HC Deb 31 January 1990 vol 166 cc322-63

[Relevant documents: European Community Documents Nos. 9090/89 on aid to Poland and Hungary, 10788/89 on medium-term financial assistance for Hungary, 9716/89 on economic aid to Hungary and Poland, 8879/89 on Commission indemnities to the European Investment Bank against losses under loans to Hungary and Poland, 9127/89 and the un-numbered Explanatory Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 10th November 1989 on extension of the Generalised System of Preferences to Poland and Hungary and the un-numbered Explanatory Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 10th November 1989 on levy reliefs on certain agricultural products.]

Mr. Speaker

We now come to the first of the Social and Liberal Democrat motions, that on the European Community and developments in eastern Europe. A considerable number of right hon. and hon. Members want to participate in this important debate, and I ask them all to keep their speeches brief in the interests of the whole House.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have noticed that a number of European Community documents are listed on the Order Paper. I understand that they have not been requested for this Opposition day, although they may well be convenient for it. I seek your assurance, Mr. Speaker—I hope that the Minister will respond to this point—that the Government are not attempting to use time allocated to the Opposition to put down what are essentially Government documents so that they can then say that they have been considered and there is no need to debate them in Government time. That would be an abuse of Opposition time.

Mr. Speaker

I am sure that that will have been heard by the Minister.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Francis Maude)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As I understand it, it was not at the initiative of the Government that the documents were added to the motion for debate.

Mr. Speaker

I remind the House that we should restrict our debate to the motion on the Order Paper.

4.14 pm
Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) for raising that important issue. It would indeed amount to contempt of this House, or at least contempt of the procedures of the House, if this debate were to be used for a discussion of European Community documents. I shall look into the question of who asked that these items be put on the Order Paper, but my understanding is that it certainly was not my party or, indeed, any of the other Opposition parties.

I beg to move, That this House welcomes recent progress towards liberal democracy in the countries of eastern and central Europe; endorses progress towards the political and economic integration of the European Community; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government urgently to recognise that this country's future depends on Britain playing a full and wholehearted role in the development of the new democratic Europe.

I am bound, at the start, to say that I am somewhat surprised that the Government have not been able to find sufficient agreement—in the Conservative party, I presume—to put down an amendment to this motion, even though many parts of it are entirely contrary to what we understand to be Government policy. Indeed, I hear that there is a possibility that the Government will not even seek to vote against it—again, presumably on the grounds that they cannot find any agreement about their policy on these vital matters. I hope, in case the Government should argue that their policies are in accordance with the motion, to demonstrate that the facts speak entirely to the contrary.

This motion is designed to encompass two factors. The first factor concerns the developments in eastern Europe; the second, and essential, factor is Britain's relationship to the new developments in western Europe—the movement towards closer economic, monetary, political and social integration. Hon. Members will not be fulfilling the terms of the motion—certainly not its terms—or its spirit if they merely use this debate as a chance to expatiate grand visions about eastern Europe. Those have to be set in a context, and that context is our approach to Europe itself.

We on the Liberal Democrat Bench make no apologies for bringing to this, the oldest and, many believe, the most introverted of the democratic parliaments of Europe the issue of the new democratic Europe that is now emerging before our very eyes. Naturally, people will be concerned to discuss their view and their vision of Europe, but I want at the outset to establish that this is a matter of the deepest practical importance to every citizen of this country. It is not just a matter for visions; it is a matter of practical politics.

On the environmental front, we know only too well that the European dimension is what has forced this Government to face up to the problems that now confront us as a part of Europe and, on the question of emission controls, has led the way in creating a cleaner atmosphere, often actually obstructed by this Government. On North sea pollution, it is the same story.

The Berlaymont in Brussels has exposed this Government's failure—in the case of water, for instance—to take the necessary action to create a cleaner environment. We know also that it is through concerted European action that we shall begin to tackle the huge environmental problems with which Europe as a whole will be confronted as a result of the moves in eastern Europe and the extraordinary levels of pollution that have to be coped with there.

We know too that, when it comes to the liberties of the individual, time and again it is the European Court that has had to be resorted to to defend the rights of British citizens, for whose protection our courts were too feeble, and for whom the lack of a Bill of Rights has meant an inadequate framewpork to secure civil liberties.

When it come to business, we know that small businesses and enterprises are, day by day, paying the price of high interest rates, because this Government have failed to address the advantages to Britain that would accrue from joining the European exchange rate mechanism of the EMS. We know that it is Brussels, and will increasingly be Brussels, that will tackle the issue of creating a free market—tackling monopolies and, indeed, exposing Government subsidies. Finally, we know that—crucially, in relation to 1992—it will be this country's ability to sink or swim in the open markets of Europe that will determine whether our nation and its industry and its economic base prosper or decline in the years to come.

We believe that Britain must join in the march towards European unity, towards closer economic, social and political integration, because that is the only way to ensure the long-term future of Britain's best interests. The failure of the Tory party and the Labour party to come to terms with the new Europe that is now emerging marks them both as parties of the past rather than parties of the future. The attitude of both parties is marked by confusion and division because they are equally uncertain about how to address the new moves in western Europe and how those will relate to the new moves in eastern Europe. They are equally split on that crucial issue.

This weekend, in what I can only describe as a masterpiece of euphemism, the Foreign Secretary tried to describe the split in the Conservative party as honest and friendly disagreements about details of our policy. Was it "honest and friendly disagreement" about details of policy that caused the Chancellor of the Exchequer to resign on the issue of the exchange rate mechanism and the European monetary system? Was it "honest and friendly disagreement" that caused the former Foreign Secretary to be sacked because his views were dangerously pro-European and ran counter to the Prime Minister's personal antipathy towards all things European—or, as she would see it, all things foreign? Is it "honest and friendly disagreement" that has now led to a state of almost open war between the Prime Minister and Conservative Members of the European Parliament?

If that split in the Conservative party were confined to the nasty element—one might even say the Chingford element—of the Conservative party, I might be able to understand the Foreign Secretary's complacency in this matter. Of course, that is not the case, because the split runs right into the heart of the Conservative party, right into the Cabinet. We saw that clearly in the most eloquent and powerful resignation speech by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Of course, Members on the Opposition Front Bench are no different. The difference between the hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith), who speaks on Treasury matters for the Labour party in Europe, and the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) is as wide as the differences between Nos. 10 and 11 Downing street in the era when the Prime Minister was going through so much difficulty with the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer. The splits in both the Labour and Conservative parties have robbed Britain of a coherent policy on Europe. They are robbing this country of an influence on the development of European events and will rob it of the opportunities to benefit from the tremendous chances that are now opening up in Europe.

Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby)

It is easy to be consistent if one is totally naive, and easy for a party to be united in total naivety. Given an institution that has inflicted so much damage on the real economy of this country, there is bound to be division in major parties about whether to go further and faster or whether to hold back. That is realism.

Mr. Ashdown

The hon. Gentleman is a member of the Labour party, and therefore knows the real meaning of splits and naivety because they seem to have been almost a characteristic of his party over the past five or six years. The hon. Gentleman says that I am being naive and that what I am saying has nothing to do with real politics. We hear, do we not, that there are three reasons why the Conservative party and the Labour party regard it as important that Britain should stay in a minority of one out of 12 in Europe? First, there is the question of sovereignty. They are attached to an old-fashioned idea of the unitary sovereignty of the nation state. Neither of them realises the essential importance in the age in which we are moving of the concept of pooled sovereignty.

At least we are told that sovereignty is the reason. When one looks deeper, one wonders how on earth those parties can hold that position. In defence—nothing can be more crucial in terms of sovereignty—we have become quite accustomed over the past 40 years to the concepts of pooled sovereignty. We have also become accustomed to the idea that, by combining with other nations in NATO, Britain will have a better defence. We have become used to the idea that that is the very basis of the multilateralism that the Prime Minister consistently tells us is so important—not that that removes from her the capacity to be in a minority, even in NATO, on issues such as the modernisation of nuclear weapons.

For some time we have had pooled decision-making in foreign affairs. Yet in no way does that stop the Prime Minister from being isolated from our European partners from time to time on questions such as the way in which we should deal with South Africa.

The heart of the case advanced by the Labour and Tory parties seems to be that the single issue of economic sovereignty is the area where we may not in any way diminish the extraordinary sovereignty held by this nation and House over economic affairs. To what, then, would they wish us to return—to the sovereignty that the Labour party enjoyed in the 1970s when it had to go cap in hand to the IMF to bail it out, or the sovereignty that the Conservative party currently enjoys when it goes cap in hand daily to the speculators of the money markets to ensure that its economic policies can stand?

Is that the kind of sovereignty about which they are talking? Or is it the economic sovereignty which, in the 1960s and 1970s, made us prey to every small tremor of decision by what were then known as the gnomes of Zurich? Or is it the kind of sovereignty that the British Government enjoyed last October when, instead of observing the gnomes of Zurich, we had to stand on the edge of our chairs to await the decision of the faceless men of the Bundesbank? What an extraordinary degree of economic sovereignty is that.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I am fascinated by much of what the right hon. Gentleman says, but I wish to recall to him the history of his party. He must have read about the great conflict between Lloyd George and others. Great divisions occurred in the Liberal party because of the reality of political power and the need to make decisions.

Those who have had to make decisions know that decision making is not always a simple matter. One is faced with a series of choices. Sometimes one makes the right choice, sometimes the wrong one, but either way one must make a decision. The reality of power rests precisely on that point. Much as I agree with much of what the right hon. Gentleman says, it is about time that the Liberals lived in the real world instead of in some fantasy world.

Mr. Ashdown

The hon. Gentleman makes his point with characteristic pungency. Four times in the last 40 years Britain has been invited to make a real choice on Europe, and three times, whether under Labour or Tory Governments, the wrong choice was made. This country has suffered greatly as a result of those wrong choices. The hon. Gentleman cannot argue that that is naivety, or that we were living in some stratospheric world in which those choices did not matter.

Our failure to join Europe is one of the fundamental reasons for the underlying economic weakness of this nation. Heaven forbid—if the hon. Member for Walton is talking about real politics—that Britain should, for the fourth time, make the wrong choice and be left behind, because I do not believe that our economy, industry and society could tolerate another wrong choice on Europe.

Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in foreign affairs it is highly desirable that we in this country have a bipartisan approach? He rightly points out that there is a spectrum of opinion on both sides of the House, and no doubt he believes that his party sits fair and square in the middle of politics—or at least that claim might be made. Does he think that it would be preferable to bridge the gap between the parties rather than try to extend it even more? Will he in the rest of his speech be suggesting how we can have a bipartisan approach?

Mr. Ashdown

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point about bipartisan approaches. I agree that they are to be commended, except when a bipartisan approach is, as in this case, wrong. The hon. Gentleman is also wrong to suggest that we are in the middle of the Conservative and Labour parties. We are not: we are out ahead of them, where we have been consistently for the last 40 years on Europe. What my party and its predecessors have said about Europe has become reality. We are talking of a political agenda which we currently occupy, but I predict that the Labour and Conservative parties will have to move to it in the coming year or two, or Britain will pay an ever higher price in the future.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

I want to make it absolutely clear that the policy that the right hon. Gentleman is attempting to criticise in no way represents the reality of Labour party policy. As he speaks with the support of about 4 per cent, of the electorate, I wonder whether he can confirm that he also speaks with the support of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith) who, on a number of previous occasions, has disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Ashdown

My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith) will make his own points. The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) cannot even get many of his Back Benchers to go along with the Labour party's incredibly flimsy line on the exchange rate mechanism.

Sir Cyril Smith (Rochdale)

I have been sitting here, listening quietly and behaving myself, which I always do. Suddenly, I hear that I disagree with everything that my right hon. Friend the leader of my party has said, and that I have done so on numerous occasions.

I challenge the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) to produce any statement or speech that I have ever made in which I have disagreed with my party's stance on Europe. I have disagreed with my party on many other matters, but that is not what the hon. Gentleman alleged. He said that I disagreed with my party's stance on Europe, European affairs and the European monetary system. That is not true. I agree with every word that my leader has said today.

