§ 2.52 p.m.
§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Wednesday last by Baroness Bacon—namely, That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Peart)
My Lords, today we shall debate the foreign affairs and defence aspects of the gracious Speech. I should like to 305 open by saying something about arms control and disarmament, and I know that my right honourable and expert friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts will expand on my introductory remarks when he replies to the debate.
The continuing growth of the Warsaw Pact offensive capability remains a cause for concern, and it is an inescapable fact that we are more likely to preserve peace if there is a military balance between East and West. I shall be indicating the steps taken within the Alliance to strengthen our defensive capabilities. But armaments of themselves cannot breed lasting security; indeed, uncontrolled proliferation and competition breed instability.
The Government would much prefer to achieve and maintain a balance, not through competition in increasing and ever more costly armed forces, but through properly verifiable mutual restraint and balanced reduction. But the restraint must be, and be seen to be, mutual and the reduction balanced. Otherwise we will risk generating greater instability and discrediting the whole arms control process, both in the eyes of our own people and in the wider forum of international opinion which looks to the major military Powers to take a lead.
The United Kingdom has traditionally played a central role in the search for practical measures of disarmament. Over the past four years the Government have actively pursued a number of arms control objectives, both through the United Nations and by multilateral negotiations. Arms control negotiations are not conducive to spectacular or quick results. Their subject matter goes to the very heart of national security. No responsible Government can act other than with proper caution where their national security is concerned. But, at the same time, the Government will take all appropriate steps to ensure that, for their part, the political will and energy to succeed in practical, realistic, and manageable measures of arms control is not lacking.
In concert with the United States and the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom played a central role in the negotiation of the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty and the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty; and together with these countries the United Kingdom is a co-depositary Power of 306 these treaties. It is, therefore, wholly appropriate that we should be associated with these two countries—the United States and the Soviet Union—in the negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty. The Government are working for the early achievement of a treaty which would ban nuclear explosions in any environment. Such a treaty would contribute to curbing the qualitative development of nuclear weapons. The Government believe that this self-imposed restraint on the nuclear weapon States should help curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons by attracting the adherence to the treaty of those States without nuclear weapons which might otherwise consider embarking upon a nuclear weapons programme.
Noble Lords will be aware that the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Vance, visited Moscow recently to carry forward the SALT negotiations following the meetings between Mr. Vance, President Carter and Mr. Gromyko in the United States at the end of September. Although final agreement has yet to be reached, both the United States and the Soviet Union appear optimistic that a SALT Two Treaty could be signed before long. The recent meetings at high level are an indication of the seriousness with which both sides are treating this subject.
We consider that a successful SALT Two Treaty will advance détente. It will enhance strategic stability and should provide the stable base for further reductions and qualitative constraints on strategic systems. We have on numerous occasions made clear our support for the agreement that seems to be emerging, and on which the Alliance has been regularly briefed and consulted by the United States.
In parallel with these measures for mutual restraint on nuclear arms, the Government are working for progress in conventional arms control, and in particular the reduction of the level of military confrontation in Central Europe through the talks on mutual and balanced force reductions in Vienna. These are the first major attempts at regional arms control; and success in Vienna, in addition to the direct benefits for stability in Europe, could, I believe, set an important precedent for other parts of the world.
Together with our allies, the Government are working for an outcome which 307 would establish approximate parity in the form of a common collective ceiling on the ground and air manpower of the two sides. In this context, the Government welcomed the statement in the joint declaration issued by President Brezhnev and Chancellor Schmidt, during the former's visit to the Federal Republic of Germany in May, that approximate equality and parity are adequate guarantees of defence, and that measures of arms control consistent with this principle would be of great importance.
In June the East made their most significant move since the negotiations began. In a number of respects these Eastern proposals indicate a readiness to contemplate, in theory at least, an outcome more nearly akin to that envisaged by the West, including that reductions should result in common collective ceilings on the manpower of both sides. But this move on parity is less significant than it might have been because the East continues to claim that there is already approximate parity in the area, whereas Western estimates of Warsaw Pact forces indicate major disparities in the East's favour. Agreement on data is now recognised by both sides as the key to progress.
That said, my Lords, another important event in the disarmament field this year has been the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament. But, since he has attended the meetings, I should like to leave my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts to talk about it when he replies. I have been speaking so far about our efforts in the field of arms control and disarmament. I should now like to turn to the other side of the coin; that is, the need to maintain an adequate level of defence.
As I have said, and as I should like to emphasise again, the Government believe firmly that they should pursue arms control and disarmament to the greatest extent possible, but recognise that such efforts, which in themselves seek to reduce tensions between East and West, can be successfully pursued only in the context of a stable military balance. Thus we are convinced that our defensive capabilities must be maintained at a level which maintains deterrence. Within this framework it is the Government's responsibility 308 to determine the direction in which our defence efforts should be channelled.
It is common ground in this House that Britain's defence can be secured only by our membership of the North Atlantic Alliance. The key principle of the North Atlantic Alliance is that an attack on any one member within the Alliance area constitutes an attack on all members. This collective defence arrangement is essential. The continued vitality of the Alliance therefore remains a key national interest. After 30 years' existence, during which a new generation has grown up, there have been fears that it might come to be regarded as a survival of the past, bearing no relationship to modern reality in an era of détente. But, on the contrary, I would say—and I believe this strongly—that its continuing relevance and importance are now recognised more than ever by people and Governments alike.
Noble Lords will recall the London Summit of NATO Heads of State and Government held in May 1977. This meeting, and the initiatives taken, largely by President Carter, opened a period of intense activity within the Alliance. This culminated in a most successful Washington Summit meeting held in May of this year, and I venture to predict that, when we look back, 1978 will be assessed as one of the years of greatest significance for NATO. At the Washington Summit, Alliance leaders approved a fresh study of long-term trends in East-West relations through the 1980s. Though recognising that firm predictions were difficult, the study concluded that the foreign and other policies of the Soviet Union, including the Soviet attitude to détente, were unlikely to change fundamentally in the coming decade. The Soviet Union was expected to give priority to the continuous improvement of its forces, and to remain ready to make available whatever resources this required. There is no doubt that the size of the Soviet military effort, in both conventional and nuclear forces, is greater than that which could reasonably be regarded as essential for defence purposes.
My Lords, against this background of continuing growth in Soviet military capability, Alliance leaders noted trends in the military balance which, if left unchecked, could undermine deterrence and stability. In response to this, allied 309 Heads of Government, while remaining determined to pursue as constructive and positive a relationship as possible with the Soviet Union and the other East European countries, endorsed a Long-Term Defence Programme, designed to help adapt NATO's defence posture to meet the challenges of the 1980s. The Long-Term Defence Programme consists of measures in 10 priority areas, ranging from electronic warfare to modernisation of theatre nuclear forces, differing in timescale from the relatively short-term to the early 1990s, and from measures addressed to individual nations to those addressed to the entire Alliance. The Long-Term Defence Programme will greatly enhance Alliance defence capability.
This programme's main themes are greater co-operative efforts and longer-term co-ordinated planning which, it is envisaged, should lead to greater co-operation in research and production between the allies. In short, it gives a clear guide to the improvements on which Alliance members should concentrate in the years ahead. The United Kingdom has played a very active part in developing the Long-Term Defence Programme, and the Government are committed to a vigorous and sustained effort to ensure that the programme is a success. We will incorporate as many as possible of the Long-Term Defence Programme measures into our own defence forward programme.
In increasing the collective defence capability of the Alliance, the Long-Term Defence Programme will add to the great benefits which the United Kingdom enjoys from membership. But while we reflect on the benefits we obtain from the Alliance, it is also right to record the very large contribution which the United Kingdom makes, and which is well appreciated by our allies. Our contribution to the Alliance is concentrated in ways that best contribute to the strength of the Alliance itself. This is the defence of the United Kingdom base; the contribution of the largest part of the maritime forces readily available to the Alliance in the Eastern Atlantic and Channel; the provision in the Central Region of the 55,000-strong British Army of the Rhine and the 12 squadrons of Royal Air Force Germany; and the theatre and strategic nuclear forces so essential to the Alliance's deterrent strategy.
310 Over the course of the last year, a number of very worthwhile improvements have been announced to United Kingdom Forces in addition to their existing programmes. I do not want to go into these in detail, but perhaps noble Lords will allow me to touch upon one or two features. The Royal Navy's impressive re-equipment programme, which includes the new antisubmarine cruisers, is making good progress. Moreover, the recent decision to restore H.M.S. "Bulwark" to operational service was most welcome. The decision to increase the planned size of the Army by 6,000 men will help relieve overstretch caused by a continuing need to deploy troops in Northern Ireland, and will improve standards of training and readiness, particularly in the British Army of the Rhine. It was recently announced that project definition has begun for a new type of main battle tank to enter service in the late 1980s. Turning to the RAF, the main re-equipment programme is the introduction of the multi-role Tornado aircraft in the early 1980s. It has also been decided to form an additional squadron of Rapier surface-to-air missiles for the defence of the important Lossiemouth air base.
These and other measures add up to a significant improvement in the United Kingdom's capability, which underlines the Government's determination to fulfil their commitment to NATO and to help the Alliance to counter the increasing Soviet offensive capability. We will continue to do this, both in terms of enhancements to our force capability and by our efforts in the field of joint procurement, in which we aim to achieve economies and increase the Alliance's fighting efficiency by improving the ability of allied units to operate together. This, I believe, is a fruitful time for the Alliance, and a productive time as far as Britain's contribution to that Alliance is concerned.
I should now like to turn to various foreign affairs topics, and I go first to the European Community. I know that I am to be followed by the noble Lord, Lord Soames, who was a distinguished Commissioner in Europe, but I want to make a few remarks on this, although I must not try to monopolise the debate, with so many speakers wishing to participate. I would say only this, that the Government will be working constructively in the 311 period ahead in a number of fields which I think are important for Britain and the future development of the Community as a whole.
In July, for example, the European Council agreed that the Commission should undertake a review of the development of the Common Agricultural Policy. The Commission are expected to present their report to the European Council on 4th and 5th December. This has been mentioned, of course, in the gracious Speech. The same meeting will consider the proposal for a European Monetary System. As the Prime Minister has made clear, a decision on United Kingdom participation in this must depend on the characteristics of the scheme as it emerges, and the outcome of the associated studies. We are also engaged in discussions designed to lead to modifications to the common fisheries policy to take account of Britain's requirements. I would say only this on these matters—which I once had something to do with in the Community: I always believe that we should be constructive. I believe that we are in the Community—this was endorsed by the referendum—and we must seek to play our full part in that Community.
In the industrial field, Community policies in sectors hit by recession, such as steel and shipbuilding, have been of some assistance in providing a degree of stability against which we can make plans for our own industries. I believe satisfactory progress is being made towards the enlargement of the EEC. The Greek accession negotiations are likely to be concluded early next year; the Portuguese negotiations opened in October; and the Commission's Opinion on Spain is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
A few words on British/Soviet relations. British/Soviet relations have inevitably been affected by the tensions in East/West relations over the past few months. The Government have made clear to the Soviet authorities their views on recent Soviet policies in Africa, on human rights and on the continuing Soviet military build-up in Eastern Europe. At the same time, we have made it clear that we still seek to establish a more stable and constructive relationship with the Soviet Union and its allies in the future. The discussions which my right honourable 312 friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and other Ministers had with the Polish Foreign Minister earlier this week are one example of this.
If I may, I will turn quickly to the Middle East. For the Middle East, negotiations, first at Camp David in September, and subsequently in Washington, between Israel and Egypt have reached the threshold of the most positive development which the region has seen in 30 troubled years. I heard somebody say: "I wonder!" I hope that we shall achieve peace. A peace treaty between Egypt and Israel is important. Such a treaty would, in itself, be a remarkable achievement and a testament to the courage and the determination of President Carter, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin.
But it would still only be a beginning. The ultimate goal remains a comprehensive and lasting peace which is based upon the principles of Security Council Resolution 242 and which takes account of the legitimate rights of all parties concerned. If the stability of the region and peace for its people are to be assured, progress made towards an Israel/Egypt peace treaty must be matched by progress towards a resolution of the conflict on the same basis on Israel's other fronts. We shall continue to give our full support to all efforts to achieve this end.
In Lebanon, the Government hope that the current ceasefire in Beirut will continue to be observed by all the parties and will provide an opportunity for progress towards national reconciliation and the formation of a new Government exercising its authority and full sovereignty throughout the country. The consequences of further fighting could be appalling, not only for Lebanon but for all the Middle East.
