on moral force alone—on persuasion, on the formulation of principles of peaceful co-existence which might influence the conduct of States and, above all, on seeking conciliation among member States themselves, especially the great Powers among whom mutual understanding is particularly important. Given the major differences in political philosophy and national objectives among different States, it is scarcely surprising that that has been a difficult role for the organisation to play.
In the light of these proposals I do not think that we need be too despondent about the way in which the organisation has evolved or about its record of performance so far. Although enforcement powers have not been available to it it has been able to develop alternative techniques and institutions lo help maintain the peace of the world. Perhaps the most important technique has been the development of peacekeeping forces.
The United Nations has new established seven different peacekeeping forces on different occasions in various parts of the world; from Cyprus to West Iran, from Syria to the Congo. Though not normally expected to fight, these various forces have performed an invaluable role in maintaining the peace in bitterly-contested areas and so helped to prevent a recurrence of fighting. It is a matter of considerable encouragement to those who believe in the United Nations and its role, as do the Government, that at the current Special Session on Disarmament there has been much discussion of ways to expand and strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping capacity.
The United States Government, for example, have made an imaginative proposal for the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping reserve to which member States might contribute contingents and which would make it easier for the United Nations to respond rapidly and effectively in future crisis situations. The Prime Minister has welcomed these ideas and we ourselves have put to the Session related proposals for a study of ways in which to strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping capacity.
401 But we believe that improvements in the availability of United Nations forces of that sort are not enough. Peacekeeping forces are mobilised only after peace has already broken down. Their use is to some extent an admission of defeat, an admission of a failure to maintain the peace. We believe, therefore, that it is also necessary for the United Nations to be in a position to use its influence ear-her to try to prevent such situations arising in the first place. In other words, we think that the organisation needs to improve its capacity for crisis-anticipation. That means that it should have the capability for keeping all possible crisis areas under regular review so that if possible action may be taken by the Organisation to reduce tension in the area or to promote a settlement before the stage of fighting has even begun.
The proposals that we are putting forward for the consideration of the Special Session therefore suggest the consideration of ways to achieve that capability. One step forward might be to try to ensure that there are regular meetings of the United Nations Security Council to keep such situations under review instead of waiting, as at present, until war has broken out before the Council meets. Such meetings should perhaps sometimes be in private and could sometimes be at the level of Foreign Ministers.
Finally, however, even that is not enough. If such meetings of the Council are to achieve anything, they must do more than merely debate the issues. It is necessary that in addition the Council should have at its disposal techniques that will enable it to go to the root of the problem and to promote a settlement of the dispute concerned among the parties. That means, for example, techniques of conciliation or mediation, the appointment of a representative of the Secretary-General to try to sort things out and the setting up of missions of inquiry and conciliation. In other words, the whole series of techniques, often called peaceful settlement of disputes.
Thus the third element of our proposals is that the United Nations should consider ways in which its capabilities may be improved and strengthened so that it may become not merely an organisation for keeping the peace, or for restoring the peace after it has broken down, but for making peace; that is, for resolving 402 the underlying problems that are in dispute between member States.
We believe that between them these three proposals—peacekeeping, crisis anticipation and peaceful settlement—represent an important complement to the measures of arms reductions which are at present being discussed at the Special Session in New York. Unless alternative means of resolving disputes are known to be available, it may be that States will be less willing to agree to reduce their armaments. Conversely, as States learn to place greater trust in the procedures for a peaceful settlement they may feel it less and less worth while to devote huge sums to maintaining large piles of destructive weapons of war.
I turn to another quite different area of the United Nations activity. It is one that rarely features in our debates in this place though it could be of huge importance to the history of the world and could determine the future use and distribution of a large part of the world's remaining resources. I refer to the Conference on the Law of the Sea.
I know that it must seem to some that the conference is a permanent feature of the international scene and that its meetings go on interminably from year to year with endless discussion of highly abstruse supbjects without any signs of appreciable progress. I can understand that feeling. It is true that it is now four and a half years since the conference began and that it has already passed through seven sessions without arriving at a conclusion.
It is not the case that no progress has been made during that period. Given the complexities of the subject, the magnitude of the issues and the radical differences of interest among States, it is perhaps remarkable how much progress has been made. We do at least have the draft of a complete treaty, even though it is only what is called a negotiating text, to which no country is committed and which we ourselves would not be willing to accept in its present form. Moreover, it is the draft of a treaty of huge scope, covering an enormous range of separate subjects from some fundamental issues that have been contested literally for centuries, such as the breadth of the terroritorial sea and the rules of innocent passage, to novel but equally important questions relating to marine pollution, marine scientific research, the economic 403 zone, and such esoteric but not insignificant topics as the law on archipelagoes, the access of land-locked States to the sea, pirate radio stations, and rights over archaeological treasures beneath the oceans.
On the majority of these subjects there is a considerable measure of agreement and it is unlikely that the treaty will require significant amendment. Unfortunately, there are one or two questions—they are among the most important on which there remain considerable differences. It is on these that recent discussions have concentrated, including the session that has just ended at Geneva, part of which I attended. Most important of these is the system of exploitation to be established for the resources lying in the deeper parts of the ocean beyond the jurisdiction of any individual State—in other words, in the international area of the oceans. Even here there is a measure of consensus. It is agreed that there should be an international sea bed authority that will oversee the exploitation of the mineral nodules that are the main resource in the area, and that exploitation should take place under the so-called parallel system—
§ Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it permitted for the Under-Secretary of State to read his brief without any attempt to speak to the House?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Myer Galpern)
It is the practice of the House to allow Ministers, for the sake of accuracy, to read their speeches. I notice that occasionally the Under-Secretary of State has raised his eyes.
§ Mr. Luard
It is agreed that there should be an international sea bed authority to oversee the exploitation of the mineral nodules which are the main resource in the area and that exploitation should take place under the so-called parallel system, under which production will be in part by individual companies, whether private or public, against payment of a royalty to the international authority, and by an international enterprise which will be fully multinational and will give an opportunity for developing States to take a part in the development of these resources. What is not yet 404 agreed is the precise way that this system will operate.
As a consuming nation which possesses few of the resources concerned, we have a close interest in ensuring that the system will not unnecessarily inhibit the proper development of these resources for the benefit of mankind as a whole. After all, most nations are consumers and share this interest with us.
We also recognise that these resources are generally seen as the "common heritage of mankind" from which all States, poor as well as rich, small as well as big, expect to benefit. Therefore, we support the view that exploitation should be internationally regulated and that the benefits, including the opportunity of playing a part in exploitation, should be shared among the international community as a whole.
We agree that the enterprise should get financial and technical assistance to make that possible. However, we wish to be assured that no unnecessary restrictions are placed on undersea production, whether through production controls or excessive financial burdens; that, so far as possible, essential decisions are taken on a basis of consensus, or at least widespread agreement, not simply imposed by a majority vote; and that we should secure a satisfactory definition of the edge of the continental margin on which the Soviet Union has now come forward with a new formula which is quite unacceptable to us.
There was progress on some of these points at the recent session of the conference at Geneva, and we hope that there will be more when that session is resumed in New York in the middle of August. Though all participating States have been willing to be patient until now, that patience will not last indefinitely. Pressures are building up in some countries in favour of domestic legislation which would permit exploitation in the area by private companies, at least on an interim basis, until a treaty comes into effect. Therefore, it is important that progress should be made on the remaining points within the reasonably near future.
I suggest that this is an important topic. It is not often debated here, but it would be of some value if we could debate it 405 here on some occasion. We have important interests in this conference. It is a vital matter and it is important that the details should be right. We would like to think that it may be possible to reach final agreement on a treaty at the next full session of the conference, which will probably take place early next year, and we shall certainly do all that we can to help to bring this about.
Finally, I turn to the much discussed and disputed subject of human rights, which was referred to by the hon. Member for Shoreham—in particular, the policy which the Government are seeking to pursue. I believe that there is general acceptance in the House that human rights questions in all parts of the world are a legitimate subject of international concern and public discussion in other countries. It is no longer possible for any Government to try to hide behind the wall of national sovereignty and to tell everybody else to go away. The wall dividing States has now become transparent. With the decline in distance and the increase in communications which has taken place, we are all too well aware of what is happening in other countries to remain indifferent to what happens there.
Individuals and organisations, and even Governments, will inevitably express their own deeply-held views about violations of human rights which they know are being committed by other Governments in other countries. Members of the House have within the last year or so on a number of occasions expressed their views in no uncertain terms about actions which have taken place in South Africa, Cambodia and the Soviet Union which have aroused their outrage and indignation. I am sure that this will continue to happen. The Government believe that it is their duty to reflect in their own actions the views, feelings and values which are widely spread in our society.
Sir Bernard Braille (Essex, South-East)
In view of that very clear statement, why do the Government continue to enter into arms deals with countries where violations of human rights are well known to the Government and to the world at large? I have Indonesia particularly in mind. How do the hon. Gentleman's words square with the Government's actions?
§ Sir B. Braine rose—
§ Mr. Luard
And E1 Salvador. We do it on particular occasions. But clearly this is a major action for any Government to take and we have to consider each case carefully on its merits.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreham expressed great concern about human rights—I know and accept that he has a genuine concern about these matters—but he also mentioned the importance of maintaining good relations with two Governments which are not universally known for their respect for human rights—Iran and Argentina. I accept these are difficult problems. They are problems for the House as a whole. It is for the Opposition to say whether they believe that we should cut off arms supplies to any particular country, including those two countries. We would take account of views expressed in the House, but I do not undertake that we shall cut off arms supplies immediately to any country where there are reports of violations of human rights.
We shall certainly continue, especially within those organisations which are specifically concerned with such matters—this includes the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the conferences which are taking place under the Helsinki agreement—to make clear the views of our own people on matters of this kind.
I do not need to make much reference to our actions concerning the Soviet Union and East Europe, since this matter was discussed yesterday, except to say that we regard it as a basic corollary of the Helsinki agreement that the behaviour of the Soviet and other East European Governments to their own nationals is 407 a legitimate subject for discussion by Western Governments, above all when considering the implementation of that agreement.
Far from expressions of concern on that subject being in any way in conflict with the process of detente, detente itself depends on the Governments who are parties to the Helsinki agreement continuing to observe its provisions regarding human rights. If the Soviet Union, as it declares, is concerned to maintain the process of detente, it should be in no doubt that actions, such as the recent Orlov trial and those said to be planned against Shcharansky and Ginsburg, by the effect that they have on public opinion in the West, must put the whole process of detente seriously at risk.
So far as other parts of the world are concerned, the main international body is the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It was partly in response to strong expressions of opinion in the House, as well as to the feelings widespread in the country as a whole, that the Government decided to take up within the Commission the question of widely attested and particularly brutal violations of human rights in Cambodia. That was almost the first time that the actions of a particular Government in violation of human rights had been taken up as a separate agenda item in the Commission's public proceedings, though it has frequently considered individual complaints under confidential procedures.
We were therefore gratified that a number of countries supported the protest that we made on the subject and that the Commission eventually decided to ask the Cambodian Government, who are not members of the Commision and were not present, to provide some reply to the charges that we made. In the light of that reply, consideration of the matter will he resumed in the sub-Commission which will be meeting in Geneva in August. I hope that that body will be prepared to reach a substantive finding in the light of the evidence which we and others have produced, or, if not, at least to decide to send a commission of inquiry to look at the situation in Cambodia on the spot.
I know that many people believe that the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is an ineffective or a politically biased body that has not per 408 formed the role that it should have done in this area. It is true that in the past the Commission has sometimes been somewhat selective in the attention which it has devoted to human rights violations, concentrating particularly on two or three countries, such as South Africa, Israel or Chile, while turning a blind eye to equally appalling violations committed in other lands. I believe there are some signs that this is changing.
At its last session, the Commission considered the situation in nine different countries all over the world under its confidential procedure. As a result, according to Press reports, the Ugandan Government have agreed to accept a mission to be sent by the Commission to examine the human rights situation in that country. These are welcome steps in the right direction.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
My hon. Friend has mentioned detente and the United Nations Commission. He has not mentioned the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers of which has had before it for over three years a specific report about violations of human rights in Cyprus and which all the Western countries have so far done their best to prevent seeing the light of day, although it has been seen in newspapers in this country and in Greece.
I understand that the Committee meets again in September. What will the Government's attitude be when the Committee considers the report again?
§ Mr. Luard
My hon. Friend's intervention proves that it is not a good idea to give way as often as I have today. His question was not closely related to the subject about which I am talking. I agree that the European Commission on Human Rights and the European Court are the most effective institutions which operate in this area. I shall not comment on the Cyprus case. Neither this Government nor any other, so far as I am aware, have tried to suppress the report. It will come up in due course.
There are other signs of renewed activity and greater boldness on the part of the Commission. There are proposals, which we support, that it should meet twice a year instead of only once, as at present, or at least that it should meet for a considerably longer period. There are suggestions for the establishment of 409 regional commissions of human rights where these do not already exist, for example, in Africa and Asia. This is also a valuable idea that we favour.
The long-standing proposal for the appointment of a United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has secured more widespread support in recent years. A convention on torture is now being discussed in the Commission and there is a working group looking at the rights of those in detention and another considering the rights of patients in mental hospitals, a subject of great importance in view of the actions of certain countries. All these are signs that the Commission might be beginning to move in the right direction. We shall continue our efforts, whether we are ourselves represented in the Commission or not, to use it as a more effective watchdog for the protection of human rights all over the world.
But perhaps the most important thing that we can do is to continue to emphasise in our public statements and even more perhaps in our private representations the importance which we attach to human rights and to raise it to the top of the international agenda. This is an important support to those within each country where rights are being violated in seeking to protect themselves and to bring about the changes necessary within their own society. It may even eventually affect the attitudes of Governments in such countries and lead them to recognise and attach a higher degree of importance to the preservation of human rights in relation to other national goals.
I have mentioned three particular areas involving human rights and United Nations activity. I stress that the Government have attempted to make the United Nations the centrepiece of their foreign policy. In doing that we have the support of the Labour movement and of a wide section in the country. They recognise and support the determined efforts that we have made to attach greater importance to the United Nations and to strengthen the United Nations institutions. I believe that this is the right policy for us to have pursued.
I deliberately decided to devote my remarks today to subjects that do not normally feature prominently in our debates here, at least in Front Bench 410 speeches, because they are not the subject matter of headlines or the latest news bulletins, nor of such urgency as other features of the international scene. But I hope that no hon. Member will suggest that on those grounds they are matters of little consequence which are scarcely worth debating in this House.
My own belief is that over the long term the matters that I have been discussing—the development of the United Nation's peacekeeping capacity, the negotiation of a new system of law governing the oceans, a new international regime for exploiting ocean resources, and the international protection of human rights—can be of greater importance to the future history of the world, and the future welfare of individual human beings, than many of the more immediate topics that we sometimes discuss.
The action that we take in these areas can, if only slowly and indirectly, affect the whole structure of relationships among States and the character of the international community within which we live. If we do not often debate them it is no doubt partly because they are long-term rather than immediate, but nobody would suggest that the long-term does not matter.
It is also perhaps partly because each of these questions is so complex, and the difficulty of securing progress so apparent, that it is not always easy to know what any single Government can do about them that will have any effect. It is true that it is no easy matter to secure agreement to changes in the procedures or structures of international organisations, still less to influence the behaviour of Government in their policies towards their own peoples, as we attempt to do through human rights policies. But this does not mean that it is not at least worth attempting to do so.
The ultimate benefits to be gained through advances in any of these spheres are so enormous that even small steps forward can be valuable. A series of small steps can add up to quite a considerable advance. I hope that the House will agree that, whatever the difficulties, therefore, and whatever the differences among Governments about the way forward—and they are considerable—we should continue our efforts to make progress in these areas, which, if successful, may eventually help create for ourselves 411 and our children a more peaceful, a more just and a more humane world.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Chipping Barnet)
In view of the early exchanges between the two Front Benches I have apologised to the Minister who will reply to the debate that because of a constituency engagement I might not return in time to hear the whole of his speech.
As I listened to the debate, and particularly to the Foreign Secretary yesterday, I came to the conclusion that we are becoming totally bemused by words. We are beginning to ignore facts and actions. In particular, there is the word "detente". I thoroughly detest it. I do not know what it means. I do not believe that anybody knows what it really means. It tends to mean whatever the person using it says that it means. That is not a good basis for a sensible discussion.
If we look at the relations between nations we find that there is a wide scale of different degrees of relationship. If relations are bad they can range from actual hostilities, through preparation for war to hostility by all means short of war. If relations are good they can range from tolerance, perhaps indifference, or positive dislike, through willing cooperation to genuine friendship. There is an enormous scale of relationships.
Where does detente fit in? I do not know. I do not understand and I do not believe that anybody can explain it to me.
The process of detente is proceeding precisely through the one extreme to the other which the right hon Member so skilfully defined. Relation ships range from extreme hostility to close friendship. Detente is the process by which one tries to move in that direction.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is slightly vague as a guide to action. I do not know what point on the scale of detente we are talking about. It is important to know exactly what one is talking about, because uncertainty and misunderstanding are dangerous. Nothing is to be 412 gained by the two great forces in the world shouting at each other across a void of mutual misunderstanding and mistrust.
The world is divided into two main groups, both of which possess, first, the power to destroy the greater part of mankind and, secondly, an ideology of their own. That is a word which I do not like much, but I think that we know what it means. Ideology is something which both sides would like to spread throughout the world because they believe in it.
We must not underestimate the total change in warfare which has been brought about by nuclear weapons. In a modern war involving nuclear weapons the only victor will be Death himself. We must never forget that. The Prime Minister was absolutely right to say that either we live together with the Communists or we die together. But that does not mean that we have to appease them. It certainly does not mean that the peaceful conflict of ideas should be halted. It does not mean that either side should cease to promote their own ideas and interests by all legitimate means.
We must be realistic, against the background of what an all-out war would mean, in the measures that we intend to take to meet the dangers that must be defined as precisely as possible.
There are three dangers. There are practical means of two kinds for dealing with those dangers. The first is of a limited and local nature. The second is by the general reaction—the withdrawal of co-operation over the whole field, in particular, for example, the withdrawal of economic co-operation. These are quite different forms of action—limited and local on the one hand, or general on the other. We must apply to each problem that which is appropriate.
It has been generally agreed in the debate that we face three main dangers. These are the build-up of the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union's attitude to human rights, and Soviet-Cuban activities, particularly in Africa. I shall deal with each in turn.
On the first, we must continue to press for disarmament. To break off disarmament talks, either on nuclear or conventional weapons, would be counterproductive. It would not lead to the Soviets building less, and it would not 413 reduce the danger of war. But with continuing negotiations we should build up our own nuclear and conventional strength.
On the nuclear side there is a certain misunderstanding. It is not necessary to have as many nuclear weapons as the Soviet Union. We have to have enough of a quality adequate for the Russians to know that if they attack us they will be destroyed. It is an adequate deterrent for a man to know that if he attacks he will be destroyed. There is no great gain in persuading him that he will be destroyed three times over.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I take the right hon. Gentleman's point clearly. One needs to demonstrate that one can destroy one's enemy. However, since we can already destroy him up to three times over, how can we deter him by offering him the possibility that we can destroy him five times over?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is what I was trying to say. There is no additional advantage in telling one's enemy that one can kill him three times over.
On conventional arms, I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister say recently that the lime had come to build up the conventional strength of NATO. His conversion appears to be a little late, but we should welcome it.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
In view of my right hon. Friend's eloquent statement in The Times some months ago, would he approve of the American President's agreeing to build and deploy the cruise missile and the neutron warhead as a means of countering the enormous conventional advantage of the Soviets in central Europe?
§ Mr. Maudling
I think that ultimately peace will depend on the Americans having weapons adequate to convince the Soviets that any attack upon us would be mutually destructive. I regard the neutron weapon, which kills human beings without damaging property, as the ultimate insult to God. But if it be necessary in order to preserve peace and mankind from nuclear war, it must happen. Above all, it is our responsibility in the West to make it absolutely clear that we are adequately armed to deter any Communist aggression. That is our first 414 and foremost responsibility to ourselves and our children.
I hope that we shall not rely too much on China. It is no doubt convenient that the Chinese are also hostile to Russia. However, I am old enough to remember the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, when their two great dictator countries, which had been snarling at each other, suddenly shook hands and unleashed Hitler across Western Europe. Let us not rely on China to support us. This is a welcome friendship, but we must rely on our own Western resources to provide an adequate deterrent.
I come to my second point, which is human rights. There is a great and genuine difference of outlook on this matter between West and East. I remember talking to Mr. Gromyko a year or two back, when I asked why he would not allow more Soviet Jews to leave his country. His reply was "Mr. Maudling, we in the Soviet Union accord to almost all our citizens the privilege of leaving their country." I replied to him that to leave one's country was not a privilege, but a right. It is this gap between us which prevents the Soviet Union from understanding how deeply shocked we in the West are by the treatment that the Soviets have given to men such as Orlov. Until they understand how deep is our concern they will not understand how important it is for them to make a move in this direction.
