§ 2.45 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by the Earl of Mansfield—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ THE SECRETARY or STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, I should like first to join with others of your Lordships in congratulating my noble friends the Mover and Seconder of the humble Address. Unfortunately I was not able to be in the House to hear their speeches but I have this morning read them. It always seems to me a difficult task to move and second the Address. One is chosen because one is a supporter of the Government, but if one supports the Government too much it is considered to be in bad taste, and of course if one opposes the Government at all it is in much worse taste. I thought that both noble Lords trod their delicate path with great skill.
I had the privilege of seeing them before they entered the House, the one dressed resplendently in red, the other in blue; and it seems, in the light of the subject of our debate this afternoon, that both were a salutary reminder of the importance of service in the Armed Forces —importance to the welfare and security of this country. It seems unfortunately true that we turn to our Armed Forces in times of trouble and expect them to be there, efficient, well trained and well armed. But in times of peace, when we are fat and comfortable, we neglect them, forgetting that while political intentions can change in a very short time, our military capability cannot.
My Lords, this debate could not have been better timed. Not only does it take place while crucial talks are in progress, the outcome of which could have a significant effect on the future of Europe 37 and therefore this country (and I propose to elaborate on that a little later) but, more immediately—and I know that this will be in the forefront of your Lordships' minds—it comes while we are still recovering from the impact of the dramatic events of the past few weeks in the Middle East. For there is no doubt that the gravest situation confronting the international community to-day is the situation in the Middle East. We must all hope that the bitter fighting which broke out on October 6 has now been brought to an end. Our first objective must be to see that the ceasefire called for by the Security Council on October 22 is observed. That is why we supported the immediate setting up of the United Nations Emergency Force to supervise the truce. The Security Council resolution excluded forces from the Permanent Members of the Council and accordingly, as your Lordships will be aware, there will be no British members of the Emergency Force. But I am glad to say that aircraft of the Royal Air Force were quickly made available to carry Austrian, Swedish and Finnish contingents from the United Nations Force in Cyprus to Egypt to form the nucleus of the new Force; and within the last 24 hours the Royal Air Force have also been ferrying the Irish contingent from the same place. We are prepared to give some assistance in supporting the Force where it is possible to do so from the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus. And in the longer term we would be ready to provide a British contribution to any Force given the wider task of guaranteeing a settlement between the Arabs and Israel.
I want to take this opportunity of putting the precautionary alert of the United State forces into perspective. The United States Government have at their disposal great intelligence resources, on the basis of which they foresaw a potentially critical situation arising. There seemed a real possibility that the forces of the two super-Powers might find themselves face to face on the ground in the Middle East. On the basis of information available to us, Her Majesty's Government believe that this possibility did indeed exist. President Nixon made his response and the crisis passed.
As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear yesterday in another place, NATO as such was not 38 directly involved, although the NATO Council has of course been closely following events in the Middle East ever since the crisis began. The President's action involved American forces only, and those forces were placed on a relatively low level of alert which did not involve the immediate prospect of action. We were involved at an early stage and, in accordance with our agreement with the United States, we should certainly have been consulted before there was any question of operational use being made of facilities in this country.
The Security Council has now approved the Secretary-General's arrangements and given the new Emergency Force an initial mandate of six months. The immediate need now is to increase the size and effectiveness of the force and the Secretary General is at the moment engaged in doing this. There is no sign yet of the opposing forces resuming the positions they occupied when the initial ceasefire came into effect, as called for by the Security Council, and I fear that the implementation of this provision is likely to be a cause of considerable dispute. Nevertheless, I am quite sure that the whole House will share the Government's relief that the ceasefire is now holding. What we need above all is to make a start upon the negotiations which the Security Council called for and the implementation of Resolution 242.
The Government have taken the view throughout the present crisis that we must set ourselves two objectives: an end to the fighting and an urgent start to negotiations for a permanent settlement. Unless those negotiations start soon, there is a risk that the ceasefire itself will rapidly be undermined, and we shall return to the dangerous and frustrating stalemate of these last six years. The Government are therefore in close touch with all those concerned about the next step. My noble friend who is answering this debate will have more to say on this question when she replies.
There has been a great deal of public disquiet about our oil supplies and the House will expect me perhaps to say a word about this. World oil supplies have indeed been reduced, both as a direct consequence of the war and by the decision of some Arab oil producing countries to reduce their overall production. These production cuts are not directed against 39 this country. We have been in touch with Arab producers and have received certain assurances about oil supplies which are as satisfactory as we could expect in the present circumstances, and we remain in contact with them. Nevertheless, a reduction in world oil supplies is bound to have some effect on the United Kingdom, particularly at a time when demand is rising.
We have, as my right honourable friend said yesterday, substantial stocks, but we must be prepared for some difficulties. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, we shall not hesitate to introduce rationing if and when we judge that the moment is right; and we have contingency plans ready for the allocation and conservation of oil in case this becomes necessary. Meanwhile I can assure the House that the supply situation is being kept under very close scrutiny indeed.
My Lords, may I now turn to European questions: first (because I am Secretary of State for Defence) the important negotiations relating to European security which are now under way; and, secondly, the progress which has been made among the Nine members of the European Community in developing common positions in important areas of foreign policy. Our policy, and that of our partners and allies, is to work for a steady improvement in our relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; and in doing so to build a firm basis for détente. By this I mean a relaxation of tension which will be lasting, because it will be the product of a series of practical measures to remove or reduce the causes of tension.
Bilateral diplomacy has an important part to play, and I believe that one encouraging sign is the recent improvement in our relations with the Soviet Union. Mr. Gromyko has invited my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary to visit Moscow, if possible before the end of this year, and I am sure that your Lordships will welcome this. At the same time we have been active in pursuing ministerial and other contacts with the countries of Eastern Europe. There is now also an important multilateral element in East/West relations.
The second stage of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe is now in progress in Geneva. And the 40 negotiations on what we have come to know as M.B.F.R.s—or, to give them (for once) their formal title, the mutual reduction of forces and armaments and associated measures in Central Europe—opened yesterday in Vienna. The two sets of negotiations are clearly separate. But their basic aim, the promotion of a safer and a better Europe, is the same. The negotiations in Vienna, which aim to tackle the significant military disparities which favour the Warsaw Pact and to achieve undiminished security for both the Allies and the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe, at lower levels of forces, are close to the root of the problem of European security, and I would remind your Lordships that they are taking place as the result of a Western initiative for negotiations on force reductions.
NATO first made a proposal on these lines about force reductions in June, 1968, at the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Reykjavik. The Warsaw Pact did not quickly respond to these proposals but eventually East/West exploratory talks in Vienna were organised earlier this year. Countries from both alliances agreed to negotiate force reductions aimed ata more stable relationship and … the strengthening of peace in Europe".Both sides agreed also on the vital principle that the agreement mustat every point conform to the principle of undiminished security for each party.In discussing the problems that we face in Vienna—and we face problems—I should emphasise that I am concerned only with the facts. It is unprofitable to speculate too far about the intentions of other Governments. Nor, I suspect, will the negotiations be helped if each side publicly casts doubts on the motives of the other. What we for our part are after—and I hope this holds good for both sides—is a mutually satisfactory arrangement which will help lower tension in Europe. But in considering any military problem one must start, and can only start, from the military dispositions as they exist on the ground. The most striking aspect of these dispositions is the sheer size of the Warsaw Pact, and particularly of the Soviet forces in Eastern Europe.
It is I think common knowledge in the West that in the Central Region the Warsaw Pact enjoys considerable 41 numerical advantages in terms of both men and equipment. For example, recent information indicates that Soviet troops outnumber American troops in the area by about 2½ to 1; Warsaw Pact ground forces outnumber NATO forces by between 15 and 20 per cent.; and it is worth emphasising that the Russians are especially strong in tanks, a weapon particularly suitable for offensive operations; and here the Pact has an approximate advantage of 2½ to 1. So far as divisions are concerned, the Pact has approximately 70 in comparison with NATO'S 25. NATO divisions may be bigger but size alone cannot redress the imbalance in combat effectiveness.
Finally there is the question of geography. The Allied Forces in Western Europe defend a front some 400 miles long stretching from the Baltic to the Austrian border. Most of this front lies in flat country. It is a considerable task for the Alliance to cover all the possible lines of attack which are theoretically open to the Warsaw Pact forces. Geography also affects the extent to which both sides are able to reinforce. The bulk of Soviet reinforcements for the central front are located in the Western U.S.S.R. which is a short distance from the front line, when compared with the distance that the main part of Allied reinforcements have to travel from the United States.
Negotiated reductions will clearly have to take acount of these disparities if the outcome is not to diminish the security which we now enjoy. We have no intention of allowing our security to be diminished throughout the negotiations. This is why the Allies believe that what is wanted is something in the nature of a common ceiling on the forces of the two sides in Central Europe. This would be much more self-evidently equitable than the present unbalanced situation. Neither side would have forces readily available with which to overwhelm the other, though nothing can entirely deprive the Warsaw Pact of the advantage they gain from geography. If reductions are negotiated, they may have to be measured primarily in terms of manpower; but the fullest account will also be taken of the possible effect of reductions on combat effectiveness, particularly on the Allied side.
42 My Lords, our second aim in the negotiations will be to ensure that the final agreement is accompanied by appropriate measures inhibiting any of the parties from circumventing the agreement or seeking unilateral military advantage over the other. Only thus can we be sure that the more stable relationship between East and West in Europe is maintained in future. Thirdly, we wish to be sure that an M.B.F.R. arrangement does not in any way undermine our existing obligations to our Allies, nor prejudice—directly or indirectly—the future evolution of the European Community. Finally we must ensure that any M.B.F.R. agreement relating to a central zone in Europe does not prejudice the security of any country, whether participating in the negotiations or not.
I do not think it is going to be easy to reach agreement on this very complicated matter, but I can assure your Lordships that I, for one, have been heartened by the determination and unity demonstrated by the Allies in the preparations for these negotiations during the past few months; and particularly by the preparatory work done by individual countries, notably the U.S.A., and by the Alliance as a whole. We certainly, as an alliance, enter the negotiations united and with our objectives and strategy clearly defined. This is indeed a tribute both to the flexibility of NATO and to the way in which members have sometimes subordinated national preoccupations and aims in the interests of the common purpose. This unity of view must be maintained during the stresses and tensions of long and tough negotiations. Mr. Brezhnev, in his recent speech to the World Congress of Peaceloving Forces, gave clear notice that the Soviet Union proposes both to take the M.B.F.R. negotiations seriously and to seek to drive a hard bargain with the West. It is up to the Allies to show the Warsaw Pact that we can be equally tough in pursuit of our objectives; and I am sure that we shall be: and, still more, that this will pay off.
The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union are another very important and related element in the current negotiations affecting European security. As your Lordships are aware, the first phase of SALT ended with the signature in May 43 1972 of a treaty limiting anti-ballistic missile systems and an interim agreement limiting certain strategic offensive arms. These were major achievements, since they were the first step by the two super-Powers towards limiting the nuclear arms race and thereby reducing the risk of nuclear war. But the SALT I agreements were only a first step and there is still a long way to go. The second phase of SALT, which is now in progress in Geneva, has as its main objective the achievement of a permanent agreement on the limitation of strategic offensive arms. This is an ambitious target. Her Majesty's Government welcome the latest indication by the two parties, in the Declaration of Principles signed in Washington last June, that they will work towards such an achievement by the end of 1974.
My Lords, I now turn to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Your Lordships will recall that after long months of preparatory talks the first stage of the Conference took place in Helsinki in July. The Foreign Ministers of 33 European countries, together with the United States and Canada, approved the detailed agenda which had been worked out during the preparatory talks and set out their views in general terms on the wide range of subjects covered in the agenda.
The second stage of the Conference opened in Geneva on September 18. This is the stage at which the detailed work will be done. A structure of committees and sub-committees corresponding to the main areas of the agenda has been established. Officials are now engaged in a thorough examination of the agenda with a view to reaching agreement on proposals to put to a resumed meeting of Ministers. Our first aim during this stage of the Conference is to ensure that due attention is given to all the items on the agenda: to the military as well as the political aspects of security; to co-operation in the commercial, economic, technological and environmental areas; and, in particular, to measures to increase contacts among people and the freer flow of information as well as to cultural and educational exchanges. A variety of proposals have already been put forward.
44 During the first stage of the Conference the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary tabled illustrative papers on measures designed to increase confidence between States in military affairs, economic and commercial information, business contacts and facilities, and linked television discussion programmes on Foreign Affairs. Our partners in the Community have put forward equally detailed suggestions. The neutral countries, who have played from the first an active role in the Conference, have put forward proposals of their own, as have the Russians. All these ideas and suggestions are now being discussed in general terms in Geneva and it is too early to predict what results will be achieved, or how long it will take to reach agreement. I would not expect progress to be easy or quick. The preparatory talks took over six months, and they were concerned only with the drafting of an agenda for the Conference proper.
My Lords, we do not expect to solve at this Conference all the many problems which confront us in the field on European security and co-operation—of course not. The fundamental problems of military security are being tackled elsewhere, in Vienna. Other problems will take decades rather than months to solve. But we can make a start, and lay the basis for a better relationship between the two halves of Europe. If this is to be done we believe that it is essential to make progress towards the freer movement of people and the wider and freer flow of information: it is important to create greater confidence between Governments, but true détente can only develop in an atmosphere of much greater trust among people.
One of the most encouraging features of the Conference is the way in which the Nine members of the Community, working in close consultation with the other members of the Alliance, have been able to harmonise their policies and co-ordinate their tactics. This habit of co-operation, forged during the preparations for the Conference, has continued in Geneva.
But it is not only in the C.S.C.E. that Europe has been able to display increasing unity. In recent months the nine Members of the Community have been hard at work formulating a constructive 45 European response to the ideas for bringing the transatlantic relationship up-to-date which were set out by Dr. Kissinger in his New York speech last April. The House will recall that this initiative arose out of President Nixon's labelling of 1973 as "The Year of Europe".
At first, the Europeans found it difficult to make progress. But since the latter part of the summer the situation has changed and a great deal has been achieved. For the very first time in their dealings with an outside Power, in this case our old and close friend the United States, the Nine members of the European Community have succeeded in reaching agreement on common positions, on the basis of which a single spokesman for the Nine, in the presence of representatives of all the Community's Members, has negotiated with the Americans. For the first time it has been possible to say to the Americans: these are the views of Europe, without the need for dissent or qualification on the part of any individual country among the Nine. And the Europeans have been able to talk constructively to the Americans on the basis of the common positions already agreed.
I should perhaps make it clear that the discussions among the Nine, and between the Nine and the United States, have not covered all aspects of the trans-Atlantic relationship. The vital defence and security aspects are, of course, the proper concern of the North Atlantic Alliance. The fifteen members of the Alliance have accordingly been engaged in discussing these issues in the NATO Council. The aim is not to change the Alliance or to re-write the North Atlantic Treaty. It is simply to re-examine and to re-affirm its purpose.
Some may ask how important the attempt to formulate a common European approach really is. They may say that the real business is still done bilaterally between the United States and individual European Governments. Of course, it is true that the bilateral channel remains open and will continue to be used for much of the most important business which we and the other European States conduct with the United States. In the present early stage of our approach towards European union it would surely be impracticable if it were otherwise.
46 But that does not mean that the first steps that have now been taken by Europe are not important. Perhaps I might quote an authority outside the Community to support that opinion. At his Press Conference in New York on September 26, Dr. Kissinger said,The United States recognises that this first attempt by Europe to speak with one voice on a political matter in transatlantic relationships is an event of the greatest significance".He went on to voice the thought that, in historical retrospect, the meeting of the nine Foreign Ministers in Copenhagen at the beginning of September, at which agreement was reached on a common European position, would be seen "as one of the decisive events of the post-war period".
What does this mean for the conduct of British foreign policy? What does it mean for Europe? I do not wish to trespass upon territory which properly belongs to the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. But I should like to make these points. First of all, it represents movement along the line laid down at the Paris summit in October last year, when it was agreed that the aim of political co-operation between the Member States of the Community was to deal with problems of current interest and, where possible, to formulate common medium and long-term positions—a form of words, incidentally, which was introduced at the Prime Minister's request. That is exactly what the political co-operation machinery has been doing, particularly in the preparations for the Conference on Security and Co-operation. Secondly, it means that there is now, so to speak, a chemistry at work within the Nine. They are increasingly confident that they have a sufficiently similar view of the outside world for it to be possible for them to embark on the definition of a common European position over specific issues and for specific purposes as and when the need arises. What is new is this confidence that it will be possible to reach agreement. Thirdly, those States outside Europe, both our friends, such as the United States, and those with which our relations are less satisfactory, now realise that in the future they will increasingly find that their dealings with the States of the European Community will be on the basis of common European positions agreed among the Nine.
47 My Lords, I have deliberately concentrated this afternoon on the broader issues underlying our foreign and defence policies, because I thought it was necessary in the light of the events of last week. The events in the Middle East have brought home to us in sharper focus the realities of the world in which we live: that threats to world peace can still arise in an era of negotiation and détente; that the interests of the super-Powers cannot always be everywhere the same as those of their Allies; that in any association of free and equal States there will be times when members will differ over the best approach to problems which concern them in different ways. But this does not mean that the primary links which bind the Atlantic Alliance are necessarily the weaker.
Perhaps we shall all have lessons to learn as we review the events of these past few days. Certainly none of us can afford the luxury of public recrimination. What does emerge is that we should take nothing for granted. And, in my view, this means that the sensible, realistic, pragmatic approach which characterises our policies towards negotiations over European security and which I have tried to sketch out to-day is the right one.
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, the House will be indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, for the character of his speech. I think it right that the House should be reminded not only of the issues and goals which negotiations should pursue, but also of the very size of the problem and the dangers and risks. While there may not be a great deal that is new in what the noble Lord has said, I think it is very useful that it should have been brought together in one report which we can find in our Hansard to-morrow, when no doubt a better understanding will arise.
Like my noble friend Lord Shackleton and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I should like to extend my congratulations to the two noble Lords who had the duty yesterday of moving and seconding the loyal Address in reply to the gracious Speech. I have been told that there are three requirements for such speeches: first, that they should be relatively short, 48 and I noted that there was no "one-upmanship" between the two noble Lords because their speeches lasted exactly 17 minutes each; how they did it I do not know, but they did. Secondly, there needs to be humour, and undoubtedly we had that. Thirdly, there must, without being involved in controversy, be sufficient content in the speech to maintain the attention of your Lordships' House, and the noble Lords acquitted themselves most admirably in that respect. The noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, paid a tribute to the soldiers in Northern Ireland and we, of course, join with him. Naturally one thinks of the 198 soldiers who have died. One also thinks of those who have been mutilated and injured and who may perhaps have difficulty in returning to everyday life. One of these days—I do not know whether to-night or in to-morrow's debate—it might be of interest to your Lordships to know what steps have been taken regarding soldiers injured in Northern Ireland, and the ways and means by which they are brought back into the community and into work.
The noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, referred to his experiences at the E.E.C. and as a Member of the European Parliament. I do not intend to-day to get involved in the controversy over the European Community, which is something I think we can look forward to when we have a debate on Lord Maybray-King's Report on European Instruments. I would only say to the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, as my noble friends have said, that this debate is one of urgency. I think it would be intolerable if this Parliament went into 1974 without the proper machinery of understanding and also for questioning on European legislation. I will leave it at that.
My Lords, the Queen is once again going to Australia, this time in her rightful role as Queen of Australia, and I understand that shortly she will become the Queen of New Zealand. This is a factor to be welcomed. I do not think it represents any division between our countries, but rather recognition of the more mature and independent position of these Commonwealth countries. May I say how particularly pleased I am that she is to visit the New Hebrides and the British Solomon Isles? I hope this visit will be a stimulus to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to give greater 49 attention and urgency to the economic and social problems there, particularly to those of the British Solomon Isles.
My Lords, I must say I am very pleased, too, that Her Majesty, as the Queen of both the United Kingdom and of Australia is to visit Indonesia. Not only because of its size, but because of its raw material development, Indonesia has, in my view, been one of the most important countries in the whole Far East. We in this country have had our differences with Indonesia. They are now well behind us. I hope not only that this visit will stimulate a political relationship, but that one consequence will be that British industry and investment will find Indonesia a more attractive place for development than they have in the past.
When I spoke in a similar debate last year, like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, I did so in a sense of optimism. Looking back, I think we were justified in doing so. We had had the visit of President Nixon to China. That visit was of very great significance indeed, because it opened the way for China to become a member of the United Nations. Then, there was President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union, which I believe did a great deal towards general relaxation in Europe.
My Lords, the noble Lord has referred to SALT. A concrete result from those talks was the Treaty on Limitation of Nuclear Weapons. We were then able to look forward to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and also to the conference on the mutual reductions of arms in Central Europe. These and many other matters gave an indication that we could look forward to some progress in international affairs. Certainly the emerging détente between the Soviet Union and the United States was of great significance; and also, too, the Treaty of Berlin which made possible not only the recognition of East Germany, by this country and other members of NATO. but brought both Germanies to the United Nations. The noble Baroness might be in a position to say when we intend to appoint our Ambassador to East Germany. This is an appointment to which the G.D.R. look forward, and I hope that the Government 50 will soon be able to make the announcement.
It is natural that the Middle East dispute and the apparent confrontation between the two super-Powers should dominate our thoughts to-day. In some respects I think we are too close to that period fully to understand or appreciate what took place, and how serious, in fact, was the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. But, my Lords, I think there are three lessons to be learnt; and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, himself touched on them. World peace depends in the main upon a détente between the Soviet Union and the United States, and also upon a general easement within Europe. The first lesson, however, is that we must maintain our own vigilance and, where we can, increase our own efficiency within our military forces. I think this is of great importance.
