§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, it is my responsibility to seek to re-attract the attention of your Lordships' House to the Motion on the Order Paper and I begin by confessing or declaring a unique and perhaps egregious interest in this matter of disarmament. I was one of the sponsors of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ; I sat down and walked around on its behalf on many occasions. Professionally, I believe that the pacifist case is the right one. Nevertheless, I find this Motion agreeable ; in fact, in principle unimpeachable, and I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Kennet for introducing such a topic at this time. I think its importance should be obvious to all.
As my noble friend explained, the processes of rearmament are clear and unmistakable, and the various efforts towards disarmament have been fragile to the point of being nugatory. Furthermore, this country has proposed no multilateral disarmament proposals of any kind since 1960, and though there is no necessary connection between expenditure on armaments and on other services, particularly to the Third World, it is nevertheless true that such expenditure on armaments becomes obsessive ; and the fact remains that the Third World tends to suffer and poverty, or at least the gap that is created between those who have and those who have not, tends to widen. For those reasons, I believe it appropriate and necessary that such a debate should take place. But I confess to a certain unease as I look at the terms of the Motion. They remind me in some respects altogether too much of the generalised sermons to which people of my denomination and cloth are addicted, which are long in aspiration and a hit short in programme. It was, I think, Calvin Coolidge who, coming back from church one day was asked what the sermon was 708 about. He said, "Sin". And what was the attitude of the preacher? He said, "He was against it." The topic of this discussion is disarmament, and I am for it. And I am quite satisfied, and so is everyone in your Lordships' House, about where and if it is possible. Though I noticed that my noble friend, finding very little meat in the actual substance of the Motion, spent some time in a somewhat horrifying, and no doubt true, delineation of the schizophrenic and evil behaviour patterns, particularly of Russia, I think that he might have been a little more widespread in his indictment. Nevertheless it is a paranoic description and should be recognised as such.
The noble Lord, Lord Byers, took a far more simple line. He gave us a highly instructive dissertation on another topic ; an analogous one but nevertheless another one. I think that these are both indicative of the necessity to read into an amorphous and fairly sentimental statement such inwardness as it contains or as it is entitled to be interpreted as possessing. Therefore, with your Lordships' indulgence I want to say a little about this question of multilateral as opposed to unilateral disarmament, for I believe it hides a fallacy.
Most spontaneity is the fruit of initiative, and most multilateral actions are not in themselves spontaneous but are the result of initiatives taken by one or more parties who hope to arrive finally at multilateral decisions. Otherwise it seems to me that the evidence of the last 15 years is manifestly obvious, that to proceed on the basis, as I remember the comedians of my youth did, "After you, Claud" ; "No, after you, Cecil", does not produce the desired result. We now face a situation in which armaments tend to increase in particular fields—more shall we say, in the conventional than the nuclear field—and there is a recognition that multilateral disarmament and unilateral disarmament are not the polarised extremes but represent elements in the same process. Multilateral disarmament is ultimately much more of an achievement, whereas unilateral disarmament is the means whereby that achievement can be furthered. This, of course, would imply that such a country as our own would be involved in its multilateral aspirations in taking 709 unilateral steps which would fructify such decisions.
The Motion deals largely with the problem of tension. I should like to say something about that because Dr. Johnson's assertion about a sentence of death marvellously concentrating the mind—a quotation which I think is far more widely used than it is entitled to be—is, I think, specifically true of arms ; that those who possess arms are precluded from looking at the problems which they face except from the standpoint of the gun barrel. Many years ago, in the First World War, I was a bayonet fighting instructor in the Cadet Corps. I learned many forms of using the bayonet and the butt, and also unarmed attacks. I was instructed by a battle-scarred veteran from the trenches who, in an expansive moment, said to me that he had never come across an occasion when a man who still had a bullet in his gun had resorted to the use of bayonet fighting. This is an illustration of the truth that when a man has a gun in his pocket he is, by that very possession, precluded from examining alternative methods of dealing with the problems which he faces. The possession of arms creates tension and, what is even more serious, prevents a resolution of it.
I turn to the problem of the Third World and the way in which a reduction of the expenditure on arms would provide means whereby poverty-stricken nations could be helped. I quite agree that that would be possible even without a world reduction of armaments or of expenditure on armaments, but there is a much more serious problem lying behind this. In 1967, so I am reputably informed, 70 per cent. of all skilled jobs in California were either directly in the arms industry or in allied and contributory industries. Is it an extravagance to claim that any widespread disarmament undertaken at the moment, by any country, would so disturb the economic fabric of that country as to create a measurable degree of chaos? I believe that it is. In my judgment it links up with the fact that if we are to impose upon ourselves the obligation of either unilateral or multilateral disarmament we must at the same time consider the planned society which alone could sustain 710 the challenge and the difficulty which would be occasioned by it.
That is the kind of society, my Lords, which does not exist at the moment, particularly in the United States. And though it does exist in Russia, the State capitalism there has other disadvantages which would preclude its full use and effectiveness. I am bound to say that the evidence which appears from that much-abused country, the U.S.S.R., suggests that, economically, they can contain a disarmament programme far more effectively and easily than we could. It is for that reason that to call on the countries of the world for multilateral disarmament is really calling for a radical change towards a planned society, without which such disarmament would wreck the economic situation in which those countries now appear to enjoy affluence, and on which they certainly depend for their viability.
I am instructed by the word "environment" to think of it in particular terms, but I should prefer to talk about it in general terms. If it is argued that a reduction of armaments will provide an environment in which mankind—and I notice in the Motion the embracing phrase "all mankind"—will be advantaged, then this is a very great challenge to those who profess the particular faith which I seek to represent. For a long time we have assumed that the health and wellbeing of the world will be served when we exhale a cleaner breath. The fallacy lies in the argument that it is in personal improvement that can first be seen the opportunities of general welfare. It is much more likely that man will improve himself when he objectively improves his environment and creates a purer air to inhale. Most people, though they may not be determined by their environment, are very largely conditioned by it.
I am quite convinced that if we are to make any sense of this Motion we must regard ourselves as under an obligation to take such initiatives as will promote multilateral responses, and that those initiatives must be taken in advance of our knowledge of the way in which they may eventuate. I fully understand the noble Baroness's fears and trepidations as to our capabilities in defence, and so forth, but I believe that for long enough we have embraced the wrong principle in thinking 711 that we cannot disarm, or even envisage disarming, until there is a better spirit in man. It is just as arguable—and much more practical to argue—that we shall find a better spirit in man when we create a more congenial environment so that the air he breathes will be less violent. That means the adventure—and I believe largely the unilateral adventure—whereby we may promote the response of other people to a programme of progressive and, as I hope, absolute disarmament.
§ 4.35 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, after all the alarm and excursions we have had it is getting a little late to thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, on his Motion, but we all have the privilege of giving our comments on it. I was going to congratulate him on its architectonic qualities. He certainly composed it with very great care, and it looks to me as if it is just waiting to be translated into Latin ; that would be a wonderful exercise. But it is a Motion which, in the words of the Prayer Book, "appertaineth to the salvation of mankind". For that reason we welcome it, though, like other noble Lords, we hardly know where to begin to talk about it. Noble Lords on the Liberal Benches read the Motion as though it had said: "Write an essay on one of the following subjects," and they decided to share the various subjects among themselves. I thought that what was really meant was that noble Lords should say what they knew about any of the subjects.
I found that I knew very little until I began to exert myself. Of course, Bishops do not carry all these things in their heads all the time. For my own education I began to look into the question of the present state of the whole question of disarmament. Although I had read all the things in the papers, I found myself tremendously moved by the great step which seems to me to have been taken in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. I cannot say I realised how far-reaching it was. I have had to rely largely for my information on the first article of the July number of The World To-day, published by Chatham House, which opens with these words: 712The strategic nuclear arms of the two super Powers have been limited for the first time, thus capping the volcano of the arms race.We hope that is true. We find, when we begin to look into it, that there is this freezing, as it were, of the defensive and offensive systems. Many years ago we would have thought that such a detailed agreement between these two Powers, touching on such highly secret matters as their defensive and offensive plans, would have been impossible.
One thing which may have helped to bring about the agreement is the development of the verification system. Owing to satellite observation it has become unnecessary to send observers in, and that very fact has perhaps made it more possible to come to an agreement. Of course, there are very great limits to what has been done. The agreement is limited to these two great countries. It provides a most terrible form of security, or insecurity, when one thinks of the enormous destructive power, evenly balanced so to speak, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. One can hardly bear to think of it. At the same time, something has led these two nations to get together and to come to this agreement. Perhaps owing to the lapse of time they have in fact found it is possible to live together in one world, and this may have made it possible for them to discuss together things which previously one would have thought it impossible for them to agree about.
As to the cost of all this, it is of course enormous. The world expenditure on armaments in 1970 was 180 million dollars, and 80 per cent. of that came from the main developed countries such as America, Russia, Britain and so on. So it represents a very great expenditure and it continues to be an enormous drain on resources, much of which could obviously be spent on objects much more advantageous to mankind, at any rate in the short term. In the past decade 15 billion dollars have been spent in military research and only four million dollars on medical research. If those two figures could have been reversed, what enormous possibilities there might have been for the relief of suffering all over the world.
The control of non-nuclear arms is another area where the outlook has not 713 been very encouraging. I understand that between 1945 and 1972 there were 64 meetings between representatives of the United States and Russia, and the actual net result of all those meetings has been the Treaty on Biological Warfare. This shows the extreme difficulty of making progress on these lines.