I welcome the Government's action in pressing upon the Soviet Union—and building up world opinion on the matter—how much damage the Soviets are doing to themselves by neglecting the issue of human rights, an issue which means so much to so many people throughout the world.
Finally, I turn to Africa. We must take more definite action in that continent. We must put more support behind the internal settlement in Rhodesia. I hope that it is still possible to bring Mr. Nkomo into the agreement, but I am deeply shocked by the remarks attributed to him today about how the killing of white people must go on, especially when that is followed by the headline in today's newspapers saying that a young white schoolteacher has been killed by the guerillas. That is not conducive to a settlement in Rhodesia. We must do 415 everything we can to make a settlement possible.
In a wider African context, we must support our friends more openly and not be afraid of doing so. If we do that, I believe that we shall earn respect. My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) referred to the enormous amount of good will that still exists in Africa for this country. It would be enhanced, not reduced, if we showed more determination to support our friends. Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary indicated that he wanted to be impartial in all these African matters. That may be the ideal approach, but the Soviet Union and the Cubans are not impartial. If they support their friends I am afraid that partiality, in the form of supporting our friends, must be our watchword.
The Soviets go in to help friendly Governments who ask them. They go in to help friendly political parties that ask them and declare them to be Governments—as they did in Angola—in order to legitimise their claim to enter those countries. If we receive an invitation to help a friendly Government we should give that help, not only in economic terms but through supplying their requirements to maintain their position.
It is asked whether we should shore up those inferior, doubtful and questionable regimes in Africa, of which I imagine there are a number. Does anyone believe that the substitution of a Communist regime for any of them would produce a better, less corrupt or more humane government? Of course not. That is a bogus argument. We must go in to help our friends. The trouble is that we still suffer from the Western hang-up, of Vietnam in the case of America and of colonialism in the case of this country. Such thinking is out of date. It is not we but the Soviets who are the colonialists, and the people of Africa are beginning to realise that.
The right way to organise this approach is on a European basis. We should stress more than we do the enormous aid that we are giving to countries in Africa. It far outdistances anything that the Russians do. The proportion is absurd. The vast bulk of aid to developing countries comes not from the Communists but from the West. If we stress that and 416 if we are seen to be helping our friends we shall win respect. We shall deserve success and we shall gain it.
§ Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify one point? He spoke of dubious regimes. If such regimes were our friends would he support them without regard to the abuses of human rights or other matters that they may be perpetrating? Would he support the South African Government in spite of its adherence to apartheid?
§ Mr. Maudling
If we think that Government are abusing human rights we are far more likely to be able to influence them into adopting better behaviour if we are their friends than if they become Communists. That is the simple answer.
Is it true that detente should be—as Lenin, I think, said of peace—indivisible? Does it make sense, to use a frivolous metaphor, to rub noses with a man in friendship at one end and then to kick him in the shins at the other? Does it make sense to have these differing attitudes between two groups on different things and to call that detente?
I think that it does make sense. I think that for the time being, at any rate, we must continue with a situation where the move towards better relations is patchy and difficult, and we must deal with local problems by local solutions and particular solutions of the kind that I have been putting forward. It may come to the point when the whole effort to achieve peace and friendship will collapse, but God forbid that that day should ever come.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I am afraid that the House is sometimes a little impatient when in a debate of this kind one Privy Councillor rises after another. However, I suppose that I may, in a kind of inverted way, claim the indulgence of the House, as this may be the last occasion when I shall talk in the House on foreign affairs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] That depends, of course, on a number of eventualities.
The right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) said that the object, and the sole object, of foreign policy should be to protect the realm and further the interests of the British people. I suggest that that definition is like an 417 unstable element—the moment that one planks it down, it starts to transmute itself into something else.
When one speaks of protecting the realm, one is obliged to think in terms of alliances, and one has to consider what are the main dangers that threaten the world. Then one has to decide what one's attitude is to be towards the causes of those dangers. If one speaks of furthering the interests of the British people, after a little reflection one realises that in the long term, the interests of the British people are the interests of mankind.
There are short-term occasions in, say, an argument about fisheries or an argument in the EEC about agricultural policy, on which one can say "Here is a conflict of interest between ourselves and another nation". It is extremely important in foreign policy always to try to minimise that kind of thing.
In the long term, I suppose for any nation but peculiarly for a nation that lives by international trade as much as we do, our main interest is the establishment of canons of just and civilised behaviour between nations. That was the importance of the concluding part of the speech today of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary.
Therefore, even if we start with a conventional definition of foreign policies protecting the realm and furthering the interests of the British people, we find that we are obliged in the end to consider detente, the United Nations, Africa and all the rest of it. From whatever point of definition we start, we find that we are in the world, part of it, and have responsibilities and opportunities in it.
I mentioned recognising the dangers that there are in the world. I do not think that it can be disputed that the main danger—not the only danger—is the confrontation of the two vast armed camps that we call the East and the West. There are other factors to be considered as well, but that is where the main danger lies. It is that we may not be able to keep the peace permanently between those two groupings.
In my judgment, that conflict is basically a conflict about ideas. Some speakers have argued as though the present attitudes of the Soviet Government were simply a continuation of Tsarist imperial 418 ambition. I think that there may be something to be said from that point of view. It was said of one Communist leader once that whatever kind of Government exists in Russia, one still has to go through the Dardanelles to get from the Black Sea to the Aegean. There are certain factors of geography that cause some continuity of policy despite changes of regime and ideology. But I think that we must now add to that the fact that the Soviet Union has a view about how human affairs ought to be run, and a view, following Marxist philosophy, of how they probably will go, which is in conflict with what we believe in our country about human liberty and human rights. It is, at bottom an ideological conflict.
Much has been said in the debate about the importance of standing up for human rights. However, we must notice this: a private individual or a group of private individuals can and ought to proclaim their belief in human rights emphatically, decisively and without reservation. I ask the House to consider, however, that the attitude of a Government must at times be different from that.
Suppose that our Government are faced with, say, a gross denial of human rights by another Government towards one of our citizens. Our Government must then ask what kind of attitude would be most helpful to the unfortunate man. Is the help to be attempted by private representation? Is it to be done by public protest? Are we to think of any form of trading sanction in order to get what we want? In all these matters, the Governments are obliged to think of not only what is noble but what is prudent. That is why I think that we are unwise to try to set down absolute rules about how Governments ought to behave about trading with countries whose regimes we dislike and about selling arms to them.
I believe that in each case one has to ask what course of action is most likely to help the human beings involved and to make it more likely that the denials of human rights will become less severe.
That, of course, is a much more difficult job than making general proclamations about how one ought to behave towards Government with whom one disagrees, but it is a job which, if one takes foreign affairs seriously, one must undertake, and Governments are having to 419 undertake it all the time. I shall refer to that matter later, giving one or two particular examples.
It seems to me that to deal with what I have described as the main threat, not only to the protection of our realm and the interests of the British people but to mankind, we must deal with the uneasy balance of terror between East and West. I still believe, despite all that has been said against detente, that the right policy for us now is to make the best we possibly can of detente. In response to the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), I shall try to state one or two of the things that I think that this means.
It means, first, a resolve to make relations as normal as possible. If a particular incident arises, we should seek to deal with it quietly and patiently by diplomacy and not to let it flare up in headlines. It means also the encouragement of trading and cultural relations between ones citizens and the citizens of the country with which one is trying to pursue detente.
In that connection, I was pleased to see that the Foreign Secretary referred to cultural exchanges. It may seem a small matter in view of the great issues involved between the Warsaw Pact and the NATO Alliance. I am not sure that it is all that small. I believe that wherever human beings from either side meet together to discuss literature, the arts, drama, science, or whatever it may be, wherever there is a chance for them to meet and discuss freely, that is likely to redound to the advantage of the free society.
As we are in a situation in which we cannot, by some brilliant stroke of policy, remove the danger threatening mankind overnight, we have got to plod away in anything that is useful, because we have got to continue—if we can; if the world does not take a turn for the worse—the policy of detente, the mixture of patience and firmness, for decades. That is why something that seems at first a small item, such as cultural exchanges, may prove extremely valuable. We must bear in mind that this is something with which we can go on and on for a long time.
The Government have been told to pursue more robust action, but too little definition has been given to the word "robust" in the criticism of the Government.
420 Another thing that we can do is in the area of disarmament. I agree with the Foreign Secretary that the position of what are euphemistically called strategic weapons is not unhopeful at present, but the arguments about trying to reach a balance of conventional weapons are still in an unsatisfactory state. Our attitude there must be to make it clear that we are ready to reduce our armaments if multilateral agreement can be reached and that if it cannot we have both the will and the power to match the conventional armaments of the Warsaw Pact. That also is something that we must make clear all the time, in the hope that in time it will be heard.
In some of the criticism of the Government's policy towards armaments it is overlooked that we are doing exactly what our NATO allies are doing and what they want us to do. If the Opposition intend to go on making cracks about the Government's policy on defence, they should tell us whether they want the Government to go further than the present plans approved in NATO. I do not think that any responsible critic really wants that.
It is almost an inevitable transition to move from the main East-West confrontation to Africa, although the Foreign Secretary was right to remind us that we should not talk of Africa as if it were mainly one of the fields of East-West confrontation. That is the kind of mistake that our education system used to make, in encouraging British children to grow up with the idea that the history of India started with the battle of Plassey. Africa had its own place in the world and its own relations with Europe long before we were talking about the present East-West confrontation.
We must try to see this problem, so far as we can—again, it is not easy and requires a great effort of imagination—through African eyes. When one tries to do that it will appear that one of the first things that politically-minded Africans, responsible for the government of their countries, want is that their frontiers are respected, that they are not attacked from outside and that attempts are not made to dismember their countries.
Admittedly, those frontiers were drawn for them by the imperial powers in the last century, but they have decided—I 421 think rightly—that those frontiers must be the basis on which Africa should work. Otherwise, the continent may be torn in pieces by tribal rivalries. I think that they are firmly convinced of that.
Now they face increasing threats to those frontiers, threats to chop off parts of a country, threats of invasion by rebels of one country using a neighbouring country as a base. In asking what we should do about that, we must admit first of all that this is primarily Africa's problem and that any attempts to solve it for them over their heads will only make it worse.
It is fair, if we do not lecture too much, to suggest to them that the problem is theirs but to add that we are not merely denying our own primary responsibility but are pointing out that it is a problem and that things will get more difficult for them if they do not find a solution. It may be that in finding a solution, occasions will arise when they will want help from particular European countries—even, in some circumstances, although I hope not too often, military help.
The role of European countries must be to stand ready to help if it is clearly the wish of Africa that we should help. If anyone thinks that that is too humble a role for Europeans, that is simpjly Nemesis at work. In the last century much could be said about the good and ill done by European rule in Africa in the last century, but one thing has to be admitted: whether it was good or evil, it was carried out mainly for European purposes. If it benefited Africans, it did so incidentally. Europeans now must be prepared to wait a bit and help to serve African purposes. As I say, that is the Nemesis of past policies.
§ Mr. Hooley
I am following my right hon. Friend's argument carefully and I agree with much of it, but surely when he says that African countries may need defence help, it is a mistake to talk in terms of Europe rather than the United Nations, because it is the responsibility of the United Nations—of course Europe plays a powerful part—to give defence assistance under the authority of the Security Council. It is not a European responsibility.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think that, certainly the first time I mentioned the matter, I 422 referred to "European countries", thinking of them individually. If I later used the shorthand "Europe" I agree that that was an error. I should like to think that the United Nations could step forward readily and quickly to help when wanted, but we know how difficult it is. For the time being individual European countries may have to help—as indeed we gave a modest amount of help when we allowed the Nigerian Government to purchase arms in this country when it was dealing with one of those attempts to dismember Africa, the Biafran rebellion, which could have done so much injury to the whole continent.
I cannot agree with the view of the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) that all this could be done through the mechanism of the Lomé Convention. He really said:In my view, such a force—he was clearly speaking of a military force—particularly in Africa, would be formed within the framework of the discussion between the European Community and the African members of the Lomé Convention".—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 237.]If that means what it seems to mean, it is totally the wrong way of going about this matter.
If the first thing that Africa wants is respect for her frontiers and the avoidance of aggression and disruption, another thing that she wants is modernisation, the technology which can bring her into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and help to bridge the immense gap between their standards of life and ours. Of course African society contains people at the very simplest level of subsistence and people who are aware of all that modern technology can give. Not all in these communities live in complete ignorance of the possibilities of the world. Some still live at a low level, but others are fully aware of what can be done by wise economic policy and technical aid.
§ Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
The right hon. Gentleman criticised my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) for suggesting that the Community might be involved in any force provided. He quoted column 237 of the Official Report in support of that criticism. Would it not have been fairer also to quote from 423 the preceding column? My right hon. Friend said: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".—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 236.]Surely my right hon. Friend was there making it clear that any question of a European involvement in the provision of a force was concerned with the possible rescue of Europeans in danger of massacre in African States. It would have been fairer if the right hon. Gentleman had pointed that out.
§ Mr. Stewart
Even if I accepted—I am not sure that everyone who read it would accept—that interpretation of that paragraph, it would not alter the fact that the vehicle through which the right hon. Gentleman wanted it done was the Lomé Convention. All I am saying is that I think that the right hon. Gentleman got it wrong. The hon. Gentleman should not be so upset about it. It is a legitimate opinion on what I think was an error of judgment on the part of the right hon. Member for Knutsford.
Turning to the question of the modernisation of Africa, Europe has to stand ready to help where possible. But wherever we do that, there is the danger of being accused of paternalism. If we try to monitor the giving of aid, to see that it is not wasted in inefficiency or through corruption, there is the suggestion of neo-Imperialism. What is needed is the creation of a greater measure of trust between European and African.
I am sure that one of the legacies of Imperial rule was a deep scepticism on the part of the Africans as to the good intentions of Europe. I think that sometimes they overdo that scepticism. How can we gain such trust? One thing is clear. We must make clear the uncompromising opposition of this country to racial policies. If we do not do that we shall get nowhere. That means, I am afraid—for the sake of the Opposition—that we cannot play about urging the Government to put all of their money on the internal settlement in Rhodesia. It will not work. The attempt to thrust the prestige of the British Government 424 behind it will destroy the trust which we hope to get from the African people.
The plain and terrible fact is that if the internal settlement merely goes on as it is the war will not stop. Those who are trying to make the internal settlement are those who will be defeated, with dreadful results for Rhodesia and perhaps wider afield. We must do what the Government are trying to do, namely to get all of the parties together. I do not know whether that will be successful. To attempt to do this on the basis of the internal settlement alone will fail in itself, and will create a profound distrust of British intentions.
Similarly, we must look at some of our policies at home. I believe that the way in which we handle racial problems at home is noted in African countries. It was extremely unfortunate that a few months ago, in pursuit of ephemeral electoral advantage, the Leader of the Opposition should have made a statement which was bound to create between black and white people in this country. It was deplorable for this country and unhappy in its effects on our position in Africa. It is unfortunate too, that the Conservative majority on the greatest local authority in the country, the Greater London Council, is apparently beginning to introduce some form of apartheid into its housing policy. I hope that the Conservative Party will consider the implications of that, and how it may be interpreted.
§ Mr. Douglas Hurd (Mid-Oxon)
The right hon. Gentleman is usually fair. Can he say, with regard to that last reference, at whose request this arrangement has been considered?
§ Mr. Stewart
It does not make a difference in that, although I can see the reasons why a well-intentioned person might accept this policy, I still say that it is a disastrous one. It is an attempt to deal with a short-term difficulty in a way which will magnify difficulties in future and damage the reputation of this country.
Foreign policy can sometimes be pursued by great striking acts that alter the whole current of events; sometimes, but 425 not often, particularly if a country is not a super-Power. For the most part, it must be pursued by the steady and persistent maintenance of the right policies and the right principles, the maintenance by us of a belief in human liberty, in the rule of international law, in the attempt to make detente a success, in the struggle for racial equality—and by doing all of this through the groups to which we belong, the United Nations, the European Community, the North Atlantic Alliance.
It was once said that we had lost an Empire and not yet found a role. I suggest that the continuing pursuit of those principles in the various fora open to us is a role worth pursuing. If we lose an empire and have that role instead we benefit by the exchange.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) said that this might be the last speech that he would make in a foreign affairs debate. Without wishing to probe too delicately into his prophecies and into the knowledge that he has, may I say that I hope that it is not and that between now and October we shall have other foreign affairs debates in which we shall hear him speak. I agreed with him when he said that he thought that the cry for robust policies from the Opposition had not been very well defined. We certainly had a robust speech from the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) last night which seemed to have more to do with the Tribune Group than with foreign affairs.
The speech reminded me of an incident concerning a colleague of mine at the United Nations who found the speech of a Russian delegate. Fortunately, he was able to read Russian. The speech had in the margin "Weak point. Shout". It is easy to be robust in foreign affairs by shouting. No one would accuse the Minister of State of having shouted in his speech. There was no need for him to start with an apologia of the United Nations, saying "Everyone thinks it is so awful. I do not go along that way but I can understand peoples reservations" and all the rest. I prefer to be much more robust about the United Nations. I hope that I shall be so.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Yes, I may shout—so that the hon. Gentleman can not only hear but comprehend.
I say to the Under-Secretary, for whom I have respect and regard, that fortunately his speech was a lecture in monotone as opposed to oratory in technicolour. If it had been the latter, it might have been more damaging in its references to the United Nations than it was. Many parts of his speech were difficult to follow. I hope that in future the Foreign Office, when it gives us speeches, will do just that and not give us lectures.
Since the debate started, we have had the speech of President Carter in Annapolis in which he said that the stark choice for the Soviet Union was between confrontation and detente. What is also enormously important, and it is something with which I totally agree, is that the pursuit of genuine disarmament is so vital in its own right that it should not be subject to a veto on the basis that we disagree with the Russians in other spheres. In other words, the issue should stand on its own merits.
If the political will for detente is there on the part of the Russians, we shall be able to test it very soon in the disarmament negotiations at various levels. We shall be able to test it in Vienna with MBFR. I would have liked to hear more from the Foreign Secretary as to why he had a basic optimism about this matter. It seems that progress has been very slow indeed. We have had a joint declaration between Mr. Brezhnev and Chancellor Schmidt about the acceptance of parity and equality being a sufficient defence for each side. But, apart from that, I have not seen any very great move in the direction of optimism. I hope that I am wrong and that, if there are optimistic indicators, we shall hear about them later.
There is also the Special General Assembly in New York. I remember Henry Kissinger once saying that there was a new factor in disarmament which was that the intelligence possessed by both sides was now so refined and so expert that when the Russians told the Americans how many nuclear warheads and missiles and submariens they had they were usually right. Likewise, when the Americans tell the Russians how many they have, they, too, are usually right. Therefore, the capacity for cheating has 427 been considerably reduced in the past 20 years. This gives us some basis for working upon realistic figures. It will be the political will of the Soviet Union that will be tested in the disarmament talks. We have already achieved a test ban treaty in the United Nations. If the political will is there, this could logically be extended to a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing.
Then there is the extension of nuclear-free zones. This was something put forward for Europe by Mr. Rapacki many years ago. It was shelved then for Europe but it has already been achieved for Latin America. I see no reason why it should not be achieved in the Indian Ocean.
The possibility of a settlement on SALT II again is dependent upon political will. Confidence-building measures have already been tested in Sinai, where we have refined surveillance methods. The Prime Minister, in his speech to the General Assembly, suggested that that might be extended to a wider field.
Then there is the question of the restriction of the sale of conventional arms. I fear that this is the area where we are most unlikely to have success. The number of wars in the world kept going by arms being sold to both sides by the richer nations is an appalling commentary. I shall not follow the right hon. Gentleman up the Biafran path, but that was not a happy part of our foreign affairs.
But, if it be correct that the political will of the Soviet Union will be tested in the disarmament talks, it would also be right that we should make disarmament a matter which is not subject to a veto because of our disagreement in other areas. Nevertheless, I think that it is still right and relevant and that we are entitled to probe Russian intentions in other areas to test their credibility. I refer here briefly to human rights and to Africa.
There is no doubt that the Russians have been in flagrant breach of Basket III, dealing with human rights. The trial of Orlov was a travesty even by Russian law; it was in a closed court; he had no opportunity to have a counsel of his own choice. The reason why he was unrepresented was because he could only get someone on what is called the "dubov", the list kept by the KGB of people who 428 are approved for political trials, and even if a defendant has one of these counsel assigned to him he has to plead guilty.
We do not know what the fate of Shcharansky and Ginsburg will be. It is also quite interesting that even one of Russia's most distinguished citizens, the cellist Rostopovich, who has had his critizenship arbitrarily withdrawn, has yet to receive any official notification from the Soviet Union. He learnt about it, and assumed it to be correct, on French television.