The second lesson is surely that we must continue to pursue, both by the United States with the Soviet Union, through their own bilateral talks, and through our own negotiations within the Nine or within NATO on a general European front. But we must recognise that when there is progress by the Soviet Union and the United States there is a real risk that Europe may become less important to either of the two parties. Therefore it is, in my view, very important that we not only increase our area of understanding with the two super-Powers but also develop our own appreciation and our own confidence within the alliance.
The third lesson certainly must be that we must support and strengthen the United Nations. It is the fact that there has in the past been much criticism as to the United Nations, its weaknesses and its frustrations. But it is of great significance that during the Middle East crisis the two super-Powers felt that the United Nations offered them the one requirement to bring about a ceasefire without a direct confrontation between themselves; and that when a United Nations Force was to be formed, it was the nonaligned countries, though with the support of the super-Powers and the main members of the Security Council, who were able to create a force of non-aligned countries which clearly must reduce the possibility of friction and conflict in the Middle East. So, while we must maintain 51 our guard, I should have thought the main lesson is that we must proceed, through negotiation, to find a lasting settlement of our European difficulties. But as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, these are going to be very long and very protracted.
My Lords, I think we could make greater strides in different fields. I should like to see the West making greater initiatives (I recognise that some are being made) but greater initiatives in bilateral and reciprocal agreements in fields of trade, science and technology, cultural exchange, the movement of people. There are many facets which I believe would be welcome between the two sides, perhaps even the sharing of raw materials. It is not even inconceivable that we might have an exchange of electric power through a grid. But, my Lords, while these long-term discussions are proceeding, we must strive to increase the interdependence of the West with Eastern Europe.
In regard to the Middle East situation itself, I think that we are too close to the dangers, and we note that Dr. Kissinger is proceeding to Cairo at the week-end. I cannot help but feel that if Dr. Kissinger can establish a rapport and confidence with the Arab States and maintain it with Israel, then there should be good hope of getting a peace conference. In the meantime, I hope that the Government and the United Nations will pursue two objects. The first is to see whether it is possible to get the two military forces, the Arab and the Israeli, to fall back so that a demilitarised zone can be fixed of sufficient depth for the United Nations force clearly to be able to operate. To me, the first requirement is to move the two military machines as far apart as possible. It may well be that it would be for the Israelis to move back to the East of the Suez frontier and for the Egyptians to come back on to the West. But these are matters which clearly the Arabs and the Israelis themselves would have to agree upon. The other area where I hope that progress will be made, because it would be largely psychological and would create confidence, is in the field of prisoners of war. Prisoners of war, particularly if they are wounded, are only a liability to the captors, but I believe that if there were an early transfer of prisoners 52 of war it would have a big psychological effect, particularly in Israel and also in Egypt.
The role of Her Majesty's Government in this matter has been a strange one. We did not appear to take the initiative or the lead at any time. I fully grant that the Government supported the resolutions at the United Nations and were very quick and ready with the provision of logistic support for flying in the United Nations Force from Cyprus into Egypt. However, one cannot help but have the feeling that Her Majesty's Government, for one reason or another, decided not to participate in the initiatives in which the Americans were involved. There may be a reason for it, a reason that is worthy, but there is a grave suspicion that we left the dirty work to the Americans because we were nervous of our own oil supply position. If I may say so, that suspicion has been sharpened by the statements by the Prime Minister and by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, reported to-day, that the British Government have received assurances on the supply of oil and that it is not the wish of certain Arab States to harm us.
One knows that there have been many visits to No. 10 by heads of Arab States, but if the Government are right that we are being treated in a most favoured way (particularly more favoured than perhaps Holland and West Germany), one is bound to ask what undertaking they gave to the Arab oil-producing countries prior to the beginning of the conflict and during the period of the conflict. My own experience of the Arabs and their oil is that when they give an undertaking it is as a consequence of having extracted an undertaking. We hope that the Government will pursue through the United Nations and give full support to all the efforts for a ceasefire and the bringing about of a peace conference.
We have on a number of occasions set out the prerequisites that we certainly would have in mind for a settlement of the Middle East conflict. I do not intend to go through them to-day, but I would deal with one which to me is of special importance. I have always felt that there could never be a satisfactory settlement of the Middle East crisis, the Middle East situation, until the question of the Arab refugees, the Palestinian refugees, had been dealt with. I know that there are 53 many political reasons why this has not been achieved, but I hope that the Government will take measures through the United Nations for a major enlargement of the funds that are available through the United Nations for Palestinian refugees. If a major effort were now made in this field to give these Palestinian refugees a high degree of dignity. I believe that this, more than anything else, would help to assure the Arab nations that the United Nations, and the West generally, while having sympathy with Israel in its desire to have secure boundaries and a determination to survive, understand their position and are willing to help and mediate in the dispute. I hope that when the noble Baroness replies she will be able to give us further information about the Middle East situation. If she cannot do this to-day, I hope that she will continue, as she has done in the past, to keep us informed.
The last point that I should like to make refers to what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said in regard to oil and our own position. I take a little more nervous view of the situation than do the Government. My understanding is that oil was already beginning to be in short supply, and that there were already severe pressures prior to the Middle East conflict. It is a question not only of the supply of crude oil but of refinery capacity. I should not wish to create in any way a sense of unease or panic, but if the Government think that rationing is necessary they ought to adopt an idea from Holland which is most admirable; instead of having the whole paraphernalia of a rationing system, they have something which is fair and equitable, although a bit hard, in not permitting driving on a Sunday. I hope that the Government will bring in some form of restriction if oil supply becomes acute, and not only in our own interests; I hope that the noble Baroness will bear in mind that if the advanced countries have their difficulties, the position of many developing countries (particularly those who depend upon agriculture, because oil is very important for the generation of irrigation schemes and the like, on which many of these territories depend), if there is an oil shortage and high prices could well be disastrous. I hope that the Government will keep us informed not only 54 about the Middle East situation but also about the developing oil position.
§ 3.39 p.m.
§ LORD LLOYD OF KILGERRAN
My Lords, it is with the greatest diffidence and humility that I rise a little earlier in this debate than I had expected to follow two such distinguished speakers, one from each side of the House, both with great experience of foreign affairs and with such international reputations for sincerity and integrity. The House is indebted to both noble Lords for the character of their approach to foreign affairs in this debate. Any contribution which I may make to this debate is surely likely to be an anti-climax. But your Lordships have always been most generous to Members of this House who find themselves in the position in which I now find myself.
It is becoming more and more fashionable in these days, when there are strains either in industry or other kinds of affairs, to refer to the possibilities of growth. May I therefore disclose that I have had the honour of addressing some of your Lordships, very rarely, in small groups in other committees, in Committee rooms around this House but usually in an acrid atmosphere of scientific and legal controversy when we were dealing with obscure scientific documents which I am sure were not unlike many of the obscure documents which so many of your Lordships who deal so much with foreign affairs have to construe in these difficult times.
It has often been said that my approach to foreign affairs may be far too scientific and far too pragmatic. I am encouraged by the reference of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to the agenda of the Conference on Security, which is now taking place in Geneva, to mention that on that agenda a considerable emphasis has been laid on the transfer and the necessity for the increase of flow of technical information in future diplomacy. I feel that your Lordships will agree that during these past 15 years international diplomacy has more and more had to take account of the great advances and potential advances in technology. I am bound, in accordance with the traditions of this House, not to be controversial, 55 but may I say, my Lords, that my experience in many countries has suggested that perhaps the trend of modern European diplomacy has not kept pace with the trends in modern European technology, and that perhaps there has been an inadequate realisation of the great importance and value in international affairs, particularly in dealing with countries outside Europe, of the technical know-how and inventive capacity of so many people in Western countries, particularly those in our country?
May I also join with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in congratulating the two noble Lords who moved and seconded the humble Address yesterday. The noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, indicated that he was in a condition of torture even a year after making his own maiden speech. May I say that his position is nothing to the position in which I find myself, where there may be in this House at this moment listening to me the distinguished noble Lord who endeavoured to teach me atomic physics at Cambridge, and another noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, one of the most distinguished exponents of technology of this century, who was my boss when I was a junior scientific officer in his directorate of new projects in the Directorate of Scientific Research in the Air Ministry. Again there is in this House the kindly noble Lord, Lord Platt, whose famous contributions to medicine are so well known and with whom I am having the privilege of cooperating in a project which is endeavouring to help young men and women who have become addicted to drugs and who are now endeavouring to release themselves from the difficulties in which they find themselves.
May I at this stage, my Lords, revert to a matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred, and that was the attitude adopted towards the alert which the United States Government found it necessary to introduce last week? May I say that personally I deplore the attacks on the United States Government for this firm action in introducing a low nuclear alert. I deeply regret the introduction into international affairs of this seriousness of aspects of personal attacks which unhappily are being made against the President of the United States in his conduct of the United States domestic 56 affairs. Whether or not they are justified is not a matter for us to go into this afternoon. I consider that it is a gross disservice in the circumstances that such unhappy criticisms should have been made of the United States Government. Surely it shows a complete lack of appreciation by commentators on foreign affairs who have made these attacks of the profound change in international diplomacy produced by the great advances in space satellite technology of recent years. What were the facts? It is well known that the United States Government and the Russian Government were fully aware, hour by hour, of the progress of the battles in the Middle East. They, and they alone, had information through their experts from the satellites which were flown over those areas. At the same time, there were intense negotiations and consultations taking place at the highest level between various Heads of Governments on these matters. But it was the United States Government, and the United States Government alone, which knew what was happening in Russia as a result of any of these negotiations because, via the satellites which they deploy in the space above Russia, they were able to realise at once what events were taking place in those areas. If therefore it is said that the American Government over-reacted, surely it is necessary for a person who makes such statements also to indicate what were the events which caused this over-reaction. But none of those events can be published. This is highly secret information known only to the United States Government.
May I say to your Lordships also that we must realise that this alert was made at a time when Europe is in a détente to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred? We have had the Ostpolitik policies of the West German Government; we have the Vienna Conference, the Conference on Security; we have the conferences in relation to the limitation of strategic weapons. Recently misunderstandings have been taking place as a result of statements made in Moscow by a certain member of the German Socialist Party, including Dr. Werner. I had the honour last week of being a member of an all-Parliamentary party visiting Germany when these matters were mentioned to us. It seems to me, my Lords, that the United States authorities took a very 57 fair decision. Firm action was required and perhaps future history will show that by their action they contributed an important step in the future progress of peace.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in his admirable article in The Times of last Saturday when he referred to this reconnaissance of space by these satellites: that it was highly desirable to make data from reconnaissance by space satellites available to medium and perhaps neutral Powers. This matter has already been raised with the Government. Maybe the noble Baroness who is to reply to this debate may be able to tell the House whether there have been any developments along these lines to enable the United Kingdom Government to get information from these satellites.
May I, in passing, pay a tribute to the United Nations? It has been fashionable that the activities of the United Nations should be the subject of criticisms and cynicisms, but I am sure all noble Lords will agree that in the last few days the United Nations has played a great part in endeavouring to secure peace in the Middle East. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in urging the Government to assist as much as they can in securing the early release of Israeli and Arab wounded, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and I also join with him in asking what steps the Government have been taking in this direction to assist these unhappy sufferers.
In conclusion, my Lords, I should like to pay a tribute to the great efforts which have been made in recent weeks by Dr. Henry Kissinger in endeavouring to get peace negotiations started among the Middle East countries. I was interested that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred, very briefly, to a speech made by Henry Kissinger in New York in April, 1973; and, if I may, I should like to take up a small amount of your Lordships' time in quoting what Henry Kissinger said. His words seem to me to be most apposite in the position in which we find ourselves now. He said that:1973 is The Year of Europe because the era that was shaped by decisions of a generation ago is ending. The success of these policies has produced new realities which require new approaches58 He went on:Today the need is to make Atlantic relationships as dynamic a force in building a new structure of peace, less geared to crisis and more conscious of opportunities, drawing its inspirations from its goals rather than its fears
§ 3.52 p.m.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, it is my pleasure and my privilege to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, on his maiden speech. It was cogent, it was well argued and it was brief—perhaps the greatest asset of all in any speech. I hope that we may hear from him often in the future, because it was worth while listening to his speech. In fact, I think it was one of the few speeches in this debate that has brought reality into the business, because to some extent we in this country are in a state of euphoria at the moment. Things are going, and have been going, very badly indeed, and we do not recognise it. The speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, had the effect on me of an anaesthetic. He seemed to think that everything was quite all right; the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, clearly did not. My Lords, things are not all right. This afternoon I am going to accept the advice of my noble friend Lord Shinwell, who is to succeed me in this debate. He said to me some time ago, "You have been in Parliament for nearly 50 years. Throw away your notes. You don't need notes: notes are a bore. Speak 'off the cuff'." I was reminded of the late Lord Birkenhead, who said,I am always the best on the unpinioned wing.And "on the unpinioned wing", my Lords. I am going to be for about ten minutes this afternoon, and I propose to deal with two subjects, and two only.
The first is Western Europe. We have now entered the European Economic Community with a great flourish of trumpets. It has been thought—it was thought by me—to be a great triumph. But it has not stood up to its first major test. We have been through a great crisis in the Middle East—we have to accept that. Did the European Parliament ever meet to consider it? They did not. Did the Council of Ministers of Europe ever meet to consider it and reach a joint conclusion? They did not.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive my interrupting him for a moment, the Parliament of Europe passed a resolution on the Middle East about a week ago.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
That may be, my Lords, but it did not cut much ice, did it? The Parliament of Europe was perfectly useless, as the noble Lord well knows, in this crisis. The Council of Ministers never met; and there has been no European policy. In point of fact, as we all know perfectly well, the European countries, including the Nine, pursued their own respective policies regardless of the interests of Europe. They pursued purely what were thought to be their own interests, regardless of each other. They never took consultation, and never at any stage in the recent crisis was a European view put forward. The United States are understandably furious about that situation.
My Lords, I am President of the Anglo-Israel Association, so I may be slightly biased on this matter, but I take the view that our decision at the crucial moment, when the crisis arose, to refuse to supply spare parts and ammunition for the tanks which we had sold to Israel, and which had been paid for, was an ignoble decision, a bad decision, a wrong decision; and I think we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for that decision. We have to some extent lost the confidence and friendship of Israel over that; and I think the United States were understandably very angry. Not only did we do that, but we did not give them any assistance whatsoever—nor did West Germany—in flying relief supplies of arms to Israel. The United States are very angry with us. Admittedly they have at the moment a crippled Government, but they have good reason, I think, to complain of the attitude of the NATO Alliance generally over this Middle East crisis, which, in the event, they themselves had to save, nobody else doing much about it. Europe was in complete disarray. I think that at the moment both the E.E.C. and the Western Alliance are breaking up at the seams, and that is a very alarming situation.
My Lords, I do not want to say anything more than that, but I believe that 60 a tremendous effort has to be made to pull the thing together. We were to have a visit from President Nixon, and The Year of Europe, to try to pull the European situation together, but that visit now seems to be falling through. As I say, we are not seeing any co-operation within Europe on any of these major international problems and crises that are pressing upon us. We are not having any co-operation with the United States of America, and they are angry with Western Europe, I think justifiably, over the lack of support they have received. NATO is breaking up.
I remember, as a journalist, going to Washington for the inauguration of the NATO Treaty. I was sitting in the hall when President Truman was signing the Treaty, and he was followed by Mr. Ernest Bevin. The band of the American Marines played a tune. I was sitting next to the correspondent of the New York Times—a very amusing and amused man. He gripped my shoulder and said, "My God! What do you think they are playing at this moment?" I said, "It sounds a familiar tune", and he said, "Yes, it is: it is called 'It ain't necessarily so'". I went back and that night I dined with Justice Frankfurter. I said to Justice Frankfurter, "Dean Acheson chose a very good tune to celebrate the signing of the NATO Alliance." He asked: "What was that?" I said that it was called "It ain't necessarily so" and was composed by George Gershwin. He rang Acheson who said: "That is just another of Bob Boothby's wisecracks. It is quite untrue. But ten minutes later Acheson was on the telephone again saying, "You are quite right. They did play that tune; and it was 'It ain't necessarily so'."
My Lords, what worries me to-night about NATO is that "it ain't necessarily so"! We are in a mess over NATO. France, having got out of it, is the nigger in the wood pile; she should not have done that. But the Western Alliance which has kept us all alive for the last twenty years has been a marvellous thing. I should be terrified to see it crash. I see too many things crashing to-day. I see Western Europe crashing because our performance over the last three weeks in this Middle East crisis has not been a very creditable one. I do not know 61 whether it is because we are frightened about oil, or what it is. But we all pursue our different lines: Western Germany, France, ourselves. There is no co-operation, no collaboration, no help one to another, and we have aroused the fury of the United States who feel that they have been let down.
Therefore the situation is not a happy one, and I want to leave your Lordships to-night with as unhappy minds as I possibly can. I do not see any reason for complacency or pleasure in what has happened over the last few weeks; on the contrary, I see everything breaking up all round— including the stock market. Everything is breaking up all round at the moment. I do not think there is any reason at all for complacency or pleasure in the present situation. I agree that we alone are not responsible for it, or primarily so. I think that the Watergate affair is a terrible business, that in the United States they have a crippled Government at the present time and that this is a disaster for the whole world. But we must pick these pieces up, because the Russians are tough and strong and pretty shrewd. I do not believe for a moment that they are going to attack us, but I think that if we go on in our present state of disarray they will pick up more pieces than is good for them.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, devoted the greater part of his speech—for which I venture to suggest that he deserves the utmost credit— to the prospects of peace and, simultaneously, to the mechanistic processes which operate in order to achieve our objective. If there is one country in the world which is devoted to peace it is our country. There are reasons for this. One is the moral reason: it is our outlook on life. We have been involved in major wars and minor wars in many countries; but I believe that the general spirit of the people in our country is to use every possible facility in order to reach a lasting peace in the world. But there is another reason why the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, devoted so much of his speech to the prospects of peace. It is precisely the one my noble friend Lord Boothby indicated: our military weakness and our absence of influence on international affairs. I deplore it; but we must face the facts.
62 I listened on Sunday last to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, being interviewed in a radio programme. I hope that he will not mind my making this observation, for I agreed with every word that he said; but he was rather less optimistic in his reply to questions in that radio programme than he has been this afternoon in discussing the approach to a lasting peace. Let us consider the situation. We have the SALT talks, as he said; we have the Geneva conversations which have been protracted over a long period of time; we have the discussions in Helsinki about the details of which we hear very little. All are intended as an approach to a lasting peace; or, at any rate (if I may modify what I have just said) to a temporary peace during which the countries of the world who are concerned will co-operate with a view to making peace permanent and lasting. But what are the facts of the situation? They have made practically no progress at all. They have talked and talked and they have deferred one issue after another. Moreover, the most ominous aspect of the situation is the attitude of the Warsaw Pact, the members of which over and over again have asserted that they want balanced forces in Europe—which in effect means that although the forces may be reduced they will retain their military superiority over NATO. One cannot disregard the facts.
I am going to put a question to your Lordships, a simple question. May I preface it by making this observation? Invariably when we have Defence debates, Members of this House—and it happened in Defence debates in another place over a long period of years— talk about the "nuts and bolts"of the military situation, of weapons, of manpower, of missiles and the like. If I may say so, although these matters are very important they have less significance than the future defence strategy of our country. So I put this question. Let us assume—and I put it in Socratic form—that we are faced in Europe (and I will deal with Europe first) with a situation where as a result of some misunderstanding, deliberate, fortuitous or whichever it may be, a conflict has occurred, a conventional conflict, giving rise to the use of conventional weapons. Upon whom would this country depend in order to resist all the horrific consequences of that 63 situation? Could we in the present situation depend on NATO? Or—and I extend the question further will it not be the situation as in two major wars when this country was affected, a situation of depending largely, although perhaps belatedly, on the U.S.A.? The fact is that we could not enter into any major conflict without being assured of the full support of the United States. Therefore, when we talk about building up a defence organisation in Europe capable of resisting aggression from the Warsaw Pact countries we are simply indulging in wishful thinking. I regret this; but, my Lords, I have been saying it ever since I was Minister of Defence in a Labour Government. I deplore the fact that NATO should be so weak.
In that radio programme the other day the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, gave a very good reason. He was asked the question: can we improve the military situation and our defences? He gave the appropriate answer: "Yes, if we can afford it." He said it would be too expensive. Exactly, Apart from the United States, which country is bearing the brunt of the military defence of Europe? Incidentally, in parenthesis, and in case I forget the point, I observed this morning in The Times newspaper that M. Pompidou resents the fact that the United States Government did not consult the French Government about the alert. Of all the impudent statements I have ever read, that is the worst! The French are not even in NATO; they contracted out. Yet M. Pompidou expected the United States Government, indeed Mr. Nixon personally with all the stresses and tribulations with which he is affected—to consult him. When the French return to NATO and make a substantial contribution in manpower and weapons, then M. Pompidou will have the right to ask the United States, or any other country, to consult him.
So, my Lords, I come to the point about how we are to deal with this situation. I confess to being worried about it. I dislike military weakness at a time when the cold war still exists. Will anybody challenge that it does still exist? We talk a great deal about progress. My noble friend Lord Shepherd, to whom I listened carefully, talked in 64 euphemistic terms about last year when the position was not so good, but that it had been improving ever since, and that nations are beginning to talk. Talk about what? It is not a question of talk, but whether they are prepared to take the appropriate action. The fact is that the Soviet Union is not prepared to take the appropriate action. Take, for example, the trouble in the Middle East. I do not want to revert to the controversy we had the other day, when we discussed whether the British Government should have conveyed, under a contractual obligation, some spare parts and equipment to the Israeli Government. Let us forget about that period. The British Government may have been justified or they may not. I am not concerned about that. But who is responsible for the trouble in the Middle East at the present time?