With regard to the environment, I imagine that the noble Lord had primarily in mind the pollution of the atmosphere by atomic tests. That is something that I think we would all agree must be prevented by any means within our power ; but it must be mentioned that far and away the greatest nuclear activity now is not in connection with war but in connection with peaceful industry. In 1971 there were, I understand, 16 countries with 125 reactors for creating nuclear power. In 1977 this will be doubled to 32, with 325 reactors, and all these reactors all over the world are going to produce an enormous amount of spare plutonium. Nobody knows what is going to happen to that. It is not, I understand, very easy to turn it to war purposes, but obviously there will be a vast increase in knowledge of all these processes. We are moving into a period of world history where everybody is going to know the secrets because they can no longer be kept in any cosy circle ; and the results on the environment will have to be watched very carefully. I am glad to have heard the encouraging words about the Stockholm Conference because, like others, I believe that represented a very remarkable step forward in world mutual care.
I should like to end by asking myself how much really depends on disarmament. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, seemed quite clear in his mind that the possession of arms is a cause of war. I have looked back over history and have tried to find examples of where acts of disarmament had in fact made very much difference to the development of war or peace. The only immediate case I could think of after looking up the history books was the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which appeared to reduce by a large number the naval units deployed by those Powers who signed the Treaty. Unfortunately, of course Germany did not sign, and when war came eventually all that ground had to be regained.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, may I interrupt the right reverend Prelate for one moment? Would he not agree that the abolition of private armies in England made possible what was called "the King's peace"?
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, I should guess that it did, really. Yes, I take that point: and when you have a King of the world, so to speak, you can begin to apply that to the world situation. I was looking back on what we did at the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 1958, and I see that we said this:we believe that the abolition of nuclear weapons of indiscriminate effect and destructive power by international agreement is an essential step towards the abolition of war itself ".So we pressed all Christians to work for this end. We were then at the height of the "Ban the Bomb" movement and there was every possible reason for banning such a terrible weapon. It is an absolute obscenity, if one looks at it from the point of view of what human life ought to be like. We did not know then that within fourteen years there would be talks between America and Russia, and that at the end of those fourteen years there would be a very carefully worked out agreement. Had we known that, I think we might have looked at things perhaps the other way round—not thinking that there was any virtue or value in the Bomb, but seeing that one cannot solve these problems merely by removing the arms.
There was a time, too, not so long ago when what we call Biafra and Nigeria had a pretty good war. We should have thought of them both previously as unarmed countries, but once they wanted to fight each other they very soon did. I feel myself that disarmament follows reconciliation rather than creates it. If I may give one example of that: in the Sudan we have all seen a terrible war going on for a great many years, with a great deal of suffering among the masses of people. The World Council of Churches, I must 'say, sometimes gets itself into rather questionable positions. However, in this matter it has dome a magnificent job, with others, in its patient work towards reconciling these two communities. Now that reconciliation has taken place, war 715 stops. I am not saying how long this will last and I am not making any foolish prophecies ; but what I am trying to say is that you never could have done any good during those years by saying, "You must both disarm and then everything will be all right." You have to get down to the roots of division. Instead of saying, "Ban the bomb" so much, I would say, "ban fear", "ban greed". These are the things which make people want to fight. If, somehow or other, we could extract these things from the life of humanity I think we should be in a better position to use our resources more wisely and to spend our money not on arms but to spend it for good.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, may I start with an apology and continue with regrets? I apologise for not having been present at the beginning of this debate through, I may say, no fault of my own, but because of an important and longstanding engagement. I am extremely sorry that I could not hear my noble friend Lord Kennet or the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, and that I also missed the speeches of other noble Lords. As for regrets, I feel that it is a matter for regret, not so much that there is not a large attendance of your Lordships here to listen to the debate at this stage, but that so few of your Lordships have seen fit to take part in it, and particularly that, apart from the noble Baroness, nobody from the Government Benches apparently feels that the debate is of sufficient interest or importance for him to express his views. This is extremely unfortunate, because it is a subject which is extremely wide ranging, of great significance for the future, and very much the type of debate in which this House so often distinguishes itself.
My noble friend Lord Soper suggested that the Motion was amorphous and sentimental. I agree that it may be sentimental, but I hope he was not using that word in a derogatory sense. I see nothing wrong in sentiment ; it is valuable that we should be guided sometimes by sentiment rather than by purely material incentives. I am sure that my noble friend will agree with me on that point. As for its being amorphous, it is certainly wide ranging ; it has not restricted us to too narrow a field, but it gives scope for 716 some concrete expressions of view and for some specific suggestions and ideas.
I will not go into any detail on the disarmament aspect of this subject, on which I am not qualified to speak. But on the question of environment the words of the Motion are:… to pursue a reduction of world expenditure on armaments through United Nations … and to improve the environment of all mankind.I hope that there are no noble Lords present who are taking the word "environment" to mean simply what one can describe as our own bourgeois, affluent attitude towards the environment: the reduction of smoke pollution and fume pollution ; the reduction of noise from Concordes and other aeroplanes ; the siting of motorways so that they do not disturb the historic heritage ; the preservation of flora and fauna which are in danger of extinction. All those are important things. But when one is looking at things in the context of the whole of mankind, as we are asked to do to-day, these are unimportant things. By all means let us do our best to preserve them, but do not let us run away with the idea that the protection of the environment means that and no more.
We must remember that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world to-day whose environment is such that they do not have enough to eat ; that they do not have reasonable shelter over their heads ; that they do not have a doctor within 25 miles, or a hospital within 50 miles ; that they do not have a school to which they can send their children so that they can become, at the least, literate. It is the improvement of that type of environment to which we should direct our thoughts in this debate and in the terms of the Motion of my noble friend. Therefore I personally am prepared to make, and urge others to make, a very considerable sacrifice in our security, in our armaments, in order to bring this about.
My Lords, if you go back into the Middle Ages and the history of Europe you will find that our ancestors at that time had to spend a large part of their resources on their own protection: on the building of fortresses, on the making of walled cities, and on organising their whole environment in such a way that both rich and poor were able to come 717 within those protective walls in order to safeguard themselves against their enemies, against marauding bands. Because resources were limited there was little opportunity at that time to improve the environment in the widest sense of the word. Virtually all surplus resources had to be devoted towards protection. With the coming of the Renaissance and the spread of civilisation and, as my noble friend Lord Soper mentioned, the coming of the King's peace, it was possible to withdraw some of the resources from purely personal and community protection and to develop other things, the things which we now look on with pride and enjoyment.
The time must come in our world civilisation, as opposed to our national and European civilisation, when we move into the same phase. where the proportion of our national and international resources that is spent purely on protecting ourselves against each other can diminish, and the proportion which is available for improving the environment of particularly the worst off in the world can be increased. I believe that that time is very close to us. It may be here already—I like to think that it is—and we should now start looking for means of reducing our expenditure on armaments and our own protection and for means of improving the physical environment and wellbeing of other people.
Just to put this point in a very wide perspective, may I point out that in terms of 1964 figures we in this country are spending something of the order of £2,500 million a year on defence. Similarly, in terms of 1964 figures, there are hundreds of millions of people—I should not like to specify the exact number—who are living on an annual income of less than £25 a year. That means that if we were—and I am not suggesting this for a moment—to devote the whole of our defence expenditure to improving the environment of those most in need, this country alone could double the standard of living of over a hundred million people in the world. I do not suggest that we should do that—it is obviously unrealistic—but I put it forward as a measure of the need in the world and as a measure of the amount that we could, if circumstances allowed and our will allowed, 718 contribute to it. I will not pursue that any further.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, will my noble friend allow me to interrupt? I can never see the reason why this comparison is introduced, because everybody who introduces it always says that it is unrealistic and that he will not pursue it. Is not this the fact of the matter: that what the great democracies of the world spend on defence is what enables people, even though their income may be as low as £25 a year, to stay free?
§ LORD WALSTON
My Lords, I should like to embark on a long argument with my noble friend on this subject, and suggest that the amount that our friends and allies in the United States are spending on what is called, "defence in South East Asia" is not enabling the people there to enjoy freedom or a higher standard of living. That is a different argument and one that I shall pursue on another occasion. I repeat that I gave these figures as an indication of the size and scope of the problem. I do not propose to leave it there.
What I would suggest to your Lordships is that the time is now ripe for a complete reassessment of our defence expenditure, both in terms of world needs and in terms of that old hackneyed phrase, cost-effectiveness. I cannot believe that any independent assessment by a completely objective group of experts would ever assert that the amount we are spending on defence is the best possible way of achieving our agreed objectives of promoting world peace, improving the influence of this country and the standards in which we believe, and raising the standard of living of those whose need is greatest. If such a reassessment were carried out it would be found that a large proportion of our defence expenditure would be far more cost-effective simply in terms of reducing the world tension and of removing the threat of war for the present time and in years to come if it went towards bridging the gap between the rich and poor countries.
We repeat often and often—but how little we do about it!—that the greatest threat to world peace in years to come is the growing gap between rich and poor ; the envy of the poor for the rich, and the desire of the rich to retain and maintain their standard of living. Unless we 719 do something practical to reduce that tension and narrow the gap we shall not be able to protect ourselves indefinitely from the threat of two-thirds of the world who are jealous, to put it at its lowest, of our standard of living, any more than the high walls around the chateaux of the French nobility were able to protect them from the poor and underprivileged peasants when the Revolution came in 1789. I suggest that we again profit from the words of my noble friend Lord Soper and do not fall into the error of being long in aspiration and short in programme, but rather that we should be idealistic in aspiration and courageous in programme.