I believe that the issues of human rights are issues on which public opinion in this country can exercise just as much pressure as the Government of the day, and sometimes more effectively That is why I believe—and here I agree with the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling)—that it is vital to indicate to the Soviet Union, as, indeed, to Latin American and other nations, that human rights is something to which we in the West attach immense importance.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I am interested in the right hon. Gentleman's thesis that public opinion in this country can affect the Soviets. I hope that that is so. I think that I must be the only person in the House who has actually been in Soviet custody. While I was in the custody of the Red Army, I wondered how public opinion in this country and the United States, which was most certainly exercised at the time—I was in Budapest—would lead my gaolers to release me. I can see no way, in a country that has no free Press, whereby public opinion in other nations can influence the policies of the Government of that country.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I can only say to the hon. Gentleman that if one speaks to those who have come out of the Soviet Union—people like Bukovsky, Ludmilla Alexeyva and Amalrik, all those people who have been within the Soviet Union—one finds that there is no case that has been made more difficult as a result of pressure from without. In almost every case, they say that public opinion from abroad was helpful and that it is not merely registered by the Government of the country but filters down. When I met Bukovsky, who had been in prison for a very long time and was apparently denied all access to information from 429 outside, I found how incredibly well informed he was about what was happening in the world within a matter of two or three days of his arrival.
Quite clearly the information filters down, and the Helsinki monitoring groups, who are, alas, being arrested in increasing numbers, have in Kiev, in Moscowo, the Ukraine, and various other parts of the Soviet Union had an immense effect on informing Russian public opinion. The answer to the hon. Gentleman is that the information about public opinion abroad does filter down. That is certainly the view of those who have been adversely treated by the authorities.
I turn now to the question of Africa. There are two factors which I think we sometimes ignore. First, the OAU, understandably but ironically, is determined to regard the colonial frontiers which have been drawn as inviolate. Indeed, as the Prime Minister pointed out in the General Assembly, those frontiers very often cut across tribal and ethnic groupings and even families. There is a great fear in the continent of Africa of balkanisation. The only peaceful chance in any frontier that has taken place since the Second World War was in the case of the Cameroons. The British Cameroons decided by referendum to secede from Nigeria and join the Cameroon Republic. Eritrea is in a slightly different category, and I accept that something similar was done in Somalia, but it was not on the same scale.
It was that fear of balkanisation that led to the intensity of the war in Nigeria and to the lack of support from the international community for Eritrea at the moment, for the initial attempted secession of Katanga under Tshombe and, indeed, for the present position of Shaba province, where I accept that new dimensions have been brought in as well.
The second factor is that Africa is a continent within measurable flying time from the major Powers of the world. It is no longer—to paraphrase—a far-off continent of which we know little. That is a new factor. What is the position, and what should we he doing about Zaire?
Clearly, in part, the invasion of Shaba province is a continuation of the civil war which followed the independence of the old Belgian Congo, although this time it has had Cuban backing. There is no 430 doubt that if it had been successful it would have caused a collapse of the economy of Zaire, because the main wealth of Zaire is concentrated in Shaba, and that it would have caused the fragmentation of Zaire itself and the balkanisation of that country.
Initially, the intervention by the Belgians and the French to protect the lives of their nationals was perfectly correct, but I must confess my relief that the forces now taking over are pan-African in origin, broadly speaking, as opposed to European, because, if there is a case for stabilising the position in Zaire, it is certainly not on the basis that we regard President Mobutu as a showpiece for Western democracy. We should be very foolish if we were to be credited with that motive. Presumably it is to maintain the integrity of this country and it is to defend the economic interests of that area.
For how long that area will be safe, if it is the subject of persistent war, is another matter. But the Belgian and French paratroopers are being pulled out, the Moroccans are moving in, American transport planes are standing by to go to Senegal and Gabon, there is intense Chinese diplomatic activity, and we now hear that Egypt is to supply arms.
This is the dilemma. If one is opposed to the concept of military expansion, which we have clearly seen in Angola and has been attempted in Zaire, what is the answer? This is clearly not a NATO problem. Indeed, if NATO were involved, that would be the quickest way to produce a confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact Powers which could be evolved, and we should probably end by shoring up unpopular and corrupt regimes for our trouble.
I turn now to the question of the Lomé Convention. I want to be fair to the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). It was because yesterday I took the view that he was going beyond a rescue operation merely to protect nationals but had a longer-term object that I asked him what he had in mind. I said:NATO is over-extended. Does he have in mind a European force, a United Nations force or an OAU force?The right hon. Member for Fulham quoted the first part of the right hon. 431 Gentleman's answer. But it went on to say: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 …"—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 237.]It is for the right hon. Gentleman to spell it out.
However, I must confess that many of us felt that Lomé was to be extended in its scope not merely for economic cooperation but for fire-fighting protection and perhaps border and military protection as well. If the right hon. Gentleman did not intend to convey that idea, of course the House would immediately accept that. But it is only fair to say to him that that was the impression given to some of us, certainly to me. I believe that it would be a very dangerous extension of the Community's political activities were we to adopt it.
What will be the answer in these troubled areas? I personally hope that we shall never be in a position that we shall automatically go in to prevent the status quo from being changed. I can think of many regimes which I should dearly love to see changed. I do not have merely President Amin in mind. There are clear cases where we have a treaty obligation, as in Tanzania. There are obviously clear cases where, if there was a threat to friendly Commonwealth countries, such as Zambia and Botswana, there would be very little difference between us. If Kenya was invaded by Somalia, likewise, although there was no treaty obligation, I believe that there would be very general agreement in the House.
My own view is that the best move—here I agree with the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce)—is towards regional arrangements. As the Foreign Secretary said, the meeting of the three Presidents—President Neto, President Kaunda, and President Mobuto—is probably the best hope of getting a regional pan-African group.
I should like to mention one other equation which has not been mentioned except by the Minister, if I heard him right. That is the United Nations. It has 432 generally escaped attention that when Israel invaded part of Southern Lebanon it took the United Nations Security Council only 48 hours to get agreement upon a mandate for the dispatch of troops to that area. It took a further 48 hours, by which time those troops were actually in position. That indicates that when the nations of the world wish to use the Charter of the United Nations it is there to be activated. It is perfectly true that there were troops nearby—in Golan and Sinai—and there were not enormous ballistic problems. Whenever there is the political will, the United Nations can be used. I believe that particularly developing countries—the Third world—are coming increasingly to prefer an international force to protect their security than one from one of the big Powers.
At present there are United Nations forces in Cyprus, Sinai, the Golan Heights and the Lebanon. Observers are still in Kashmir. There is the suggestion that they should go to Rhodesia during the transitional period if we get agreement for independence and that they should be in Namibia to oversee elections and maintain the peace. What other international body is likely to be acceptable to West and East alike? I therefore believe that we must bring very much more pressure to bear in the United Nations and take up the suggestion of Vice-President Walter Mondale that there should be a peacekeeping reserve force. If it happens to be very regionalised, it is none the worse for that. That is why I think that perhaps a regional peacekeeping force under United Nations aegis may be the solution for some of the troubled parts of Africa.
It is for Africa itself—here I agree with the right hon. Member for Fulham—to decide what sort of assistance is needed. It may well be that our assistance will be more ballistic than in terms of manpower. In 1969 the President of the United States said that America would help but that basically the responsibility for providing manpower rested within the country itself. In May 1972 there was a joint declaration of principles signed between the Soviet Union and the United States. It said thatboth sides recognise that efforts to obtain unilateral advantage at the expense of the other, directly or indirectly, are inconsistent with the objects of detente.433 I hope that we can move and make real progress if there is the political will in the sphere of disarmament.
If Cuba and the Soviet Union are not prepared to accept the independence, the right of neutrality and the non-involvement of many countries in Africa, I hope that Africa itself will realise the importance of moving towards a new international form of peacekeeping under the aegis of the United Nations. If we can do that, we can build on success. If not, I see the cold war becoming very much colder and, conversely, the continent of Africa in flames.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Lee (Birmingham, Handsworth)
I do not propose to follow the remarks of the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) save only to say that I agree almost entirely with everything he said. I would echo one thing in particular—his references to the need for United Nations involvement wherever possible.
I wish to confine my remarks to one particular part of Africa where I had the pleasure of being a few days ago. One of my first observations would, I believe, tally with what the right hon. Gentleman's last remarks indicated. I was part of a delegation, led by the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Emery), to Ghana. It is a country which I know well but which I had not visited for a number of years. It will serve to illustrate—it is perhaps a microcosm—the kind of problems that we in the West can most constructively help to assist in solving.
My first observation is that the present Government of that country is not a democracy. It is an authoritarian regime, although a very mild one by African standards. Indeed, it is a very mild one by the standards of many underdeveloped countries. Although there have been a number of coups in that country, so far from the people who were unsuccessful being imprisoned, or worse, I came across more retired generals in Accra playing golf seven days a week than anywhere in the world outside of Camberley.
When I was talking to General Acheampong, the present President, there were a number of things about which he was sensitive and there were a number of things which he asked us to investigate. He was as good as his word with regard 434 to allowing us to see round his country. He made the observation—this is something which Conservative Members might wish to hear repeated, because it comes from a self-confessed friend of this country who is unambiguously pro-Western—that he was just as adamant in his condemnation of the French and Belgian adventure in Shaba, just as incensed at what he regarded as an impertinent throwback to imperial force majeure, as any country which might be stigmatised as being pro-Soviet. It is just as well that we choose not to offend their friends, because that is the kind of thing that will be done if European countries behave in the high-handed way in which the French and Belgians undoubtedly behaved a few days ago.
§ Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)
How does the hon. Gentleman describe as "highhanded" an operation which was designed to save, and did save, the lives of a large number of European subjects who otherwise would have been done to death?
§ Mr. Lee
The Government made no attempt to involve other countries in any way. One of the principal countries involved was Belgium, whose record in Africa, as we all know, stank to high heaven.
I now turn to more uncontrovesial questions. The hon. Members who formed the delegation to Ghana were of all kinds. We largely agreed upon the kind of assistance that we should like to see. I should like to spend a few minutes talking about economic assistance, because we have heard enough about the military aspects. It is, therefore, reasonable to turn to other matters. We were all unanimously of the view that this assistance should be directed in the main towards agricultural projects. This is no criticism, because the Commonwealth Development Corporation has done yeoman work in this regard, as have all the other agencies, in many parts of the developing world. However, in recent years there has been too much attention to such things as tourism and urban development and not enough realisation that the vast majority of people in all the underdeveloped countries, almost by definition, are engaged in agriculture. Indeed, in many cases they are still at a subsistence level. If we wish to maximise the impact of any assistance that we give, it should be in the direction of 435 agriculture. We should assist the infrastructure in order to help to convey agricultural produce away from where it is grown.
Among the things that the Ghanaians want are more cotton gins and better storage facilities for their cocoa, groundnuts and rice. A great deal of produce is wasted because it cannot be removed from the remote parts of the country. A great deal of the wealth of Ghana is in grave danger of being lost. There has been a continuing loss for some time because of smuggling across to the Ivory Coast.
I was interested to hear the sensitive and civilised speech yesterday of the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler), in contrast to some of the speeches we have heard from other Conservatives. He spoke about African aid and he spoke in most commendatory terms about the Ivory Coast. Perhaps much of what he said was justified, but it is widely felt among the Ghanaians that the Ivory Coast is privy to the large-scale smuggling of cocoa across the Tano River to the detriment of the Ghanaian economy—particularly as Ghana has such an acute exchange control problem. The Ghanaians feel that some of the riches of the Ivory Coast are illicitly gotten.
Among other things that were raised with us was the need for irrigation. Ghana has the largest and most ambitious irrigation and hydro-electrification project in the Volta scheme, which has produced the largest artificial lake in the continent. Although originally the reason for thinking about that project many years ago was the quest for smelting aluminium when it was ultimately decided upon, it was not primarily for that purpose but was for the purpose of promoting electrification. It does not require much imagination to realise how important electrification is for the promotion of a suitable infrastructure, without which no country can hope to be modernised.
There were other irrigation projects which I had the privilege of seeing, one particularly at Tono, near Bolgatanga in the upper region of Ghana—a place which I have not previously visited in the seven years that I was living in that country. There is no doubt that this project is a great success. It has helped 436 to provide water in an and area. That part of Africa has suffered acutely from drought in the past few years, although I am happy to say that this year it has had the best rains for some time.
The people working on that project were worried because there did not seem to be the same degree of urgency and realism over the need for post-project supervision of agricultural husbandry, which is undoubtedly necessary. In particular, there is need for supervision of the swamp rice farms that have been built below the dam area. The fear is that, unless there is someone there to supervise, the irrigation channels may be mismanaged and may silt up, as has happened at Wea, a few miles away. If that happens, the rice products will he that much less valuable and, above all, there will be a sense of disillusion and demoralisation if an imaginative project turns out to be disappointing to those who looked to it for a means of removing them from a very low standard of living. This project should be the beginning of the impulse towards modernisation of the country.
Ghana is one country which is not the centre of attention at the moment. There are many small countries in West and West-Central Africa which fall into that category. They are not yet at the take-off point, and there is an opportunity here for us to provide a great deal of assistance.
Of course, there is another way in which we could help if we were not members of the EEC. We could renegotiate the kind of bulk purchase agreements that were so successful in the war and immediately after the war in providing primary supplies for this country. These could provide a long and sustained source of revenue for countries where income tax collection, by virtue of illiteracy and backwardness, is not such that the Government can realistically rely on income tax for revenue. I believe that this is still the most important contribution that we can make.
I noticed with interest that Barbara Ward—I believe that she is now Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth—in a characteristically sympathetic article in one of the Sunday newspapers, called upon the West to approach the question of the underdeveloped world with the same sympathetic imagination as was forthcoming 437 from the United States at the time of the Marshall Plan.
If all the wealthy countries of the world, both inside the EEC—an organisation which is at best an irrelevance—and outside, devoted 2 per cent. of their GNP to this end, we would provide a lasting impact which would not only help to bring those underdeveloped countries out of the continuing cycle of poverty and deprivation which they have suffered for centuries for many reasons but would give us the friends that we deserve. In that way, we would do far more to head off the Russians and the Cubans and all the others who might wish to treat Africa as a Tom Tiddler's ground. That is one way in which this country could make an impact that would do us credit and reduce the influence of those countries of which so many hon. Members on both sides of the House are rightly apprehensive.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)
I was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) say that because of his dislike of Mobutu's regime in Zaire he condemned the rescue operation carried out by France and Belgium. Both those countries went to the aid of Belgian, French and British citizens who were in extreme peril. The hon. Member's stance is very unusual for someone who describes himself as a social democrat. It does not seem in tone with the general remarks of hon. Members on both sides of the House who have spoken in this debate about the current situation in Africa.
I want to comment on the Foreign Secretary's speech yesterday. It was an important statement of Government intention and policy, particularly on East-West relations and the current situation in Africa. The best summary of that speech came from my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling), who said that he was totally bemused by the Foreign Secretary's words.
The Foreign Secretary spent a long time on and had much to say about various aspects of foreign policy, but throughout his speech it was hard to find a policy for Britain. The whole emphasis was on neutrality, particularly British neutrality towards the situation in Africa.
438 Obviously that is extremely desirable, but it must be totally impossible in present circumstances. If we have any desire at all to look after our economic and commercial interests and the defence interests of the West, it is impossible to imagine how we can pursue a policy of neutrality.
Perhaps I have misunderstood the Foreign Secretary's words, but if it was not a speech pleading for British neutrality in Africa I know of no other policy which the Foreign Secretary was trying to put forward to the House.
The right hon. Gentleman had a great deal to say about human rights, detente and the complexities of Africa. Nobody would disagree with his sentiments, but they are no substitute for a policy. There was little evidence in his speech of any leadership from Her Majesty's Government. I believe that Britain still has a role of leadership to play in the West and in the world. However, it appears that the right hon. Gentleman is content to trail behind the initiatives of France, Belgium and, now, the United States.
Even as the Foreign Secretary spoke yesterday, President Carter was making what today's edition of The Times describes as one of the most important speeches of his presidency. In that speech, President Carter denounced the Soviet Union on its African policy and its attempts to export a totalitarian and repressive form of Government.
I was interested to hear the Foreign Secretary yesterday refer to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. He said: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.It may be that there is no smell of burning in Africa at present, but we should distinctly see that there is at least smoke on the horizon.
It is gratifying that the President of the United States now sees that smoke, because in his speech yesterday he was following the tradition of John F. Kennedy at the time of the Cuban crisis and was employing similar language. Let me remind the House of the statement made by John F. Kennedy in September 1962:It continues to be the policy of the United States that the Castro regime will not he 439 allowed to export its aggressive purposes by force or by the threat of force. It will be prevented by whatever means may be necessary from taking action against any part of the Western Hemisphere.Those remarks by John F. Kennedy in 1962 are just as relevant today.
We should also recall John F. Kennedy's words in his dramatic broadcast on 22nd October 1962, when, announcing the presence of Soviet missile bases in Cuba, he said:The 1930s taught us a clear lesson. Aggressive conduct, if allowed to grow unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war.Again, those words are just as relevant today as they were then.
I remember at that time in October 1962 the panic and hysteria that gripped the Left in British politics and caused such tremendous scenes in Grosvenor Square, when mounted police were hard pressed to prevent hordes of people trying to tear the American Embassy apart because they were afraid that President Kennedy would be tough and would take a strong stand against the Soviet Union. They were ready to give way and to learn nothing from the lessons of the past.
It seems from everything that has happened since then that those on the Left in British politics have no more guts today than they had then. If Cuba in 1962 was a more obvious threat to the West, events in Africa today, although perhaps less direct, are no less dangerous. That is why I found the words and attitude of the Foreign Secretary disappointing and out of tune with the gravity of the situation.
The right hon. Gentleman put tremendous emphasis on detente, but we shall not achieve a solution to our problems by constant repetition of that word. It has taken over the position occupied by the CND 10 or 15 years ago, although without the marches in the street.
I remember talking recently to a distinguished gentleman who has devoted a great deal of his adult life to the cause of CND and who had just returned from a visit to Russia. His view was that nuclear disarmament was the only way to cool things or to have any hope of peace in the world. Somebody in the company then asked him the simple question "What is the Russian equivalent of CND?" Despite all his experience, his 440 visits to Russia and his work in the cause of CND, he had to admit that there was no answer to that question, because no such equivalent exists. It is hard to imagine that there is any Russian equivalent to detente.
The right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) referred to our colonial interests in Africa as being entirely self-interest. I am sure that he would not want to spend too much time dealing with the history of our past interests in Africa, but, if we ask ourselves what our interests in Africa are today, the answer must be that they are essentially economic and that our objective, so far as it is political, is to see the development of independent and stable countries in that continent.
What is the Russian interest in Africa at the moment? It is almost entirely political because, unlike Western countries, the Russians have virtually no need for raw materials from Africa. Their economic interest in that continent is to gain power over our supplies of raw materials.
Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary chided us for looking at Africa in the context only of East-West relations. It might be worth while quoting what he said: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.However one may wish to argue the point, it is fortunate for us that at last President Carter now thinks differently from the Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Secretary also said yesterday:the Government stand absolutely firm on their belief that African problems are by far best dealt with by African nations."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 209–17.]That is all very well, but what happens when those nations call on us for assistance and when the lives of British and other Europeans are in danger in Africa? Do we simply hope that somebody else—perhaps France and Belgium again, or the United States—will act for us? Is that why the Foreign Secretary turned down the proposals made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) when he referred to the possible use of NATO or the EEC?
Much has been said about the impracticability of using NATO or the EEC in this context, but if the Government have any proposals to make on the United 441 Nations I hope that we shall hear them tonight. Surely, if there is any way in which we should try to find a solution to this problem, it is in the course of this debate.
I find it difficult not to get the impression that the Foreign Secretary is afraid to dirty his hands in taking any initiative in these matters. For example, he reminded us that in 1954 the EEC failed to agree on a defence arrangement. However, a lot has happened since then. It is time to try again. A lot is happening in the Community now because it is changing rapidly. It is time that we recognised that the EEC cannot expand its membership and integrate economically at the same time.
The political interests must dominate. Such a political interest is capable of spreading to the problem that exists in Africa. We have, after all, the economic connection with Africa. We have the humanitarian interest in Africa. It is not too much to expect the EEC to exercise some political and, if necessary, military interest in Africa.
In summing up, I can do no better than quote from an article in The Times of 29th May this year by a former Labour Minister of State for Disarmament, which I believe was the title that Lord Chalfont then had. He said:It may well be that President Mobutu of Zaire adopts ruthless and authoritarian methods to keep himself in power; but he is not alone in this, and while the West agonises about human rights the Soviet Union goes straight and unwavering to the strategic heart of the matter.Let no one doubt that if Mobutu is overthrown—Bishop Muzorewa in Rhodesia, Mr. Vorster in South Africa or the Shah in Iran—in a bloody and anarchic revolution, it is the Soviet Union which will reap the harvest; the West will reap only the whirlwind.That is the heart of the problem in Africa, a problem which, I fear, the Government do not have the heart to face.