Mr. Ashdown

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his clearly expressed support. If the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley had the slightest drop of integrity, he would withdraw his accusation. However, no doubt I and the House will have to wait in vain for that.

The second objection of the Labour and Conservative parties relates to the creation of a European super-state. I agree that that is a danger, but it is my view and that of every other member state that we must struggle towards a new political distribution of power. Part of that is the concept of pooled sovereignty in Europe, but the other and most essential part is the passing of power back to our communities, and the establishment of Parliaments in Wales and in Scotland is an essential part of that distribution of power. Of all the European nations, West Germany is the most devolved. It has no difficulties with the idea of pooling some of its sovereignty at European level. Why should we?

The third objection of the two main parties is that they do not want to give power to the Eurocrats in Brussels. Again, if that were a reality rather than a myth, I would agree with it. I want the establishment of an accountable bureaucracy at the Berlaymont in Brussels. How do we do that? We do it not through the Council of Ministers, but through strengthening the powers of the European Parliament and making it accountable to our elected representatives in Europe. With extraordinary, breathtaking contradiction, both the Labour and Tory parties say that they are afraid of being part of the European Eurocracy and opposed to increasing the powers of the European Parliament.

It was with a lifting heart that I read in paragraph 10 of the Socialist manifesto the wonderful words, with which I could not disagree: The more important the Community becomes, the stronger the European Parliament will be. The continuation of Europe must not be left in the hands of the bureaucrats and Ministers alone: it must be a people's Europe. Amen to that. However, there is a footnote: ' The British Labour Party disagrees and does not accept paragraph 10. I hope that, when the spokesman for the Labour party in due course catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will be good enough to explain to the House why the Labour party wants to keep power in the secret Council of Ministers, with the bureaucrats in Brussels, and not hand it out to the citizens of Europe as a whole.

The importance of addressing the question now being put on economic and monetary union and the Delors committee report is vital. Therefore, when I went to Brussels last week I was alarmed at the derision in which everyone in Brussels holds the extraordinary Treasury plan to accomplish economic and monetary union by a process of 10 competing currencies. As we move to the intergovernmental conference in December, it is clear to most of us who observe the scene that, if by that stage Britain has not joined the European exchange rate mechanism, or at least stated a date on which it intends to join, we may wave goodbye to any influence by the Government in the work of the IGC over the next year.

The irony is that the Treasury scheme, the spatchcock arrangement of 10 competing currencies, is no more than an extension of the exchange rate mechanism that the Government have so far refused to join. The double irony is that that system, rather than the economic and monetary union proposed by Delors, would lead to the very domination of the deutschmark which the Government say they are most afraid of.

My party does not believe every word of the Delors report. We take the position that there is a need for monetary union in Europe but agree along with every other nation except Britain, and most of the private views expressed in the Commission as well, that there is no case for the economic straitjacket which the Delors report proposes. But that is a matter of argument about the detail, not the principle. At all events, we shall be left behind in the discussion. There can be no question about the fact that we accept the need for monetary union.

Central to that issue is the question of a central bank. Again, neither I nor my party has any difficulty in accepting the concept of a central bank in Europe, constructed along approximately the same lines as the Bundesbank. The United Kingdom is isolated on that issue too: we know that both the Tory and the Labour parties are opposed to the idea of a central bank. Why? Because they will do anything to maintain in their own hands the power to fiddle the economy before an election so as to win votes. It was the Prime Minister's capacity to debauch the British economy before the last election which has been the fundamental cause of many of our economic problems today.

In making that statement about the importance of a central bank, I am not alone, because it was the view expressed in the House by the last Chancellor of the Exchequer. He believes, as I do, that we have nothing to fear from the concept of a central bank and a good deal to gain if it gets politicians' sticky hands off the capacity to distort the economy just before an election to win votes, leaving the country to pay the price later.

Another former Minister, a former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Sir Leon Brittan, said in a speech in Reading on 19 January that he believed that European monetary union and the central bank, which is at the heart of that proposal, provide a rock of low inflation and sound money at the heart of Europe. When it comes to the choice between low inflation and sound money that the Prime Minister is always telling us about, we note that, if there is any possibility of her power being taken away, that power must come first and the proper management of inflation and the creation of a sound economy come second.

The truth is that this spurious concept of economic sovereignty is at best specious and anachronistic, and only a crude front for the Government to express their anti-European ideas and for the Labour party to express its equally isolated and out-of-date policy.

Labour is now telling us that it is in favour of the exchange rate mechanism and wants to move towards it. Labour has done a good job of persuading the British people that it has a more positive attitude to Europe, but its conditions for joining the ERM vary only slightly from those of the Government. The Government argue that we cannot join the ERM until inflation is down to something like West Germany's level, while Labour argues that we must first ask West Germany to inflate its economy and risk its inflation increasing to our level. The truth of the matter is that there is no difference between the two—they are both clever and rather erudite ways of saying no.

There is a severe danger that Britain will be left behind and isolated in the process of monetary union. There is a will among the 11 other nations of Europe—though whether it will endure for a whole year's intergovernmental conferences is another matter—to go ahead without Britain. The establishment of monetary union will raise the whole question of a democratic deficit, which my party is committed to tackling by increasing the established powers of the European Parliament.

As to the social charter, it is interesting that Labour has now found something with which it is prepared to agree. I often think that Labour only decided that it was in favour of Europe when it realised that the Government were against it. Nevertheless, the Opposition now ascribe at least to this aspect of the European concept, perhaps in the hope that they will be able to get legislation through Brussels that they would never get through this House.

I think that they have the wrong end of the stick, because the social charter, or plan for action, is based only on broad principles. I would like to see the social charter developed into a citizen's charter. Our nation would face considerable danger if we allowed the establishment in Europe to operate the kind of corporate statism that ran Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a Government's job to ensure a quality of delivery to the citizen. The social charter should be about defining the citizens' basic entitlements under that system, not be concerned with handing down blueprints for every individual country to implement.

We must not allow the social charter to lead us back to the bad old days of the corporate states. We should approach the task through a series of definitions, broad principles and entitlements, and leave national Governments with the flexibility to enact them.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends agree with some of the right hon. Gentleman's propositions, such as those concerning the social charter and the exchange rate mechanism. There had been divisions in all the major political parties over the years over our involvement in Europe. However, the right hon. Gentleman's speech is otherwise disappointing. Huge changes are occurring on our continent that require a visionary approach for the future, not a look back to the past. The right hon. Gentleman's petty party politicking speech does him a disservice and gives no honour to this House, which should look forward to the new Europe that is now being born—not argue and be divisive about the events of the past.

Mr. Ashdown

The hon. Gentleman may recall that I began my speech by emphasising that one cannot approach the problems of eastern Europe unless one sets them in the context of developing integration in western Europe. The hon. Gentleman brings me to the related issues of eastern Europe. Incidentally, I hope that we shall soon start to call it central Europe.

The extraordinary events of recent months, which unleashed the power of the free citizen and overturned even the most brutal tyrannies and dictatorships of eastern Europe, place upon western Europe a necessity to continue with its own integration. I shall tell the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) why that is so. People such as the Prime Minister, who argue that Britain should backtrack and undo the whole process of integration and convergence in western Europe, are unwise and propose a policy that is positively dangerous. No other voice in eastern or western Europe expresses the view that is taken by the Prime Minister—and, by implication, by Labour—that the right thing to do now is to halt the process of integration.

Every other voice in the established capitals of western Europe and the new voices of eastern Europe believes that western Europe's growing integration is essential in tackling the problems ahead. The argument as to whether we should widen or deepen the European Community is nonsense. The two are not contradictory but complementary. It is only within the framework of a more closely integrated western Europe that we shall be able to overcome some of the problems unleashed in eastern Europe.

Further, in the fact of the collapsing economies of the emerging democracies in central Europe and the rocketing inflation that they face, and in the light of the power vacuums being created as the eastern European empire recedes, it takes a mind extraordinarily ignorant of history and peculiarly steeped in the illusions of British power to propose a return to a variation of the competing nationalism that afflicted Europe in the 1930s.

Central Europe is escaping from Socialism, but it is not aspiring to Conservatism. Certainly it is not aspiring to Thatcherism and to the new materialism that it breeds. I have not heard on the lips of a single person who has come through the Berlin Wall from East Germany the word "Conservative". The words I hear time and time again are "liberal" and "democracy". Those are the words on the lips of the people now seeking freedom, who want a system of politics that is built on human and political rights, the value of community, and a properly representative Government. As they call for those things, so will our nation have to answer a similar call. We must look to our own reforms to deliver the same.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

As I understand the Liberal Democrats' defence policy, if the right hon. Gentleman's party inherited Trident as a fait accompli, it would retain it to use in nuclear disarmament bargaining. If that is so, which of the central European cities would the Liberal Democrats target with Trident? Will they include President Haval's Prague or Warsaw—or Moscow, given that Boris Yeltsin achieved such a convincing majority in the recent elections there? The right hon. Gentleman's views on Trident have undergone a process of development, but I think that they have developed in the wrong direction.

Mr. Ashdown

I shall refer later to matters of security.

How can we assist the process of reform? We must acknowledge that along with the huge opportunities it presents come immense dangers. It will require great imagination, a good deal of forward thinking, and enormous sensitivity to achieve stability out of profound change. It is important to acknowledge also that each of the emerging central European democracies is different, and that none of them can be treated the same.

The model that we should look to is that of a western Europe deepening its unity—strengthening its integration—to create an increasingly powerful magnetic pull, drawing the emerging democracies of central Europe—each adopting its own pace and a path of its own choosing—to a destiny that brings them much closer to the European Community. Some will be part of the Community; some may stay separate from it for some time to come.

This is a time for pragmatism. It is not a time for grand designs or for the handing down of blueprints, but a time at which we should use all the organisations available to us, and all the possible routes—trading agreements, articles of association and perhaps the establishment of a model such as that used by the European Free Trade Association—to bring about a closer relationship with the Community. Perhaps the European Council in Strasbourg put it best when it stated that the Community's job was to become the cornerstone of a new European architecture, and in its will to openness a mooring for a future European equilibrium".

We in western Europe face a tripartite task. The first part is the provision of short-term aid—and I am bound to say that both the Government and the EEC have acted with commendable urgency in responding to a pressing need. The second is the development of long-term assistance to increase the economic prosperity of the nations concerned: that will involve key elements such as lines of credit and managerial assistance, of which both the Government and the EEC seem well aware. The task is so great, and the sums involved so massive, that Governments should not be the sole providers; we must try to create a climate in which private industry will begin to invest.

We shall need a broad framework in the West within which that can take place, along with democratic economic stability in the East. The third part of the task is to assist democratisation, which—at first sight, and a very short time after its initiation—seems to be developing effectively.

I turn now to security matters. The peace of Europe in the past 40 years has been assured by two huge standing armies—armed to the nuclear teeth, eyeball to eyeball, on the brink of war and daring each other to flinch. All that appears to be over, thank God: we should now start to work with some urgency towards establishing a new means of securing the peace of what will be a Europe with a new shape.

We must accept the likelihood that that new shape, when it finally emerges, may well not include the stationing of United States and Soviet troops on what is currently described as the territory of Europe east and west. The task before us is nothing less than the rebuilding of the edifice of collective and common security in Europe, and the setting up of what may come to be known as a European regional security agreement.

Let me emphasise that the process should not—must not—include the precipitate dismantling of either NATO or, in so far as we have any influence over events, the Warsaw pact. This is not a time for unilateral action, but a time for working in concert with our European partners. I believe that—at least during the transitional phase, which may last for some time—the structure of NATO and, in so far as it holds together, that of the Warsaw pact will be vital.

First, they will form the medium through which we execute the agreements on multilateral disarmament that will be the precursors of the new shape of European security. Secondly, they will provide the one fixed point in an otherwise fast-moving world, from which we can develop economic and political integration with the nations of the East. Without that security backdrop, the process would be much more difficult.

Thirdly, the two structures will provide an essential superstructure behind which we shall have to construct the new European security arrangements. As I have said, the precipitate dismantling of that superstructure would destabilise an already difficult and delicate process.

Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

Is the right hon. Gentleman really suggesting that the Hungarians, who were invaded by Soviet troops in 1956, and, the Czechoslovakians, who were invaded by Soviet troops in 1968, are not right to ask for those troops to be withdrawn? Does it not constitute a natural expression of the public rejection of Communist ideology—particularly Soviet Communist ideology—for the symbols of that ideology to be withdrawn? In those circumstances, of course the Warsaw pact will change.

Mr. Ashdown

I am certainly not saying that. As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, those two nations have asked the Warsaw pact troops to withdraw, and they are doing so. I did not say that they should stay. I said that the structure of NATO and—in so far as we could assist the position—that of the Warsaw pact would, in the interim, be best maintained rather than precipitately dismantled.

Mr. Foulkes


Mr. Ashdown

There are three reasons. First, they will provide the means and the mechanism for us to proceed with disarmament; secondly, they will assist as a security backdrop for the political and economic steps that must be taken; and, thirdly, they will provide the framework on which we can erect new structures.

Mr. Wareing

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ashdown

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not. I have been speaking for some time.

I do not believe that the creation of the new security framework can be taken at as casual a pace as we might wish. Behind that process is the insistent imperative of German reunification. One of the tragedies of the current position is the fact that the European and German clocks are ticking at a different pace and at different times, a difficult situation to which we must, however, react.

Mr. Gorbachev has told us—he said it again yesterday—that German reunification will arrive, and that there is nothing that we can or should do to stop it. The Soviet Union clearly thinks that reunification is all right, provided that the new Germany is neutral. But a neutral Germany would destroy the cohesion of NATO. All that emphasises the urgency of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe, particularly basket 1. We shall need not only to progress on disarmament, but to begin to build the new European security structure. As a diplomat who was involved in the Helsinki CSCE process, let me make a plea for the voice of Europe to be co-ordinated and clear: it certainly was not on the last occasion.

I have discussed a number of issues in my speech. I hope that today's debate will be wide enough to encompass both what Britain should do to establish its part in western Europe and how, through western Europe, it can play its part in developments in the East. The new democratic Europe that is now emerging, East and West, presents the key framework within which our nation must build its future.

Europe provides the litmus test that will identify Britain's political parties as parties of the future or of the past. For Labour and for Tories Europe is the crucial fault line, for both parties are equally infected with notions of post-imperial nationalism; each is impaled on outdated ideas of sovereignty, and each is incapable of rising to the challenge of a new democratic Europe that is now altering the shape of world power before our very eyes.

Liberal Democrats recognise that our future in Britain is inextricably bound up in the new democratic Europe. We perceive that this is an historic moment for all of us, and we are determined that Britain should be part of the tide that is now sweeping Europe, rather than being left behind in a stagnant backwater. We understand that Europe must be Britain's destiny: that is why I commend the motion to the House.

4.59 pm
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Francis Maude)

Let me begin by dealing with the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) about the European Community documents which were tagged to the motion for today's debate. I should make it clear that it was an initiative by the European Legislation Scrutiny Committee to which the Social and Liberal Democrats acquiesced and it in no way replaces the need for those documents to be properly debated in the fullness of time. It was not a Government initiative.

The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown), whose speech occupied the past 45 minutes or so, expressed a little surprise that no amendment was put down by the Government or by the official Opposition. It should be no surprise that the Government have no quarrel with the motion and welcome the chance to debate it. It should be no surprise that we welcome recent progress towards liberal democracy in eastern and central Europe and that we endorse the progress towards integration of the European Community because we are deeply involved in shaping that progress. All our actions show that we recognise that our future depends on playing a full and wholehearted role in the development of the new democratic Europe.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to believe that with fiendish cunning he has devised a motion that will expose all sorts of deep divisions in all sorts of parties. He could just as well have put down a motion saying that the House believes in motherhood and apple pie. The motion is about as challenging and probing as the "doughnut" with which he surrounded himself when he made his speech.

It is rather disappointing that in debating what are really quite great matters the right hon. Gentleman spent so much of his speech seeking to exploit narrow partisan domestic political issues. Perhaps it is inevitable that when we speak of recent events in eastern Europe we all seek fresher and ever more vivid words. We all strive against the certainty that our rhetoric cannot reach the level of the events that we have watched. After all, we have witnessed the 1989 revolution which was as profound and decisive as those of 1789 and 1848. The revolution has been mostly peaceful but sometimes bloody, driven throughout by the courage and passion of millions of our fellow Europeans who were unbowed by decades of tyranny and whose spirit survived the slow poison of the unconfined power of the state. It is wholly proper that the House of Commons should honour those who have fought for the freedoms that for us are routine. After all, the House was established so that the state should submit itself to the same rule of law that governs our people.

The epic phase of the revolution is probably now complete. It has been glorious and it has brought forth its heroes, but it was only the beginning. Democracy cannot be created overnight. We are only now beginning to accept the difficulties of running free elections when none have been held for decades; where democracy is only a folk memory—tenaciously held but not easily realised. No one believes that democracy will be entrenched as result of one free election. The world will be looking for the full recognition of human rights protected by the rule of law. The rule of law is also essential for economic freedom to develop precisely the market approach which each of those countries has espoused and there is so much to do. The work has been started but it cannot be completed quickly.

What is needed in eastern Europe today is no less than the recreation of civil society. Marx predicted the withering away of the state, but Communism sought to achieve the exact opposite—the withering away of society and the total domination of the state. Now eastern Europe has rejected Communism and wants capitalist structures, and the economic success and prosperity of the West has been a beacon. However, a market economy goes hand in hand with genuine democracy. Every day eastern Europe tells us that we cannot have one without the other and that political reform needs to be sustained by real economic change.

In the Soviet Union perestroika has demanded political change. Fundamental to that will be giving free rein to the laws of supply and demand so that prices are set not by bureaucrats but by customers paying for goods and services that can be supplied to them. Enabling that to happen in a modern market economy requires a sophisticated apparatus. A legal framework must give investors the confidence to invest. Businesses need to understand accounts and there must be real banks, operating on commercial, not political, criteria. It may not sound popular, but if they want the rule of law, they have to have lawyers. In East Germany there are only 600. Any western country of equivalent size would have well over 20 times as many.

Of course, in the old East Germany there was no use for lawyers. The authoritarian state took the decisions, and no lawyer could help the citizen. A whole new generation of skilled people will be needed as part of the essential infrastructure of a free society. But where western societies have professional people serving the citizens, the old tyrannies had the Stasi serving the state. They do not need the Stasi any longer. They need solicitors, accountants and engineers. They need bankers and entrepreneurs with skill and flair. Free societies need their Petticoat lane, as well as their Speakers' corner. But the only markets in eastern Europe so far have been black markets and the gulfs between East and West are huge.

In West Germany, 7 per cent. of households have two telephones. In East Germany, only 7 per cent have a telephone at all, and those are party lines. To set out the size of the task is not to be depressing or to sound gloomy. The eastern European economies face an awesome task. But if their problems are to be solved, they must first be identified. By identifying the problems, we can judge how to respond.

Of course it is right that the Community should help, and it has done. Yet all the help that we give, as individual countries and together in the Community, cannot replace the determination to reform from within, and the determination to make those reforms endure. It is no kindness to suggest that our help can be a substitute for the iron determination that those countries will need.

There can be no reforms without pain, no learning without suffering, no progress without risk. We cannot do more than ease the pain, speed the learning process, hasten the progress and reduce the risk. We cannot do more but we can do that, and we are.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said when she visited Poland in November 1988 that we would not stand idly by if the Poles embarked on real political and economic reform. Well, they did that; and we have not been idle. The United Kingdom took the lead immediately in marshalling western support for Poland and subsequently for the other emerging democracies.

First, our own response to the changes has been quick and generous. We were first to provide technical assistance. In June last year we announced the establishment of a know-how fund for Poland. It has now been increased to £50 million. It is designed to provide the skills needed by the Poles to establish new political and economic structures. Other countries have now set up similar funds, but we pioneered the formula.

Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West)

Did the Minister see the rather distressing television programme on Channel 4 showing the know-how process in action in which a member of the Conservative party was instructing some aspiring Members of Parliament from Budapest in how to write a manifesto? The lesson was on the lines of copying the Government's 1987 manifesto in which they promised to maintain child benefit and pay it as now. The Conservative party member explained that such a promise could mean anything at all.

The know-how funds are certainly necessary, but I am rather alarmed at the suggestion that the best thing we can give newly-democratised countries is a plague of lawyers that would be as welcome as the biblical plague of boils. In arranging those know-how funds, should not we teach them the best of our democratic system rather than the sophisticated arts of cheating and lying?

Mr. Maude

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman feels that the best contribution he can make to the debate is of that quality.

We are providing technical advice in banking, accountancy, commercial law and other essential areas. The Poles have sought our help in restructuring their aged industries. They have seen our success in breaking down state monopolies and creating competition through privatisation. While Opposition Members remain obstinately opposed, reformers in the East are embracing British Conservative ideas with enthusiasm and they recognise that that is an area in which we have terrific expertise from which they are keen to profit.

All that is targeted and practical help with real benefits for the Polish people. Grand gestures alone shorten no queues. We are also training Polish managers, and colliery managers from Poland will be visiting the United Kingdom to study the techniques used by British Coal. We may be able to help in those areas, but we are especially well-placed to help in those areas that are the life-blood of a market-based economic system and we have already committed more than £2 million to those efforts.

The Poles have also asked us for help in various non-economic areas. We are helping with local government reform, with the training of journalists and broadcasters and we are bringing members of the new generation of Polish politicians to this country for political seminars. I am grateful to those hon. Members who helped the organisers of those seminars to receive the first group of visitors last year. Thanks are due also to the BBC and to the British Council. Thanks to their skill we can help the Poles.

We have also set up a £25 million know-how fund for Hungary and the first of that money will be spent in April. Last week we announced that the know-how effort will be extended to cover East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania. We have shown the Community the way.

At a very early stage in the progress, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister urged the United States, Japan, West Germany, France and our other Community partners to respond equally quickly and generously to those east European countries that were firmly committed to reform. The Community responded magnificently and it has already provided aid, trade and lending assistance to Hungary and Poland and more is promised. We have played a major role in stimulating the many forms of unilateral help which Poland is now receiving.

Mr. Wareing

It is highly commendable that our Government should provide assistance in eastern Europe. However, I believe that we are miles behind the West Germans with regard to aid and trade assistance. The Minister has referred to the aid that is being offered. Does that come from the existing Overseas Development Administration budget? Are resources being diverted from the Third world or, as should be the case, are we increasing the percentage that we spend on overseas aid, perhaps up to the level it was under the last Labour Government? Are new resources being found to assist the Poles, the Czechs, East Germans and the other peoples in eastern Europe?

Mr. Maude

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the money to which I have referred is extra money. It takes nothing from the existing aid budget. The hon. Gentleman referred to our efforts compared with efforts in other countries. This country was very quick and imaginative to find ways to provide immediate practical help for the emerging democracies, and we will continue to do that. The right hon. Member for Yeovil has recognised that.

Mr. Christopher Gill (Ludlow)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Maude

No, I want to make progress if I may because we are already some way into the debate.

At the Paris summit of the Group of Seven last July, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pushed very vigorously the proposal that the European Commission should co-ordinate western assistance to Hungary and Poland. From that grew the Group of 24, the OECD countries, through which a huge amount of assistance is now being provided. That led to a $1 billion Polish stabilisation fund which was crucial to the structural reform of the Polish economy. Ours was the first contribution to that fund and it permitted the fund to come on line when it was needed.

We have urged that the G24 exercise should be extended so that the same co-ordinated western effort can support Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and East Germany. We have looked ahead to how the Community should develop its relations with eastern Europe.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has suggested to his ministerial colleagues in the Community the criteria for such an enhanced relationship. First, support should be appropriate to the level of practical and economic reform being put in place in each of those countries.

Secondly, political reform needs a political response and we should be ready for a full political dialogue with eastern Europe. Those countries should be encouraged to accede to the European convention on human rights. They should be welcomed as full members of the Council of Europe as soon as they qualify. They should develop links with national Parliaments and there could be a particular role for the European Parliament.

