HL Deb 26 November 1975 vol 366 cc302-86

4.19 p.m.

Debate resumed.


My Lords, may I begin by saying that I agreed with every word the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, which means that I shall not bore the House by repeating anything in his speech on my own behalf. I also agreed very largely with what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said, but not with everything. It always seems to me on occasions when we debate these two vast subjects of defence and foreign affairs that our remarks tend necessarily to be rather too disparate, and disjointed considering the vast tours d'horizon which we have to make. That is unfortunate in many ways. For instance, I should have liked to take up what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said about our intention to be independently represented at the Energy Conference and to contest the largely bogus arguments which the Government are deploying in that respect. I should also have liked to take him up on direct elections to the European Parliament, but that would have meant making another speech of considerable length. If I had had the opportunity I should also have ventured to explain why, in my opinion at any rate, the Soviet and the Western concepts of détente are totally distinct and not reconcilable.

If I had the opportunity I should have liked to make fairly long speeches on all these subjects, but clearly I cannot do so in the time available. Therefore, on the assumptionthat the rumoured cuts to which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, drew attention do not make any debate on the defence of these Islands rather academic, with your Lordships' permission I propose to break with precedent and to confine my remarks to one aspect of defence which seems to me to be of great long-term importance and has not been mentioned in any of the speeches made so far; namely, the decision on 5th November last of the Euro group, meeting in Brussels under the chairmanship of Mr. Roy Mason, to work towards an independent European armaments procurement agency. The words of this decision were as follows: They (that is, the 10 Ministers of all the European Members of the North Atlantic Alliance with the exception of France) decided to explore further the potential for extending co-operation in European armaments collaboration in an independent forum open to all European members of the Alliance. They agreed in principle to establish a European defence procurement secretariat. With a view to the longer term, Ministers commissioned a study into the tasks which a European defence procurement agency might undertake. However, the announcement ought to be read in full by all those who are interested in the defence of these Islands.

The first section of a rather large communiqué emphasised the necessity of making real progress with the standardisation of military equipment within the Alliance and of organising a specific ally European contribution to this end, while the last part is devoted to what is known in common parlance as the "two-way street"—that is to say, the desirability of the Americans agreeing that at least some modern conventional weapons should be produced in Europe and sold to them, thus departing from the usual procedure whereby such weapons are normally produced in America and sold to us.

As noble Lords are possibly aware, the constitution and setting up of a European armaments procurement agency is something which, together with much more authoritative personalities, I have been urging, whether as Chairman of "Britain in Europe", or as a Liberal spokesman on defence and foreign affairs, or as a member of the Western European Union Assembly, and later as a Member of the European Parliament, for the last twelve or thirteen years. How ever, it is no good thinking that the new agency, which could be quite independent of the existing Euro group, although no doubt working in conjunction with it, will be much more successful in standardising the production of conventional weapons than previous efforts to do so without the full and willing co-operation of France.

However, I can scarcely believe that this gesture towards France, for such it surely is, will go unheeded. France, as we know, has for long maintained that while her defence must be purely national she remains a loyal member of the North Atlantic Alliance. It all depends, therefore, on what is meant by a purely national defence. For instance, the President of the Republic himself said in an interview which he recently gave to the newspaper Le FigaroWe remain in the Alliance, which means that if there is an attack on one of its members we are obliged to be in the battle". However, on the very same evening, if that very able columnist, M. Alfred Grosser, is to be believed, the President said on television: Since France does not participate in an integrated defence she is free to interpret the conditions in which the obligations of the Alliance will apply". This last statement is to some extent true of the North Atlantic Alliance under which, although an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all, each member can decide on the means which it would employ in order to resist the aggression. That is what is said in the North Atlantic Treaty. France has certainly left the integrated defensive system which in practice makes a joint military reaction inevitable. However, it is not true of the Brussels treaty, to the maintenance of which France, I believe, has always attached special importance, which lays down that in the event of an attack on any signatory, all the others are bound to go to the assistance with all the means, military or other, at their disposal.

The fact is, however, that now no purely defence policy makes any real sense. After all, whether or not we like it there is now only one possible adversary from the military point of view, and that is the Soviet Union. And if there is only one conceivable adversary, then it is necessary to have one co-ordinated defence. For each member of the Alliance to wait until the adversary is at the national door before entering the fray or even, if it has them, only to threaten the use of nuclear weapons at the point when it is nearing the frontier, would be a simple indication of the likelihood of ultimate surrender. Still less profitable would be any thought of triggering off nuclear action on the part of America. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, is nodding his head. There fore, the crucial question now is: can the French Government, without abandoning its own national defence philosophy, somehow associate itself with the proposed and self-styled "independent" Armaments Procurement Agency, complete with secretariat, which it is the present intention of her European allies, as we know, to establish if they can?

I have already said that I do not believe that a completely national defence is now possible, but even if the French Government should continue to maintain that it is, it must surely recognise —I have some reason to suppose that it does—that there are certain defensive armaments, essential in a few years' time for any European defence, national or other, which can no longer be produced by any individual European nation, given the quite prohibitive cost of attempting to do so on the basis of any purely national research and development programme. Only, indeed, by pooling research and development in respect of the manufacture on this side of the Atlantic of, for instance, the kind of aircraft needed by, say, 1980 or, indeed, of guided anti-aircraft missiles, or anti-tank devices, or modern electronic equipment of every kind—all, may I point out, purely defensive weapons—can we avoid becoming by that time completely dependent upon American arms. There is no other choice.

My Lords, in the few minutes still available to me I will try to explain why. Always assuming that in principle it is desirable for the European members of the Alliance to possess standardised modern conventional arms, there is no doubt that such standardisation could be achieved by equipping the European forces uniquely and solely with modern arms made in America. That would be possible; some people might even think it desirable. But even in that event the Europeans would still have to pay for such arms across the exchanges, whereas if, by pooling their R and D, they could produce at least sonic of them on this side of the Atlantic, they could trade these against such arms as it might still be in the interests of the Alliance for the Americans to continue to produce. That is common sense.

But much more than that. As the European Commission—as reported by Mr. Spinelli, the Commissioner of Industry—has recently recognised, the case for an integrated production of European military aircraft, for instance, is overwhelming, based always on the assumption that the large European national aircraft producers (who I believe employ about a quarter of a million workers between them) will remain in business at all. And what applies to the aircraft industry can also be said to apply to the European industries involved in the manufacture of various electronic devices, guided missiles, space projects, and so on. In fact, a genuine advance down this road would do more to spark off some common European industrial policy than almost anything else, provided that is what we want. That is one of the essential points that I wanted to make.

More particularly—this should appeal to noble Lords opposite in a period of recession it is easy to grasp the effect of such a move on unemployment. I do not think that means that for the present we can safely cut down what we spend on conventional defence, although we can perhaps by one means or another cut down on the tail and decide that certain weapons, even tanks, are not as important as they were. That is possible, but it does not mean that we can safely cut down on the essential part of it. But it means that such expenditure would become much more tolerable and far more cost-effective. Added to this is a fact that I think would appeal more particularly to noble Lords behind me; that is, that a common production would make it much easier to regulate the sale of arms.

The same result, in a slightly different context, is foreshadowed in a draft Resolution which will probably come up for debate in the European Parliament during its December Session. The operative part of this Resolution recommends—I may say it has been before the Bureau of the Parliament for the last year, more or less—that the Ministers concerned, or such of them as may be willing to do so, should consider the desirability of constituting some specifically European defensive effort and, as a result of their deliberations, they should set up a European armaments procurements agency. As I have said, this draft Resolution was approved by the Political Committee as long ago as last January, but since then its consideration has been delayed, partly for reasons connected with the British referendum when it was thought (rightly or wrongly) that no discussion on armaments should take place. It was the Socialist group that raised that point, and it has subsequently been delayed by objections on the part of the Socialist group.

It differs from the decision of the Euro group, to which I have just referred, only in this; the intention would be to hold such preliminary Ministerial talks in the context of the Davignon procedure which, as your Lordships know, has been used for the last few years for the purpose of harmonising the foreign policy of members of the European Community. It thus leaves quite open the exact means whereby an agency might be established and what, for instance, its relations with the Eurogroup might be. It merely goes on the perfectly logical assumption that since defence policy cannot in practice be dissociated from foreign policy, it is desirable to make use of the Davignon procedure to which France is, of course, a party, in order to make the necessary start.

The Resolution does not, therefore, preclude some sensible co-operation with the Eurogroup, if that is what France would prefer. Nor does it necessarily exclude even the possibility of making use of the existing WEU machine for that purpose. The only grave disadvantage in the WEU solution, as I think probably your Lordships will realise, is that it is difficult to see how the existing Davignon procedure could be used for harmonising foreign policy while a quite distinct body was used for the purpose of harmonising the defence policy of the same seven States; that is to say, on the assumption—and I think the likely assumption—that neither Denmark nor Ireland will join the WEU or associate themselves with defence co-operation in the Davignon framework.

Coming to my conclusion, my Lords, however one approaches the problem one cannot avoid a grim and inescapable fact. Unless at any rate the four major Powers of the European Community, plus, I suppose, the Low Countries, can now somehow get together for the purpose of manufacturing in common, and thus standardising, the conventional arms of the future, they will all be either totally dependent on the United States of America in say, ten years' time, or, if the Americans lose heart, be at the mercy of the Russians; and not only totally dependent on the United States of America from the military point of view —after all, until such time as they may have a new and "credible" conventional defence that will be the case anyhow—but totally dependent economically as well, not possessing any aircraft or electronics, or space, or indeed any very modern industries of their own.

There may be those who would find such a prospect pleasing, but I fear that those who do are nursing an illusion. We live in a dark and barbarous century, and unless we can defend our free institutions and make them prosper, our own future will be dark and barbarous, too. We can defend ourselves and ensure our prosperity only by combining with our democratic neighbours—there is no other way. So we can only hope that a truth which is now becoming apparent to the various Governments concerned will prove to be acceptable to public opinion generally in all those countries and that, more especially, the Socialist group in the European Parliament will now see less objection to discussing a defence solution to which, broadly speaking, no less than three of their own Socialist Ministers have now agreed. In any case, I hope that the Minister who is to wind up the debate will say whether he feels that I have correctly interpreted the significance of the latest decision of the Eurogroup.

4.38 p.m.


My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, I feel very frustrated. The desire which we all have in our hearts, and which our heads tell us we cannot gratify, is to have a wide-ranging debate about all the things that there are to talk about. I wish we could do it, but we cannot. Not only is it very difficult to know what to choose to speak about, but in these days, with all the great things that go on around us—the possibility of total destruction, the danger of mass starvation and so on—we even have difficulty in knowing what to understand and what to leave other people to understand. That is the complexity of the situation in which we hold this debate, and indeed many of our debates. Perhaps I might add in lighter vein that I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, is on the list to speak next. We once had an interlude in your Lordships' House about inter-planetary diplomacy. It seems sad that modern science now seems to have discovered that in the solar system, at least, we shall have to solve all these problems ourselves.

First, I should like to apologise to the noble Lord who will wind up this debate for the fact that owing to various circumstances, in one of which I think he is himself involved, I shall probably not be here to await his reply, which I very much regret. I should like to speak briefly on one subject, not in the foreign affairs part of the gracious Speech, but which has foreign affairs implications; then, go on to deal shortly with one or two subjects in the gracious Speech—the foreign affairs part—with some reflection on the document itself. Then I hope to say a few words on how other countries see us.

My Lords, on the first point, in the third paragraph of the last page of the printed version there is a reference to revising the Official Secrets Act. If it is the feeling of the Government and others that we should adopt a more American system for preparing domestic legislation, by which there are long public hearings held before committees of one or other, or both, of the two Houses of Congress, I would have no worries or criticism at all. But I hope that the Government will bear in mind that, as regards foreign relations and defence, there are very special considerations which apply.

The maintenance of some degree of such exception in respect of external relations may not be popular and will have no support at all from the media, for obvious reasons. I should just like to express hope, and to ask the noble Lord to assure us, that the Government will feel able to show a certain clarity of mind and courage in maintaining what is something of a necessity, if our international relations are not to go wrong for reasons for which they should not.

On the passage in the gracious Speech itself, may I say first that on reading it I was a little worried that too much of it had been drafted in what I have christened "the Cliché Secretariat". It really does not seem necessary to ask Her Majesty to say three times in a page and a line or two that, "Her Majesty's Government will play their full part" in something or other. As one who has been in the trade, I recognise that phrase as meaning, roughly speaking, as the last device of a despairing draftsman, that Her Majesty's Government do not have a policy at the moment, they do not quite know what it will be, but they want to reserve a seat. A more conscious effort should be made to avoid imposing that kind of sentiment on Her Majesty, though there are difficulties about this, to which I will return.

I will now deal with two points, one of which refers to the "Cliché Secretariat" that is, that we are going to play our full part in the European Economic Community. What else can we play? We are full members, twice having decided to be so. Is there any suggestion that we should not play our full part? More important—and on this I will, with apologies, spend a few minutes—is the passage which has been already much referred to, that NATO is to be an instrument for détente as well as for defence, and that the Government continue to place great value on further détente. To that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, added that we want détente between ordinary people. On that, of course, one must ask: whose ordinary people are we allowed to have détente with?

But that is not really the important point. The important point, which I do not think has yet been mentioned in the context of the détente that we all sincerely want, is: what is happening in Portugal? I will spend a minute on this, because what is happening in Portugal is not something that is happening in a strange country a long way away, but is something which some people have tried to bring about in a small country very near to us, and by familiar methods.

In 1917, in Russia, a revolution was brought about by a defeated army and a determined political Party. In Portugal last year, roughly the same happened. In both countries a little later, there was an election for a constituent assembly. In both countries, there was a non- or anti-Communist majority. In Russia, the constituent assembly was never allowed to meet again, and force was used to prevent it. In Portugal, every effort has been made by the Communist faction to prevent the constituent assembly from carrying on. Not only that, but in an interview given to an Italian magazine last summer, Senor Alvaro Cuñhal, the leader of the Communist Party in Portugal, explained to the interviewer that the reason why he could not play the "election game", as he called it, literally translated, was simply that the 88 per cent. who had voted non-Communist were not part of the dynamics of the revolution. The interviewer then said, "Have I understood you right, Senor Cuñhal? Do I understand you as saying that there will be no Parliament in the Portugal that you are seeking? "Senor Cuñhal replied, "You understand perfectly right. I promise you, there will be no Parliament."

That is the measure of the people who are being helped by the Soviet Union to a victory in Portugal—which now looks more problematic. It looks more problematic, because one feature where the Russian and Portuguese cases differ is that the Socialists, under the brave leader ship of Dr. Mario Soares—which ought to be more frequently applauded than it is here—have decided to take up the battle and, if necessary, to take it up in the literal sense. So we must try to see this clearly.

I fully agree with the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, that too much use of the word "détente"leads to the state of mind in which people believe that it has already happened. The Communist world is a much more difficult problem than this. There are now two Communist Powers and there is friction between them in the third continent, which could be a dangerous development for the future. We must be careful with conventional language in this whole sphere of thinking. We must not talk, as did a careless correspondent in a recent broadcast, about the Portuguese habit of endless politicking with the gun. When will somebody ever learn!

On the same subject, may I suggest that for future purposes the Government might think more in terms of taking some credit in the gracious Speech, not for general sentiments but for some of the things which they have done during the year—and done successfully. This might be difficult. But may I mention three things, which from a former professional point of view seem to me to have been successful. One which everyone will remember vividly is the extremely deft handling by the right honourable gentleman the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of the problem of Mr. Hills in Uganda.

Secondly, one step has been taken in commonwealth and international affairs, described by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, which I believe is of great importance to the relationship between the developed and the undeveloped worlds. For too long in the United Nations, we have spoken rather calmly and gently in the old style of a well-behaved majority. The democracies are still, we hope, well behaved, but they are a minority. They are under constant attack from the majority on various points. It was extremely good to hear Mr. Ivor Richard explaining in temperate language that, in the matter of developing and developed countries, the developed countries, too, now have their difficulties. From whatever point of view one looks at it, whether moral, economic or selfish, we still owe a great duty to the developing countries, a duty which we have accepted and to which we have made great contributions. But, at the same time, it really does not help if we do not at least make our own case; that there are things in our own countries which need improving and correcting. We have to bear in mind our own public opinion in regard to these matters, while still being generous to the developing world.