Our ideal should be deliberately to set out to narrow the gap between rich and poor ; to take a calculated risk and say that the defence of all we stand for in the West can to-day, and could in the future, be assured by seeing that a larger proportion of our resources goes towards helping to develop the world and a smaller proportion towards what have now become conventional weapons—I mean nuclear weapons, and so on. We should put forward a specific programme in the hope that we shall get agreement with our allies in the United Nations, in NATO and in the other areas where we still have a far greater influence than we often give ourselves credit for. That programme should be a progressive reduction in our armaments expenditure of 10 per cent. per annum over the next five years, which would reduce our conventional defence expenditure by 50 per cent. in five years. If noble Lords think that is too rash, I would not quibble about its being 5 per cent. per annum for 10 years.
Of the money saved, which would amount to £260 million or £250 million a year, we could retain half in order to build better schools and houses and the other things we need. The other half, which would be about £130 million a year, we should devote specifically to improving the environment of the Third World. We should increase our present expenditure by something of the order of 75 per cent. and thereby bring our total contribution of direct aid, rather than private investment, up to and rather above the target figure of 1 per cent. of G.N.P. I am sorry that my noble friend 720 Lord Soper is not here, but I hope he would not call that amorphous, and a vague programme, but would accept it as a specific aim that we should indicate our willingness to implement in this country. Possibly we should take the lead for other people, provided they indicated their willingness to follow us within a relatively few years.
My Lords, this whole subject which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Kennet this afternoon is one that deserves a great deal more discussion than it is getting, and a great deal more thought by many people who hitherto have ignored it than will be given to it unless there is a constant reiteration of the problem and unless it is put forward to the people in simple but realistic terms.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I begin by expressing appreciation to my noble friend Lord Kennet for tabling this Motion. I do not do that as a matter merely of courtesy. I have rarely read so much fundamental truth in so few words as is in this Motion. It begins by urging the Government to take energetic action for the reduction of world armaments. Secondly, it urges that this should be done through the United Nations and other multilateral arrangements. Thirdly, it asks that the resources so saved shall be used to benefit the poor everywhere and particularly in the Third World. Fourthly, it asks that they shall be used to improve the environment. There is one danger in having such a comprehensive Motion, which has been illustrated in the series of speeches which have been delivered. It is impossible in a comparatively short speech to deal with all the issues in this comprehensive Motion. I am sure that in what I am going to say I shall fail as others have failed in that respect.
If one were able to have God-like qualities in mental space and were to look down on the world the deepest conviction would be of how mad human behaviour is. We have reached a stage of enormous technological advance where wealth can be produced easily and where, if that production were rightly directed, world poverty could be ended. Instead, we are employing millions of workers and spending millions of productive capital on 721 weapons to destroy each other. If the head of a family spent his money on guns and left his family ill-housed, without medical attention when they were ill, and left half of them in permanent hunger, we should certify that man as insane. The world, which adopts that practice, is collectively insane. If there be a God, He would certify mankind for the same reasons.
I recognise that in this human family there are sane protesters all over the world. I recognise that in this human family probably the great majority long for the ending of the arms race and of war and of poverty, but are unaware of the means by which it may be brought about. But the heads of the human family have been so mentally polluted—pollution is not only a matter of physical environment—by the society in which they live that they have become wardens of this world asylum. As this Motion suggests, we need a new world policy to bring about the ending of armaments and of war ; to bring about conciliation between peoples, and to use the world's resources to end illiteracy, disease and poverty. This Motion has the value of pointing the way.
The Motion suggests that we should do this through the United Nations and multi-national arrangements. One of the disturbing facts of the last two or three years has been the decrease in the authority and reputation of the United Nations. It has been unable to intervene in most of the great disasters from which the world has suffered. The Vietnam war has gone on, and it has been helpless. The Middle East confrontation continues, without its effective action. In the civil war between Biafra and the Federation of Nigeria its hands were tied. In the war between Pakistan and Bangladesh it could take no action. In these major disasters of our period the United Nations has been quite ineffective.
The Motion also suggests that disarmament should be gained by multinational arrangements. I recognise the progress which has been made: the action of President Nixon in visiting China and the Soviet Union ; the treaties between West Germany and the Soviet Union and Poland ; the SALT negotiations for the limitation of strategic weapons ; and now the proposal for the European Security and Co-operative Conference. May I say 722 a word about that Conference because four or five years ago I was almost a lonely voice in this House advocating it? We had a Labour Government at that time. They showed no enthusiasm. A Conservative Government followed, and that Government have been lukewarm. Nevertheless, we now hear—and I am glad to hear it from the noble Baroness—that this Conference is likely to take place next year. I am not pretending that one conference is going to solve our problems. Quite clearly it must be followed by a series of continuing and, so far as one can see, permanent commissions dealing with all the problems that will arise: the reduction of forces on both sides ; economic co-operation ; cultural cooperation. I want to see (and this is within the scope of the Motion) a commission dealing with the assocation of the North of the world with the Third World.
Let us just look at the picture. The European Conference for Security and Co-operation will not only spread all over the North of Asia, through the Soviet Union, through the Communist countries of the East, and through Western Europe ;, it will include the United States of America and Canada. They are to be members of it. It will be a great consortium of the whole North of the world—the richer part of the world. The poor part of the world—the southern Third World—will be left outside. But I believe there is the opportunity that association with the Third World can be obtained. There was the farce of the UNCTAD Conference, the rich man's club keeping the poor nations in exploited poverty ; there is the danger that the European Community will become a rich man's club, and that the nations of the Third World will be second-class members of the international community. But now, because the European Conference for Security and Co-operation will bridge the gulf between East and West, it has the opportunity to win the co-operation of the unaligned Third World. My Lords, I would urge very strongly indeed upon Her Majesty's Government that they should use their influence when they go to Helsinki to take up this proposal that one of the commissions which follow the Conference should be a commission to seek the cooperation and co-ordination of all activities with the Third World.
723 Welcoming these multi-national arrangements, I nevertheless come back to the point that we are now living in a world which is beyond regional associations, which is international, and that the importance of the United Nations as an international authority must be not only restored but expanded. May I give one example of that ; it is in regard to the question of the aid to the poor nations. This Motion suggests that expenditure on arms should be devoted instead to ending world poverty.
I hope that my noble friend Lord George-Brown will be speaking later in the debate. I will make a comment now upon an intervention for which he was responsible. He argued that expenditure upon defence means employment and, therefore, the contrast between expenditure on defence and the saving of it for other purposes is not really an argument which can be used for action against poverty. I would say this to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown—and I shall listen to his reply with great interest. Expenditure upon armaments certainly provides employment, but at the end of it, what? Has the wealth of the world been increased? Have we proceeded in construction? Reduce your expenditure upon armaments and devote that expenditure to great constructive projects and you not only provide employment but you provide also the beginnings of a better world.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I am sorry, but I must have been very imprecise and more than usually unclear. I did not say that expenditure upon defence provided employment and, therefore, should not be contrasted with expenditure on aid. What I said was that expenditure upon defence may well provide freedom, and that freedom—even for people on the £25 per annum referred to by my noble friend—was worth maintaining if it required that degree of expenditure upon defence. That is a totally different argument from the one to which my noble friend is addressing himself.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I apologise to my noble friend at once. I am quite sure that the misunderstanding must have been due to my difficulty in hearing him in his intervention at that distance rather than any imprecision in his speech. Hansard will show that.
724 The noble Lord, Lord Byers (rather amusingly, Lady Tweedsmuir thought that it was me, perhaps because I put so many questions to her), said that it was unlikely that even if we had disarmament, resources would be devoted towards ending poverty. I would only say that it gives us the opportunity to do so. I say that in conjunction with my argument on the importance of the United Nations and the need for its expansion. Poverty now is one thing, but what is poverty going to be like in 50 years' time, with the growth in population, unless quite drastic international action is taken?
There are two great spheres for food production. One consists of the deserts, the other the oceans. One-seventh of the world is desert. It has now been proved that by water treatment the desert can be made fertile land, and indeed under most of the deserts there are rivers and lakes. That tremendous task would require international planning and action and I should like to see an economic arm of the United Nations undertaking it. The other great source of food in the world is the ocean. The day will come when the oceans will be farmed as land is farmed now. The noble Baroness has recently had some experience of the difficulties. Those difficulties will be overcome only under international authority and international action. An economic arm of the United Nations, developing the deserts and developing the oceans for food, could be the answer to the problem of world population and the poverty which would follow.
I conclude by saying this. I believe that the millions in the world to-day are just longing for policies which will end war and which will end poverty. I take tremendous encouragement from the triumph of my friend Mr. George McGovern in the Democratic Party in America. He has won that triumph by the voice of youth, and, despite all that is said derogatory of youth to-day, all over the world youth is looking for a new world ; for a world without war ; for a world without poverty. Not only youth, but many of those who are older as well. We need to-day, more than we have ever needed, a world statesman who will give a lead in bold and imaginative terms—terms which could be a reflection of this Motion and make its aspiration a programme.