My Lords, does anybody really believe that the Russians love the Arabs? Of course not. There is no love and kisses between them at all. I read a great deal on the subject; one has to in order to be able, as the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said, to talk off the cuff, out of one's head so to speak. But I cannot recall any reference in reputable newspapers, or even in those disreputable newspapers—I shall not mention any of them—to the slightest indication of affection on the part of the Russians for the Arabs. No, my Lords, the Arabs are the pawns of the Russians. They are using the Arabs. Why? Because they want to use the Suez Canal. They want to get into the Persian Gulf. Why? Because they would like easy access to the Indian Ocean. We all know something of world geography and we know that it is a long way round from Russia to the Indian Ocean. But the Suez Canal would give them easier access. That is what this is all about.
I do not even believe that the Russians hate the Israelis. But they would like to see the Israelis, if not defeated, weakened. Then they could say to the Arabs—their friends, though they do not have any affection for them, their pawns, their stooges, their satellites, though not addressing them as part of the Iron Curtain, but in another context: "Look what we have done for you. Now you do your best for us." So they will obtain the access for which they have longed for some time. They are already 65 in the Mediterranean. I recall the controversy we had many years ago about how to keep the Russians out of the Mediterranean; but they got in. If we are not careful they will be in the Persian Gulf, and all our influence in the Persian Gulf—it is not very strong now —will vanish like snowflakes on a river.
This is the situation in which we find ourselves. What are we going to do about it? I do not want to make a song and dance or make heavy weather of it. I come to the point. Of course we have some strength in NATO. France is out. She may come in, and make a contribution. What about Germany? Germany was vanquished as the result of the last war and the previous war. But, my Lords, she has gained her revenge. She is economically, industrially and financially stronger than we are—I deplore it—or are likely to be in the foreseeable future. Sometimes I think it might be good to be defeated—if subsequently we could gain a financial victory as they have done.
In any event, what is Germany's military strength in the context of NATO? If I put down a Question and ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, what is the military strength of Germany, he would be very coy and reluctant to answer. He would say: "For the purposes of security we cannot disclose information of that kind"—presumably because Russia would get to know all about it, as if they do not know already. What is the strength of Holland, now the victim of Arabian criticism because they have been inclined to render some support to Israel? What that support is, I do not know. It was not in weapons; they have nothing to give away. But they gave moral support, and now they are not going to get any oil. What about the Scandinavian countries, God bless them? They are wonderful people. They are on our side. But we recall Norway; we recall the neutrality of Sweden.
What are we talking about? Where is this strength of ours? Of course, we have four or five Polaris submarines. But we are not going to use these in a conventional conflict; and heaven knows! we do not want to use them in a nuclear conflict because we know what would happen. Do your Lordships think that the Russians would allow us to indulge in a pre-emptive strike? Of course not. When 66 it suits their purpose they will attack. So what is to be done? I should like to see our own defences built up. Anyway, if we are to make a contribution let it be a strong contribution. I have ventured to ask the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, as Minister of Defence, and arising out of my own modest experience in the matter, why not build up our reserves and keep on building our reserves? It may be expensive and, in the end, it may be useless; but it would be far better to have something on which we could depend should an emergency occur in the next two years.
I shall not discuss, any more than did my noble friend Lord Shepherd, the question of European unity. There is not as much unity as some people think. But that is by the way. I hope that I do not offend the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, when I say that. It will come some day, perhaps, although maybe not in my time: but that does not matter.
The Nine have been meeting. What have they been discussing—defence? What they ought to be discussing, as was indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is their relationship with the United States, not only in the economic, trading and tariff sphere but in the context of military strength. Here we have the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, and perhaps the most dangerous clement of that Pact—I do not know whether your Lordships know about it, or would agree about it—is East Germany. When my noble friend Lord Shepherd, for whom I have a great regard, asked the noble Baroness to give an assurance that we would send an ambassador to East Germany, really!, where are we getting to? Do we know anything about them or what they are up to? Do we know anything about their military strength? I had the experience of seeing some of their military strength a few years ago when I was invited to go there along with my noble friend Lord Wigg. He will recall that we were staggered by what they had. They must have tripled or even quadrupled it since then, but at that time we thought—I with my modest military experience and my noble friend Lord Wigg with his intensive military experience—that this was the most dangerous element in Europe. That is what we are up against. So let the Nine talk, let them act, and let them contribute 67 financially, even if it hurts. They ought to be told that.
I am sorry to speak to your Lordships in this forthright and almost abrasive fashion, but I feel keenly about this matter as I am sure does the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. Do not let us do anything, whether because of Watergate, or Mr. Nixon, or the alert, or anything of that sort, to weaken our relationship with the United States of America. I hope your Lordships will take note of that.
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, we have listened to a remarkable speech from the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and it is the second to which we have listened from the noble Lord in the last week. Although I sit on the opposite Benches, I must say that I think there are few of us who would disagree with a single word of what he has said this afternoon. He has certainly made a remarkable contribution, and I, for one, have been deeply interested in what he has had to say. I rise to speak because in one way or another I have had some experience of attending conferences and meetings on foreign affairs for a considerable number of years. I have always thought—and I am much reinforced in this view by the speeches to which we have listened to-day—that the most important pact that was ever made after the war was the pact of the NATO Alliance. The figures which my noble friend Lord Carrington gave us to-day of the imbalance of military strength as between the NATO forces and those of the Warsaw Pact countries are really staggering. It makes one feel even more strongly the importance of the need for the NATO Alliance to be strengthened and reinforced in every possible way.
For some 15 years I have attended the North Atlantic Assembly. This, as your Lordships know, is a gathering of Members of Parliament from all the 15 NATO countries. The object of that gathering is to make quite sure that the politicians are behind the military forces in NATO, because at the end of the day it is the Parliaments of the NATO countries who vote the money for the military strength of the Alliance and if the military strength is to be increased—and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shin 68 well, that this is vital—it is the politicians who will vote the money for that purpose. It is therefore necessary that we should talk about NATO not only militarily but also politically.
For a number of years—not this coming year, but up to this year—I have been a delegate to that Assembly, and there have gone from your Lordships' House and from the other place delegates of great importance and carrying much weight in the political field to strengthen the North Atlantic Assembly. For a number of years my noble friend Lord Crathorne was the Chairman, and he became the President of the North Atlantic Assembly. This year it was a Member of Parliament, Sir John Peel, who was the President. These meetings are of the greatest importance—I do not think we hear enough in this House or in the other place of the work that goes on there—because although to some extent it is a matter of reporting from the military side to the political side, there is also the great importance of politicians working together, speaking together, planning together and trying to keep as closely in touch with each other on the political plane as on the military plane. I am sure that this is of great importance, because without the political field being united—and we have seen it in the last fortnight—the military policy is going to be in difficulty. So I would stress strongly that the Government should continue to support not only the NATO Council and the NATO forces but also the North Atlantic Assembly, which I think is of great importance to us at the present time.
That emphasises once again what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, with such great force and, as I think, with reason: the great importance of our not having any differences of opinion with America. It is absolutely true that the European forces without the American forces would be comparatively small as against the forces of the Warsaw Pact or those of Russia. America is vital to NATO, and it is most important that we should realise this. I think that anything we do which interferes with or hampers that can have a devastating effect. I believe that last year, or the year before, there was a discussion at the North Atlantic Assembly about the withdrawal of American forces. The Canadians were talking about reducing their forces, but 69 there was no doubt in the minds of all the delegates that that was something which we should not countenance if it could be avoided. I hope the Government will continue with that view on the subject of the strength of NATO.
My Lords, I happen to think that the Americans did right in their support of Israel in the events of the last week. I am sorry that we did not fulfil our obligations in the way in which we should have done in connection with the contract for arms, which had been paid for and which, had the war broken out a week later, would already have been there. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said, that is an issue which we have already discussed and we can regard it as something of the past. I think, too, that the Americans were right not to be taken by surprise by the Russians and not to hesitate when the moment came: and I am glad that the Prime Minister has said that this was not a NATO decision but a decision that the Americans had every tight to take in order to preserve the peace of the world.
I am also glad, as I am sure we all are, that the United Nations peace-keeping force is being sent and that the fighting is being stopped. This is a good beginning. But do not let us forget that this is not an outright war between the giants, but is a war between the Arabs and the Israelis. Israel has once again, through her incredible bravery and brilliance in the military field, rebuffed attacks from forces ten times the size of those of her own tiny country. The whole world can only marvel at her courage. It is now for other Powers to realise that permanent peace must be established by direct negotiation between Israel and the Arab States. I listened last night to the retiring Ambassador for Israel at a great dinner, the Anglo-Israel dinner, and he made a very remarkable speech. One of the phrases that struck me very forcibly in his speech was:Israel is no Czechoslovakia between great Powers.Israel must negotiate with the Arab States in an atmosphere in which the great Powers help to keep the peace, but Israel cannot be, as Czechoslovakia was, a pawn between the great Powers.
I remember being a delegate at the United Nations in 1956, at the time of the Suez crisis. I recall how Israel—and, 70 curiously enough, France—stood by us on that occasion. I remember the dramatic proposal which was put forward by Lester Pearson, asking the United Nations to provide a peace-keeping force to hold a neutral area between Israel and the Arabs, and how relieved and thankful the nations were for this suggestion. It was the first time such a thing had been done, and I am speaking of a time when the whole United Nations was keyed up to a degree that it is hard to imagine unless one happened to have been there—and I was there myself sitting in the Assembly—because it was at that moment also that the Russians attacked the Hungarians. I had the remarkable experience of making a speech in the General Assembly, condemning the Russians for their attack upon the Hungarians. The tension and feeling in the Assembly at that time was tremendous. Then came the suggestion from Lester Pearson that this force should be brought into being. Indeed it was brought into being, as we know, to the great relief of everyone in the whole world, and it reflected great credit on the United Nations, which at that time, in my opinion, stood higher than it does to-day.
The difference to-day is that since that force was created—and, as we know, it was withdrawn and there have been further wars—the United Nations is not as powerful as it then was. In spite of the fact that this particular attack on the Israelis was made by the Arab States on the Day of Atonement, the most sacred day in the Israeli calendar, the United Nations has not condemned it as an aggressive act: indeed it has said nothing at all about it. Yet when I was a delegate to the General Assembly remember very well being continually subjected to quite considerable attacks by representatives of many Powers, including Arab States, because I represented a colonial Power—we were the agressors; we were the wicked colonialists. To-day it is perfectly obvious that in spite of the Arab attack on such a day—the last possible day on which the Israelis would expect an attack—not one word has been said in the United Nations General Assembly to condemn it. This silence, my Lords, is very odd to me, because, as I say, many times I had to sit by and be accused of representing a wicked, aggressive, colonial Power in those days of 1956–57.
71 I pray that at this point in time the United Nations will look afresh at this problem. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, when he says that we are determined to make a fresh start, remembering the failure of past years. The noble Lord has said it is urgent. We all think it is urgent, and we all know what not to do now, because the things that have been done in the past have been wrong. Surely to goodness we can learn from the past and try to do the right thing now—and obviously the right thing, at any rate to begin with, is to let the Arabs and the Israelis negotiate together, and then all work towards peace in the Middle East.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, I find intervening in this debate a little surprising really, but perhaps this stems from what the debate is called. You cannot really have a debate on Defence and, in brackets, Foreign Affairs. Perhaps it has to be called that because the senior Minister here is the Secretary of State for Defence; but of course it is wholly the wrong way round. First get your foreign policy right and then you can decide, hopefully, how to execute it in terms of men and hardware. We have not done that, and when I was last in the Government I had a very great struggle trying to defend this proposal. That struggle obviously still goes on, with the Foreign Office barely in the ascendancy. The result is that we have had a series of speeches which were not really addressed to the right issue, or so it seems to me, if I may say so with respect and humility.
The real issue is what should Britain's foreign policy be to-day, in the light of our experiences, recent and less recent, and in the light of our hopes, aims and ambitions. With respect, so far we have not had those issues discussed at all. The Secretary of State for Defence got off foreign policy fairly sharply for about five minutes of his 20 minute speech and then he gave us a description which, if he will permit me to say so, I thought was, at best, optimistic—or, putting it less politely, ludicrous, of how the Nine have all come together and are now speaking with one voice. I do not think that any of the other Eight believe that to be true. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, followed him 72 with a discussion of the Middle East War and the crisis. This was again taken up by the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot, who said that she agreed with every word that the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, had said. That is not quite a commitment that I myself would be willing to make. The noble Baroness then went on to say that of course we must forget the matter of the Israeli arms and spare parts and consider this as a matter of the past—and then went on to spend the entire rest of her speech upon that subject.
§ BARONESS ELLIOT OF HARWOOD
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but I suggested that we should forget the matter only because we had debated it for one whole afternoon. I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was here on that occasion. I wanted to make clear that I did not intend to say any more about the matter because I had already made my point in that debate.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, the noble Baroness has not understood my point. Having said she would forget it, she went on to talk about it for the entire rest of her speech. I should like to ask the House to come back to what I think we ought to be discussing; that is. British foreign policy—what it ought to be and what it ought to be aimed at, in a situation of great distress and great disaster. Here I agree with most of your Lordships who have preceded me and I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, in the approach that he made to this point.
The inevitable temptation, in a situation such as we face at the moment, is to concentrate on the immediate. It seems to me that if I were back in the Foreign Office I should be asking my advisers to concentrate their advice to me rather more on an analysis of what has happened and how it came to happen, for the purpose of re-assessing what should be our strategy and our long-term policy. It does not seem to me, with respect to the noble Baroness who is to reply, that we either have one or are doing the re-assessing of it.
Here I must refer to what happened the other day in the debate—and, despite what the noble Baroness said, I was here, although I resisted all temptation to take 73 part in that debate. If we are going to re-assess out of the immediate past what our policy ought to be we must start from what has happened in the Middle East. We are hampered by the ties of sentiment and emotion. It is not always those who parade their love and regard for Israel who do Israel the best service. I want to establish one principle which could bring down upon me the wrath of many noble Lords here. It is something I have said so many times in the Foreign Office, in Israel, in Arab States and on the Continent. It has to be accepted—I say this with very great respect—that British foreign policy must he based primarily on British interests as we Britons interpret them. That is not to say that we must not have regard to other people's susceptibilities, that we must not try to understand the world around us.
My Lords, Foreign Office Ministers and their officials, in my day or this day, may well be susceptible to attack on the grounds of a wrong assessment of our interests or what they require. They may well be susceptible to attack on the grounds of bad performance. But I must say to some of my noble friends here that in my view it is not right to sneer at the Foreign Office Ministers or officials as being pro-Arab, when nobody seems to think being pro-Israeli to be a bad thing, just because the assessment they have made gives rise to a course of action which those whose primary affection and justified concern is Israeli interests. It is for the Israeli Government to advance Israeli views and to argue for them; it is for British Foreign Office Ministers and advisers to advance what they see as British views and argue for them. If that leads to crude arguments, all I can say is that I am sure these go on in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem just the same. Any idea that my friends in the Israeli Government start by discussing how it should be seen from London is ridiculous; they do not. The idea that they start by asking themselves "What are the basic interests of Britain?" is ridiculous. 'They do not; and they do not expect us to do the same thing, either.
I get abothered when I hear these sneers about the alleged Arabist attitude, meaning pro-Arab, meaning anti-Jew— it cannot be anti-Semitic because they are all Semites—of the British Foreign 74 Office. It annoys me because it means that we are taking a view that seems to us to be right in our interest, but it leads to an awkward conclusion if you happen to be very close to a feeling for that little State of Israel. It is no secret that I am very close to it, too. Short of being born a Jew, I am as near a Jew as it is possible to be; I have a Jewish family by their laws. I am not denying that emotion and sentiment have their place, but I say to my noble friends that British people have a right to expect of their Ministers, and the advisers to their Ministers, that they base their policy on considerations which are as sentimentally and emotionally uncoloured as it is humanly possible to get except in terms of what seems to be the interests of this nation.
Here I want to turn to the Government and say this. I was much abused at the time of the 1967 six-day war, but I think I can claim that at that time British Government policy, British Government performance, was as uncoloured by emotion as one could get it; and this was true both during the war and in the period immediately following it. It was perhaps fortuitous that we had an advantage which I suspect the present Ministers do not have: that a number of us had close friends and associations in many of the nations involved, Israel and many of the others. But whether for this reason or other reasons the Government at that time were able to influence the outcome. I do not think that would be thought immodest. Then the noble Lord, Lord Caradon—who is not in his place at the moment—was in Washington as our representative; and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, was then senior adviser to us. I think we can say that Resolution 242 was ours. We not only influenced what went on but we Britons—and a combination of us all working together—finally produced the resolution which not only was adopted unanimously by the United Nations then but to which people to-day still say we shall have to get back if we want to get a settlement.
More in sorrow than in anger—and certainly in no partisan spirit—I must say to the Government that it has to be concluded that at no stage during this present crisis have we given the impression that we are now in the same situation. The 75 Government and the Government supporters must ask themselves, since the international situation is not going to get very much better, why what was so in 1967 is somehow not so now. I concede immediately that there are many changes in the situation between 1967 and 1973, changes to the disadvantage of the Government. There is basically the failure of the Powers—which includes ourselves—to press much more urgently, continuously and consistently for the implementation of that resolution. We seem to have gone to sleep for certain periods hoping that the problem would go away if nobody disturbed it. The oil supply and demand position has changed. There is the Russian involvement in training Arabs in the use of new weapons. They are supplying them with new weapons and training them in military tactics. That has made a great change in the situation.
That leads me to refer to the shortsightedness of the Israeli leaders—and here I am not being wise after the event. I had been there since the 1967 war. I was there only a year and a half ago, saying to them: "Don't think that the Egyptians some day won't learn. You have taught them the importance of the pre-emptive strike. You may assume that they have got that lesson now. You can teach them lesson by lesson and they will learn. Some day everybody learns." And they have learnt. But the short-sightedness of the Israeli leaders —or sonic of them; not all—is again another problem which the Government have had to face. Here I should like to say to those who are still my Israeli friends: "Still keep in mind one thing. You can go after the ceasefire and surround the Egyptian Third Army— and I repeat, after the ceasefire; you can win as many wars as you like. For Heaven's sake!, dear friends, remember you can only ever lose one." It is a great pity—I say this in the presence of close friends of mine—that those who understand us in Israel do not somehow come out on top in their domestic political arguments. But, even so, coming back to the Government, when I have made all the concessions I think I should, to show how I understand just how difficult the task is for the Foreign Office in this situation, I am bound to say—and I say it solemnly, deliberately—that I think the general impression 76 is of a Foreign Office under its present direction making a massive demonstration of not just inaction but almost of positive lack of concern.
Sir Donald Maitland, our Ambassador to the United Nations, was a very loyal, supremely hard-working Principle Private Secretary to me. I pay him a great tribute—a man for whom I have an enormous respect. But I cannot imagine any other Administration leaving it to Sir Donald Maitland, at a time when very nearly every other Foreign Minister was in the United States. I cannot understand why the Foreign Secretary did not take personal charge at that point, and be available. There is something that Foreign Secretaries can do with each other that the most admirable civil servants, Foreign Office servants, diplomatic servants, simply cannot do. You cannot charge them with the risk-taking of Ministers, who, if they go wrong, can be held to account here or in the other place. You cannot charge civil servants with that. And there was such a chance. So many other Foreign Secretaries were available in the States at that time, either in Washington or New York—there is a shuttle service between the two, anyway.
I recall this to the noble Baroness, not because she need bother to answer it tonight but so that she might say it to her colleague, the Foreign Secretary. Had he taken charge, I have a very strong feeling that the present United States bitterness, and the damage which has been done to Anglo-United States relations—which, let us mark it, will last quite a long time; will not be washed away by friendly little words here—probably would not have arisen. Dr. Kissinger is an old friend of mine of more than twenty years, since neither of us ever thought we were ever going to be anything anywhere. But Dr. Kissinger is a proud man, too; he is a European as well an American. I think being by-passed, not being spoken to by his opposite number, is the sort of thing that eats deep; and I think the present Foreign Secretary is much at fault in not having obviously taken charge at that moment.
Imperturbability is not a quality I am normally thought to have, and I recognise in Sir Alec Douglas-Home the qualities I do not have: imperturbability 77 and a certain Patrician aloofness. They are very attractive qualities and they sit very easily upon such a distinguished man as he is. I like him. In many ways I admire him, and I had good cause to be grateful to him for many kindnesses shown to me in difficult moments during the short period of tenure I had in that Office. But I hope—of course I say that, and mean it- he will permit me to say that in recent years the Foreign Office has suffered, British foreign policy has suffered, because he seems to have elevated those qualities of imperturbability and Patrician aloofness much too highly. Action and involvement are also required. These have not been forth-coming—and not only in the Middle East, as I shall try to show if the House will bear with me for one or two minutes more.
I think—this is a terrible conclusion to make, but I believe it to be right—that we in Britain will have a very small, if any, part to play in the immediate following moves in Middle Eastern events. I think we just kid ourselves if we think it will be otherwise. Whatever the strength in the assurances that Mr. Heath thought it right to give in the other place yesterday about our oil supplies—and I have some reservations myself—I hazard the view that no Arab State, to put it mildly, has increased its respect for us; that Israel regards us with undisguised contempt; the United States is furious, and, as I found when I was on the Continent last week, we are generally written off. Somebody said, "Let us forget the past." It might be a very good thing to do. Do not try to play a part there for the minute, because I do not think any of the characters is going to want us to play a part. And it is not much consolation, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said, that nobody else is in very good shape, either.