Turning quickly to Cyprus which was recently discussed in this House when I had the privilege of briefly winding up that short debate. The Government are very concerned at the continuing lack of progress towards a political settlement in Cyprus. As had been made clear to the parties, we are ready, together with our partners, to help in any way which the parties themselves would consider useful. The Government believe, however, that a just, lasting and viable settlement must be 313 negotiated between the two communities in Cyprus, who will have to live with the terms of the settlement. The inter-communal talks, therefore, remain the best means of progress. The UN Secretary-General knows that he can rely on the support of the British Government in any new effort to bring about a resumption of the talks. We continue to urge the parties to show willingness to negotiate and to adopt a constructive and flexible approach to negotiations.
Turning now to Africa, I shall make no substantive comment on Rhodesia because of the debate tomorrow which will be wide-ranging and will include the Bingham Report. I know that this is a subject of great concern to noble Lords; but I hope that they too will be ready to defer expressing their views until tomorrow, when there will be time for the discussion which the subject deserves.
On South Africa, we join with the rest of the international community in condemning apartheid. We are, therefore, playing our part in the International Anti-Apartheid Year. Change in South Africa is inexorable and should be seen as an urgent challenge by the new leadership of the Republic if it is to be brought about by peaceful means. External, as well as internal, pressures to bring about change are mounting. These inevitably concern Britain with its large investment in South Africa and important trade ties.
We are continuing our efforts to secure an internationally acceptable settlement in Namibia. As a result of the recent visit by Foreign Ministers of the Five, we think South Africa has recommitted itself to such a settlement, and we have substantially resolved many of the difficulties the South Africans had raised in connection with the United Nations' proposals. It is true that the internal December election will go ahead; but we have made clear our attitude that this is null and void. The test of South Africa's commitment will come over the next few weeks, but it is our responsibility to pursue a settlement so long as it is possible.
Moving now to the Far East, Britain, like other Western European countries, intends to respond positively to China's search for increased contacts and trade. A prosperous and secure China will be a factor for peace and stability. We do not consider that improved relations with 314 China need be at the expense of any third country. I had the great pleasure of entertaining the Vice-Premier of China only today in the Cholmondeley Room in your Lordships' House. I was much impressed with the attitude of the Chinese representatives there towards our country.
May I say about the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN, so-called) that we have been greatly encouraged by the development of this organisation which is an association linking Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, and is devoted to their economic, social and cultural welfare. ASEAN has rapidly become an important factor for peace and stability in South-East Asia, and we are concerned to support it. We have many long-standing friends in that part of the world, where the prospects for developing British trade and investment are good.
My Lords, that concludes my survey or what some people call a tour d'horizon. I hope that my French is as good as that of the noble Lord who follows me. I hope that I have made clear the Government's foreign policy and defence objectives designed to maintain peace and stability in the world. Let us have a very good debate today.
§ 3.17 p.m.
§ Lord SOAMES
My Lords, it gives me great personal pleasure to follow the noble Lord the Leader of the House. There were quite a number of years when he and I followed each other, first one leading, then the other, on other topics and it gives me great pleasure to be following him today on a somewhat broader scene. He started with defence matters and moved on to foreign affairs. There are a number of points that I should like to make that touch on particular aspects to which he referred and I will come to them, if I may, in the course of my speech.
When discussing the broad sweep of foreign affairs and defence it is important (is it not?) to have in mind some, at least, of the changes of the undertow and current of international political life which are unfolding. I will mention just two and then go on to suggest how these do, or, in my view, should, affect the broad direction of our foreign policies. The first is the extent to which the concept 315 of interdependence, in the widest sense of the term, has come increasingly in recent years to be accepted as a major feature of international life by all countries of the Free World, be they rich or poor, be they great or small.
Many countries have learned important lessons on this in recent years. I think that the United States has a far greater realisation of the importance of interdependence today than it had some years ago. I think that a number of developing countries—some of whom threw their hats in the air with joy when there was the five-times increase in oil prices; they thought perhaps that this was a new Utopia opening to them totally different terms of trade as between the developing world and the industrialised world—have since come to learn the extent to which not only they themselves are interdependent one upon the other, but so also is the developing world dependent on the industralised world and a recession in the industrialised West does no one any good.
The second change which has been gradually developing is that, whereas for the first 25 years or so after the war the United States was ready and willing to carry on its broad shoulders the heavy burdens of leadership in the Free World, the traumatic events through which it has passed in the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate have led its people to question the extent to which it is prepared to take the leading role in many aspects of world affairs today of a military, political, economic or monetary character. How should these changes affect the conduct and direction of our foreign policies, my Lords? I mention but two; there are many others, but time presses. My purpose will be to make what I hope will be seen—as certainly they are intended to be—as some positive suggestions.
To start nearest to home, as the noble Lord, Lord Peart did, how do we see the purpose of the European Community and Britain's role within it? I believe that the great majority of your Lordships have always envisaged the Community as being much more than merely a means by which individual member States may enrich themselves. We have hoped to see it use its considerable economic strength, combined with the experience 316 of its member States, to exercise a benign and powerful influence in world affairs. The fact that it has no past historically speaking has its disadvantages in terms of the rest of the world coming to understand what it is seeking to do. However, the reverse of that coin is that the Community has the advantage of having no colonial past, no hangup; and when those who represent it or are responsible for Community affairs travel the world they find almost wherever they go a desire to see the Community play its full part.
We have hoped to see it contribute to some degree of burden-sharing with the United States in the broadest political sense. I have never thought of burden-sharing as something which one can only refer to in terms of a military contribution to NATO. Burden-sharing is something far broader than that. I mean it here in the broadest political sense in world terms. The extent to which the Community could achieve this has always depended on the extent to which it can develop the necessary coherent political process to enable it to arrive at agreed policies and express those policies with common voices. The fact that this has proved possible only to such a limited extent and in limited areas cannot fail to be a disappointment not only to us inside the Community but also to many people and Governments outside it who see the Community as a potential power for good in the world. To this, I can bear witness from my travels as Commissioner responsible for external affairs.
In commercial matters, the Community has in many instances succeeded in expressing common policies to good effect—for instance, the GATT trade negotiations in Geneva. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will give us something of a progress report on those when he comes to wind up today, as they are so important. There is one major and serious lacuna even in the commercial policies—the extent to which we have failed to come to an agreement as a Community on what attitude we should adopt regarding credit terms when trading with Russia and Eastern countries. It has shown that, as we indulge in a Dutch auction, one country with another, this has done no good to any European country; it has done good to the Communist countries and it is the European 317 taxpayer who has suffered. But alas! it cannot be said that much worthwhile progress has yet been made towards common European policies in economic, monetary or foreign political affairs. These are the areas of greatest importance in which there is the greatest scope for progress to be made.
This leads me to say a few words about the European Monetary System, to which the noble Lord referred. It was a feature of the economic debate last week in your Lordships' House and my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft paid particular attention to it. It is about the world context and significance of the European Monetary System that I should like to say a few words. We have seen much comment from opponents of the scheme to the effect that it was designed by France and Germany to, as it were, hit back at the dollar rather than to help it. In truth, the context is far wider than that of the United States balance of payments, and the criticism is in fact misplaced.
In reality, the weakness of the dollar reflects the basic weakness of what is left of our present international monetary system which came about after the collapse of Bretton Woods. That system is suffering from two fundamental problems: first, the instability of the exchange rate relationships and currency flows which have in the event proved much worse under floating rates than under fixed rates, though pure theory predicted exactly the reverse; and, secondly, the lack of a pivotal international currency of trusted value, which the dollar was and no longer is. Should the European Monetary System not be seen as the contribution that the European Community can make to tackling these two dangerous weaknesses of the world monetary system? The United States cannot solve the whole problem by itself and, if it is not solved or if, in trying to solve it, the United States ends up in a deep recession, then the difficulties that we live with today will seem as nothing compared with the traumas that will then ensue.
Regardless of the precise manner in which the system would regulate the relations of its members a European Monetary System—or rather the monetary fund associated with it—could become a major creator of international liquidity in the 318 form of ECUs which could form a part in underwriting an orderly expansion of the international financial system. If the European Monetary System is to be done, it is vital that it be well done. It must serve the interests of the Community and therefore the member States. I hope that the importance of the international aspects of the scheme will be given the considerations that they merit by all Community members, not least Her Majesty's Government, in deciding whether or not to go forward with the scheme.
I have never thought that in matters of foreign affairs it was necessarily the duty of the Opposition to oppose. On the contrary, the wider the areas that can be covered by a bi-partisan approach, the better can our national interests be served. I fear that this cannot apply to the general attitude and approach of Her Majesty's Government to their relationship with the European Community. Incidentally, from a personal point of view, I am not including in this the noble Lord the Leader of the House, whom I saw make great personal efforts to this end in Brussels. I address myself to the Government as a whole. It has been a most sorry story. So much of the goodwill felt by our partners at the time of our entry into the Community, and so many of the hopes they placed on the contribution we could and would make to its life and influence, have been dissipated.
Seldom has more political capital been jettisoned so quickly and to so little effect or purpose. At best hesitancy, and, at worst, rank obstructionism is the image which this country has created for itself in Europe. But how else could it be, when, after negotiation, renegotiation and a very positive referendum there are so many in the hierarchy of the Labour Party, including some Ministers whose job it is to represent the British view to the Community, who make no secret of the disdain they feel for the whole European idea? The root of the objection which my noble friends have towards the Government on this matter is that they pay far too scant attention to the European dimension in the formulation of policies or to informing the British people of the importance of them, so that our influence in Europe is therefore much less than it should be and our national interest suffers thereby. There is no doubt in our minds that by working 319 closely with our European partners, coupled with the judicious use of what is an excellent diplomatic service in bilateral diplomacy, this country's contribution to world affairs could be noticeably increased, for the extent of the influence that we can bring to bear on the outside world now depends to a large degree on our ability to carry our European partners with us.
If I may just take some specific instances, may I first ask the Government whether they feel—in his speech the noble Lord referred to the Middle East—that the European Community or the individual members acting in concert have any part to play in the Middle East situation today. It has for long been true that whereas a number of countries were capable of making war in the Middle East, the main initiative for peace had to come from the United States owing to the influence that she alone could bring to bear upon Israel. It is vain to wish that more should have been done sooner. We should welcome the efforts made by President Carter and his Administration following on the bold and imaginative initiative taken by President Sadat to bring about the beginnings of a solution; but as I think the noble Lord himself had in mind when he spoke on this subject, one cannot envisage a long-term solution standing the test of time unless it takes into account the interests not only of Egypt and Israel but also those of the moderate Arab States.
In this regard the agreement that was arrived at at Camp David can only be seen as a beginning, and there is a long way yet to go. Since then, the Israeli Government have taken various actions, the reasons for which are not easy to comprehend or interpret. I realise full well the importance of secrecy and diplomacy, especially in as delicate a situation as this, but I hope that the Government can give us an assurance that British diplomatic skills and capacity are being used, both directly and together with at least some of our European partners, to help sustain the momentum of this affair so that it does not get lost forever in the desert sands.
Moving now to the Mediterranean and the complex problems of Turkish-Greek relationships and their ramifications in 320 Cyprus, to which the noble Lord also referred in opening, the negotiations for Greece's entry to the Community are going forward and no doubt will result in agreement. But what of Turkey, many of whose strategic interests are of great importance to the European Community? The European Commission's Opinion on the application of Greece for accession to the Community was along the following lines—incidentally I was responsible for writing it and got my knuckles rapped for having brought in Turkey—and I paraphrase: specific steps would need to be taken to ensure that Greek membership would not affect relations between the Community and Turkey, and that the rights guaranteed by the Association Agreement with Turkey would not be affected. Turkey is going through serious problems, many of them of an economic character, and it is natural that she should look to her relationship with the Community and the Association Agreement in particular to bring her some relief. It is surely in the interests not only of the Community but of the Western world that she be helped. For evident reasons, it is for the European Community to take the lead in this, and I should like to ask the Government whether they are thinking of any initiative in this regard.
As the noble Lord said, the strongly-held feelings and disagreements between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus continue and are, alas! reflected in the relationships, or lack of them, between the two communities in Cyprus. Here I have a suggestion to make. The European Community voted a sum of money some years ago for aid to be given to the Government of Cyprus, but it has not been handed over to Cyprus because the Council of Ministers have not been able to feel confident—and rightly so in my view—that the money would be used in the interests of the population as a whole. It was always meant to be of assistance to both the Greek and Turkish communities. I suggest that the Government of Cyprus should be told that the aid will be paid over once we are assured that the two communities in Cyprus have agreed on how the money should be divided up. Agreement by the two sides on this matter would not prejudge any of the other contentious issues between them, but it might at least serve as a useful catalyst while providing much needed help for the people of Cyprus— 321 and goodness knows they could do with it!