725 At the end of the First World War, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, despite certain weaknesses that followed, gave a lead to the world that colonialism was morally wrong. It was the first time that that view had been expressed by a political Leader, and to-day political colonialism has nearly disappeared. We want now a world statesman who will say that war is morally wrong and that poverty in the midst of the opportunities of plenty is morally wrong, and who will interpret those moral truths in programmes. When that world statesman comes, I am perfectly sure that the peoples of the world will respond and that the ideas in this Motion will have an opportunity of realisation.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, not knowing until he spoke how the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, was going to develop his argument within the vast framework of his Motion I had not prepared any notes for a speech this afternoon ; indeed, I did not put my name down to speak until the last possible moment. I therefore propose to limit my observations to just a few remarks on the great political and strategic issues which the noble Lord raised, and I only hope that your Lordships will not find them too disjointed. Anyhow, I apologise in advance.
I may be wrong, but as I understand the thesis propounded by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, it is that now is the time to make a supreme effort to get at least some agreement on such thorny subjects as M.B.R.F.—Mutual Balanced Reduction of Forces—so as to prepare for the famous conference on European security, planned for so long and perhaps to take place at the end of next year, which he believes may result, if it results in nothing else, in a certain reduction of tension. I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, whether that is not so.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, for the Record I would simply say that I was referring to a supreme effort to achieve some agreement for the mutual and balanced reduction of forces, but not for the purpose of preparing for a European security conference, because in my view that conference will and must meet first, before the M.B.R.F. negotiations.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, at any rate I gather that the noble Lord wants to make a great effort to get some agreement on the mutual and balanced reduction of forces and that he places great hopes in the early convening of a European security conference at which not only that subject but other subjects will be discussed, this resulting in a general reduction of tension.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I intervene again only because the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is attributing remarks to me and I am anxious to get the Record straight. I do not think that the mutual and balanced reduction of forces will be discussed at that security conference. This may seem a point of little importance but as the noble Lord has attributed remarks to me, I want to make this point clear.
§ LORD GLADWYN
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has two objectives: one is the M.B.F.R. and the other is the conference. Both, he hopes, will result in the reduction of tension. However those matters are pursued, such reduction in tension will result in our all spending much less money on armaments, thereby being able to devote the huge sums that will be saved to the development—by which I suppose the noble Lord means the industrialisation—of the so-called Third or under-developed World. While sharing to the full the noble Lord's strong desire that the lion should lay down with the lamb and the poor inherit the earth, and while agreeing totally with the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, about the degree of madness in the human race—more especially perhaps the strong element of madness in those cold monsters known as the nation States—I am left wondering whether the plan of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, is the best way to achieve the end which, as I say, he himself, the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, I myself, and, indeed, all of us, presumably desire. Among other things, it is perhaps unlikely that the money so saved by disarming—and it might not be very much in the initial stages—would be either as substantial as some think or be employed for the industrialisation of the Third World pending some major political agreement between the major forces of the world, notably the super-Powers. That seems to be the crux of the matter.
727 Let us glance at the present rather bleak state of affairs. At the moment, the forces of the Warsaw Pact, chiefly Russian, have a vast superiority—I am speaking in terms of conventional forces—over the forces of the members of NATO in Western Europe. I understand that such superiority is, very broadly speaking, of the order of three to one. It has already been pointed out that not one man has been withdrawn from the great array of the Warsaw Pact organisation to reinforce the one million strong Soviet army on the frontiers of China. How could one arrange force reductions on both sides of the Iron. Curtain which would not place the conventional forces of the Western World at an even greater disadvantage than that under which they now labour? To suggest otherwise passes my imagination, more especially when, as we know, any American forces which may be withdrawn as a result of some agreement would mean their withdrawing 4,000 miles overseas and the Russians withdrawing only 500 miles overland.
That must be the result unless we want to create some tremendous imbalance in this sphere, which I think I am right in saying is the last thing that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, wants to do. Nevertheless, unless we have a conscious or unconscious desire to create a huge imbalance—such an imbalance would be bound to result not in reducing but in increasing tension—we must, because it is the only thing we can do, try to persuade the Russians to maintain in Europe, first, only such forces as they regrettably consider necessary for holding down their wretched satellites and, secondly, only sufficient to contain any conceivable (in practice it is inconceivable) offensive by the forces of the West against them.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, while I am following with great interest the arguments which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, is adducing, may I ask him to reflect that in the first place he said that the Warsaw Pact countries had a superiority of three to one—
§ LORD KENNET
Yes, broadly speaking they have a superiority of three to one on the Continent of Europe—and in the second place he went on to speak of 728 the danger of introducing or creating an imbalance. Would he tell me which he means?
§ LORD GLADWYN
I think the noble Lord misunderstood me. I asked, given the fact that the Russians already have a three to one superiority over us, how one could proceed on each side to achieve a mutual and balanced reduction of forces in accordance with some plan without ensuring that the Russians maintained that ratio of superiority, though at a somewhat lower level. That being so, we must as I say, try to induce the Russians on their own account substantially to reduce their enormous conventional forces in Western Europe before we can achieve a sensible, mutual and balanced reduction of forces. This at any rate is my thesis, though I may be wrong.
Then we have the overwhelming nuclear problem. These are enormous issues which I am attempting to discuss in a few minutes. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, seems to think, and he may be right, that it would now be desirable for the Russians and Americans to make, as it were, a formal progress report to Geneva on SALT and the issues arising out of the talks. He also believes that the small, so-called nuclear deterrents of Britain and France—because they were not mentioned in SALT and because the Russians spoke of the possibility of their upsetting the whole balance—might place us in the position of arbiters. I see what the noble Lord means, but I suggest that we are not in the position of very strong arbiters. Great pressure would be brought to bear before any such arbitration could take place. Nevertheless, I appreciate the noble Lord's comments on the subject, to which I listened with interest.
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, also spoke of the danger of bilateral agreements in the whole sphere of nuclear arms. All these are good points and are bound sooner or later to be raised, but that will not happen at the moment. I do not think that the Russians and Americans want to expand the present discussions ; certainly they do not want to do so until they are further along the road towards some agreement. After all, SALT has been a success, within limits. There was agreement on the nature of the 729 I.B.M.s which are to be constructed around Washington and Moscow, with no others being built. There was agreement to limit the construction of major nuclear launchers in both countries, subject to aerial inspection. This represents a considerable achievement in SALT and we must congratulate both parties and hope that further progress will follow. But we must hope, of course, that they really will get on over the next few years to real disarmament in which conceivably the enormous number of bombs will, by some agreement, be destroyed or recycled and the energy devoted to peaceful purposes. That will involve inspection, but I imagine that within five or ten years' time that will not be impossible, and it will be to the advantage of both sides provided they observe complete equality as regards potential first and second strikes.
If that balance was upset the whole thing might be destroyed ; but there is some reason to hope that it will not be upset and I do not think that we can disarm before we all see what is going to happen. If you get to a certain point something will of course have to be done about the hundreds of Russian M.R.B.M.s (medium range ballistic missiles) which are now trained on these countries of Western Europe. Here I share Lord Kennet's view that something can only be done in connection with some general agreement arranged between the Russians, Americans and ourselves as to the future role, if any, of the small nuclear so-called "deterrents" of Britain and France. We are not at that stage yet and we must gradually move towards it. At the moment we cannot do anything about it.
We come now to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, with which fundamentally I agree. He said that what was wanted was a reassessment of the Defence policy of this country. Was that not right? I am not, however, quite certain what he means by that and how we can "reassess" our policy. Such forces as we have are almost entirely in Western Europe. Without saying that they must be reduced unilaterally, I cannot see how our whole Defence policy can be reassessed. We have in any case many men in Northern Ireland whom we cannot reassess. Then as regards our nuclear bombs it is unlikely that under 730 "reassessment" we would sink them to the bottom of the North Sea. In other words, the reassessment of our whole Defence policy is difficult to contemplate now. But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that if we could have a reassessment of the Defence policies of the countries of the new and extended Community that would make great sense, because at the same time the capacity for defence in Western Europe itself could be increased—by the production of more anti-tank guns, especially complicated aeroplanes and purely defensive weapons generally—at much less expense. The standardising of these weapons within the Western European framework would in fact cost far less money and we would have a superior defence force. Over the years, collectively, we, together with the other countries, could save a very large sum and devote it to a new programme of aid for Commonwealth ex-Colonies and under-developed countries generally. All this would make enormous sense.
What we are witnessing at the moment is a readjustment of power, a kind of uneasy earthquake all over the world ; and it is that, surely, and not simply the arms themselves—however terrible and colossal they may be—that causes fear. And it is fear and not the arms themselves that produces tension. In Western Europe the real fear is that there may be some failure of the American national will resulting in a major withdrawal, and hence in a vast and inevitable increase in the political power of the Soviet Union. Nobody who knows anything about it really thinks that there is going to be a nuclear war. But it is at least quite conceivable that for one reason or another, and chiefly by playing on the various fears of the nations of the Western world, the Russians may eventually succeed in dominating politically the whole of Western Europe. In these circumstances, it would be wrong to place any particular hopes in a highly complicated and very doubtfully practicable M.B.R.M., whatever its relationship to the conference, to say nothing of the European Security Conference itself, which I am afraid it is hard to see will result in any benefit for the non-Communist world. Surely it is much better to push ahead as quickly as possible with the construction of some democratic Western European entity, or unity, so 731 that if there are, as there will be, major political decisions regarding the future of the world, we shall at least be capable of having a policy of our own.