I do not really fancy leaving all this to the United States, especially in the present condition of their Administration, to sort out with Russia. In this I agree with the noble Baroness. Russia knows what she is doing. The Russian aims were not invented in March, 1917, or in October, 1917. These are ancient, Mother Russia requirements. So I ask myself, and in asking myself I ask the House and the Government: Where should we try to 78 rebuild our fences? If I were in that Office again, and had my advisers with me, I think this is what I should have asked them last week and ask this week: Where do we start to rebuild our fences? Where could we begin a change of emphasis? Where could we give a new direction and a new force, if it is not there? Where should we look to gain influence and a capacity to affect policies? My answer to this House (which will not make all my friends happy with me)—it would not be my answer to my advisers; it would be for them to advise me—is unquestionably here in Europe. Also a little at the United Nations; but that is another question which I cannot discuss this afternoon.
I advance four considerations—and I will try to keep my remarks as brief as I can from here on. With NATO in desperate disarray and with the Americans talking about unilateral withdrawal we are presuming, on this very clay, to speak to the Soviet Union about mutual balanced force reductions. What a recipe for potential disaster! We have nothing to mutually balance. Where is our European common policy within which we could set a European coherent defence policy? It does not exist. It is all very well for the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to talk about the Nine speaking as one—on what? Not on foreign policy, not on defence provisions—and some of us would have to swallow hard if we did, because Western Europe includes Germany, and we should have to swallow the emotional argument of "whose finger on the trigger?"
And whatever the short-term outcome in regard to oil, whether some Arab States hail us out or not, I beg the Government to remember that it is easy for the Arab States to say nice words to Britain and then, by acting nastily towards somebody else, to cut us off at the same time. I am thinking at the moment of Holland. But whatever the short-term outcome, where is our common European energy strategy? As some of my colleagues here know, I begged the Labour Government from 1964 onwards not to go ahead with the coalmine closure policy at the rate that they said they would. I still remember writing them a minute as Foreign Secretary, saying that I could not guarantee the oil supplies 79 on which they were counting. I was talking to the European Commissioner, Monsieur Simonet, last week about this matter. We have no European energy policy and nobody is trying to get one. He thinks we are playing the fool, because he believes, rightly or wrongly, that we think we can look after ourselves.
Then how do we propose to end the super-Powers' dominance which, if they are allowed to go on as they are now, will wreck the whole situation of British or European considerations? I therefore say to the Government and to my noble friends, who may or may not agree with me—but agreeing is not the point; I only ask that they listen, at what is an enormously important turning-point for us—that we are forced to look at things which until now many people have wished not to recognise. We are "out" as an individual nation; we can be back as a leader of a Continent. We have to face this issue. Therefore I say to the noble Baroness that she should urge her colleague, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, to base foreign policy priority on creating a genuinely integrated Western Europe. It is our only hope, even on the narrowest consideration of our national interests. It is the requirement for this Continent, and we have to swallow what it involves in the way of sacrifice of a certain allegedly national control over our policy. If we do not have that control the sacrifice is not particularly great. In my view this integration is the only hope for this part of the Continent to have an effective say in the affairs of the world; it is the only chance for us to build up our prosperity so that the Third World has an alternative place to which to turn, other than to the apparently almighty Soviets or the United States of America.
This does not degrade the Atlantic Alliance, and in view of what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and the noble Lord. Lord Shinwell, may I just say to the noble Baroness and to the Government that there is a very great difference between an alliance of one plus 10 or 12 or 15, which is not an alliance, and an alliance which consists of one plus one, more or less equal in resources, more or less equal in population. One plus one makes an alliance; one plus 10 or 12 or 15 makes domination. We shall strengthen the Atlantic Alliance if we go straight out 80 now for Europe, not just uttering nice phrases about it but deliberately saying that we are basing our policy in that way.
I should like to believe that the Foreign Office are thinking along those lines, but I rather doubt it. I am sorry, my Lords, but I am gloomy, I am bothered, I am worried, like the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, and so many others. I am critical of the Government and I am critical of my old friend Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Nevertheless, I have tried—and maybe I have taken too long, but I do not speak all that often in your Lordships' House —to suggest in a constructive way what the new direction, without equivocation, for British foreign policy should be. I am somewhat doubtful, but I should like to think that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, will bring us something for our comfort to-night.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, I must start by saying that we on these Benches have found the gracious Speech, so far as foreign policy is concerned, to be (how shall I say?) extremely uninspiring. There was a great deal about how Her Majesty's Government were in favour of peace and of good relations with almost everybody in the world, and how they were going to do their best in every conference which is going on now, and so on; but there was no hint of any new or constructive policy such as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, has suggested as being necessary—and, incidentally. I agreed with almost everything he said in his most powerful speech, more particularly on the emphasis he put on the necessity for having some long-term and constructive new policy. As I say, there was no hint of that in the gracious Speech. I think I am just as gloomy as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, but I do not share the almost apocalyptic vision of the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, who, when I last heard him speak in this House, indicated that we should very likely be dead in 24 hours. I never thought the situation was as bad as that, and it appears that the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, does not at this moment think it is as bad as that either.
However, it is a fact that we on these Benches found the gracious Speech an uninspiring document. Take Europe. One would have thought that the Government which brought us into the E.E.C. would 81 at least have had a word to say about how we could profit from what I personally believe is basically an improved situation, and how we could hasten the development of the Community into a powerful new democratic entity. No word of that. More especially, one might have expected some reference to the Government's determination to secure more power for the European Parliament and to arrange for its early direct election, not on a Continental scale—that will be for the years to come—but at any rate nationally, if only to reduce the appalling strain on the present members of the delegation. It was left to the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, who moved the Motion that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, in what I personally considered to be a perfectly splendid speech, to dwell on this aspect, although naturally he had to be non-controversial.
I shall devote the remainder of my remarks to defence. It is impossible to separate it from foreign policy as the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said; nevertheless, we are discussing defence. Here there was really nothing in the gracious Speech except a bare mention of the North Atlantic Alliance and measures relating to a balanced reduction of forces and disarmament. But whether we like it or not, and however much we may be devoted to the maintenance of the North Atlantic Alliance and to the American presence in Europe, we must realise that fairly soon the whole NATO set-up—I do not say the Alliance, but the NATO set-up—will have to be revised, if only for the fact that, whatever assurances may have been given, we must now assume that during the next few years there will be major withdrawals of United States troops from Germany. Indeed, if the present drift of opinion in the United States goes on at the present rate, we shall be lucky if we find ourselves at the end of that period with even a token force.
My Lords, it has been recognised by many experts for a long time that the best, and I believe the only, way to deal with such terribly dangerous developments is for members of the enlarged Community, or at any rate the major members, to become a genuine and autonomous "partner" of America; and to begin with, as we all know, this can be only in the sphere of what are called conventional 82 armaments. Later it is quite possible to imagine that the European partner might possess a second strike and hence a purely defensive tactical nuclear capability, associated, we must devoutly hope, with the United States nuclear deterrent, but capable one day of standing on its own, always provided we have not before then arrived at some general disarmament convention. There was no mention, no hint of any such developments as these in the gracious Speech.
My Lords, there is another major reason why the Western European democracies should now take a new look at their own defences. The Middle Eastern crisis has shown, unfortunately, that the interests of America and of Europe are not always identical, and that there may be occasions on which they may not wish to pursue entirely similar lines. This is no-one's fault, but simply a fact. We must recognise it. For instance, it must be evident to all that the Western European States, for instance, are more vulnerable to Arab action with regard to the restriction of oil supplies than is the United States. Clearly, it would never be to the advantage of America if Western Europe went over, so to speak, to the Soviet camp, any more than it would be in the interests of any of our own European democracies to cease to be free societies and subject to the rule of law. The United States would no doubt put up with occasional differences of opinion if Europe were largely capable of defending itself, together with America, without any major sacrifice on America's part. It is a fact that, as things are, the United States plays a preponderant and expensive role in the defence of Europe. It is that fact which creates so much arritation if America's protegés ever try to assume an independent stance, as they have done in the last fortnight.
Happily, if that is not a rather absurd adverb to use in the circumstances, the Middle East war has revealed a new factor which should have a profound effect on plans for the defence of Western Europe. Many experts are now pointing out that the tank and the fighter bomber are no longer, as they were in World War II, the unquestioned queens of the battlefield, and that the extraordinary technological developments since the war of 1967 have now assigned the role of queen 83 of the battlefield to electronically controlled ground-to-air and ground-to-ground missiles. If these new weapons are deployed in depth and in sufficient quantities, and manned by qualified men —and perhaps they have not been so manned in the last war in Sinai and on the Syrian Front—there is little doubt that an armoured thrust of the conventional type, supported by a formidable Air Force can now be contained and repulsed at comparatively small expense by numerically much inferior forces. One commentator recently, in The Times I think it was, has even said, and I agree with him, that this constitutes a revolution in military techniques, comparable only to the defeat of the French armour by English—or rather, I believe, the Welsh longbow at the Battle of Crécy.
We must surely be dull-witted as a nation—and I do not think we are—if we cannot apply this lesson of the Middle East war to Western European defence. For together with even a greatly reduced American force—and I agree there must be some American force—we can surely now over the next few years, and at no prohibitive cost, construct an entirely credible system of conventional defence which can be broken only by recourse by the Russians to the nuclear weapon. As I have said many times (perhaps noble Lords will not agree; I am not sure the noble Lord. Lord Carrington, will agree) both in this House and outside it. I just do not believe, for reasons that I will not attempt to go into now, that in a few years' time any Power will use or threaten to use such nuclear weapons, whether strategic or tactical, on a first strike against an adversary who possesses them in significant quantities.
At this point may I say that, if only for this reason. I believe that those who put their faith in the possession for possible use in a first strike by the NATO forces in Germany and eventually perhaps by some European defensive organisation, of very small and so-called "clean" nuclear weapons, are quite misguided. The idea that an armoured thrust from the East could be held up if necessary by the first use of a number of these small bombs in the battlefield area, as it is always called, and its immediate vicinity without a considerably more vigorous nuclear comeback by the Russians is not a tenable 84 thesis. The cure might be successful, but the patient would die.
If, however, we are to begin to construct a new system in co-operation with the Americans, it could be only if we possess in Brussels, either coming under or in direct association with the North Atlantic Council—not necessarily in the Organisation but coming under the North Atlantic Council—a European machine responsible for the formation of this new system of defence. To be successful the machine must comprise the four major members of the European Economic Community. It would be useful if the other members came in too, but it would not, strictly speaking, be necessary. It should also embrace at the very least a Chiefs of Staff Committee, perhaps presided over by a French General, an arms procurement agency and a body concentrating on arms standardisation. That would be the minimum.
There would he no need, if we got as far as that, to abolish the NATO Euro-Group which, within its limits, is doing excellent work, as we all know. There would be no need, either, to insist on strict separation of this new machine from the E.E.C. apparatus in Brussels. No. indeed: the closest possible liaison with the Commission would be necessary. But this is the point; what is now wanted is something at once more dynamic than the Euro-Group and in which progress would not be dependent on the veto of the slowest member of the convoy. Above all, what is wanted, as we all know, is the willing, and indeed enthusiastic, co-operation of France. And I myself do not despair of getting that within the comparatively near future. I may be optimistic, but I think it is possible.
Eventually, any new machinery will of course have to be merged with the new extended Community; and certainly by 1980, when the union is achieved, if it is achieved. But time presses, and I cannot see that happening now or indeed during the next few years. Though few seem to realise it, in this epoch of détente, we seem to be entering into an extremely dangerous period; and here I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown. The recent atomic alert, decided, rightly or wrongly, it would seem without any consultation with our-selves, is a salutary warning. I am sure 85 that all these great issues are being considered by our experts and our military men and civil servants, and I nave no doubt at all by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, himself, with whose speech, as such, I agreed totally, though to my mind he did not face these major issues. I would accordingly hope that the Government would, at some stage, take us a little more into their confidence.
This then, is the question I put to the noble Baroness. Do the Government think, for instance, that we are in a weak position, in fact in a terribly weak position, unless we can somehow constitute within the Alliance a new defensive system, together with the French? Or are they satisfied that nothing more than the Euro-Group and the policy of flexible response is necessary to enable us to avoid the major dangers now looming on the horizon? More particularly, do they agree, if not with me then, with (shall we say?) Mr. Ian Smart, of Chatham House, Professor Michael Howard of All Souls, that some radical revision of our strategic thinking is now an imperative necessity? If so, are conversations on such possibilities in progress with our European associates? More particularly, are any such negotiations or conversations going on with the French? Do the Government hold with the commonly expressed view that nothing much can be done because it is obviously impossible to contemplate some "first strike" Anglo-French nuclear force in the absence of the equivalent of a President of Europe? Do they think, I repeat, that, because that is impossible, therefore nothing can be done on the nuclear front? Again, if so, would they not admit that nuclear cooperation with the French—and, indeed, eventually with the Germans—is perfectly feasible, not something to he regarded with horror, but something perfectly feasible and in complete accordance with the principle of Gleichberechtigung or equality of treatment, provided only that the principle of the non-use of nuclear missiles except on a second strike is admitted?
My Lords, these are not really arcane or immensely complicated or purely long-term considerations. All that is necessary is the appearance in our midst of a common political will and indeed, as I think of a lead by Her Majesty's Government in the expression of such a common 86 political will. What we must hope is that the events of the last few weeks will have been sufficiently traumatic to induce all the Governments concerned at least to take the first steps towards organising a common European defence that makes sense and will be in accordance with the clear necessities of our time. Let us pray that we shall not hope in vain.
§ 5.26 p.m.
My Lords, before my noble friend Lord George-Brown spoke I had intended only to ask one or two questions, and to apologise for the possibility of my having to leave before the debate is finished. I know that the noble Baroness will not regard it as being in any sense derogatory to her or as not wanting to hear what she has to say. Perhaps I should start by putting the few points I want to deal with and then for a short time answer my formidable noble friend Lord George-Brown with regard to the argument that he has put forward.
I would first of all say this. I would endorse the appeal that has been made to the Government in regard to the exchange of prisoners. It is interesting perhaps, and may be of some use in an argument I propose to put forward in a few moments, that the meeting of the Generals from both sides happened to have some effect. I hope that Egypt—and Syria with whom we now have diplomatice relations—will see to it not only that the lists are given and the wounded exchanged, but that all the prisoners from both sides are exchanged. I estimate that there are about 400 or 500 Israelis taken by the Egyptian and Syrian forces and some 7.000 by the Israelis. I make a very strong appeal to the Government to continue their efforts in regard to this very humanitarian problem.
The second thing I want to do is to find out what is to happen with regard to the Iraqi Government, who refused to agree to the Security Council resolution, and who to this day have not intimated that they are prepared to accept the ceasefire. Then they have the audacity to stand for membership of the Security Council in January. Ought they not to be prevented from doing so? The third short point I want to make is that I hope we shall have some regard for one, shall 87 I say, of the most honest nations in Europe, the Netherlands, for her bravery in withstanding the blackmail that was being imposed upon her. I hope that we shall not let her down.
Now may I turn for a moment to the statement made by my noble friend Lord George-Brown? I had already made, I am afraid, too long a speech on the previous occasion of discussing these matters. It is very difficult to avoid repeating some of the things I then said, perhaps in a somewhat different form. My noble friends overlooked the fact that we were responsible for the Balfour Declaration, and that Israel has performed all that could possibly be expected of her as a civilised nation; and that the Arab attacks which have been made upon her have on each occasion had to be repelled. Why have we not taken steps to prevent the Arabs from other attacks as the Israelis have done? Israel had very small boundaries: she has a handful of square miles, as against the millions of square miles that were conceded to the Arabs, which were taken away from the Turks because the Allies fought; and in those forces was a Jewish force which did very brave work; and which was, unlike many of the Arab world, at all times on the side of the Allies.
When it came to a settlement, having pledged ourselves to the creation of a Jewish national home, the small portion of land which was allotted to the Jewish national home was in dire contrast to the vast territories the Arabs were given to exploit, where they could, if they had any humanitarian ideas at all, have looked after all their people a thousand times greater in numbers in comparison with what was done by Israel in clearing the ravages of nature for those who were living within her territory. What did Israel do to deserve the kind of treatment that was meted out to her? Does my noble friend really believe that Israel should have been destroyed and eliminated? I know he does not. But what he does not realise is that Israel had to defend herself on every occasion, and that she was fighting the aggressors: she was not the aggressor. Consequently, she had to defend herself as best she could, and she had to seek, as was conceded in Resolution 242, boundaries which enabled her to defend herself 88 in the future. Israel does not, I am 100 per cent. certain. I have been there dozens of times; and many of my noble friends in this House and Members of the other place who have been there know that they were meeting decent civilised people who, in spite of all the attacks that were being made upon Israel from the surrounding areas, carried on their ordinary duty, not only to get a decent livelihood for people but to build up a cultured people and to give the Arabs precisely the same choice that the Israelis themselves—
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, would the noble Lord give way? Would he confirm that it is illegal in Israel to have an Arab party, but not to have a Jewish party. Would he also confirm that large numbers of Palestinians were turned out of Palestine at the point of a bayonet? Was that a civilised way of behaving?
It was not the Israelis who turned out the Arabs: it was the people themselves who were persuaded, unhappily by their leaders—such leaders as The Mufti—who themselves joined Hitler in attacking the Jews. Do not let us misunderstand their position. Some Arab leaders have a great responsibility in respect of the horrific things that happened in Germany, and they have no right whatsoever to refuse—yes, indeed, The Mufti was there, and his colleagues and Egypt took over the Nazis afterwards. There is no point in not facing the facts. These are the facts.
Israel now finds itself in a position where it dare not allow itself to remain within the type of boundary of 1967. That would be ridiculous, and with the greatest respect to my noble friend it was understood in the provisions of Resolution 242 that Israel should have secure boundaries. That is what her friends—and I say "her friends", I have many Arab friends—desired. Is the House aware that in Israel today the Arab Israeli citizens have thrown themselves fully on the side of Israel in the war effort? In the territories administered by Israel—although obviously one could not expect them to act as Israeli citizens—they have certainly not caused any trouble. I will tell your Lordships why. It so happens that I have here what Israel said when it made its declaration of independence, and I think it would 89 be good for noble Lords to bring this to the notice of their Arab friends:We appeal—in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months —to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the up-building of the state on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.That is, in effect, the position in the Knesset. They are there in the Israeli Parliament, and they are treated similarly throughout the land as the other inhabitants. It went onWe extend our hand to all neighbouring States and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of co-operation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.Israel has never deviated in any sense at all from that undertaking, in spite of the fact that it has been attacked.
Now what is the difficulty? I should like this House to remember, if it is within their recollection, that in the early days some of us were members of a so-called seven dominion league, which believed that it was in the interests of Britain and of a democratic settlement in that part of the Middle East to be part of the Commonwealth, and protect civilisation and democratic institutions from attack there. Would that that had come to pass. Our Government would not have it. I think that at that time Israel, or Palestine as it was then, would. I was a member of that body, and so were many others. I am not too sure that the late John Buchan was not a member of it. I should not like to say for certain, but he certainly was very strongly pro-Israel; he was Chairman of the Parliamentary pro-Palestine Committee for the Jewish National Home.
Be that as it may, I now appeal to my noble friend Lord George-Brown. I do not want to protract this debate, but does he not think that it is time that we stopped interfering with a policy that he wanted, negotiations between the Arabs and the Israelis themselves? For heaven's sake, let them get to a round table. The Israelis have no designs on the Arabs. Does anyone really think that they want hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel in order to outweigh the Jewish element? Of course they do not. What they want is to be left in peace, in accordance with our 90 moral undertaking and duty to see that Israel is preserved in peace.
The preservation of Israel is in the best interests of this country; that is why we fight for it. It is in the best interests of this country, because it already has had much of its blood shed and much more than it could possibly afford according to its numbers. Every individual is gravely marooned in order to act as a democratic buffer State. Let us face up to the facts; this is Israel, and this is what it stands for. When I hear the argument that it is in our interests to be pro-Arab, I ask why? The answer is, to give way to blackmail. Does anyone really think that the blackmailing attitude of the Arab oil States to-day can prevail for any length of time? How can it? They have cut their own throats, because we are now dealing with the energy problems in a manner, as the noble Lord rightly said, which we should have done years ago. If we had done that then, there would not have been this opportunity for the black-mail that is prevailing at present. Therefore, I say that the Foreign Office were wrong. I do not know why, but believe that they thought that the Arab States had a kind of charisma, or something of that sort, and they were certainly pro-Arab. It is time that we regarded the situation from a sensible point of view. There will be no animus in Israel, and there is no animus, against the Arabs. My noble friend says that he was there recently, and he knows that well enough. Nobody has any ill-feeling towards the Arabs in Israel. They go about their ways equally with the other citizens.
I make an appeal now to some of my noble friends who think somewhat differently, and perhaps largely differently, from myself: let them go to the Arab leaders and ask them to do for their people what Israel has done for its people. Ask them to see to it that there is no degrading poverty and misery, and that they have proper social services. They have billions of pounds or dollars at their disposal; let them use them for building up, and not for purchasing armaments to destroy a neighbour who will work with them and will act as a responsible, civilised neighbour. That is what I say to this House. I may speak emotionally, but in my heart of hearts I 91 believe, and am certain, that if we do not interfere, and others do not interfere, but let the two of them get together and negotiate at a round table, a settlement will be reached.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ LORD BOURNE
My Lords, in the interests of brevity I shall not deal at all with Europe. Many very good speeches have been made on that subject, and of course it is very important. The Far East has not been mentioned so far in this debate. In my view it is a very dangerous long term situation and one that I do not like at all. The situation of the Arab/ Israel struggle is very urgent, and therefore I shall concentrate on that. I have a practical suggestion to make, and that is why I am speaking.