Evidently within Community circles the British Government carry a special responsibility in relation to Cyprus, and here again I would specifically ask whether Her Majesty's Government have thought of making a proposal of this character to their partners. With two statesmen of the calibre of Mr. Karamanlis and Mr. Ecevit in charge of the Greek and Turkish Governments, let us hope that a number of the differences which have bedevilled Greek-Turkish relations for so long will be resolved to as great a degree as possible and as soon as possible, and that in view of the importance which both countries feel towards their relationship with the Community, there might well be advantage in assuring them that the Community stands ready, should they so wish, to assist to that end in any possible way.
I turn now to the question of the negotiations for the Lomé Convention, covering the whole of black Africa, the islands of the Caribbean and some islands of the Pacific. I have heard proposals canvassed for two additions to the existing convention. One is that the benefits of the convention should be in some way linked to the question of human rights. One can but sympathise and understand the objective here, but when one looks at the difficulties of assessing the different yardsticks of human rights in the different countries and at the different elements which would or would not be considered to constitute infringement, I believe the difficulties of including such a clause would be found to be formidable in the event.
The other proposal being canvassed is more realistic, I believe, and would certainly prove advantageous to the Lomé countries. There are many European industries who would like to invest in these countries but who feel inhibited from so doing by anxieties over the attitudes of the Governments concerned to the medium- or long-term future of their investments should they prove successful. If it be true that this is proving a hindrance to the development of the Lomé countries, then it would surely be in their interests to agree on a formula for an effective arrangement which would be likely to call forth the sort of investment 322 which many European firms are ready to make and which would be of long-term advantage to the associated States and at the same time be politically acceptable to them. The same concept, incidentally, could be used, in my view, to advantage in the Geneva trade negotiations with developing countries in general.
Rhodesia is, of course, going to be a matter for debate on its own in your Lordships' House tomorrow. But I cannot leave the subject of the relationship between Britain, the European Community and the African countries without touching, as the noble Lord did, on the question of South Africa. Let me say straight away that neither side of this House can claim any monopoly of antipathy towards apartheid. I have read of demands by elements within the Labour Party that the United Kingdom should take an active part in promoting within the United Nations a proposal for sanctions to be imposed upon South Africa, should disagreement remain over the issue of the coming to independence of Namibia. Let me make it clear to the Government that we on this side of the House are convinced that it would not be in the British interest for sanctions to be imposed on South Africa. Of course, we should like to see agreement reached on the various detailed issues still outstanding, but it would not seem to us that such issues as whether elections are held a few months earlier or a few months later, or what the size of the United Nations presence should be in Namibia during the election, are matters of a magnitude to warrant the imposition of economic sanctions.
There will doubtless be influences at work trying to get them imposed, and trying to use this issue as an excuse to get them imposed. But I repeat that we do not think this would be in Britain's interest, nor in the interest of many other countries. So I suggest that our influence should be used in the following way: first, to do our best to bring about agreement over the course of events in Namibia; secondly, if that fails to work to avoid the sanctions issue becoming an active one, and, thirdly, if it does so, to seek to work with other countries which have similar interests to ours to ensure that such an initiative would not be successful.
This in turn leads me to what is generically known as the North-South 323 dialogue, which must remain a continuing affair in one form or another. We must hope that the European Community will continue to speak with one voice on this, as it has done in the past, and that Her Majesty's Government will have a considerable influence both on the tone of that voice and on the substance of what is said. My hope is that the concept of the stabilisation of export receipts, which has proved so helpful to the countries of the Lomé Convention, might be extended both geographically and in terms of commodities covered, and let me explain how. The Community has its Stabex Fund with the Lomé countries. I should like to see a similar but much more far-reaching scheme whereby all the rich countries, the old rich and the new rich, contributed to a scheme for all the poorest countries who would be in a position to benefit therefrom. Could the Minister when he winds up indicate whether this concept finds favour with Her Majesty's Government? It is not, of course, a new one. The EEC Commission proposed it at the time of the Paris Conference a couple of years back.
I have one more positive proposal in this context. Indiscriminate aid is dangerous. It should, in agreement between donors and recipients, be channelled wherever possible into projects which are likely to yield the most valuable return in terms of development. There is also no reason why project aid should not cover areas which, in these hard times of recession, are useful also to the economies of the industrialised donor countries. I can think of three areas of development: port facilities, communications and hydroelectric schemes, all of which would be enormously beneficial to countries of the developing world, and at the same time would provide useful work within the industrialised world. There are certainly many other examples. But could we not envisage the World Bank and its agencies, after proper studies, setting in train a number of such specific projects?
Time runs on, and this debate is to cover defence as well as foreign affairs. To hear the noble Lord speak, one would not have thought that there were any difficulties at all with Her Majesty's Forces; everything is the best in the best of all possible worlds. Would that it were true. The Government have in recent 324 years made savage cuts in defence expenditure. The morale of the Services continues to fall, not only because of the way in which they have been treated over their pay and conditions, but also because of the extent to which they are having to "make do and mend" in so many areas with old and outdated equipment. I must say that things seem to me to have got to a pretty pass when the Secretary of State for Defence has to make a public statement to the effect that he and the Chiefs of Staff are still on speaking terms. These cuts in our defence expenditure have been made, as the noble Lord said, just at a time when the Warsaw Pact forces are being increasingly enlarged, when the United States is looking to Europe to improve its own defence and when there has been what General Haig has described as an explosion in Russian military capability.
The noble Lord also talked about bringing the Atlantic Alliance up to date. How I agree with him on the need for this. The question is how to do it. When NATO was brought into being some thirty years ago, its purpose was to defend Western Europe in the first instance from a possible frontal attack by Russia and her allies. That horrific danger remains and we must not ignore it, but today we are confronted at the same time with a quite different danger. We have seen the Russian fleet spread around the world; we have seen her Cuban and East German allies sent in to gnaw away at Western interests in Africa, and we have seen Communist influences seek to stir up and encourage all manner of discontent and unrest in many areas, including our friends and allies in many parts of the world.
The impression that one has—though I must confess I hope that it is not a proper one; and I hope that there is substance as well as rhetoric in what the noble Lord said—is that all too little thought has been given by Her Majesty's Government and our allies as to how the whole concept of the Atlantic Alliance, designed as it was at a specific time to meet a specific challenge, should be adapted to meet the added threats of today to the future of the Free World. This is not just a matter of whether the boundaries delineating NATO should or should not be extended. It is a question of how the Free World should adapt its arrangements of a political and 325 military character to meet new challenges to their vital interests as they present themselves.
The noble Lord referred to China. Hitherto, if I understand it aright, the COCOM list, the list of proscribed weapons which no NATO ally was to sell to any Communist country, was the same for China as it was for, say, the USSR. The question I should like to ask the Minister is this: what can he tell us about the extent to which this is changing? Does he think that this remains in the interests of the Western World in general, and Her Majesty's Government in particular, and what changes are foreseen in this regard?
We on this side of the House find our natural desire, as I have said, to seek a bipartisan approach on matters of foreign policy and defence strained to the utmost in certain areas, because of the errors of omission and commission of the Government's policies and attitudes. We believe fundamentally that Britain has more to offer to the world than this Government seem able or willing to conceive or to contemplate. The erosion and weakening of our economic base in recent years has, of course, made harder the furtherance of British interests and influence abroad. But the Government seem to have no conception of the extent to which such influence depends on our ability to work with and through our European partners. This, though, presupposes a positive attitude towards the Community, a desire to work positively for its success, and a feel and sensitivity as to how to work most effectively with our partners. But both our partners and we on this side of the House know that this will never be forthcoming from this Government, with their deep divisions about the whole European idea, while many among them openly hate its very existence. So long as that lasts, Britain's voice will continue to sound from outside as petty, parochial and sadly muted.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Lord BANKS
My Lords, both of the noble Lords who have spoken so far have dealt with the question of détente, with the question of arms control, with the question of defence and with the question of relations between the East and the West. My noble friend Lord Gladwyn 326 intends a little later to deal with the problems arising out of the search for détente, and my noble friend Lord Kimberley is going to say something to your Lordships about defence. So I will not follow the two noble Lords very far down that particular path this afternoon but will content myself with saying that we on these Benches are convinced of the need, as are those who sit elsewhere in this House, to maintain our defences. We share in the general concern about the build-up of Russian forces. Also, we believe that it is necessary for this country to continue to play its full part in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. We think that it is necessary to continue to uphold human rights while we seek détente and understanding.
Having made that clear, I should like to say a word about the situation in the Middle East. We welcome most warmly, as the previous speakers have done, the Camp David agreements. We acknowledge the concessions which have been made by both sides. The Camp David accord indicates the value of direct negotiation at top level where longstanding and intractable problems are concerned. The Baghdad Conference of Arab Nations who are hostile to the action taken by President Sadat has met and has issued its rejoinder, but that rejoinder is a good deal milder than had been feared.
Of course, the Arabs argue that in the Camp David agreement there is no commitment to Palestinian sovereignty—no commitment, even, to Arab sovereignty—on the West Bank, but I think that they would do well to bear in mind these facts about the Camp David documents. First, there is the reiteration of the phrase "Self-governing" or "Self-government" with reference to the West Bank Gaza Strip population. There is the reference to:All the provisions and principles of the United Nations' Security Council Resolution 242,which includes the phrase:Inadmissability of the acquisition of territory by war.There is the reference to:The legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their just requirements.There is the reference to:Admission of persons displaced from the West Bank and Gaza in 1976;327 and there is the reference to:A prompt, just and permanent implementation of the resolution of the refugee problem.Much will depend on the link which is established between the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and the solution of the Palestine question. But one must hope that efforts will continue to be made, if not to reconcile Egypt and the Baghdad countries at least to keep them in contact, despite the rather cavalier treatment which was meted out to a delegation from the Baghdad countries which came to Cairo after their conference.
Now perhaps I could say a word about the situation in Iran. Stability in Iran is clearly important to the Western World, for strategic reasons. Oil production is important—not so important to this country as to some other Western countries, but it is important. But that natural concern about Western interests should not lead us to whitewash the existing administration, the existing régime. After all, the Shah has admitted suppression, unlawfulness, cruelty and corruption. The opposition forces clearly enjoy considerable support, although they can scarcely be hailed as constituting a great movement of progressive reform, and one certainly cannot be sure that any other régime that might be established would be any better. Although with a military Government installed it may seem unlikely at the moment, probably the most satisfactory solution would be some kind of accommodation between the two sides.
I should like to concentrate now on two sentences in the gracious Speech. The first is:My Government will continue to play a full and constructive part in the development and enlargement of the European Economic Community".The second is:They will make every effort to promote successful co-operation between industrialised and developing countries for the benefit of both.I welcome those two statements of Government intent, although in the case of the first I cannot help contrasting promise with performance. The gracious Speech reads:… a full and constructive part in the development and enlargement of the European Economic Community.As we have seen and as the noble Lord, Lord Soames, has already said, it is difficult 328 for the Government to play this part when a section of the Cabinet and most of the Labour Party want to take a negative attitude on everything from EMS to direct elections.
It is clear that some Ministers do not wish to develop the EEC at all and would dearly like to play a full and destructive role. This means that whenever the Government draw back from any proposition for further integration, inevitably the worst possible construction is put upon it. At home and in the rest of the Community it is simply taken as another example of British hostility, and any merit in the United Kingdom argument may be overlooked. If the Government decide not to enter the European Monetary System, it will be seen in this light. The Government will be thought to have capitulated to the anti-EEC opinions in the Labour Party which are being mobilised against the European Monetary System.
We on these Benches are wholehearted supporters of economic and monetary union. We welcome the initiative of the German Chancellor and the French President in putting forward a scheme for currency stability, but of course it falls very far short of economic and monetary union and our fear is that it does not go far enough. What is being attempted is to impose a discipline on nine independently managed currencies, and the pressures to break apart will be enormous. Failure could set the whole concept of economic and monetary union back for years.
The leading articles in The Times on 13th and 18th October repay study. In the first of those articles, after presenting the case for economic and monetary union, The Times went on to say that if you are going to merge currencies you have to merge monetary policies, and if you merge monetary policies you have to merge economic policies; you have to merge the institutions; you have to have one institution in charge of money supply and there has to be a transfer of resources.