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe)
I am always mildly worried by hon. Gentlemen such as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher) on the Conservative Benches who ask for initiatives and leadership at the same time. We should occasionally recognise that Africa is a large continent which is capable of asking for assistance when it requires it, but it is not up to us to in this country to 442 decide how we should react without being asked by the Africans.
I may be unduly cynical, but I suspect that the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) let out the real reason why the Conservative Party is so concerned when he said:Europe's deep dependence on Africa's natural resources, be they mineral or food, is one side of the equation."—[Official Report, 7th June, 1978; Vol. 951, c. 235.]He went on to say that Africa needed white managerial skills, which I do not doubt is one way in which we can assist its people. However, I suspect that that is at the root of the involvement of the Conservative Party with the future of many of the African States.
I have been horrified by the suggestion that Lomé was to be a suitable vehicle by which to produce a police force or monitoring force to involve itself in African politics. The reason is simple. Lomé is basically a trade-and-aid convention. That is its role and that is the reason why, when it comes to the renegotiation, there will have to be a certain number of basic changes.
In Grenada last week with the ACP States I had the opportunity of listening to those African, Caribbean and Pacific delegates who were talking precisely about the role that they felt the West should be playing particularly in the continent of Africa. It became clear that they would resent any suggestion that the Lomé Convention should be widened to take in the sort of political initiative that Conservative Members are talking about.
In Lesotho in December the EEC and the ACP between them in the joint committee decided that they would like to include some commitment on the question of human rights. It was noticeable and mildly discouraging in the Caribbean that already there are a number of African States who are beginning to worry very much about the form of such a committee and to look hard at whether it is a demonstration of the West's desire to involve itself in the internal affairs of Africa. I do not believe that that is what a commitment to human rights would be.
Already one African State after another is entering caveats saying "It is all very well for you, but Lomé is a trade convention. Why are you seeking to 443 widen it? Why are you seeking to change its application?" If that is their attitude towards a minimal commitment on human rights, we have every reason to believe that they would bitterly resent any suggestion that Lomé should be used as a means of creating a force to intervene in internal African affairs.
Occasionally even inside the EEC we have not made up our minds what our attitude should be towards African States, particularly in trade terms. Under Lomé we give a considerable amount of assistance to agriculture infrastructure. The EDF funds are used in precisely the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) was asking that they should he used, namely, to develop agriculture industries and to provide money for the creation of new agricultural farms and for assistance, and for monitoring the spending of moneys that have already been granted.
In terms of the marketing of the products, many of which have been produced with financial assistance from the EEC, we do everything we can to stop those goods from getting easily and efficiently on to European markets. Throughout the ACP conference there was a recurring theme of the difficulties that the African States are encountering in commodities. They are deeply worried about the sugar convention. They cannot understand the continuing barriers against products such as rum and are very concerned about the way in which the banana agreements are working.
On the one hand, the EEC is saying "Here is your help. We will do all that we can to put money in to develop your agriculture industries." On the other hand, the EEC is saying "But please do not market your produce anywhere in the Community where it might conceivably in some way distort our trade." We have not even thought of the logical conclusion of our own actions. If we put money into mechanisation—the EEC has created an institute for industrial cooperation, presumably with this in mind—what will we do if those developing States produce goods which are in competition with our traditional internal industries? Will we then call into operation a safeguard clause and say "We are sorry, but we did not think that you were going to try to sell your goods inside the 444 EEC. Kindly take all of your produce and go somewhere else in the world so that you are not in any way affecting our internal industrial situation." That will not do as an attitude, and it is an attitude which is being increasingly questioned in virulent terms by the ACP countries.
There is one aspect in which the EEC is seeking to change the Lomé Convention. It is seeking to include an agreement on cultural affairs. This is a subject that has been widely debated by the ACP. It demonstrates one of the fundamental problems that we are facing within that organisation. No one likes to discuss it, but there is a deep divide between the Francophone African countries and the Anglophone African countries. The attitude of many of them towards the French and Belgian intervention in Zaire was very much dictated by the background that they had to their own political situation. Many of the Francophone African States have come through a period of colonial history to regard themselves as closely linked to France in a way that Anglophone African countries never have. They regard the creation of a force which invades another African State in defence of its own nationals as a justifiable attitude.
That is not the general view of other African States, many of whom believe that the Government of Mobutu was not one that the democratic West should be seen to be supporting. They did not believe that that was a way in which the furtherance of democracy would be assisted.
§ Mr. Grieve
The hon. Lady surely cannot use the word "invasion" when the Government of that State, whatever other States may think about it, invited in the force and when the object of that force was to save innocent lives.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
The hon. and learned Gentleman has made a great point about innocent lives, but many Africans were killed not only in the recent invasion but in the invasion that took place a year ago. I would feel more comforted if I heard the same degree of defence of African lives lost in this incident that we have heard in respect of European lives. I deeply deplore the loss of any human life, black or white, and that point 445 should be made much more strongly by Western Governments.
I do not believe that we shall do anything to assist political stability inside Africa if we seek to create what is, in effect, a policing force from outside the African continent, or even use what are seen by many African States to be subsidiaries to Western interests with an ex-colonial involvement. If we even discuss the suggestion that the Lorne Convention should be used as this sort of vehicle, we shall be distorting the attitude of many ACP countries that most need this sort of trade and aid assistance.
The right hon. Member for Knutsford, who threw this suggestion into the arena, far from assisting, was confusing the issue. I believe that Britain has taken exactly the right attitude. Where we can give aid and assistance, particularly medical assistance, and where we are asked to do so by the people concerned, we should do so. To suggest that it is only by using force of the sort that Army units must constitute that we have a role to play in Africa is to ignore all the most important prejudices and involvements of the African people.
The Lomé Convention needs to be renegotiated within less than two years. Already many African States have strong doubts whether they should remain within the convention. They are already beginning to question the positive benefits and to say that they require much greater evidence of good will on the part of the EEC than they have seen demonstrated in the trade arrangements up to now.
Why, for example, is the EEC, which could easily import cane sugar from outside and is eternally giving various commitments to the cane-growing countries, still prepared to support the growing of sugar beet and the creation of other forms of sugar inside the Community? If it genuinely believes that it should assist developing countries it must give practical demonstrations of that belief.
When we renegotiate the Lomé Convention, the worst thing that we could do would be either to suggest that cultural agreements should be included, because they would widen the scope of the convention, or to ignore the need for just a minimum commitment on human rights. Human rights in Africa will always be a sensitive and worrying political subject 446 and this House would be failing in its duty if it did not say plainly that it believes that a great deal of the destiny of Lomé countries is in their own hands, but that Britain believes that it should support those countries when they are seeking to move towards democracy and would welcome the inclusion of even a minimum commitment to human rights within a renegotiated Lomé Convention.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)
The hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) obviously speaks with considerable knowledge of the Lomé Convention and the States that make it up. I would not presume to pronounce in any definite way on whether the Lomé Convention is the right vehicle for a force of intervention, but it is a travesty of the facts for the hon. Lady to suggest that the motivation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) was neo-colonialist. President Houphouët-Boigny and President Senghor have both made clear that they regard it as one of the responsibilities of the West, and of Europe in particular, to help defend Africa against external aggression from Soviet and Cuban forces.
The hon. Member for Crewe pointed out the difference in the reactions of the Anglophone and Francophone African States. Perhaps the Francophone States are more realistic, more Cartesian in their approach. They have been spared the infection of Fabian thought which has infected the leaders of some of our former colonies. Seriously, though, it is absurd to suggest that the Mobutu regime is regarded as one that we should not support in the interests of democracy.
I hold no brief for President Mobutu or his system. The economy of Zaire has been in chaos for a long time, but so was the economy of Zambia and the political regime in Zambia is as open to accusations of inefficiency and corruption as is the regime of Zaire. We should not allow ourselves to dwell too much on these aspects of the problem.
The question is whether African countries can be allowed to evolve in their own way without external intervention and, if there is to be external intervention—as there is—what are we to do about it?
447 Turning to the Foreign Secretary's speech, I am told that some years ago Anthony Eden and Ernest Bevin crossed the Atlantic by boat together. When they got to the other side, Lady Violet Bonham-Carter, the mother-in-law of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) asked Mr. Bevin "How did you get on with Anthony?" Mr. Bevin replied "I like Anthony very much, but his talk is 'clitch, clitch, clitch'". That is a good description of the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling). What is meant by the continuous references to detente? The Foreign Secretary told us that detente has made considerable progress and that the Soviet Union is sincerely and deeply committed to detente. He said that he believed in dynamic and not passive detente.
I have been trying to think where there has been any detente at all. It seems to me that there is a great deal less detente than when I was at the Foreign Office between 1972 and 1974. The only area in which there seems to be some optimism is the SALT II negotiations. It seems that there is a chance that agreement will be reached there, but I share the anxieties of Chancellor Schmidt, who has said that it is all very well for the Americans and Russians to reach an agreement that may enhance their mutual safety but it is not much good if that increases the danger to Europe and China.
§ Mr. Roderick MacFarquhar (Belper)
I realise that the right hon. Gentleman was not at the Foreign Office at the time of the expulsion of the 105 Soviet diplomats in 1971. Without raising the rights and wrongs of that affair, I think he would agree that from 1972 onwards relations between this country and the Soviet Union were not at their best.
§ Mr. Amery
—and other ambassadors of the Eastern bloc. I visited Poland, Hungary and Romania and was well received. I cannot complain about the atmosphere in those days. It was the 448 pre-Angolan period. We should not for one moment apologise for of hesitate to congratulate ourselves on the expulsion of the spies who proliferated in Britain.
Where else has detente made any progress? It is true that we have fed the Soviet bloc and some of its satellites. We have done so cheaply. However, I read this morning that the poles are having trouble paying for the grain with which they have been supplied. We have supplied the Soviet bloc with a great deal of technology on credit, and at lower rates than those at which our own people can borrow. The debts that have piled up with the Eastern bloc now total about 55 billion dollars. It remains to be seen how those debts are to be paid. On the whole the credit record of the Eastern bloc has not been bad, but an extremely large sum remains to be paid. No one quite knows how it is to be covered.
We know that there has been a steady build-up of conventional forces throughout the Eastern bloc, which gives it a great preponderance in Europe and in the Far East. There has been a similar buildup of tactical weapons. That is an area in which the Eastern bloc had previously not advanced so much. It has now developed the SS20 and other weapons that are a standing danger to Britain and are not covered by the SALT Agreement.
We have seen the advance of Soviet imperialism in Central Asia—in Afghanistan—as well as in Africa.
In an extraordinary comment the Foreign Secretary said: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."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 209.]I was in a sensitive defence post at that time, and I must tell the House that it never crossed my mind that there could be war over the Cuban crisis. That was because the Americans had complete nuclear supremacy.
The whole object of the Soviets in putting missiles into Cuba was to be able to reach areas of the United States that they could not reach from the Soviet Union. There were only two problems that caused us anxiety. I think that I saw most of the telegrams and messages that went between us and the Americans. One problem was if the Americans should 449 flinch, and the other was if we left no way out for a reasonable retreat on the part of the Soviets.
In fact, we left a way out. We are now paying the price for it. The way out that we left was an assurance by President Kennedy that he would do nothing to destabilise the Castro regime. The peoples of Angola and Ethiopia are paying for that today.
It is naïve to think that we have made progress since that time. In fact, we have gone back. In the days of Khrushchev there were elements in the Soviet Union that were prepared to stand up to the military. They no longer exist. The military-industrial complex is, alas, in almost total control of the Soviet Union's policy. As a high-grade Eastern European commissar told me not long ago, even if Brezhnev had wanted to stop the Angolan adventure he could not have done so.
The Foreign Secretary should look a little deeper into the problem and should study the causes of Soviet imperialism and not merely the symptoms. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the Opposition exaggerating the symptoms in Africa and not examining the causes. He should consider the causes in the Soviet Union. He should consider the strength of the military-industrial complex and the growing anxiety within the Soviet Union about its energy shortage. It will be a net importer of oil in two or three years. He should bear in mind the difficulties that it has with its subservient or subject nationalities.
The situation is not all dark. There is good news about NATO. It seems that we are all slightly to increase our effort to defend ourselves against the growing multiplication of tanks and aircraft from the other side. It is good news that Mr. Brzezinski has been to China and that the Americans and the Chinese are strengthening their relations. It is good news that the Japanese seem likely to conclude a peace treaty with China. I believe that that can be done without any sacrifice of old friends such as South Korea and Taiwan. At present the Chinese are still militarily weak. They need American support, just as the Americans and Japanese need their presence. I believe that there is a foundation for substantial understanding 450 among the United States, Japan and China. It will be up to the Japanese to strengthen their military effort in the years to come so as to take on rather more of the responsibilities than they can today.
The real danger to the world is not in Europe or in the Far East—that is my hope—but in the area between. It lies in the threat to the trade routes of the world and in the threat to the sources of raw materials. The exits from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean is already under Soviet control. I saw that for myself when I flew out of Djibouti the other day. As the aircraft in which I was a passenger moved a little to the right. Russian air traffic control at Aden said "If you come any nearer, we shall shoot you down." We moved a little in the other direction and air traffic control in Ethiopia, Russian again said "We shall shoot you down if you come any nearer." That exit is no longer free.
The exit from the Persian Gulf, where the oil comes from, is still free. However, it is interesting that the nearest Soviet-controlled airfield is only 300 miles from the Straits of Hormuz at the east end of the Aden Protectorate, and with the absorption of Afghanistan into the Soviet Central Asian system it is only 300 miles from the south of Afghanistan to the Straits of Hormuz.
The Straits of Malacca, which were protected for a long time by Britain and Australia, are now not protected by any naval power. The Cape route is still open, although from Luanda, Maputo and Nacala it can be threatened. What I have said about the threat from Aden to the Straits of Hormuz is enough to indicate the danger to our vital oil supplies.
I turn to Africa. I think Sir Winston Churchill once said that the purpose of recrimination is to prevent the repetition of error. More than two years ago in a debate on Central and Southern Africa, when it was thought that our interest was only in what might be called European-led Southern Africa, my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) and I both said that we thought Zaire would prove to be the next victim on the list. It very nearly has been, and it still may be.
I understand the Foreign Secretary's argument that we must not consider 451 Africa as exclusively an East-West problem. We know that. Anyone who has studied the history of British or French imperialism knows perfectly well that most inroads were made by using and exploiting tribal disputes and divsions. The Soviets are doing the same. However, what the Foreign Secretary said on the subject was juvenile. He said that the central problem is economic social and political and that the military problem is merely the symptom. Unfortunately, it is the other way round. What he was saying was either naive or cynical.
There would be no serious disturbance anywhere in the African continent without Soviet intervention. There would have been no MPLA Government established in Angola without. There would have been no Agostinho Neto Government established in Angola without Soviet-Cuban intervention There would be no serious guerrilla movement challenging the status quo in South-West Africa or in Rhodesia unless it had been equipped and indoctrinated by the Soviets. There would be no war—the Foreign Secretary was the first to admit it yesterday—between Somalia and Ethiopia if the Soviet Union had not equipped both sides. First it backed Somalia, only to change sides and support the Ethiopians. The resistance in Eritrea is largely fomented by arms given to the Eritreans originally by the Soviet Union. There is even the same situation in the South Sahara.
None of these conflicts could have escalated to the dimension that has been achieved today without Soviet intervention. It is perfectly true that the basic problem that must be solved is economic, social and political. I could not agree more. But let us think of what is involved in the relationship of the military to the economic, social and political account.
It took the French and Belgian paratroops 48 hours to recover Kolwezi. It would take—I speak with some experience of these matters having been at the Colonial Office and seen something of administration—a dozen years to restructure Zaire and make it into a viable, modern State.
Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary took credit for his policy in the Horn of Africa. He said that, because we had stood back, not intervened and not encouraged the invasion of the Ogaden, that 452 had strengthened our position for intervention in Zaire. I wonder whether it crossed his mind or the minds of his colleagues that if there had been resolute action in the Horn of Africa the Cubans and the Soviets would not have dared to authorise the raid into Zaire. It was the appeasement policy steadily pursued by the West in Angola and in the Horn of Africa which encouraged the new adventurism. Every time that we appease and stand idly by and allow these things to happen, there will be more aggression.
The right hon. Gentleman talked a lot about principle. What principle was he advocating? It was not clear to me. He said that our policy was to be based on principle. At one time the principle was majority rule. We threw over the idea of majority rule in Rhodesia several months ago with the Anglo-American plan. We are concerned not with getting majority rule, but with getting the Patriotic Front included in the settlement. It has been the same with South-West Africa.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet pointed out, Mr. Nkomo's little speech at his birthday party yesterday was not encouraging for the kind of solution that we want to see. It seems odd that the Foreign Secretary should denounce Soviet-Cuban aggression in Africa and say that it is unacceptable but not indicate what he intends to do about it and that he should at the same time continue to give support to political leaders who spend half their time in Moscow and the other half in Cuba.
I do not know whether the Foreign Secretary read about the dissident leader from the SWAPO movement, now in England, who yesterday said that we should accept and stand by the agreement reached between South Africa and the five Western Powers. It looks for all the world as though we are trying to run out on it and to make the South African raid into Angola the excuse for going back on that agreement. I hope that this is not true, but it looks as though that may be the case. I hope that the Minister, when he replies, will be able to clear up that matter.
The new policy seems to be not about principles but about dealing with people who have the power. Well, Vorster and 453 Smith have the power, but the Government will not deal with them. The right hon. Gentleman protests too much. He is talking not about principle but about expediency—anything to avoid the dreaded confrontation with the Soviets.
The situation in Africa is not lost by any means. If we were to give genuine help to the Somalis and to the Eritrean Liberation Movement and if the French were persuaded to stay in Djibouti, the Soviets would find themselves with their Cuban allies in a landlocked Ethiopia and have little choice but to negotiate the evacuation of Cubans from that area.
Zaire can be saved by the necessary mixture of whatever African forces—Moroccan and Egyptian—are now moving into the country, with French help. I should like to hear more generous praise for the action of the French. It seems to me that they have spoken for Europe in this critical situation.
We have to think not only of economic, social and political change, which is slow, but of some military measures. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford was absolutely right to insist on the importance of this aspect.
I do not know whether the Minister has seen the new proposal which has emerged about Rhodesia. I gather that Mr. Sithole has proposed that the British Government should appoint an observer to sit on the Executive Council, the Ministerial Council and even on the military Security Council, not to intervene, not to sabotage what they are doing but just to see and to report back whether this is a genuine operation. Mr. Graham and his American colleague are in Salisbury now. It would be interesting to know the reaction of the Government to what seems a constructive proposal. Will the Minister also make clear our attitude to the South-West African settlement agreed with Mr. Vorster not long ago? Are we standing by that or are we giving it up because SWAPO does not seem to be co-operating?
It is difficult to escape the impression that Her Majesty's Government are following what might be called the weaker strand of American policy—that they are, as it were, helping Ambassador Young, whom some of us had the opportunity to hear privately in committee recently and to form our own judgment 454 on his views, against the slightly stronger line advocated by Mr. Brzezinski.
Frankly, we are seeing a new situation. I say "a new situation", but it has been developing for three or four years. From the end of the war for a generation, American leadership and American economic and military power assured the prosperity and security, broadly speaking, of the free world. Then came defeat in Vietnam, devaluation of the dollar and the Watergate crisis.
Defeat in Vietnam meant that the Americans were no longer prepared to undertake any large-scale military commitments overseas, except perhaps in Europe. Devaluation of the dollar meant that, although they had at last achieved their ambition of making the dollar the only reserve currency in the world, the Americans were not prepared to administer it with the disciplines necessary to make it a valid reserve currency. Watergate meant that the authority of the White House, as we had known it from Roosevelt to Nixon, had been eroded and would no longer command the same importance in the world, at any rate for several years to come.
We are facing what I might call 1947 in reverse. In 1947, Ernest Bevin in office, Winston Churchill in Opposition and West European leaders turned to the Americans and said "You must come and help us." NATO, the Truman doctrine and the Marshall Plan grew out of that. Now it is the other way round. The Americans are signalling to us and to the Japanese to play a larger part than we have played so far. If we fail to respond, it will be at our cost and at the cost of the whole free world.
Of course, Britain cannot carry the burden alone, but we have had a traditional role—that of being the nucleus of alliances. We have the European Community, we still have some connections with the Commonwealth and we still have some special understanding with the United States. We have been enabled in the past to stand up to threats of hegemony by the Spanish, the French and the Germans.
We know where the danger comes from today. What Sir Neil Cameron said in Peking was perfectly true. Everybody knows it and no one in his heart can criticise it.
455 We need to give a lead to Europe and to the United States. We must persuade the Americans not to become the policemen or the bankers of the world again but to give strong support to policies which we in Europe, given a year or two years, are caable of undertaking by ourselves and which Britain can play a major part in shaping. The Government are not doing that.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)
Order. May I, on behalf of the 21 hon. Members who are still hoping to speak before 9 o'clock, express their appreciation for any brevity which can be introduced into the speeches which are to be made?