It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Ballantrac, said last week in the debate on the Middle East, that the tragedy about the clash between the Jews and the Arabs is that they are both right. He gave a good example of British impartiality in which he took a personal part. I should prefer not to go into the arguments about this but to stick to the facts of the present situation, of which I think there are five. The first fact is that during the last six years or so both Israel and the Arab States have been completely re-equipped, and modernly re-equipped, by the super-Powers. They have also had time to train in the use of those weapons. Incidentally, neither of the super-Powers has occupied the Middle East, although the Middle East has been accustomed, for about 2,000 years past, to being occupied and dominated by a Power. My second fact is that the Israelis, in spite of being surprised and letting the Arabs take the initiative, have won a victory in 16 days. They cannot afford, unfortunately, to incur this heavy loss of life every five or six years; the Arabs can.
The third fact is that whatever the rights and wrongs of who started the recent war, in my opinion it was impossible for the Security Council to stop it in one day. They have done very well indeed to stop it in about a week. The fourth fact is that the United Nations observers, however dedicated and neutral, do not have the physical power to move armies. All they can do is to demarcate 92 the ceasefire in place line. They can do this only on the condition that the good will is on both sides. They can only record. They are thus, in my view, quite separate from the strong Peace Force, to which I will come in my fifth fact. If the Israeli offer (which I saw last week and which has not been publicised recently) to withdraw to each side of the Canal, which is a well-known feature, is accepted, so much the better, but I have not heard anything very much of that recently.
The fifth fact is this: if the United Nations Emergency Force materialises—and I hope it will—it will be much stronger, in fact a figure of 7,000 has been mentioned, and it will have two tasks: first, to occupy the demilitarised zone, and, secondly, to guarantee, within its functions, the peace settlement. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the Foreign Secretary, in another place laid great emphasis on this last week, when he said:It will be necessary, too, I believe, to establish demilitarised zones.That is the point of my talk, and I should like to spell it out in a little more detail. In my opinion it is more important even than the peace conference itself because without the demilitarised zone a repetition of events may well take place. That has happened four times, and we want to stop a fifth repetition.
It is fairly easy to list these facts. Other noble Lords will have a different set of facts, but I think I have said enough to show that these facts really help to govern the situation. It is imperative to remember. I suggest, about Resolution 242, which has been mentioned many times recently and was passed, incidentally, six years ago, in the autumn of 1967, that it did not work. It is still on the table and is still to be implemented. Do the facts which I have listed help us towards a solution, or do they merely indicate a proper order of events? I think they lead to the latter, and I would give my suggested order of events. The first is the ceasefire which we are witnessing to-day, which is pretty fragile and depends on good will, but it is important that it should be recorded by the observers. We are well on the way to this. The second order of events to my mind should be these demilitarised zones policed by a strong United Nations Emergency Force under United Nations control. I 93 personally feel that this ought to be agreed quite soon otherwise, as the noble Lord the Secretary of State said, if we are not very careful the ceasefire will not last until the emergency peace conference begins. I feel that the United Nations Emergency Force should be composed of contingents from non-aligned States—it certainly should not include the two super-Powers—and it should be permanent. It should not be removed from the scene of operations like the last United Nations Force was removed from Sharm el Sheikh, at the request of one member of the Security Council. It should not be removed except by a majority vote of the Security Council.
I would next suggest that no war has recently been won by bombing. On this occasion Tel Aviv or Jerusalem was not bombed; Damascus or Cairo was not bombed. In fact you do not win a war by bombing. Neither do you win a war by naval action—anyway, the navies are not strong enough in this case. Therefore it is the ground which is important, and ground which has to be won by an army. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, in his excellent speech emphasised the value of demilitarised zones. He said, "the wider the better". I agree; I feel they ought to be as wide as possible. Now that anti-aircraft missiles are effective at 20 miles, a neutral zone ought to be at least 40 miles wide, preferably 50. The last suggestion I have about the siting of the United Nations Emergency Force is that it should be, if possible, along the line of a recognisable geographical feature. We have had plenty of "latitude" recently—we have had one in Korea and we have had one in Vietnam: before we know where we are we shall get another. I do not recommend that. I think it is far better to designate a desert, a range of mountains, a hill or a big river, or in this case the Suez Canal. Luckily, within the frontiers of Israel there are plenty of these—the Sinai Desert is 100 miles wide, and on the Golan Heights there is plenty of room for 20 miles on either side.
Thirdly, having established the demilitarised zone, I think the authorities should worry about a peace conference—and goodness knows! there are plenty of problems to solve. As the noble Lord, Lord Janner, mentioned, there are the 94 problems of Sharim el Sheikh, the Palestinians, Jerusalem itself, the frontier, the Suez Canal—there are plenty of problems. I reckon that a peace conference would last at least a year.
I have only two conclusions. I personally feel that if the opponents are prevented from reaching each other on the ground then at least they cannot fight each other, and a war nowadays only makes things worse. It does not improve the situation at all. My second conclusion is that the wider the demilitarised zone the better. It ought to be established following the suggestion of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the point ought to be pushed as hard as possible. I feel that we should get agreement on this particular point urgently and before a peace conference starts. If the British Government can push this point that will be realistic, and if the noble Baroness who is to wind up this debate can encourage the fact, as I suggest, that this priority of the demilitarised zone is even more important than the peace conference itself, I personally think that it is worth trying.
§ 6 p.m.
§ LORD BALOGH
My Lords, after the ceremonies and celebrations of yesterday we meet in reduced numbers and the bedecked Lords, and the even more bedecked ladies, have returned where they came from—that is, presumably to the backwoods. In this debate we have heard three remarkable speeches: one from my noble friend Lord Boothby, another from the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, and the third, a very interesting one, from the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell. I will not follow any of those speeches because I think I had better concentrate on the economic aspects of our foreign affairs; but, reading the gracious Speech, I must confess that it has given me the impression of one of Orwell's more lurid examples of the future of politics in the world. The double-talk is formidable: the underlying double-think is far more dangerous. How can one say:My Government will continue to attach high importance to our relationship with the United States of America.after last week's happenings? And what can one say about the wordswill persist in the search for opportunities to develop our relationship with the Soviet Union"?95 Presumably you do that by kicking out 104 diplomats whose internal accomplices then cannot be brought to justice. But I do not wish to continue that line of argument. In concentrating on the economic aspects of our foreign affairs I shall obviously turn to the most overwhelming single important factor, and that is our entry into the Common Market and its direct and indirect impact.
What a change has happened in the country in the short time of one year! What disillusionment! What desperate efforts by the pundits—and we have many of them—to defend the indefensible! Your Lordships will not be able to help recalling (because their cries were so stridently overwhelming) how those experts defended their fatal policy decisions. Our entry, they said, would help to regain for this country its old influence—something like old King Solomon warming his exhausted loins on young wives in bed. I was always sceptical about that, and what we have seen does not encourage me. The Foreign Secretary fully justified my fears. He seems, as a good Municheer, to have spent his time in the last few weeks finding Fascists to appease. He found us plenty, both in Latin America and in the Middle East. Indeed, he has been so successful, if Mr. Eban's interview is to he taken seriously, that he has excluded himself from any influence. I do not wish to go into this matter; other noble Lords have done so.
So much for our increase in diplomatic influence. Then there was, it was said, the advantage of large markets: a wonderful opportunity would open up; a brilliant challenge to which British industry would respond with alacrity and work miracles where there had been none before. The noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman. whose economic expertise was a novelty to me, took this line; and also our former Foreign Permanent Secretaries, who have defended the same case elsewhere. The only result I saw was a colossal deficit. an increasing deficit with the other member-countries of absolutely fantastic proportions—over £100 million—and the halting of investment at home.
The second assurance which we were given was that all our obligations and pledges to our Commonwealth partners would be honoured, and, especially, that Commonwealth relations would be maintained. 96 In fact, the gracious Speech speaks of the Government continuingtheir active role in Commonwealth Affairs".I must declare an interest, inasmuch as I have from time to time been advising some of the sugar islands and I am still active in that role; but the only activity which the British Government have shown in the field of Commonwealth relations lately has thrown the Commonwealth countries into disarray and fear. One of the most important pledges which we gave to the Commonwealth countries was on sugar. We on this side always distrusted that double-edged, double-tongued declaration from Lancaster House and how it was passed on to the Community without obtaining any pledge from the Community direct. "Au cæeur", they said; but we do not trust President Pompidou's cæur, if he has any.
The exceedingly tortuous and. I am afraid, quite misleading speech and explanation given by the Minister of Agriculture last week in another place has disclosed the Government's strategy. He. of course, assured us that the threatened closure of port refineries in two very importantly distressed areas, Liverpool and Greenock, is by no means connected with the Common Market. This was what Churchill called "a terminological inexactitude". I do not wish to use the other word, which is more accurate, but it is a three-letter word. He foreshadows that the port refining capacity will be reduced to, roughly speaking. 900,000 to a million tons—this is by implication; he did not give us the arithmetic—which would mean, of course, that a very large part of the sugar which is produced by the sugar islands could not be received here because there will not be any capacity for it. In the meantime, there can be an interim solution by having the cane brown sugar refined in beet sugar refineries, but this is very uneconomic and obviously will not last. Like Pontius Pilate, he might then wash his hands of the whole affair, and he can, of course, quote the old English ditty:Thou shalt not kill, but needeth not strive officiously to keep alive".I think that on this side of the House we want to be very officious indeed in this matter.
It is somewhat ironical for me to plead, or seem to plead, for a subdued Mr. Cube, and one does not quite know when 97 Mr. Cube will regain his former proclivities and propensities, if not to say taste. Nevertheless, I am very anxious about the islands, because some of them have no alternative crops and, after all, we (not "we", but your Lordships' ancestors; this is one of those occasions when I ought not to use the word "we") found these islands, peopled them and made them produce sugar when it was very profitable; and it seems to me that we (now can say "we") have a moral obligation to support them.
The third argument was that, like Marlborough and Wellington, we shall, like giants, bestride the stricken fields of Flanders, and especially Brussels, putting our stamp on the Community and changing their policies, exerting an enormous influence not merely outside as a result of our being leaders but also in the Community. Now we hear more about statesmanlike compromises. If one looks at these compromises one sees that they amount to the acceptance of French terms by the British delegates. The juggernauts continue to "jug" and roar; and in all other cases where there was a difference of opinion between the British and the French, the French won. The Agricultural Fund is exploding, and regional aid is only a dream in the eves of poor George Thomson; because if anybody apart from him believes that we shall be free to pursue adequate regional policies in this country on this basis, he ought to visit a doctor.
Nor is the outlook in the exceedingly important fuel front reassuring. We have been assured that our supplies will not be in danger. I assume that this is a case where we shall get thirty drops of oil in lieu of silver. The noble Lord, however, did not mention the fact that already the price of oil has risen by some 1.50 dollars per barrel which means, from our balance of payments point of view an increase of the cost of oil imports of 1,000 million dollars already and an increase in the profits of mostly foreign oil companies in the North Sea of double that amount. Even if we succeed in taxing them on the basis of the corporation tax, and in eliminating the loop-hole (and it is doubtful whether it can be eliminated, constitutionally speaking; it permits them to tot up their losses in the Gulf against their profits in the North Sea) the price rise which has already been incurred means another 750 million dollars a year 98 —an increase of burden mostly over our balance of payments.
How many school meals could 750 million dollars buy? How much money could be added to the old-age pension? So we are un Grand Seigneur—giving it away; and literally giving it away to the French again; because the French nationalised companies who are in the Frig field have had an assurance that the gas price will increase Pari passu with the oil price—an insane concession when we have a perfectly good law by which arbitration could be ordered so as to slant the advantages more towards the British taxpayer's pocket. Nor is corporation tax suitable for our use. What we need is a barrelage tax, based on the costs and prices, in order to clip the big profits and to encourage the exploitation of the small finds. We do not want to discourage the small finds, but we do not want to pay the distorted prices dictated by the Arabs to the oil companies here. We need action soon, and we need State participation, something on which all the oil-producing countries insist.
So long as our present inane and unprofessional policies continue. British influence will not increase. It is no good proclaiming that we shall do this, that and the other if we have to borrow 2,000 million dollars per annum; for then we are in the pockets of the creditors. The noble Lord did not mention that but perhaps in his preoccupation with defence and the Conservative Party he does not have time to inform himself about other Cabinet matters.
My Lords, that brings me to my last point. The true condition of British strength and greatness in or out of the Market was our social cohesion and sense of fairness. This now seems to have vanished. We are a divided country. The Prime Minister has done me the honour, rather a questionable one, of quoting me without giving me notice that he was to do so. The quotation was also out of context and did not give the origin. He quoted two sentences in which I beseeched the trade unions to be sensible about their policies, and then omitted pages and pages in which I said that of course that sort of policy can be pursued only on the basis of consensus.
Now we have good social archeologists excavating in the d6bris of the policies of the Government who will find some very 99 queer remains called Selsdon man. In that debris which is the Selsdon man there are still some sharp instruments. We have seen that the Selsdon man was abandoned in almost all other respects: statutory income policy, statutory control of prices, the going back on the credit control by competition. I do not think that there is any policy which this Government initiated in the economic field which has not perished as a result of their inevitable consequences. But there are some things on the social side: increased charges for medicine, increased charges for school meals, increased rents and rates and increased concessions to the rich; and a rather less favourable indirect taxation from the point of the poor has resulted from the introduction of V.A.T.
As your Lordships are fully aware, I have never ceased to believe that an incomes policy— which I consider essential—cannot work in a divided country under a divisive Government. The Prime Minister did not refer to his misdeeds, especially those of the first two years which still poison the atmosphere: a regressive Budget and so on, the "lame ducks", the bankruptcies, the appointments of people who ought not to be appointed to places where they ought not to be. Is justice being done and seen to be being done? No one can demand compliance on the part of the trade unions. I should be the last to do so. How can they be expected to bear sacrifices which others are not expected to share? I do not need to trot out the examples, they are well known. What I hope is that the Labour Party and the trade unions will now spell out in even greater detail the minimum requirements not met in the Phase 3 proposals.
Our Budget is in disorder; imports are still rising; we are borrowing abroad at a rate unsustainable for any length of time and the Government change their policy every month, if not every day or every week, as has been shown by Mr. Wilson. How can one hope for relief in our troubles under the present policies except by waiting for an uncovenanted sudden fall in import prices? I hope that it will materialise; one is not partisan to the extent that one wishes ill to one's country. But can we rely on it? Can we really build England's future on a slender 100 business cycle effect abroad? I think not; and therefore, unless the policies are changed still further, I look with gloom to the future.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ LORD BETHELL
My Lords, I thought to begin with a warning, and to try to dissuade noble Lords and the Government from taking what I thought might be too rosy a view of the past year's developments in East-West relations. A little to my surprise your Lordships have been much more pessimistic on this matter than I had expected, and therefore I think that perhaps I ought to say a little about the achievement of détente before moving on to my next point. The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, has said that NATO is breaking up and that he is very worried about it. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, reminded us that the cold war is not yet over and that Russia desires to control the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean by means of her Arab stooges. Even the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, suggested that my noble friend Lord Carrington is not facing up to the real issues.
The past year has seen a number of good things. Recently there has been the settlement by negotiation of the Berlin problem, a very important matter. There have been the beginnings of two important conferences in Europe, in Geneva and in Vienna, on mutual security and the reduction of forces, which we hope will bear some fruit. There has been bilateral agreement between the United States and Soviet Russia on trade, on science, on the development of space technology—quite important things. We in this country have had the end of the jamming of the B.B.C., something which has been going on since 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and very shortly the Prime Minister will be going to Moscow for the first time. There has been some progress. If the Russians are so aggressive one wonders why they make such concessions. They have even made concessions in their domestic policy, as a result of pressure from outside. This is something that seldom occurs. For instance, as a result of pressure, they have abolished the tax on emigration from the Soviet Union, and the number of people, mainly of Jewish origin it is true, allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union has risen from a trickle to many thousands 101 a year. I hardly think that these things would have happened if the United States, mainly, had not pressed for them. But the fact that the Soviet Union has yielded on some of them, and also in a number of individual cases, when pressed not only by the American Government but also by our Government, would seem to suggest that there is a little bit of good will. Therefore, in contrast to other noble Lords who have spoken, I feel that I have some justification in being qualifiedly optimistic.
Even over the Middle East one can surely say that the Soviet Union has been tolerantly helpful, if only in her discussions with the United States and her efforts, through the United Nations, to gain a ceasefire and put pressure on the two warring sides. Obviously, Russia wants to benefit, and the fact that she is on quite friendly terms with the alliance in the Arab countries is something that she is going to exploit. She will try to make gains in her foreign policy and her defence policy through this alliance. It would be very strange if she did not do so. But the question is, at what point will she stop? Will she continue to Rain what she can through supporting the Arabs and leading, if necessary, to very severe attacks on Israel, threatening Israel's very existence and perhaps cutting off oil to Europe completely, which would be an extremely serious matter? Or will she draw back from any serious involvement which affects the peace of the world and, eventually, the security of the Soviet Union and every other country?
My Lords, I suggest that there is no indication that Soviet policy has changed in this respect. She still very much wants peace. She will try to gain what she can, but if a steadfast defence is put up against that process, peace can be main-tamed more or less on our terms. Of course there is a lot of mutual suspicion. There is the atmosphere of détente. Hundreds of millions of people have seen, to their utter amazement, pictures of President Nixon and Mr. Brezhnev kissing on the White House lawn. What does it mean? Does it mean that the suspicion has gone? Of course not. But there exists an atmosphere which could lead to real détente, although of course the suspicions continue. For instance, Pravda, on August 22, carried an 102 editorial which indicated that peaceful co-existence would not mean the end of the ideological struggle between East and West, and that this struggle would go on until the final and complete victory of Communism on a world scale. When we read that sort of thing we are naturally suspicious; and I suspect, giving the Soviet leaders a certain amount of benefit of a certain amount of doubt, that they feel suspicious about us. In his most recent speech, on October 26 to the World Peace Congress, to which my noble friend Lord Carrington referred, Mr. Brezhnev suggested that there were certain forces in the West which were trying to use détente to weaken Socialism. He felt that some of us were trying to break down barriers in order to destroy the system by which his State is run, in order to subvert the Soviet Union. This is a suspicion which he may well feel has some basis, and many of his colleagues may feel the same.
My Lords, what can one do about this? What can one do to move the situation from an atmosphere of détente to a substance of détente? Several speakers have spoken of the talks on mutual security and co-operation going on in Geneva. There is the so-called "Basket 3" which suggests a number of items for discussion which the Soviet Union has never discussed before on an international basis; improvement in tourist facilities; the reuniting of families; general exchanges of information; exchanges of film, television programmes, books and even newspapers. These are matters which are being discussed for the first time. I noted that my noble friend Lord Carrington said that we must not expect any very quick serious breakthrough here. But the fact that these matters are being discussed is hopeful, and I think we must watch carefully to see what good will there is on the other side in order to make some progress on this.
Then, I think we ought to watch the domestic policy of the Soviet Union. I know all the reservations which we have, quite rightly, about interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. A few months ago we discussed the situation in Greece, and several noble Lords, among them several of my noble friends, suggested that it was wrong even to discuss that situation; it was a foreign country 103 and that to discuss it was not in our competence. I felt that we were right to debate Greece because situations in foreign countries affect us all. Internal policy can very quickly become foreign policy, and if there is torture and lack of democracy in Greece it affects us too as fellow NATO members and fellow Europeans. So the ideological battle will continue, and there will be support on our side for people in the Soviet Union who are trying to gain basic human rights. But I hope that we shall, by our personal conduct and through Governments, be able to convince the Soviet Union that it is human rights in that country for which we are struggling, and not the subversion of that country; not the abolition of the Soviet system or the Soviet style of Communism. Most of us disagree with that form of Communism, but I do not think we shall shoot in order to destroy it.
My Lords, on the basic question of human rights, there can be little doubt what is the most simple and easy point of reference: it is the document which has been adhered to by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We find that this Declaration calls on all Member States to implement certain Articles, and the Soviet Union is clearly in violation of some of them. For instance, we read that:Everyone has the right to leave a country, including his own, and to return to that country.The Soviet Union does not permit this. It is very difficult to leave the Soviet Union: and if one is allowed to leave then one is very often not allowed to return. Another Article says:Everyone has the right of freedom of movement or residence within the borders of each State.That also does not apply in the Soviet Union. One has to be registered in a certain place, and one is not allowed to live in a place where one is not registered. Then Article 12 says:No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.But we know the restrictions and checks placed on correspondence with the Soviet Union.
So, my Lords, if we press, privately or at an administrative level, for improvements 104 in such things, whether at Geneva or anywhere else, we must somehow get it across to the other side that we are aiming at an improvement in human rights and not at the overthrow of their Government. Because if we fail to convince them of this we shall not get anywhere, and there will eventually be a return to the cold war. We must somehow try to convince them that every time an English tourist is picked up in the Soviet Union and bundled out, with no explanation and no refund of his money, as happened to a British subject a few days ago, it is a slap in the face to everyone here and a blow at détente; that every time a Soviet citizen wishes to marry a British subject, or anyone in the West, and is subjected to pressures and delays and is not permitted to marry that person, there is the most appalling blow to friendship between East and West; that every time a letter, a photograph or a parcel is intercepted or simply thrown away, between Russia and here, it is perhaps the end of a personal friendship or relationship, and it is another nail in the coffin of normal relations and that every time a Soviet scientist does not turn up at a conference which he has promised he will attend there is bad feeling and general disillusionment with the Soviet Union's way of running its country.