Thirdly, we should be open to a future relationship which neither leads to nor excludes membership of the Community. The Community has taken up the challenge magnificently.

Comparisons have been made with the Marshall plan. However, it is worth noting that the total aid so far pledged for each person in Poland and Hungary is already roughly that provided by the United States to western Europe under the Marshall plan. We will begin work on the new programme as soon as we practically can.

That the European Community responded quickly and generously is a measure of its growth and maturity. That the United Kingdom led its response is a measure of our central influence within the Community. Some have said that reform in eastern Europe poses a dilemma for the Community. Should it deepen or broaden itself? We see no such dilemma. It must do both.

There has already been integration apace. Quite properly, in December the Community set the completion of the single market as its top priority to make European union increasingly a reality for our people.

Mr. Gorst

In addition to the three criteria which my hon. Friend has already spelt out, should not there be a fourth criterion to take account of the possibility of a breakdown in any of those countries as a result of political or social unrest leading to riots or even civil war? Although no one wants that eventuality, it is not impossible. Will the aid which my hon. Friend has described continue to be pumped into those countries if there is a protracted civil war?

Mr. Maude

My hon. Friend raises a possibility which we all earnestly pray will not occur. It is possible to envisage circumstances in which that might happen, and if that occurred the donor countries would have to consider their actions. However, we have made it clear that our aid depends on proper political and economic reforms. The aid is not unconditional and it is intended to entrench the reforms. The circumstances which my hon. Friend postulates would be inconsistent with those reforms continuing.

I was referring to the priority which the Community set unanimously in December in which it subscribed to the completion of the single market. We have seen measures to reduce air fares, to free travel, to increase consumer choice and to reduce costs. Those measures are genuinely intended to create a citizens' Europe to which the right hon. Member for Yeovil referred.

People increasingly see that our single market is being founded on the rejection of centralism, without bureaucracy or prescription. We are seeing a genuine people's Europe emerging, not a bureaucrat's or politician's Europe. We are seeing a single market which entrenches precisely those virtues of liberal markets that our neighbours in eastern Europe are seeking.

We are seeing the growth of political co-operation in the Community with no loss of sovereignty, but on an agreement that the 12 nation states should act in unison to make their common voice more powerful than individual voices could ever be. We are seeing the growth of economic and monetary integration to reduce costs, to help business and to take forward the integration of Europe. In all those profoundly important areas, Britain has led and we are showing the way forward.

I sometimes see headlines claiming, "Britain on the sidelines". However, they come only from people who do not know which way the Community is going. They come from people who do not know the touchline from the try line. If they were looking in the right direction, they would know that we are not on the sidelines—we are ahead and that is where we will stay.

The single market is following the pattern set jointly by ourselves and by the European Commission. It is being driven forward by our joint determination. Political co-operation was our initiative and we have been determined to see it succeed. In economic and monetary union, no country is more advanced than ours. No country has implemented more of stage I of the Delors report than we have. We are the only country to have put forward our own proposals for further development. Integration is proceeding apace, within the treaty of Rome.

The Single European Act provides great scope for further integration, involving no further transfer of sovereignty, and encroaching no further on this House's powers. Within our treaty as it stands, deepening of the Community there can be, and there should be. But there must be broadening, too. This is no time for introspection—no time to turn inward.

Our neighbours and our allies clamour to draw closer to the Community. We must respond to that. There must be an enhanced relationship with the countries of the European Free Trade Association. We want closer links, and faster. We have led the way. The Community must make agreements with each country in eastern Europe, to suit each case, and to reflect the different and changing needs of each.

On the "Europe beyond the Atlantic" to which the Prime Minister referred in her speech at Bruges, we should go forward with the proposals for the new transatlantic partnership that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out last week.

There are those who urge that the Community should enlarge. That will not happen in the near future, nor does it need to. But, having seen an end to one division of Europe, the Community should not create another.

I do not think that the Community can insist for ever that Europe will be divided between its present 12 members and the others. If others wish to join and can meet the Community's demanding standards, we should not prevent them.

As I said at the start of the debate, it is significant that amendments have been tabled neither by Her Majesty's Government nor by Her Majesty's Opposition.

Mr. Ashdown

The Minister has not yet outlined the Government's policy on monetary union as proposed by the other 11 members. Will he spend a moment on that topic before concluding his speech?

Mr. Maude

The right hon. Gentleman was not present in November, when we had a full-day debate on economic and monetary union. Had he bothered to turn up and listened to the views of the House of Commons on this matter, he would have realised that, as is so often the case, he and his party are the only ones in step—everyone else in the House of Commons is out of step with him.

I will tell the right hon. Gentleman precisely our views. We can make huge progress towards economic and monetary union without changing the treaty and without the need for an intergovernmental conference by implementing stage I of the Delors report, on which we are moving forward faster than any other country in Europe. We have precisely set out our proposals for moving beyond that in the Treasury paper. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman has seen it and has understood it, although that is by no means certain. He will have seen that we have set out how progress can be made, not more slowly but more quickly than under the Delors report, and with no further encroachment on the powers of the House, towards which the right hon. Gentleman takes a remarkably cavalier view.

If I criticise the motion, it is only that it urges the Government to do what they are already doing and have been doing for some time. I believe that the present success of the European Community owes a great deal to our leadership, to our determination to secure proper reforms, and to our readiness to look out as well as in.

We have helped to fashion a Community that has been a beacon to eastern Europe. We are now leading its response to the changes that have swept through eastern Europe. The Europe that we aim at is a Europe of nation, without nationalism—a Europe of diversity without division. We shall achieve it.

5.23 pm
Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

The Labour party greatly welcomes the opportunity for the House of debate the European Community and eastern Europe. Apparently, it is the one subject on which the hon. Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith) and his leader agree. I must apologise to the hon. Member for Rochdale if I have missed that uniqueness.

Although the House discussed an almost identical topic just over a month ago, events in eastern Europe have moved and are moving so rapidly that much of what was said then has already been overtaken by those events.

I shall deal briefly with only two principal matters. As the Minister rightly said—for once I can agree with him—the membership of the exchange rate mechanism, the powers of the European Parliament, economic and monetary union, the social charter and many of the matters that were raised by the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) have been discussed many times. The Government and the Opposition have clearly outlined their policies, but, unfortunately, the right hon. Member for Yeovil was not able to grace the House with his presence.

I shall deal with the three interrelated matters of the transition from Communism to democracy—the deepening and widening of the European Community, and German unity—and then I shall say a few words about defence implications.

Opposition Members unreservedly welcome the end of Communism, and the overthrow of tyrannies in eastern Europe, and the courage of people who have stood up against tyranny—particularly young people, students, intellectuals and others. Therefore, it is a travesty for some mischievous Conservative Members to try to equate Communism with democratic Socialism. Socialism and liberty are inseparable. It is an insult to democratic Socialists the world over who have fought and died for freedom and democracy to imply otherwise.

Mr. Ray Whitney (Wycombe)

Will the hon. Gentleman define Socialism as he understands it, and explain where Socialism and liberty have survived jointly?

Mr. Foulkes

I said that I would be brief. It would lake much longer to do what the hon. Gentleman asks. However, I will see him afterwards—he and I are good friends—and I shall go through the examples.

The people of eastern Europe are certainly rejecting Communism, but, as the right hon. Member for Yeovil said—rightly, on this occasion—they are equally certainly not opting for Thatcherism. They are not opting for an unrestrained market. Instead, they are opting for a mixed economy, as J. K. Galbraith said in an excellent address at my old university at Edinburgh only last week. This spring we will see a welcome procession of democratic elections from March until June as democracy blossoms in eastern Europe. Opposition Members unreservedly welcome that.

However, the transformation from Communism to democracy is not easy. Elections cannot be delayed for too long, because instability during the hiatus between the end of Communism and the elections could become uncontrollable. Equally, we accept that time is needed for new parties to be formed and to organise. There is a dilemma facing people in each country in eastern Europe.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Does my hon. Friend agree that there is no need for Labour Members to be on the defensive? We fought against Stalinist tyrannies. For example, last year we went to the East German and Czech embassies, protesting at arrest and detention. From the very beginning of the Labour party, we have been opposed to every form of dictatorship or totalitarian rule. Is it not the case that Tory Members have often defended dictatorships—for example, Hitler and Mussolini before the war and the Greek colonels since, not to mention what is happening in South Africa? It is they who should be on the defensive when it comes to democracy, certainly not ourselves.

Mr. Foulkes

My hon. Friend is correct. We are also continuing to oppose tyranny in China, where it appears to be business as usual for Conservative Members. However, Opposition Members still recall the young student who stood up against the tank and fought for democracy. We do not erase that picture from our minds too quickly. I am not apologising in any way.

As the transition from Communism to democracy takes place, eastern European countries will need our help. Opposition Members welcome the know-how funds, and we are playing our part in them. The Secretary of State recently announced their development and expansion to other countries. However, the pace of events in eastern Europe is overtaking the capacity of the know-how funds to offer help. We urge the Government to move their efforts up several gears and several levels.

Mr. Maude

I remind the hon. Gentleman of what I said. We have just extended our know-how effort to embrace all the countries of eastern Europe without a limit on funds.

Mr. Foulkes

I said that we recognise the extension of the funds. I shall come to that in a moment and give some explanations.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) has called for a new Marshall plan for eastern Europe. Such an initiative was endorsed by professor Susan Strange in two recent articles in the International Herald Tribune. She said that it should involve a central fund for credit, trade assistance and other help of that nature. Major economic assistance from Britain and other western European countries should be co-ordinated. Such assistance should be determined largely by the newly elected Governments in eastern Europe. I hope that, in his reply, the Minister will tell us that he is prepared to move beyond the important technical assistance of the know-how funds to much wider, broader and fundamental assistance.

The new Governments in eastern Europe should be allowed to develop their own democratic, economic and social systems and to protect and develop their countries' cultural identities. It is vital to avoid new forms of dependency, such as we have seen, develop regrettably in the Third world. As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) rightly said, it is vital that our help to eastern Europe should not be at the expense of our assistance to the Third world. That assistance will be even more important with the development of the economies of eastern Europe. Because I have known the Government over the past 10 years, I fear that, despite their assurances that new money will be made available, the planned increases in assistance to poorer countries may be forgone and assistance to other areas may be squeezed. I urge the Minister to assure us that that will not be the case. I warn him that we shall watch it carefully.

Britain has much to offer eastern Europe because of our experience of pluralist democracy, free access to the media, autonomous trade unions and a plethora of independent non-governmental bodies which are all still relatively vigorous in spite of—in some cases, because of—the ravages of the past 10 years. The message from both Conservative and Opposition Members should be that we are eager and willing to offer many types of assistance to the emerging democracies.

We also support the initiatives of the European Community as an institution to assist eastern Europe. We have watched with interest moves towards closer political and economic links between east and west European countries. East Germany is a special case, and I shall refer to it later, but elsewhere in eastern Europe democracy will need to be established and consolidated and economies developed and stabilised before integration into the Community can be contemplated. Clearly, other forms of association are both possible and desirable.

In Germany, the events of the past few weeks have been the most dramatic of all. Parties and unions in both East and West Germany are already joining in all-German federations. Some 3,000 workers who live in east Berlin have taken part-time jobs in the West. They earn more than they would by working full time at home. Last Saturday, at an amazing event, the great West German, indeed the world Socialist leader, Willy Brandt, addressed a tumultuous throng of 100,000 East Germans. It has become clear that the boundary between East and West Germany no longer exists. German unity is inevitable and we must work with that inevitability. Britain can take a lead in responding positively to that.

As a democratic Socialist, I welcome the leading role that the SPD is playing in establishing a new Germany. It is important that the leadership of Germany show its acceptance of the 1937 borders with Poland and the Soviet Union in order to reassure the leaders and the peoples of those two countries.

Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher)

The hon. Gentleman endorses the policies of the SPD. Will he comment on some of the implications of the victory of Oskar Lafontaine in the Saarland at the weekend? He appeared to win through an opportunist attempt to stir up feeling against East Germans coming into the country.