Many people say—and they may be right—that the way in which we will achieve this is by moving in stages: converging together in stages. As I indicated in this House a few months ago when we discussed monetary union, I myself have some doubt as to whether we will ever secure convergence for so 329 long as currencies are independently managed. I think that at some point it will be necessary to take a leap into monetary union, but a very well prepared leap, with all the policies that are going to follow afterwards most carefully thought out and all the institutions carefully prepared. But I doubt whether there is a halfway house to economic and monetary union. Nevertheless, we welcome the European Monetary System initiative and we feel bound to sound this note of warning; that is, that for success something more far-reaching may well be required.
Another aspect of the development of the Community is voting in the Council of Ministers. In discussions in the Council of Ministers over Greek entry the United Kingdom and France strongly resisted any dilution of the blocking powers of the bigger member States. The combined votes of two big States will still be sufficient to block the remainder and this, despite the fact that the veto can be applied where there is a matter of vital national interest involved and despite the fact that there is very limited use of majority voting at the present time. Why is this maintenance of the combined vote of two big Powers being able to block considered so important? What is to happen about the modest proposals which the Commission have put forward for the amendment of the treaties in certain respects to allow majority voting, when at present unanimity is the rule where it has not really been found to be necessary?
At the Summit in December of the Heads of State of the European Council I understand that a committee of three "wise men" is to be appointed to study the institutional implications of enlargement. Would it not be better to leave decisions about majority voting, once the Community is enlarged, until their report is to hand? Then there is the question of the powers of the Parliament. A report in the Guardian of 30th October said that British Ministers are becoming concerned at the increasing demands of the European Parliament to have more influence over Common Market decisions. The demand which seems to have given rise to this concern is a demand for more rapid information on political co-operation meetings and the Parliament have asked the Council of Ministers to take account of the Resolutions of the Parliament 330 in reaching political decisions. These demands seem to be pretty mild and not, I would have thought, unreasonable. What other demands have there been which have given rise to this concern? Looking at the question more generally, the money raised through the Community's own resources will not be subject to any other Parliamentary control; no other Parliament will vote it and surely there is an overwhelming case for giving the Parliament—particularly one that is directly elected—the final say over the whole EEC budget.
Related to the question of enlargement is the question of the future of Cyprus, which has been mentioned both by the noble Lord, Lord Peart, and by the noble Lord, Lord Soames. Like them, I hope that we shall see some solution of that very difficult problem—a solution which would involve the ending of the occupation of 40 per cent. of Cyprus by Turkey.
§ Lord BANKS
And a realistic reduction of the Turkish occupied area, a return of displaced persons and the setting up of a genuine federation with significant, if limited, powers at the centre.
In addition, when we are thinking about enlargement there is also the question of the relations with the other countries around the Mediterranean with whom the EEC has trade relations, when Greece, Spain and Portugal enter into the Community. I understand that there is some concern in Brussels about this and about the effect which the entry of those three countries would have on the other countries around the Mediterranean. I wonder whether the Government contemplates special measures to help them to adjust.
The noble Lord, Lord Soames, spoke about the renegotiation of the Lomé Convention. The Lomé Convention has undoubtedly been a considerable achievement and the report of the House of Commons Select Committee on Overseas Development indicates both its value and its limitation because only about 15 per cent. of United Kingdom aid goes through the EEC. Instead of being the primary instrument of the Nine, the Lomé Convention is something tacked on to their individual efforts. The noble Lord, Lord 331 Soames, spoke about the Stabex system and he asked whether it could not be used on a wider scale. I had a note here to ask the very same question and I wonder whether it had any relevance to the Common Fund, about which negotiations are now taking place and which is being demanded by the developing countries. I wonder, too, how those negotiations are going and whether the differences between the industrialised and the developing countries are narrowing.
My final point is this: The Third World is affected also by the trend throughout the world of protectionism. For example, the International Finance Corporation, an affiliate of the World Bank, in its annual report on 18th September, stated that grave financing problems could arise in the Third World if the trade of developing countries is hindered by increased protectionism. It went on to say:Protectionist attitudes seem to be gaining new footholds in many countries, tarnishing an already dull export outlook for developing countries".But the IFC argued also that developing as well as developed countries must change their policies and that the developing countries must be prepared, as well as the developed countries, to lower trade barriers to imports from industrial nations and from the poorest countries.
The World Bank President, Robert MacNamara, on 25th September, accused Western nations, including Britain, of using trade sanctions against developing countries. He warned that, unless such protectionist measures were abandoned, the forecast of the World Bank of some 600 million people living in absolute poverty by the end of the century would be exceeded. This impact on the Third World is only one of the deleterious effects of the trend to protectionism, and we need to resist that trend. As the noble Lord, Lord Soames, said, a great deal depends on the outcome of the GATT negotiations in Geneva which are due to conclude on 15th December. At the moment a deadlock has arisen between the European Economic Community and the United States over the failure of Congress to renew the President's power of veto over countervailing duties.
Last night in this building I heard Mr. Olivier Long, the Secretary General of 332 GATT, speak and I was glad to hear that he was optimistic that the Tokyo Round would be concluded satisfactorily despite the current difficulties. In the course of his remarks he expressed one thought with which I particularly agree, and in conclusion I pass it on to the House. He said:Protectionism is never short of lobbies and lobbyists, and we need to offset those pressures by establishing in each country a lobby of those who believe that the maintenance of the world multilateral free trading system is a matter vitally affecting the survival of the Free World and the prosperity of industrialised and developing countries alike.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Lord WEIDENFELD
My Lords, the gracious Speech refers specifically to two of the world's greatest danger zones, the Middle East and Southern Africa. In a subtly worded distinction, it pledges in the Middle East the Government's support of all endeavours to ensure a just and lasting peace and, being more immediately and responsibily concerned in Southern Africa, it promises to make every effort to achieve that goal. Having visited Jerusalem only a few days ago and Salisbury and Pretoria within the last month, I should like to make a few remarks from first-hand observation and talks with political leaders and opinion-formers; and perhaps I might offer some conclusions about the role which this country could and should play in its urgent quest for a constructive solution.
My Lords, the 30 years war between Egypt and Israel is about to come to an end. Like its 17th century namesake, it was marked by lightning campaigns, text book battles, attritional warfare, vicious guerrilla raids, lulls, armistices, and like its predecessor it cut deep and indelible furrows into the social and economic fabric of the two nations. I agree with noble Lords on both sides that if, or when, peace comes it will be the result of the courage of President Sadat and Premier Begin and the dogged perseverance of President Carter. Yet I think the cornerstone of the structure they are about to build was laid by Dr. Henry Kissinger, by his patience and realistic perception that only step by step and brick by brick can peace be built in the Middle East and that all sweeping instant perfectionist solutions and comprehensive settlements by proclamation or dictate 333 can only lead to more and more entrenched positions and ultimately to disaster.
The award of the Nobel Prize to Sadat and Begin was justified and timely, for both men have risked their whole political lives, and beyond, their reputation in history. We should not debate which of these two men has more at stake. So far the pessimists have not been vindicated where President Sadat is concerned. The Baghdad Conference stopped short of sanctions, excommunication, or even the familiar litany of condemnation which extremists have so readily in store for moderates. Prime Minister Begin is determined to persevere in spite of the growing split in his own ranks and some very sobering feelings throughout the country about the price of peace, the redeployment of forces from the Sinai to the Negev, the threat of a consolidated eastern and perhaps a new northern front which will mean that for some time not a single soldier can be demobilised. It should be borne in mind that perhaps no other Israeli leader could have achieved and enforced this consensus, which after all signifies total withdrawal to the international frontier with Egypt.
Of course, the test of this as yet so frail peace will be, with a critical world watching and monitoring each and every step, the progress made on the future of the West Bank and Gaza within the framework of the Camp David Agreement. Here I should like to express my considered belief, based on talks with Prime Minister Begin, Deputy Prime Minister Yadin, leading Government officials and the three chiefs of the Opposition, Messrs. Peres, Rabin and Allon, that the will exists to start negotiations, meaningful substantive discussions, rather sooner than stipulated in existing accords.
I will not tire your Lordships by summarising timetables and elaborating detailed nuances of procedure, but I am satisfied that the Government of Israel will be doing everything it can to prove it is in earnest. An inter-ministerial committee has just been set up to cope with negotiations on every vital issue, political, social and economic, of the autonomy plan. The question of course is, will King Hussein eventually accept the invitation to negotiate? Will representatives of the Palestinian Arabs come forward and co-operate? It is very much 334 hoped that they will. If not, the Israel Government would, I think, be ready to accept Egypt as the interim spokesman for all of Israel's Arab neighbours, and almost at once. Of course, a more broadly based quorum of participants would be infinitely preferable. No one in their senses can underestimate the pressures on King Hussein and the Palestinians to stay away from the conference table. But I believe that the majority of Palestinian Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, though painfully aware of some ambiguity of language and open-ended points of friction seemingly unresolved in the autonomy framework, would agree that there is an opening for peace which must not be missed now or missed yet again.
There have of course been, and I am sure will be again, very awkward moments, temporarily regressive in effect, due to brash political language and action, but discipline, self-restraint and a sense of perspective must be the order of the day for either side. Both leaders have their home front and their own extremists to consider and their path towards peace is often narrowed to the width of a tightrope.
If the autonomy plan were really the pernicious and negative document Arab extremists say it is, Mr. Begin would have been spared the painful sight of giant grafitti on the wall of his Party headquarters branding him as a criminal and a traitor. On the other hand, Arab notables have been deterred by letters from the PLO threatening execution, and not only threatening. Since Sadat's peace offensive some of them have been executed. They include a member of the Municipal Council of Ramallah, a civil servant in that town, the principal of a high school in El Bira, and now one of the most distinguished citizens of Gaza narrowly escaped an attempt on his life on his return from consultations in Cairo.
And yet I believe there is hope that West Bank leaders will overcome their fears and hesitations. Where we in the outside world, in Europe and particularly in Britain, can help is by endorsing fully and positively the Israel—Egypt accord and the broad principles of the autonomy framework. At this fluid, frail stage even a show of hesitation, lukewarm, sceptical, 335 conditional, equivocal endorsement can be harmful. Britain's view on the Middle East is taken very seriously in the Councils of the Nine, and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is, I know, in a key position among European leaders, for he enjoys personally the goodwill and trust of both President Sadat and Premier Begin in equal measure. I also believe that the full endorsement of this accord is one that we may all sustain with a very clear conscience. Why? Because the autonomy plan, if we read it intently and without bile or bias, leaves most options open. It can, and I personally think it will, lead to an ultimate compromise based on Resolutions 242 and 338 which would satisfy the Arab need for political self-expression, preferably within a broader federal framework with Jordan, and the need of the Jewish State for secure and defensible borders. And this need is not lessening with time. It has to take into account revolutionary development of conventional weapons during the 1980s, when the people living in the valley of the Israeli heartland will be more, and not less, vulnerable to attack from the high ground of the Judean Hills.
What makes the West Bank and Gaza problem so totally different from any other aspect of Jewish—Arab relations is that it brooks no halfway solution. In theory, and indeed in practice, Israel and Egypt, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon could be sealed off from one another and still survive. But Israel and the West Bank and Gaza today economically and socially simply cannot be divided. The paradox in the relationship of Jew and Arab in geographical Palestine is that for peace, or indeed for everyday life, to function, the two peoples cannot simply coexist; they must co-operate from Day One. How else can, for instance, the West Bankers reach their brethren in Gaza? How else can a highway be built to link Egypt and Jordan? How else can the labour force of Gaza or Nablus be kept in steady employment? How else can the faithful of the three great religions have their legitimate access to the holy places of Jerusalem? And, last but not least, how can refugees be settled and reinserted into the economic life-stream of the region? Only by consent, normalisation of relations, and effective co-operation. That is the challenge and 336 that is the crux. That is why it is so very important for continuous discussion and painstaking negotiations to begin. And the outside world must help. Europe and Britain must help. Not by taking sides, but by encouraging all parties to get together under the broad umbrella of Camp David.
I consider it a useful sign that Members in another place, well known for their sincere devotion to the Palestinan Arab cause, have come out in recent days, perhaps somewhat mutedly but still positively, for the dialogue; this is very helpful. But it is unhelpful, I submit, to complicate and confuse the issue now by wanting to unravel Camp David by suggesting entirely new concepts, variants of a more instantly comprehensive nature. The perception that an imperfect peace attained is better than a perfect blueprint aspired to, will help Arabs and Israelis to achieve a just settlement, and we should do all in our power to encourage it by even-handed and fair-minded understanding.
I trust that Her Majesty's Government will address themselves in the same spirit to the problems of Rhodesia, where a danger—one of many dangers—might perhaps lie in attempting to achieve the quantum leap from a well-nigh intolerable situation to a perfectionist solution. I am, of course, aware that we shall have an important debate on the subject of Rhodesia tomorrow, but I should like to raise one or two points very briefly.