So this is where the proof of the pudding will be. Shall we be able to make use of what has happened in the last year and of the atmosphere that exists, which is now based on a very slender foundation of the personal relations between Mr. Brezhnev and Mr. Nixon? Shall we be able to build on this and get some real progress towards better relations? If we can, it may be that we shall be able to talk more sensibly about the reduction of armed forces. I have deliberately spoken more about the Geneva talks on security and co-operation rather than on the Vienna talks because I feel that relaxation of tension should come first. It will be much easier to reduce our forces once we have some sort of relaxation of tension. Once we have been able to convince each other that we are not aggressive to each other, and to remove suspicion, we may be able to make some efforts towards releasing the enormous funds which at present are spent on defence, and get rid of the crises which have occurred in the last few days, which 105 could eventually destroy the world, and convince each other that real security and real peace is based not on arms but on friendship.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ LORD RITCHIE-CALDER
My Lords, I want to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, on his maiden speech, and to say, as one of those who in this House have concern about science and technology that we are glad to welcome reinforcement. I hope that we shall hear from him many times again. The gracious Speech was this morning described in the Daily Telegraph, rather churlishly I thought for such a true blue newspaper, asa series of sublime aspirations phrased in the pedantic language of the Civil Service Commission.While subscribing to the "sublime aspirations", I should hope that Her Majesty's Government would lend some imagination and substance to those aspirations and, even in their expiring hours as a Government, show that Britain can still offer leadership in world affairs. I must say that, having listened throughout the whole debate so far, I find it very discouraging to believe that they have not even got that much breath left. I think that almost without exception noble Lords, even from the other side of the House, have said that we have practically no influence in world affairs. I believe that we do have it, but our influence lies not in the kind of tricks that we have played, the old conventional diplomacy and statesmanship, but by showing that we have a moral awareness of what is involved in the world to-day, and also that we have what I regard as absolutely essential in the changing circumstances, namely, some degree of imagination in dealing with it.
The gracious Speech says:My Government will continue to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.What is "just", and how long is "lasting"? In justice, the State of Israel must be guaranteed its existence free from the constant threats of attacks and from harrassment by the guerrillas. In justice, something must be done about the Palestine refugees, whose resentments have been allowed, and deliberately allowed, to fester in refugee camps for 25 years, whom the Arab 106 States have shown no disposition to absorb in useful activities, and whose grudges against Israel have been deliberately encouraged. Anyone who knows those refugee camps knows what I mean. Those of us who have experience of them have, I am sure, a tremendous sympathy for the people who have been exposed to circumstances from which they have not been allowed or been encouraged to remove. Therefore they will go on festering in those camps, in hitter hatred. There is no solution now in absorbing them within the frontiers of Israel, because nothing less than paramountcy and the destruction of the Jews will satisfy them. I also recognise that the State of Israel could not conceivably accept these conditions or in fact the embarrassment of the Arabs on the West Bank. This is a demonstration of how you cannot afford to have too many people of that kind within your borders.
I suggest to Her Majesty's Government that they should now take a bold, imaginative line, which in this time of perplexity might stand a chance of success. I am reinforced in this by the impressive speech which we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Bourne. I could have taken off from there, because I agree with what he was saying about the necessity for, first of all, broad lines of demilitarised zones—and, as he pointed out, the United Nations Peace Force must be real and not just symptomatic, emblematic, or whatever you like to call it. This is in fact what I am proposing to put before you.
Why do we not propose that the Sinai Peninsula be established as a world protectorate, lease it for 40 years from Egypt, who has the sovereign rights, and then administer it and develop it through the world community? The machinery for creating this should be provided through the United Nations; but in addition it should generate its own identity. It could be the first base of a world constabulary. It might be what the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, is looking for—a substantial establishment of peacekeeping forces in that area. That constabulary and that peace force should, I suggest, be directly recruited, through or by the United Nations and not by the present ad hoc methods that we have seen pathetically demonstrated in the 107 present crisis, when the Secretary-General of the United Nations has to raise a posse rather like a sheriff in a "crummy" Western, by appealing to Member States to give him what they can. There could and should be individual recruitment, and a permanent staff independent of the whims of nations. This would be a zone of permanent neutrality (beyond the demilitarised zone) which would have to include the Golan Heights and the Canal, and would remain a zone of permanent neutrality. I know that this was proposed, with the backing of Members of another place, in 1956 and 1967, but I suggest that the time is now ripe to put it forward as a substantive proposal, because we are in such a mess that people might see this as a possible, and I think proper, way out.
Apart from the need for a stabilising force, my interest in the Sinai Desert is the possibility of development and the absorption of refugees. The Sinai has an area of 60,000 square kilometers—three times the area of the State of Israel. It has a population of less than 130,000, as compared with Israel's 3 million. It is not a hopeless desert. In terms of modern methods, it is capable of being made genuinely productive. It is certainly rich in minerals. I am convinced by what I have personally seen throughout the Sinai that what the Israelis have done in the Negev could, with world help and technological expertise, be done equally well in the Sinai. I would remind your Lordships that in Israel the desert has blossomed. One speaker earlier said that whenever a person stands up during these discussions, he or she is regarded as either pro-Arab or pro-Israeli. Yet my own position on Israel is simply that the Israelis have done a job. It is a job that I can understand, certainly in terms of desert recovery. The desert has blossomed.
When I went there first in 1949 on a UNESCO mission to further the reclamation of deserts, I drove from Rehovoth (then called the Gateway to the Desert) in a jeep across a desert road to Beersheba, at that time a camel market with a population of about 1,000. To-day the desert has been reclaimed all the way to Beersheba, and well beyond. Beersheba is now a city of 80,000 people, with four major industries, including mills to handle the grain from the erstwhile deserts. It 108 has an impressive university, the University of Negev; and, as I say, the reclamation has pushed South, to the extent that one desert research station which was established under the ægis of UNESCO at Beersheba in my time is now wrongly sited, because the vegetation which has been propagated has altered the micro-climate so that it is no longer truly arid or of the desert. It has been shown that brackish underground water can be treated to make it useful for cultivation, and even for drinking.
My Lords, I say with some confidence that the science of ekistics, the study of human habitation, has now acquired substance and that in relation to agriculture the techniques for urban development are now advanced to the point that development of areas like the Sinai can be confidently tackled in a rational and straightforward manner, and fairly rapidly. We are no longer experimenting with ideas: we can go ahead. The problem of water, which, in terms of surface water in the Sinai, has existed since the wanderings in the wilderness and the story of Aaron's rod, is no longer insuperable. We can go to greater depths than those of the ancient wells, and there are plenty of examples of the effective development of catchment areas and systems to trap the flash floods of the Sinai. We can use nuclear energy as a means of desalination and as part of a complex of developments to the extent of industrialisation. This, I would point out, is something which would safeguard the Suez Canal. It would safeguard the perfectly legitimate demands, as I believe them to be, of the Israelis, that at least the Gulf of Aqaba must be protected to the point that their shipping can get to the port. All this is, or could be, part of the development of Sinai.
My Lords, with imagination, expert knowledge and world will, we can in this case in fact turn the wilderness into the Promised Land. I believe that arguments can be deployed to convince the Arab States that this is a proposal which is in their interests, and unquestionably it is one which would promote the stability which the Middle East so badly needs. I would go further, and say that I confidently believe that this could be a pattern for the establishment of neutral zones throughout the world as the buffers against such international tensions.
109 I am sure that I should disappoint the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir, it I did not refer to the Law of the Sea; but I will do so very briefly and merely say that of course I was right and that the progress which is now being made in the exploitation of the sea by the "wildcatters" is painfully obvious and is now getting out of hand. Howard Hughes, in looking for another place to escape to, has in fact gone down to the bottom of the sea to exploit the manganese nodule. I would, without deploying my usual argument, emphasise the points that I hope I have made effectively in the past —not demonstrably effectively, but sufficient to convince some of your Lordships. What we desperately need now is a demonstration of imagination, a demonstration of British initiative in a situation in regard to which we can in fact claim some initiative. We are a great maritime nation. We were responsible 100 years ago for the discovery of the first of these manganese nodules. The whole of our history in surveys, and so on, has shown that we are capable of taking the lead in what could be a great international enterprise, and one in which we could secure the common heritage of all mankind against spoliation and depredation by people such as Howard Hughes.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, four years ago I had the privilege of making my maiden speech in your Lordships' House; it was too long, but your Lordships were far too courteous to say so. I tried to give something of a survey of the world as a whole in its proportions and the effect of the state of the world on British policy. Therefore to-day I am not going to concentrate on the Middle East but will try to give my remarks some world-wide context. In doing so, I am conscious that history is in a small way repeating itself, since the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, a former Foreign Secretary, said that in the present situation he would be calling for advice from his advisers; and there is a certain futuristic flashback feeling about my suggesting a few points of advice in this speech coming after the notable speech which the noble Lord made a little earlier this afternoon. The interval between the time when I last tried Ito make this speech and now coincides with the retirement of my distinguished successor Sir Denis Green 110 hill. That gives me a feeling of feeling much "elder but not yet a "statesman".
On the Middle East, I should like to intervene on two points in a voice of semi-protest. The first has fortunately been covered very well already in the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, whose spontaneous and effective eloquence I hope we shall often listen to. When the news came through on Thursday that the Americans had proceeded to a state of (shall we say?) moderate alert, what happens when one has a great foreboding—what the Americans call a "gut feeling"—that something terrible is about to happen at least in my case did not occur. One remembers the "gut feeling" moments of diplomatic history, and one of them was the announcement of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August, 1939. Another was the decision of President Nasser to ask the United Nations Emergency Force to leave the Sinai frontier with Israel. But on this occasion I had no such feeling, for very much the same reasons as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, described.
In this fast moving age, in a situation of the kind in which the Americans found themselves, the only thing that they could do was to take a quick decision and act on it. Their intelligence system suspected strongly enough that there might be an American/Russian confrontation in the Middle East and they therefore took some identifiable action—not dangerous, but identifiable—at once. We shall perhaps know later in history exactly the succession of events; but the American action cannot be said to have been unsuccessful. It was an impressive fact that in taking this action President Nixon found himself with a most unusual ally, Senator Edward Kennedy; perhaps Senator Kennedy has a family knowledge of what one has to do on these occasions.
My semi-protest concerns the fact that to some degree this action by the Americans was made an occasion for the media to stir up a good deal of controversy between ourselves, the United States, NATO and individual members, and unfortunately representative people on both sides of the Atlantic to some extent fell for this. My first recommendation to my Foreign Secretary in a former position would be that perhaps Her Majesty's 111 Government have a rather special function here which is to try to induce their friends and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic in Europe and the United States not to fall for that kind of thing again, because it has caused the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, to use the most gloomy and apocalyptic language about our present situation which he should not need to use, and Europe must not expose itself to that kind of reproach. Perhaps I might interject a note of commiseration with and congratulation to the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Defence for his calm and fortitude when faced by an old-fashioned hectoring interview on the air which seemed to be designed to provoke the maximum of discord among friends.
My other point on the Middle East is related to that first one. Possibly some of the momentary loss of nerve, particularly among our Continental friends, was due to fear about oil; and this is understandable. Again in an advisory capacity I should like to suggest that the oil question be considered from a much longer-term point of view than is being done popularly and widespread to-day. It is possible that the purchase of Arab oil by the rest of the world may have reached a maximum in view of what has happened politically in recent weeks. It may be that there will be an alteration in the balance of the utilisation of fuel both geographically and qualitatively. It is certainly the duty of any Government in our position to examine everything from tar sands to nuclear energy to see whether something of an alteration in our method of consumption and use of fuels is called for over the next few years.
The two things to avoid are things which have cropped up in recent days; we must at all events avoid any language like "threat of petrol rationing". Petrol rationing is not a threat: it is a possibility which deserves sane consideration; and the Dutch are already doing it. Nor should we allude complacently to the state of our reserves—we have had a little unhappy history about that in respect of another fuel. I feel certain that if the Government at some stage feel able to say, "We have been thinking about this matter in long-run terms and it will mean a certain restriction on the use of oil as a fuel, whether for motor cars or anything else", the British are the kind of people 112 who will understand that perfectly. There are not great objections and disturbances to be feared.
However, I must hasten to the main and more world-wide thesis that I want to present for your Lordships' consideration. That is the nature of the world politically in which we are beginning to live a little over a quarter of a century after the end of World War II. For the first quarter of a century the conflict was mainly ideological. The conflict is now moving; it is moving into a balance of power contest. But it is not moving from the ideological contest into the balance of power contest: it is moving from the ideological contest into an ideological contest and a balance of power contest at the same time.
There is a historical precedent for this. When the Protestants and Catholics of Europe in the 17th century had fought each other to exhaustion they arrived at the peace of Westphalia. Arriving at peace did not mean an immediate cessation of the ideological struggle. In fact the balance of power state of Europe began to develop, and for the next 100 years the ideological struggle continued to reappear. We now have a changed ideological struggle, in the sense that, instead of a monolithic Soviet Union, opposed to an organised Free World, we have a divided Communist camp facing a half-organised group of free nations with the non-aligned group of countries non-aligning themselves in that argument in order to align themselves in a different argument. Perhaps in that is contained the comment I would make on the interesting presentation by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell. Surely one of the reasons why the Soviet Union are more accommodating to-day than they have been previously in certain respects is because for the first time since the war they need something. They now have reason to worry—possibly they over-worry—about the emergence of China with friendly relationships, up to a point, with the United States. This is something with which no Soviet Government has had to compete before, and clearly it means that for the first time and to some extent the Soviet Union are what the French call demandeurs—they want something.
Before I proceed to develop that a little further, and particularly in regard to the nature of what is called "détente", 113 I should like to allude to situations in two parts of the world which I think have not been mentioned so far to-day but which have some bearing on my thesis of the mixture of ideological and national aims in the present world, and also the new things that are happening that have not happened before. If I might start via Latin America, I should like to stop off for a moment in Brazil on the way to Chile. I do this simply in order to call your Lordships' attention to the remarkable economic miracle that is proceeding in Brazil. I do this because, as I am afraid I have said to your Lordships before, my old Department are the people who really do interest themselves in Latin America; and there is a notable development going on there in which the Brazilians have used a new-found energy and great resources in the manner initially of the classical economic tradition, and then have sought to add that respect for social values which of course needs to accompany any modern economic development. It is a very interesting experiment, not fully applicable to us, but it is one worth studying as it is something new.
In Chile, there is no need to recount the events, which are sad, but there is a conclusion to be drawn, again relevant to my main thesis, which I have not seen drawn anywhere. When, through the folly of the extreme Right, the Marxist President, Señor Allende, was elected on a minority vote, this was an interesting constitutional situation. It was an entirely constitutional election of a Marxist Head of State, and the world asked itself: would this mean some new kind of Marxist régime of a kind we did not know before? Well, of course we saw what happened. As a broadcaster not unfriendly to the late President said, he had proceeded to "bend the constitution", and eventually we had interventions by the non-aligned Dr. Castro's people carrying arms, and then we had the frightening over-reaction we have seen. The conclusion of that is that there does not seem to be what one might call the tea-party kind of Marxism which you can welcome because it has come in by the front door. I think we have to face it in the world: that if there is an ideological struggle, if you get a Marxist régime you will get the "whole works".
And now if we may cross the Pacific 114 —and I hope your Lordships will not think I am trying to lecture; I am trying to compress—we come to Indo-China. Here, again, the unpredictable has manifested itself, in a mixture of nationalism and ideology. For a year and a half Phnom Penh has always been going to fall to the Communists to-morrow. And now what has happened? Suddenly they appear to be going back a little. The Government appear to have gained back some territory; and that No. 1 opportunist. Prince Sihanouk, has announced that he is going back to Peking to stay there until he dies. Well, this is very unpredictable. It may be because the Cambodian Government Forces have fought better than they have ever been given credit for, but it is more likely, I think, that in Vietnam there has been a decision by the North Vietnamese to concentrate on their main objective, which is to obtain ultimate power over South Vietnam; and so the North Vietnamese appear to have deserted their ideological brethren in Cambodia to concentrate on their main objective.
I have ventured on those pictures in order to support my thesis, and I should now like to come back to Europe and speak a word which has direct application to immediate policy on the matter of détente. May I suggest to your Lordships that "détente" has become a rather fractured French word, in the sense that the meaning to be attached to it has become a little hazy? I prefer the Italian word, which is "distensione", and that means lessening of tension. It seems to me that it is important to keep in mind that that is what détente really means. It is important to keep it in mind because the word is apt to mean a kind of unfreezing of political and intellectual values which at the moment still simply does not exist. Therefore while some noble Lords may have criticised the lack of imagination in the gracious Speech, I should have thought that the very sobriety of it and of the speech of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Defence on this point was extremely apt. There is no need to develop the point.
The question of the attitude of the Soviet State towards its intellectuals is only too familiar to us. But perhaps I can express it in practical terms by a quotation from the noted physicist about whom we have read so much, Mr. Andrei 115 Sacharov. He wrote—and this is a translation of a translation, but I think it is accurate:The Americans and Europeans must bear in mind that if no one demands precise guarantees the Kremlin authorities will stifle, with ever-increasing severity, every liberal aspiration inside Russia in order to offset the so-called 'risks' of contacts with the rest of the world.That is a very profound statement and it illustrates the difficulty which the Western negotiators are going to have in holding their own in the forthcoming negotiations.
It is absolutely right that these negotiations should take place. Noble Lords have drawn attention to the weakness of our present position, but also some hope has been expressed that it may be strengthened. It will be important to go on insisting that we must have something on our side—the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, was very emphatic on this point—and that it will be in this realm of exchange of information and freedom to move. But there are many people in this House—and I think the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, would be the best expert on this—who will remember the enormous difficulty, indeed the insuperable difficulty, encountered in disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union when the question of on-the-site inspection of nuclear facilities was raised. As many noble Lords have said, anyone who has been through that knows that this is going to be a long and tough negotiation.
It is important to realise this for another reason. Again alluding to things that were said in public, because the word "détente" was misunderstood, we were suddenly told that the Americans had a détente with the Soviet Union on Wednesday which they lost on Thursday. This is really to get the whole equation all wrong. The Americans have developed, very properly and rightly, a method of operation with the Soviet Union so that Mr. Nixon and Mr. Brezhnev talking to each other on the "hot line". may have some idea of who they are talking to, what kind of person, and so on. This is most valuable, but it does not mean—and Mr. Nixon made this clear in his last broadcast—that the objectives of the two super-Powers are the same.
My Lords, we come back, then, to what should we as a country do? I 116 do not want to follow the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, in the tactical elements of this question. I support very much what he says about our operating in Europe provided, however, that we do not operate on an anti-American ticket, because we need both. But we must certainly concert a European policy, and if there is one particular matter I should hope the noble Baroness would say a word about it is this.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said that there was a very useful and real consensus on external policy between the members of the Nine, the European Economic Community. Other noble Lords, starting with the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, said that there was absolutely no consensus or order at all. I hope that the noble Baroness will perhaps be able to expand a little more on what her noble friend said about this matter so as to show that there really is a fruitful effort at consensus developing within the Community.
Finally, when we have discussed all these things, the state of the world and what we are up against, there is the question of what makes one's foreign policy effective. One takes for granted the ability of the Government, the richness of their information, their tactics, and so on, but in the end the exercise of power most also depend on how a country is doing at home. This point has not yet been mentioned in this debate, but it is very important indeed.
It is perhaps regrettable that we should have had indignation, and reasons for it, about certain fringes of finance and that these should need to be cured by legislation. It is regrettable that most of us suffer from time to time from shoddy work, and that the community suffers sometimes from the strike weapon being used as a first rather than a last resort. Somehow, if we are to be effective in the international field, we must get out of some of these bad habits. A country can do a great deal more if it is not always reported in the foreign Press as being one where there are always strikes or major scandals.
I would end by paying one personal tribute and uttering one last idea. I should not like to conclude this speech without an expression of respect for our 70-year old Foreign and Commonwealth 117 Secretary in this year. Nobody, not even Permanent Under-Secretaries, can conduct foreign policy without making mistakes, but may I say, in all seriousness, that Sir Alec's tenure of office has given to our external policy a clarity and an integrity which are respected all round the world, and we have that to be grateful for.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
Finally—and here again I think your Lordships will be in full agreement—we are not any longer what we were in Shakespeare's time:A fortress built by nature for itselfAgainst infection and the hand of war".We are right in the middle of things all the time and I can only wish any Government in power, whatever Government it may be, success in its policies and, more widely, in its efforts for world peace.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, once again it has been a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, who put forward last week the idea that, whatever settlement we were lucky enough to procure in the Middle East, on both sides of the line there should be on this occasion forces that could not be set aside from either the Arab or the Israeli side. Also in what I considered to be an excellent speech (and we can expect it from the gallant gentleman who has given so many years of his life to the service of his country) the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, put forward what I consider to be a constructive idea, developing the point made last week in our debate by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. I will not reiterate it because I am quite sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, and the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, took the speech in.