Mr. Foulkes

I endorse the SPD initiative and the new moves towards East Germany. I refer specifically to Willy Brandt and I make no apology for doing so.

I wish to move on rapidly to the defence implications of events in eastern Europe. I fear that the Government's response to developments in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe is both misguided and misjudged. The Soviet Union has already announced in 1988 that it will reduce its army by 500,000 troops. A similar number in Warsaw pact countries have an uncertain future. The conventional forces in Europe treaty will eliminate two thirds of Warsaw pact tanks and thousands of aircraft.

We all know that the Soviet Union is preoccupied with internal divisions and urgently needs resources to be transferred from expenditure on arms to boost its economy. Increasingly, the Soviet Union is becoming a most unlikely aggressor. Yet the unbelievable response of the British Government, announced in the expenditure review yesterday, is to add £1 billion to our defence expenditure next year, with real increases in spending over the next three years. The British Government are increasing arms expenditure, unlike Belgium, the Netherlands and even the United States of America.

The Labour party believes that there is an urgent need for a wide-ranging defence review to cut expenditure and take account of the greatly diminished threat. Perhaps the Minister could confirm the report in The Times today that the Prime Minister is to head a Cabinet meeting to look into new defence strategy. If that is the case, we welcome it in principle but we have some doubts about the attitude of the person who will head the committee.

The right hon. Member for Yeovil spoke about continuing the existing pacts. Beyond that, the Labour party believes that the new architecture of Europe will need an entirely new system of security. We welcome the initiatives of Mr. Gorbachev and Mr. Mitterrand to consider a pan-European security system involving all 35 countries in a new Helsinki process. Although we welcome the Foreign Secretary's rhetoric about turning tanks into tractors, we cannot see evidence of it in Government expenditure plans or the Prime Minister's statements.

We urge the Government to go even further than the Foreign Secretary's rhetoric and turn missiles into machines. It is grotesque and unacceptable while revolutions are taking place throughout Europe for the Prime Minister to press ahead with modernising short-range nuclear weapons. At whom are they targeted—Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa? Perhaps if the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) catches your eye, Mr. Speaker, he will tell us. He is one of the remaining cold warriors in Europe.

The Prime Minister buries her head in the sand. That not only wastes resources and maintains tension but delays the forward planning necessary in the arms industry to diversify in order to protect and maintain employment in more socially useful production.

Finally, unless our present Government stop trying to make petty party political capital out of the monumental events in eastern Europe, broaden their vision and end the suspicion that isolates them as Europe's sole remaining cold warrior, Britain will have failed to play the positive part in these monumental developments in Europe which our background and history should determine that we play.

5.39 pm
Mr. John Biffen (Shropshire, North)

The right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) is to be congratulated on tabling the motion, topical as it is in relation to the momentous events that are now revealing themselves throughout Europe. I suppose that he is to be admired for doing so with arguments which, although not entirely acceptable to me, have the deferential support of his hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Sir C. Smith), because for any Liberal leader to secure that characteristic deserves memory. The right hon. Gentleman said that he thought that it was time for taking a view and a vision of Europe.

I apologise for the fact that I shall not follow some of the more detailed argument of the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes). Instead, I shall put to the House one or two general propositions that are properly the property of Back-Bench contributions to the debate, liberated as we are from the more cautious considerations of the Foreign Office or its shadows.

I should like to reflect on the visionary comments of a generation ago, when the present European Community was being established, when it was much in the mind of Jean Monnet some time after the war, before the Messina treaty and the Rome arrangements were undertaken. He said: In my view Western Europe is a vacuum, on either side of which are two great dynamic forces of Communism and American Capitalism.

From that analysis a whole concept has developed of a continental state that comprises western Europe with a high degree of economic and political integration to match the existing defence arrangements that had been essayed in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I do not make this comment in any sense of hostility, but whatever the virtue and validity of that analysis at the time of its making, it reveals nothing of the Europe that we now see. It reveals nothing of the Europe that preoccupies this debate and the debate outside the House and nothing of the kind of institutions that are more appropriate for what is now emerging.

Therefore, I should like to share with the House my own observations of the two great characteristics that I think will cast their shadow—or their inspiration—over European debates in the immediate years ahead.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the fact that the Europe of today bears no resemblance to that described by Monnet is very much due to the implementation of Monnet's vision of the structures of Europe that should take the place of that vacuum?

Mr. Biffen

I am not trying to be clever, but the answer is yes and no. I have a qualified agreement with the Monnet analysis and a qualified acceptance of the present characteristics of western Europe as derived from the treaty of Rome and the changes that it secured. However, that is only a partial answer. So many other factors have operated outside Europe that have had inevitable hammer-blow consequences on the way in which we have developed that any answer given to that question must be much more than a mere couple of sentences, as the hon. Gentleman must know.

I now turn to the two characteristics that I think will cast a shadow. The first is the reunification of Germany. Most hon. Members will accept that that reunification has been impending. There may have been arguments about the timing and about the modalities, but most hon. Members are past believing that two distinctive Germanys, operating to different economic, social and political judgments, are in prospect for the next decade. If we accept that German reunification is to be a reality of the new Europe, I hope that we shall do so with a full heart and not grudgingly.

In my judgment, the behaviour of the German Federal Republic since the second war has been wholly exemplary. The fact that it has not sought to exercise a political authority in any sense commensurate with its economic clout, but has preferred to operate in partnership with France, should not deny us the belief that German politics operates with great maturity. They need no patronising comments from people in this country or elsewhere.

I have not been a particular Germanophile. My right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), who was in his place a moment ago, has a great record of association with German parliamentarians, so I am happy to place on record the fact that I am making these comments in his spiritual presence.

One can always try to unravel history to the advantage of one country or another, but I believe that the decision after the first war in the Versailles treaty provision 231 to identify German guilt for the first war is exactly the kind of insensitivity that haunts those who come after the authors of such attitudes.

I observe a new, dynamic and cohesive force—cohesive in its own internal disciplines—now existing in central Europe, with new opportunities to direct its energies. "Drang nach Osten" is a phrase that will come back to us as we see German economic penetration to the East, German aid to the East and the recreation of traditional German ambitions towards the East.

As I make my second observation in the presence of the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume), I confess that I had already formed my argument before reading Conor Cruise O'Brien's article in The Times. I make that point in self-defence. Although German reunification may be generally accepted, there are still great areas of dubiety, and I entertain great pessimism for the future of Mr. Gorbachev and the Soviet Union as currently constructed. I believe that the nationalism that has been released in the Warsaw pact countries will return to be effective in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, the Transcaucasian territories and possibly in the Ukraine. It is a formidable list, but there is plenty of circumstantial evidence for believing that those pressures are now at work in the Soviet Union.

When one reflects that 18 per cent. of the Soviet population is Islamic and that 40 per cent. of the current Soviet conscript draft comes from the Islamic republics, one realises the lack of internal cohesion in the Soviet Union today. One possible reaction is that Russian nationalism will arise in response to the Soviet Union's losses in the minority, in the Islamic and in the non-Russian republics. Some evidence of the nationalist movement Pamyat can already be observed. I do not want to comment on that because I can do so only tentatively, but we would be extremely foolish to suppose that the Soviet Union, as currently constructed, can enjoy an element of stability in the new Europe. We have not seen the end of that story and no one can be quite sure where it will conclude.

That takes me to the business of how the European Community and its institutions can adapt to meet that challenge. If I can plagiarise Jean Monnet, we need structures that can contain both a reunified Germany and possibly a humiliated, nationalistic Russia, which would be a potential danger on the eastern approaches. Therefore, in trying to secure the widest possible political co-operation, we should look at the institutions that we have today. My hon. Friend the Minister mentioned the Council of Europe and that is a start, but that wider political co-operation has to derive from the Council of Ministers and from the European Community.

The right hon. Member for Yeovil and the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley spoke of defence. At this stage, not much can be said that is constructive, but I have an instinct that the influence of the United States will gradually diminish in the military councils of NATO. Therefore, we have to think in terms of European collective security, covering the European members of NATO and the Warsaw pact. That challenge will require the most delicate essay in statesmanship. The future of Europe will be more related to collective security and the ability to live to the old political structures—I know not whether before 1914 or 1939—than to maximising economic growth. That is the language of yesterday's Europe, not the challenge of tomorrow's.

Trade is still the third cornerstone factor in the new Europe. As this debate has been initiated by the SLD, I shall quote the old Liberal adage that if trade cannot cross frontiers, armies will. That is adage enough to secure the efforts of the House to ensure the maximum trade operating throughout Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals. However, let us be clear about one thing. That is not just the simple trade of the treaty of Rome. We are taking within our ambit countries whose economies are substantially different from those operating within the countries of the existing Community.

Let me give the House just one example. Both in this country and in western Europe we are increasingly laying major environmental charges upon our industry and commerce. A Bill on that matter is passing through Parliament this very Session. There is no such comparable environmental care in eastern Europe. Much of the industry there operates under the most reprehensible environmental standards. Despite that, we shall expect our industry and commerce to compete where there is no even playing ground. We have to find some way to increase and improve trade across the wider Europe that is now emerging.

There are no blueprints for these changes. There is no immediate revised treaty of Rome. It will be much more subtle and difficult. Those of my hon. Friends who have been to eastern Europe recently say that the countries of the Warsaw pact in the north are quite different from those in the south. Our whole mentality on east Europe and west Europe had better be replaced by one on north Europe and south Europe when we try to devise ways to cope with these changes. One modest, often neglected, mechanism that can reconcile such varying economies is flexibility in exchange rates. That is why what often seems to be the settled argument of last month or last year comes back to haunt us with new challenges and opportunities. At least the House is privileged to live in a time of challenge and opportunity.

5.53 pm
Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Devonport)

There is little doubt that historians will compare 1989 with 1848, and that it will be seen as the springtime of nations. We are seeing the revival of nationhood, and there is nothing wrong with that. I agree with the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) that we must welcome the unification of Germany and not be grudging about that. We are seeing the flourishing of nations. How we handle the emergence of a unified Germany is the most significant issue. How we handle it over the next few weeks and months will be particularly crucial. I have no doubt that this will change the nature of Europe.

I believe that a united Germany will be a member of the European Community. After all, since 1956 the protocol annexed to the treaty of Rome has made it clear that the DDR and the FRG were, for all trading purposes, to be seen as one nation. I believe that unification will take place far faster than any of us had imagined. It is right that that should happen, because that commitment to nationhood, and the wealth in the Federal Republic, can bind the two into a unified country far quicker than the pace of any of the changes that will take place in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.

It is in our interests that a market economy and a true democracy are established in one of the countries that were hitherto Soviet Communist satellites as quickly as possible. That can be done in three years, and unification will effectively take place this year, although the constitution requirements may follow later. If that can be done, it will make it easier for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and even Poland to come into the European Community within the decade.

I do not know whether they will come into the Community. Much will depend on their determination to move to a market economy and the speed with which they can establish a real and genuine democracy. I agree with the Minister that democracy takes time to bed in. Such changes do not develop within a matter of months, and there are already worrying signs in Romania of the spectre of Fascism returning. We cannot be sure that any of these countries will find it easy to move—Poland, for example will find it hard to adjust to the market economy and will need all the help that it can get—but the fulcrum of these changes will be a unified Germany.

That unified Germany will be a member of the European Community, but how it sees its defence relationships is still an open question. It needs to be made clear to Mr. Gorbachev that we will not accept any country dictating the pattern of defence alliances. That is a matter for self-determination by a unified Germany. I hope that a unified Germany will remain a member of NATO, but I note that Hans-Dietrich Genscher said the other day that he thought that it would be impossible for a unified Germany to be a member of NATO. If it is not, I hope that it will be a signatory to the Brussels treaty, a member of the Western European Union and committed under that treaty to come to the defence of any of its fellow signatories.

I think that many Germans will be reluctant to give up the relationship with the United States that they know has been a central factor in their prosperity and security. We in NATO must look seriously at whether it is reasonable to ask a united Germany to have on its soil United States forces. After all, although we do not wish to have the Soviet Union dictating the pattern of German unification, and certainly not imposing neutrality, we have to take account of Soviet concerns.