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Roderick MacFarquhar (Belper)
I am happy to follow the right hon. Member in one way; I acknowledge the value of the operation conducted by the Belgian paratroopers who succeeded in saving, among many others, the daughter of two of my constituents. I am happy to acknowledge the importance of that action. I shall not deal with the arguments of the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), partly because of your injunction, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Nor do I wish to recriminate. The right hon. Member's error is too deep-seated for reform. In many cases our analysis of some aspects of Soviet activities might be the same, but we would disagree about how we should approach a solution. With respect for the right hon. Gentleman's many years in the House, I submit that many of the methods that he suggests—although he does not always give concrete substance to them; he talks about robust responses, without specifying them—would be too simple and too dangerous to put into operation.
I remind the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), who stressed that if Iran or other countries "went", as Lord Chalfont said, the Russians would gain, that this is the type of remark that was made—with some temporary justification—when Farouk went. Certainly, Egypt did for a time go under Russian influence. I do not wish to rehash the unhappy episodes of that period. Egypt, which has experienced the problems of a 456 relationship with the Soviet Union, has now come out of that relationship.
The right hon. Member for Pavilion might remember the speeches that he probably made about China in the middle and early 1950s. Today, he said that American and China should be great friends. China was Russia's greatest coup and greatest loss. Today the right hon. Gentleman celebrates that Soviet defeat, which has nothing to do with us, by saying that the Americans and the Chinese should get together. I ask the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to sit back, relax, keep their nerve and remember that history has shown us that the Soviet Union is not as all-powerful and all-knowing as some Opposition Members suggest.
I shall stick my neck out, as did the Minister, by not addressing myself any more to the question of Africa and the East-West arena. I wish to concentrate on an area which is in some ways more challenging, has been more challenging and will continue to be more challenging even than the East-West conflict, though of course I agree that there are great dangers in the nuclear and conventional arms race.
I wish to talk about East Asia—China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, the countries of the old Chinese cultural area, which today obviously include Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. This is not an obviously homogeneous area; it cuts across many of the conflicts in the world: East-West, North-South, big and small, divide that area. But it has posed important challenges to Western industrial civilisation in the past. It still poses that challenge and will continue to do so. In history the only substantial military challenges to the modern West were posed first by the Japanese to the Russians at the beginning of the century and to the Americans, ourselves and others in the Second World War. The Chinese and the North Koreans fought the Americans to a draw in Korea and the North Vietnamese successfully fought first the French and then the Americans.
It is easy to say that if the Americans had used all their power they might have won in Korea or Vietnam. But if we examine realistically the struggles that have taken place against Western forces and the effort by the Koreans and Chinese 457 in Korea and the Vietnamese in their own country, we must be convinced that this has been a military challenge to the West with no equal, other than the earlier Japanese ones.
At present there is a major economic challenge which we sometimes debate and about which we often ask questions. What are the main threats as seen by many people in this country to our economy? The threats are seen to be coming from the Japanese through their cars, television sets and other modern equipment. But other parts of East Asia—South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan—equally pose threats to some of our industries. If the Chinese People's Republic modernises at the rate that it hopes to do in the next 25 years there might be another major challenge to our export industries.
Everyone is obsessed with the Arab oil challenge. But that is a short-term challenge. The resources will not last much beyond the end of the century. It is a less serious challenge fundamentally, because it is based upon the fortuitous possession of a resource rather than on the massive effort of the peoples of those countries.
The only major political challenge to the West in the last 100 years has come from China. It has posed a challenge to another Western doctrine—that of Communism as represented by the Soviet Union. Maoist-Communism is in disfavour in its homeland, in so far as it has been distorted, so it is alleged, by the Gang of Four. But China has attempted and is still attempting to evolve a distinctive form of society from the Western model which it orginally copied through Marxism.
It is legitimate to ask why the area has posed so many challenges—in some cases successful challenges—to the West when other areas have failed to do so. The reasons include the great self-confidence conferred as a result of the long and continuous cultural tradition of this area; also because large parts of it were only partially taken over by the West. The great Chinese administrative tradition which spread to other parts of the area and which resulted in viable political structures within well-defined geographical areas emerging. Another reason is the cohesive social structures which 458 have been used as building blocks for modern societies. Whereas to many countries, modernising social structures means that they want to get rid of something—such as the tribal system in Africa and the caste system in India.
As an example of the cohesiveness of social control in those countries it is interesting to examine the success of one of the most important aspects of economic development—the birth control campaign. Let us examine the records of Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and the other countries in that area. Their birth rates have now fallen to below 2 per cent., or only just above that figure. But the other super developing nations, such as Iran and Brazil, have birth rates of 3.8 per cent. and 3.7 per cent. Because they do not have appropriate social and administrative structures they have not managed to tackle the problem and to bring down their birth rates to manageable proportions.
Another reason why this area has emerged as a challenge to Western civilisation is the enormous stress which traditionally is put on education. I have a range of statistics but I shall not use them for lack of time. They indicate the greater progress of schooling and the drive against illiteracy in this area compared with many far richer countries with more resources.
I turn to the question of the reaction of the West to this dynamic area with over 1,000 million people. The reaction of the West has been exclusion. We attempted to exclude the Japanese in the 1920s from being one of the great military Powers. We are attempting at the moment to some extent to limit Japan and the super developing nations, such at South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, from total entry into our markets. The United States first, and then the Soviet Union, have attempted to exclude Communist China from its rightful place in the world. Exclusion is not a viable approach to this dynamic area. There must be incorporation and co-operation with the countries in it. The question is: how can this be attained?
First and foremost, we need to study the area far more deeply than we have in the past. There is no question but that the Japanese and many other countries in the area have made a considerable study of our societies, our languages 459 and our markets, and that is a major reason for their success. We have not reciprocated in that way. I do not suggest that we should redirect every student of French to study Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese or Korean, but on a European basis we should look at this dynamic area and consider what we are to do to meet its countries on their terms as well as ours, so that we are not hostile to these countries with which we must live. I suggest that greater study of the cultures, languages and societies of those countries is long overdue and must be undertaken on a European basis.
We come next to consultation. The unofficial trilateral commission set up some years ago under the aegis of Dr. Brzezinski and with the participation of President Carter and many others of his Administration is a first unofficial attempt to incorporate Japan within the community of the industrialised democratic States. I believe that we should now make an attempt to bring in the other countries of this area so that we may talk to them, discuss our problems and theirs, and avoid finding ourselves in the situation where suddenly the EEC Commission decides, perhaps as a result of an approach from the British or some other Government, or as a result of complaints by hon. Members, to impose a tariff, to exclude a particular class of goods, or to apply a quota. It should be possible for those countries to exercise restraint. That is necessary from our point of view. But it should be done in an arena of consultation, not in an atmosphere of confrontation.
In the case of Japan this means that we should emulate the United States a bit more and have far greater dealings with Japan. We tend at present to meet Japan only across the conference table, when we are demanding that it limits its exports. It is important to have far more regular political relationships with those countries so that when economic problems crop up they are seen as part of an overall process of negotiation and relations.
There is the need to incorporate the Chinese Peoples Republic into a relationship of greater solidarity with the Western powers. The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) dredged back, quite righty, into his memory and 460 rebuked some of his more simplistic colleagues who say without thinking that America, the West and the Chinese must quickly come together and adopt a common anti-Soviet attitude. The right hon. Gentleman recalled the time when Ribbentrop and Molotov came together and suddenly outflanked us all. What he did not tell us—perhaps because he did not remember it—was that that pact followed several years during which the Soviet Union was seeking to make some kind of a deal with the West against Nazi Germany. It was when it failed in that attempt that the Russians decided that they had to protect themselves by making a pact with the Nazis. I do not wish to draw any exact parallels; I wish simply to point to an inexact historical analogy by the right hon. Member.
It is important for the West to have a good relationship with the Chinese People's Republic, which I have had the privilege recently of visiting once again. If that relationship includes the sale of arms, that issue must be faced. It should be faced sooner rather than be allowed to drag on so that no decision is made one way or the other. We should decide whether arms sales to China are any different from arms sales to the other nations that we supply. We must be sure that whereas we would not want arms sales to China to make our relationship with the Soviet Union deteriorate, we do not want our relationship with the Soviet Union to dictate to whom we sell arms.
I suggest, therefore, that in all these ways—consultation, study and political links and, possibly, in the case of China, arms sales—we should attempt to grapple with what I call the challenge of East Asia. I do not suggest that we in the West must form some kind of special relationship with those diverse nations certainly not to the exclusion of traditional ties with, for instance, India and the other nations of the sub-continent which we in this House hold very dear. But if we look beyond the crises in Africa which are important but are nevertheless to some extent transitory, to where the real challenges to the West arise—I use the word "challenge" in the sense of something to which we have to rise—we shall see that our attention should be focused on East Asia, and the sooner we, as Europeans, study them and deal with them the better.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)
Having heard every speech but two in the debate yesterday and today, I feel quite an expert on it, an honour I share with my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench.
Before trying to bring together some of the interesting and surprising threads of the debate, I want to spend a moment on a totally uncontroversial matter which is seldom mentioned in the House. Few right hon. and hon. Members today can afford, because of the high rate of taxation, to travel round the world and meet their political opposite numbers. We therefore depend very much upon the parliamentary institutions to give us the opportunity of such visits. I am thinking of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Council of Europe and the Western European Union. I have not been a member of a CPA delegation—I am saving that up with rain checks for the future. In the IPU we have the extraordinarily valuable exchange visits through which are made friendships which last a parliamentary lifetime. Then there are the preparatory and main conferences which take place in the spring and autumn each year.
The British delegation contributes a great deal in parliamentary expertise to the debates at those conferences, and when hon. Members from both sides of the House speak at them they bring a breath of fresh air to the debates because we are probably among the very few who are not reading briefs provided for us by our Government. We also learn the way in which the minds of other parliamentarians work when we attend drafting committees.
I shall have to drop out of my speech the best two stories that I had intended to tell. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, no."] Very well, if hon. Members are to take it as badly as that, perhaps I shall just mention one occasion in a drafting committee when it was said that it must be made clear that mercenaries fighting against liberation forces were to be severely dealt with. I said "I quite agree about that, but what about saying all mercenaries'?" There was dead silence, and then a roar of laughter. The deputy from Zaire said "Mr. Page, I do not think that you understand anything at all."
462 Then this spring we came to a brief which condemnedthose imperialist States which, in violation of the United Nations decisions and resolutions, continued to collaborate with the racist regimes of Southern Africa.I said "Well, Switzerland does a lot of trade with Rhodesia and South Africa, but I am not sure that Switzerland is an imperialist State." The representative from Zambia said "We must put it in to differentiate between countries such as us, who deal with Rhodesia, and countries such as yours." These standards have taught me a lot.
Briefly, I think that the Council of Europe, as the Minister of State has said most eloquently on a previous occasion, is the bridge between the Nine, or whatever it is now, and the wider Europe, which is something that is appreciated. WEU is also valuable in that the French can discuss foreign affairs and military affairs outside the NATO conference.
I now turn to the main part of my speech. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant) will rattle his watch in about 10 minutes' time. A sermon with more than one text is usually particularly boring, but tonight I have four which are so good that I feel that my colleagues in the House will enjoy them.
The first text is from the Foreign Secretary's speech, as reported at column 217, when he said:the Government stand absolutely firm on their belief that African problems are by far best dealt with by African nations.That is one thread. Then—column 219—the Foreign Secretary said: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.That is thread number two.
Thread number three is—column 220 —when the Foreign Secretary said:We have to live with the Government who are there.Whatever Government are there, that is the one we have to live with. He went on to say: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".Those are from the Foreign Secretary.
463 I have just a quick one from my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler), who made a remarkable speech except for the odd swipe at Rhodesia. It was a speech that I should have thought might have come from a withered branch of the British raj, such as myself, rather than from an ongoing, forward-thinking chap such as he. I was amazed by it. He was differentiating between the Francophone and the Anglophone countries in Africa and extolling the virtues of the French approach to their ex-colonial territories. As reported at column 293, he said: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.—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 217–93.]My hon. Friend said that the results were astonishing.
I thought that this was the kind of neocolonialism of which I might often have been accused and which we were all supposed to condemn. But the fact is that it all makes sense and it all rings true. The French have succeeded. Whereas the British left a brilliant civil service and ignored the politicians, the French encouraged their politicians and did not mind about the civil service. That, perhaps, is a lesson for us here as well.
Finally, my prize, I think, is contained in column 297, and it is from the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). He said: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 and the Soviet State, trying to extend its influence wherever it can.The hon. Member went on to say: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."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 297–8.]That was good stuff, I thought, from the hon. Member for Walton. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) is not now present, because I thought that she might blanch if she heard what such an honourable sprig of the Tribune Group had said. Those are the strands which I want to join together.
I was going to mention, turning to the whole question of Southern Africa, the 464 daunting speech of the Prime Minister during his amazing interview, which I think is the worst example of appeasement that I can remember since being taken to Belgrave Square as a child to watch Mr. Chamberlain coming back from Munich waving a piece of paper in his hand. It was particularly damaging, and damaging at a particularly serious time.
On a slightly less serious note, though, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would not, I think, listen to some of the trash on the television as I did during the recent recess. However, I watched the programme "Fawlty Towers". I was amazed at the attitude of the owner of that hotel. In appearance, he looked like a youthful edition of the Prime Minister. "Fawlty Towers" reminded me so much of the Cabinet. The way that the manager appeared to believe that this was the only realistic voice in a muddled world, at the moment when he was causing chaos out of order, also reminds me of the Prime Minister, who seems to give that impression. He is actually the only muddled voice in a realistic world.
Drawing those threads together, it must mean that in the context of Rhodesia we should give full support to the internal settlement that is under way there. It is only with the internal settlement that the key workers are likely to stay. It is only in that way that the interests of Britain will be served; it is only if the Africans are allowed to make their own solution. I believe that the Rhodesians are as much Africans as anyone else in Africa. As I have said previously, to talk of them as white settlers would be as offensive as talking about the immigrants in my constituency as black settlers here.
I turn to Namibia. There are some direct questions which I hope the Minister will answer tonight. The South Africans have agreed to leave Namibia by the end of 1978. As far as I know, they have agreed to all the terms that the five white members of the Security Council have laid down for their support, the most important being one man, one vote elections, the elections to be supervised by the United Nations, and a drastic reduction of troops on the Angola border from probably 12,000 or 15,000 now to 3,000 in all.
465 I am a bit of a new Columbus myself, but I think that it has done me no harm to have gone to the Angola border in Namibia and seen the terrain. It is very doubtful whether such a small number of South African troops will keep that long border secure. I doubt whether 4,000 or 5,000 fresh United Nations troops, even if they wanted to, would be able to keep the border secure from the marauders coming from Angola, where they are given help and training by Cubans and East Germans.
This is what has been agreed. It was said that when this agreement had happened, the United Nations commissioner would arrive in Windhoek to take over the supervision of the elections and the placing of United Nations observers and so on. But he is not there, because SWAPO has said "No, you cannot come." It seems that SWAPO has a veto in the United Nations and that the five members of the Security Council are accepting that veto.
I believe that SWAPO will not come because it is afraid that, if it agrees to take part freely in the elections under United Nations supervision, it will lose out to the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, the multi-racial, multi-tribal Alliance which will give security to the new nation of Namibia and prosperity in future.
What is SWAPO? There is tremendous rivalry within the organisation. About 1,200 SWAPO members are under protective arrest in Zambia, but I am delighted to hear that it seems that Mr. Shepanga, who has been in one of the toughest gaol in Tanzania, has been let out. I was delighted to hear what my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said about his speech over here. This is supposed to be a liberating army. Who will liberate the liberators from their arrest?
The next reason, perhaps, is that the people in Namibia know what SWAPO is about. I should like to quote from what Sam Nujona said in a television broadcast in America. The interviewer said:Yes, but once there is black majority rule, there is black majority rule. Is it not so? What more do you want?Mr. Nujona replied: 466The question of black majority rule is out. We are not fighting even for majority rule. We are fighting to seize power in Namibia for the benefit of the Namibian people. We are revolutionaries. We are not counter revolutionaries. You can talk to Kapuuo—Chief Kapuuo, who was tragically killed by SWAPO—Kerina and all those reactionaries about majority rule and not to SWAPO.Is that not a clear exposition about this group of people, who I do not believe represent more than a small percentage of the people of Namibia? It is these people who seem to have a veto on the whole of the United Nations and all the five Security Council members.
When will the United Nations commissioner take up his post in Namibia? Will the British Government inform SWAPO that it does not have a veto on these elections, that the international community is satisfied with the arrangements made and that, if SWAPO does not wish to take part and leave its arms behind, it is up to no international organisation to see that it does?
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Since my appeal to the House, 35 minutes have gone by and I still have a large number of hon. Members to fit in. Brevity would be appreciated.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
I shall try to follow your instructions, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to mention only three matters.
First, I am very glad that the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) is here, because there has been some misunderstanding about the new Conservative policy on the development of the Lomé Convention. I got the impression from the right hon. Gentleman's speech yesterday that he was saying that in the present negotiations for Lomé II the British Government should propose the addition to the convention of a mutual military element.
I no longer have any connection with the European Assembly—a year was enough for me—but during my year I was rapporteur for the budget of the Development Committee and I was the Socialist spokesman at the assembly in Lesotho, when all these matters about 467 Lomé II were discussed. One should come down to realism in these matters. With the attitude of the ACP countries, it will be hard enough even to get any mention of human rights, never mind something which actually has teeth and would affect the automaticity of aid to such a country as Uganda, which blatantly infringes human rights.
That will be hard enough even if the Nine behave with impeccable credentials. The ACP countries are violently divided between the Zaires, the Ivory Coasts and the Senegals on the one side and the more revolutionary countries which are desperately trying to get Mozambique and Angola to join Lomé and bring them into that sphere of influence. If the Nine were to suggest what the right hon. Gentleman suggests, any hope of a Lomé II which could be regarded as an advance on Lomé I would go out of the window.
I do not imagine that the possibility exists, but the Opposition might just have some responsibility for negotiating the final stages of Lomé II. I am not taking that possibility seriously, but we must take everything into account. If they did, it would put the Nine into a difficult position if a British Government brought such an extraordinary proposition to Lomé II. I hope that we can get that clear.
§ Mr. John Davies
I should like my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) to deal with some points on this matter in winding up, and I am sure that he will. Meanwhile, it seemed right to me to point out that what the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) says underlines the mutuality characteristic which I so strongly stressed. To be charged with having therefore indulged in some form of Imperialism or neo-colonialist attitude—as the Under-Secretary did when speaking of my speech yesterday—seems to me entirely inappropriate.
§ Mr. Price
My charge against the Opposition is one not of neo-colonialism but of unrealism about the sensitivity of the negotiations for Lomé II. Claude Cheysson, the Commissioner, has spent nearly two years of careful preparation softening up the ACP countries to this sort of approach.
468 One must remember that ACP is ACP, that the States are not just in Africa. The ACP countries are conscious that there are those in the Commission who would like to divide the ACP countries and have separate arrangements with Africa, with Latin America and the Caribbean and with Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
There is an argument in Europe about this. I am very much behind the ACP States in trying to maintain their unity. They feel that Europe, through its relationships with all its former dependencies in all parts of the world, has a unique role to play. The moment it is cut up into regional agreements the whole nature of the Lomé relationship is changed.
My criticism is that while delicate negotiations are going on the right hon. Member for Knutsford ought not to walk in rather like a bull in a china shop if he were ever to be in a position of greater responsibility. That would prejudice all of the good work that has gone in the past two years. I know that Oppositions change when they gain power, but I regard this as being a necessary warning, simply because the development of the Yaoundé Convention into Lomé I and II is a slow and careful development of relationships betwen the West and the Third world. In the past the West has viciously exploited such relationships. Relationships between exploiter and exploitee are not easy and have to be worked out over a considerable period of years. It may be, come Lomé IV, V or VI, that we shall move to a political situation such as the right hon. Gentleman talks of. But in my judgment the time is not now. It would be disastrous to act in such a way at present.
We have heard statements, such as that by the hon. Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall), about fishing in troubled waters, containing accusations against the Soviet Union. It is important to understand that from the point of view of the average African there is little difference between Soviet support for Mozambique, Ethiopia or Somalia—whoever happens to be the favourite son at any particular time—and French support in Niger and Chad. The troops there appear to the African to be fulfilling roughly the same task, namely, safeguarding either the strategic or economic interests of the outside country or super Power. If we say 469 shrilly that the Russians are interfering in Africa when we are doing the same thing in protecting our uranium supplies for the year 2000—which in my view is what the operations in Zaire were all about—we shall lose that vital advantage which we have over the Russians. At the moment we are regarded as being in Africa basically for our own interests, as are the Russians, but in terms of aid and assistance with development we have a slightly better reputation.