I should like to pay one other tribute —one that I am not accustomed to paying. I listened with interest and avidity to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, because—if this does not sound too pompous—I thought it was in the right key at this very difficult moment which the Government are facing. May I say how delighted I was with the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran. He put forward what I consider, with other scientists here, should be an axiom for our diplomats from now on: they should 118 look at society in movement. If I may use a term without being considered anything more than a Welsh Methodist Marxist, they should look at the dialectics of the world in which we are living today, in the movement of technology in relation to the rapidity of transport. One of the apt phrases of Kipling was "transport is civilisation". The rapidity of this is beyond the ken of about 80 per cent. of the population in the world to-day—and I do not only mean transport of the human body: I mean also transport of sound and sight with the satellite; and the miracle of being able to comprehend that what both the Russians and the Americans are doing has altered completely the old-fashioned approach to war. As a weapon to solve problems war is out.
Having said that, I must also say that we seem to have lost the art of making friends and influencing people. The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, made a long speech but there was a constructive core to it; indeed, in the beginning it was quite a constructive core, which has almost been reiterated by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. But the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, spent a long time discussing what should have come first—foreign policy or defence. This debate was arranged for the convenience of the House, and I do not think the argument at that juncture was necessary; but there is something which we should now notice. In the old days, whatever foreign policy we pursued, up to about World War I we were able to follow that up with the right amount of force at the right place and at the right time. That situation is now finished, and consequently, as one speaker in the debate today has said, we must depend upon our imagination and use it.
There is one thing that is dangerous in the world—and again I refer to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth. I deprecate this sudden splurge in the world of 300 million people glued to their television sets, say, when President Nixon is being interviewed, or when the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, while being cross-examined by some pompous cross-examiner in a television studio, is asked immediately to make a serious, on-the-spot judgment. It is dangerous and it does not help the cause of world peace. We have to be careful how we tread here, because far 119 be it from me to want to control the television and the Press, and other forms of giving information to the people. But these media themselves, being very highly professional people, are something more than a Fourth Estate today. In this world which is bewildered with a multitude of problems that confront the most brilliant of us today, they owe it to the world to be careful of the kind of on-the spot interviews they give with key people in the super-Powers, and even in the less than super-Powers.
It is a sad thing that we have had (I do not expect the House to agree with me on this) about 27 years of cold war; and while this poor little country has spent £40,000 million on arms and the Americans 500,000 million dollars, the world is more unsafe today than it was just after 1945. We have no homes for our people, totally inadequate social services; firemen are not getting enough money and are going on strike. We seem to be over-populated, yet we have not got enough people on the Underground; we have not enough people on the buses, and we have not got enough people cutting coal. All this comes after years of massive military expenditure. What is wrong? The world has to approach these problems, as the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, said, in a completely different way from the past. I hope that from now on, as a result of this Middle East problem, we shall move out of the cold war.
Here I want to refer to a contribution made by the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, which she expressed succinctly and potently. She said, "Israel is not Czechoslovakia". That phrase alone, in a well-informed House like this, needs no other colourful expression to make its meaning clear. They will live, and they deserve to live, in such a way that they do not need to have a plough in one hand and a sword in the other while they try to produce a viable system of society. It is the Battle of the Semites —because anthropologically there is not all that difference. I do not want to go into that, nor do I want to go into the theocratic problems of Northern Ireland. People sometimes get worried about, I think, Matthew X, verse 34:I come not to bring peace but the sword.120 I do not want to get involved in this sort of problem, but only point it out en passant.
My Lords, now to the last part of what I hope is a short speech, despite the temptation for it to be a long one. I can understand the fear of the Soviet Union as well as that of the Israelis. Twenty million dead! Twenty million people died in the Stalingrad area. I saw Stalingrad at that time, too, and I believe that if we had had the courage not to join in building up the cold war we should not have had the problems that we face today. I think, too, that the United States policy went entirely awry in the Pacific, as much as anything due to the lack of imagination of Foster Dulles. Unfortunately there was a wrong approach to China, and for years that has cost me American people millions of dollars and some tens of thousands of lives, as well as those of the courageous British troops who were in the Korean battle. But water has now gone under the bridge and there are not just the two super Powers in the world, as I hinted the other evening when I spoke in this House about the Middle East. One cannot now talk of settlements without also looking towards the policy of China. I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, say everything is "Ichabod—the glory has departed". But there are some successes as well. Even the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed to the constructive approaches of the Vienna Conference and the Geneva Conference.
But do not let us forget, while we are trying to get this lessening of tension in the world, when all the Middle East problem is continuing, the letter in the Financial Times by Andrew Roth about the biggest Soviet exhibition in the history of the world which is now being held in Moscow. It cost nearly £12 million to put the exhibition in Moscow and they are exhibiting 13 million worth (I shall have to check whether it is pounds or dollars; I am not quite sure) of oil machinery because they have come to a modus vivendi and an agreement with American oil firms. These same firms will be exploiting Siberian oil. When one is looking at the speeches of President Nixon, with Watergate behind him, and of the people who are irate, always remember that the scientists, the 121 businessmen and the men who are trying to find the raw materials that keep civilisation ticking, are trying something else. The lessening of tension is going on in a practical way between the United States of America and the Soviet Union (if one likes to check it, one can easily do so) while we are talking still in terms of a cold war.
My Lords, I have had the privilege of being in the Kremlin listening to Mr. Kosygin, Mr. Gromyko and others making speeches about the difficulty of maintaining peace with the Arabs and the Israelis. World pressure has made the Soviet Union release about 164,000 Jews. My noble friend Lord Janner will correct me if I am wrong, but I think the figure up to last year is one of about 164,000 Jews who have been let out of the Soviet Union. Bit by bit, the Soviet Union is joining in the community of nations and acting in a much more friendly way to-day than they did at the height of the cold war.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
That is not bad if it is 38,000. My figure is 164,000, but I will not argue with my noble friend. The point is they are getting out.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, I think that it is worth Britain now encouraging an approach that would abandon the worst part of the cold war. I believe that we should know a few facts from the noble Baroness before this debate finishes. With all due respect, I believe that the President of the United States of America over-acted when he made a threat about nuclear activity. I felt like a gladiator in a Roman arena, "Hail, Ceasar; those about to die salute thee!", because with our five bases here there would not be much possibility of life of any kind for the rest of us if there were a nuclear war. When we are decrying the collapse of NATO we should consider that maybe it should collapse and we should find a new formula for security because the Americans are not going to keep 310,000 troops in Europe much longer. I know that the American taxpayer is getting tired of keeping these troops in Europe, so what the United States will do does not depend on us. 122 There was a NATO conference last week. But nearly two years ago it was suggested that Turkish troops should take the place of American troops in Europe. Is that true, because that was put forward?
The old sentences no longer mean anything in international power politics. While we are discussing this an understanding is going forward with the Ostpolitik. Foreign Secretary Schiel was in Poland last week trying to come to a modus vivendi with the Poles. This will come. If the Americans go out of Europe, are we going to bring the Turkish troops in? How much truth is there in the suggestion that we replace American troops in Europe with Turkish troops? Washington is concerned about the future because it can no longer attract troops to the army. The talks that are beginning now in Geneva are very important because America is unable to fulfil the manpower requirements of the George Brown policy. The Turkish idea for NATO police was first put forward in 1972. In the first seven months of 1973 the recruitment in America for combat units reached only half the requirement. The Secretary of the American Army, Mr. Callaway, said that the American original targets for recruiting were too high and it is unrealistic to look at conscription. Nevertheless, the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Schlesinger, declared that he was ready to go to Congress and ask for conscription. So there is a dichotomy or a difference in the United States. Of the 310,000 troops, there is the Seventh Army in West Germany with 195,000 men, and there are two fighting corps, the Fifth with 50,000 based on Frankfurt and the Seventh based on Stuttgart, and there is the Berlin Brigade. Those troops are not going to be kept in Europe for more than a couple of years at the most. What are we going to do to replace them, and what constructive policy can we have to lead to some safety in Europe? That is why it is of paramount importance that Britain has the courage to make its own policy to lessen the tension, to give some leadership to the world.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
My Lords, I must first of all apologise to your Lordships for not being able to be here for all the speeches earlier on in the day. I 123 unfortunately missed the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran. Everybody seemed to say it was very good; so I am sure it was. As the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said in his opening remarks, this is a very opportune moment for us to be talking about foreign affairs and defence. Last week the United States, we were all too uncomfortably aware, went half way from peace to nuclear war. From reading the newspapers it is obvious that Europe, let alone Great Britain, was not consulted. Judging by the relish with which President Nixon said at his Press conference that but for United States action Europe would freeze to death this coming winter, and by the published differences between the Nixon Administration and Europe over the recent conflict in the Levant, the lack of consultation was deliberate.
We Europeans have a duty to find out whether this alert was designed to take peoples' minds off the sludge of Watergate. When I make these remarks I do not want to be taken as anti-American, because I am not; I am ever grateful for the money and blood that they have spent on defending us and enabling us to debate and work in this House and this country. But there are aspects of the present American Administration which leave me concerned, to put it mildly. Whether this alert was due to Watergate or not, it seems to me that some of the foreign policy assumptions of the last thirty years must possibly be looked at anew. In parenthesis, I must add that had the Soviet Government been in the same weak internal position as the Nixon Administration, the outlook for us all would have been bleaker than it was. For this alert having been necessary we are being asked to trust President Nixon. That, I submit, is a relatively difficult thing to do.
That having been said, I should like to ask Her Majesty's Ministers to go a lot further than they did in the gracious Speech towards European unity. Monetary union, combined foreign policies, are excellent starts, and the combined foreign policy achievements as outlined by my noble friend Lord Carrington are very good indeed. But monetary union without a common economic policy is not very safe. Combined foreign policies without the muscle to carry them out 124 seem to me a paper tiger. Russia and America coming together in détente could also mean a carve up of the world by the super-Powers into their own respective spheres of interest, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, suggested. This is a dim prospect for myself, and, I submit, a dimmer prospect for our children. It has been pretty clear that Europe has been an impotent spectator in the last weeks while the two super-Powers have first encouraged and then stopped the war. As I said in the debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict, this war has been in Europe's dewpond. Unlike the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, but obviously with infinitely less experience than he has, I did have a gut feeling last week, and I was very frightened. I had the feeling that events were totally outside the control of any of us in Europe.
It is not very profitable to hanker after the supreme White Ensign but I think it is profitable to hanker after a combined European defence force and a United Europe. If this unity could come about, then the variance of aims which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said would inevitably appear can be argued from a position of strength. Of course, this unity will entail loss of individual sovereignty, but surely this applied to the City States of Italy, the Electorates of Germany and the Seven Kingdoms of the Heptarchy. The sovereignty lost by Bordeaux and Bradford would be balanced by the share of each other's sovereignty they would gain. Of course, a united political Europe would have to have a super-Power defence force. Of course it would be expensive, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, we can, when fat, too easily forget about armies. The other reason I advocate a united Europe from the bottom of my heart is that we in this small corner of the earth are the fountain of civilisation; the Renaissance from Italy, the Reformation from Germany, political theory from France and political practice from England. It is nearly impertinent of me to praise the painting of Italy, the music of Germany and the architecture of France. It is certainly impertinent of me to praise the literature of England. But these are the values we have to protect, and my submission is that this can only be done by a united, powerful and prosperous Europe, and not by the cheap gibes and the narrow "little England" 125 attitude which was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Balogh. I also believe that the British people, who have more political nous than any other nation on earth, could become enthused by this idea, as it is the most exciting challenge for the future. To paraphrase Canning: to "bring into existence the old world to redress the balance of the new".
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, I, too, would wish to turn to the Middle East, where the thoughts of so many of us are centred to-day. Whatever our insistence on Resolution 242, the Israelis know that the whole history of Anglo-Arab relations is not a happy one for Britain. Driven out of Iraq, driven out of Egypt, driven out of Palestine, driven out of Aden, humiliated by Colonel Gadaffi and General Amin, we now find ourselves at the mercy of a handful of Arab sheiks in the Persian Gulf in our hope of escaping from petrol rationing. The whole world knows that the choice before Britain to-day is an agonising one; it is either Israel or oil; we cannot have both. Let us be perfectly frank and let us not, under a cloak of diplomatic meandering, pose as being able to guarantee Israel secure frontiers while we gaze on helplessly at her own efforts to survive. To-day, we cannot afford to be Israel's friends, or the whole of our economy would grind to a standstill. Anthony Eden has at last been vindicated. In 1956 the world failed to internationalise the Suez Canal, and now for over six years the Suez Canal has been closed to international shipping. The only pity is that in 1956 he did not give Israel the tools to finish the job.
To-day, the world has failed to pool its vast oil resources, and the cause of Israel may yet go by default. Until the world reserves of oil are internationalised humanity will know no peace. It is a sorry tale of tragedy and incompetence which we may yet have reason to regret. Britain's immediate oil future is by no means assured. The world has been nauseated by the spectacle of two Arab countries, Syria and Egypt, lying stricken and bleeding, while the Arab sheikdoms in the Persian Gulf, who have escaped the war unscathed, have grown richer out of the sufferings of their neighbours. The price of their crude oil has risen by 17 per cent., and all their vast oil reserves 126 are now 17 per cent. richer. To-day, is there any guarantee that 17 per cent. will stay as the price of their blood money? Tomorrow could it not be 50 per cent., or 70 per cent., or even 100 per cent.? I would ask of the noble Baroness, when she comes to reply, what security have we against an enormous increase in the price of oil from the Persian Gulf, which, as I see it, we may he compelled to pay? To Western Europe and Japan, the Arab oil sheikdoms have merely to dictate their terms and we are bound to accept them. All the Arab States know this to be the case. All honour to little Holland for standing out against their blackmail.
If there were any conscience in the Arab world to-day, they would long ago have poured out some of this blood money to resettle some of the Arab refugees among their own kith and kin in the vast Arab lands outside Palestine, just as the Israelis have resettled their own million Jewish refugees from Arab lands in the tiny tract of Israel. Instead, the million Palestine Arab refugees have for 25 years been left on the conscience of the world for support, while the Arab oil sheikdoms have grown rich in the process and we, with our dependence on the Arab oil, have been a party all along to this grim charade. Small wonder our diplomacy among Arabs to-day lies almost in ruins.
What of the immediate future? Let us at least come out of this difficulty with clean hands. The whole world knows our weakness and of our dependence upon Arab oil. So let us opt out of the firing line and leave it to the two great Powers to settle the issue between themselves. Whatever authority we may have on the Security Council, the final decision must depend upon a continuation of the détente between the two great Powers, Russia and the United States. If either of them seeks to exercise their veto the Security Council becomes immediately powerless. It was really a matter for thankfulness that China abstained when these critical issues came before the Security Council during the last few days. China abstained and refused to cast her veto. If we leave the issue to be settled between these two great Powers, America has proved her friendship for Israel, and Russia for the Arabs. Ought we not, then, to leave 127 the stage to them, and to do so honourably? That is the course which sheer honesty would dictate to Britain to-day, ignoble though it would be to all our great traditions.
What is the whole case of our indictment of the Foreign Secretary's policy? If I may be allowed to venture into the Scriptures, with the Episcopal Bench now untenanted, it is that he has tried to rewrite the 24th Psalm. Instead of accepting the opening verse:The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.he has added a rider:But the oil is the Arabs', and revenues thereof.Would it not have been more honourable to say to Israel: "We are very sorry for you, but we have to support the Arab cause, because we are, at the moment, almost wholly dependent on Arab oil."? If anyone still has any lingering doubts about the future status of Jerusalem, let him feel assured by the verses that follow:Who shall ascend the Mount of the Lord, and who shall stand in His Holy Place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not sworn deceitfully.My Lords, quite a lot of deceit has occurred in this war, mostly from Arab sources. Let us remember the 450 Israeli prisoners in Egyptian hands, and the 7,000 Egyptian prisoners in Israeli hands. Egypt still refuses to accept an exchange. Even to-day, the true facts of Israel's crossing to the West Bank of the Suez Canal are still hidden from the Egyptian people. Let us set against that the passing of food and water supplies through the Israeli lines to the beleaguered 20,000 troops of Egypt's third army, merely to enable them to live, even if they live to fight Israel again another day, which God forbid!
Would the Egyptians have so treated 20.000 Israeli troops caught in an Egyptian trap? On the one hand, we have the claims of ordinary humanity. On the other hand, we have wounded prisoners of war held out to be bartered for, in the hope of clouding over the agony of defeat, just as a million Palestine refugees have been held as pawns for political ends. Let us remember that by every means of deceit in their power the Arab nations may now try to turn defeat into victory. President Sadat's latest pronouncement, 128 "We can wipe out the Israelis," in the headlines of to-day's evening papers seems to bear this out. But just because of this deceit, when the true facts become known the bitterness and disillusion among the Arab peoples may be far worse this time than anything that occurred after the Six-Day War.
Let us also remember that Israel still survives. She survived Masada, and in our own times she has survived the holocaust of Hitler. There was a time when England stood alone and survived, because she stood for decency and honour, and the cause of civilisation. That was England's finest hour. So, too, will Israel survive, even if she has to stand alone. Of that I have no doubt. She has outlived many of those nations who have raised their hands against her. All through the centuries, she has been the touchstone by which the conscience of humanity has been judged. By their treatment of Israel in the past nations have perished, and reputations— even the reputations of Foreign Secretaries—have crumbled into dust. Let us to-day look from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, at the vast tracts of territories in Arab hands, and let us ask ourselves, how far must this tiny territory of Israel be further fragmented? In standing by the people of Britain, and deciding about Britain's economic future, let us judge too how far our own hands, like those of little Holland, are clean of oil. He that hath clean hands will in the end be able to achieve the peace that we all so ardently desire.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords. I should like to join in the congratulations that have already been offered to my fellow countryman, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran. I was particularly pleased that he, with his interest in science and technology, should nevertheless have chosen a debate on international affairs for his maiden speech. He was quite right in suggesting that modern diplomacy finds it extremely hard to keep pace with modern technology. I hope that he may have many further opportunities of educating your Lordships' House in the ways in which we should pay regard to the developments of science and technology, because they are more important than ever in our international affairs. I should also like to echo the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, in paying tribute to his successor 129 at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Denis Greenhill. I had close relations with him when I was a Minister in that Office, and I was delighted when he was chosen to succeed Paul Gore-Booth (as he then was), and would wish him to know in what regard and affection he is held by all those who work with him.
I should also like to take this opportunity of congratulating my noble friend Lord Brockway, who is not with us to-day but who yesterday celebrated both his 85th birthday and the publication of a most impressive volume on, The Colonial Revolution. I must confess that I have not yet read the book, but I look forward to doing so. It was a notable achievement. Anybody who heard the vigorous speech at his birthday yesterday could only envy him, and I hope that one might have even part of that mental and physical vigour, if one should ever reach that age.
My Lords, we have had a debate which has concentrated itself mainly on the two vital subjects exercising all of us, the position in the Middle East and the relationship between the Eastern and Western powers. It is unfortunate that, even when we have a long debate such as we have had to-day on foreign affairs, there are so many topics that many of us would wish to touch upon but which we can hardly do. I should like to take issue with the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, on his analysis of the situation in Chile. He mentioned that President Allende "bent the constitution", but he said nothing at all about the intervention of international capitalism in that country. Similarly, I think that he was the only one in your Lordships' House who referred to the Far East. I should have thought again that his analysis of the position in Cambodia was perhaps not as long-sighted as much of the rest of his speech, because I would have supposed that the situation there is only temporary, while the North Vietnamese settle their accounts with South Vietnam. Had we not had other preoccupations, I should have thought that we would have had a good deal of discussion about developments in a country where the Nobel Prize was, I think nobly and properly, declined on the grounds that peace has not in fact yet been established.
§ LORD GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, I think that perhaps the noble Baroness 130 has misunderstood me a little. I was using that instance of South-East Asia simply to illustrate my thesis that we are not dealing with a simple ideological situation but, at the moment, with a situation in which ideology and nationalism get into confused situations vis-à-vis each other.
§ BARONESS WHITE
My Lords, I appreciate the sublety of the noble Lord's argument. It seemed to me that he was giving an impression of simplicity which to my mind did not exist.
We have had throughout the debate, and understandably, a certain note of pessimism. It was expressed most forcefully by the noble Lord, Lord Boothby, who said that everything is breaking up all around. Had he been here, I should have wished to reply to him in his own words, "That ain't necessarily so". Nevertheless, in almost every speech there has been this recurring note of concern, that in the crisis situation in the past three weeks or so Britain has not been maintaining the position of leadership for which we should have hoped. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, was right in saying that part of our reputation abroad depends on our fortunes at home. I had this most graphically brought home to me some three weeks ago when I was travelling in Europe through Stockholme and Copenhagen and down to Zurich and Berne. What I felt most was something that has not been mentioned to-day, and that was the sinking pound. If one goes now as a traveller abroad with our diminished financial fortunes, one finds it very difficult to be as proud of being a British citizen as one would like.
The matters that have really been concerning us are these two major questions of the relations between East and West and the situation in the Middle East. I listened with great attention to the opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. What he said about the defence situation and about the conferences which are proceeding in Vienna and Geneva was unexceptionable. I was only disappointed that he did not appear to me to add very much to one's knowledge or insight into these matters. My mind went back to a briefing I had in the Foreign Office at the end of July before a visit I paid to an East/ West Conference at Helsinki in August. Almost everything he said 131 to-day was vouchsafed to me on that occasion.
I should like to know whether the noble Baroness in her reply is able to take up some of the points in what I thought was a very interesting and impressive speech from the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who asked some pertinent and forward-looking questions about our changing position in the world and the way in which we must try to look at the alterations in the defence situation and possible future strategies. With the best will in the world, I do not think that any of us can be very optimistic about the talks going on in Vienna on mutual and balanced force reductions. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, himself pointed out some of the extreme difficulties in that situation, and not least the difficulty of finding any appropriate methods of monitoring any sort of reductions which one might be able to achieve. He very properly emphasised the extreme imbalance at the present moment between the forces of the Warsaw Pact countries and ourselves, not only in manpower but in strength of tanks and other equipment.