My Lords, may I just say, to use the only figures I shall use, that even in these difficult times I hope that the Government will find it possible to maintain its level of 0.38 per cent. of the GNP for Government contribution to the developing countries. Having been in public relations, I should like to see the three become a four, but that may be too much to ask. But it is important that we keep up the good example we have given for so long.

Then there is, most recently of all, the action that the Government have taken on the death of General Franco. It would have been very easy for the Government to take the line that we have disliked this man for 40 years and we will not attend the funeral. Very rightly, to my mind, the noble Lord the Lord Privy Seal went to the funeral representing Her Majesty's Government. The reason I believe this to be right is, if I may use a rather absurd sounding phrase, that a funeral looks not only to the past but also to the future. I am sure it is right that Her Majesty's Government should not have refused that look towards the future, but should feel able to give to King Juan Carlos a sign that on the right basis and with the right hopes we are prepared to be friendly. Perhaps I might add one caution, of which I hope the Spaniards will be aware. It will be tempting for the new Government to cover over some of its difficulties by creating a campaign about Gibraltar. I think it should be made clear, not publicly but privately and quietly, that while we are always prepared to talk about anything, and obviously Gibraltar concerns Spain, it is no good trying to stampede us into commanding the Gibraltarians to do something they do not want to do. This was the fallacious basis of a United Nations Resolution in 1967, and really the parties must not get into that position again.

The third part of my remarks concerns some opinions on the United Kingdom. I shall show that I raise this with a purpose. I would quote to your Lordships four opinions from four different countries, and their importance is that they were uttered to me by unimportant, friendly people during various travels at this time of year. I emphasise "unimportant'' because they did not want to get anything out of me, and, quite rightly, they realised that I would have no influence on anybody if I passed them on. So they were spontaneous, and intended to be friendly, and they were as follows. India: "We think you are getting rather behind. We tried income tax at a maximum of about 100 per cent. and found it did not work, and so we have taken it down to 75 per cent. and corporation tax has also been reduced ".

Then, from Holland: "We like you very much. Knowing what we do about your industry, we always leave you a special interval after the delivery date you have promised us. We are getting rather tired that you are also getting beyond that delivery date". From America: "We have difficult industrial relations ourselves, but we do not understand why you have become the country in which people walk off the floor first and negotiate afterwards". I take those three together because in the main they are economic, and we have had our economic debate; I think they speak for themselves. They are somewhat vivid illustrations of what friendly people in friendly countries think of our performance, and they are perhaps worth thinking about.

The fourth example is from Switzerland, which said: "We like you very much, but we are perplexed by your attitude since you joined the European Economic Community. You seem to have as your main purpose to play down what the Community stands for and to argue against whatever the Community wants to do. Why do you do this?" This is not wholly fair, because, of course, the arguments in the Community are widely reported in Switzerland, which is nearly surrounded by the Community. But perhaps I might stop to comment on this point. First, there is the matter of what we dispute about. I think that we have a case for a separate seat at the Energy Conference, for just one of all the reasons which the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, mentioned; namely, that we shall have about 90 per cent. of European oil. But to adduce all the other reasons —the importance of our industry, the importance of the City of London and so on—seems to me to call for immediate replies by everybody else, which would be just as convincing in favour of their having a separate seat.

Then there is the manner. When the present Government came into Office, there was a bit of a fashion to go to Brussels and beat the table; a point on which I had the temerity to comment in your Lordships' House at the time. We have had a period in which that was not the fashion, and now, to the disturbance of people who understand the Government's point of view but also cherish our relations with Europe, we seem to have gone back to banging the table, to expressing ourselves with a certain degree of indignation and ill-will which seems to me to be both inappropriate and, also, not really to advance our purposes. I am quite sure that if, instead of the British trying to be good Frenchmen, which we are not very good at, we in our own way with British under-statement, argued the point about our seat in the Energy Conference and went on persisting, we should in the end get our way without creating that amount of ill-will. So may I beg the Government to think rather hard about the manner as well as the matter, when we have difficult and contentious points to raise within the Community.

On the economic side of the gracious Speech I will not say more than one sentence or so, since the debate has already taken place. It is simply this. I think that those people whom I quoted would have liked to see in the gracious Speech a direct mention of two things; first, productivity, as a special paragraph on its own; and, secondly, something directed to show that Government are taking a really expert look at the one thing we want so badly, which is the encouragement of private industrial investment to recapture a place which it had at one time. We criticise ourselves too much on this. We have not done well, but we have not done too badly. But it would help people who have money, and who want to put it to constructive use throughout the world, to put it here, where we want it, if they felt that the Government, apart from their doctrinal policies in certain areas, would really encourage and give a chance to that money coming in and making the additional profit which attracts money here rather than anywhere else.

I hope I have not given too denigratory an account of what people abroad think of our efforts, but what I have heard and the things I have quoted are not isolated or uncommon. I therefore also suggest to Ministers—and I would have suggested this to them had I been in my former office—that they should be very careful about claiming how much influence we have in the world at present. We do not have as much as we should have, and could have, and as I hope we shall have—because there are certain bright signs at present, such as the success of the £6 limit, which we owe to the TUC; there are constructive things that happen, but we are not far enough along the road yet.

Therefore, I would conclude by saying that, unlike much comment, I feel that the right note has been struck by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury, who exhorted us to get on with the job, as he said, cheerfully and caring for each other, and being just in all we do. That requires a lot of thinking, but it is a great exhortation and I am quite sure that if we could corporately follow it, the world would be surprised at what it saw.

4.59 p.m.


My Lords, I welcome the assurances in the gracious Speech that the Government will maintain firm support of the United Nations, and I understand "firm" in the terms which the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts impressed upon us; that is, not merely that we imply support but that we will insist on the maintenance by others of the principles of the United Nations. The United Nations is in trouble and it needs all the help that we can give it. I welcome, too, the assurance that they will vigorously pursue their initiative for a better order in world trade in commodities, and I especially welcome their recognition of the special needs of the poorest developing countries and the fact that they will seek to assist rural development and food production.

It is obvious that the old economic order is in total disarray, and so is the old political order in total disarray. It is clear that no country, even the biggest or the wealthiest—either the USSR importing grain, or the USA bedevilled by oil—is master of its own destiny. The great empires have fragmented, and the pieces find it very difficult even to cohere. The industrial nations are hostages to their need for resources in the possession of other people.

In 1945 the United Nations consisted of 51 Member-States. Freedom, self-determination—I think we call it devolution now—spread like an epidemic. It was accompanied by "The Revolution of Rising Expectations." But aspirations in terms of freedom were not the same as expectations in terms of material returns. It was relatively simple to accede freedom, but it has not proved so easy to provide the substance of freedom. People were given a say in their own affairs, but as one fragile democracy after another failed to meet the material needs of the poor and hungry people, or provide stability, elected Governments collapsed and in the name of law and order military Juntas took over. All were professing temporariness, but always becoming permanent. Only about 25 countries can be identified as democracies at least by the criteria of Westminster or Capitol Hill. I doubt whether many more would be recognisable as communistic by Moscow or Peking definition. The rest, in any ideological sense, are improvisations groping for political identity. The disintegration of the old political and economic order is an irreversible process. No matter how reluctantly, we have to come to terms with the global facts of life. It is an uncomfortable and indeed in many cases a miserable situation with a great deal of disenchantment all round; disenchantment about what was expected on the part of the less developed countries, and disenchantment or grievance or grudge because people, who have tried their best, think they are not getting credit for their good intentions.

Perhaps we can derive some optimism from the fact that the demand for the new economic order has come from the Third World. We do not have to be naïve about it, and again I was grateful to my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts for what he had to say about the seventh Special Assembly. Her Majesty's Government can, with mature wisdom, or harsh and indeed bitter experience, bring substance to the rhetoric. The rhetoric is still very rotund. But the terms on which we could arrive at something which is desperately needed—which is a new economic order—at least are indicated in the discussions going on. Although the excesses of the General Assembly, and the irrationality about Zionism—which made a mockery, I may point out, of the Charter—have brought stresses into the United Nations since the seventh General Assembly. I think most observers, including myself as a non-Governmental observer at the Special Assembly, which was called specifically to discuss the new economic order, would agree that it was a most encouraging Conference, the most encouraging that I have attended in the, last 20 years. In that Conference at least —I am talking about the seventh Special Assembly—the invective of recrimination from the new nations was muted, and the language of the powerful industrial nations was conciliatory. They were not laying down the law as they so often do. One was encouraged to think that the adolescent nations were growing up and that the powerful nations which, since the war, have dominated the thinking about the world order in general, were thinking again, thinking hard and indeed thinking sympathetically.

As subsequent events in the regular General Assembly proved the appearance of rapprochenment was precarious. It still all depends on the attitude of the industrialised countries not only towards their political and trading accommodations—that is, coming to terms with countries on whose resources their own industrial prosperity depends—but to their moral obligations towards the commonality of mankind, and above all to the predicament of the poorest of the poor; to the poor countries, but also to the poor within countries. That is why I welcome the present policies of Her Majesty's Government, and the recognition that development aid must be injected into the bottom of the system and not into the top.

I welcome, too, the new and radical policies of the World Bank and of Robert S. MacNamara. With all deference, this is an interesting example of how the latest convert beats the Hallelujah drum loudest. MacNamara has given a very strong and admirable lead and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will reinforce, through the World Bank, the kind of policies which he is carrying out and which it is Her Majesty's Government's expressed policy to promote. He has recognised that wealth generated at the top does not, as was assumed in the Bretton Woods banking concept of the World Bank, settle down to the bottom, and he has insisted that the Bank concerned itself with the bottom 40 per cent.

In 1972 Robert MacNamara enjoined his Board of Governors of the World Bank in these terms: The problem of the developing world can be summed up very succinctly. Roughly half the population are neither contributing significantly to economic growth nor sharing equitably in the benefits. They are the poor. Some 900 million of these individuals subsist on incomes less than 75 dollars a year. They are the absolute poor, living in situations so deprived as to be below any rational definition of human decency. Absolute poverty is a condition of life solely limited by illiteracy, mal-nutrition, disease, high infant mortality, and low life expectancy, as to deny its victims the very potential of the genes with which they were born. It is a life at the margin of existence. The truth is that throughout the developing world, in the countryside and the cities alike, there is a huge and largely untapped potential to reduce absolute and relative poverty by directly assisting the poor to become productive. In 1972 the Bank addressed itself to rural poverty to raise the productivity of millions of small subsistence farms. The scale of the problem is immense there are more than 100 million families—that is, some 700 million individuals—and the size of the average holding is not only small but fragmented. Over 50 million of those families are farming less than one hectare. The Bank has committed 7billion dollars—seven thousand million dollars—to be loaned for this purpose over the next five years. The projects include roads, electricity, water, education, family planning, and nutrition, as well as the means to increase crop production and dairy farming developments.

This year Mr. MacNamara addressed himself to the problem of urban policy, stressing the inhuman burdens and living conditions, and he said: It is not the squatters who are obscene but the economic circumstances which make the squatters' settlements necessary that are obscene. Poverty is a Misery-go-Round. People who are mal-nourished are susceptible to disease. People who are sick and hungry cannot work to produce adequate food or earn the money to buy it. They cannot learn how to improve their conditions, nor can they learn to escape from them. If people are condemned to live like animals they will breed like animals, and that is something we should keep on insisting when we are looking at the world population problem. Whether we are talking now about persons, families, groups or nations, that is the litany of Skid Row and we must consider how we can help them to redeem themselves.

In the last 30 years I have travelled throughout the world, mainly for the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies, trying to see how science and technology can be used for the benefit of these people. Out of all my experiences, I can say as a generality that what we have done for people has been much less successful than what we have with people. In other words, where people were fully involved and where the methods were consistent with their manifest needs and their cultural experience, the transplants of our knowledge and skills were effective, but where, in our technological arrogance, we ignored those considerations, the foreign transplants have lopped off like the skin-graft which is genetically incompatible. With the confidence that we knew what they needed and without asking them what they wanted, we launched them into industrial development at the expense of their agriculture. We gave them black box technology which produced products from within that black box, but nobody knew how it worked.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a question as a result of my experience in India? Would he not agree that a certain amount of black box technology and heavy industrial development was in fact demanded by the countries we were helping?


My Lords, I have no doubt at all that it was demanded, and I have no doubt that we met many of the requests of the highly sophisticated people who wanted that kind of thing. But it certainly did not apply to the people generally, and I am afraid that from my experience in India, what I am talking about was more emphasised there than in any other area I know, because the idea of take-off into self-sustaining prosperity from the basis of heavy industry was, as some have said, one of the biggest mistakes because it was at the cost of Indian agriculture.

Even more than our presumption in putting in ideas even if they have been requested—and we might try to dissuade people from wanting them sometimes—this particular black-box principle is the one which has been developed by the multinational corporations, which can go in and certainly create industry but, by and large, the people do not know what goes on inside the black box. That is one of the most bitter complaints against the activities of multi-national corporations, the one which has caused disenchantment and now bitter resentment. What is needed in all development is the participation of the people themselves and the transfer of knowledge and skills must be a way of helping people to help themselves. This lesson is expressed in the Government's policies and in their insistence on the special needs of the poor countries and on rural development.

There is a plethora of knowledge and technological experience which can be deployed in this way. We are not, as is sometimes said, condemning people to go on struggling out of a primitive condition; we are giving and making available to them the kind of possibilities of which they can take advantage. We do not have to impose our experience; we can share it and it can be adapted and, so far as I am concerned, the first consideration in all of this must be to feed the people. We must be more imaginative and find sources of supply which are not just the expansion of our conventional crops or simply an extension of our own practices. On a previous occasion in this House I mentioned triticale, our first man-made grain, deriving from the genes of wheat and rye but with wide temperature adaptability. Triticale is being designed deliberately to be grown successfully in what are now known as marginal lands. We can have tundra triticale and desert triticale.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of triticale have been planted and testing stations have been set up in 52 different countries. The yields in Mexico are considerably higher than wheat in comparable conditions. In India, it is yielding well at high altitudes and on acid soils. In Ethiopia, triticale varieties performed better than durum wheat at five contrasting locations. Overall, triticale appears to display protein contents comparable to the best bread wheats together with a biologically superior amino acid composition. On the last occasion when I mentioned this subject, the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, with his scientific wisdom queried the question of the dangers of Ergot poisoning—ergotism being nature's own LSD (from rye) which was respons ible for the "dancing men" in the Middle Ages. I can assure the noble Lord that this has been bred out or at least worked out, and the people I have consulted have no great concern or dismay.

Because I always like to be optimistic even in the midst of my pessimism,. I wish to bring to the attention of noble Lords a development which I think is even more exciting. I am talking about bread from the sea. A young botanist, Richard Felger, with an anthropological team among the Seri Indians in Baja California, came to see me and has drawn the attention of UNICEF and various other organisations, including the FAO, to the remarkable properties of Zostera marina, which is eelgrass from the Gulf of California, which has provided a staple diet for the Seris since time immemorial. This variety of Zostera, which flourishes in the Gulf of California, is a seed plant which grows fully submerged in ocean water. It is the only plant we know that produces a head of grain completely submerged. One hundred per cent. of the eelgrass stems in California are reproductive, seed bearing, and the surroundings in California seem favourable to the formation of the seeds.

Each Zostera fruit or head of corn contains seeds between 3 and 3.5 millimetres long and weighs between 1.1 to 5.6 milligrams. The remarkable property of this grain is that it contains 13.2 per cent. of protein, 50.9 per cent. of starch and about 1 per cent. of fat, and I might add that from anthropological studies the Seri Indians are a remarkably healthy people. It would appear that oceans bordering on deserts offer the best environment for seagrass cultivation, as it needs tidal action. The Seri Indians have harvested the seagrass as one of their major foods and no other peoples have harvested grain from the sea. They dry it, thresh it, winnow it, grind it into flour and bake it into bread. It is bland and it can be savoured up, and for this purpose the Seris use the fruit-juices of cactus plants. Using coarsely ground eelgrass flour prepared by the Seri, the University of Arizona team has in fact produced bread from the sea.

The bread, when fresh, had a good flavour and was like rye bread in texture, and the flour is a good substitute for whole meal flour. The crust, when baked, is golden brown—I sound as if I were addressing a cookery class—but there is a catch (or is it?) that the bread is green. The whole grain, when toasted, is like wild rice.