What we need to do in our relations with the African States is to insist on a human rights clause in Lomé II. We should take a firm stand on fundamental human rights, but beyond that we ought to take the techniques of developing aid very seriously and try to build on the mutual relationships which the Lomé Convention has succeeded in developing to such an extent that almost every country in Africa receiving Western aid prefers it to be channelled through Lomé rather than be operated on a simple bilateral basis. This is because aid through Lomé comes free of strings, with both parties being treated as equals. That is why I am saddened by the tone of some of the speeches in the debate. Although I agree with many of the things that have been said about Soviet intentions in Africa, the simple concentration on that point spoils the reputation and the advantage that we have in our relationships with many African States.
I have not been present for the whole of the debate, but in the speeches that I have heard there has been no mention of the Cyprus problem. Because the Minister of State is present I want to make two points. The Turkish proposals have been put forward and the Minister of State and I met some Turkish Members of Parliament the other day to discuss these proposals. In my view they do not reach the point which would justify Dr. Waldheim in calling the Greeks in, since if that happened it would lead to another round of abortive negotiations and a further set-back.
I ask the Minister to tell us what is the Government's attitude towards trying to improve on these proposals to the extent that Dr. Waldheim could say, with the agreement of the Greek and Cypriot Governments, that they form the basis for negotiation. If this round of intercommunal negotiations fails it is my view 470 that the only solution to this problem—a problem which must be solved if we are to have stability in this area—will be to tackle it on a much wider international basis. This will have greater ramifications. It is in the interests of NATO and of the Cypriot people that this problem be solved quickly.
In September the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe will consider for the third time the report on violations of human rights in Cyprus. I know that the Minister of State takes this problem seriously. I believe that on previous occasions when the Committee of Ministers has dealt with this matter there has been a certain amount of muddle and no coherent attitude has emerged among the Nine, let alone on a broader European basis. The rules of the European Human Rights Commission are clear, in that the matter must be disposed of.
The Committee of Ministers must send the matter forward so that it can be decided whether there has been a violation of human rights. If such a decision is made the matter must be published. So far the Committee of Ministers, for cowardly political reasons, has shelved the matter time and again. It cannot be shelved for ever. The Committee cannot continue to say that it will not deal with the matter but will wait for a Cyprus settlement. Even the Turks would would rather have this matter out of the way, even if they were to be told that they had violated human rights.
It has been said that the only way to deal with the Turks is to hate them or love them, but never to threaten them. Over the past two years we have been threatening them with the possible publication of this report. It has been partly published in the Sunday Times and last month it was published verbatim in Kathirimeni, in Athens. The world knows what the report says. I have it here, and if I had more time I would read it. I ask the Minister to tell us what the Government's attitude will be when the Committee of Ministers considers the report.
I had intended to go on to another subject, but I am aware that many other hon. Members want to speak so I shall leave my remarks at that point.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Boscawen (Wells)
In his very long speech today, the Under-Secretary of State used one phrase which I think valuable, and I should like to devote part of my speech to its theme. He said that the walls of sovereignty have no meaning when it comes to human rights. That is an entirely admirable sentiment, and I congratulate the Government on the stand they have taken on the human rights issue with the Soviet Union and elsewhere.
Throughout the debate yesterday, however, there were repeated charges by Labour Members of Conservatives having double standards on human rights. I make no apology for drawing attention to violations of human rights, both individual and collective, in the Soviet Union —violations of the freedoms that we in the West are able to enjoy, such as freedom of worship and freedom of travel. I have made these accusations not only in private and in public outside the Soviet Union but also, when I was able, within the Soviet Union itself, as I did in the Kremlin last year.
Those Labour Members who lecture us about double standards on human rights should read what my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) said so clearly and what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer)said so emphatically and well—that oppression is oppression is oppression, no matter what race, colour or creed it comes under, and whether it be in Southern Africa, South America, on the continent of India or in the Gulag Archipelago, to those who are oppressed it is the same thing.
Many of us—probably the majority of hon. Members—gave up almost a decade of our youth to smashing one crowd of Fascist murderers, while we were forced by the circumstances of the time to ally ourselves with another infamous tyranny. So I do not feel that we need to be lectured by anyone, least of all by the Under-Secretary of State who spoke last night, the hon. Member for Meriden (Mr. Tomlinson), who took up a holier-than-thou attitude about the approach of some of us to the question of human rights.
The Soviet Union is the vast imperialist heir to the Tsarist regime. It was put together by force. It has since formed 472 a greater new empire of subjugated peoples in Eastern Europe. It has never ceased to enter any unbarred door in order to export trouble in any part of the world. Some of us feel deeply worried when we hear bland remarks by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary and others saying merely that we are not going to be just anti-Soviet for its own sake but that we intend to live with the Soviet Union and not to seek artificial confrontation with it.
Of course none of us wants to seek artificial confrontation with the Soviet Union. None of us wants enmity with the Soviet Union for its own sake. But surely it impresses no one not to draw attention to the realities of the situation. It is simply not good enough to suggest that the Soviet Union is not an empire based on expansion, and that expansion is essential to keep it together.
Detente, whatever the word means—and I find it as difficult to understand its meaning as do some of my hon. Friends—has not meant any let-up in Soviet expansion or trouble-making in hypersensitive situations and areas in the world; it has not led to the Soviet Union letting up on increasing manpower and hardware to achieve further expansion. The Soviet Union has not let up in any way that I know of in its treatment of human beings inside the Soviet Union and in the rest of its empire.
The obvious truth is that, like the Tsarist empire, the Soviet totalitarian regime has to exist, and needs essentially to exist, on disruption and on expansion in order to preserve its own internal empire from internal troubles or from decline. Expansion is essential to keeping its 270 million people, its 101 nationalities and its satellite empire in subjugation.
Above all, expansion and troublemaking are essential to the self-perpetuation of the small clique of intensely privileged elderly grey men at the top of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. That has a great deal to do with what all the trouble is about. It is surely obvious that we are in a prenatal period of a leadership struggle within the Central Committee. The Brezhnev-Stalin orthodoxy may continue or there may be a new guard, a less blatantly aggressive 473 group, who see the perpetuation of the regime and the empire—and their way of life—as lying in some other ways, perhaps more liberal than in the past. None of us can tell what will happen.
But whatever the way forward that emerges, surely the West has to accept that there will be a period when the powder keg—to use the Prime Minister's words—is particularly dangerous and particularly dry. We have had highs and lows in our relationship with the Soviet Union since 1945. Clearly we are moving into a low period, one in which the West has to be exceedingly careful in every respect.
It is not difficult to understand why we are moving into such a period. There has been a misreading of detente by the West. There has been the massive buildup of Soviet conventional arms in Europe. There have been the tragic errors of the United States in its adventurist policy in Vietnam and the psychological defeat that it suffered. There has been the improvident withdrawal by our country and other NATO countries from facing up to the realities of the Soviet arms build-up and to Soviet intentions to expand in other parts of the world.
Either way, the indecisiveness and divided counsels in the West over the Soviet build-up in Europe and the recent adventurist policies in Africa ill serve the situation and the future if it is allowed to continue much longer. What has been so disappointing in the last few days is that the West has not come up with any sensible practical proposals yet for finding a way round this mischief-making and trouble-making by the Soviet Union outside its borders. and particularly at present in Africa.
There have been proposals and suggestions, but none of them sounds to me wholly to be the answer to overcoming this problem. Failure to come up with any positive proposals soon could seriously affect this unstable period into which we are entering in East-West relations with the Soviet Union. It could lead to a much more difficult situation than the one we face at present.
The situation is much worsened today by Soviet meddling in areas where it would be much better if it kept away. Of that there can be no doubt. Of course 474 there must be a continuation of the SALT talks. There must be a continuation of seeking balanced force reductions. No one denies that at all. But, at the same time, the West must follow the lead which at last has been given by the President of the United States. It must stand absolutely firm on its guard and warn the Soviet Union that it cannot expect to continue this aggressive expansionist policy without the West reacting in ways which could only do grave harm not only to the Western world but to the people of the Soviet Union themselves.
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
I very much welcomed the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar). He was trying to make an assessment, for the benefit of the House, of an important part of the world to which we do not pay enough attention. I do not believe that we can have a sensible debate or discussion on foreign affairs without making some assessment of the world as it is. We must ask what the opportunities and the prizes are and also what are the limitations of our own power and influence.
In my view, the greatest dangers and the greatest opportunities lie in the relations between the United Kingdom and the West on the one hand and the Third world on the other. Over the next 25 years, the great debate will be on the new international economic order, the North-South dialogue, the anxiety of the Western world about access to oil and industrial raw materials and the question—to which the Minister devoted a lot of time—of the enormous riches of the sea bed and whether these will be the common heritage of mankind or open to ruthless private enterprise exploitation by some companies in the Western world.
There is also the Third world's demand for fair access to the markets of the West for its own industrial goods. It was said in the early part of this debate that one cannot divorce defence from foreign affairs. That is true. But neither can one divorce economics from foreign affairs. It was quite right for some of my hon. Friends to put forward the argument about the Lomé Convention and its part within the general context of foreign policy.
475 In the course of his opening speech yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said:the concept of human rights is such a powerful concept in foreign policy."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978, Vol. 951, c. 215.]That is certainly true with regard to the Third world, because it has been passionately concerned about human rights in terms of racialism and the vicious effect of racist policies in certain parts of the world which have affected the Third world very directly and very deeply. As well as the question of racialism, which is a profound matter of human rights, there are also the right to food, the right not to starve, the right to work, the right to decent homes, the right to medical care and the right of people to live their own lives without bullying and meddling from multinational companies or squalid interference from bodies such as the CIA. These are the rights in which the Third world is interested. These are human rights to which we have to pay more attention in future.
I must remind the House that when we use the shorthand term "the Third world"—in many ways it is a vague term—we are talking about two-thirds of mankind. We are talking about the great populations not only of Africa but of Asia and Latin America as well. We have got to pay attention to the human rights to which those countries and peoples attach deep and profound importance. I do not minimise the importance of the rights that my right hon. Friend was talking about. The right to dissent, the right of free speech and the right to have free trade unions are all very important in our own context, but they are not the priority rights of the Third world countries, which want food, rising living standards and, above all, freedom from racist societies and racist oppression.
In the context of the argument about human rights and the relationship between the West and the Third world, there are two great flashpoints which could cause serious disruption, danger and war in the world. These two areas are Palestine and Southern Africa. It is not altogether a coincidence that there is now developing a military and diplomatic alliance between Israel and white South Africa. That is very dangerous. I think it is very 476 foolish of the Israelis. It is not entirely surprising, because in some ways in Palestine and Southern Africa there is a mirror image of the same problem. We have minorities of European origin oppressing and exploiting indigenous people on the basis of racist ideologies.
There is apartheid and racial discrimination in Southern Africa and there is Zionism in Palestine. Every Palestinian Arab today is an exile from his own country or is living under foreign alien rule. Four-fifths of his homeland has been taken away. If the Palestinian Arab is lucky enough to live in the other one-fifth, he is living under a military Government which can deport him at any moment without charge, without trial and without appeal. In fact, it does so on many occasions. His possessions can be confiscated.
A process of colonisation is going on not only in Palestine itself—this has been criticised by both sides during the debate —but in the territories of Syria and Egypt. We have seen the kind of brutalities that can be committed. In the recent assault in the Lebanon, 1,000 innocent civilian people were killed and 200,000 fresh refugees were created in that unfortunate part of the world.
What is to be the reaction of the Palestinian Arab to this situation? If he fights, he is denounced as a terrorist. If he stands up and fights for his land—and it is his land—he is told that violence is wrong and that he must not fight or defend himself. Let us suppose that he says he wants to negotiate, as the PLO has done. What is he told? He is not admitted to the conference table because the Israelis say "We shall not talk to those people." He is not allowed to fight or to negotiate. Therefore, what is he supposed to do?
The West generally, and the United Kingdom particularly, would do well to pay attention to the many principles laid down in varying resolutions of the United Nations over the past 30 years—resolutions which have commanded almost unanimous assent from the Third world. These countries recognise in the Palestinian situation the same situation from which they have only recently escaped. They know the problem of alien rule, of fighting for their own liberation and seeking the right to negotiate an honourable status for themselves and 477 an honourable independence. That is why the Palestinian cause is gaining greater appreciation throughout the Third world, and the West should pay greater attention to that fact.
In Southern Africa the situation is similar but more complex. There we find the final ultimate logicality of racism, which is the absolute basis and core of the whole structure of the society of South Africa. This is admitted by the South African Government. They make no apology for the fact that their whole society is based on racial discrimination and differentiation—they make no bones about it. The fruits of this doctrine have been the brutal murder of Steve Biko, which enraged the world, and the savage shooting down of unarmed schoolchildren when they protested in Soweto.
The South African Government have taken the theory even beyond that. Their Bantustan, or so-called homelands policy, means that 20 million black South Africans have become aliens and foreigners in 87 per cent. of their own land. The South African Government are saying that in 13 per cent. of South Africa these people may run their own affairs and have some sort of rights, but in the other 87 per cent. they have no civil, political or economic rights. They are allowed to work for white people in a quasi-industrial form of slavery, on terms that the Government graciously permit, but they have no civil rights, political rights or rights to organise themselves into trade unions. The Government tell these black citizens that these things are forbidden to them in nearly nine-tenths of their own country. That is South African policy.
If we are to lecture the ACP countries in Lomé on human rights, naturally they will turn round and ask us what we are doing about human rights in South Africa, where we have such close economic involvement. What about British Leyland, British Nuclear Fuels Limited and the British Steel Corporation, which are directly involved in the economy of South Africa? We should do something about that before we lecture the ACP countries on human rights.
The problem extends beyond South Africa into Rhodesia and Namibia. South Africa has agreed—very reluctantly and on terms that suit her—that she might condescend to give up her 478 occupation of Namibia. The Western Powers should be quite clear of the terms of the judgment of the International Court, which said that the occupation of Namibia was absolutely illegal and that South Africa had no rights whatever in that territory and must withdraw completely from Walvis Bay without condition, in accordance with the terms of the unanimous resolution by the Security Council of 30th January 1976. That resolution made Walvis Bay an integral part of Namibia and required the unqualified evacuation from and handover of Namibian territory by South Africa.
In Rhodesia we have had the proposed racist constitution under which a 3 per cent. racial minority would have 28 per cent. of seats in Parliament. This would be entrenched in the constitution. Imagine if someone suggested that the 3 per cent. immigrant minority in this country should have 28 per cent. of the seats of the House of Commons. There would be roars of laughter and the suggestion would be dismissed as ludicrous. Yet, when that proposition is put up by Smith in Rhodesia, Conservative Members fall over each other to say that we must accept it.
It is not only a question of politics. We must face the fact that there has been the brutal savagery of the massacre at Chimoio by Smith's forces and the even more vicious massacre carried out at Kassinga in Angola, where South African paratroopers were landed inside Angola and proceeded to slaughter men, women and children indiscriminately in this massive camp of refugees.
That sort of thing is made possible by the oil from Western oil companies—oil to lubricate and finance the war machines of Smith and Vorster. The Western world must stand up and acknowledge its responsibilities in this respect and not try to hide behind all sorts of excuses for its involvement in apartheid and in the Southern African problem.
What should be the United Kingdom policy on these matters? We should pay closer attention to the terms of United Nations resolutions in the General Assembly and, indeed, in the Security Council, because they point the way to a solution of the problems of the Middle East and of Southern Africa.
We should recognise the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the absolute 479 right of the Palestinians to an independent State of their own. We should demand the unconditional withdrawal by Israel from occupied lands and a halt to the process of colonisation. If Israel continues to stall, block and refuse to come forward to meet the great initiative taken by President Sadat, we should point out that the special arrangements that she enjoys with the European Community will be in danger of being terminated.
We must demand the unconditional withdrawal of South Africa from Namibia, including Walvis Bay. We should disengage from our own unhealthy economic involvement with the system of apartheid. We should press on with the Anglo-American plan for Rhodesia which, I believe, forms the basis —a very proper basis—for an eventual peaceful settlement of that problem.
I believe that not only should we look at the problems and difficulties but that we should reach out to grasp the unparalleled opportunities that we have in the present-day world. We should take the opportunities offered to us by the machinery of international co-operation which is unprecedented in the history of mankind. I am thinking of the great organisations such as the World Bank, UNDP, the International Monetary Fund, GATT, WHO, FAO, UNICEF, UNCTAD and the ILO. The great apparatus of the United Nations and its agencies provides an enormous opportunity—and a particular opportunity to a smaller country such as ours—to promote and develop international co-operation.
I was glad to read what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at the recent disarmament conference about peacekeeping. I was also glad to read what he said about the building blocks for peace. I think that the concept of a standby United Nations reserve peacekeeping force is very important. It is, of course, not a new concept. It is something for which some of us in the United Nations Association have been arguing for 10 or 20 years, but it is important that countries such at the United States have now recognised it. I very much welcome the support that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave to this concept and I hope that it will be worked out in practice.
480 I should like to see a little more vigour and energy on the part of the Foreign Office in following up the concept of the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace. Discussions between America and Russia have been taking place on this idea, but not much effort or interest has so far been shown by the United Kingdom. This concept of zones of peace, of nuclear-free zones, is one of the building blocks of peace to which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister referred and which are of enormous importance in creating a more peaceful world.
There are great limitations on our part, but we have influence within the Commonwealth. We have influence within Europe, and we have influence within the United Nations. I believe that we should use that influence especially to bring the Third world and the West into a closer and closer understanding on those matters that are of crucial importance to both sides.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)
Before I call the next hon. Gentleman, I appeal to hon. Members to be brief. Ten-minute speeches would be very acceptable and would help quite a number of hon. Members to get into the debate.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
Having waited for about seven and a half hours to speak, I shall speak for seven and a half minutes if I possibly can.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies) made a profound mistake. He put forward a new idea, and all the progressive, liberal, advanced thinkers on the Labour Benches have done nothing but try to condemn it. No one can suggest that the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend in any sense smack of neo-colonialism or militaristic intervention. What he did was to try to advance a modest practical suggestion for dealing with an extremely difficult situation.
Nobody imagines that he got it all right. No Opposition can possibly have all the details, but the Minister should have said that although he recognised the difficulties he would take advice and consider the matter. He should not simply 481 have come to this House, egged on by his hon. Friends, and said "No". It is that impression of helplessness and hopelessness that damages the reputation of this country in its conduct of foreign affairs.
I shall make four brief points. First, I wish to ask the Minister for an assurance. Few countries have so many of their nationals serving overseas in dangerous and difficult circumstances as does the United Kingdom. In many cases it is impossibe for the British Government to provide them with protection, because they are scattered in isolated communities and our power to help them is limited. But there are some areas where large congregations of British people are serving national interests, often at the request of the British Government. For example, there are 40,000 such people in the copper belt of Zambia, and many thousands in the Gulf, in Nigeria, and elsewhere.
I ask for an assurance that in the event of circumstances occurring similar to those that took place in Shaba, where a Government loses control and guerrilla forces or others create a situation in which the lives of large numbers of British nationals are at risk, Her Majesty's Government will undertake to go to their aid. Do we have the implements, the long-range aircraft and other equipment, to deal with such a situation? I doubt it. Do we have the parachutists? Again, I doubt it. Do we have the political will? That is the crucial question. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance to the House that British nationals who are serving our country and facilitating our exports abroad, many of them servants of the Crown, will be able to rely on being assisted by Her Majesty's Government in time of need, as the French and the Belgians relied on their Governments.
Secondly, I wish to deal with the subject of Cuba. I visited that country a little less than a year ago and I was impressed by its economic development, its schools and education, and its rural water and electricity schemes. I was impressed by the advance of the bikes—Castro's principal achievement. I was depressed, however, by the lack of human rights. There was only one party, one Press, and one set of commandments that all must obey.
482 We must consider seriously the external activities of the Cuban nation. The Cubans now bestride parts of Africa as a paper colossus. How have they achieved this? Economically, they are poor; financially, they cannot afford it. But they have done it—not as Hessians of the Soviet Union but because they are fired by the same revolutionary zeal that brought Castro's forces down from the hills into Havana, a zeal which has carried them across into Africa.
They are evangelists, and they believe that they are restoring to Africa something which they brought from Africa. It is a powerful feeling among many Cubans. However, the Soviet Union has perverted that feeling for its own purposes. I believe that it will be necessary for the West, notably the United States, to make plain to Premier Fidel Castro—for whom I have some admiration and a great deal of detestation—that Cuba must stop its aggression in Africa. We must tell Cuba to get out and take its soldiers home, for they do not belong in Africa, where they are a danger.
My third point relates to the great country of Iran. I am chairman of the British. Iranian parliamentary group. I have travelled there frequently over a period of 25 years. I have met the Shah and most of his Ministers, and I have seen that country develop. There are many features about Iran that I do not like, but many more that I do. I admire the way in which that country has developed its economy and the way in which the Shah has brought about many important internal reforms.