My Lords, I would only say one word in conclusion, on a totally different subject. May I go back to what my noble Leader, Lord Byers, said about the desirability of improving arrangements for training overseas students and giving them practical training in this country? I mean chiefly students coming from the Commonwealth, to whom, after all, we are under a very considerable obligation. I know something about this question and have been in correspondence with various firms. I am quite certain that if the Government were prepared to put up plans to subsidise firms specifically for the purpose of training some of these selected people, that would be of enormous benefit and would be greatly appreciated in those countries ; and eventually, after training, they would become unofficial ambassadors of this country in their own countries instead of, as is so often the case, I fear, now returning home "browned off" and denouncing this country as neo-imperialistic, simply because in many cases they may not have had the right training, which I suggest is only their due.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, like others of your Lordships I wish to thank my noble friend Lord Kennet for having introduced this subject. It has already provided us with quite an interesting debate. I must say that I was fascinated listening to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. I rather felt that I had been transported to Reykjavik and was watching Bobby Fischer and wondering what the 29th move would be.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
That incident came earlier. My Lords, the Motion which we are considering is of great importance to the whole world. It is of enormous importance to us although it does matter very greatly to us what we are going to do about disarmament. About a year ago I was privileged to go on a tour of NATO bases in Europe. It was a tour of Parliamentarians from all 732 the NATO countries. We went to SHAPE headquarters and afterwards to the Allied Forces Centre of Europe ; then down to France—they even let us in there—and we were taken to Toulon to see some of their ships and then down to the Mediterranean to the Allied Forces in the South.
It was extremely interesting to listen to what the Generals and Admirals in command in each of these quarters had to say. They all had the same story. One has to remember that they were dealing with Parliamentarians and consequently their purpose was quite clearly to try to influence us (on the basis that we had any influence at all in our own countries) to spend more money ; and so they emphasised very clearly the deficiencies of the whole of the NATO system. Naturally, they never carried it too far, because if they had that would have suggested that they were themselves highly inefficient. Consequently, they left us in that delicate state poised between an appreciation of their high efficiency and at the same time regret at our own lack of perspective in spending money. Our experience when on board the U.S.S. "America", the big aircraft carrier that NATO have in the Mediterranean, proved most interesting ; we were given a magnificent display. We saw all their aircraft deployed, and it was a very impressive sight. Afterwards we were given what is nowadays termed a "briefing". I suppose that normally one regards it as a discussion, but we were told about what they had found out with regard to the Soviet forces then in the Mediterranean—I think they said that 36 submarines had come in. They were able to keep very close watch on it all. They had also observed a number of newly developed Soviet ships of which they were very frightened.
At the end of the discussion one of the Canadians asked Admiral Rivero what advice he would have given to the Soviet Ministers if he had been a Soviet admiral, and after some slight hesitation Admiral Rivero said, "I suppose I would have given them exactly the same advice as their admirals have given." This was very interesting because it reveals that the pattern is the same ; there is no particular evil on one side or the other: both are trying to do the same sort of job. We have also to realise that some of what 733 has happened in the build-up of Soviet forces is the direct consequence of what was done immediately after the last war, when the United States and this country deliberately built a cordon all the way round the Soviet Union. I remember when I was in America about 21 years ago buying a copy of the Saturday Evening Post, a glossy magazine which I believe is now defunct. It devoted the whole of one issue to describing what they called "the war we did not want". They described in detail how they had attacked Russia in self-defence and had wiped out the whole of Russia and occupied it. The whole of this magazine was given up to detailed descriptions as to how they set about this attack ; where the forces came from, and the consequences.
My Lords, the Russians are not illiterate, and I have no doubt they read the Saturday Evening Post and were able to see perfectly clearly, 21 years ago, the sort of thinking in the United States at that time. In consequence they set out to build an enormous force, They have done so. They have done exactly as Admiral Rivero said he would have advised them to do ; they have built exactly the same sort of thing. Now we see we are faced with this overwhelming force: the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn (who seems to have deserted the Chamber), quoted figures which illustrated a preponderance of three to one. This figure is a little mythical, but there is a preponderance. The figures given by NATO for divisions amount to approximately a preponderance of three to one, but there are actually 60 NATO divisions and, I think, 180 Warsaw Pact divisions. But NATO divisions are 50 per cent. greater in numbers, and consequently it is not quite the same as three to one.
However, this is not the important point. It is certainly true that the Soviet forces, the Warsaw Pact forces, are, in terms of ordinary conventional forces, greater than ours. Some of the armaments they have are better than ours and some are worse ; but they are building up their naval forces rapidly. If one looks at the position one can see clearly that the preponderance they have now will increase, and is bound to increase, unless we spend very much more money than we are doing. It is no use imagining that our present expenditure will ensure a balance 734 for NATO (I am talking now of the whole of NATO) against the Warsaw Pact countries, and therefore if we seriously say that we must match the Soviet forces we have to face the fact that we should need to spend 50 or 100 per cent. more on armaments than we are now doing. Is this realistic or is it possible? I do not believe it for a moment, and therefore I would submit that the argument is wrong ; that we are using the wrong sort of argument in this matter. I am not suggesting that we should immediately disarm, but what I do say is that the only rational thing and the only thing that can possibly save us from catastrophe, is to come to agreement. Therefore it is important to have exactly the sort of multi-national discussions, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has referred. Unless we do this we are going to be faced with an increasing imbalance between the Soviet forces and those of NATO.
The second part of the Motion deals with diverting expenditure to the Third World and to the environment. It is true that there is no necessary connection between the two parts, in the sense that the fact that one happens to save £1 million on armaments does not mean to say that one spends £1 million in some other way. What it does mean is that if we cease to spend money upon those activities which are purely for warlike purposes, what we term defensive purposes, then the same resources or equivalent resources can be used for other purposes. It is not in the sense that £1 million saved here can be spent there, but rather that if we save resources we can redeploy them in another way. The noble Lord, Lord Byers, drew attention to a number of things that might be done. One has to appreciate that the great danger in the world, as the noble Lord said, is the using up of resources, but it seemed to me that he left us in an awkward position because he said," Let us use the resources more rapidly—
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, I know that the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones is not intentionally misleading the House about what I said. I did say that if the demand continues to rise because of increased population then we shall exhaust the world's resources more quickly. It it a mathematical problem.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I think it still means that if we are going to develop for the whole world we must find more iron ore ; in other words, we shall have to use up the resources more rapidly. There are two points here. One is that the resource that will be used up most rapidly is fuel. That is the one which we are in grave danger of using up, because fossil fuels are known to be limited in quantity. We know that we cannot go down into the earth indefinitely to get fossil fuels, and so they will disappear. This means that it is more urgent for us to concentrate on nuclear energy, and I do not mean just the use of uranium ; what I mean, in the end, is the fusion reaction.
The fusion reaction is the one which gives us hope of a limitless supply of power. If we have this limitless supply of power, then we are able to think of doing things that we cannot do now. For instance, at the present time we are limited in the amount of aluminium that we can get because we have to use bauxite. But aluminium is lying all round us. All clay is aluminium. If we can find sufficient energy and devise a process in order to win aluminium from clay—many attempts have been made and so far not successfully, but mainly because we had not enough energy available in the past—then the aluminium supply becomes practically limitless. Consequently, the urgency of switching our large resources which are expended upon defence, upon armaments, to this sort of thing increases all the time. I submit that it becomes now one of the most vital things in this world for us to switch our resources and to use them this sort of way. We cannot do this simply by ceasing to spend money immediately on armaments, but we can do it if, with great determination, we go in for international agreement.
The right reverend Prelate suggested that when we look at the whole question as to whether it is possible to have peace we shall find that there is no case in history where one got peace simply by doing without armaments. But I should have thought that the whole of that undefended border between the United States of America and Canada was a striking example of how this can be done. I should have thought that the peace of 736 Scandinavia was another striking example of it. I hope that we may now be seeing the beginning perhaps of a similar peace between India and Pakistan.
THE LORD BISHOP OF LEICESTER
My Lords, with great respect, I had thought of those examples, and particularly the American and Canadian border. However, I had felt that what kept them at peace was their mutual commercial and human interests.
§ LORD WYNNE-JONES
My Lords, of course, human interests are always there, but they develop when you get rid of war. It is when you do not fight one another across your borders that human interests dominate. If you continue to fight across your borders then human interests get submerged. There were one or two minor excursions from America across the Canadian border even after that border was drawn up, but they fizzled out very quickly because the people there did not have much use for them. There is no fortification along the whole of that border. I think that it is the fact that there is no fortification, the fact that there are no armaments there, which makes for peace, and means that the only war they have is a trade war. I hope that this debate will have focused attention upon the urgent necessity for this multi-national effort to which my noble friend Lord Kennet has referred, and I support his Motion most strongly.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I consider that this has been quite an interesting short debate. I have listened with interest to all of the contributions except two, which I regret that I missed. I have been vitally interested in it. Nevertheless, there are points that have been omitted. In order that I can shunt my mind into the reality of the debate, may I look at what this House is asked to do. This Motion asks the Government
energetically to pursue a reduction of world expenditure on armaments through United Nations and other multilateral arrangements. not only to lower political and military tensions, but also to release resources for the benefit of the poor everywhere, though especially in the Third World, and to improve the environment of all mankind.First, I think it is essential to eradicate the fallacy that building up armaments 737 is going to create jobs. It does so only in the transitional period. What is the truth? No power on earth has built up so much armaments as the United States of America, and she has been forced, as a result, into an inflationary situation where she has broken all her promises to the Western world. She has broken the promise to change dollars into gold ; she has broken the promise about the maintenance of the conditions of Bretton Woods ; and she has broken the promise about honouring the Euro-dollars that are scattered like mavericks all round the world at the present moment.