If, as I believe, Soviet troops are withdrawn quickly from Czechoslovakia and Hungary, it is certainly in our interests that they come out of eastern Germany. It would be foolish to have a unified Germany with Soviet troops in the old part of east Germany and United States troops in the old part of west Germany.

It is open to argument whether it is right to provoke the Soviet Union by even trying to have United States troops in a unified Germany. Would it not be better for NATO, of its own volition—not as a result of an agreement with the Soviet Union or involving the Warsaw pact—to say that a unified Germany would not have US forces stationed on its soil, and thereby no nuclear forces either from the United States?

This does not mean, however, that the United States would pull out of a defence commitment to Europe. It is essential that we bridge the Atlantic. It is strongly in the interests of European development that the United States link its forces into Europe. American aircraft could still be deployed in the United Kingdom and in Italy. United States ships and submarines would still come into European ports and exercise in the western Atlantic and the Mediterranean. With smaller forces, Canada should also remain.

NATO will stay; the only question is whether Germany will be a member of it. I think and hope that it will be. But we must not offer the provocation of keeping US forces on the soil of a united Germany, given that the Soviet Union is withdrawing from all the satellite nations. A unified Germany without United States troops can still have the troops of Holland, Belgium and the United Kingdom stationed on its soil—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] That might be prudent, because it would allow the German army to be smaller.

One aspect that worries people about a unified Germany is the idea of its having a large force. Were the forces of East and West Germany to link, a massive army would be formed. Many Germans would prefer a more modest army, relying, through the WEU, on links with other countries such as Belgium, Holland and Britain. That makes sense, and it would link a unified Germany to the deterrent strategy of the WEU, which is nuclear as well as conventional. That would mean that the United Kingdom and France would retain their nuclear weapons and be able to exercise their nuclear-carrying aircraft at the invitation of Germany, should they wish to do so They could even station them permanently in Germany, but there would be no United States forces.

I hope that Germany will choose membership of NATO as well as of the European Community, although I would settle for membership of the WEU. I would be extremely concerned if a united Germany chose to be neutral. How we handle that question in the coming weeks and months is of fundamental importance. We must not be grudging in our political acceptance of the fact that a unified Germany will exercise its power responsibly. We must not be jealous of its economic strength, which will be needed in East Germany and which will be generously applied to other countries.

The European Community and the Government have already demonstrated a great deal of imagination and foresight in the way in which they have tried to deepen the commitment to a market economy and to pluralist democracy in the countries of eastern Europe, but much more will have to be done.

It is time we told Mr. Gorbachev that a European common home is alive and well and living in the European Community. If we want to build on the common home, we should enlarge the Community—of that there is no doubt—but the pace of enlargement remains open to question. We enlarged the Community from nine to 12 countries with political factors very much in mind. The economic development of Spain, Portugal and Greece had not progressed as far as we should have liked, but because we wanted to buttress the new democracies of those countries, which were emerging from Fascism, we took a political risk and enlarged the Community more quickly than we might otherwise have done.

We may find towards the end of the 1990s that the economies of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland have not made quite as rapid progress as we should like, but we shall want to buttress their democracies by accepting them into the Community. There is no doubt that, if Austria wants to join after 1992, it will; likewise Norway.

None of us quite knows what is happening inside the USSR. I am afraid that I share the pessimism of the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North. The great danger in this country, in the media and elsewhere has been that of giving Gorbachev rave reviews even though he is in serious trouble in his own country. Gorbachev has not delivered the market economy—he has come nowhere near doing so. I am somewhat pessimistic about anyone's capacity to turn the Russian economy into a market economy. Nor has Gorbachev moved in any significant way towards democracy; but the nationhood of which I spoke earlier is certainly flowering in the USSR—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, a phrase which Leszek Kolakowsky said contained a lie in every word. The Soviet Union has always contained nations forced into it and resenting that fact.

What shall we do about Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania? It will be very hard for any Soviet leader to allow those countries to become independent—two months ago, I should have said that they would never be allowed independence. Now, I am beginning to wonder. The Russian empire is in such serious decline that it arguably may not be able to hold republics such as Moldavia, Georgia and Armenia. They may all seek independence. We may be witnessing not just the decline of the Soviet empire but the dismemberment of the USSR.

What does this mean for the enlargement of the European Community? Instead of a Community of 24 or more nations, a wiser grouping might be a Community of about 16 nations, including Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and East Germany—because of unification. There might also be a Baltic community, comprising Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden and possibly Norway. That grouping might maintain a close relationship with the European Community. A Black sea community might also develop, comprising Romania, Moldavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Armenia.

I have never believed that Turkey is a European country. I know that associate membership of the EC is meant to carry with it a commitment to full membership, but we should not see Turkey as an early candidate for enlarging the Community. If we outline how we see the enlargement of the European Community, we can lay claim to its being the European common home. We can have trading and economic relations with the Soviet Union, which might join us in the Council of Europe, a good forum in which to come together. However, the pace of development should be set by the democratic nations—by us.

I urge the House not to get into the habit of thinking that these decisions should be taken in the framework of the conference on security and co-operation in Europe; or to believe that we have a vested interest in retaining the Warsaw pact, which is loathed by countries such as Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. When they have attained their freedom, who are we to tell them to keep that organisation?

We must be self-confident enough not to be exclusive, but to open out our democracy all the time to a wider Europe. We must do so of our own volition and strength. There will be greater integration, but the European Community will respect nationhood. I hope that the federalists will stop seeking the end of nationhood and cease their drive towards a Community that tries to stifle the most basic political factor in our democratic development—the sense of belonging to a nation.

This is not the same as nationalism. Of course there are institutions in the EC that override nationhood: there is a pooling of sovereignty. We know how much we can poll at various times while retaining our nationhood. NATO had an integrated command structure, yet we retained our nationhood. We shall move towards greater European economic and monetary union. But we shall want to retain nationhood—and there is nothing wrong with that.

I have been a committed supporter of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Community since the first public political speech I ever made—in 1962. I have never been a federalist, and I resent the mood in Britain that, somehow, if one is not a federalist, one is not a European. I have arguments and differences with the Government about some of their attitudes to the European Community, but I will not be told that I am a bad European because I believe that the United Kingdom can retain its identity within a European Community.

Retaining identity will not result in a weaker Europe. We will not get a larger Europe by spurning nationhood, nor will we get a cohesive Europe if we hold on to the outdated views about national decision making. It will evolve. The evolution of the European Community is the most exciting thing that has happened. As it has been debated in this House, all of us have changed. I do not believe that 20 years ago the right hon. Member for Shropshire, North could have made the speech that he made today, and I doubt that 20 years ago I could have made the speech that I am making now. We have all adapted and changed.

In the European Community, we are building a unique structure. Forcing it into a mould marked "United States" would be ludicrous. It is utterly ludicrous to believe that, somehow, the European Community states will be like California, Montana and Oregon. The European Community that we are developing is unique, basic—[AN HON. MEMBER: "Bogus."]— I hear someone say, "Bogus." I read in the New Statesman the other day an exact simile from Professor David Marquand, who likened the European Community development to California, Oregon and Montana. The fact of the matter is that the European Community that we are building will not be matched by any other institution in the world, because Europe has an identity of its own. It is the retention of that identity that will embrace central Europe, that will go wider than the Community of the 12. It is that which we should build—and build on the basis of a united Germany.

6.12 pm
Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). I certainly join him in his call to the NATO Allies in Europe—including a united Germany when it comes into being, which, like him, I suspect will be sooner rather than later—to retain the commitment to the concept of collective security. It was the absence of that commitment in the 1930s that led this continent directly towards disaster. Further, I join the right hon. Member in his support for the concept of the United Kingdom and the other nations of Europe retaining their national identity within the scope of the European Community.

Everybody under the age of 50 has lived his entire life under the reality or the threat of world war. Suddenly the scene has been transformed out of all recognition. Without question, the changes that are taking place in the Soviet Union and the revolution that has taken place in eastern Europe in recent months are the most positive and encouraging developments of my lifetime. Never have the prospects for peace been brighter than they are today. For millions of our fellow Europeans a 50-year nightmare, at the hands of the Nazis and then of the Red Army and its police-state puppets is drawing to a close. For the first time, these betrayed and battered people have a prospect of securing control of their own destiny through the establishment of democratic governments and the withdrawal of the invader from their soil.

In this regard, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, most astonishingly, made it clear that it is his belief—I am not sure that it is a belief shared by his colleagues—that the Soviet occupying forces and the tanks of the Red Army should remain in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Since the day Gladstone gave the order for the bombardment of Alexandria, no more illiberal statement has been uttered by one who claims to be a liberal politician.

Mr. Ashdown

I can only assume that the hon. Gentleman was not listening. This calumny was put forward also by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport, (Dr. Owen), and the hon. Gentleman knows that I quite specifically denied it. That is not my intention, nor were those my words. It is perfectly clear that those nations—Hungary, Czechoslovakia and others—who want the troops of the USSR to be removed should be able to require their removal. That is what should happen. What I said was that in the interim period, until we believe that new European security agreements which would accommodate, for instance, the matter of the reunification of Germany are possible, the two structures currently in existence—NATO and the Warsaw pact—would be best kept in place. That does not mean that there would be Warsaw pact troops in Hungary, any more than it means that the preservation of NATO—and the right hon. Member for Devonport said that it was not so—necessarily requires the retention of United States troops in Germany.

Mr. Churchill

I am delighted to have the right hon. Gentleman's clarification on that point. I think that few hon. Members followed him in his suggestion that it was desirable that the Warsaw pact should be maintained. That is what he said.

The implications of these developments are far-reaching for the future of NATO, which will have to rethink both its strategy and its deployment, and for the future of the two Germanys, where reunification is inevitable. I regard reunification as wholly desirable, provided—and it is an important proviso—that it is firmly based on democratic principles. Of course, the very prospect of German reunification will send shivers down the spines of an older generation in this country and elsewhere. However, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) said in his excellent contribution, the fact is that West Germany—the Federal Republic—has proved its democratic credentials, and there is no doubt that it could steer a reunified Germany on to the path of democratic development.

Of course, the implications of this revolution for the European Community are also profound. We must see that the horizons of Europe and of the Community are widened to include the nations of eastern and central Europe. We must welcome those nations—we do welcome them—with open arms as partners in the building of this free and democratic Europe, provided that it is their wish to join in that adventure. Those people, like Mr. Delors, who favour a European unity based on centralism will have to revise their views, as the people of eastern Europe are most unlikely to want to be involved in anything that smacks of central control from distant places. We must build a structure of European unity based on respect for the national sovereignty of member states as expressed through their national Parliaments. In that respect, I echo what the right hon. Member for Devonport said. That is the way forward in building a European Community from the Atlantic to the Urals.

I should like to address the immediate needs of the peoples of eastern Europe, especially in three particulars that stand out. First, millions of our fellow Europeans are literally starving and in urgent need of food aid on a far larger scale than that so far undertaken by the European Community. Secondly, the economies of many east European states are on their beam ends. Even at sacrifice to ourselves, we must extend large scale practical assistance on a Community-wide basis. Free enterprise must play a leading part in the regeneration of industry and commerce in eastern Europe.

Thirdly, Britain and the House have a special part to play in helping the nations of eastern Europe to build democratic institutions. Those nations are at a loss to know which way to turn in that respect, and if we fail to help them there is a real danger that anarchy or even Fascism will fill the void created by the failure and collapse of Marxist Socialism.

The House should call upon the Government and the European Community to redouble the laudable efforts that are already being made, because a special responsibility falls on us as Europeans more than on anyone else in the world, including the people of the United States, to rebuild the shattered nations of Europe ,on democratic foundations and to welcome them as equal members within the European Community.

Let us recognise that, while we are living in a time of unprecedented hope for the future, the two super-powers are going through a period of the most intense instability. That could easily make the world an even more dangerous place than it was during the period from which we have so recently emerged—the cold war. The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) would do well to recall that, in spite of the cuts in the Soviet defence budget to which he referred, the Soviet Union is today still spending as a proportion of its resources three times more on armaments and defence than the United Kingdom, and twice as much as the United States. It would be folly at this juncture for Britain and its NATO Allies to join in any mad rush to abandon our defences.