There is no question that this has a real capacity and it appears to me that it represents a giant possibility. If we can produce grain from the sea we shall be tackling two problems at once—first, the problem of land acreages and, secondly, the problem of shortages of fresh water. Reverting to my theme, which is the poorest of the poor, think what are the possibilities in, for instance, Bangladesh. Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal are on the same latitude as is the Gulf of California. Think what it would mean to the stricken, starving people of Bangladesh if they could get their bread from the sea.

5.21 p.m.


My Lords, I find myself so fascinated by the glimpse which the noble Lord, Lord Ritchie-Calder, has given us into the future that it is difficult to get back to the subject on which I wish to concentrate, which is one aspect of the debate on the Address. It is the state of the country's Armed Forces, which I believe is now becoming a matter of the gravest national concern. I feel that it is essential in considering this matter to look first at what threat exists to this country. Is there a threat at all? Do we indeed need military forces at all?—because, if we do, we clearly need effective ones. It may perhaps be interesting occasionally to look at this question of the threat—that is, the military balance and possibilities in the world—through eyes other than our own or those of our allies. I have recently returned, as have other noble Lords, from a visit to China and the Far East, where I spent several months. I was most interested in the view from Peking as briefly mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I should like to elaborate on that, not at too great length but simply to say that the view from Peking of the possible future structure and military balance of the world is extremely interesting and is of great significance for this country and its allies if we are disposed to take it seriously.

The Chinese believe that, to put the matter at its simplest, the Soviet Union is now the greatest aggressor nation of the world. The "social imperialists", as they are called in Peking, are, according to the Chinese theory, bent on world domination. They believe, or they say, that the Soviet Union is ruthlessly and unscrupulously using the instrument of détente in order to put the West off its guard and to persuade it to lower its defences so that the Soviet Union can first separate the West from the United States of America and then bring the whole of Western Europe into its sphere of influence. After that, the Chinese believe, the Russians will turn to Asia. In that way, they will gradually exert what the Chinese call "world hegemony".

The Chinese believe, on the other hand, that the West is displaying in the face of this threat a notable and deplorable apathy. They believe that we have been in many cases totally deceived by the word "détente" and by the Russian intentions and policies that lie behind it. They believe, in fact, that Western Europe and the United States of America are simply unaware of the danger which faces them. This is a view which is shared elsewhere in the Far East. It is not only the view from Peking; it is a view seen from other countries in the Far East. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, mentioned views of this country which he had picked up in the course of his travels. In mine, too, I found that, in places like Singapore, Australia, the Philippines and South-East Asia generally, there was a feeling that Western Europe and especially Britain had lost its way and had lost its resolve to bring its very real and valuable influence to bear on the way in which the political structure of the world is developing.

It is one thing to look at the threat and the possibilities through other eyes, but we must then ask ourselves how valid that view of the world is and what truth and validity lie behind the Chinese theories. Let us look at some of the facts and some of the capabilities that have led the Chinese to their conclusion. Much play has been made in this country and in the West with what is described as "excessive" expenditure on defence. A young lady writing in a national newspaper recently expressed this view with passion and elegance. It was a view which has since been repeated in the Morning Star and, with varying degrees of prominence, by the Soviet News Agency and by Moscow radio. I believe that, behind that theory of the world, we should look at some of the real facts. I have selected a few, but there are many others which I could deploy in aid of my argument. The first is that, since 1970, defence expenditure in the NATO countries has gone down every year in absolute terms. The amount of money spent on defence has reduced each year since 1970. In exactly the same period, defence expenditure in the Warsaw Pact countries has gone up in absolute terms each year. Secondly, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union—talks upon which, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, pointed out, we have little influence, though they will affect us very significantly in certain circumstances—have so far led to an increase in the number of nuclear weapons in the world and, indeed, to the very real possibility that, if numbers mean anything at all, and perhaps they do not in this context, the Soviet Union will soon have a marked superiority in nuclear weapons over the United States and the West.

The next fact is that, on the central front of Europe, whatever jokes may be made about spies who count empty tank sheds, the Soviet Union and its allies have an overwhelming superiority in tanks, in men, in guns and in aircraft. The United States Forces in Western Europe have been progressively reduced during the 1970s. The Soviet Forces in Eastern Germany have been progressively increased during the 1970s. It is true that one can deploy arguments about the size of divisions, the quality of troops and the quality of equipment on the one hand and that one can, of course, deploy arguments about lines of communication and the ability of the Soviet Union to standardise weapons throughout its alliance. All those arguments can be deployed on one side or the other but, on balance, the simple fact of the matter is, incontrovertibly and unchallengeably, that the superiority in strength of the Communist forces has increased in Europe and is still increasing. There is no doubt at all about that. The reasons may be a matter for argument and debate, but the facts are incontrovertible. It is true that, as the noble Lord. Lord Gore- Booth, has suggested, if the mutual force reduction negotiations are successful, the figures may change, but it is extremely unlikely that the balance will change, and this is what is important.

But having said that about the balance of forces and the balance of military power in Europe—I have said it many times before, and I make no apology for saying it again—there is something which is now, I believe, becoming of even more vital importance to us in the West; that is, the shift in the naval balance of power. In 10 to 15 years, while we have been arguing about the balance of power in central Europe, the Soviet fleet has been transformed in a most dramatic way from a comparatively insignificant coastal fleet into one of the great global naval powers of the world. It is the second largest navy in the world, and by some standards of measurement the most powerful and the most significant. The nucleus of its fleet is 265 ocean-going submarines, of which 75 are nuclear powered, and of which 100 carry nuclear "Cruise" missiles. In addition to this, it has nearly 250 major surface combat ships—mainly cruisers and destroyers—and next year there will come into commission in the Soviet Navy the first of two modern sophisticated aircraft carriers.

By any military standards this is a fleet of immense capability and immense significance, and its declared aim, as enunciated by Admiral Gorshkov—the Soviet admiral who has been the architect of this expansion—is in peace time to dominate the oceans of the world, and in war time to separate Western Europe from the United States of America. These are not my words; they are the words of Admiral Gorshkov, who has created this great naval instrument of power. It is arguable that the Soviet fleet even today has the capacity to do both those things. It is active in the Pacific, in the Atlantic, in the Mediterranean, in the Indian Ocean and throughout the China Sea. There is no expanse of international water that is not constantly patrolled by the Soviet fleet. It has naval facilities on both sides of the Suez Canal, in Libya and in Somalia. It has naval facilities down the coast of Africa. It has naval facilities in India and in the Andaman Islands. There is hardly a place in the Indian Ocean where the Soviet Union has not acquired some form of naval facility, however small. The supreme Allied commander, Atlantic—the NATO admiral in charge of our Atlantic defences, which would be one of the keys to our security in time of war—has said at a private meeting that he could no longer guarantee to prevent the Soviet Navy dominating large areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

These, my Lords, are the facts, whatever interpretation we may wish to place upon them. What, on the other hand, do we see on our side? What are the possible reasons why the Chinese, the Indians and the Australians should believe that we are unaware of the threat and too apathetic to do anything about it? Perhaps they see the progressive cuts that are taking place in defence spending in the West. Perhaps they see the diminishing capability on the central front of Europe. Perhaps they see the weakening of our naval presence and our naval capacity as the Soviet Union strengthens its.

Perhaps they see the moves—gradual, subtle perhaps, but definite—towards a sense of isolationism in the United States. Perhaps they see the failure of Western Europe—as has already been mentioned in this debate—to move quickly and constructively towards some form of unity. And East of Suez, perhaps they see a new situation—which is all too clear to anyone who goes there to see it—in which the countries of South-East Asia are now being faced with a choice; a choice of whether to move, or to allow themselves to move, in the next 10 to 15 years into the Soviet sphere of influence or into the Chinese sphere of influence. They have no other choice, because the confrontation in South-East Asia is between those two great super-Powers. The West has, in the eyes of the people who live out there, virtually opted out of its responsibilities and its interests in that part of the world. Perhaps they see the sense of introspection and isolationism which is growing in Australia; the gradual tendency to turn in from the rest of the world and to wash its hands of any responsibilities it might have had in the Indian Ocean or in South-East Asia.

My Lords, it seems to me that in this kind of world this country still has a very important and significant role to play. As has been made clear many times this afternoon, we are members of a Western Alliance. Defence for us is not the defence of our own Islands; that is totally meaningless. It is an utterly meaningless concept, as it would be for Australia. Our defence and our collective security depend upon being trusted, effective members of an Alliance; they depend upon contributing to it if we expect to benefit from it in time of emergency and in time of war.

But people say that all of this is totally irrelevant; we are in an era of détente. We have had the great diplomatic triumph of Helsinki and, therefore, there is no threat and all this money spent on defence is money thrown down the drain, when it could be used for more important purposes. Well, my Lords, what has happened since the great diplomatic triumph of Helsinki? The noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said with considerable perception (although, to be fair, I think he was quoting) that détente begins with confidence. But what confidence can people in the West have when they see what has happened since the Helsinki declaration came about?

There has been the interference of the Soviet Union coming to full fruit in Portugal, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has pointed out; the more recent interference in Angola, on a much more brutal and overt level. We see British soldiers being killed in Northern Ireland with Soviet weapons. We see the KGB active, not only throughout Europe, but in virtually every capital in South-East Asia. There was not one single capital that I visited in South-East Asia in which it was not made clear to me by the Government—by either the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister concerned—that there was concern about the degree of penetration which had been exerted and achieved in that particular country by the Soviet Union. Indeed, in one South-East Asian capital I discovered that there were Soviet agents operating who had been invited to leave this country a few years ago because their activities had been discovered.

We see the prison camps still existing in the Soviet Union, and we read about the conditions that exist in them. We see no signs of a reduction in the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact; on the contrary, we see an increase, almost daily. We see a growing confrontation throughout South-East Asia in which the Soviet Union is in eye to eye conflict with China for the sphere of influence that runs from the Southern borders of China down to the Northern coast of Australia, and perhaps even further.

How can the West believe that détente is a reality when all these things are going on? I am not suggesting that we are in any danger of an immediate assault, an immediate military descent, from the Soviet Union. I do not believe in the idea of the Red hordes sweeping down to the Channel ports any more than I believe in other clichés of the political debate, like "Reds under the bed". However, I believe that although we must have patience in our relationships with the Soviet Union, it must be patience based upon prudence, and that in our negotiations we must always be sure that we do not lower our guard.

My Lords, in conclusion I should like to indulge in a few minutes of very modest phantasy. Your Lordships may recall that James McNeill Whistler, the American artist, was once a cadet at West Point, the American military academy. He was ejected from the Academy for failing his chemistry examination, and for ever after that he was accustomed to begin after dinner speeches by saying: Gentlemen, if silicon had been a gas, I would have been a general. I often engage in a modest phantasy of my own on that level because it is just possible that, had I not taken the downward path that led through journalism to politics, I might now be one of those people required to give advice on military matters to Her Majesty's Government. I have often wondered recently what sort of advice I would give. I would certainly make it clear that we were living in a dangerous world. It is not only, as the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, said, with his characteristic, mellifluous, Celtic understatement, a fluid world. It is a turbulent world; it is a hostile world; it is an uncertain world and it is a menacing world.

I would say to my political masters, "This is no time to be chipping away at your military defences. There is still, whether you like it or not, and however much you bandy around the word 'détente', a major confrontation going on in the world, and we are on one side of it; and we have a duty to ourselves and to our allies". I would say that there should be no further steps which would diminish the effectiveness, the morale and the credibility of our Armed Forces; and if my political masters did not take that advice I would invite them to find another Chief of Staff immediately. Because I know, my Lords, that those who give military advice are very worried at this moment. They cannot say so publicly; but they are concerned, and deeply concerned.

Of course there must be restrictions in public spending; everyone recognises that. But it is possible, just possible, to contemplate for a while in the development of our society a time when there will be no rise in our living standards. We may even have to contemplate a time when there will be an absolute cut in our living standards. That will not be welcome, but at least it will be tolerable. That is not so in the world of defence. If it is indeed true that the Government are contemplating further substantial cuts over and above those which were announced at the end of the last Defence Review, then I think that it would be as well to remember that once we reduce our defences below a minimum level of safety we may never have a chance to revive them. You cannot treat Armed Forces like some kind of indestructible balloon which can be inflated and deflated to suit the current economic climate. Armed Forces are a complicated mechanism even on their own, without considering their delicate meshing with foreign policy. There are things like lead times for equipment; there are things like strategic planning and the need for a consistent tactical doctrine, quite apart from the human element, in an army, a navy or an air force.

My Lords, I earnestly beg Her Majesty's Government, without, I hope, any element of polemics, to look again at this question of defence planning; not to be affected by the advice, sometimes strident and shrill, of the extremists in their midst. I believe we should look at this carefully; not, if I may suggest, in the way in which the last Defence Review looked at the problem, which is, crudely speaking, to decide how much you can afford to spend on defence and then to make cuts across the board and subsequently to rationalise them in terms of strategy. I believe that the only intelligent way to look at our defence policy is first of all to assess, courageously and clearly, the nature of the long-term threat to this country; then, taking all the technical and tactical changes into account—the impact of new kinds of equipment and of new techniques of using them—to decide what defences are needed to ensure the long-term security and safety of the people of these Islands; and that means, of course, of our allies as well, because without them we cannot survive. Only in that way, I believe, my Lords, can we evolve a defence policy which will do what it is intended to do; that is, to serve as the handmaiden of our foreign policy and to ensure the safety and security of the people of these Islands. There are many areas of Government policy which, if we get them wrong, can create great difficulties—poverty, unhappiness, frustration, anger, despair. But there is only one which is fatal if we get it wrong, and that is defence. My Lords, I urge that the Government should get this right before it is too late.

5.45 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, when I saw my name put between that of the noble Lord who has just spoken and that of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, I felt very dubious about speaking at all, because they have expert knowledge; and now that we have heard that the noble Lord who has just sat down might perhaps have been the Chief of Staff I feel even more nervous about my contribution. But I entirely agree with the noble Lord about the views of Peking. Having been to China on two occasions and having kept up my contacts since, I absolutely concede to his views. With regard to the other countries in South-East Asia, I should like to add that Indonesia, which is now building up its naval force, has quite a good Army and is equally worried and interested, and is co-operating with Australia. With regard to what the noble Lord said about détente, I am entirely in agreement with him. We must always, of course, try to go along with these countries in seeking peaceful solutions, but we cannot be too happy about the present state.

However, today I intend to talk as a civilian. I served during the last war with the Red Cross in the air-raid shelters and in the Tube shelters, and I went to Portugal to help in the repatriation of the internees and then later on to Indonesia, where we had, at least in one camp, 10,000 women and children. Of course, it is not only Her Majesty's Services, which are so excellent, which suffer: in the days of war the civilian population also suffers, as we know from Vietnam, and I feel that they must be protected. In other words, the money they contribute must be well spent in regard to defence. Having read, in yesterday's Official Report of the other place, a Question and Answer in regard to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, I gather that we cannot even afford to have this ceremony. The reply was: … every effort will be made to ensure that the ceremony takes place daily from April to September, which is of course the main tourist season."— [Official Report, Commons, 25/11/75, col. 639.] To my mind that is absolutely fantastic. The Army is not a show business, but exists to protect this country. With Northern Ireland and all the other projects that they have, surely if we cannot have the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace it is no great misfortune; but to have to come down, in a Question in Parliament, to such a low ebb as this seems to me to be very frightening.

I believe that Her Majesty's Government are making our Forces impotent, and I think this is stressed in the gracious Speech. I was very worried, too, about encouraging procurement; in other words, arming other countries so that they may use their weapons against us. In fact, the nuclear know-how which is being sent to these various countries is not necessarily used for peaceful purposes; it is only too easy for them to use it for weapons. They can manufacture these weapons in their own countries. According to the dictionary, a procurer is a person who procures women as prostititues. I do not think that we should prostitute ourselves in this way by selling arms, and I hope that we will think about this, because we are, if I may put it in this way, abetting many nations in religious warfare. In the Lebanon, for example, Ulster and other such places, there is religious warfare going on there at the present time.

Admiral Lewin has stated that the balance at sea is dangerously marginal and that NATO's strength is ebbing away, while the Russians and the Warsaw Pact countries are increasing in this area. As the noble Lord who has just spoken said, the Russians have a great many submarines. I gather that they have more submarines than all the other nations in the world put together. What is the reason, my Lords, for building this force? Remembering the last war when, thanks to our gallant merchant seamen, we were able to get the food here, it seems to me that by surrounding our islands with submarines they could almost starve us out in a period of time, perhaps without real warfare. This is what I fear. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, mentioned the question of our being starved out. The noble Lord was perhaps discreet enough not to mention the lady who wrote to The Times saying: I and other Members consider that the thousands of pounds spent on armaments should be devoted to improving the welfare of the people. Why should the people of this country consider that their conditions should be improved by State welfare rather than by personal initiative? It is up to them to provide the money for their own safety.