I recognise in Iran an enormously powerful trading partner which this country needs for its oil and its markets. I recognise in Iran our strongest ally in the Middle East.
However, today the Shah of Iran feels isolated and surrounded. He has domestic problems. He sees Turkey moving out of the NATO orbit and possibly out of the CENTO orbit. He sees to the north the great power of Russia. He sees Afghanistan moving into the Soviet orbit and with it Soviet influence brought within 300 miles of the Straits of Hormuz. He sees to the south, in the Horn of Africa, the Western position crumbling, and he sees what is happening in Pakistan, where if, as I pray will not happen, Mr. Bhutto 483 were to be executed it would be difficult to avoid a civil war.
Is it not surprising that the Shah of Iran sees crumbling all around him the system of alliances on which the security of his country and the substantial Western interests depend? Is it not surprising that he sees them coming under pressure, and at risk? A message should go from this debate to the Shah of Iran that we support what he is doing, that we back Iran in trade, investment and in credits as and when they are needed and in the provision of such weapons of which he may stand in need.
I lived and worked in the United States for 15 years. President Carter's statement in Annapolis is important, but I wish that he had made it before. I have had the pleasure, as a journalist, of interviewing all of the American presidents since President Truman, except Mr. Carter. I am bound to say that up to this time he has given an impression of weakness. He has by his weakness encouraged the Soviet Union in its arms policy, in its African policy, to undertake adventures which it ought not to have done.
If the President's statement means that he will act, together with his allies, in a more effective manner to contain Soviet pressures, a great change will have taken place, and one that I welcome. But I shall judge the President by his actions and not by his words. He is a man above all to whom the medium is the message.
President Carter was wrong to cancel the B1 bomber. I believe that he made a mistake not to continue the development of the cruise missile and the neutron warhead. Above all, he was wrong so to conduct the foreign policy of the United States as to encourage the Soviet Union into believing that they were dealing with Mr. Softy. If, now, at Annapolis, the President has changed his stance, it will be a gain for the West. I believe that the right policy for our country is to support the President and those in his Administration who at long last have recognised the danger and are prepared to do something about it.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
I am sorry that my right hon. 484 Friend the Foreign Secretary has not returned to the Government Front Bench. I do not usually speak in foreign affairs debates, and only the Foreign Secretary's more foolish remarks which appeared in the Press yesterday have inspired me to do so. One of the reasons for my not speaking in foreign affairs debates too often is that in such debates one often hears good, honest and sincere speeches, which do not, as did the speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), recognise that we speak in the Chamber of a legislature of what is, in world terms, a small Power. We are a Power which, even if it had the will, does not have the power to repress a rebellion in Rhodesia or to carry out its international obligations and defend Cyprus from invasion. We are a Power which cannot even shift a few illegal immigrants from a Falkland Island. That is roughly the extent of our will and power at the moment.
There are a few things left in the world over which we can have an influence. The Foreign Secretary sits on the EEC Council of Ministers. He has a reputation of not being above playing to the gallery. He once had to get his excellent information department to say that it was not 20,000 photographs of his boyish face which had been distributed throughout the world but some lesser number.
My right hon. Friend certainly played to the gallery the night before last, if reports in the Press have any truth in them. He said that the proposals for the pay of European Assembly Members were nonsense. He said, in effect, that because hon. Members were low-paid, European Assembly Members should also be low-paid.
My right hon. Friend failed to notice the very good principle of the United States Congress that no civil servant should be paid more than any member of the legislature. That seems right and proper. In the United States they take the view that the legislature makes the law and determines, ultimately, what the Government do. That is in a State where the President is not technically responsible to Congress in the same sense that the Government are responsible to this House. The federal legislature is restricted because it is a federal State. It has fewer powers than has this House, but the United States values the doctrine 485 that the people in power should be those elected by voters rather than those who are employed civil servants or Ministers. I notice that the Foreign Secretary did not suggest that his salary was too high. He was complaining only about the salaries of elected members elsewhere.
The Foreign Secretary also made the extraordinary and rather nice suggestion that he was a bit upset by the prospect of EEC taxation levels being applied to the salaries of European Assembly Members. He felt that they should be taxed according to the laws of their own country. That seems right and proper, but why did he not mention that European civil servants should be treated in the same way? I should like to see my right hon. Friend stop playing to the gallery and make a positive suggestion that Roy Jenkins's £64,000 salary should be taxed at a little more than the 16 per cent. which we hear is the approximate rate of taxation under EEC law for its civil servants.
I hope that the Foreign Secretary will bear in mind the outcome of the sort of policies he advocated in one of his popularity-seeking moments. In one of the articles that I read, I noticed that an anonymous person was quoted as saying that it did not matter what salaries were paid to European Assembly Members because they would make as much as £250,000 a year out of consultancies. I think that this figure is a gross exaggeration, but many hon. Members will have heard the right hon. Member who leads the Conservative Party delegation to the European Parliament say that some Assembly Members are likely to make twice their salary in consultancy work. If the salary is £25,000, that means that they may he making an extra £50,000.
The more we reduce the salary, the more we shall concentrate the minds of those elected to the Assembly upon earning money outside. I would far rather see, in this House and in the Assembly, a large but honest salary, paid by taxpayers to people whom they have chosen to elect, than see people being forced to take money from outside sources. Some of those sources may be reputable, but there may well be among them sources that are not reputable, and to encourage that sort of thing is wrong and improper.
The Foreign Secretary could have done a good job if he had said "When I go 486 to the Council of Ministers to discuss European Members' salaries I shall advocate a register of their outside interests as has the House of Commons for its Members". If he had said that, he would not have been playing to the gallery. He would have been unpopular in some quarters of the European Assembly, but he would have been doing a great service for the countries of the Nine. That is because he would have been advocating in Europe a principle that 'we are slowly trying to introduce in this place, namely, that there should be a register of outside interests so that the people may determine for themselves whether they are proper for a Member to hold.
It is possibly not utterly unconnected with the fact that the economies of some other countries are better than our own that they pay their politicians adequately. It is possible that they have matters right and that we have them wrong. In the end, people often get the Government that they deserve. Are the Governments of Western Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy and America all that much worse than ours? Is it possible that one of the reasons for their success in some directions, such as economically, is that they have been paying those who represent them a little more than we do?
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Grant (Harrow, Central)
I shall not take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). That is partly because I do not think that his remarks were wholly relevant to the debate and because I am on my mettle to speak more shortly than my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page).
I wish to touch upon a theme that has not been taken up except by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price). The debate has generally concerned itself with the growing Russian imperialism, which has been on a par with the aspirations of Palmerstonian jingoes of the nineteenth century, except that they operated in an overt fashion whereas the Soviet Union operates through Cuba, its proxy.
The other theme of the debate has been the effect of the withdrawal of the United States from its former world role following Vietnam and Watergate. That 487 calls for a major rethink on the part of Europe. I mean Europe as a whole and not merely the EEC.
I shall speak briefly about an area that has not really been mentioned—namely, the Mediterranean. I do so because I am rapporteur for the Defence Committee of the Western European Union. In the course of my duties, I have recently been visiting a number of European countries. In the eyes of many, it is a tranquil, agreeable and probably a tourist area. However, it is protected by NATO which on paper is militarily strong.
There are potentially grave policital dangers in the area. I shall cite three. First, there is the Arab-Israeli conflict. I do not want to talk about that, except to say that I agree with the observations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce). Secondly, there is the Greece-Turkey situation, and thirdly there are the question marks hanging over Yugoslavia.
The Greece-Turkey situation can be described only as absurd. Both countries are democracies and both countries recognise the dangers that exist from the Warsaw Pact forces that are on thir borders. Both countries have a vital part to play in the NATO alliance. However, Greece is not fully integrated into NATO and Turkey is hamstrung by the United States embargo, which the United States Administration seems incapable of persuading its legislature to lift. It has had some most serious effects.
The economic situation in Turkey is grave and the effect of the embargo is having a serious effect upon its air force especially. Beyond that, the Turks have tended to lose faith in the United States, their ally. Although I do not believe that they will embrace the Russian bear, it is worth noting that only a few weeks ago the Soviet Chief of Staff paid a visit to Turkey. He is alleged to have said to the Press that the two countries shouldbenefit from the possibilities offered by a military relationship.The Turkish Defence Minister, quoting the general, said:Russia does not harbour any ambitions over Turkey except those of mutual friendship … should Turkey require arms Russia could examine ways and means of giving aid.488 I do not believe that Turkey will embrace the Russian bear, but we can hardly blame the Turks for feeling disillusioned with the support that they are getting from the United States in particular and the negative attitude—of which, if I had more time, I should complain—of the British Prime Minister in answer to a supplementary question which I put to him only a few weeks ago. I have written to him and hope to get an answer.
I suppose that the situation revolves around Cyprus. I noted what the hon. Member for Lewisham, West said on that subject. The Greeks allege that the Turks have infringed human rights, and the Turks allege that the Greeks infringed human rights earlier. All this has to be investigated and brought into the open.
The problems of human rights, boundary lines, property and constitution are dwarfed by the dangers of a breakdown in NATO strength in the Mediterranean and the possibilities of military conflict in that area. Human rights must take second place to that major consideration.
Unlike the hon. Member for Lewisham, West, I believe that reasonable proposals have been put forward by the Turks and that they are at least worth discussing. There is an opportunity for negotiation between the two sides under the auspices of Dr. Waldheim of the United Nations. I believe that talks between the two sides should resume without delay as a matter of urgency. That was the overwhelming view of the majority of the Council of Europe when it discussed the matter only recently.
The situation in the area is like that of a football team in which, because there has been squabbling between two of the forwards, the captain has made one player stand on the touchline, half on and half off, and has tied the other's ankles together. That is a ridiculous situation between allies.
I shall not say anything substantial about Yugoslavia. There are question marks hanging over that country, which is in a critical position both geographically and politically. Any change from the independent status that it has built up so remarkably and uniquely would be profoundly dangerous to the stability of the world and to the Mediterranean in particular.
489 There are question marks about what will happen when President Tito goes—and he is 86. There are problems over Yugoslavia's balance of trade. It is engaged in negotiations with the EEC to try to improve its balance of trade with the West, because it does not want to be wholly dependent on Russia. I hope that the Minister will take that on board, not necessarily now but when he reads my speech. Yugoslavia also needs help with defence equipment. I believe that we should proclaim the unequivocal commitment of the West to the independence, territorial integrity and unity of Yugoslavia in its continued non-aligned status.
Generally, if peace and stability are to be maintained, we need greater unity in the Western Alliance. We must encourage Greece, Spain and Portugal to join the EEC. We must get the arms embargo lifted. I should like to see Spain a member of NATO. I want to see Greece a full member of NATO. We must pull the allied team together. The divisions in this area encourage only those who are hostile to the ideals to which we all subscribe.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Sir Frederic Bennett (Torbay)
My speech will be even shorter than it was going to be, because my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), with his particular reference to the Turkish danger, has made the points so well that it is unnecessary to go over the arguments again.
As president of the Turkish Association in this country, I am even more worried than my hon. Friend at the present tense situation in Turkey. If the Turks continue to suffer disillusion with our allies, the situation may become even more tricky than we envisage. I hope that we are both wrong. However, I do not think that there is much time left to prevent serious developments from taking place in Turkey's arrangements.
The hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) began his remarks on a slightly different aspect of our foreign policy and dealt with the payment of Members of the European Parliament. He complained about the arrogance and conceit of the Foreign Secretary. There are more serious charges against the Foreign Secretary than his attitude towards European Members' pay. His failings are 490 having a serious effect on the prospects of a settlement in Rhodesia.
It is strange that after years of successive Governments begging Mr. Smith to introduce majority rule, to give up white minority rule and to have free elections, the present Foreign Secretary should be making it as difficult as possible for Rhodesia to do what successive Governments have been begging it to do for many years.
Only now is the right hon. Gentleman's almost malevolent reaction to the announcement that there had been a settlement beginning to change—not necessarily for the right reasons—into a reluctant acquiescence. It seems that he now realises that he must be a little less bloody-minded about the internal settlement because it looks as if there is a good chance that there will be elections and that a majority Government will be elected. In that case, I cannot believe that even the present Foreign Secretary will go denying recognition to a black majority Government elected by a majority in that country.
I turn to the question of an African peacekeeping force. I asked the Prime Minister a question yesterday because he was coy about the Paris talks between officials. I did not receive a satisfactory answer. I hope that the Minister will say more about that. I do not believe that those talks were limited to the question of Zaire. I believe that originally the talks were intended to cover the question of how to introduce a greater element of security in Africa by the use of African forces, sustained when requested by the Western Powers. This has happened in some of the Francophone countries. If we could encourage other moderate countries in Africa, such as Nigeria and Sudan, to proceed along similar lines, that would be preferable to the type of last-minute operation with which we must deal at present.
I cannot understand what the Prime Minister meant when he said yesterday that these things have been discussed but that there was no agreement. Was there no agreement because the British would not go along with it? If that is so, why would we not go along with it? The French have shown not only that they have a fair degree of determination but that a number of African countries go along with them.
491 If the Soviet Union did not act in the way that it does, there would be no need for United Nations forces. I believe that in the United Nations the Soviet Union would veto any proposal which resulted in interference with its projects.
On more than one occasion, the Prime Minister has said that we should not view what is happening in Africa in an exclusively East-West context. That is over-simplification. Of course, the problems are there. They derive from the colonial past and from unreal tribal boundaries. But the exploitation of these problems exclusively is a Soviet Union affair because of its antagonism to the West and its determiniation to establish hegemony in Africa.
If any Labour Members believe that this is a white reactionary Tory attitude, they should study carefully the remarks made in this context by the Foreign Minister of China in Zaire. He represents a country which in no circumstances could be called neo-colonialist or a sympathiser of South Africa, but he came out and spoke in more vigorous terms than I have heard any British Minister about the Russian-Cuban exploitation of the difficulties endured by Africa.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Hurd (Mid-Oxon)
I begin by apologising to the Under-Secretary for my failure to hear the first half of his speech. I had a meeting with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence which, for various reasons, I felt unable to get out of.
One of the themes running through the debate, yesterday perhaps more than today, has been that of human rights. That is inevitably in a world in which, unfortunately, tyranny is almost normal, and the infringement of human rights apparently more common than their respect—[Interruption.] I am sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. I was following what I thought were the indications. Perhaps I may continue with my speech, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I found one aspect of the discussion about human rights encouraging, and I say that in all sincerity. Labour Members below the Gangway came out strongly and repeatedly in their con- 492 demnation of what they saw as oppression behind the Iron Curtan. They were perfectly right and entitled to make the point that the corollary of that condemnation on their part was that there should be a willingnes on our part to condemn and criticise the regimes in the non-Communist parts of the world where similar breaches of human rights occur. I think that their call to us on that point was well responded to by my hon. Friends the Members for Wells (Mr. Boscawen) and Shoreham (Mr. Luce).
§ Mr. Grieve
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd)—in other circumstances I would call him my hon. Friend —saw me rise to speak. He knew that the Chair was willing to accord me five minutes, and I was willing to make a speech in five minutes. I regret very much my hon. Friend's conduct.
§ Mr. Hurd
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like through you, to apologise to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve). If it is in any way in order for him to intervene for five minutes, when I have sat down and before the Minister replies to the debate, I shall be delighted to curtail my remarks accordingly.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
By the custom of the House, once the winding-up speeches have begun they should continue for the allotted time.
§ Mr. Hurd
In that case I can only confirm, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my apology to my hon. and learned Friend. I was following what I thought was the arrangement, but clearly that was a misunderstanding on my part. I have no desire to prolong my remarks or to take more of the time of the House than had been proposed.
I was referring to the willingness of those on the Opposition Benches to criticise breaches of human rights by non-Communist regimes. However, there is a difference and I think it is a vital difference. The Soviet Union and its friends not only rule their peoples in a way that we find repulsive—and they are not alone in that—but they believe 493 in the inevitable triumph of Communism and in the duty of every Communist to aid and abet that triumph. There is no secret or dispute about that. It is documented in what the Communists say or write, and it is documented in the history of the last 30 or 40 years. Therefore, when one is talking of a balance in human rights, it is most important to bear in mind the imbalance in the intentions of these groups of countries.
Two happenings of recent years have mainly informed the debate. The first is that there has been much discussion of detente and a whole series of specific negotiations with the Soviet Union. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) in that respect. We should pursue these different negotiations and we should put real energy into them in the hope that actual agreements of advantage to us and to the peace of the world can be reached.
I mention that because a certain amount of nonsense has been talked by Labour Members about our attitude to these matters—not least by the Under-Secretary who wound up last night. He referred to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and her references to China. I shall quote from the speech which my right hon. Friend made in Peking, because it is necessary to set the record straight in view of the inaccurate suggestions that have been made. My right hon. Friend said there:It is entirely natural that we should seek to influence Soviet policy and to impress on Soviet leaders our determination to protect our freedom. I do not say this because I believe that we should be in any way provocative towards the Soviet Union or anyone else. We do not seek a confrontation.Of course we wish to have reasonable day-to-day relationships with the Soviet Union and her friends. But we do not believe that simply because the language of detente is fashionable throughout the world we can afford to neglect the realities of power or the lessons of history.That seems to me to be an entirely balanced statement, and I do not think that any Minister on the Front Bench would disagree with it or, indeed, with its formulation. Therefore, I think that we should have a truce to this stuff which the Under-Secretary was talking yesterday about my right hon. Friend's attitude in that respect.
But there is an important question that I hope the Minister will deal with tonight. 494 As these specific negotiations continue—I am thinking particularly of SALT II, possibly continuing into SALT III—the interests and security of Europe will become very closely involved with them. Will the Minister say a little about how he sees the interests of Europe, not presumably represented directly at the negotiating table in the SALT discussions, being protected as the subjects under discussion become more and more relevant to the specific defence of Europe?
The other thing that we have seen, apart from these negotiations, is a worsening in the terms of the ideological struggle between the West and the East in the outside world. We have been accustomed to rules in this struggle, and these rules have been changed. In the jargon, I think that this can correctly he called a destabilising factor.
Of course, we know, and we do not need the Foreign Secretary to tell us, that African problems originate in Africa. They are not invented by the Soviet Union. We also know that in the end it will be Africans who shape the future of Africa, and that, therefore, we should be particularly careful and skilful in our approach to these problems when we have to approach them.
On all that, I think that there is common ground. But the change which has occurred—a change of which we have to take some notice—is that the Soviet Union has discovered a means of encouraging by armed force, by proxy, those groups in Africa, African groups, which share the Soviet Union's particular objective, which is to bias and force events in Africa in a way which is destructive to Western interests.
That is the new factor, and that is where I think the otherwise reasonable analysis of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) fell down, because he simply did not take account of this new factor which has been brought into events, principally in Africa but also in other continents.
This is a very low-risk strategy on the part of the Soviet Union. The sad fact is that there is no reason why it should not continue indefinitely, until the West finds some way of dissuading them from such adventures.
In this, the strength and attitude of the United States is crucial. I should like to 495 refer particularly to what was said on this point by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), with shocks and agonies, the United States is now clearly moving towards a new definition of its policy, and the President's speech yesterday at Annapolis, which we welcome, is the latest manifestation of that.
The United States, being a very open society, accustomed to very open debate, is also open to suggestions from this country and its other allies. This particular time, when obviously policy is being formed and reformed, gives us an opportunity. It is a pity that the Prime Minister, using this opportunity during the NATO meeting last week, gave his encouragement to and came down on the side of those who favoured a passive and inward-looking American policy. He gave the impression, in a series of phrases which I think he should regret, that these things—he was mentioning Africa in particular—were rather too complicated and difficult for the Americans and that they would do better not to worry about them too much.
I think that, in this, there is not only an encouragement to those who are passive, but just that hint of patronage which Englishmen fall into rather too easily in discussing things with Americans, and which is particularly resented.
Once one decides that it is better to do nothing, there are all kinds of intelligent-sounding reasons why nothing should be done. We have heard many from Labour Members during this debate. But those reasons are not always a sure guide and can sometimes be a disastrous one. We are in danger of living intellectually in an era which is past.
We have lived in an extraordinary era, during which the United States was prepared, for perhaps 25 years, to take a lead in many different parts of the world to preserve the peace and the kind of societies in which we live. They took a lot of stick and they made mistakes, but they soldiered on. I do not believe that that time will come again. It was an extraordinary and abnormal time, when the United States was prepared—not entirely alone, but almost alone and sometimes quite alone—to put up that 496 performance. I do not believe that the Americans will return to an alert and vigorous policy, which it is very much in our interests that they should, unless they now see a matching performance from Europe.
That is what this debate has rightly concentrated on. What does that mean?
§ Mr. Hurd
The hon. Lady is entirely justified in her query, which she also put in her speech. It means obviously the building, or to be more accurate the rebuilding, of our defences. The Foreign Secretary spoke of that with enthusiasm yesterday, and we share that enthusiasm.