Most of us, on both sides of the House, are reconciled to the Government's initiative to convene, with the help of the American Government and the United Nations, an all-Party conference. Some of us might perhaps feel that our Government, and even more the United States Government, are not as evenhanded as they could be. Perhaps we shall never know whether a more positive attitude to the Internal Settlement when it was first announced 1st March might have accelerated the rate of change and the momentum for peace. Today, an all-Party conference seems the only hope. When finally agreeing on its composition, may I suggest that attention be paid to having at such a conference as either equal participants or privileged observers those people—black and white—who have sustained the functioning of the country's economy despite political blunders and racial strife. I 337 refer to the leaders of the business and especially the agricultural community. They have worked wonders and they can still work wonders in the future. In the course of frank and probing talks, I found them open-minded and willing to co-operate with almost any Government or political leader who would ensure their safety and the continuity of economic order. It is just because they are ready to detach themselves from Party politics and the clash of contending personalities that they should be at the conference.
I know that the American Government and especially Mr. Andrew Young show reluctance, indeed irritation, about giving the economic argument its due weight compared to the political issues at this stage. But that is perhaps where the British identity in the Anglo-American negotiating team could be more distinct. British pragmatism might act as a counterweight to the tendency—typical of at least one sector of this American Administration—to favour starry-eyed formulas and political abstractions.
And a final plea. In these crucial weeks and months ahead, do the Government not consider that, apart from the able senior Foreign Office official who pays intermittent visits to Salisbury, a senior civil servant should be stationed there, monitoring day to day developments and changes? That would not in any way imply recognition nor be tied to the continuation or suspension of sanctions: rather, it would be a useful way to appraise the situation of the country from within.
In conclusion, may I say that the best one can wish the British Government in their efforts to achieve a settlement acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe as a whole is that they should succeed in matching the spirit and attaining the results of Camp David and Blair House.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Lord ALPORT
My Lords, I find it difficult to express my astonishment that the noble Lord, the Leader of the House, in a speech of some length which circled the world, made no reference to any problem between Cyprus and Singapore. However, my astonishment is compounded by the fact that the same applies generally to the speech of my noble friend Lord Soames and to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Banks.
338 It happened that by chance this summer I had the opportunity of travelling with the sun westward to Canada. Japan, China and, north of the great mountain ranges of Asia, to Pakistan. It was a private visit, the principal object of which was to attend the Commonwealth Universities' Conference in Vancouver. On that, I should like to make just two observations. If a hydrogen bomb eliminated the British Isles and I were forced to seek exile elsewhere, I should go to British Columbia. Secondly, although too many people in this country who I think should know better have written off the Commonwealth as an influence for stability and progress in the world, the great historic achievement of the British people which created an Empire and transformed it into a free Commonwealth frankly has far greater significance to countless millions in all the continents of the world than the creation of the European Economic Community.
However, my main theme this afternoon relates to the area between the Red Sea and Bay of Bengal. Kim's Gun in the Mall in Lahore has now been burnished and repainted. The little boy of whom Kipling wrote would hardly recognise it, but your Lordships will remember that the story had as its background "The Great Game"—the policy of the Government of India to prevent the threat to the sub-continent which would arise if Czarist Russia controlled Afghanistan. Along the Khyber Pass there are memorials to many British dead whom an Imperial Government sent to prevent that from happening.
Today, Russia is in control of Afghanistan and Kim's "Great Game" has, for the moment, been lost, but the issues today are far more important than those which caused the Government of British India to fight three wars. In those days, our aim was to block the road to India and to deny Russia access to the warm ports of the Indian Ocean. Today, it is control over the major energy resources of the capitalist world which it is the aim of Soviet policy to achieve. This is nothing new. It is a long-standing aim. There are, in the archives of the German Foreign Office which are at present in the State Department in Washington, documents which tell that, after the non-agression pact between the Nazis and the 339 Russians was signed in 1939, Russia demanded that thearea south of Batum and Baku in the general direction of the Persian Gulf be recognised as the centre of the aspirations of the Soviet Union".If the Soviet hold on Afghanistan can be consolidated, the next move will be to extend subversion into Pakistan by supporting Baluchi and Pathan separatism and Afghan irredentism. That is bound to affect the fragile situation in Iran. If the Shah's régime can be destroyed and replaced by a Moscow-orientated Government, the next step will be into the Gulf Emirates and then Saudi Arabia will be hemmed in by pro-Soviet satellites in Ethiopia and the Yemen on the West and the equivalent satellites on the East. Frankly, Saudi Arabia will not last long in those circumstances.
America, Western Europe and Britain will than have to decide whether and what action should be taken. In a recent leading article, The Times said that in such an eventuality it was possible that some military action would have to be taken. In those circumstances, it is my view, rightly or wrongly, that the origins of the Third World War could be formed.
Let us remember that for Russia, securely established in Afghanistan, the road to the Gulf is through Pakistan, just as in the past the road to India lay through the Punjab. Let me give one illustration of the nature of the threat to the oil resources of the West which Soviet control of Afghanistan portends. The great Khandhar air base was built by the United States after the War near Afghanistan's frontiers with Pakistan and Iran. It was built with the express object of protecting the Gulf area from Soviet intrusion. Today, Russian bombers operating from it could have fighter air cover to control and disrupt the sea routes used by the tankers out of the Gulf. It could provide a grip by the military hand of the Soviets on the economic jugular of the whole of the capitalist world.
There are many people in this House, and, I think, elsewhere, who still talk of the importance of the Cape Route and, to some extent, our concern to stabilise the situation in Southern Africa is related to that. However, the sea routes round the Cape cease to have any political or strategic importance if the oil resources 340 of Iran and the Arabian peninsula are cut off at the loading terminals in the Gulf. We already know that the present civil unrest in Iran, fermented as it has been by Soviet policy, is likely to produce a serious situation so far as supplies of oil to Europe are concerned. But that is only a small indication of what could happen in the future.
I make no claim to be an expert on matters in that part of the world. Immediately on my return home from my tour I wrote a letter to The Times, which that newspaper thought it worth supporting with a leading article. But since then your Lordships will have read Mr. Gavin Young's very able dispatches in the Observer; Mr. Tandon's reports from New Delhi in the Daily Telegraph and Mr. Housego's article in last Monday's edition of the Financial Times. I think that there is evidence that the general theme is accepted by Foreign Ministries all over that part of the world, as far as Peking.
The alarm bells are ringing across Asia, but it is here in Europe and in America where the most direct threat lies. What should be done? I cannot give much constructive advice. I accept that Afghanistan is not an easy country to control and that the Soviets have often been frustrated by national pride in the countries in Africa and elsewhere that they have tried to annex or align with the Communist system. For the moment perhaps we can only sustain such contacts as we have within that country by diplomacy and aid. But we should try to help the non-Communist régimes in that part of the world towards greater strength and stability.
Obviously Iran is the most important, but so is Turkey, which was referred to by my noble friend Lord Soames, and so is Pakistan. I can only give some limited advice with regard to the latter. It is most important from a military, economic, political and psychological point of view, as a contribution to stability in that country, that there should be reconciliation between Pakistan and India. I know—we all know—the problems: 1947, two wars, Kashmir, the ancient and indelible memories of the Sub-Continent.
I believe that if the Government of India could show to its smaller Moslem 341 neighbour the desire for reconciliation, it would receive an immediate response. If, for instance, the Government of India were to sponsor an invitation to Pakistan to renew its membership of the Commonwealth—which President Zia has publicly said he wishes—it would have a more far-ranging effect than the realities of renewed membership imply. That reconciliation between India and Pakistan would enable logistical, military and economic aid to be provided to Pakistan by the friends of both India and Pakistan without creating suspicion and fear on the part of India. Indeed, one sees from a very recent report that the United States is beginning to provide additional arms for that country. I believe that the British Government can help to achieve this central point of reconciliation between India and Pakistan.
It is powerfully in the interests of India that there should be a stable Pakistan. The Bangladesh problem is a thing of the past. Reconciliation could be achieved without the prior solution of the problem of Kashmir. Indeed, it is only through reconciliation that a solution to that problem is likely to be found. I believe that the long-standing friendship between Britain, India and Pakistan places a special obligation on Her Majesty's Government to try to get the process going following the initiative which General Zia has already taken. I believe that the time is short. The difficulties ahead in Pakistan are obvious. The threat to the stability of the whole of that part of the world from Soviet expansionist policies is imminent. It was the noble Lord, Lord Soames, who made the point that we may not have the global power and the military strength of the Imperial era, but we still have diplomatic skill and standing which is appreciated in many parts of the world to a far greater extent than most people here realise. To me, this is of paramount importance at the moment, and I very much hope that whatever may be omitted from the speech of the noble Lord the Leader of the House, it will not be omitted from the consciousness and concern of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY
My Lords, history has a habit of repeating itself, and 342 likewise debates on defence in your Lordships' Chamber very often seem to repeat themselves. Many of us continue to give warnings. Alas! very often those in authority do not seem to heed those warnings. But today I was slightly encouraged by the remarks made by the noble Lord the Leader of the House; I saw what I thought was a ray of sunshine despite the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Soames, did not seem too happy about it. But it is certainly an improvement that we are going to try to protect ourselves. We have all said so often before that the defences of the Western world and of NATO very rarely get stronger: they may remain static, and in some instances they may even go in reverse; whereas, as we know, day by day and year by year those of the Warsaw Pact countries increase.
As a result of that, the Soviets, by their considerable numerical strength and superiority, can practise a style of "super gunboat diplomacy or supremacy" virtually wherever they choose throughout the world, be it in the Middle East, on the Continent of Africa, and perhaps even right now in the small and very vital country in the Horn of Africa called Somalia. Through perhaps an appearance of being weak, we have given them carte blanche to pursue their publicly acclaimed and avowed intention of one day Communist world domination. Even in this country we have a dangerous and cancerous growth of Marxism which, although it may be small, is still evil and which, if we do not guard against it very carefully, will one day destroy us.
After that somewhat gloomy start may I say that there are signs—maybe as yet they are only straws in the wind—that the British lion is slowly awakening from its slumber of appeasement. This policy of appeasement is there for all to see who wish to see it because it is adopted by a not inconsiderable part of the Labour Party, and, unfortunately, as such must in some way have some slight influence on the Government.
But this awakening from appeasement is not just confined to your Lordships' House or to the military establishment. As in the past when the heritage of this country has been threatened by a would-be aggressor, the grass roots begin to sit up and take notice, if your Lordships will 343 forgive a mixed metaphor. At this very moment there is a voice which is beginning to grow louder and louder, which is saying, "Defence before détente". This is the voice of the man in the street, the taxpayers, who are beginning to flock in ever-increasing numbers towards an association called the British Defence Campaign. This is a non-political association which was founded by a group of patriotic Britishers on St. George's Day this year. The inspiration for its conception was brought about by the Forces Wives' Association, of which several of your Lordships are aware. I also believe that some noble Lords will already know that this Association has started to bombard not only Westminster, but Whitehall, with questions as well as demands for a very substantial reversal of the many disastrous defence cuts which have occurred over the last few years.
It is commonplace to speak of our reserves as being inadequate. Yet it is a misnomer to call the TAVR "reserves" since the TAVR is already committed to filling gaps in the "thin red line", which ought to be substantially increased by more full-time and well paid professional soldiers. I was happy to note that the noble Lord the Leader of the House said that the objective was to increase the forces by 6,000. That would be a good start, but it still would not be enough. The stark truth is that Britain has no real reserves and, as yet, no realistic plan for mobilising its citizens should a crisis occur. There has grown up a whole generation who, through no fault of their own, are entirely ignorant of the three Ds: "Duty, discipline, and devotion", which have been fostered and nurtured by some form of military service, even if it should be for only a short period of time.
To summarise briefly what I have said: the turnover is very high in the TAVR, some of whose units have a ratio of four raw recruits to six trained men because they will not stay in the TAVR for a sufficient period of time. And why? Because the bounty is insufficient. One-fifth of the TAVR consists of so-called sponsored units. These are units manned by specialists training together once a year. But they do not come from one local area. They come from all over the country, and, as such, have no head- 344 quarters, so that to mobilise them would be a monumental undertaking.
Even without the mobilisation problem we have at this moment very few credible means of transporting troops and equipment swiftly to the Continent, even if we were given the grace of several days' notice by the would-be aggressor. We must not forget that there is probably not much doubt that if they wanted to the Soviets could be on or over the Rhine within three days. We would have to charter or requisition civil owned and civil operated aircraft and ferries, and in either case no doubt this could cause great difficulty particularly if the operation of these carriers had to be given the approval of some of the trade unions.