My Lords, what worries me is the fact that we are leaving so many areas void in the future. As I understand it, in 1976 we are leaving Gan, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia and the West Indies. For some unknown reason—unless the decision has been changed—we are depriving the Sultan of Brunei of Gurkha troops. This was not going to cost us one penny; we were not having to pay anything at all. When the noble Lord comes to answer I should like to know why we should not continue to let the Gurkhas serve in Brunei. I have been there several times. They have very good conditions there and it is a very good strategic point for use, if necessary, in times of warfare. We also have the regrettable business about the naval agreement not being carried out in South Africa. Where are we, as an offshore island off Europe, with our trade routes, with all these places I have mentioned, being more or less cut off? We do not have the Navy to support our trade routes. In the First and Second World Wars it was we, with the help of the Americans, who saved Europe. In the First World War we were the major people to hold out; but the Americans with their forces may not wish (and perhaps may not be able to) come to our rescue again. This worries me very much.

My Lords, considering the few tanks that we have, I do not think it is worth keeping all these troops in Europe. The Warsaw Pact Powers have 25,250 and we have only 10,500 in the whole of the NATO bloc. It seems to me that we must gradually withdraw our troops from NATO. We can continue to be a member of NATO and to support it; but not necessarily have to pay the high amount of money necessary to keep them in Europe. I am most interested in the Royal Navy because I have slightly more knowledge about that force than any other. They have had 5,000 men made redundant. Nobody knows what is to happen to the Royal Marines. They are to lose the 41st Brigade and a training group; but we do not know what is to happen to the rest. They are unique in their value to this country. Surely it is hypocritical to publish advertisements—if I am allowed to produce a newspaper in this House—encouraging people to join the Royal Navy! What is the cost of this sort of advertisement appearing daily in the Daily Telegraph? And what do the applicants find? There are no jobs for them; the Navy have already reduced their numbers by 5,000. The number of frigates is down to 15 per cent.; destroyers and mine counter-measure vessels are also cut. There are 25 per cent. of conventional-powered submarines and 30 per cent, of float support vessels —and this from an Island which really needs protection in time of war.

I should like to raise the question of the Women's Services and particularly the WRNS. I have raised this matter previously and we still have no answer about whether those concerned are to have their conditions changed; in other words, whether they are going to come under the Services as do the women in the Army and RAF, and whether they are going to get equal pay, which (despite the letters I have received) it does not seem at the present time they are going to get.

Admiral Lewin said: I believe that by far the greatest risk in the part of the world where we are, and we are so vulnerable and the Soviets are not, is at sea. The West depends entirely on the freedom of the seas. Mr. Roy Mason from another place said when addressing the National Union of Mineworkers in April this year: Cuts in defence expenditure sound simple enough—the after effects are much more daunting—you can have a good night out on the prospects of the morrow—but if tomorrow's realisation reveals you are unemployed—you will not then be so keen—this is the reality of massive defence cuts. Five per cent. of the population are at the present time unemployed. It does not seem a sensible time to make other people unemployed.

This brings me to the question of the Royal Dockyards. They do not know what their future position will be. There are four of them and one may have to go. The anxiety, naturally, in those ports is great. The extra cuts which the Government now seem to be contemplating are a shattering blow to the morale of our Armed Forces. This is worrying to me and also, I can add, to those who work in the defence industries. We seem to be playing ping-pong with our Services. Each Government have different ideas, but surely this is something on which there should be a coalition!

In Pravda on August 22nd, 1973, it was said: Peaceful co-existence does not spell an end to the struggle between the two world social systems. The struggle will continue… I think that this follows on what the noble Lord has just said. President Ford has said: … weakness invites war … strength Is the only sure foundation for peace … No nation can preserve its national interests unless it can defend them … Peace is crucial but freedom must always come first …. President Giscard d'Estaing in an inter view with Le Figaro pointed out that nations which were weak in defence could hardly expect to be heard on other subjects of international importance. I think that that too follows on what the noble Lord has said.

My Lords, I should like to make two quotations. One is that we cannot depend on the services of the USA as we have done in the past; but also there is a very wise quotation from Somerset Maugham who said: When a nation values anything more than freedom it will lose its freedom—and the irony of it is"— and this is the point I emphasise— that if it is comfort or money that it values more it will lose that too. I think that is an extremely wise saying.

Finally, my Lords, the Chief of the Defence Staff, in a BBC "Newsday" interview said: We are really down to the absolute bedrock. This country, I consider, must be warned. If the Chief of Staff can say this he must be an extremely worried man. I would suggest that this House today puts out the message that, whatever happens, we must protect this country and see that our citizens are safe and do not again have to go through anything like they did in the First and Second World Wars.

5.59 p.m.


My Lords, it may not surprise your Lordships to learn that I am in substantial agreement with the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. It has all been said before, as he will recall, in two previous defence debates in this House. But what is the answer? The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, suggested that we must take note of our allies, make friends wherever we can and look to our own defence resources. One fact is obvious; it is inescapable. Out of our own resources we cannot meet substantial aggression from any source. I have ventured to express that view ever since the Government of Clem Attlee terminated in 1951.

The views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—with which I agree —are fortified by a paragraph which appears in this morning's Daily Telegraph. It reports a statement by Mr. Brezhnev, the Soviet Communist Party leader. My Lords, what does he say? He warns the hawks—the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is one of them, and I join him in this—and the Western nations not to reject dé any account, because if they do we shall be on the brink not only of a cold war but a hot war. This language is characteristic of the Russians; it was characteristic of them long before the Bolshevik revolution. The Tsars wanted it all their own way, even in my own time, when I was young. So far as characteristics of this kind are concerned, the Russians have not changed.

It is perfectly true—and we have known it for a long time—that the Russians do not want to go to war in the West. There is no reason why they should want to do so; they have been getting it all their own way for the past 25 years. Similarly, in South-East Asia the Americans have been forced to withdraw, having lost thousands of young lives and expended millions—if not billions—of their financial resources. If it had not been for the aid rendered by the Soviet Union against the Government of Saigon, and to the Governments of other South-East Asian nations, there might have been a different story. But that is not the end of it. There is trouble in Korea. The Americans have large forces there. Why, my Lords? It is because South Korea is threatened by North Korea, and North Korea is backed by the Soviet Union. That is the situation.

We know the facts; we have known them for a long time. One of the problems—and it is a troublesome problem; an almost insoluble problem—is to convince successive Governments about the facts and to take action accordingly. Even in your Lordships' House, despite defence debates and the type of speech that we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and the warnings which have been given, there is just a ripple of applause and that is the end of the story. We proceed in our namby-pamby God-sent-Sunday kind of fashion, and content ourselves—and I regret to use this language—with the pabulum, the extravagant, exaggerated pabulum which we have heard from those who say, "Be patient, all will be well. The Government are playing their full part". I am sick and tired of that language. Why, my Lords? It is because it represents nothing at all. Out of nothing, nothing comes. That is the situation.

What are we to do about it? I will not seek to dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" in the speech we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, which was referred to in part by some other Members of your Lordships' House in the course of this debate. I venture to make a few constructive remarks, and I hope your Lordships will regard them as constructive. First, we ought to be better informed about our defences. For example, we ought to know why the Government decided to reduce defence expen diture. Of course, we have had the Estimates, we have had the White Papers and we have had the debates. But the facts are inscrutable; they have yet to be disclosed. Moreover, why should there be a further reduction in our defence expenditure? Is it for economic reasons? If so, we should be told why. Is it because we do not concern ourselves with the threat of imminent aggression? We should be told and given the facts.

I pause there to make a proposition to your Lordships' House, and I would welcome an answer at the end of the debate from my noble friend the Minister in charge. Is it possible that a few Members of your Lordships' House interested in defence—not necessarily Privy Counsellors who have an allegiance to the Crown and have taken the oath of secrecy, but other Members of your Lordships' House—could be permitted to meet the superior people associated with NATO and have a confrontation, a dialogue, to get the facts and be informed? I venture to say to your Lordships—not in a disagreeable fashion—that you are not well informed. I go further. I do not believe the Government are well informed. Some times—and I regret to say this—I doubt whether Ministers of Defence are well informed. They do not always get all the facts. Whether or not they do, we ought to know more about the substance and strategy and other matters relating to defence before we enter into debate. Even if we did not use our information in the course of the debate, at least we would know about these matters.

The public ought to know more than it does about defence and our weakness. As to our weakness, there can be no argument. Figures have been presented over and over again regarding the vast number of submarines in the possession of the Soviet Union. What a threat to our trade routes! They could starve us out. We do not have the agricultural potential to save us—I wish we had. I wish we could increase our agricultural production by another 10 per cent. or 15 per cent., and that would help us. But we do not have the resources. The Russians could, if they liked, starve us out unless we had allies to support us. Where are the allies, my Lords?

I come to another question. What is the answer to that? There has been a great deal of discussion during this debate about the Common Market, the EEC, the promotion of unity and so on, and I have listened to it all almost in despair, because it is just speculation, conjecture, expectations. I hope that they are fruitful—I mean that in the interests of our country—but I have grave doubts. Only the other day, there was a debate in your Lordships' House—this is a digression—on pollution. And what did we discover through the forensic expertise of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock?—that a Directive issued by the Commission, or somebody associated with the Commission, had the power to prevent our bathing on any of our sea shores. I did not listen to the debate, but I read the report of it with astonishment. The only argument adduced against the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, was that given by my noble friend Lady Birk, who said, "When you join the Community you must not bother too much about the provisions of the Treaty. You take it by and large.'' That is what I have to say about the Economic Community.

That will not solve our problems in the sphere of defence. Where are we to look? I ventured to say this here on a previous occasion when we were debating defence, and I have also said it in another place. Whether or not we like it, we have to rely on the United States of America. Let us make no pretence about that. We have to rely on them. I would go further, and remind your Lordships' House about recent history. In two great wars in this century, it is very doubtful whether we should have emerged as victors without allies—the United States of America, our Commonwealth colleagues and comrades and, on two occasions, reluctantly, the Soviet Union. In the first case it was Russia, and on the subsequent occasion it was the Soviet Union—and this was only because Hitler made an egregious blunder. He made the mistake of trying to fight on two fronts. Had he confined himself to the Western front, Heaven knows what might have happened!

That is my first proposition, that we should be better informed. I leave it to my noble friend to answer, but I suggest that although he may not be able to answer fully and constructively at the end of the debate this evening, perhaps he will consider it and enable a few of us to enter into a friendly dialogue with those associated with NATO so that we may get at the facts, be better informed and feel reassured. The second question I have to ask is this. What about civil defence? Where do we stand in relation to that? We are entitled to an answer. What about our anti-submarine devices? How are we to deal with this vast creation of submarines in the possession of the Soviet Union? Do we have anti-submarine devices? I do not ask my noble friend to disclose secrets, even if he has them; but I think we ought to have some assurance that the conditions are not as depressing as people like myself would imagine. That is another proposition.

I now come to a further proposition concerning reserves. Nothing pleased me more than the recent exercise undertaken by members of our auxiliary forces—about 25,000 of them, I believe. I under stand that only today a NATO exercise is taking place off, I think, the shores of Cornwall but, at any rate, off the shores of some part of the United Kingdom—a naval exercise including helicopters. That is all to the good. This is a matter which concerns the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, because I remember that when he was on this side of your Lord ships' House I ventured to press him about the T and AVR and the target we were promised in connection with it—a matter of some 10,000 men—and we got them. If we have not got them now, why is that? Ought we not to build up a huge reserve, consistent with our resources? These are the things that ought to be done.

That is all I wish to say about defence, except to repeat with emphasis that we need to be better informed about the subject. Do not let us indulge in pretence and imagine that we can cover it all up by using terms such as "good will", "peace" and, last but not least, by attending disarmament conferences. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, was right—though I was surprised that he spoke in such muted tones—about the SALT talks and the talks on the mutual reduction of forces. The Russians are just playing with us, laughing at us, and any idea we may have that détente will succeed in preventing the Russians from getting all their own way unless we can prevent them is a blunder of the worst kind. So much for defence.

I should now like to say just a few final words about the United Nations. I listened to what my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts had to say about the United Nations. He did his best—I do not deny it—and so did the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. He even said one or two kind words about the United Nations. I see the noble Lord dissents, and I not only forgive him, but I applaud him, because if ever there was a ramshackle organisation it is the United Nations. It is going the way of the old League of Nations. My noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts tried to protect the Organisation and offered a word of good will in connection with their decision, taken the other week, to associate Zionism with racism. I want your Lordships to understand that I have never been a member of the Zionist Federation. I am what I am, and it is purely fortuitous. I did not decide what I was going to be; that was arranged for me. Similarly, concerning my Membership of your Lordships' House, I am what I am.

I am not a member of the Zionist Federation, but I have a clear understanding of the need of Jews throughout the world who have been so frequently and throughout so many centuries reviled, abused, persecuted, castigated, murdered and massacred. I have the strong feeling that something ought to be done to prevent all that in the future. Now we have the decision taken at the United Nations by those who are called the members of the Third World. I noticed some of the names the other day. Many of them surprised me. For example, the Lebanon was included—Lebanon, where Christians are fighting Moslems? Is that not a matter of racism? Yet they actually denounced Israel. And then there is Bangladesh: they are still having trouble with the Indians, and I recall the trouble they have had with the Pakistanis. Not Zionism, but racism. But they denounced Israel. What right have they to do that?

I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, that every effort should be made to induce peace in the Middle East, even on the Golan Heights. But the Israelis would be very foolish and very stupid if they believed that by making concessions they would promote peace. They would do nothing of the sort.

I regret to have to say it, but in my view the Jewish problem has lasted for 5,000 years and it may last for another 5,000 years. We shall not solve that problem so easily. Even if the Palestinians got all their own way tomorrow I doubt whether they would be satisfied. They do not want Israel there at all.

That is why I glory in the strength of Israel's might, although I regret that her economic position should be so weak because of expenditure on defence, as I do with regard to our own country. So, let us know more about defence. Do not pretend that the United Nations can be of much value. Rely, if you like, on the great potential of the EEC, and I hope you succeed and that it lives up to your expectations. Last but not least, keep your powder dry in this country. It is not that we intend to use it, but it may prove to be, as it has for nearly 30 years proved to be a deterrent against aggression. And that is worth—I was about to say fighting for—working for.

6.21 p.m.


My Lords, I am happy to follow the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, whose friendship I have enjoyed for just over 50 years. Unlike the rest of us, he never grows old. This afternoon we have had a speech of the old vigour, the old impishness, the deep sense of humour. But underlying that speech, and all others that he has made through the years, are two consistent strands: one a love of freedom, and one a love of this country. I am happy to be following him so that I might say that to him in this place.

I want to call your Lordships' attention to the tragedy of Cyprus. We can all understand the beginning of this tragedy. There was always a Greek Party in Cyprus which believed in Enosis, in union with Greece. It was a policy based on the fact that three-quarters of the Cypriots are Greek Cypriots, and so people such as Makarios, people like Grivas, people all through the years, dreamed of uniting Cyprus to Greece. I pointed out to my many friends all through the years in Cyprus that such a union could never have been tolerated by Turkey because Turkey, very near to Cyprus, is responsible for one-quarter of the population, the Turkish Cypriots, and could never have abandoned this responsibility to them.

When Cyprus became independent ten years ago, Greece and Turkey and our own Government became responsible for managing what was roughly a fair distribution of power and responsibility between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. It worked—with some friction, with some difficulty; but it was working. Makarios, who had always been pro-Enosis was statesman enough to realise that this was just impossible and that the Turkish Cypriots had a right to their fair share of government and power in the Island. So Makarios was hated by the extremist Greeks who believed in Enosis. I remember being in Cyprus years ago when I was going to visit Archibshop Makarios and meeting a group of Greeks who, when I told them I was going to to meet Makarios, said: "Tell him he is a traitor!" He was to them a traitor because he placed Cyprus above the narrower interests of the Greek Cypriots.