It is a pity that the prelude to this great build-up should have been a whole series of remarkable run-downs by this country in particular. That is a poor prelude for the Foreign Secretary's taking credit for what we now agree is necessary. There has not been a great deal of argument on that first element in the matching performance.
Then there is the whole question of the political activities of the European Community. I am talking now of activities within the treaty, activities of the Community as a civilian power taking trade and financial decisions across the world. We have discussed this before and it would not be right to go into detail now, but the Community gives the impression of an adolescent, having a good deal of power, able, indeed forced, to take decisions collectively which are of great political importance to many countries outside the Community, but, rather like an adolescent, unable to control its own strength, to take its decisions in its own best interests.
My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), in an excellent speech, dealt succinctly with the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean. That is a classic example. The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) made a similar point.
When one thinks how the EEC has handled the economic problems of Cyprus and the whole relationship between Greece and Turkey and its relationship with Turkey in particular, one cannot be confident that the politics, the strategy, the general sensitivity of the 497 Community to politics and likely developments in that area is yet acute enough. One feels exactly the same about Australia and New Zealand, which are outposts of the West and of Western democracy in the South Pacific.
In all these areas, one feels that decisions of great political moment are being taken without a full realisation of what is involved. That is within the treaties; it just requires a greater sensitivity by those who take decisions for the Community. It is not enough simply to deal with the matter in terms of economics—a tariff here and a quota there. The politics of the countries involved need to be considered.
However, the thesis of this party is that that in itself is not enough and that recent events in Zaire show why. The pattern of history exposed by several Labour Members below the Gangway yesterday in particular was of people across the Third world, right through Asia and Africa, struggling everywhere towards the light in an irresistible surge against oppression. I do not see how one can square that simple analysis of what is happening in the world with recent events in Shaba province.
One does not have to be an admirer of President Mobutu to believe that it would be a great step backward if Zaire were to dissolve into a series of warring provinces subject to the kind of atrocities practised in Kolwezi recently. I thought that at this point the Foreign Secretary was a little disingenuous in his speech yesterday, when he said that he did not quite understand what all the proposals various people were putting to him were about. He echoed the reaction of the Prime Minister at his Washington Press conference.
On the question of rescuing nationals, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds referred, there seemed to be a fairly strong agreement within the House, recognising that what the French and Belgians did was correct and questioning the Government about our own intentions in that area if, unfortunately, something similar were to recur. I hope that the Minister will say something about our own and European nationals.
On the wider point, there is the question of African States being willing and able to go to the help of other African 498 States against the kind of adventures we have ben talking about, produced by this new Soviet tactic and ability which we have not been able to match. The point we have made is that it would be wrong to leave such African countries without the means of support, without the ability to carry out that kind of operation, if we and they decided that it was necessary.
The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) rightly referred to the peacekeeping ability of the United Nations. We have watched with admiration what the United Nations has done in the Lebanon with difficult terms of reference and a remarkably difficult situation. It has done very well.
The limitation on United Nations peacekeeping, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) has said, is that although, techically speaking, a United Nations peacekeeping force can be set up by the General Assembly—it is possible to circumvent the Soviet veto—in practice it is unlikely that this would happen again. In practice the United Nations peacekeeping role is not effective in the circumstances on which we have been concentrating in this debate.
§ Mr. Hurd
I do remember that. I remember the immense difficulties there were, with the Soviet Union refusing to pay. I think that it still refuses to pay. The Secretary-General risked and lost his life in the course of that operation. There were great difficulties, because it ran up against Soviet opposition. I do not think that we shall find the United Nations repeating that exercise.
§ Mr. Hurd
The Soviet Union accepted it, but it attempted to undermine the force, and refused to pay for it. Generally it made the life of that force rather difficult. So there are limitations upon United Nations action here. That is why we return to the Community, believing that unless Europe can do something to match a possible United States performance we 499 are likely to suffer greatly from the lethargy and passivity which will result throughout the West. We have been saying that the European Community as a whole should be willing and prepared to do the kind of thing which the United States and France have done by themselves in the past few weeks.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me briefly, under what aegis the United Nations would do such a thing, and how it would create such an army when it has no right and when there is little indication of political will?
§ Mr. Hurd
The hon. Lady is entitled to her view, just as my right hon. Friend, who is in touch with these matters, is entitled to his.
At any rate, the point about Lomé, as the hon. Lady emphasised, is that it is a matter for negotiation. There can be no question of imposing an arrangement of this kind; we are in a negotiation. Whether this is the right context remains to be seen. In view of the renegotiations now beginning, it is possibly a natural context. If it turns out to be the wrong context, however, there is another available—the whole political co-operation set-up of the EEC. One should not worry too much about the lack of existing machinery. What we are seeking is the political will to find some way in which the EEC can help solve this problem with African States and with the United States. That is what we are seeking. That is the trust of our case which has been sustained by a number of speeches by my right hon. and hon. Friends.
The Soviet Union obviously dislikes this whole move; that is clear in the comments from Moscow. But the remedy is in the Soviet Union's own hands. If the Cubans were to go home, the situation would subside. We would be left with the situation that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary rightly prefer —back with the old rules, whereby the 500 African problems are basically solved in an African context. But unless we can match in some way this new, unstable factor we shall find that the cards are constantly played against us.
The same principle applies to Namibia and Rhodesia. My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has picked up an interesting proposal that there should be British observers from now on watching the development and evolution of the internal settlement in Rhodesia, to see whether the accusations and criticisms made so freely are justified, or whether something is happening there in that there is a gradual and effective movement towards majority rule—in other words, to monitor the situation. If that proposal has come authoritatively from within the internal settlement, it would be right for the Minister of State to express a first reaction, if only a cautious one, to it. It seems to be a useful suggestion.
§ Mr. Amery
The proposal comes from Mr. Sithole. I do not know whether it is yet endorsed by the other members of the Council. It is that there should be an observer on the Executive Council, on the Ministerial Committee, and even on the Security Council. My hon. Friend may like to ask the Government what they will do about it.
§ Mr. Hurd
I have already done so. I hope that the Minister of State will deal specifically with the proposal.
The arguments advanced from the Opposition have been all of one piece. We feel that the Foreign Secretary's speech, although strong on analysis and interesting to listen to, was rather short on policy—I endorse the critique of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher). We feel that inactivity is not always masterly. We suspect that we are moving, as The Economist pointed out in an interesting article last weekend, into a new chapter of world affairs which is neither cold war nor detente, as some people hoped that it would develop. It is something in between the two, but we have to reckon with it and devise new rules for it. We feel that this important new stage into which we are entering will require rather more energy and imagination that has been evidenced so far in the ministerial speeches.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr Frank Judd)
This has been an interesting and wide-ranging debate. It has covered a great deal of ground, but it presents formidable difficulties for any Minister in trying to do justice to the speeches. I shall try to deal in detail with as many points as possible, but I hope that hon. Members will bear with me if it is not possible to treat them comprehensively. I shall try to follow up in correspondence points that it is not possible for me to include in my reply in the time available.
One of the difficulties of this kind of generalised debate is that we are not able to go into any one subject in the depth that it deserves. For example, there was the excellent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar), who brought his considerable experience of Asian affairs to bear. We could with great benefit have a full-day's debate on the relationships with Asia alone but, obviously, that has not been possible.
I hope that I shall be forgiven for suggesting it, but possibly we need to look at the form of these debates to see whether there is some way in which the House could perhaps have slightly more frequent and more closely focused debates which would stimulate a greater interest in depth among the general public.
I should now like to deal with the special points as far as I can. I turn to the point made by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Maudling) with regard to détente. Of course, détente has underlain a great deal of our discussion during the past two days. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was never quite sure what détente amounted to. I think that a fairly clear and concise definition is possible. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, it is essentially about the need for a closer working relationship between the two major super-Powers in the world. In a nutshell, it is about the art of crisis prevention as opposed to crisis management.
Does any hon. Member seriously want to risk a return to the situation at the time of the Cuban missile crisis? Of course not. We must, therefore, foster relations between Western countries and the Soviet Union. In this way I believe that we shall be able to forestall, through 502 effective relationships, the development of crises which could overtake us.
§ Mr. Amery
The Minister asked whether we want to return to the Cuban missile crisis and said "Of course not". I tried to argue that the situation was very much safer at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, when the Americans had a clear supremacy, than it is today. Perhaps he would like to comment on that point.
§ Mr. Judd
The right hon. Gentleman has always had his idiosyncratic views. I very much doubt whether many hon. Members would totally share that particular analysis. With regard to détente. I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) referred to the value of cultural exchanges. The Government very much endorse what he said.
The right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet also talked about the importance of continuing with disarmament talks and negotiations. There are many reasons for doing this. One, which I hope we shall never overlook, is the gigantic use of resources which could be put to alternative constructive use. Another is the risk of accident, which is always there as the capacity of overkill develops in this advanced technology. We need to minimise that particular risk. It seems to me that it is an inescapable objective for a civilised nation to continue working for disarmament.
In saying that, I recognise that it is easy to become cynical about the chances of success. There can be a tendency to treat disarmament as an intellectualised game, but I believe that this tendency has to be resisted. In my view, the hallmark of the values of our society in this respect will be our refusal to give in and our determination to keep trying within the context of an effective defence system.
Reference was also made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) and the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) to arms sales. I would not for one moment argue against the proposition that global expenditure on armaments is far too high. It certainly is. British policy is one of responsible restraint. We have pressed strongly for international discussions 503 aimed at limiting the build-up of conventionel weapons throughout the world. I suggest to the House that President Carter's May 1977 statement on restraint in future American sales of conventional arms was highly welcome. The only way of effectively achieving a genuine reduction is through multilaterally agreed restraints by both suppliers and customers. Some proposals for this are in the Western draft programme for the current United Nations Special Session on Disarmament.
On Rhodesia there have been several observations, by the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet, the hon. Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) and others. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary dealt with this in detail yesterday, as he did with the point about the observer, which is not a particularly new idea. I should like very briefly to emphasise that we are convinced that the Salisbury agreement is an inadequate basis for a settlement. We believe that all parties—and I mean all parties—must be brought together in round-table talks if the tragedy of full-scale war in Rhodesia is to be averted. This is the basis of the joint Anglo-United States strategy and a policy which, I believe, everyone in the House will recognise has the wholehearted support of President Kaunda and President Khama.
The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) emphasised his own thoughts in this respect. I should like to make the point that if we were to participate in any arrangements under the Salisbury agreement we would be aligning ourselves with one side in the conflict and would thus lose any power we have to bring the parties together or to mediate.
There have also been references to Namibia by the right hon. Member for Pavilion, the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) and others. I put it to the House that the five-Power proposal offers a fair and reasonable settlement. It meets the legitimate concerns of all the parties, and South Africa's acceptance of it is a major and welcome development. In saying that, we must understand that the South African raid on Cassinga proved a severe and serious setback to this process. Inevitably there will be a delay 504 in progress towards agreement. We are urging all involved to help curb the spiral of violence and to refrain from unilateral actions which can only lead to more violence.
An internally agreed settlement would not be in the best interests of Namibia. We must do all we can to achieve an internationally acceptable settlement.
§ Mr. Amery rose—
§ Mr. Judd
I am replying to points made by a number of Members, and I cannot do justice to them all if I give way. Perhaps we could continue this matter in correspondence.
There has also been reference to Cyprus and to some of the wider Mediterranean issues related to that country. This point was made by the hon. Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant), some of whose speech I heard. I shall read it with great interest. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price), the Government are very concerned at the continuing lack of progress towards a political settlement in Cyprus. We have made it clear to the parties involved that, together with our partners, we are ready to help in any way that might be considered useful. The Government believe, however, that a just, lasting and viable settlement must be negotiated between the two communities in Cyprus who have to live with the terms of such a settlement.
The intercommunal talks remain, in our view, the best means of progress because they bring together the two sides in the dispute. Therefore, we warmly welcome the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General to bring about a resumption of the talks. It is perfectly clear that the question of the American arms embargo on Turkey, now before Congress, is a complicating factor. Timing is important and obviously could be difficult. However, we shall continue to urge the parties to show a willingness to negotiate and to adopt a constructive and flexible approach to negotiations. The point was made to Mr. Ecevit last month and, indeed, will also be made to President Kyprianou later this month.
The issue of human rights in this context has also been raised. I emphasise how much we feel that we must remember the unique role of the Council of 505 Europe in upholding human rights. If we recognise the importance of the Council of Europe in this respect, we must be on our guard against the erosion by political expediency of this precious task that has been charged to it.
I assure my hon. Friend that the Government will do their best to ensure that a just decision is reached in this matter in accordance with the convention. Under the normal procedure the consequent resolution would, of course, be published.
It is important to say a word or two about the Middle East. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) made a new contribution to this discussion, and one should comment on it. The tragic events in South Lebanon have been a cruel reminder of the human cost of the Arab-Israel conflict. More positively, they underline the importance of the role that the United Nations can play in effective peacekeeping in the Middle East, as the right hon. Gentleman said.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has long advocated a United Nations force to provide stability on the Israel-Lebanon frontier. I myself had an opportunity to discuss this with President Sarkis of the Lebanon in October of last year. Prevention would certainly have been better than cure, but with the impact of Israel's incursion the Security Council moved with commendable speed, under the skilful chairmanship of our permanent representative, Ivor Richard, to establish the United Nations force in March. I am sure that the House will join me in congratulating the United Nations Secretary-General and his staff on their efforts in moving the force into position. It will reach full strength in the next few days as Royal Air Force aircraft fly in the remaining troops of the Fijian contingent.
Now that Israel has agreed to withdraw her forces by 13th June, work can proceed on the reconstruction of shattered villages in the south, and the Government are considering how they can help in this task. We are also in touch with a number of Arab Governments to urge them to use their influence with the PLO to prevent further attacks on the United Nations force and attempts by the guerrillas to infiltrate the South. If the United Nations force can prove its worth, the value of United Nations peace- 506 keeping guarantees in the context of a peace settlement in the Middle East will certainly be enhanced.
My hon. Friend the Member for Heeley also raised the problem of the Palestinians in the context of the Middle East. I should like to emphasise to him that the Government believe that it is possible for an agreement to be worked out, which both Egypt and Jordan could support, which would give the Palestinians the right to participate in determining their own future, and which would not jeopardise Israel's security. Representation of the Palestinian people must obviously be effective if any peace negotiation is to work. The Government do not believe that the Palestinians should be excluded from the negotiations, but, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said yesterday, it would be very much easier to have a dialogue with some Palestinian groups if they would at least formally recognise the State of Israel.
I now move to the issue which has continued today to dominate the debate, as, indeed, it did yesterday. I refer briefly to the affairs of Africa. First, taking up the theme of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), I should like to speak about detente in the context of Africa. Local conflicts and periodic instability are not new features on the African scene, but it would be idle to pretend that progress on detente can remain unaffected by Soviet and Cuban exploitation of this instability.
The British Government subscribe to the OAU principles that pre-independence boundaries should be adhered to and that African disputes should be settled by Africans themselves, but every country has the right to call on another for help in safeguarding order and, indeed, prosperity. We cannot, however, overlook the fact that such a move might have consequences in an East-West context. Such help must be directed at assisting African States to solve their basic economic and social problems and not just at tackling the current consequences of those problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody) was right to stress this matter in her remarks.
We are now engaged in examining the recommendations by officials after their meeting in Paris last Monday. We hope to agree with the other countries involved a common approach to the problems that 507 arise when African States ask for help in order to maintain their integrity and to pursue economic development. We must, however, make it more attractive for those African States which need help to seek it from the West rather than from the East.
In the meantime, in the context of East-West relations, we must recognise the need for both sides to exercise the same restraint in Africa as they have exercised in Europe and to some extent in the Middle East. Africa, in our view, must be removed from the arena of East-West confrontation. The Governments and peoples in East and West must be made to realise the frightening consequences if this is not done.
With great respect to the sincerity of those who argue against the Government's position, I believe that it is absurd to describe this objective by the Government as one of weak-kneed neutrality. It is a positive and, I believe, far-sighted assessment based on considered analysis rather than instantaneous gut reaction to highly emotional developments. African problems are not susceptible to instant solutions and the possible consequences for East-West relations make it all the more important that our solutions, when arrived at, are the right ones.
I wish to say a few words about the comments of the right hon. Member for Devon, North about a Pan-African force as a sort of United Nations regional force in the area. The Government support efforts by African States to assist one another to promote stability and economic development in the continent. We see the OAU as an important focus for African co-operation, and we want to help to develop that element. We note with interest the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion of a United Nations regional force, but that is a matter for the Africans themselves to consider.
I wish to turn to the suggestion of a European military intervention force in Africa. The hon. Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) referred to that matter, as did the right hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Davies). We had a powerful contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and a thoughtful contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West on the subject.
508 Although I understand today's modification of what may have been conveyed to the House by the Opposition yesterday, I wish to refer to the contribution of the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Brocklebank-Fowler), who had a good deal to do with originating this idea. What he said cannot be glossed over. His words were: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."—[Official Report, 7th June 1978; Vol. 951, c. 296.]I suggest that at least in emphasis that proposition yesterday was put forward by somebody who played a prominent part in the authorship of the idea and should be compared with the kind of interpretation given by the Opposition today.
Let me seek to underline, in the most constructive spirit possible, our anxiety. We feel that to promote a European force, or even a force of Africans based on the insistence of the EEC in the form of the new Lomé Convention, to intervene in Africa would bring us into conflict with the policies and principles of the Organisation of African Unity and its member States. It would increase the element of East-West confrontation which we and the African States want to avoid. It would cut across the African view which was most recently emphasised by President Nyerere—a view that we support—namely, that African problems are best dealt with by African nations. It would be divisive and would prejudice our relations with the African States rather than encourage negotiations and co-operation, which we believe should be our aim.
A European or European-initiated itervention force would be different in nature from isolated Services-assisted evacuations for humanitarian purposes in an emergency. Such activity, referred to by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), to protect our citizens when in danger is a different proposition and more generally accepted to be justified.
However, in dealing with Zaire we have also to consider the economic dimensions. It has wisely been pointed out 509 by several right hon. and hon. Members that the economic problems of Zaire, which are serious and complicated, cannot successfuly be solved unless the Government of Zaire tackle effectively their political problems. Thus, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said in his speech yesterday, our first priority is to encourage the kind of discussion which has already begun between President Kaunda on the one hand and Presidents Mobutu and Neto on the other about the stability and political problems of the area. We want essentially to help this process.
Our aim is to assist African States to help each other wherever possible, as provided for by the OAU charter, and not ourselves to intervene in Africa. This is a basic principle of our policy in Africa and, as with other principles of that policy, I assure the House that we intend to stick to it.
I should like to deal with a point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nottinghamshire, West (Mr. English). As I informed the House on 23rd May, candidates for direct elections are entitled to know what emoluments they will receive before they are nominated, and even more so the voters before they go to the polls. Some of the figures currently being bandied about in the Press are grotesque. As the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon has rightly said, nothing could do more harm to the Community's reputation in this country than the feeling that it is a "rich and expensive gravy train". The final decision on emoluments will be that of the Council of Ministers acting unanimously. The Government are determined to resist the inflated salary levels that are being talked about.
My right hon. Friend, because of this strength of commitment on the part of the Government, informed the Council of Ministers earlier this week that it was essential that this issue should be settled in the near future.
§ Mrs. Dunwoody
Will my hon. Friend nevertheless accept that we are, except for the Irish, the lowest-paid Members of Parliament in Europe, and that it is likely that salaries will be fixed in accordance with German salaries and not with our own?
§ Mr. Judd
May I deal briefly with another point raised by the hon. Member for Mid-Oxon on the SALT talks? He asked whether I would clarify our approach to SALT II. I emphasise that the outline SALT II agreement responds to the security interests and concern of NATO members. It would enhance strategic stability and maintain deterrence. The Americans have consulted their allies closely throughout the negotiations. The agreement will protect important European interests.
In his speech this afternoon, the hon. Member for Shoreham talked about the wider significance of foreign policy and about the morale, the role and the purpose of Britain. I agree that Britain has been through difficult times in recent years. These times have been economic in form and largely characterised by an economic crisis which has affected us all. However, it is wrong to suppose that Britain's underlying difficulty is exclusively economic.
There is a problem of self-confidence. The hon. Member for Shoreham is a fair and just man. I put it to him that my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, by the lead that they have given on human rights, on defence, on disarmament, on Southern Africa, on their determination to play a positive role in the EEC, on the issue of the enlargement of the EEC and on the greater significance for consumer interests in the context of the common agricultural policy of the EEC—whether we like to consider the wider international issues or the more limited international issues of the Community—have in the past year provided exactly the kind of determined leadership for which the hon. Gentleman called. I believe that this has been recognised by the British people. It has enabled them to start going about their lives and tackling their work with a greater sense of self-confidence, and I believe that this 511 recognition will be well represented when the nation goes to the polls—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.