But assuming that we did get all our reserves on to the Continent safely, the home defences of this country would be so denuded that vital installations would be completely unprotected. So the prime objective should be a substantial increase in manpower, both in the auxiliaries and the Regulars. I know that my noble friend Lord Shinwell is now actively planning and plotting a campaign to do this very thing, and I hope that he will succeed.
A secondary consideration should be for us to bolster up China, as was mentioned by the noble Lord the Leader of the House when he opened the debate this afternoon, by which means at least we could give the Soviets a not inconsiderable worry on their Eastern Front. One hundred Harriers or so would not go amiss here. I was given to understand by the noble Lord that there is a Chinese delegation here at this moment, and I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, answers he may be able to give us some news as to whether the Chinese are going to buy some armaments from us. We had a debate on this question many months ago, and it was said by the noble Lord the Leader of the House on 22nd March at column 1909:All I am saying to noble Lords who have expressed their doubts is that it is the intention of the British Government to see that trade develops with China, and inevitably a part of that trade will be defence material".Regarding the equipment in the British Army of the Rhine: in NATO's last big exercise, which was in September this year, about 2,000 British infantrymen 345 were readily recognised and identified as they had to march or walk because they had not got any armoured personnel carriers to travel in. In fact, and I quote him, one brave British soldier said:We do more and more with less and less, and soon we shall be expected to do everything with nothing!The only language that the Soviets understand is the language of strength. They regard treaties, agreements, as foreign policy tools to extract concessions from the West, while making no concessions themselves. The Government today, which unfortunately are under some pressure, maybe severe or not, from their own Left Wing extremists, make life much more difficult for the many moderate social democrats who are in it, and therefore sometimes may give the impression that the Soviet threat does not exist. But alas! we know that it does.
Therefore, I should like to ask the Government five questions. First, will they try and give an assurance that they will initiate a campaign to inform the people of this country of the grave dangers that beset us? Secondly, will they start a campaign to encourage even more recruiting in both the Regular and auxiliary forces? Thirdly, will they see that our existing forces have enough serviceable equipment so as to be 100 per cent. plus in operational efficiency? Fourthly, could they give us an assurance that in future our nuclear deterrent force from Polaris submarines will be able to operate without the necessary blessing of the trade unions? Lastly, will they consider spending a little more than our requisite share on defence which NATO demands, whereby we can be an example and an encouragement to our other NATO allies who might then even spend more themselves?
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Lord GORE-BOOTH
My Lords, this is a week of many and long speeches, and for that reason I have departed from the possibly vain efforts I have made before to conduct in this debate something of a mini-survey of the events of the year. This year this would be quite impossible as we have had the most astonishingly turbulent year in all directions. Not all the news has been bad, but a very great deal of it has been sensational, exciting, and the problems raised have been difficult 346 for any Foreign Secretary and any Government to cope with, especially all at once.
I am restricting myself accordingly to dealing with only three subjects, and two very shortly. One is the conclusion of the CPRS report on our representation overseas and the British Council and the BBC; the second is a note on the Middle East; the third, to which I shall devote more time, is on our relationships with the Soviet Union from a different viewpoint from that of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, but I think he will find that my remarks will dovetail satisfactorily with his.
On the conclusion of the matter of the CPRS report, it is only right that somebody of my background and somebody in this House should express some appreciation to the Government, and particularly to the Foreign Secretary, and also to the Committee of the other place, for the attitude which they have all taken about this report. It was very tempting for the Government and their supporters to take a trendy view of the report. To the great credit of everybody they did not do that. The conclusion has been factual and constructive, where it might have been, to say the least, erratic, and these services can now go about their business with the feeling that the Legislature, and from the Legislature the country has a high opinion of their work; and this is only fair.
I have two suggestions to make. The first is that when a committee is appointed to examine a subject as important as this, it is a great mistake to appoint as the committee a number of people who work together, who think alike and have no experience of the subject they are studying. The right thing to do is always, at the risk of having a divided report, to have a mixed committee of people of different backgrounds and different views, with a number of people with experience also as members. I hope that will be remembered in future. Secondly, the overseas services and their work have been examined in depth three times in just over 15 years. I hope that, in the name of efficiency and economy, these services will now be allowed a decade in which to get on uninterrupted with their work.
On the question of the Middle East, the gracious Speech is, to use a positive 347 word, unobjectionable. What I am covering by that word is the fact that I could not help feeling a sensation almost of indignation at the reception over a number of days by this country of what after all is probably the most original, the most exciting and the most courageous initiative in foreign affairs we have seen for a long time. I was sad at what seemed to be, particularly in the media, a kind of concerted effort, probably quite involuntary but very telling, to explain to us all time and again why this country would block that effort, why another country would object to something else, why it would not work anyway, that it was not necessary and was not of any use and so on. Perhaps noble Lords were not so conscious of that as I was because I happened at that time to be in a position to listen to a great deal and read a lot about the matter.
It was a sad experience and I would describe it by saying that somehow there was a lack of generosity. I do not think it was because we were not there, and I am sure the Government were right not to rush for a front seat. Perhaps the Minister when replying to this debate will, by some kind of oratorical conjuring trick, so to speak, make the gracious Speech sound a little warmer. The matter was dealt with in a well-informed and admirable speech by the noble Lord, Lord Peart, but I hope the Minister will, when replying, say something which will make us go away feeling a little warmer about this initiative, although we understand well the relationships with the Arab world as a whole; that enjoins a certain cautiousness on us, but we must not be so cautious when something of this magnitude and daring is attempted.
I come to the principal subject on which I wish to comment, and perhaps I approach it with a slight feeling of defiance as a difficult subject because it is a difficult one. It is difficult for one special reason, namely, that the people of this country, except for a few fanatics, do not like ideological argument. It bores them, they think that people who live by ideology are faintly crazy and, until something gets very dangerous, they do not take them seriously. In support of this argument I refer back to the early years of the Nazi régime when time and again some terrible story would come 348 through from Germany about a believed atrocity, and then the pattern was always the same; a few excellent people would go and have tea with Hitler who would tell them that he admired and loved Britain, and they would return and say everything was all right. This is a lazy habit of our country until the time gets very late.
Essentially one of the great difficulties of this country and the people who guide our foreign policy, in pursuing a persistent and far-seeing policy, has been precisely the same—that good people would go to the Soviet Union, would meet a high-standing Soviet official who would say the Soviet Union was deeply maligned and was very friendly to Britain, and they would come back and say, "Everything is all right".
We must go on trying to explain to ourselves as a nation why it is not at all like that. We must remind ourselves that a Soviet Government is not like a Western Government; it is not a collection of people who think roughly alike, who change their opinions at intervals, who discuss and decide and who can then change or vary policy as expediency dictates. The Soviet Government is as different from that as one can imagine. It is a Government founded on an ideology in which propositions are arrived at slowly, and when they are arrived at slowly two things happen; first, they stay policy for a very long time and, secondly, individuals or even several individuals at once are not in a position to alter that policy. That is the machine that Ministers, diplomats and others are dealing with all the time, and it is quite understandable that the public sometimes gets impatient because there is no movement, not understanding that in a system of the type I have described—I appreciate I have described it all too briefly—the sort of movement one gets in a democratic government is not possible.
In turning to an aspect of the Soviet Union in the foreign field, I shall follow on to some degree what the noble Lord, Lord Alport, said. The whole of Russian history from, say, Peter the Great, over 200 years back, to now has been absolutely consistent in one respect: if you approve of it you call it expansion, while if you disapprove of it you call it imperialism. In addition to the advances 349 which the noble Lord mentioned, we had the early consolidation in central Russia—quite legitimate—the dash for Constantinople, which failed only because the Czar at the time lost his nerve; and there were then the bloodthirsty battles in the Caucasus to suppress the independence of the people of Georgia—again, aggression was committed so that the Golden Road to Samarkand became red—and this year we have had aggression against the Government and people of Afghanistan, of which, as a result of that effort, the previous head of the Afghanistan State is not here to tell us what happened. We then had the race across Northern Siberia and the race which took Russia, or the Russians, into territory which is geopolitically Chinese or Japanese. The Russians still remain in some Japanese islands which they should return. And we have had the move into Africa, the establishment of Soviet if not hegemony then something pretty near it in certain States.
If we compare that record with other imperialisms—the British practically gone, the French gone, the Belgians and Germans thrown out in World War I—we reach the surprising conclusion, when it is put into words, that there is only one important and serious imperialist country in the world today and that is the Soviet Union. This is not a partisan point but a fact of history and geo-politics.
My message is rather less to Members of your Lordships' House than it is to people like the President of Syria, President Assad, who mentioned in the summer that perhaps the States which agreed with him in the Middle East should get organically closer to the Soviet Union. Very well, and he is free to do that; but let him realise that he is then joining the imperialist camp, to use Soviet phraseology. The Government of Vietnam joined the imperialist bloc this last week. This message is not only to those who do it, or attempt it. This message is to the non-aligned world. It is that when you are approached or threatened by the Soviet Union you have your choice to accede, but in that case you are joining the imperalists; and let us hear a little less about imperialists from elsewhere. This fact of history and geography is one of the reasons—and it is important to understand this—why the Soviet Union constantly use reproaches against imperialism in their propaganda. In Soviet propaganda 350 —which is extremely skilful in many ways—the habit is always to attack you for what they are doing when they know that what they are doing is open to criticism.
There is also a matter of internal Soviet affairs which is important, though I will seek to explain its limitations very shortly. Perhaps your Lordships will forgive me here if I go back a little through history. We start from the point that there has never been a democratic régime in Russia or the Soviet Union. The nearest to it was, surprisingly, in the Czarist time in, roughly, 1910 when there was a Parliament which was rather like our first Reform Bill Parliament—or perhaps slightly more conservative—and also dismissible by the Czar at a moment's notice. That might have developed into something, but it was swept away by that ghastly, avoidable disaster, the first World War, and by the utter incompetence in ruling of the last of the Czars, Nicholas II, or perhaps I should say Nicholas and Alexandra, or possibly I should add Rasputin—but it was a dreadful story. With Russia thus weakened, when Lenin was able to take power, he said to himself, with his cold, ruthless genius, "Let us have no more nonsense about parliaments in this country"—and there has not been.
So that is the background against which we have had this year what I have christened for my own convenience "Dissidents' Year". It is not that the dissident movement has become suddenly very strong in the Soviet Union. But it is that some very brave people, in a typical Russian way—as happened before over the Czarist period—simply have not been able to take any longer the method in which they were being governed and have somehow or other managed to survive their protest against it. What they have achieved is that people in most free countries in the world have at last realised—except for a few who are fanatics—that the Soviet Union, or parts of it, are not places in which anybody with any respect for human rights wants to live. I do not think that most of the world believed this before, but I think that they now do.
Now I wish to go from there on to a few remarks under the title, "What is to be done?" I have chosen that title because it is the name of two books by 351 Russian extremists and revolutionaries, one called Chernyevsky, the other called Lenin. What ought to be done? I have one recommendation that I should like to stress very strongly. It is that in this ideological conflict in which we are bound to be engaged—we cannot help it; it is not our fault—we must be very careful about ever losing a dialectical trick, because these people with whom we are dealing (whether they be chess players or bridge players) attach the greatest importance always to winning dialectical tricks if they can.
Here I shall give your Lordships two very brief examples—one which we won and one which they won. When the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, took charge of our foreign affairs he discovered that there were 105 Soviet spies identifiable in this country. He decided at once that there were 105 too many, and he shut them out. There was a bit of a bubble and several diplomats suffered the occupational disadvantage of being thrown out of the posts they occupied, but within months the affair was practically over and we returned to the normal state of neutral (of a kind) relationship.
The other example, which we lost—and I shall be less specific here—occurred when a notable Soviet man of politics came to this country and was absolutely rightly invited by the Government of the day to address both Houses of Parliament. During that address he insulted two of our major and closest allies. It was imperative in terms of Soviet dialectic and of making your voice heard by the Soviet machine that that should at once have been disapproved publicly by the British Government. It was not. While one does not read the Soviet archives, the consequence of that was that the Soviets would say to themselves that the British care less for loyalty to their allies than they do for appeasing us. One should not let tricks like that slip because in this argument it is important that they should not be lost, for reasons which I have mentioned.