The result is that no matter how pompously the Treasury talks, or Pompidou talks, at the present moment the world is dominated by a dollar that is sick because it has followed the life of the warrior. Money has been spent, I consider sinfully, on one of the greatest wars in the history of civilisation in Vietnam. More bombs have been dropped on that country in this period than were dropped in the whole period of the Second World War. The result of that massive military expenditure is the sickness of the monetary world at the present moment. I think that that argument is absolutely irrefutable. That is why some of the lectures we heard the other day on how to solve the monetary problems by adoptting the "Hungarian solution", or the "snake in the tunnel" solution, were far away from the reality of the world in which we live.
I happen to have in my study the Saturday Evening Post, and I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, with his trained, logical mind referred to this magazine. I should like to see it encased in a glass case in the Library of the House of Lords, and a page turned over every day. I remember that magazine at the height of the Cold War, when I happened to be for a short time chairman of the Bevanite Group, as we were then called. We nearly committed felo de se—thank goodness we do not do it now in the Labour Party—by quarrelling with each other. Quarrelling with each other in our Party is fair enough—we are tough enough to take it—and in the search for truth this can often happen.
What I resented in that magazine was that it created fear in the hearts of the Russians. Every Russian I talked to after I saw that magazine was afraid. Anybody 738 who knows a little Russian and has travelled—I have had the good fortune to travel from Siberia to the Black Sea and through its cities—will remember the great posters. The ordinary people were made to believe that Russia was struggling for peace, and there were those posters. "All right you may say," a wicked Government was misleading them " ; but the possibility of damaging that "wicked Government", if you like to put it that way, could not have been increased by that Saturday Evening Post magazine. Of all the people who contributed to it, Priestley was the one selected. I think the arrogance is absolutely astounding. Everyone knows what the scholarship of old Russia was, and its philosophy, and the man who was going to lead Russia to the new life was J. B. Priestley. My noble friend will remember this.
It is time that we finished with this stupidity. It is time that we ended the Cold War and stopped this "Red Indians and Cowboys" attitude towards world politics ; the "goodies" and the "baddies". Let us look at some of the facts. First of all, I do not want to denounce this Government for their lack of activity. Let me pay a tribute to Richard Wood, the Minister ; I consider that in the Minister that the Government happen to have at the present time in charge of Overseas Development, they have a man who is good at heart and who has served his country as loyally as anybody else in any other Government. I pay tribute to the Foreign Office—it is not often I do that—and to the Commonwealth Department for the excellent little magazine that they turn out called Overseas Development. I am trying to be fair and speak with an awareness of the massive amount of work that is done by Ministers and civil servants in an effort to find an answer to lifting the misery and the degradation of the poor in the world.
Keeping on this theme I should also like to pay a tribute to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm last month. Whatever we may think of the eight point programme that Peter Walker put forward, and whatever we thought of the various contributions of the 113 participants, the fact is that this Government, or this nation, took a lead in, first, banning dumping in the seas of the world ; 739 secondly, organising global monitoring in the air, the oceans and the land ; thirdly, collecting and protecting the world's genetic resources ; fourthly, starting a ten-year moratorium on commercial whaling ; fifthly, in setting up an international referral service of sources of environmental information ; sixthly, organising a United Nations permanent body to co-ordinate the nations' environmental work ; and seventhly, giving money for it. In support of my noble friend who opened this excellent debate, that last paragraph is the operative part of that work. I do not believe we can do that if Britain is suffering from folie de grandeur.
At the moment I am reading once again—it is my bedside reading, and it will take me about six months to finish it—Gibbon's Decline and Fall. If we read that together with the Golden Bough—the noble Lord, Lord Soper, will agree with me on this—we find many marvellous messages for mankind. One of them which we should learn is that we have been a great Imperial Power. Let us rest on that and adjust ourselves to the world in which we are now living. In so doing, we might be able to find more money for use and expenditure on uplifting the poorer parts of the world.
As I said in the debate last week on the monetary system, and as a Welsh Primitive Methodist Marxist, I want to say: do not throw away all the ideas which Karl Marx gave to the world. It is basically still true that the richer nations are growing richer and the poorer growing poorer because of the self-interest of the technological world. This is one of my fears of the European Economic Community. It is a shopkeepers' club ; it is not a complete European conception. The right reverend Prelate made a point about friendship between nations, that they can learn to live together and side by side. Canada and the United States have managed to do this. We never seem to be able to manage it with Ireland ; we have managed it with some difficulty West of the River Severn with the rest of Britain—but I will not develop that argument.
We cannot spend such vast sums as we do in the belief that we are a great Power. I do not want to bore the House with statistics, but my authority is impeccable—the Bank of England. I will summarise: 740 The fascinating fact is that the outward movement of United Kingdom capital between 1962 and 1969 was massive. There was a total increase of £3,425 million in direct investment ; £2,500 million in portfolio investment and £12,575 million in financial claims. Foreign investment here was substantial although below the figure of our investment abroad. As a result the role of the City of London was greatly magnified, while British interests invested abroad nearly 70 per cent. more than foreign interests invested here. The point I am trying to make is that we in Britain are losing our will for greatness. We are allowing our investment to go overseas while our shipbuilding industry is run down. We are using machine tools which my grandfather used, and still the mechanisation and tooling up of British industry is neglected. That has partially accounted for our inability to take leadership in lifting up the Third World.
This week in the Guardian a letter from Bolivia was published. It said:The British Tropical Agriculture Mission, which has been working successfully in the East of Bolivia for several years, is to be reduced in size to a point where its usefulness will be doubtful, apparently for lack of funds. I am writing to express the disappointment at this reduction of several Bolivian acquaintances who are concerned to promote agriculture in their country.The curtailment of the agricultural mission makes me wonder whether British spending in Bolivia, and in other South American countries, could not be more profitably divided than at present between diplomatic and other activities. The British Council, for instance, is totally absent here, but the Alliance Française and the Goethe Institut are present in all major towns. We may not care for culture, but it is not hard to imagine that, in the long run, a single teacher of English might not stimulate more interest in England, and even more export orders, than half a dozen press secretaries and commercial attaches.I do not want just to make the argument that my noble friend was thinking of exports for the sake of gain, but I repeat, is this lack of British will? What is happening to us? We are losing the pioneering spirit. In great areas of the world—in Latin America. Africa—I consider we are retreating and retreating. We have almost destroyed the sterling area ; we have fallen out with the Commonwealth because too soon we are following this will-o'-the-wisp, the Common Market, instead of a European conception. I am a European, and we should 741 be following the European conception, not the Six. The Six was born out of the cold war. I therefore say that it is time for us to readjust our thinking. I still think we may not go into the Common Market, that the monetary problem is going to be insuperable. It may be a good thing for England to be left once again on her own to think about this and adjust her relationship to other parts of the world. That readjustment can only come if we destroy the waste makers' society—and the waste makers' society is one that irresponsibly spends its money on armaments and all the time takes us further and further into the depths of despair and fear.
I remember that massive figure, Ernest Bevin, as Foreign Secretary, standing in another place, dominating the House with his broad shoulders, and, thumping on the desk, saying, "Give me 20 million tons of coal and I will solve the problems of Europe". We were then on a coal standard, not the gold standard. Much more important, he pointed out, were commodities. This is the sad fact—96 per cent. of the esoteric metal for aeroplanes which America was building for NATO and for our defence had to be imported from foreign countries. We were buying commodities from foreign countries at prices which would not enable those countries to maintain their standard of life.
Professor McMahon-Ball of Sydney University first pointed out this fact to the Western world. How, in the name of God, can backward nations—I do not like that phrase, as mentally their I.Q. is as high as ours—lift themselves up if the prices of their raw materials are not dominated by the realities of buying and selling? Do not pretend that goods there were dominated by the old economic law of supply and demand. If on the Stock Exchange to-morrow night rubber drops 1p per pound, cocoa ½p per pound and tin £50 a ton, immediately Laos and Bolivia producing tin, West Africa producing cocoa, and Malaya and Indo China producing rubber, have a set-back. You lend them £10 million in economic aid and to-morrow night, on the commodity exchange, you smash their possibilities of progress completely by the "swing-swang" of those esoteric things called Stock Exchange prices. Do not ask 742 me for the answers to all this: I wish I knew. I think I have read as much as the noble Lord who sits smiling on the other side and who is a lecturer himself, but the point is that mankind is struggling to find an answer. This debate to-day, though it may just ripple out, is one of the efforts of mankind to find answers to these problems in the difficult world in which we live. I am grateful to my noble friend for having raised this matter.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I cannot undertake to follow that notably pro-European speech by my noble pro-European friend. I intervene for just a few moments, regretfully not having heard the opening speeches, because I was provoked into doing so (and I suppose that is the greatest case for taking part in a debate) first by the final few words of the right reverend Prelate, who said, as I heard him, "If only we could eradicate greed and fear we should not need to spend money on armaments" (which, in a way, is true enough, but we have been 2,000 years trying to do that) and then by the course that the debate took after that. As somebody observed—I think it was my noble friend Yord Watson—it has again turned into a debate on the Left, between the Left, with nobody elsewhere in the political spectrum intervening ; and, to me, it has become one of the age-old, wearying, wearisome debates to which I have become so used in the forty years that I have been in the Labour Movement.