Eighteen months ago, when the Colonels in Greece were on their last legs and their dictatorship was fading away, they made a final fling and erected a puppet, called Colonel Samson, in Cyprus. His task was to murder Makarios, and to proclaim Enosis. I can understand the Turks' fear and resentment at that moment, when extreme Greek Cypriots were murdering moderate Greek Cypriots and when extreme Greek Cypriots might have turned on the Turkish Cypriots. It was at that point, that critical point in history, that the Greek Government, the Turkish Government and ourselves might have prevented the calamity that happened. As it was, Turkey invaded Cyprus. The Colonels fell; Greece came back to freedom and democracy and the young democratic Government inherited the headache of a Cyprus overrun by Turkey.

Since then the Turks have steadily extended their control of the Island. I am one of those who believe that if we had left it to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, to Denktash for the Turks and to Clerides for the Greeks in Cyprus, we could have achieved the honourable settlement that both these Cypriot statesmen have been trying to get. But what makes the position difficult in the eyes of some of the Western Powers is that Turkey belongs to NATO and is a defence against the Soviet Union. Greece, because of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus has left NATO, but I believe in time, if the right policy is pursued, Greece can once more be back in NATO, just as she wants to come into the European Community.

The American House of Representatives recently boycotted the supply of arms to Turkey in the hope that that might persuade the Turks to adopt a more reasonable attitude. They abandoned that because of the work of President Ford and Dr. Kissinger. In the meantime, there is acute misery in Cyprus. Populations are being forcibly shifted from one part of the Island to the other to make a Turkish area and a Greek area. Let me give your Lord ships some of the words of the Famagusta Chamber of Commerce whose President wrote to me some time ago. I quote: In the first ten years of the Island's life after independence an enviable standard of life was reached and an infrastructure had been developed promising continuous progress. This was shattered in the summer of 1974. Turkey occupied 40 per cent. of the Island territory forcing about 210,000 Greek Cypriots, one-third of the total population, to become refugees in their own country. Our home town, Famagusta, from which the Greek population was forced to flee, was an enviable example of the Island's industriousness. The new town"— this was the Greek town; there was a Turkish Famagusta and a Greek Famagusta— is estimated to have lost assets of a total value of one billion pounds sterling. With the support of 40,000 Turkish troops, the Turkish Government at the present moment are withholding and usurping most of the Island's assets—70 per cent. of all production, 60 per cent. of agricultural exports, 82 per cent. of tourist accommodation, 45½ per cent. of agricultural production. The Turkish population is one-quarter of the Island, and the Greek portion is three-quarters of the Island. So, in the words of the President of the Famagusta Chamber: We are appealing to you to exercise your influence in all directions so that justice may be restored in this terribly tormented Island. So today may I once more urge the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, and the Foreign Secretary to renew their efforts in the United Nations to bring about a settlement in Cyprus, a settlement which the United Nations said a long time ago now should have been made that respects the respective rights of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

In the meantime, however, there are personal tragedies, apart from the broad ones that I have mentioned. I have the privilege of knowing a Cypriot community of some 500 souls in my own town of Southampton. Most of them have come from villages which were taken over by the Turks in their last assault. Wherever Greek Cypriots in the newly occupied Turkish part could get out of the Island in order to save their lives they did so. If they had friends in England they came to live with them and we have not sent them back to Cyprus. Indeed, to deport them would be unthinkable. However, we have said that these refugees who are staying with their friends in England must be kept by them; they are not allowed to hold work permits. I hope that the Foreign Office will be able to persuade the Home Office to consider issuing work permits for these temporary refugees who will be unable to go back to Cyprus until the problems of that Island are solved.

May I also ask the Government to let us know what they are doing for the British victims of Turkish aggression in Cyprus. Some of your Lordships will remember those who lost almost every thing in the beautiful little port of Kyrenia which was taken over by the Turks. I pay tribute to the Red Cross for all that it has done during the last 18 months in humanitarian terms and to our own Government and diplomatic representatives for all that they have done on the humanitarian side. Especially I pay tribute to the United Nation's forces which are stationed in Cyprus, for they have helped to prevent at least some of the bloodshed which might otherwise have taken place.

It is important for the sake of Cyprus and the Middle East that an honourable settlement should be reached. It is for the good of NATO and important that Greece, now a democratic country once more, and Turkey whose founder, Kemal Ataturk, urged his young men to fight for freedom with their bare hands, if necessary—those were his very words—should reach an understanding over Cyprus, as the beginning of reaching understanding between them on the many problems that confront them at present. From this debate I hope that a message will go to the Greeks in Athens, to the Greeks in Cyprus, to the Turkish Government in Ankara and the Turks in Cyprus that we long for an honourable peace and for justice in this tormented Island of Cyprus.

6.33 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a most interesting debate. Any stranger listening to the debate in this House today would have difficulty in discovering who was speaking for which political Party. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, has made one of the most remarkable speeches that I have ever heard him make. I agreed with every word he said, except for a short interlude on the subject of the European Economic Community, but I know that his views on that subject do not correspond with mine. My views on the EEC have been influenced greatly by the fact that, having lived through two World Wars and having seen millions of people killed in Europe, apart from anywhere else, I felt this was an occasion for getting together as a European community, because if we do so we need never have another war in Europe. But that is by the way, for I do not suppose that the noble Lord agrees with me.

We have had a most remarkable debate and, as I have said, it has been difficult to know exactly for which Party each side was speaking. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, made a most remarkable speech. I agreed with every word said by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and with all that my noble friend Lady Vickers, whose knowledge of naval dockyards is very great, had to say on the subject of the Navy. My contribution will be short and it will be on an extract from the Queen's Speech: My Ministers will continue to support the search for a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East, and to develop our ties with countries of the area". That statement has my fullest support.

Every week and every month one hopes for a breakthrough in the tangled problems which involve many different Arab States and the State of Israel. In recent times there have been hopeful signs. There have been the efforts of Dr. Kissinger over the last two years; there has also been the realism of President Sadat in co-operating with Dr. Kissinger, leading up to the Sinai agreement; there has been the co-operation of Israel over the Sinai agreement. All this pointed to a step forward on the ground—not in a conference away from the area but on the ground. We were all hoping for better things when that terrible Resolution was proposed at the United Nations branding Zionism as a "Form of racism and racial discrimination". That is utterly untrue. In its effect it represents an attack on the very existence of the State of Israel.

May I mention the speech that was made by the British delegate to the United Nations, Mr. Ivor Richard, in condemning that Resolution? He pointed out that the Resolution had been condemned by the International Commission of Jurists and that it confused racism and racial discrimination with nationalism. Such a confusion, Mr. Richard said, … can only serve to undermine the right of the State of Israel to exist and the United Kingdom categorically rejects and will oppose every such move. Far from helping to disentangle some of the problems of the Middle East, this Resolution can only make it more difficult to find a peaceful solution. Mr. Richard continued, The United Nations could not succeed in an atmosphere of discord. This Resolution, capriciously introduced and wantonly pursued, has produced the most divisive issue of this Assembly. It brings the whole Organisation into dire peril. It is exactly the wrong issue raised in the wrong way and at the wrong time and we will have none of it". I endorse every word that Mr. Richard said on that occasion. It was a courageous speech and I hope very much that the Government will back him up in all that he said then.

The United Nations has been used in recent years, and is being used, not to promote world peace but to forward the views of large groups of nations to further their own ends, not as a world organisation but as sectional groups trying to suppress and oppress those nations or policies which do not suit their own ends. It is very sad for everybody, particularly people like myself who are supporters of the United Nations. I was three times a delegate to the Assembly and always hoped that good will and wise counsels would be listened to, as they have been in the past. Looking back to the past, one cannot say categorically what wars have been avoided, but one can at least say that the United Nations has prevented many a war from breaking out.

However, this Resolution stirs up all the old hatreds and animosities just when we were hoping that something better was going to take place. The Egyptian moves towards Israel and the Israeli response under the Sinai Agreement were just beginning, and no doubt now the peoples in both countries are once more retreating in their opinions and in their minds to the old views which have taken so many years to break down. I fear the "hard-liners" in Israel will dig in again and the wild men of the Arab world will believe that they can destroy Israel by diplomatic means under the sanctity of the United Nations.

Those of us who know Israel and the remarkable people who have led this small State under so much difficulty—particularly Mrs. Golda Meir—know that if the Arab States would really accept the existence of the State of Israel and give up the policy, whether by diplomacy or by war, of eliminating the State of Israel, the leaders of Israel would discuss boundaries and land, as Mrs. Meir has often said. The first moves were just beginning in Sinai. I greatly fear this abominable resolution will have turned them away from these immediate chances. But the firm stand of the Governments who voted against the resolution gives those who feel deeply about such matters courage, and I hope the United Kingdom Government will certainly continue their strong stand.

I realise, as we all do, that the Palestinian problem is a very real one, but do not let us forget that in the beginning, in 1947, the Palestinian Arabs were offered a State and they rejected it. Today there are nearly 2 million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and in Jordan; there are 450,000 living in Israel as citizens of Israel; there are another 250,000 scattered over the world and only about 250,000 that Arafat has in Lebanon and Syria. A very small proportion of the Palestinian Arabs are led by Arafat. If, so to speak, a small rump State was started with that leader ship and in that spirit, almost certainly it would lead to many quarrels, fightings and upheavals in the State itself. The guerrilla tactics with which the world is all too familiar today—to try to take over Jordan—would be as disastrous as anything one could think of.

My Lords, I believe there is only one way to work for peace in the Middle East that is, for the Arab States to recognise the State of Israel, for negotiations along the lines of the Sinai Agreement to continue, for the Americans and ourselves and the other States who voted together against the iniquitous Resolution, to stand firmly together and protect the peace making efforts of America, of Israel and of Egypt. We must do what we can to persuade the Arabs that the military option is closed. They must be prepared to accept Israel and to live in peace. If they do that, then it is up to Israel to take big risks in coming to a successful adjustment of frontiers and a solution to the Palestinian problem, safe in the knowledge that the agreements reached safeguard her own integrity and her sovereignty and may lead to a new era of co-operation and peace. This is my earnest hope and I hope the Government will continue in the way that they have done at this time in the United Nations.

6.44 p.m.


My Lords, I find it somewhat difficult to follow some of the speakers, such as my noble friend Lord Carrington and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, but for many years defence has been a subject, both in this House and in another place, which has always been controversial. It is a subject which, alas!, many people have wanted to sweep under the carpet and pretend that it does not exist, and also a subject which for many reasons some people wish to do away with entirely. Most of your Lordships will remember only too well that we nearly paid the extreme penalty for being complacent about defence in the 1930s. We must not let that situation arise again. Let us remember that once upon a time, it was the first prime duty of any Government to defend their people against aggression, and if that failed all else became quite pointless and life was irrelevant.

As has already been mentioned by the noble Lords, Lord Shinwell and Lord Chalfont, this policy is out of date today, but it still applies to us through Europe, our allies, NATO and the West. We are at this moment only just keeping our heads above water in NATO, and should there be any further cuts in our defence budget we would not even be able to honour our present commitments. Last year the public expenditure of the United Kingdom was just over £39,000 million. Perhaps it is a sobering thought, when one realises that out of every pound of Government expenditure we spend under 10 per cent.—to be precise, 9p—on defence. It is pure coincidence that the interest that we pay on our debts and loans is also the same amount.

We have in the United Kingdom an efficient defence industry manufacturing warships, military equipment and aircraft but, due to the already somewhat small size of our Armed Forces, efficient though they are, it is difficult for the Government to find sufficient work for our defence industry. This leads to the possibility of the industry becoming not cost-effective, which of course in turn will lead to failure in research and development. The next link in the chain is that the industry then faces the unhappy prospect of becoming a white elephant, which again will lead to the even more undesirable position of the United Kingdom, in conjunction with its allies, being unable to defend itself with home or European produced weapons. The wheel has now gone full cycle and, once again, we are having to spend valuable money on importing these items which often do not compare favourably with the home produced article. The British aerospace industry keeps going through its own vigorousness, its technology and the profitable way it is run, and, in particular, through the foreign money it produces from military exports.

I realise only too well that there are tendencies for all Governments, to whichever Party they may belong, to be a little over-sensitive about exporting arms, but I very much doubt whether nationalisation would improve the overall picture, let alone the professional performance as such. I have even graver doubts that a nationalised industry would go out around the world and obtain the present export orders which the aerospace industry now enjoys. If the aerospace industry is allowed to fail, thus failing to provide us and our allies with home produced weapons, as well as making us a weak and rather useless partner in NATO, we shall also in a short space of time lose about £650 million a year of valuable foreign exchange from these exports.

My noble friend Lord Gladwyn has already mentioned that the European Economic Community has a plan for the aeronautical sector of this industry which opens up great possibilities, particularly for us if we get in at the beginning and on the ground floor, and which, perhaps, we should study very carefully before committing ourselves unilaterally. We have the most powerful industry in Europe and, in my humble opinion, we should rightly take our place by being the leader in forming a European aerospace industry which will build European aircraft, both military and civil, as well as different types of guided missiles for European use. I am certain that this should be one of our first priorities as among its other relevant advantages, as has been mentioned several times this afternoon, it will help to standardise the weapons of the European countries in NATO.

It would be very pleasant to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Winter bottom, whether some of these newspaper reports about defence cuts, lack of fuel for pilot training in the Air Force, and so on, are exaggerated—or, even better, untrue. I realise we have to cut expenditure by about 10 per cent., which is about £4,000 million per year, but it cannot be right and sensible that £800 million of this will come from defence. We must find alternative ways of making these cuts; per haps by temporarily shelving the Community Land Act, which I gather will cost £1,200 million a year. Also, I hate to think of all the damage that has already been done to the morale of the men in our fighting Services by these very, I hope. untrue and adverse newspaper reports. My last question tonight is this: what were the results of the meeting between the right honourable gentleman the Minister of Defence and the Norwegians about the defence of North Sea oil?

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, said, we have had a very remarkable debate, including the contribution just made by the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley. Indeed, I think that Hansard tomorrow might almost be described as an encyclopaedia of present foreign events. Nearly all points of view have been represented, and perhaps the only justification for the speech I shall make is that it is an additional contribution to those we have already heard.

In the period between the previous gracious Speech from the Throne and the one which we are now discussing, the most memorable international conference since the last war has taken place. I find it of some significance that only incidental references have been made to it in many of the speeches in this House today. I am referring, of course, to the second Summit Conference at Helsinki on European Security and Co-operation. It was quite extraordinary, in the first place, because the Heads of State of 35 different countries were present, not merely Europe, East and West, but President Ford from the United States of America and a representative from Canada.

This conference was also significant in another sense, because of the quite extraordinary recommendations which were brought to it after two years' discussions by the commissions—"baskets" as they were rather strangely called—at Geneva. If these recommendations were implemented, the era of co-existence between East and West would be changed to an era of actual co-operation. As The Times remarked, the whole pattern of Europe would be changed. Whether that conference is historically to be regarded as a failure or a success, will depend on how far the decisions of the Final Act are implemented.

At the time of the Conference, it was said—and said on both sides of this House—that the West was making all the concessions at Helsinki, and there were questions as to what the Soviet Union had conceded. But we have this extraordinary contradiction: because it would appear now that it was the Soviet Union which made the major concessions. All the pressure is on them to carry out the promises made. No reference is being made to the necessity for the implementation of the promises made by the West. I am deeply concerned with the recommendations of Helsinki regarding human rights, the movement of peoples over frontiers, and the right to express dissidence—I do not think I need say how important I regard these. But they were not the only pledges which were given at Helsinki. The other pledges which the West gave were for economic and social co-operation, even for a degree of integration. These pledges given by the West are the real basis of any hope that peace may develop between East and West in Europe. It is important that the Soviet Union and the Communist countries should carry out their pledges regarding human rights; it is equally important that the West should carry out its pledges regarding economic and social co-operation.

My Lords, I have already made two suggestions, which I repeat. First, in relation to human rights, the Human Rights Commission which now operates in Western Europe should be extended to the East, to all Europe. It would be necessary to make one amendment to its procedure. At present, individual complaints are considered by the Commission; there are terrible delays, and results are often ineffective. But I would ask our Government to consider making the proposal that the Human Rights Commission should be established in the whole of Europe, and that any Government should have the right to complain if the decisions regarding human rights are not being carried out.