In regard to the dissenters we have a very difficult role to play. On the one hand we must give them every kind of encouragement, hospitality and comfort that we can. But we have the difficult 352 task of not giving them the impression that we can do more than we can. This is the most unwelcome and the most difficult task that diplomacy has. But it is right that bad let-downs would not help at all. However, I think that we can comfort ourselves by the feeling that in this world of today, where communications (including radio) are so much easier than was ever the case in the time of the Czars, the Russian peoples are much better informed of what goes on than they were previously, and it is very much more difficult now than it was then, or than it even was for Stalin, just to extirpate people because one does not happen to like their views.
So I believe that we can conclude that this movement has come to stay. It may not expand greatly or quickly in the Soviet Union, but it contains extremely influential and respected people. If we can encourage them in the right way and not the wrong way, then, possibly to venture an excessively far-seeing thought, perhaps one day the great peoples—and they are great peoples; nothing has every happened anywhere like their literary explosion in the 19th century; they have the most tremendous qualities—will say to themselves, in a phrase which I seem to have heard somewhere, "We have nothing to lose but our chains."
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, I should like to intervene briefly in the debate with special reference to that part of the gracious Speech which reads,My Government will continue to play an active part in the development and strengthening of the Commonwealth. They will make every effort to promote successful co-operation between industrialised and developing countries for the benefit of both".Like the noble Lord, Lord Alport—if I understood him aright—I believe that the creation of the Commonwealth is of far greater historic importance to this country than that of the EEC. I am unashamedly one of those mentioned from the other side during the debate who always opposed the entrance of Britain into the EEC, not for any chauvinistic reason, but because I was frightened—and I am still frightened—that by joining the EEC we are attaching ourselves to a rich man's club and at least partially excluding ourselves from more than half of the world's population.
353 I was interested to hear the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Soames, and in particular his reference to the spirit of interdependence which he believes is spreading to different parts of the world, particularly to the United States. This may be the case in Washington, but having just spent three months in other parts of the United States I am not as optimistic as he appears to be. My fear is that a large part of the United States is becoming isolationist and parochial, and I fear that that is also a reflection of a spirit which is too prevalent in our own country as well.
So far as my fears about the EEC are concerned, of course they are conditioned and reserved by what the noble Lord had to say about the renegotiation of the Treaty of Lomé. The Treaty of Lomé, I believe, was a start. I think that the first years have been disappointing. I believe that the treaty, and the clauses in the treaty, can be improved, and I hope they will be. Perhaps my noble friend will say something about this in his winding-up speech. But, according to the United Nations, during the last year 9,000 million dollars were lost by the poor world in invisible payments to Western Europe and the United States through the operation of a whole series of multinational companies and other forms of investment and lack of transfer of technology; this is what I fear about the operation of the EEC in the Third World. I hope we will take note of it and I hope we will take action against it. Through the United Nations and other organisations, we are looking at the operation of multinational companies, and I hope that the Government will continue to play their full part in this most important issue within the Third World.
I am not going to bore the House with further details of what has often been called the gap between the rich and the poor, between the industrialised and the developing worlds, but I should like noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite, perhaps, to mention to their noble friend Lord Carrington that when he spoke last week, in the discussion on the Statement on Zambia, about encouraging President Kaunda to turn his attention to the rehabilitation of his agricultural industry, he was pushing at an open door. I have had some personal experience over the 354 past 10 years of trying to help President Kaunda to put greater weight on the growth of food and the development of the agricultural sector in Zambia. I should like any noble Lord to tell me how to do it. We have tried; but in a country that was left with a lopsided economy, with development just along the line of rail, inextricably bound up with the economy of the rebel régime in Salisbury, I am still looking for some advice as to how it is possible to develop that agricultural economy on which President Kaunda himself has placed so much stress over the past decade.
But, my Lords, when we are looking at the place in this country in relation to the two worlds, it seems to me that we must be bold in looking ahead for the rest of this century, and particularly to the kind of world in which our children and grandchildren will be living. That world is going to be very different from the world in which we have grown up. The poor world is not any longer satisfied to supply the wood and the water for those of us who live the wasteful kind of life that we see, not only in the United States but in this country, too. I believe that this is an opportunity for Britain to begin to diversify its foreign policy, at least, if not (as I should like to see it do) to shift its major emphasis. I believe we have an opportunity here, particularly through the Commonwealth and through organisations like the conference for renegotiation of the Lomé Convention. But we have to have the political will and we have to cut ourselves away from many of the skeins of our past so-called glory.
At the present time 25 per cent. of the exports of this country go to the poor world, the Third World. Other countries are doing much better. In the EEC itself, the average is much better, it is in the 30 per cent.; the United States is in the 30 per cent.; Japan is over 40 per cent. We can do better; and we can do better, in the terms of the gracious Speech, both to the benefit of the poor and to the benefit of ourselves. The 25 per cent. of our exports that goes to the Third World provides roughly 1 million jobs for people in this country. We could provide more. Look at the example of just one country, Nigeria. Over the last two years our exports to Nigeria have almost doubled. Incidentally, they are now 355 almost double our exports to the Republic of South Africa. The Nigerians want our goods, but we must be able to provide them with the kind of goods that they require.
This, of course, is a great challenge and a desperately complex problem, and I do not want to underestimate it. I just hope, now that we have the opportunity with the revenues from North Sea oil coming in over the next few years, that we shall see that these revenues are applied to the readjustment of our own industrial structure in this country, so that at one and the same time we can provide the goods that half the world is looking for and that many people are dying for the lack of, and also obviate that danger of competition with the goods of our own industries in this country. In short, what I am asking that we should do as at least one major arm of our foreign policy is to discard the nostalgia of acting as a great Power and to concentrate on the reality and the opportunity of acting as a bridge between the great Powers, the strong industrial nations, and the poor of the world.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Lord ROLL of IPSDEN
My Lords, I intervene in this debate to draw attention to one quite specific, perhaps small but certainly not unimportant, aspect of our international relations; namely, our trade with the People's Republic of China. I was glad that the noble Lord the Leader of the House was able to make some remarks, necessarily brief within his wide-ranging survey but of a positive character, on this subject. I am not an old China hand, and I certainly would not wish to pose as an instant expert on the basis of two visits to that vast country. However, the timing and the circumstances of these visits were such that they enabled me to form some very clear and definite impressions. Last November I had the privilege to lead a mission of 20 eminent British businessmen, and a similar group of 16 last month. There were chairmen, deputy chairmen, chief executives and so on of some very important British companies. We had many discussions, specific and general, with a large number of senior Chinese officials.
When we visited China last year the "Gang of Four" had only recently been 356 ousted and the new régime was settling in. We were told that we had come at a good time because it had been decided to pursue energetically the four modernisations—agriculture, industry, defence, science and technology—originally laid down by the late Premier Chou En-lai. This programme, we were told, would involve more trade with foreign countries and particularly more imports from the advanced industrialised countries of the West since, despite the basic policy of self-reliance, China recognised that she had a great deal still to learn and needed a great deal of help from the technically more advanced countries.
But at that time—barely a year ago—it seemed to me that only the rudiments of this policy had been worked out. There were still a good many problems left from the influence of the "Gang of Four" in the sense that the administrative machine, the statistical apparatus, the trained staff to develop and execute the enormous industrialisation programme were either in complete disarray or, at best, were inadequately developed. There was, therefore, great difficulty in getting the necessary momentum behind this new policy or, more properly, I should perhaps call it the revival of an earlier policy. For example, it was difficult to get a clear statement of Chinese priorities of imports and the Chinese authorities themselves were very conscious of this and freely admitted it.
Since then—and, I repeat, in barely one year—there has been a tremendous change. There have been increasing contacts between China and the Western countries. Many missions have gone to China or have come out from China. In the broad field of foreign affairs, there have been the journeys of Chairman Hua, himself; but, apart from that, and in addition many technical missions (some of which have also visited this country) there has also been lately a series of important visits by leading Vice-Premiers to a number of countries; Mr. Teng Hsiao-p'ing has just visited Japan; Mr. Fang Yi has visited France, and Mr. Ku Mu, which our mission had the privilege of meeting, has visited Brussels and the Commission and Vice-Premier Wang Chen has just arrived in this country.
357 What underlies all this activity that has been engendered in this short period? First, the Chinese have taken a basic decision to speed up the process of modernisation and to do in, say, a decade what was originally planned to take a quarter of a century. Once such a decision is taken—whether or not you think it is realistic is not the point—particularly in a country organised as China is, certain consequences inevitably follow from it. First and foremost, the role of foreign trade, already recognised last year—although somewhat theoretically—as being important, has clearly acquired a very much enhanced importance now. What it means is that there have to be substantially more imports; at the very least many imports have to be brought forward rather than stretched over a long period of time. To some extent, also, the composition of the imports will be affected. Despite the continuing emphasis on acquiring equipment and know-how so as to build up domestic production, it is clear and recognised by China that if the whole programme is to be speeded up it will in some cases not be possible to wait for this process to be completed and, therefore, actual finished products will have to be imported in greater measure than was planned originally. This applies, for example, in one field of importance, I believe, namely, agricultural machinery.
In the second place, if imports are to be increased in the short term then the problem of financing these imports, which was beginning to become apparent last year, becomes obviously of overriding importance. There can be no question that the export particularly of such items as coal, oil and their by-products or of ferrous and non-ferrous metals on which eventually great emphasis is to be laid, can be increased sufficiently quickly to pay for the enlarged volume of imports. It is in this regard that the problem of the financing of imports has suffered the most striking change of all in mental attitudes.
Last year, the principle still was that imports would be paid for in cash or by what the Chinese like to call "deferred payments" and what we would call "suppliers' credits". When, last year, I explained to the Bank of China, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, indeed, the Economics 358 Faculty of Peking University, some recent developments in international money and capital markets and the great variety of methods of international financing that were now available, I was told that this was all very well but that China had very bad memories of the past. When I said that the present situation was very different from what it once was in regard to the political implications of international borrowings, I was told that there was an old proverb in China; namely, that if you have been bitten by a snake you would for many years be afraid even of a straw rope.
This year the situation is totally different. Not only are the Chinese prepared to consider certain forms of borrowing to finance imports, involving export credits by the exporting country and parallel deposits with the Bank of China for specific exports; but general borrowing not related to particular exports is also contemplated. They are also prepared to consider Government-to-Government loan and in some areas such as the construction of hotels some form of joint enterprise is not excluded. An American friend of mine who knows China well and has just been there told me a few days ago that when in Peking recently he saw a very eminent Chinese indeed and expressed his astonishment at this extraordinary change of attitude in regard to international finance. His interlocutor paused for a while and then leaned back and said with a broad grin on his face: "You see we have emancipated our heads". What all this means is that the Chinese have accepted with extraordinary rigour the consequences flowing from their basic decision to accelerate modernisation and they are pursuing the practical implementation of this programme most energetically.
What does all this mean for this country? I should like, first, to refer to a matter on which there has been a great deal of speculation once again in the Press and to which the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, referred some minutes ago; the supply of certain items of defence equipment. It is quite clear that some of these, from a number of countries including ours, are very high on the list of Chinese import requirements. I am not going to weigh up the political and strategic implications of selling this or that particular item to the Chinese, nor do I think it would be wise. I think it 359 would be foolish to suppose that with such a sale there would come an automatic and sudden upsurge of enormous proportions in our trade with China. But I am absolutely convinced—and so, I think, is every member of my last mission—that there can be no question whatsoever that China wants certain things badly and that our readiness to supply these would make a very great difference indeed to our general position and to our chances of carving out for ourselves an important place in their market.
This does not mean that we do not have to compete most vigorously with other countries. For many reasons, Japan is and will continue to remain China's most important trading partner for many years to come. There is no doubt, too, in my mind that the United States is in a position to supply a great deal of what China needs and wants; and once political relations between those two countries have been normalised—something which I believe will happen in the not too distant future—the United States will also become a very important supplier to China. Germany and France have already made substantial progress and they are continuing to press hard for Chinese business. In some instances, general treaties of trade or of technical co-operation have been negotiated and signed between China and Western countries. Although these are of necessity no more than a framework, they can be extremely helpful in providing an important impetus for specific business. Her Majesty's Government should also seriously consider this.
I am convinced that there are many lines in which we can compete effectively and, indeed, in which we are leading. In this very short time the Chinese have acquired a substantial knowledge of what different countries have to offer. I believe that they have a very high opinion of our technical competence in some areas and of the advanced nature of some of the goods and equipment which we can supply. But they have made no secret to us and to many other visitors that they regard our selling efforts to date as less than fully matching those of our competitors, although I believe that as a result of recent missions we shall be presenting a rather more aggressive picture so far as our desire and ability to trade with China are 360 concerned. We must keep up the momentum and we must not be afraid of spending a certain amount of money in some cases for assessments, surveys and feasibility studies.