6.22 pm
Ms. Joyce Quin (Gateshead, East)

I am grateful for this opportunity to participate in the debate because it raises issues that are important not just for us or for Europe, but for the world. Like all hon. Members, I wholeheartedly welcome the emergence of democracy throughout eastern Europe and I was astonished and exhilarated by the pace of change.

In moving the motion, the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) stressed liberal democracy and seemed to claim some special affinity between his party and the emerging democracies in eastern Europe. At the Conservative party conference the Prime Minister seemed to claim something similar, that the new freedom in eastern Europe had been inspired by events in Britain, as if somehow it was to be equated with bus deregulation.

Many of the emerging movements in eastern Europe have strong links with the Democratic Socialist elements in western Europe and indeed have been linked to the Socialist International. There are many good relationships in that context and I hope that they will be built upon in future. Perhaps, however, it is presumptuous and misleading for any one of us to claim a monopoly of friends in eastern Europe. If democracy is to mean anything at all, it will mean a variety of political movements emerging and no one strand outdoing all the rest put together.

The main thrust of my speech will be about the question of the new economic relationship between western and eastern Europe. Eastern Europe, if we include the USSR, has a population of 420 million. If that market becomes more open, and certainly, in the long term, if the people there are to become more prosperous as we all hope, the consequences for world trade will be far-reaching. What will be the prospects for British industry and the British economy in that new economic situation?

I fully recognise the economic difficulties in the countries of eastern Europe. When I talk about opportunities for British industry, I well understand the difficulties of eastern European countries in finding cash for expensive imports. That is why opportunities for British industry should be grasped within the co-operative framework of aid and trade about which many hon. Members, I am glad to note, have spoken. A Marshall aid type operation has been referred to. I am aware of the PHARE programme launched by the group of 24 which will assist economic restructuring in Poland and Hungary. I am delighted to know that that programme is being extended to the other countries of eastern Europe.

Quite rightly, one of the issues raised several times in the debate is the need for eastern Europe to receive help on the environment. I wish that the Minister had given us a few more details, but I am glad to know that co-operative action to try to repair environmental damage is one of the priorities that the group of 24 is addressing. The environment is certainly an important priority area.

The Communist regimes that have governed eastern Europe have been among the last environment-friendly regimes that the world has ever seen. I am sure that we all read with great concern the accounts in the press about the huge extent of environment damage in eastern Europe. Apparently 12 million people in Poland live in what is referred to as ecological "emergency" areas. It is reported that in Czechoslovakia 70 per cent. of rivers are polluted by mining wastes, nitrates, liquid manure and oil and that 75 per cent. of toxic wastes in that country is dangerously stored. It is also reported that 50 per cent. of forests are dying or damaged.

Recently I read an article in the press which referred to the black snows of Transylvania. A joke was that in one of the towns in the region a white car that entered at one end of the town emerged as a black car at the other. Horrific accounts such as these show the extent of the environmental problems facing eastern Europe. A massive effort is needed.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

I am happy to endorse what the hon. Lady has said. Is she aware of Mr. Gorbachev's comments two weeks ago when he suggested the establishment of a green cross that could be used in parts of eastern Europe such as the Ukraine where 300 villages have been evacuated in three separate regions as a result of the continuing effects of Chernobyl? An international green cross could be established to pool common European resources so that we could fight some of the environmental disasters that are occurring.

Ms. Quin

That is an interesting and important suggestion to which the countries of western Europe and the international community should give serious attention.

A massive effort is needed to improve the environment in eastern Europe and that effort is certainly beyond the present financial capacity of the countries concerned. The West must help with environmentally friendly technology and equipment. I should like to see Britain in the forefront of that movement, but, despite the brave words of the Minister, we are a long way behind many other countries in that respect.

When we look at the various joint ventures that have been agreed between western industry and industry in eastern Europe we see that the West Germans, the Scandinavians, the Americans and the Japanese are all very active. Recent accounts certainly bear that out. Our trade balance with eastern Europe is worrying. We are in deficit with the USSR, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and even Romania. There has been dramatic deterioration during the Government's term of office, but especially during the past five years.

I read today that Tokyo was expanding its branch offices throughout eastern Europe, so we have to make up a considerable amount of mileage and the Government need to do a great deal more. That is not only my view; it was the view expressed a year ago in the excellent report of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry on trade between Britain and eastern Europe. We cannot afford to sit back, although we should adopt the aid and trade co-operative approach.

I wish to quote from the Kreisky report, which was published last year and which referred to an economic programme for the whole of Europe. It stated: Environmental protection will be as important in the next decade"— that is, this decade— as national defence was in the previous decade …

It also stated: Environmental technologies will be more important than Star Wars technologies. Those are the challenges of the new Europe, and that is where Britain should be playing its full part.

6.31 pm
Sir Bernard Braine (Castle Point)

I warmly endorse the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead, East (Ms. Quin) and also other splendid speeches made during this short debate.

This is an exciting time to be alive in Europe. It is full of hope and promise both for the nations of the West and for those of the East. It is also a time fraught with some danger. In 1986, in a book about Poland, I wrote: If East and West are ever to enjoy a genuinely peaceful co-existence—which is what millions on both sides want—there will have to be an end to the nightmare of repression suffered by the once independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe. This may have to come step by step but come it must. The alternative to removing the present injustices and building bridges of understanding and co-operation between East and West is the certainty that our grandchildren will be living well into the 21st century in two vast armed camps bearing a crushing burden of arms which they can only hope and pray will never be used, a state not so much of peace as one of controlled hostility. When I wrote those words, I had no idea that change would come so quickly, as it has done during these past few months.

It was marvellous to see the Berlin wall come tumbling down. It is astonishing that, at long last, the Hungarians and the Czechs are now negotiating peacefully for the withdrawal of the Soviet occupation forces that have been in their countries for the past 45 years. It was symbolic of the new mood in Europe that even the Communists in Hungary decided to remove the Soviet-style star from the arms of their country and to replace it with the Holy Crown of St. Stephen. It was not at all surprising when a Member of the European Parliament representing a Bavarian constituency, who happened to bear the name Hapsburg and who speaks fluent Hungarian, was warmly welcomed on the streets of Budapest recently.

Poland led the way with the first free elections last June, the first defeat ever of a ruling Communist party and the emergence of the first non-Communist Prime Minister since the second world war. Hon. Members will know how, with other hon. Members from all parties, I have long campaigned for Polish freedom, holding that Britain above all owed a special debt of honour to Poland, for which we went to war in 1939 and which, whatever the reasons, we abandoned at the end of the struggle.

What has happened in Poland, since the end of Jaruszelski's dictatorship, has given us great joy. I wish to pay tribute to the Government for their ready and practical help for the Polish economy, which is struggling to modernise itself. I single out the know-how fund, which is the sort of developmental help that I would recommend elsewhere in the new circumstances of eastern Europe. Last year the Government authorised the sending of food, and declared a readiness to give additional aid once Poland had agreed an economic reform programme with the International Monetary Fund.

However, as the Financial Times said on 28 December, it is still doubtful whether the flow of international aid to Poland—and, we must assume, to the other eastern European countries—will be sufficient. The Poles understand what is required. Prime Minister Mazowiecki made it very plain in his speech on 11 December on Polish independence day—the first time, incidentally, that it had been celebrated since the war. He said: Let us at last take this fate into our own hands and we shall make Poland a normal country, a prosperous country, a country in which there will be a great deal of satisfaction and joy stemming from the fact that Poland really is our joint possession. Their proud assertion underlines the remarkable speech of the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). We are seeing the emergence of a Europe of nations, proud of their heritage and proud of the contribution they can make, if they are allowed, to the common good.

I heartily endorse what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) and the right hon. Member for Devonport about the inevitability of German reunification. I do not think that there is anything in that to worry us. It will take place within a democratic framework at a pace dictated by the Germans themselves, and I venture to suggest that it will come sooner rather than later. It is to be welcomed, and it should not frighten any of us if it is accompanied by the statesmanship and vision of which today's Germans are fully capable.

For example, there is a need to reassure the Poles that there will be no clamour to alter Poland's western boundaries, which were settled in 1945. Poland has suffered enough at the hands of the Germans, as well as at the hands of the Soviet Union. The Helsinki accord must remain sacrosanct. There can be no boundary changes in the new Europe, save by the consent of the parties concerned. I do not doubt that German statesmanship will rise to the occasion.

Elsewhere in central and eastern Europe the signs are also generally promising. Czechoslovakia has a new, inspiring head of state in Vaclav Havel. In 1983 I had something to do with helping to get him out of prison. That brave man could have purchased his freedom with the greatest of ease. He was then in prison for asserting that his country had dishonoured its signature on the Helsinki accord. If he had apologised to President Husak, he would have been released. He chose to remain in prison. It was only after ridicule from some of us in the West, aided by the BBC central European service, that finally the Czechs gave up and let him out. I salute the man: he is a great artist and a great human being. He symbolises the true spirit of Czechoslovakia, and we all wish him well.

In Hungary, considerable progress is being made towards modernising and improving the economy. The Government are encouraging private enterprise and examining ways of securing closer economic co-operation with the European Community.

Only in Romania is there doubt and fear. Here there is real cause for anxiety, as the hon. Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) and I discovered only last week. The Communist party there is entrenching itself in power. Only in Romania, of the eastern European countries mentioned in this debate, are the emerging democratic parties being harried by thugs brought in by the so-called Government from the provinces to terrorise their opponents. Hon. Members should consider the shameful events that took place only a few days ago just after the hon. Gentleman and I left Bucharest. There was shameful harrying of Cornelius Copuso, president of the National Peasant party, who had spent 17 years in Communist prisons. His party headquarters was ransacked.

The hon. Member for Newport, West and I made some modest speeches. We were greatly moved by our experience. I have never before in all my travels or political life witnessed what I saw in Bucharest. I saw a crowd of about 300, many of them young, kneeling in the snow and the slush, holding candles in silent vigil, before one of the three improvised monuments to the dead in a place where large numbers of people had been mown down by the tanks of the Ceausescu regime. They were described later by the Government as hooligans. The Romanian people deserve much better than they have got. Indeed, they may need another revolution before they are truly free. I mention that because it is difficult to see how it is possible to help Romania, yet help it must be given.

Mr. Alton


Sir Bernard Braine

I would rather not give way, because I think that the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) is ready to reply on behalf of his party.

This has been one of the most interesting and stimulating debates that I have ever attended. This is the House of Commons speaking as one in favour of giving maximum aid, help and encouragement to the nations of eastern and central Europe struggling to be free. I look forward with confidence to our developing relationship with countries coming back into our common European home.

6.43 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

In the middle of October, in the course of a debate on the defence estimates, the Secretary of State for Defence told a somewhat surprised House that Mr. Honecker had resigned, and had been replaced by Mr. Krenz. There was among those who heard that news a sense of anticipation, but I think it is fair to say that none of us had any appreciation of the consequences. Indeed, had any of us attempted to predict what has happened since, we would have been received with nothing other than scepticism by those who were present on that occasion.

Truly, the changes in eastern Europe have been staggering beyond comprehension. Of course, they have not all gone smoothly. The euphoria of taking down walls is soon replaced by the harsh reality of political decisions, sometimes made by those who have had little experience in recent time of making decisions, and sometimes made by those who are unsophisticated and unused to the responsibility which has inevitably been thrust upon them.

The circumstances in eastern Europe, which are by no means common in each of the countries in which change has taken place, may yet get worse before they get better in our terms. One cannot ignore the emergence to a certain extent of nationalism. Any student of the history of the 19th century will recall that nationalism was a very bloody force in the politics of Europe at that time. Indeed, it had a carry-over into the current century. It is sometimes forgotten that the first world war was precipitated by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, something which in 1990 one would regard as highly unlikely to provoke the kind of conflagration that it did then.