As regards the pledges of the West on economic and social co-operation, the Final Act adopted at Helsinki suggested that the United Nations Commission for Economic Co-operation in Europe might be utilised for this purpose, and in answer to my Questions the Front Bench has said that the Government were in favour of that. I want to ask tonight what bilateral discussions have taken place under the umbrella of the United Nations Commission with a view to carrying out the promises made for economic and social co-operation. I want to ask what multilateral discussions have taken place. If they have not yet taken place, I want to ask what is planned in that sphere, because I submit it would be unfair for us to condemn the Soviet Union for not carrying out its pledges if we are failing in the West to carry out our pledges regarding economic and social co-operation.

My Lords, I recognise that the greatest test of the implementation of the decisions taken at Helsinki will be how far they are followed by disarmament. It is here that I shall come into conflict with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I read his articles in The Times with great diligence. I listen to his speeches with great interest. I sometimes think it is ironic that he was once the disarmament Minister in a Labour Government. If his picture is true—that is, that the Soviet Union and the Communist countries are entirely insincere in their proposals for détente, in their approach to Helsinki, in their proposals at the United Nations that nuclear tests, underground as well as above ground, shall be abolished, in their advocacy of a world conference for disarmament—if these are all a facade and if it is true, as his speech suggested, that behind it all the Soviet Union and the Communist countries are creating greater and greater arms until the moment comes when they can command the world—if all that were true then I should have to confess that my long years in politics had all been in vain and that the future of mankind was hopeless. The end of that procedure, with the West on its side building up its armaments in great strength, can only be world war. And world war with nuclear weapons can only mean the destruction of human life over the greater part of the earth.

I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and to others, that today surely the constructive thing to concentrate upon is not creating fears and suspicions either of one side or the other, because if we do it to the Soviet Union there are those in the Soviet Union who will do it to us, and there is China, who will do it to the Soviet Union—if we continue to live in that kind of atmosphere, there is no possible alternative to world war and human destruction.

My Lords, I had intended to put the case for disarmament in some detail and to put the case for the alternative to this vast expenditure of both sides upon arms, namely, constructive proposals for human development. At this late hour, I will not do that. I will say only this: in the world we are now expending approximately£100,000 million a year on weapons of death and of destruction. We in this 20th Century of civilisation are spending more on weapons of death than all our expenditure on health and education. Thirteen years ago there was a Conference at Geneva at which both the United States of America and the Soviet Union put forward proposals for phased total disarmament. How we have retreated from that now! And yet the need for it now, with modern weapons, is far more urgent than it was.

What is the constructive alternative? I appreciated immensely the speech of my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder and other references made in speeches, including that of Lord Goronwy-Roberts, to the new international economic order which has been put forward by the Committee of Seventy-seven representing the poor nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America; a proposal to end the gulf between hunger in the South and the affluence of so much of the North. This year we have the opportunity to begin to end the terrible poverty of 65million people on earth who do not even earn what is equivalent to £24 a year. We have that opportunity, and I want to see a Government who are dedicated to that constructive purpose, who will stand against all the urges in society for destruction, antagonism and war, who will stand for the glory of human life and its fulfilment. If we had a voice which could sound that in the world, I believe there would be a response from the peoples, and that they would say, "Enough!, end preparations for war, begin preparations for human life".

7.10 p.m.


My Lords, whether it is by accident or design, I once again seem to be following the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in the list of speakers. I am glad to do so once again, for although I do not always agree with everything that he says I think that his contributions in this House in the field of foreign affairs are very worth while and valuable. However, I think that he was slightly unfair both to my noble friend Lord Carrington and to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, when he said that no reference, or very little reference, had been made to the Helsinki Conference. Both my noble friend and the noble Lord made considerable reference to that important Conference.

I should like to concentrate on that part of the gracious Speech which refers to the Government's continued support for the United Nations and the special needs of the poorest developing countries. Much of the Government's thinking and policies concerning the countries of the Third World are contained in the recent White Paper sub-titled More Help for the Poorest. Basically I welcome the White Paper and consider it a worth while contribution to the rethinking of Government policy towards those countries less well off than ourselves. I agree with the contents of the White Paper, subject to certain specific reservations and criticisms.

However, I do not want to concentrate my speech on the White Paper itself at this particular time, since I hope that the House will have a chance to debate the White Paper in the not too distant future, not least because it is the first White Paper and major statement on Government thinking on overseas development assistance for some eight years. Instead, I should like to deal with a much narrower subject which was touched on in the White Paper but not fully covered, and that is the question of disaster relief and the Government's policies towards it. It is a subject that tends to get rather overlooked in foreign affairs debates. It is in this area, possibly more than in any other, that I believe that the Government have not fully understood the United Nation's failings, many of which have been mentioned today, and also its capabilities and the needs of the developing countries which suffer from man-made and natural disasters.

Certain improvements have been made within the Ministry of Overseas Development to tackle this question. Until June 1974, the ODM had no special responsibility for disaster relief because it was the Government's belief that such operations should be handled, and could be handled for that matter, by the voluntary agencies. However, this was altered by the setting-up of the disaster unit some eighteen months ago by Mrs. Judith Hart. Although much credit must go to Mrs Hart, I do not think that one should forget the great groundwork and thinking that was done by my right honourable friend, Mr. Richard Wood, on this particular subject.

However, in spite of the changes in ideas within the ODM, both the White Paper and the terms of reference of the disaster unit still show that the Government believe that the main international agency for disaster relief co-ordination work is, and should be, the United Nations Disaster Relief Office, or UNDRO, to give it its more colloquial title. UNDRO was set up in March 1972 mainly as the result of a major initiative of the last Conservative Government. At the time it was considered the ultimate solution to the international mismanagement of disaster relief work. There was virtually no limit to what it was supposed to co-ordinate, whether it involved the donor countries or the recipient countries, or the relationship between the two. Its remit was big enough to keep a major Government Department busy, and yet it had less than a dozen staff, and card indexes were handed out rather than computers. The result was that it failed to do the job for which it was created, and never really began to organise relief operations on a major scale.

This point has been recognised by UNDRO itself. In its report to the United Nations General Assembly, it said: While some progress has been made in establishing UNDRO's assigned function of mobilising and co-ordinating relief, the lack of staff and facilities have seriously impaired the effectiveness of the office. Improvements are to be made to UNDRO. Its staff is to be increased to 28, and it is even to be given a computer. The British Government have promised to contribute £200,000 over the next three years in order to increase UNDRO's capacity to plan ahead and prepare for future disasters. But so long as it is given no executive power, its effectiveness will continue to be minimal. My Lords, in the long run, whatever commitments donor countries make to provide supplies and transport, when a disaster strikes UNDRO has only the power of moral persuasion to ensure that those promises and commitments are fulfilled.

It was assumed that when UNDRO was set up the donor countries would earmark transport equipment and supplies et cetera in advance of any possible disaster. It is really only on that basis that any international planning for disaster relief can be done. Yet the British Government, through the Ministry of Defence, and other Governments, too, have consistently refused to commit hardware for such purposes even at the short period of a month at a time. The ODM have made a start. The vehicles purchased by its disaster unit are kept in reserve at York, but no aircraft are as yet earmarked for disaster relief work, and without air transportation those vehicles are next to useless. The position really needs looking at again, and I hope that the Government will do so. UNDRO was, and is, an excellent idea, but it is surely time that it was given the necessary authority and backing for it to be an excellent reality as well.

The great drawback which one finds in nearly every disaster relief operation is the difficulty in understanding the needs of the stricken area. No matter how many Hercules aircraft take off from Brize Norton, and no matter how many crates of supplies are sent on these airplanes, the effectiveness of any relief operation is judged by how much of the right materials and supplies reach the stricken area. What usually happens is that the supplies remain stockpiled at the international airport of the developing country concerned, while the people in the stricken area continue to suffer and to die. One saw that at Dacca, and more recently in Nicaragua.

It really is no good for the Government to say that the answer to this problem is the development of the ability of the administration in the disaster-prone countries to manage their own resources by effective control and co-ordination. While such a policy may well work in Australia, to say that in regard to certain circumstances really ignores what seems to be a quirk of nature, that disasters tend to strike the poorest and thus the least self-reliant countries in the world. Another problem is how to get the supplies from the international airport, or port of entry, to the stricken area. That is a very serious problem, recognised by all the voluntary agencies that take part in disaster relief work.

Last year the Secretary-General of NATO, Dr. Luns, suggested to the 15 Member Governments that NATO should do the planning of such operations. Only three Governments are reported to have opposed this offer, one being the British Government. Furthermore, a draft recommendation is before the North Atlantic Assembly calling for the establishment of a— NATO Disaster Relief Organisation incorporating the forces, personnel, communications and other resources already available within the Alliance for this purpose. However, the use of NATO troops in disaster relief work raises serious difficulties because of the possible political unacceptability of NATO troops operating in developing countries and the restricted field of operations of NATO itself. But there is no reason why individual NATO countries should not combine on an ad hoc basis to use their troops when disasters strike. Individual European countries have already used their troops for such work, but so far operations have not been co-ordinated. British troops were used successfully in Honduras and in the Sahel, and the RAF was used to ferry returnees back to Portugal.

The Army Staff College at Camberley has already introduced courses on disaster relief operations. Perhaps, when he replies to the debate, the noble Lord, Lord Winter bottom, will tell the House whether similar courses are being set up and held in other defence colleges. It is not as though one is creating anything particularly new or expensive the Armed Forces and the military equipment are already in existence and are being paid for by the taxpayer.

It is, therefore, basically a matter of using them in one place rather than in another and ensuring that the operations of the various Armed Forces do not overlap. This is a detailed and complicated subject which needs a lot of study, and therefore I do not expect a detailed answer from the noble Lord, Lord Winter bottom. I simply ask him to look at what I have said, study the matter in question, consult his officials and possibly write to me.

7.22 p.m.


My Lords, I, too, wish to express my deep interest in the many admirable speeches that have been made today. It is rather late in the evening to comment on a number of the subjects which have been raised and I think your Lordships will understand my reason for dealing with a particular subject, about which I can claim to know a fair amount, in consequence of the experience I have had for many years both in the other place and in your Lordships' House. It is a matter which I believe requires particular attention at this time. I listened with interest to the excellent speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood. Perhaps she will allow me to call her "my noble friend", since I have known her for many years. Her late husband, Walter Elliot, was a close friend of mine too, and one whose work I admired greatly and who had my deepest respect, as has the noble Baroness. I was interested of course in what she said and I entirely agreed with her.

However, I want your Lordships to realise that the experience to which I refer and the recent Resolutions of the United Nations have caused me, as a Jew and thus a Zionist, very considerable concern indeed, particularly in view of what I have seen happen in my own life time. I remember when the Nazi regime started. I came to the House of Commons to speak after people had called on me about what was happening under that regime. They had been sent to this country under threats to say that the Nazi regime was not intending to do or was not doing to its Jewish citizens what people believed. I made speeches in the other House in which I begged my fellow Members to realise the gravity of the situation. Of course, I could not disclose the source of my information because the people concerned and their families would have been placed in terrible difficulties. It was difficult to make people believe the truth because the conditions were of such a horrific nature.

I have just paid a short visit to Israel. Of course, the State of Israel was not in existence at the time about which I have been speaking so far. I think your Lord ships will understand what I mean by that when one compares the position of Jewish people then with what it is today in consequence of the existence of Israel. When I was in Israel recently I found that that small country, despite its enemies and the constantly threatening enemies surrounding it, was continuing its remarkable social, cultural and other activities in the humane, civilised and democratic way as was outlined in its Declaration of Independence. In my view, it presents an outstanding example of civilised conduct to the world. As your Lordships know, it is the only democratic State in the Middle East. In Zion Square in Jerusalem I saw the place where a bomb had exploded a few days earlier killing innocent young people, it being one of the many dastardly crimes committed there by terrorists, similar to those taking place in this country. The notorious criminals, the PLO, claimed credit for those murders, as do kindred assassins in our country. I ask myself the question I have asked so often in this House: why do we give asylum to representatives of an organisation which is stained with the blood of innumerable innocent murdered victims?—a body which in my view is condemned as criminal by the provisions of the Genocide Convention, to which I will refer briefly later.

On the 10th of this month the United Nations Assembly passed, among other poisonous Resolutions, one rightly termed by the United States Ambassador there as "an act of obscenity." The British Ambassador's words have been referred to and I do not propose to repeat them, although I should like to refer in passing to the warm way in which I and my fellow Jews felt about the admirable statement which he then made, which I also felt about my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts' remarks today. The Resolution described Zionism as a form of racism and racial discrimination. This was an acceptance of the policy of the PLO gangsters who, to our and every body's shame, had been given observer status in the United Nations. In my view, the Resolution was specifically designed to involve the United Nations in a plan to make the vicious practice of anti-Semitism a feature of its policy.

At this late hour, I cannot go into detail but I am sure that your Lordships will understand the connection between that kind of Resolution and the situation to which I referred a moment or two ago. Those who voted for the Resolution clearly wished to drag the United Nations into becoming a party to what I call a diabolically conceived programme, examination of which will show it to be akin to that adopted by the Nazis. Millions are being spent on a type of propaganda similar to that advocated by Hitler in Mein Kampf. The destruction of Israel is its aim and it has the ultimate object of destroying the Jewish people. The attempt to defile Zionism by attributing racism to it clearly means the fanning of anti-Semitism, just as the Nazis demonstrated by similar actions.

I am sure that everyone will wish to congratulate our Government, the USA and the others who voted against this Resolution and kindred Resolutions. The terms in which civilised countries, organisations and personalities have condemned this action are clear and outstanding, as your Lordships will be aware. I should like to quote one example. It is not surprising that Mr. George Meany, the AFL-CIO president, should have issued a statement in the strongest terms even before the final Resolutions were passed, condemning the United Nations attack on Zionism. In passing, it may be interesting to note that the Israeli trade union, the Histadrut, is regarded as an outstanding and highly respected part of the trade union movement. In his statement, Mr. Meany said: The American people will not be fooled by a Resolution which absurdly asked the UN to declare 'that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination'. Zionism is not; it is precisely the product of revulsion against these evils, especially as they reached their culmination in the holocaust of Adolf Hitler, for whom some of the promoters of this Resolution can scarcely conceal their admiration. The ultimate object of this Resolution is not the elimination of racism but the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations. It is the latest step in an anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic campaign launched by the Arab bloc with the cynical backing of the Soviet Union—a campaign whose impact was obvious at the women's conference at Mexico in June, at the conference of African Heads of State in Kampala in July, and at the conference of non-aligned states in Lima in August. The Resolution is all the more ludicrous in the light of the persecution of religious and national minorities rampant in the lands of its sponsors. Let those sponsors look to the plight of Jews in Syria, of the Kurds in Iraq, of the Christians in Lebanon and Southern Sudan—not to mention the attempted whole sale liquidation of national minorities in the Soviet Union. The United Nations was conceived as a force for peace and co-operation, not as a new source of tension and conflict. Only so long as it serves its original high goals can its continued existence be justified. Tragically, a combination of cowardice, economic vulnerability and indifference to human rights has given the Arab and Communist blocs an automatic majority which seems determined to steer the UN towards self-destruction. Furthermore, the action taken by the United Nations was itself a callous and criminal act committed by the members who voted for the Resolution against the United Nations organisation itself, which had outlawed genocide. Your Lordships will remember that the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was accepted by all the then members of UNO, and was ratified at various times by many of those who are either committing the crime or are aiding and abetting in its commission today. Relevant parts of the text of the Convention, which read as follows, surely prove this. Having considered the declaration made, by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution 96(1) dated 11th December 1948, that genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilised world; Recognising that at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity; and Being convinced that, in order to liberate mankind from such an odious scourge, international co-operation is required. Hereby agrees as hereinafter provided: The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish. In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group as such,

  1. (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  2. (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
The following acts shall be punishable: genocide; conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; complicity in genocide. I believe it is relevant to note that this debate is taking place a few days before the Jewish people throughout the world will be celebrating the anniversary of the Maccabees' victory against the Syrian Greeks, whose King Antiochus tried to impose the worship of Greek idols on the Jews and forbade the observance of the Jewish religion. Your Lordships will remember—and I feel it is appropriate that we should think about this—thatthe Jewish homeland and Jerusalem, the centre of that Jewish homeland, were rescued from idolatry by Judas Maccabeus and that, if he had not so rescued Jerusalem at that time it is likely not only that Judaism would not exist but that neither Christianity nor Mohammedanism would have come into exist ence, because the people who had defiled the Temple would have continued their sovereignty with the result I have mentioned.