The words of the Motion are quite unexceptionable. It is perfectly worded, as always. It urges the Government,energetically to pursue a reduction of world expenditure on armaments through United Nations "—I am not quite sure how you do that, as a matter of fact—and other multilateral arrangements",and so on. You could not find a thing wrong with the words, but not a single contributor to the debate has been talking about the fact that there is a large part of the world which conditions how much the rest of the world has to spend on armaments. We have been skirting around the issues of pacifism ; we have been skirting around the issues of unilateral disarmament. Some of my noble friends have denied that they 743 would ever have any such thing in their minds: yet, in fact, as I have heard the debate, my Lords, that is what they have been arguing. The afternoon and the evening has turned into a debate calling for the West to reduce its expenditure on armaments. I am not against that, either, but I just want to know how far we go before we present the Russians and the Chinese, the Communists, or anybody else evilly motivated against democracy, with a free opportunity to walk in.
I saw and heard my noble friend Lord Brockway hold up his hand and say how much he applauded his friend—he also happens to be my friend—Mr. McGovern. What Mr. McGovern has said, let us face it—whether he meant it, whether he will do it, is a matter to be found out in the months ahead of us—is that unilaterally he will take home not only the Americans from South-East. Asia, or a large part of them, but a very large part of the American presence in Europe. Now there are a number of us who carried responsibility who know very well indeed that, for one reason or another—most of them bad reasons—we depend upon the American presence in Europe in order that, for instance, we can stage this debate in this House. If Mr. McGovern means what he says, he may stand as a friend of mine—friends of mine are always friends of mine—but he is a very misguided friend of mine and a very misguided friend of Europe ; and we may easily find ourselves starting all over again. We in the West did not start this balance of force idea: we were driven into it. The Americans did not deliberately discover a world role: they had to be kicked into it. And I would remind some of my noble friends that it has given us a longer period of peace than we have had in this century. It may be a very uneasy way of getting it, it may be a very costly way of getting it, but it has given it to us. If I may respectfully say so to my noble friends, I think that when we talk, as we have been talking, under the guise of calling for a world reduction of armaments, about reducing Western expenditure on armaments, we are being untruthful and we are leading our people back into a very bad situation.
I ventured to interrupt my noble friend Lord Walston when he was comparing what you could do with what you spend 744 on armaments if you were to spend it on alleviating the poverty of the poor. I said I thought that was an unreasonable comparison. You could make any other comparison you like. If all of us were to forgo something, if we spent less on the riches which we all of us seek in this country, of course we could raise the position of the £25 a year man. If the trade union movement in this country could make a simple arrangement that the car workers in Coventry or the dockers in East London would stop where they are, we could do a bit more for my noble friend Lord Collison's agricultural workers. Pitching it on the armaments level has nothing whatever to do with it. We have to buy our peace ; we have to buy our stability. There is not the slightest sign that the Communists, the Eastern world, will hold back unless they have to hold back. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, who has just left us, no doubt in some disgust (to which he is entitled, I suppose), talks about the cold war. We did not invent the cold war: the Eastern countries, the Communist countries, invented the cold war.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, would my noble friend give way for a minute? Far from that, if my noble friend takes the trouble to read the two volumes he will see that the cold war started at Fulton, with the Fulton speech. I happened to be in America when that speech was made, in Missouri ; and that as much as anything was the origin of the cold war.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
I congratulate my noble friend, who is not physically endowed with the attributes normally required for a hasty recovery and return such as he has just made, upon doing just that. However, the cold war did not begin at Fulton, of course: the cold war began when the Communists were allowed to reach an agreement at Yalta that they should never have had, and with that came down into Greece and made every sign of coming on through. They were halted when the British—and Mr. Bevin was then the Foreign Secretary—and the Americans decided to halt them. That is how the advance was stopped and how NATO was first of all invented. They have given no sign of going back. There is not a country in the Western European family 745 on the Continent that will stay safe the moment Mr. McGovern does what he says he will do—unless the Chinese insist upon making things very awkward for the Russians on the other Russian frontier.
If we want to buy our own safety, our own peace and our own stability, then, alack and alas! in the absence of any World Government, in the absence of any real partnership, we have to spend something like the amount of money we are now spending. Ex-Ministers of Defence and ex-Ministers of Foreign Affairs like myself have argued over whether we are spending it in the right way and on the right thing. Do not let us be silly and think that we are contributing to a world reduction in armaments and maintaining peace and stability if we in the West unilaterally reduce our armaments. It is not so ; and too many people have spoken this afternoon as though it might be so. Although this is a point for next week's debate rather than for this, do not let us think that the creation of a greater, more coordinated, more cohesive Western Europe will help in the direction of spending less on defence or make what we spend on defence more relevant. A greater, more cohesive, more co-ordinated, Western Europe as a relevant and valid partner in the Atlantic partnership will make for more reality in our defence arrangements but it will not, I suspect, make for less expenditure. We talk about "Kremlinologists" in Britain—those who read everything that goes on in Moscow. I do not know what the relevant Kremlin term is for those who read about everything that goes on here.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, that is not a bad term. I should think it awful if they were "Youngologists". I will settle for the term that my noble friend has used. Whatever they are called—I want them to understand that they should not read too much into some of the very attractive and very seductive speeches that have been made in the few hours that I have been here.
There are quite a number of us who remember the agonies of the 'thirties and how we on the Left worked our way out of pacifism to an understanding of the need of a democracy to fight, if need 746 be. And out of that to an even greater understanding that if you look as though you might fight and if you look as though you are willing to, then it may be that you will not have to. That was the beginning of the understanding by the Labour Party and by the whole Left of the deterrent philosophy. Basil Liddell-Hart and many others helped to teach the Left that if you do not want to fight then you have to be willing to deter ; that it is better to spend money on deterrents than to suffer the loss of what you would actually spill out in human resources if you ever lost because you were not able to survive. I support the Motion—who could not? The terms are impeccable. But I do not support any of the speeches that I have heard this afternoon.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, before he says he does not support any of the speeches he heard this afternoon, may I say, although I know that he has apologised to the House, that it is unfortunate that he did not hear some of the other speeches, with which he would have agreed.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I said that I did not support the ones I heard. I shall be happy to support those I did not hear if they were speeches like the one I have made.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, that is the reason why it is written in the Companion that it is discourteous to take part in a debate without having heard the opening speeches.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, if my noble friend wishes to make that point, I am sorry. Those of us who cannot get here at 2.30 must then always stay away. I have heard my noble friend, who is now so pompously rebuking me, intervene when he has not himself always been here. But if he wants to pick a fight with me, then that is "O.K." with me. We can carry it on for ever. But I think it is a bit ridiculous, since I had already pointed out that, alas!, I had other things to do which earlier kept me away. But I am happy to have taken part in the debate and my noble friend may look forward to many more interventions by me, whether I have heard him or not. I 747 gather that he did not speak this afternoon. I have sat here for some hours ; he has been here only for some minutes.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ LORD DIGBY
My Lords, I am afraid that I must wear sackcloth and ashes with the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. I asked to intervene in this debate really to say almost exactly what the noble Lord, with greater eloquence than I could aspire to, has said. When I entered the Chamber I heard the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester say that the necessity was not to reduce armaments but to reduce fear. Then I heard the noble Lord, Lord Walston, regret that there were not more speakers on this Motion from the Back Benches on this side of the House. I feel that these two points are connected.
I am sure that we should all like to see armaments reduced and, particularly, armament expenditure ; but many of us doubt that this reduction is the best way to ensure peace. No doubt the days of the Pax Britannica are over but I think that the era of the pax atomica is undoubtedly still with us. A reduction in the armaments of responsible nations may well lead to a relevant increase in the armaments of irresponsible nations. Fear is the source of much misery and certainly is the root of the misery to-day in Northern Ireland. But fear of the policeman can well promote peace, so that while all of us would like general disamament, and would certainly support moves for the reduction of armaments through the United Nations and other conferences, we do not feel so strongly as some noble Lords opposite that this is the cause of strife. We see it as a symptom of strife, and other problems are of greater importance. I certainly support the Motion, but I think the reason why more noble Lords have not spoken is perhaps that they feel there are other more vital things which might be done by this country.
§ 6.41 p.m.
My Lords, I apologise, not because I was not present at the opening of the debate—I was—but for not putting down my name to speak. I want to intervene because I listened to nearly all the speeches and I thought that they touched the ground four or five times. The rest 748 of the debate was really high ideals which, so far as I could make out, had little to do with the actualities of life. The Motion refers to the environment but that has hardly been mentioned to-day. I suggest it is important to deploy the good technology that we already have. For example, we should investigate the economies of waste disposal. If steel and iron can be used twice over when we are short of it, that would be a good thing and would be of great advantage. A great drive could be made in that direction.
It is a good thing to put one's own house in order before looking too far afield, and another point which has not been raised—perhaps it will not be considered by your Lordships as a valid point in any case—is that if you are considering the exhaustion of supplies you should consider the people who exhaust the supplies. It follows that proper voluntary family planning is a weapon which we should not discard too light-heartedly. The availability of food in many parts of the world is controlled by lack of water, yet the technology of desalination which is thoroughly understood is not practised except in a few of the oil States.