Later, nationalism was to some extent subjugated or subdued by Fascism, and then by the spurious internationalism and totalitarianism of Communism. I accept, as the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said, that there is nothing wrong with nationhood; indeed, there is a considerable amount to be said for it. But I believe that in these burgeoning democracies in eastern Europe we must take account of the risk of an emergence of nationalism which would be detrimental to the view of Europe which so many hon. Members have expressed in the debate.

I believe that our task is to ensure that parliamentary democracy is enshrined, entrenched even, in these countries and that they have at an early stage inculcated into them a sense of international interdependence. We will do that best by giving them such economic assistance as we can, but perhaps more significantly by giving them political encouragement, and by being receptive, welcoming and, I suppose to some extent, tolerant of their efforts to replace totalitarian regimes with regimes which accord with our view of parliamentary democracy.

As the debate progressed, there was little doubt that in the minds of most hon. Members the single most significant question is the unification of Germany. I think most now accept that there will be unification. It could hardly be otherwise. All the political parties in Federal Germany have as part of their constitutions the aim and objective of unification, and the constitution of Federal Germany makes special provision for citizens of what we call East Germany to become citizens of the Federal Republic.

If we did not recognise it, the reality would soon overtake us, because the people of East Germany would simply vote with their feet, having voted with their bulldozers and their hands in the period around Christmas. I do not believe that we should be apprehensive about the prospect of a unified Germany. The democratic traditions which were put in place in Federal Germany after the war may not be particularly long-lived, but they are well entrenched. One is legitimately entitled to say that in that time the people of Federal Germany have behaved in all respects as if they accept, recognise and hold dear those democratic principles.

One must also remember that, unlike the 1930s, what is happening in East Germany is not the setting up of a dictatorship but pulling one down. It would be most curious if the people of East Germany, having got rid of one form of totalitarian government, were enthused to embrace another. Federal Germany is already the most dominant economic power in Europe. That is recognised by the United States of America in the special relationship which President Bush clearly feels with Chancellor. Kohl.

I believe that the circumstances which now present themselves with regard to the unification of Germany should be seen as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. We want to channel the new political assertiveness which is undoubtedly in Federal Germany into the European Economic Community, but we also want, and are entitled to ask, Federal Germany and those responsible for East Germany to make it clear that they have no territorial ambitions beyond the existing boundaries of the two countries.

The existence within a stronger Community of a unified Germany can only be to its advantage. I hope, like the right hon. Member for Devonport, that such a Germany will remain in NATO. However, between now and the time when that important decision is taken, we shall have to acknowledge that political circumstances have changed so much that, for example, the deployment of a successor to the Lance missile in the Federal Republic of Germany is not politically unacceptable. The notion that such a weapon might be stationed in that country with a view to firing it at targets in Poland, Hungary or East Germany is totally inappropriate to the new political order.

There has been discussion as to whether or not NATO and the Warsaw pact should remain in existence. We have some influence over NATO, but not over the Warsaw pact organisation, so if it decides to disband there is nothing we can do. However, if we are to move towards a new order of security in Europe as a whole, that may be achieved more easily if negotiations can be conducted between two existing structures. That does not detract from the right of the people of Hungary or of Czechoslovakia to request that Soviet troops be removed from their country—and let us hope that such a request would be acceded to.

The eastern bloc countries—as we have known them—will all develop at a different rate. Their political sophistication and economic development will all advance at different speeds. I do not believe that it will be necessary for the Community to have a European equivalent of the Lomé convention, but it should be flexible enough to offer each of those countries—as they develop to the stage at which the rule of law and parliamentary democracy is accepted—an association with the EEC both for the economic advantage that will bring, and, more significantly, the political stability that it will undoubtedly create.

Mention was made in the debate of the kind of Europe that people want to see. The word "federal" has been cast about, but I sometimes think that all such labels should be rejected, although they may give comfort to constitutional lawyers. The most amusing part of the debate was the notion that there are not yet sufficient lawyers in eastern Europe. Perhaps that might be our first export. I can think of a few candidates, both north and south of the border, excluding myself, who are capable of bringing a suitable range of skills and attributes to bear on the lapsing totalitarianism and bureaucracy of eastern Europe.

However, it is not necessary for the satisfaction of constitutional lawyers to describe one's attitude to Europe in terms that lawyers regard as important when explaining matters to their students. The pace of development within the Community will undoubtedly be different at different times, and it will depend on the collective will of all its members—not just the United Kingdom. There will be times when the Community will want to move more quickly because that is the collective will.

The circumstances that we have debated, particularly as they affect the EC, ought to create in us a sense of anticipation and a feeling that here is a moment of great opportunity—perhaps several moments. The Minister gave an account of the Government's contribution, and although the letter of what he said may have been recognised by our partners in Europe, I wonder whether they recognised the spirit of his remarks.

I and other right hon. and hon. Members feel strongly that Britain, as one of the Twelve, is often dragged into a collective decision. Instead of arguing for a collective decision and trying to improve it, too often we are seen as being dragged unenthusiastically into agreeing to a compromise. While it is right that differences over important matters should be permitted and perhaps even encouraged, and although the pace of movement will always be subject to the keen attitude that people take towards important issues such as the sovereignty of this House, it is undoubtedly the case that too often we are seen as grudging participants in the European process.

If that impression is allowed to persist in the new circumstances of eastern Europe, it will serve not only the EEC but the interests of this country very badly. We have the greatest influence when we are seen to be enthusiasts for the European process. If this debate has done nothing else, it has brought home to many people, both inside the House and outside it, that a remarkable opportunity is available to us—and I hope that the House will collectively decide this evening to grasp it.

6.55 pm
Mr. Maude

With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, may I say that one of the greatest of the privileges that I have enjoyed during my short tenure in my present post—six months that have seen a revolution across Europe— has been the opportunity to participate in several debates concerning matters that go much beyond the frontiers of the 12 existing members of the European Community. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) said, they have shown this House at its best—able to look for the most part beyond narrow partisan politics and to devote its collective and considerable expertise and wisdom to examining the uncertainties that have unfolded before us, and to prospect the future, to see how events may change.

Today's debate has been very much one such debate. I regard myself as greatly privileged to have heard the contributions made—especially those of my right hon. Friends the Members for Castle Point and for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill), and the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen). They all brought to the debate their formidable experience, wisdom, clarity and insight, which has better informed all those among us who must examine how our country can help decisively to shape the future.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North referred with a glancing blow to the caution that necessarily attends those of us who are, however temporarily, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was right to refer to that caution, but it is right also that we should exercise it, particularly at a time when Europe faces of necessity a period of instability. That instability exists for the very best of reasons, because for the past 40 years eastern Europe has paid a terrible price for its enforced stability. It is inevitable that we should deal with the new situation cautiously, sometimes looking carefully—perhaps excessively carefully—before we tread. I make no apology for that.

It is inevitable that we should treat with caution also the unification of Germany, to which almost every speaker has referred. That is not to diminish in any way our commitment to that unification, based on self-determination. However, I re-emphasise the unanimous decision of the 12 European Heads of Government at the Strasbourg Council, that when unification takes place, it must have regard both to the interests of those directly affected by it and the treaties and agreements that it will affect. As I have said, that does not diminish the commitment of all 12 member states to Germany's reunification, should it emerge from the process of democratic self-determination.

Inevitably, much of the debate has focused on the European Community and the way in which it should develop. I sensed a fairly widespread view that we should not proceed helter-skelter into further institutional changes. I agreed profoundly with the right hon. Member for Devonport when he said that it was not necessary to be a federalist to be a good European; no one needs to believe that rapid further changes should be made to the treaty of Rome to be entirely committed to the European Community and to making it a success.

The Government are committed to making the Community a success, and we have contributed centrally to its present position. That is why I found it hard to recognise the reality in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell), who said that we did not seem to be taking part in the discussions. The single market—the single factor that has made the most difference to the success of the Community—is fashioned after the pattern that we have described.

Mr. Ashdown

Go to Brussels.

Mr. Maude

It may have escaped the right hon. Gentleman's attention that I do occasionally go to Brussels. I take part in the discussions, and I can tell the right hon. Gentleman without immodesty that our influence on their outcome is profound. The fact that he does not understand that is a simple demonstration of how far removed he is, and will remain, from the reality of the discussions.

Perhaps we have looked into the past more than we should have, but we have also looked ahead. That is proper at a time when we should not let our caution diminish the joy and pleasure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point described in his profoundly moving speech. At a time of necessary and inevitable instability, now that the tyrannies have gone we should be readier to build than to dismantle; but this time we should build to last.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 9.

Division No. 59] [7.02 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Browne, John (Winchester)
Alexander, Richard Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Alton, David Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Buck, Sir Antony
Amess, David Budgen, Nicholas
Amos, Alan Burns, Simon
Arbuthnot, James Burl, Alistair
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Butcher, John
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Butler, Chris
Ashby, David Butterfill, John
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Carrington, Matthew
Beith, A. J. Carttiss, Michael
Bellingham, Henry Chapman, Sydney
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Churchill, Mr
Benyon, W. Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Bevan, David Gilroy Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Colvin, Michael
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Boswell, Tim Couchman, James
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cran, James
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bright, Graham Davis, David (Boothferry)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Day, Stephen
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Devlin, Tim
Dorrell, Stephen Maclennan, Robert
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McLoughlin, Patrick
Durant, Tony McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Dykes, Hugh Mans, Keith
Eggar, Tim Maples, John
Emery, Sir Peter Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Fallon, Michael Mates, Michael
Favell, Tony Maude, Hon Francis
Fearn, Ronald Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Fishburn, John Dudley Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Flynn, Paul Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fookes, Dame Janet Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Forman, Nigel Miller, Sir Hal
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mills, Iain
Forth, Eric Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Fox, Sir Marcus Monro, Sir Hector
Franks, Cecil Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Freeman, Roger Morrison, Sir Charles
Garel-Jones, Tristan Moss, Malcolm
Gill, Christopher Neubert, Michael
Glyn, Dr Sir Alan Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Goodhart, Sir Philip Nicholls, Patrick
Goodlad, Alastair Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Gorst, John Norris, Steve
Gow, Ian Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Oppenheim, Phillip
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Gregory, Conal Page, Richard
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Paice, James
Ground, Patrick Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Grylls, Michael Patnick, Irvine
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hague, William Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hampson, Dr Keith Porter, David (Waveney)
Hanley, Jeremy Portillo, Michael
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Powell, William (Corby)
Harris, David Price, Sir David
Hayes, Jerry Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hayward, Robert Riddick, Graham
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Hind, Kenneth Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Sackville, Hon Tom
Hordern, Sir Peter Salmond, Alex
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Shaw, David (Dover)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Howells, Geraint Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Sims, Roger
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hunter, Andrew Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Irvine, Michael Squire, Robin
Irving, Sir Charles Stanbrook, Ivor
Jack, Michael Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Janman, Tim Steen, Anthony
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Stevens, Lewis
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Kennedy, Charles Summerson, Hugo
Kilfedder, James Taylor, Ian (Esher)
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Knapman, Roger Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Knowles, Michael Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Lamont, Rt Hon Norman Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Lawrence, Ivan Thurnham, Peter
Lee, John (Pendle) Trotter, Neville
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Twinn, Dr Ian
Lightbown, David Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Lilley, Peter Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Waller, Gary
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Wheeler, Sir John
Maclean, David Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann Tellers for the Ayes:
Winterton, Nicholas Mr. James Wallace and
Wood, Timothy Mr. Archy Kirkwood.
Beggs, Roy Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Cohen, Harry Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Cryer, Bob
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Tellers for the Noes:
Meale, Alan Mr. John D. Taylor and
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Mr. William Ross.
Skinner, Dennis

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House welcomes recent progress towards liberal democracy in the countries of eastern and central Europe; endorses progress towards the political and economic integration of the European Community; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government urgently to recognise that this country's future depends on Britain playing a full and wholehearted role in the development of the new democratic Europe.

Mr. A. J. Keith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether the fact that no amendment to the motion had been tabled, and therefore the process of the vote was very short, caused some confusion among Labour Members. I was very surprised to go into the Division Lobby on a motion which invited the support of the whole House for democratisation in Europe, yet Labour Members were unable to bring themselves to vote for it. That is the new model Labour party.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a point of order, but he has got his point on the record.