There is one other important matter I wish to speak about. It is with regard to the rumoured request for delivery of sophisticated arms to Egypt. Who is threatening Egypt? I asked a Question in your Lordships' House not long ago, about arms being supplied to Saudi Arabia. Of whom are they afraid? Where were their enemies, inside or outside their country? The Answer—a rather cynical one—was that if we do not supply the arms other people will. In view of what we have heard today, is it not a terrible thing that Egypt should be asking for arms, including the most sophisticated arms of all—the Jaguar? For what purpose? To save itself against whom? The excuse offered in reply to my Question about Saudi Arabia is not even available, because nobody other than France and ourselves—and with the consent of each other—is in a position to supply this terribly sophisticated weapon.

My Lords, when we talk about disarmament, about the fierce nature of what may happen if the armaments are used in the ways described in the debate, is it not time, if we supply weapons at all, that it should be only for defence, and not for offence, and that those countries which are not threatened should not be asking for arms? Surely, if arms are provided for Middle East countries, the balance which prevails in order to retain peace, should certainly be maintained. I sincerely hope, as does everyone with whom I am associated, that the Middle East situation will be solved peacefully. I spoke to some of the Egyptians who were here a little time ago. There is no doubt in my mind that the Egyptians themselves would come out for peace if there were not others threatening them. My sincere hope is that negotiations will result in peace, with secure boundaries for Israel. It is foolish for anyone to suggest that Israel has a desire to expand.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, the noble Lord mentioned Judas Maccabeus. Before he sits down, may I ask whether he is also aware that, when the Muslims spread from Saudi Arabia into what was then Syria, the people who made sure that the Muslim armies conquered Jerusalem with the minimum amount of trouble were the Rabbinate in Jerusalem at that time?


I am afraid, my Lords, that the noble Earl—I almost said "my noble friend"; perhaps we are friends in other directions, anyhow—has made a mistake. I will have a talk with him later about that situation.

The Earl of ONSLOW

I am quoting Runciman's history of the Crusades.

7.44 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to express my reaction to the very interesting debate we have had today by referring to two separate sentences in the gracious Speech. The first sentence I have in mind is this: My Ministers will continue also to place great value on further détente between East and West, including the strengthening of economic links, and on full implementation of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. I am sure that most of us will support that intention. But we must face the fact, which has been brought out very strongly during the course of our discussions, that the increase in Russian military strength goes on and that the ideological war goes on as well. It looks as though the agreements in Basket 3 of the Conference on Security and Co-operation serve more as a text for complaint by the one side against the other than as an agreed code of conduct. If they are a code of conduct, then it is a code to which each side gives its own ideological interpretation.

One important factor in the ideological struggle in Europe at the present moment—one which has not been referred to this afternoon—is the future development of Communist Parties in Western Europe and their links with their Eastern counterparts. There was a very interesting declaration a fortnight ago—on 17th November—by the Italian and French Communist Parties in which they upheld not only the Eastern idea of democracy but also the Western idea of democracy, embracing what they call, "bourgeois democratic revolutions", and coming out strongly for a plurality of Parties.

At the same time it would seem there has also been a great difficulty in Moscow in preparing for a Summit meeting of Communist Parties. This declaration by the French and Italian Communist Parties is of considerable interest, in view of the fact that it is difficult to conceive of an alternative Government in France—unless there should be some realignment in the centre, which may well be the French President's aim—who do not include the French Communist Party. Furthermore, in Italy there is much discussion about the possibility of the Communist Party joining forces in government with at least some of the Christian Democrats. Of course, the statement is just words; we do not know what reliance we can place upon it. Past experience of Communist Coalition is not encouraging. But at any rate the attitude which has been taken is more encouraging than the attitude, for example, of the Communist Party in Portugal.

But to return to the main point: I believe that we must persevere with the attempt to secure and to advance détente. We must press on, however discouraging from time to time the prospects may seem, with our efforts to secure disarmament. But we must maintain our strength in the West at the same time. I am all for disarmament, as is the noble Lord, Lord Brockway; but it must be mutual disarmament. It cannot be a one-sided disarmament which would put us at the mercy of others.

We must also strengthen our defence in the ways referred to by my noble friends Lord Gladwyn and Lord Kimberley. I suppose that one of the Most serious threats to détente at the present moment is the situation in Angola and the fact that the major Powers are supplying different sides in the civil war which is taking place there. It is ironical that we should be thinking about this just at the time when the Franco régime—which came to power in this kind of way—has disappeared from the scene. I greatly wish that it were possible to prevent the export of arms to any of the sides involved in this dispute and, indeed, to any involved in any dispute in any of the danger spots throughout the world.

Another threat—not perhaps to détente, but certainly to peace—is the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons; the proliferation of nuclear weapons almost by inadvertence. France is supplying South Korea; Germany is supplying Brazil with installations involving separation plants capable of producing plutonium, and I understand that there is no control by the selling power. I am glad that the Prime Minister drew attention to this matter in the Summit meeting at Rambouillet the other weekend.

The second sentence in the gracious Speech to which I want to refer is the one which says: My Government will play their full part in the European Economic Community, devoting particular attention to the achievement of a common approach to the world's political and economic problems". I think there has been a feeling in recent months that since the Referendum the Government have not in fact been playing that full part. This has been created in part by the attitude taken over the demand for separate representation at the Energy Conference; and in spite of all the persuasive arguments put forward earlier today by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, I do not think it can be denied that this impression has been created. I regret very much that the target date of 1978 for direct elections has been abandoned by the Government. I am glad they are to have consultations with all political Parties, but I cannot see why we in this country should need longer time for consultations than has been felt necessary elsewhere.

Then there is the question of the Regional Fund, where we have been accused of not acting in the spirit of the Community. In another place on the 10th of this month the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said this about the Government and the Community: The European Community itself … is still not settled. … What is certainly not settled is how the Community will grow and whether it is to be a federal system or a series of nation States co-operating wherever possible".—[Official Report, Commons, 10/11/75, col. 948.] He said that this was not decided within the Community, but it would be nice to know the way in which Government thinking is developing on that particular problem. The right honourable gentleman went on to say: My own view is that we must co-operate whenever we can and on all possible occasions. We must act independently when we must, but even when we act independently it is our res ponsibility to keep contact with one another within the membership of the Community". That sort of sentiment would apply equally to an old-style alliance, to a consort of nations working together, as it would to the European Economic Community today. There is no support in that statement for the principle of supra-nationality, which is, after all, the essence of the Community.

The question of European union has been discussed. When the Tindemans Report comes to the Council of the Community it has to be discussed by Governments, and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, was pointing out that that would be round about the end of this year. There has already been a Report produced by the Commission on European Union and a Report from the Parliament, and it will be interesting to know what the Government's views are on the various alternatives set out. Do they agree, for example, with the Commission that European union means nothing if it does not involve the development of a European governmental executive? And if they feel it is too soon to come forward with their own view on that, do they not feel it would be useful to promote discussion on it and to seek views within our country on it, so that there is no excuse for longer delay at some future time when the issue is forced in front of us and we shall demand time for consultation?

I hope very much that when the Tindemans Report is discussed the Government will not just sit back hoping that general disagreement will prevent action. I hope they will give a positive lead for a development towards union and unity in every sphere covered by the Treaty, and in foreign policy and defence as well—a devolpment, that is, on the progressive application of the supra-national principle.

7.54 p.m.


My Lords, the speech we have just listened to has been typical of the high standard during the debate this evening. It is inevitable, I think, in our defence debates that there is a certain repetitiousness from debate to debate and, indeed, within the debate itself. In one sense this makes it easier to sum it up; in the other, one runs the risk of repeating everything that has been said already, and this is no time to indulge in that sort of thing. I shall endeavour, therefore, to be as brief as possible.

We have had some well-informed speeches, anyway on the foreign affairs side, so we are not in any way contradicting anything the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, said. We have had excellent and well-informed speeches from Lord May bray-King on issues like Cyprus, from Lady Elliot on the Middle East, and from my noble friend Lord Cowley on the problem of disaster relief and the possibility, as I understood it, of almost getting something for nothing in that area. Then, as I understood it—and I do not claim that I did understand it completely—Lord Ritchie-Calder was telling us that miracles really are going to happen. I think I understood him to say that he was going to get his bread back from the waters a thousand fold without even casting them there is the first place. It is a pity that the debate did not continue on that happy note throughout.

But without, I hope, being invidious, I should like to refer in particular to three truly outstanding speeches—or I think I might fairly say four outstanding speeches—from all quarters of the House. We do not expect anything else but an outstanding speech from an inexperienced young man like Lord Shinwell, and he did not disappoint us today. Then, from our side, my noble friend Lord Carrington set a tone which I cannot attempt to live up to. Lord Chalfont explained the nature of our threat; and then the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, in a characteristic manner, went on to suggest one possible chink of light at the end of a rather gloomy tunnel on defence issues. Lord Carrington referred to the fact that economic weakness within the country prejudices our power to defend ourselves; and, listening to his speech, my Lords, I was reminded of a very long time ago when Ernest Bevin used to plead for greater coal production to enable us to pursue a more expansionist foreign policy. I really do not believe the situation has changed all that much.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, questioned the very rationale of our defence policy, and at least by implication he was questioning the validity of the talk of détente. May I first use a reference that he made to make one rather niggling point? It is a slight terminological quibble, but the gracious Speech refers to "East and West". Is it not slightly unfortunate that we have drifted into the habit of talking about the East in this sense, meaning Eastern Europe, meaning the Warsaw Pact countries, meaning Russia and its satellites? There are a great many countries a long way further East than that, and not all of them are necessarily so totally opposed to our views as we believe the Soviet nations to be. I think we should try to find another term. We are not necessarily in confrontation with all those countries in the East.

When we turn to the nature of the threat, we have said this so often but I should like to underline the comments which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made by quoting from a recent article by Mr. Steed, of the Daily Telegraph, in a magazine called Maritime Survey for 1976. He says this: For some years now even the most détente-minded NATO Governments have been forced to admit that Russia's military strength far exceeds any conceivable requirements of legitimate defence". He goes on: The whole structure and posture of the Warsaw Pact forces has become increasingly geared to the offensive. Then, a little later (and he is referring to the development of the Soviet Navy of which the noble Lord rehearsed some of the facts clearly for us this afternoon) he said: As a self-sufficient land-mass country, with adjacent continental allies, the free use of the sea is in no sense the life or death matter that it is to NATO members. Of course, as a Super Power, she"— and he is referring to the Soviet Union— is entitled to a world-wide navy. But not to one which, from its size and composition, is obviously intended to be in a position to cut the NATO countries' life-lines, and to blockade them and blackmail them by denying them, or threatening to deny them, the freedom of the seas. It says nothing that the noble Lord has not said already. I merely wish to under line the point that he was making so forcefully to us.

Then the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, picked up the words in the gracious Speech which said that the Government: will sustain their support for the North Atlantic Alliance as an instrument of détente as well as defence, fostering the fullest possible co-operation amongst its members, not least in the procurement of defence equipment. We have made these comments before; we have heard these before. I sincerely hope that when he comes to reply the noble Lord will be able to tell us that for once there is some reality behind these statements and that the Government are simply not saying, as they have so often said, that they are against sin. I hope that he will be able to tell us that there is a real achievement here.

We know the penalties; they are indeed formidable. We have ammunition which is not inter-changeable, spare parts which are not inter-changeable, rifles which cannot take another nation's rifle bullets. We have, I believe, four different types of radio equipment which are not compatible and, among the more complex equipment, the non-compatibility puts us at a terrifying disadvantage vis-à-vis the unified Warsaw Pact countries—again a point that we have often made in these debates. The other side of the coin is that the rewards, if only we could achieve this common policy, are great. It is estimated that we could get something like 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. increased effectiveness for the money we spend if only we could avoid duplication at all stages of this whole development.

It would be ridiculous to under-rate the difficulties that lie in this area. The noble Lord said that it is 12 years since we have been paying lip service to the need to achieve this common policy. We have got to go right back if we are going to achieve anything. The Service heads have got to agree on the nature of the threat, on the way in which they are going to oppose the threat and on the type of equipment they wish their forces to deploy. This is no small task. We so easily get discouraged and at times we have been over-ambitious. It was only in September that the noble Lord, Lord Wynne-Jones, was doing his best at a meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly in Copenhagen at least to get some common objective laid down for the research and development which is the logical place at which to start. Even in that, we have so far achieved very little indeed in relation to all the effort that has gone into it. If the noble Lord has some cheerful words for us we shall be agog to hear them.

My Lords, we have talked of two-way streets. Traffic in two-way streets can come into head-on collision; we drive on the opposite side of the road from the Americans, which may possibly increase the danger. We do not underrate the power of the American commercial lobbies and it appears up to now that these two-way streets have been something of a non-return valve. I should like to question whether our Government are, and have been, as powerful as they might be in championing our industry. This applies particularly when we are negotiating with either the Americans or the French. There is an unanswered Question currently before your Lordships from the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, about Exocet. The figure of £120-million has been bandied about as having been paid to the French for this weapon. The question is this. Have we an offset? I do not believe that anybody questions that the technology in this country is as good as, if not better than, the technology in France or in certain areas of America. We must ensure that, if we are to buy these weapons from abroad, we can get some offset by persuading them to purchase weapons made in this country. If we receive orders, one would hope that we shall not be earning the strictures which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, mentioned in regard to our reputation for delivery, a reputation which at the present time in international circles is not of the highest. Let us hope that we can improve in this area.

My Lords, again it was the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, who referred to the phrase "play our full part in international conferences". I have the impression that we have overplayed our part in some of the conferences about, for example, the international energy agency and commodity purchasing. It was interesting to find the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, admitting that the Community does not have detailed policies on the questions for discussion. Perhaps this is not the right moment to raise the issue, for we shall be able to raise it in debate next week, but it causes me to wonder how the EEC arrives at what the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, called the Community mandate. How are we to achieve community policies in areas like the international energy agency? We must accept that in this particular area we are in grave difficulty.

From 1980 onwards we are to be producers of oil. This will set us apart from our fellow nations in Europe. Whether it is necessary for us to pre-empt that position prematurely, taking up a stance which differs so radically from that of our neighbours, I would question; but I think we must recognise that we shall be in a position where, just to take one example, it is probable that high energy prices will suit this country and not necessarily suit the other countries in Europe. But let the Government listen to the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, when he says that we should think about the manner of approach as well as the matter.

My Lords, we have this evening seen a remarkable unanimity in this House on this issue of defence. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, referred to bipartisanship. Sadly, the commonality of interest expressed in this House is threatened by the extreme Left. Ignoring the warning of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, of the unique nature of defence—which goes a long way to answer the sincerely expressed feelings of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway—there is a body of opinion which deplores and resents all defence expenditure in this country. No doubt it is a logical position to some people, but it certainly is not accepted on this side of the House. It is an old saw seen at the head of a number of papers, "If you wish for peace prepare for war". This is something that we should remember. If you find that it is too expensive to run your motor car, it is not sensible to cancel the insurance cover and carry on motoring. I suggest that if this country is impoverished, it is not logical to start by cutting in defence. The noble Lord explained that it is unique. I hope that we shall not use the possibility of saving money, increasing our cost effectiveness by common purchasing, as an excuse for taking large sums of money out of defence.

I also hope most passionately that the noble Lord will be able to assure us this evening that what we have been reading in the newspapers, about £600 million and £800 million—enormous figures in relation to the defence budget are irresponsible rumours, and that he will be able to set our minds at rest. If he is unable to deny this, we are inevitably going to fear the worst. We claim to be the leaders in Europe. How can we expect our friends to come to our aid if we are to be the first to indulge in unilateral disarmament, welshing on our undertakings to our fellows in NATO? Yet we claim to be leaders. I sincerely hope we are not going to do this.

If we have to make cuts I can make a number of suggestions about where we could save money, having read the gracious Speech. We are talking about what to me, in the context of a defence debate, seem expensive irrelevancies. We are going to nationalise the shipbuilding and aircraft industries, we are going to have an Equal Opportunities Commission. The noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, referred to the Community Land Act and the Land Commission. Let us look around very carefully before we start taking out of defence the sums of money that have been rumoured this evening. I hope very much that the noble Lord will be able to set our fears at rest.

8.14 p.m.