I was surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, did not refer even indirectly to something that has been causing concern to many of us in our discussions with our colleagues in Europe, and that is what is going to happen to the United States contribution to our forces in Europe. This was touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, but one would have supposed that the Secretary of State for Defence might at least have referred to it in his speech.
I was interested in the other aspects of the relations between East and West which were mentioned in greatest detail by the noble Lord, Lord Bethell. Whether we call it "détente" or "distensione", I think we both mean the same kind of thing. During the past three years I have been to three seminars, conferences, East/West dialogues, whatever you like to call them, between people from the Warsaw Pact countries and from European countries. Frankly about what in Helsinki was called "Basket 3", the whole question of genuine interchange of information, of persons and of ideas, I am 132 not optimistic. I think one should remind onself that when these matters were being discussed—and I must say that our Foreign Secretary put up a very good fight—the reply from Mr. Gromyko was that this idea of cultural exchange was an admirable one but always subject to the traditions, laws and regulations of the country concerned—which of course begs the entire question.
In my own discussions with people from Iron Curtain countries, including some leading Soviet citizens whom I like per, sonally very much and get on with when we discuss employment policy, social service and that sort of thing, I find when we come to the real kernel of intellectual freedom there is no understanding whatsoever between us. I am not optimistic, but I do not wish to take up your Lordships' time—the hour is late—and I hope very much that the noble Baroness who is to reply will in particular reply to the speech of my noble friend Lord George-Brown. It was, I thought, a most statesmanlike speech, and I wish that he could have been Foreign Secretary making that speech. I think he put with great restraint—for which he is not always noted—the real problems which are concerning us. It would be foolish of me to try in any way to summarise the argument of my noble friend Lord George-Brown but I hope very much indeed that the noble Baroness will feel able to take it up. He really put so forcibly the real major question: where do we stand now in the world as a country—no longer a great country; what should our strategy be? Again I would not wish to go over the arguments put forward with great feeling, as well as with great knowledge, on the situation in the Middle East beyond saying that surely we all appreciate that, after the deadlock since 1967, we now have the possibility of reaching some kind of more lasting conclusion.
I was very much attracted by the constructive proposals put forward by my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder on two grounds: first, his proposition for developing the Sinai as a real world protectorate, and developing it as it could be and should be developed. This would possibly be one way of dealing with a problem which has been on our consciences so long—the matter of the Palestinian refugees. But it should be done 133 under the aegis of the United Nations. At the same time, we should take very seriously the need for the creation of a genuine United Nations peace-keeping force. One has had to gather together, at no notice and as best one can a group of people whose presence there is so essential, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, rightly said, if we are to sustain the very fragile and precarious ceasefire which has been reached. Unless we can take a constructive attitude of this kind there is the danger that we may slip back and that the sacrifice of those who have died and been wounded on both sides may prove to have been in vain. Here, surely, we should be taking a much more positive initiative than Her Majesty's Government appear so far to have done.
Finally, my Lords, I should find it very difficult to-day to conclude any debate on the foreign situation without some reference to the appalling famines which are being sustained in various parts of the world. I did not myself see the television programme on Ethiopia, but I have been told of it by so many of my friends who were so deeply moved and shocked by it that it must have made a very profound impression. Ethiopia has come into our consciousness relatively recently, but for some time we have known of the other great human and ecological tragedy in the South Sahara. Surely it must concern us that with all the great improvements in science and technology to which the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, referred in his maiden speech, we still have in the world these appalling catastrophes which we seem unable to foresee and unable adequately to deal with, and meanwhile we spend our substance on the most sophisticated arms. It is to these questions that I am sure that many of us would wish the noble Baroness to address herself.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE (BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE)
My Lords, I should like to start by joining with all those who have paid a tribute to the Mover and Seconder of the reply to the gracious Speech. My noble friend Lord Mansfield told me that he could not be here this evening, but we are well supported by a Royal Marine on the Back Benches. I should like to say to my noble friend 134 how much I personally was fascinated by his speech, particularly, if I may say so, because of its human qualities. For the Mover it was an historic occasion as being the first member of the European Parliament to have this honour. I should also like to join with all those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran, on his maiden speech. As a Q.C., we expected that he would be able to speak almost without notes. If I may say so, it was a daring thing to do in a maiden speech. I, for one, very much welcomed his remarks on the United States. I felt that really we should get this episode in proportion and remember that she is one of our greatest and oldest allies.
The noble Baroness, Lady White, at the end of her speech briefly mentioned the terrible problems of the famine, and before I get into what has been the main subject of the debate, which has been the Middle East, NATO and Europe, I should like to say how much I agree with her on how appalling it is that these enormous tragedies should take place; but of course we are unable to prevent the moving of nature. We can only help wherever we can, and as far as Ethiopia is concerned we have given £100,000 for famine relief. Before that, we have offered funds for the food-to-work programme, and I am glad to say we give to Ethiopia about £700,000 in technical assistance and £1 million a year for capital aid. We are very glad to do so because she is a great country; but one with formidable problems before her.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who spoke immediately after my noble friend, addressed his remarks mainly to the problems of the Middle East. I felt that my noble friend when he opened this debate gave an account of recent developments in a clear manner to the House, and I am glad to say that the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, said he thought it had the right key. My noble friend was not here at the time, but I hope he will be glad to hear this tribute. My noble friend explained how closely Her Majesty's Government have been in touch with other Governments, both inside and outside the Security Council, and he described what we have done to help the new United Nations Emergency Force take up its duties with the minimum of delay. Of course, the urgent need now is to ensure that the frightful events of the 135 last three weeks are turned into an opportunity to bring about the just and lasting settlement of the Middle East problem which has so long eluded us. Therefore we, together with other Governments, have been trying to find out what are the bases for the negotiations which would have the largest common denominator of acceptance. The Security Council has called for negotiations between the parties concerned under what they describe as "appropriate auspices", and we ourselves have always said that a settlement cannot be achieved without direct negotiations between the parties, although we recognise that at the start it may well be necessary to give them assistance to reach this stage.
My noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood said that she thought it was disgraceful that we had not condemned the Arab attack; but, my Lords, we have felt that it did not help the situation to apportion blame anywhere for this latest outbreak of fighting, which has gone on for so long. In 1967, too, the Government of the day refrained from apportioning blame, and I am sure this is right if one wants to have a settlement. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Janner, when he said that it was at any rate a good start that the commanders of the main armies should be meeting together on the battlefield. My Lords, it is remarkable to consider that this is the first time this has happened in 17 years—that they have been able to meet together on the battlefield. We consider that the United Nations should assist any settlement, and we think that the Secretary-General has very important work to do.
Now it is surely a British interest that the negotiations should begin, and we ourselves will not hinder them by insisting that this or that particular procedure must be followed. A permanent and a peaceful settlement is far too vital for that. Her Majesty's Government's views on the essential shape of the settlement remain unchanged. The fundamental need is to find a way of reconciling Israel's requirement for security with the need of her neighbours for the recovery of their territory; and we do not believe that reconciliation between Israel and her neighbours can be won on the basis of the retention by Israel of large areas of Arab territory. We do not believe 136 any settlement can be reached that way: we think it would lead only to continued hostility and, in the end, more fighting. But we believe that the two requirements can be satisfied by means of a system of demilitarised zones which would be policed by an international force powerful enough to act as a deterrent to breaches of the settlement, and it is to a force with this task that we have said we are ready to contribute if asked. We believe that if a system of guarantees can be agreed it will serve first to police a settlement but later to consolidate it.
The noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, asked how it was that the United Kingdom's role was influential in 1967, when Resolution 242 was passed, but was not, in his view, influential now. I would put it to him that one of the factors that has changed since then is that the super-Powers now have a direct working relationship; and this is something that we should surely all welcome—
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
—for the sake of the peace of the world. The noble Lord then went on to say that he thought that my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary should take charge of the negotiations in the United Nations now, although I am glad to say that he paid a tribute to Sir Donald Maitland. My right honourable friend is always willing to go anywhere at any time, but he does not feel that the right policy is necessarily to be rushing from capital to capital. A great deal is happening in Europe; and the noble Lord. Lord George-Brown, seems momentarily to forget the ordinary channels of communication. Indeed, I think that in the position in Europe which we now hold it is of great importance that my right honourable friend should be here when it is necessary. I should therefore also like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, that I welcome very much his tribute to my right honourable friend when he said he thought he had done his work with clarity and integrity.
My Lords, I think I should say a word about the United Nations Observer Force and the United Nations Emergency Force. There are 218 United Nations observers in the Canal Sector, and 82 on the Syrian 137 front. The Russians have sent some 70 "representatives" to join the observers. The Secretary-General has not yet accepted them. The Austrian, Finnish and Swedish U.N.E.F. contingents have been airlifted over the week-end, as was explained by my noble friend, and they number 585. We are also ferrying an Irish contingent of 131 from Cyprus today. The Secretary-General's target is 7,000 people. He is recruiting—and I quote:in consultation with the parties concerned and with the Security Council, and in the light of the accepted principle of equitable geographical distribution".The terms of reference of the United Nations Emergency Force are to supervise the implementation of the operative paragraph 1 of Resolution 340, whichdemands that immediate and complete ceasefire be observed, and that the parties return to the positions occupied by them at 16.50 hours on the 22nd October of this year".We do not consider this or any other recent Security Council resolution on the Middle East as being under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter.
The noble Lord, Lord Bourne, put forward the view that the United Nations Force should consist of non-aligned States and be removable only by vote of the Council. As I think perhaps he will recall, the Council has excluded the super-Powers and the Permanent Members, and has given the Force a first mandate of six months only. We cannot say now whether that will need to be renewed, but we think that there will have to be international guarantees of a settlement, including an international force which can be removed only by a decision of the Security Council. This is what I sought to say in answer to a question on the Statement the other day. But I should like to say to the noble Lord that his views on the need for demilitarised zones are very close to our own, and we believe that such zones could well be, in effect, the key to a settlement.
My Lords, I think that in searching for any progress, which of course will be extremely difficult, there are certain immediate problems which have to be solved with speed if the situation is not to turn sour—for example, an exchange of prisoners, the relief of the plight of the 138 Egyptian Third Army and the lifting of the Red Sea blockade. We have put forward certain ideas to deal with what we consider are urgent matters, because we think that until these are solved it will be very difficult to get negotiations really moving for a permanent settlement. Many noble Lords have expressed concern about the prisoners-of-war—concern which I naturally share. Above all, we are anxious to see that the Geneva Conventions are observed. Noble Lords will be glad to learn that Egypt and Syria, as well as Israel, are now ready to provide lists of prisoners to the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is an important start, but the actual return of prisoners of war is, I fear, affected by the situation on the ground, by the progress, or lack of it, towards re-establishing the positions held by the opposing armies when the first ceasefire came into effect on October 22; and the Government, naturally, are in touch with the Red Cross and with all the Governments concerned. There will be a need for a very special effort by the Red Cross, immediately after the fighting, to help those who have suffered, and the International Committee have appealed to Her Majesty's Government, and no doubt to many others, to help them with this. We have made a pledge of £65,000 to the International Red Cross Committee for this work alone.
Israel has given the International Committee of the Red Cross lists of prisoners and has admitted I.C.R.C. visitors. Egypt and Syria announced on October 29 that they would hand over lists. They have handed them over—some names, at any rate—to the I.C.R.C., and the I.C.R.C. have also been admitted to Egypt. We have no confirmation of any action in Syria; but Egypt and Israel have agreed at last on an early exchange of wounded prisoners. The Egyptians have said that, so far as the others are concerned, there will be an exchange of prisoners only when the Israelis return to the ceasefire lines of October 22. We consider that this point should not be linked with this question of the prisoners, and we hope that the armies will very soon return to these positions because it will be in accordance with the Security Council demands. According to our latest information, the Egyptians hold about 350 Israeli prisoners and Syria 100. The Israelis hold between 300 and 400 Syrians and 7,000 Egyptians.
139 The noble Lords, Lord Shepherd, and Lord Ritchie-Calder, asked about the whole question of Palestinian refugees. We have in recent weeks asked again about their particular needs. We are already a very substantial contributor—I think the second largest—and give about £2 million. But, as was said the other day, the whole settlement of Palestinian refugees must of course be part of the permanent settlement. Various noble Lords have expressed their concern about oil supplies, and there is no doubt at all that the available oil supplies have been reduced both as a direct consequence of the Middle East conflict and by the cuts in production that are administered by some Arab oil-producing countries. The production cuts are not directed against this country. I should like to assure the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who asked this question, that no assurances have been sought or given by the oil-producing States. The fact remains that the reduction of world oil supplies is bound to have some effect on the United Kingdom, and not least at a time when demand as a whole is increasing. We have prepared for the possibility that supplies will continue to be affected adversely and, as the House knows, contingency plans—
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
My Lords, everybody was so kind to me; nobody interrupted me and I am therefore reluctant to interrupt the noble Baroness. But she said that no assurances were sought—which I understand—or given. That I do not quite understand. I thought the Prime Minister said yesterday exactly the opposite.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, perhaps I did not make myself clear. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, asked a specific question. He wanted to know whether any assurance was given by Her Majesty's Government to the oil-producing States and whether it was for that reason that the cut-off in oil supplies was not specifically directed against the United Kingdom. As I have said, no assurances were sought or given by Her Majesty's Government on this particular point. I went on to say that of course, as has been announced publicly, we are making contingency plans because the supply situation is in 140 any case very difficult and must be watched every day.
A separate problem is that of the price increases which were announced by the Gulf members of OPEC on October 16. The 70 per cent. increase in prices has an immensely serious implication for the economies not only of the developed countries but also of the developing countries. It will add, we estimate, some £400 million a year to our import bill. This is bound to be reflected in price levels of other products, but (and I think this of more importance for the future) the whole system of negotiating prices with the oil companies appears to have broken down. This was the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Segal, when he asked whether there was any security against rising prices. I have to reply that I am afraid there is no security against rising prices, although we shall try to negotiate to keep some measure of stability in the market because we consider that this must in the end be of benefit not only to the consumer but to both the developed and the developing countries.
§ LORD SEGAL
My Lords, could there be evolved some system of fair pooling so that no discrimination will be shown against those countries who stood out for principles that they hold dear?
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I was actually talking about prices and it was on that matter that the noble Lord, Lord Segal, sought to question me. I should like to come in a moment to the question of sharing.
I should like now to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, and to say that we are trying to hasten the measures already taken over some period of time to reduce the need for such large quantities of oil imports. There are measures such as the development of other sources of energy, nuclear power, North Sea oil, so far as practicable, and the coal industry's important part in keeping up coal production. In reply again to the noble Lord, Lord Segal, we recognise the difficulties of our European partners, not least the Dutch. The European countries have all been in touch with each other; but it is the agreed view that at this stage there is no question of bringing into effect the emergency sharing arrangements.
141 The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Leek, said he thought, as did my noble friend Lord Onslow, that maybe America had over-reacted. I was glad to see the robust way in which the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said that we must above all do nothing to damage our relations with the United States. I should like, if I may, to quote to the House something which was said to-day by my right honourable friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. He said:The Middle East is not an area directly covered by the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance and therefore the Americans did not ask for a NATO alert last week even though the dispute in America's view could have overspilled into a general conflagration between them and the United States.We must avoid confusing the issue of the defence of the West—to which all of us, the United Kingdom. America and Canada are totally committed for reasons of overriding national interest—with other issues, however compelling and dangerous they may be. Just as the Americans and the Russians have an overriding interest in avoiding a military confrontation with each other, so we in NATO have an interest in keeping the Alliance in good repair.
I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who made a most fascinating speech and I should like to return to it in more detail in a moment, that in regard to the political issue which he raised we feel it is an over-riding interest of our own to see that our relations with the United States are redefined in a mutually satisfactory way in the new situation created by enlargement. The noble Lord, Lord Boothby, was in an immensely depressed mood to-day—so depressed that I see he has left us. But he felt that absolutely everything was wrong both with NATO and the Community and that almost the whole thing had collapsed.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
Yes, my Lords, he also said it was suicidal. He said that the Nine, the European Community, had made no expression at all about the Middle East. I can only conclude that he must have been elsewhere, because the Nine kept in the very closest touch with the crisis. On October 13 they 142 issued a joint statement in which they expressed the urgent need for a ceasefire and for the implementation of Resolution 242. They kept in touch in New York and the Middle East capitals, and at the meetings of the political directors at Copenhagen on October 11 and 12 and on October 18. There have been some very close consultations on all these matters.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said that he would like to see the Heads of State or Governments of the Nine meeting together, perhaps twice a year, with the President of the Commission present, to give a fresh impetus to the programme for the Community's work laid down at the Paris Summit last October, and also, of course, to strengthen the political co-operation work on the Nine. I am glad to say that President Pompidou has accepted an invitation from the Prime Minister to visit this country on November 16 and 17.
§ LORD GLADWYN
My Lords, is it true, as I heard on the radio just now, that President Pompidou suggested a meeting of Heads of State and Governments?
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, we have heard that, but we have had no confirmation of exactly what is in his mind. But certainly he is coming here on November 16 and 17, and I think that will be the chance to see what is really behind what it is reported that he has said.
The noble Lord, Lord Balogh, seemed to be very much against the E.E.C as a whole, and I think perhaps it was that he wondered—as indeed did other noble Lords—whether the United Kingdom can take an initiative on foreign policy on its own now that the United Kingdom is a member of the Nine. The arrangements for European political co-operation on foreign policy do not prevent Member States of the Community from taking whatever action they think right. But Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to the arrangements for cooperation on foreign policy. We think it is clearly right that we should all consult together. The aim is to try to find common policies between the Nine on the practical problems that face us all. The 143 power of the Nine to have a constructive influence on world problems is likely to be far greater if they act together than if they are divided. I think this is really the answer to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, who, at the beginning of his interesting speech, said that he felt Britain had not much influence to-day and who ended with an appeal to Her Majesty's Government to have great influence through the European Community. I am happy to say to the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, that that is exactly what we are trying to do.
§ LORD GEORGE-BROWN
No, my Lords. With respect, the noble Baroness must not misrepresent me. What I said was that we had, in my view at any rate, no influence on our own as a small and independent nation. What I appealed to Her Majesty's Government to do was to get a vast amount of influence by being a leader in the European Community. If the noble Baroness is now saying that is what she is going to do, or that is what her right honourable friend the Secretary of State is going to do, that is another matter. But she must not try to misrepresent me. We cannot have it by ourselves; we can have it if we are willing—upsetting the noble Lord, Lord Balogh, on the way—to be a leader in Europe.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
Well, my Lords, I have come to the conclusion that I represented the noble Lord extremely well and accurately; that is what I said.
Now I should like to turn to the interesting speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. He is of course quite right in saying that the implications for Europe of the Middle East war will have to be given a great deal of study and we shall have lessons to learn. The European members of the Alliance already consult on a great many matters within the Euro Group. We are trying to ensure that in the end we shall have a definite identity of our own; and, as Europe becomes more prosperous, in time we shall be able to take over a greater share of the burden of defence. I think that what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, said about the United States Administration was perfectly true. There are great doubts in the United States about the 144 large commitment they have given to Europe to keep and improve their forces. But they said that they would do it, provided that the European allies did the same. Perhaps American public opinion is not aware of the fact that the Europeans provide 90 per cent. of NATO's ground forces, 75 per cent. of her air forces and 80 per cent. of the NATO naval forces in the European area. Apart from that, substantial improvements in quality in European defence methods are being made, particularly under the authority of the Euro Group.
The noble Lord referred to Anglo-French nuclear co-operation. We hope that in due course British and French strategic nuclear forces may come to be held in trust for Europe. But while there is a good deal of work going on between us and the French on defence procurement, which we hope will continue and develop, both we and the French Government believe that now is not the right moment to take this final decision together.
The noble Lord Lord Shinwell, gave us one of his characteristic speeches. He said how important it was that we should always remember to build up our conventional forces. I think that was music to the ears of my noble friend sitting on the Government Front Bench, but it is not so easy to accomplish as all that. I do not want to speak for too long—although I count some interruptions in my time—but I should like lastly to reply to the appeal made by the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, about the work in Europe to try to get greater political co-operation. The nine Member States have kept a common position in the Conference on Security in Europe. This has meant that they have been able to exert an important influence on the course of the preparations for these negotiations and also now on the negotiations themselves.
More recently, the Nine have been working out a European reply to the ideas put forward by the United States, particularly in Dr. Kissinger's speech in New York in April, for bringing the trans Atlantic relationship up to date. I need hardly say that Europe's relations with America are of crucial importance, and the fact that Europeans have been able to adopt a united position and speak to 145 the United States with a single voice is, as was described by Dr. Kissinger, one of the decisive events of the post-war period. My Lords, we are glad that Britain has taken her share in this leadership in Europe.
§ LORD DAVIES OF LEEK
My Lords, before the noble Baroness concludes her careful and courteous speech, may I ask her one question? If she canont reply now, perhaps she will give me an answer later. My question is about the use of Turkish troops in relation to NATO. The idea was going about Europe in 1972, but it seems to be growing again. I will not press the noble Baroness to reply now, but at some time I should like a reply.
§ BARONESS TWEEDSMUIR OF BELHELVIE
My Lords, I do not think I want to talk about that now, except to say that, happily, American forces are in Europe in much greater numbers.
THE MINISTER OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS)
My Lords, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Viscount Colville of Culross.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.