My Lords, I enjoyed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, and I hope he will not consider it impertinent if I say that his views on disarmament are exactly the same as mine. There is another point I would like to make. We must be very careful how we reduce armaments because there is a vast expenditure on armaments and a large proportion of that sum is paid out in wages. The people who are paid the wages spend money with the grocer, or buy motorcars, or employ other people, so that the whole of the economy of a community may depend on armaments and the auxiliaries to them. Also, these people pay taxes and the only money which goes from us to what is called the Third World is derived from taxes. Therefore indirectly, and perhaps in small quantities, money paid in respect of the armaments industry finds its way into a channel where we should all like to see it go. My final point is that Service personnel are paid large amounts of money and they too pay taxes. So the idea that armaments are a wicked thing and they must be reduced at all costs, perhaps unilaterally, is, I 749 think, wrong. I suggest it is as sensible or nonsensical to say that if you could induce the world to give up smoking, far more money would be saved than by reducing armaments ; and that should be thought about as well as the really airy-fairy ideas.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I think we would all agree that this has been a fascinating debate and. by the nature of the Motion before us, a very wide-ranging one. I will do the best I can to deal with some of the points which have been raised. I think it true that a large number of noble Lords who spoke, including the noble Lord, Lord Soper, proposed that we should ourselves try to make a start unilaterally in order to promote disarmament in other countries. We do of course all the time take the initiative in disarmament negotiations. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, that the only way in which we can achieve any progress at all is to try to seek agreement with other countries, however slowly we make progress. I would remind your Lordships that it was the United Kingdom which took the initiative which led to the Biological Weapons Convention to which I referred earlier.
I would also say, my Lords, and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, that, as a Government, we are responsible to the people of this country for their security ; or, as the noble Lord put it, for their right to be able to live in freedom. Therefore we cannot simply abdicate such a responsibility by trying to disarm on our own and hope that others will follow us. I suppose I needly hardly add that we shall, patiently and steadily, try to pursue agreement on arms control measures by negotiation. I think that is the only thing we can do. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester, who was good enough to tell me that he would not be able to stay to hear the end of the debate, referred almost with despair to how long all this would take. He mentioned the number of meetings which were required to achieve agreement over biological weapons. But, my Lords, at least we are talking to each other, which is far better than getting into a position from which we should be unable to appreciate each other's point of view.
750 The right reverend Prelate spoke particularly about the problems of the peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as the more topical problem, to which the Motion is linked, of the environment, such as pollution through atmospheric tests. It is true that the increasing demand for energy in all countries is leading to a great proliferation of nuclear reactors which use fissile material. We consider this an important and a good development ; with proper precautions nuclear fuel may be very much cleaner. It also means that this development implies a vast increase in quantities of nuclear fuels with their military potential. We have of course sought to find the answer to this problem through the non-proliferation treaty.
The noble Lord, Lord Walston, thought that if we had some kind of re-assessment of what we are spending on armaments we might be able, for example, to reduce 5 per cent. of defence expenditure over 10 years. Half of this we could set aside for our own domestic expenditure and half for overseas aid. This is the only point, my Lords, where I am in slight disagreement with the Motion, although I would agree that it is worded impeccably. The difficulty, and the problem put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, is that we cannot be sure that international circumstances would permit such a reduction. We absolutely cannot count on it for our aid programme. In referring to the aid programme, I very much appreciated the words of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, when he paid tribute to my right honourable friend the Minister for Overseas Development.
My Lords, happily tribute was also paid to the civil servants who serve that Department. A very great deal of work and thought has gone into the best method of devoting what expenditure we can to the developing countries. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, said that he thought there had been a decrease in the authority of the United Nations and I regret to say that I think he is right. He thought there should be a series of continuing discussions on disarmament in all kinds of forums. It is interesting to consider exactly what is happening. First, there is the United Nations General Assembly. Part of every General Assembly is devoted to disarmament which is debated not only in plenary 751 session but in the First Committee. Then there is the Conference of the Committee on Disarament which meets for two sessions in the year and is a major forum for negotiations on multilateral arms control agreements such as the Partial Test Ban Treaty, the Non-proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Seabed Treaty and now the Chemical Weapons Treaty which we are in the process of discussing. Then there are the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks which were referred to in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. As has been said, these talks have been conducted as bilateral negotiations between the two super-Powers and have concerned the respective sizes and capabilities of their strategic nuclear forces.
While the SALT agreements do not imply any direct limitation of expenditure they have an indirect bearing on expenditure in that without them there would probably be greatly increased expenditure on nuclear weapons and counter weapons by both the United States and the Soviet Union. I agree with Lord Kennet, who expressed the hope that because these agreements were bilateral our position would not be prejudiced in any way. We have very careful arrangements for consultations within the NATO alliance which have protected our interests in the SALT negotiations to date and will, so far as we can see, ensure that they will do so in future.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, had some very interesting things to say about the constraints which prevent a radical re-assessment of our defence policy. Of course these constraints are very powerful. Our commitments are extensive and in some ways unpredictable such as in Northern Ireland. That is why we cannot commit in advance percentages of our defence budget for other purposes however good they are in themselves. I very much agree with the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, with the great authority of his former position as Foreign Secretary. I am very grateful to him for stating the realities of the situation not only so clearly but with such conviction.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I agree both 752 with him and with the noble Lord, Lord Digby, and my noble friend Lord Stone-haven, that in all these discussions, however much we should like to see a great reduction in expenditure by ourselves and by other countries on disarmament, we must admit that our first duty must be to the people of this country.
I would refer once more to the last part of the Motion which suggests that more could be done for the developing countries, particularly through UNCTAD, which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, called a farce. I absolutely disagree with this description. The first UNCTAD in 1964 recommended thatdue attention be paid to the trade aspects of the economic programme of disarmament ".When the Secretary-General of UNCTAD put forward his agenda for the third conference last year, he included an item called "Disarmament and Development Financing". This was unacceptable to the Soviet Union because they thought that discussion under that kind of heading would be outside the competence of UNCTAD. They thought the financial and commercial aspects of disarmament could not be settled until there were some results in more specialised discussions in other United Nations organisations. They put forward instead a revised title which was accepted ; namely, "Trade and Economic Aspects of Disarmament". That title was designed to limit the scope of the discussion.
At UNCTAD III, which I was lucky enough to attend in Santiago in May of this year, a draft resolution on the subject by the Group of 77 was at first thought unacceptable to most of what are called the Group "B" or developed countries, because it tried to establish a link between the disarmament decade and the second United Nations development decade, by which a substantial portion of the resources by the adoption of any meaure of disarmament or arms control would be channelled to economic and social development, particularly of developing countries. So in the end a new resolution was tabled, and I am glad to say that it was adopted unanimously. It urged all member States, represented at UNCTAD IIIto envisage the use of an important portion of the resources released through disarmament measures for the financing of economic and social programmes, particularly in the developing countries.753 My Lords, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD was asked to continue studies on the positive effects of disarmament on international trade and it was decided that the Trade and Development Board should make a special study of this question.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness, but may I point out that that resolution is no more unrealistic than my noble friend's resolution. We do not want anybody descended from the heavens to tell us how unrealistic we are.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I do not think I am in the slightest danger of descending from Heaven.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
I hope not. I was talking about the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Walston, that there should be a specific reduction of 5 per cent. As I was careful to explain earlier, the idea behind this Motion is acceptable to the Government, although I could not put it in specific terms. Above all we must be aware of one's responsibility to the people of this country.
In considering this enormous subject, we must always remember that the object of our foreign policy now and in the future, as in the past, is primarily to keep our national security and as a result our prosperity. Neither can be achieved or guaranteed in any one country alone by a narrow concentration on immediate gains. In Britain more than in most countries we are interdependent with the rest of the world. It has often been said that,No man is an island, entire of itself ".Neither in these days can any country—even an island State—be insular in John Donne's sense. We are interdependent, not only with our allies and European partners, but also with the countries in the Third World and with many others with whom our relations are constantly developing. It is only by working together with a great many nations all over the world—nations with many backgrounds, many creeds and many races—that these ends can be pursued. As 754 always, the policy of Her Majesty's Government must continue to be the security of this country before all else.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ LORD KENNET
My Lords, I should like, if I may, to make two small points. First, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord George-Brown for the forthright support he gave to the first part of what I had to say in opening this debate: it was almost as though he had heard it. Secondly, I should like to say to the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, that I feel there is some danger of our falling into a dialogue of the deaf on this point. I should have liked to know whether the Government thought it a good idea to make Strategic Arms Limitation a continuing Commission with the C.C.D. in Geneva. I should have liked to know whether the Government agree that the Russian unilateral statement about our submarines highlights certain dangers for the future. I should have liked to know whether the Government agree that we should avoid more of these unilateral talks. And it really is perhaps too easy a way of sliding out from under to say, as the noble Baroness did, that she agrees with me, hoping that bilateral agreements will not affect our interests. Of course the point of my speech was to claim that they have already affected our interests. I should dearly like to know whether the Government agree with that and, if so, what they propose to do about it. However, there it is: assemblies consist of their members, and the members make their own decisions.
I assume, since nobody has said that the Motion ought not to be accepted, that the Government accept it, and therefore let it stand.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.