My Lords, I think your Lordships will agree that to reply to a debate covering two such vast subjects as foreign affairs and defence is an almost impossible task. I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, for having carried out some of my work for me so competently. I also appreciated the commiserations of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, which he gave me when he started his speech today, in regard to my role. We are not really talking about two separate subjects; we are talking about two inter related subjects which were clearly recognised in an earlier and more robust age when they cast on their cannon the words Ultima Ratio Regum; "That the cannon is the ultimate argument of kings. "As Chairman Mao has said, "Power grows out of the mouth of a gun".

Before replying to matters raised about defence, may I start by making one or two remarks regarding points made in the area of foreign affairs. First, I should like to reply to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, regarding the situation in the Middle East. Like him, I have been in that part of the world and have seen Mount Hermon looking down on the fertile plains of Israel and on the Damascus plain. I shared his view that there has been progress, and that much of the credit must go to Dr. Kissinger and President Sadat and also, as he said, to the Israelis. But the situation in the Middle East continues to be extremely tense. The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights is due to expire at the end of this month. The matter is clearly of great urgency. It is important that it be renewed in order to give a breathing space in which further moves may be made towards peace.

Her Majesty's Government hope that the Syrian Government will consent to this renewal. If, as I believe, they are eager to see the conclusion of a just and lasting peace in that area, they must give the processes which started with the Sinai Agreement longer to work. But if the Syrian Government are to show patience, the other parties in the Middle East must show flexibility. The Government's aim remains a settlement based on three principles: the first is Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory; the second is respect and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries. These are the principles laid down in the Security Council's Resolution No. 242, which must be brought into effect as provided by the Security Council's Resolution No. 338. Thirdly, the right of Palestinian people to express their national identity must also be recognised. But the British Government will continue to urge flexibility and compromise on all the parties. If it is the wish of the parties principally concerned, we shall be ready to play our part at the appropriate time and, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, to give any support we can to Dr. Kissinger.

In the light of what I have said, it seems even more of a pity that this disruptive Resolution was passed in the General Assembly equating Zionism with racism. Perhaps the delivery of my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts is so calm and rational that the House might not have noticed the strength of the words he used. He said that the aberration to which he referred—this was the Resolution—was … the passage by the General Assembly of a Resolution equating Zionism with racism. This has served no purpose but to bring the United Nations into disrepute. It has seriously undermined international support in the continuing campaign against racism and, tragically, it may also make more difficult the already formidable task of finding a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. I cannot think that one can put things more strongly, and one can only hope that wiser counsels will prevail in the United Nations, and whatever mechanism is necessary will bring about the rescinding of this Resolution which cannot help a settlement in the Middle East.

May I now turn to another point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and which I believe was also touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I disagree with the interpretation made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, of the situation relating to the CSCE and the MBFR, the two special Conferences. I do not think the noble Lord was quite right in saying that no agreement was envisaged on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe until we were in a position to conclude the Talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions in Vienna. It is true that they were linked, but not quite in that specific way. It is indeed our sincere hope that what happened at Helsinki will lead to progress in Vienna, but I can assure the noble Lord and the House that whatever other parties to the Talks may say, in our view they remain Talks on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions. I hope that this mess age will go out clearly from this House.

I sympathise very much with those noble Lords who expressed suspicion over the intentions behind the Russian use of this Conference and the use of the word "détente". We must watch the future carefully; and, as my noble friend said in his opening speech, we cannot expect a sudden change in the situation but must wait at least until 1977 before we can start forming a judgment. Of course, the Helsinki Conference gives the Russians some advantages, but it is not just a one-way street. I wonder whether your Lordships noticed in The Times today that three former Czech Members of Parliament under the Dubcek Régime have formally written to the Czech Parliament, pointing out that the continued Russian occupation of Czechoslovakia following the Russian invasion is in fact in conflict with the Helsinki Treaty. First of all, that was a very courageous thing for them to do; and, secondly, it gives them a legalistic basis for trying to reform their own régime from within. I think we may see more of this, because the war we are fighting is not a purely military one: it is basically a war of ideas. This leads, of course, to the danger of armed conflict, but if we could win the intellectual battle then we should be a long way towards winning the peace.

I should like to refer to two points made by my noble friend Lord Brockway. He asked about the firm plans for multilateral discussions to follow upon the CSCE. The Final Act provides for further such meetings, and the first of them is to take place in Belgrade in June 1977.


My Lords, 1977—Gorblimey!


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Brockway is another young man in a hurry! Turning now to world disarmament, my noble friend will be aware that world disarmament is in the forefront of our policy. He may not believe us, but it is so. We are negotiating and working towards this end at the Conference on Disarmament and elsewhere. We are fully committed to total abolition of nuclear weapons by multinational negotiation. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in his speech in Helsinki on the 30th July, a world disarmament conference could provide a forum which might help to speedup the halting progress so far made, but such a conference would have to be fully comprehensive, be attended by all nuclear powers and be adequately prepared.

I think I have done my duty by the Foreign Office on this and I will turn now to questions of defence. I will begin with what I believe to be the most serious point raised by a large number of speakers today, concerning the forecasts made in two important national dailies of defence cuts up to a figure of £800 million. I should like to say, first, that unfortunately of course—and I am sure that any noble Lord who has been concerned with the business of Government will know this—no expenditure programme can be immune to developments in the economy, and every one of the programmes in times of crisis must make its contribution to the solving of the problem.

What is happening at the moment is the normal procedure which begins at this time of the year. Public expenditure, including defence expenditure, is under review in the course of the annual expenditure survey exercise. No decisions have yet been taken, but I personally—and this is also the attitude of my right honourable friends—would not accept cuts which would leave us with ineffective Forces. Neither would my colleagues press for that to be done. I have made it clear that Her Majesty's Government will retain modern and effective Forces to cope with our essential commitments, and that remains our collective determination. One final point—


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but if the noble Lord is going to leave that point—


No, my Lords, I have one point to make in this limited area—I should like to make one further point in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley. The outcome of the Defence Review was to concentrate our capability on NATO. If I recollect correctly, the noble Earl said that any such severe cuts would force us to reduce our measure of support to NATO. But before any further cuts are made the implications for the Alliance would be taken into account and we should, as in the Defence Review, consult our allies.


My Lords, I do not want to press the noble Lord too hard on this because I recognise his difficulties, but it seems to me he is suggesting—and I should be grateful if he would either confirm or deny this—that the Government are now contemplating further cuts in the defence area over and above those that were announced as a result of the last Defence Review. As a result of that last Review, we were promised cuts of a substantial nature over a period of 10 years, after a fully comprehensive Defence Review. Am I right in supposing that the noble Lord is telling us that the Government are now contemplating cuts over and above those which were then announced?


My Lords, I am not saying anything as specific as that. I am saying that under pressure from the whole nation, and particularly the Conservative Party, the whole area of Government expenditure is being reviewed and, wherever possible, curtailed. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment made a very important statement on substantial cuts to local authorities' grants the other day, as part of this on-going operation. It is quite clear that at a critical time in our national economic state economies in Government expenditure must be made, and so discussions are going on. As I said earlier, no programme can be considered totally sacrosanct and immune from curtailment, but I did also say—and this is the really fundamental point—that nothing will be done in this area without consulting our allies, and that we shall retain modern and effective Forces to cope with our essential commitments. That is all I have to say on this subject.

I must say, of course, that cuts of this nature, if they were to happen, would be quite extraordinarily damaging. Perhaps the first and most damaging area would be in the economic sphere itself because, as we know, economic decline is one of our problems and, as many noble Lords have said, has caused our policies abroad to be weakened. To damage an industry which, at the moment, directly employs 200,000 men in providing equipment for the British Armed Forces, and a further 70,000 on producing arms for export to the value of £560 million—a noble Lord gave a higher figure than that, but my figure is £560 million for the year 1975–76—would, in itself, add to the problems which we are facing and which are causing us to consider making economies wherever we can find the opportunity, and to take action necessary to protect employment. The suggestion made would go completely contrary to our existing economic policy.

On the other side, we have the problem of morale. I think it was Cromwell who said that the good soldier knows for what he fights and loves what he knows. If the good soldier was worried—and, in fact, he is worried—and this worry became confirmed as a reality, then I believe we could see a substantial drop in the morale of our Armed Forces, a drop in recruiting and a lack of will to defend this nation. At the end of the day, it is basically will that is most important of all. It is more important than equipment, more important than a large Army. If a small Army is determined to fight, something can be done. The largest and best equipped Army, if it is not willing to fight, is useless. That is surely the lesson of Vietnam.

That is all I have to say on that matter. It would be immensely damaging to morale, which at the moment—in spite of doubts which naturally exist in an intelligent group of men such as the Armed Forces are today—is high. I do not think we could expect the performance that the Army is showing in Northern Ireland, for instance, if morale were low. The courage, competence and self-control which is shown by the Armed Forces there is such as would come only from a force proud of its traditions and willing to serve the nation.

May I turn to some other speeches most of which I found very much to my taste. I turn to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who has been bullying me at this Box, someone has told me, for 12 years. In fact, I have been here in this House for a shorter time than that. Nevertheless, he has always preached the theme of the virtues and importance of standardisation of weapons. That point was picked up by the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona. This is generally accepted, but an extraordinary point about defence policy is the extreme slowness with which anything ever happens. However, it is true to say that we are at last on the right course. The fact that we are on the right course is due to many convinced Europeans such as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and his colleagues who have persisted in arguing the case. That has given my right honourable friend the Secretary of State the muscle which enabled him to bring about in the recent meetings in Holland the agreement to set up a defence procurement secretariat as a first step towards a European defence procurement agency. This, of course, is immensely valuable and immensely important. We must keep up the pressure in this area and I believe, as I think Lord Gladwyn has said, that an opportunity will arise in December to enable pressure to be brought to bear upon the executives of the European Parliament to keep the momentum going in this important field.

Because the world as a whole is suffering from economic troubles we must expect every nation to fight for its own interests. But in many areas enlightened self-interest is creeping in and we are moving towards a larger measure of standardisation than I think many people realise. The hour is late and there is still much I should like to say, but if any noble Lord would like to put down an Unstarred Question or a Question for Written Answer I could tabulate for him the areas of commonality and co-operation, which are impressive and extremely interesting. If one remembers the long life of weapons systems, it is obviously going to take time before we have the same measure of commonality as the Warsaw Pact Powers have. The two-way street, as noble Lords have said, has its dangers. But again things are happening. The United States has bought the Harrier; it is buying Roland, a Franco-German weapon system. As the European defence industry grows and increases in sophistication, there are many other areas where the United States can find weapons in Europe which it is not at this moment supplying for itself. This was the case of Roland. It had nothing comparable to either Rapier or Roland and was forced to Come to Europe to buy.

May I now turn to two linked speeches which impressed me. I should like to talk to the speeches of the noble Lords, Lord Chalfont and Lord Shinwell, together. My noble friend Lord Shinwell began by saying that he supported Lord Chalfont in his analysis of the situation and as regards the steps that should be followed. I will in his absence reply to my noble friend Lord Shinwell. He asked me, first, whether I did not think that the information that we receive and which the nation receives should be better than it is—and, I would argue, more accurate than it very often is—and could not some arrangement be made whereby noble Lords interested in defence could meet NATO leaders and inform themselves better than is possible from reading the daily Press and the rather filtered information that comes through to the intelligent layman.

That is an idea that appeals to me personally, and if such visits are instituted I will certainly be travelling with my noble friend Lord Shinwell and any other noble Lord who wishes to go to them. I, who am not directly in the centre of things, find it difficult to keep completely up to date with what is going on and such a visit could be helpful and could, I suspect, very well be arranged. After all, we have a number of Parliamentary visits and people with distinguished records, such as Lord Shinwell, would, I am certain, be welcomed throughout the NATO defence structure. Both the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and my noble friend Lord Shinwell struck a note of what I might call constructive pessimism. They told the truth as they saw it and I expect they hope that someone somewhere is listening to it. That is half the trouble about informing people. As I think I have said at this Box, one can tell the truth, however pleasant or however unpleasant, time and time again, but unless people are willing to listen one might as well be speaking to the empty air. Nevertheless, Lord Chalfont and Lord Shinwell have tried to alert us to the dangers that face us, and let us hope that the message sinks in.

I have made an answer to the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, on the most important point he made about NATO. As I said earlier, we must consult our allies before we do anything to upset the Alliance on which our whole security is based. The result of the execution of the policy outlined in the Defence White Paper of 1975 means that we are strengthening rather than weakening our position on the central front of NATO. I have also answered the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, so far as I can, as to the progress to be followed upon the successful completion of the Helsinki Conference.

May I turn to the points that were made by the noble Earl, Lord Cowley, who was very courteous and gave me advance knowledge of the points he wished to raise. He was equally courteous in saying that I might write to him to give a fuller reply than is possible at this late hour. It is important that Dr. Luns is taking a positive interest in this problem. He is a powerful man, and what he thinks and says must have influence. The noble Earl is asking for a rationalisation of policies that all nations follow at the moment, but on an ad hoc basis and in an unco-ordinated way. Assistance to the civil power is a traditional part of the role of the Armed Forces, but we are never really prepared for a crisis when it comes—an earthquake in Turkey, or floods in Bangladesh. So long as we are on this earth, we shall suffer from natural disasters.

Occasionally, there are man-made disasters where pre-planning can help. I am thinking of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus which led to what was quite clearly a pre-planned and highly co-ordinated rescue operation by the British Forces in the Sovereign base areas that brought the greatest credit upon them. The rescue operation of both British and other foreign nationals, as well as the Turkish minority in the South of the island, was met by this splendid improvisation of housing and by succouring the many thousands of refugees who crowded into the Sovereign Base areas. This is a role which the Armed Forces of the world perform, and they would perform it much more efficiently with advance planning and earmarked equipment.

As I have mentioned Cyprus, may I turn to a point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King. He spoke about his concern for the future of Cyprus. Progress towards a political settlement of the Cyprus problem has been slow. Despite the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General, the four rounds of talks between Mr. Clerides and Mr. Denktash have achieved little so far. We do not believe, however, that any different forum is likely to be more successful and our view is shared by the parties most directly concerned. Together with our EEC partners, Her Majesty's Government are in close contact with both the Greek and Turkish Governments as well as the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to try to bring about the resumption of these talks.

To ensure a just and equitable settlement, there are three main issues which the parties to the intercommunal talks will have to settle. First, if a solution is to be acceptable to both sides, the nature and physical delimitation of the zones will have to be agreed. Secondly, there is the question of the powers and constitutional relationships of the Central Government. Thirdly, there is the composition. Her Majesty's Government, together with our partners in the Nine and our American allies, have urged the parties to the dis pute to reach a political settlement. We have told them quite frankly of our serious concern about the failure to make progress. Her Majesty's Government will continue to work actively but privately to promote a settlement which will permit deep-seated suspicions to be overcome and old wounds to be healed. As everybody will agree, this will need patience but that is true of almost every attempt to solve the complex problems that we face in the world today.

I have tried to answer all the points that were raised in today's debate, and I hope I have not been too long about it. I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Banks, on his speech, which I thought was a model of clarity. It is the first time that I have heard him speech on defence matters and I am looking forward very much to his future contributions. He made one very valuable point which I touched on earlier, and which must never be forgotten. In the main, noble Lords have spoken about the potential conflict of arms and the balance or imbalance of the defence equipment of the two Alliances. But what is equally important and basic are the risks which come about from the links between the Communist Parties of Eastern Europe and those of Western Europe. If my recollection is correct, this was the starting point of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Banks.

I agree with him completely that we are seeing a battle of ideas and a clash of civilizations which is being reflected in a threatened conflict of arms. The conflict of ideas is fundamental to everything else. We must watch this situation with care. In particular, we must watch the apparent change of heart of the Franco-Italian Communist Parties and find out whether it is a stalking horse or a partial conversion to the true faith. We must try to destroy intellectually the arguments that the Marxists put forward. A nation the size of Russia that cannot feed its own people and cannot even leave its musicians alone can hardly claim that its philosophy and society is one that should be acceptable to anybody who has known the freedom, with all its shortcomings, of the Western World.

Finally, in winding up, may I say that I agree completely with the noble Lord, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, that perhaps the most interesting thing about this debate is the fact that, with one notable exception, the whole House is agreed on the ends that Her Majesty's Government must try to achieve. The notable exception is my noble friend Lord Brockway who, unfortunately, is not here. I wish to pay a tribute to him. He has always fought for his pacifist ideals and has never concealed them in any way. He has always been honest and I have always respected his intellectual honesty. I only hope that his vision of the future is the one which we may all enjoy.

On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

House adjourned at eleven minutes before nine o'clock