I know that there are sceptics who doubt whether the volume of trade which will be generated in China will be very large, or whether this development will take place very quickly. Well, maybe; but all I can say to the sceptics is that they should remember that our trade with China, taking imports and exports together, was about £160 million last year, and this represents about one-quarter of one per cent. of our total foreign trade; and even if we multiply it ten-fold it would still bring it to only approximately 2½ per cent. of our total trade. Surely that is not an excessive proportion for our trade with a country of over 900 million people. In any event, my Lords, the outlook for our foreign trade and particularly the prospects of our being able, through increased exports, to make better use of our human and material productive capacity, are not so brilliant that we can afford to neglect a market which will by any standard be very large.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Lord BETHELL
My Lords, two years ago President Carter was elected President of the United States. One of the first statements that he made was to the effect that human rights would be one of the main priorities of his Administration in the international field. I can recall with, what scepticism these remarks were greeted in various circles throughout the Western World, particularly in certain official circles. It was suggested, for instance, that his words were based on naive idealism, perhaps on his own personal religious beliefs, and that sooner or later he would have to reverse this policy and put this matter, which he had made a question of primary priority, down to the bottom of the list under the pressure of various compelling economic, military and political demands which would face him as soon as he came to office.
It was suggested that throughout most of the Third World the question of human rights had little significance and the populations of those countries were concerned with the acquisition of the normal basic requisites of the preservation of life, 361 not with the ballot box or the refinements of Western democracy. But the right to freedom from hunger is more important than the right to vote or the right to express a dissident opinion. It was suggested that any approaches that came from the United States or its allies on this matter would be seen in many countries as an interference in the internal affairs of States with which we are on good terms and it would be very damaging to our relations with those countries in question.
Particularly, attention was drawn to the fact that many leading nations in the Western World are recent colonial Powers and that any attempt, for instance, on Britain's part to put forward a strong line on human rights would be seen as an unwarranted interference and an attempt to restore European domination; it would be seen as an arrogant approach. Our motives were in fact deeply suspect in that regard.
It is interesting therefore to look back over this two-year period and see to what extent President Carter's initiative has succeeded or taken root. I cannot claim, nor would the most optimistic of your Lordships, that the past two years have been the most happy in the recent history of the Western World, or of the world as a whole. Crisis after crisis has descended upon us and it is only with the greatest difficulty that we have been able to scotch various fires which threatened to engulf us all. However, I venture to put forward the proposition that President Carter's ideas, although they have to some extent been diluted by the bitter experience of his years in office, have taken root and have made a serious impression upon us; that they will continue to flourish; that they have put a new dimension into our approach to foreign policy; and that they should continue to form an important part of our foreign policy in the Western World.
I was interested by the most illuminating speech by the noble Lord, Lord Roll of Ipsden, who made an extremely skilled and optimistic analysis of the situation in China. I was very encouraged by what he said and I hope that his optimism proves to be justified. The question which came to my mind, as I heard him speak and talk about his meetings in China, was whether or not he had found it convenient while in China to raise the question of Chinese individuals who manage to make 362 their way across the Border into Hong Kong. Under an agreement between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom those people are forcibly returned to the People's Republic of China by the British authorities. I understand that such an agreement exists. I was encouraged by what the noble Lord said, to think that under the new conditions that prevail in China, it might be possible for the Government at some appropriate time to raise this question and make clear the point that traditionally in territories under British administration we grant asylum to bona fide refugees. It would be up to the Government to try and find an appropriate occasion to raise this matter, but it would be very good if such an occasion could be found.
It is, after all, very dangerous to condone any serious violation of human rights for too long. I can remember speaking in a debate in your Lordships' House in 1969 on the dictatorship in Greece. I am bound to say that most of the speakers spoke up in favour of a dictatorship in Greece. Those who mentioned the serious violations of human rights in that country were in a small minority, and the people of Greece have not forgiven us for the fact that the opposition to that dictatorship, and to the serious crimes that took place and were committed by that junta, was so seldom upheld by leading figures in the Western World.
In the past year or two such an attitude would probably not have been held, because the approach to human rights is much more clearly perceived than it was even as recently as 1969. The people have come to the conclusion—and this is why I am hoping that my speech will be seen as an optimistic one—that these matters are important, that they should form part of our approach to foreign policy, not only for moral reasons but because they can cause our nation severe political embarrassment. I wonder, for instance, whether we in the Western World may perhaps in the next few days find ourselves severely embarrassed by the fact that we did not protest sufficiently strongly against the excesses of Savak, the security police of Iran. I read that the chief of the Iranian secret police has just been arrested. I do not know any more than anybody else what happened in that country, and I look with the greatest concern and alarm on the events that have 363 recently taken place there. I wish I could say that our countries—the United States, Great Britain and our allies—in the past had taken a stronger line against the excesses that were perpetrated by certain members of the Iranian Administration on its citizens, which are undeniable.
The question of human rights concerns us just as much as regards those countries with whom we are in a position of adversary as in those with whom we are on good terms, such as Iran. The violation of human rights in the Soviet Union has taken up a lot of the time and energy of the Government, and I have to give a word of approval and acclamation to the Foreign Secretary for the line he has taken over human rights in the Soviet Union, particularly the initiatives he took over the conference in Belgrade. The Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, who was there, will recall what happened and will share in the achievements made at Belgrade, such as the raising of various individual cases and of various propositions for amending the Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement. Not all were approved, unfortunately because of the requirement of unanimity in the context of the Final Act, but the fact that they were raised and received a great deal of publicity is a matter for congratulation of this country.
The Soviet Union is a serious violater of human rights, and I trust that this Government and their successors will not fail to turn their attention most frequently and eloquently to such violations. It is not in that country a question of mass extermination of whole populations such as has been happening recently in Cambodia, or a question of crude physical torture such as has been happening lately in many countries in South America; but the crushing of the human spirit by the imposition of a massive police operation which has lasted in that country for many decades is something we must all find it very difficult to tolerate. The Soviet Union is in violation of very many articles of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, and I hope that the Government will continue at the appropriate time to draw the attention of Soviet leaders and delegates who come to this country to the effect that this has on public opinion in this country and the 364 damage it does to our aim of achieving a real détente between East and West. In other words, my Lords, it is not only a question of morality and of the detestation which I am sure we all feel of these violations, but a question of politics, because true détente is not politically feasible so long as these violations continue.
I think that the Government will also bear in mind the fact that the Soviet Union's violations are particularly important, for two very good reasons. The first is that that country is ruled by an ideology which claims that it encompasses the sum total of human wisdom and that it does not contain any element of possible error. The second reason is that that country, uniquely among the major countries violating human rights, possesses overwhelming military power and political influence—political power and influence which could conceivably have a very marked effect on the lives which we live in the West.
The Government will therefore, I hope, continue to support all campaigns for the promotion of human rights. Two years ago, before the election of President Carter, Academician Andrei Sakharov wrote to Prime Minister Callaghan. He referred to inter-governmental talks which take place for instance, between our country and the Soviet Union and said that any mention of a particular name or of a particular case of human rights violation during those contacts could have a decisive and positive significance. I do not know whether the Prime Minister found a way of replying to that letter, but I hope that the Minister may be able to enlighten me on that point, of which I have given him notice.
I suggest that the Government should continue their monitoring of the Helsinki Agreement, and particularly of Basket 3—the paragraphs which refer to human rights—in preparation for the next review conference in Madrid. They should continue to build up the question of human rights, following the initiative taken by President Carter, into a long-term aim of our foreign policy. I very much hope that the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, will be able to confirm at the end of this debate that the promotion of human rights throughout the world is a long-term aim of British foreign policy, because, I put it to your Lordships, as a 365 political issue, not only as a moral issue but as an international political issue, human rights are here to stay.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, I think it is a convention in this House that on a debate on the Queen's Speech, apart from the openers, of course, noble Lords should confine their remarks to 10 or 15 minutes and deal necessarily with one subject only. Had it not been for that convention, I should have liked to follow on with what the noble Lord, Lord Roll of Ipsden, said about China, seeing that I myself was there at the end of June, as part of a small delegation headed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont.
Our experience was very similar to that of the noble Lord, Lord Roll, with whose remarks I entirely agree, so far as they went. What is remarkable is the speed with which China is developing. We arrived in Peking and the first official that we saw said—he was quite affable—"loans, state loans, are absolutely out. We have dreadful memories". I believe the same thing happened to the noble Lord, Lord Roll. Two days later we saw the number three in the Government in the Great Hall of the People and in the course of some other remarks he suddenly said as a throw-away line:Of course, the Chinese Government is now open to Bank loans.That was hot news and had never been said before. It was telegraphed back by the Ambassador and after that the Chinese went from strength to strength. Now they are even willing to accept State loans as well as bank loans. I repeat, it only shows the speed at which they are developing, to which the noble Lord, Lord Roll, drew attention.
I should therefore like to contribute just one additional thought to this debate at least I think it is additional although it has been touched upon by the noble Lord, Lord Alport, and the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, whose important speech I am afraid I had to miss. It certainly follows on what was said by my predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Bethell. It refers to détente and its likely effect on the general defence of these Islands. If I repeat some points that I have made on many occasions in this House during the last 10 years, I would ask noble Lords to forgive me.
366 Nobody is in favour of war: everybody is in favour of peace. The only question is whether détente, as imagined by the Soviet Union, is the same as détente imagined by the Western democracies and, if not, what the effect of either is going to be on the likelihood of World War III. Clearly, the two ideas are totally different. The noble Lord, Lord Bethell, probably agrees that in the Soviet mind tension can cease only if the Western democracies—progressives or social democrats are all included and lumped together in the so-called "Imperialist" camp—abandon all support for "Imperialist" movements, Parties and Governments notably in the Middle East and Africa; dismantle NATO; cease to broadcast objective news to the satellite States of Eastern Europe; discontinue all efforts to induce the Soviet Government to give effect to the human rights provisions of Helsinki; discourage the activities of the great multinational corporations, usually referred to as "trusts"; deny assistance to China in her programme of modernisation and, more generally, accept as a proposition that the Soviet Union is in the vanguard of progress and the natural leader of all genuinely democratic countries throughout the world.
Naturally, the Soviet leaders do not think it likely that in present conditions the Western democracies are going to do any of these things. Nor, of course, does Mr. Gromyko define "détente" in these terms in conversation with Mr. Vance or Dr. Owen. But you have only to read what Pravda says, or what the Russian leaders say at home, to realise that in their view the industrialised nations of the West are decadent, that they will soon fall victim to what is always referred to as their internal contradictions, and to deduce that if the the Soviet Union waits for the right movement it will be able, with immense and ever-increasing force behind it, to oblige the "Imperialists" to abandon—gradually, no doubt—their present attitude without any major war. In other words, as in chess, force them to resign before they are checkmated. Therefore, anything that the Soviet leaders can do to achieve these ends, without causing a reaction harmful to the immediate interests of the Soviet Union, they will do.
Of course, the relentless pursuit of such a policy does not prevent their making occasional mutally profitable deals with 367 the "Imperialists"; for instance, SALT and, much more so, commercially. But such deals do not in themselves lower tension any more, for that matter, than actions which the Soviet leaders disapprove of, such as the formation of NATO, the resistance of pressure on West Berlin, the creation of the European Economic Community—or Western European Union for that matter—tend to raise tension. Tension is there all the time and will remain for so long as the Western Powers, or the "imperalists", do not accept Soviet ideas on how the world should be run. That, I think, is a fact which we must accept. Therefore, tension can be eliminated only by some internal collapse of the Union, which is quite unlikely, or by some form of Western surrender.
But tension will not, in itself, result in war. That is something that we ought to get firmly into our heads. Short of an accident, a shooting war will occur only if the East thinks that the West will easily succumb, particularly in Europe, to a knock-out blow without having first recourse to nuclear weapons. Incidentally, one of the best ways to reduce tension in practice would be to get the Russians to agree to rectify the immense imbalance of conventional forces in Europe; in other words, to come to some reasonable deal on mutual and balanced force reductions. If, for instance, instead of indirectly financing, as we do now, the vast production of arms in the Soviet Union by the grant of unlimited credits, and rivalling each other in trying to get the best terms of credit, which is a "dotty" thing to do, or even supplying the necessary wheat, the West were to make assistance of this kind dependent on some agreement in Vienna, there is reason to suppose that much danger could be averted. Certainly, the Russians will not go to war if credits are refused or made subject to conditions.
To the Western democracies, if I am not wrong, détente means something very different. On this side of the Iron Curtain, it is usually thought that the sharp dividing line between two different types of social system, whose long-term interests are not, on the face of it, fundamentally opposed, can gradually be, as it were, blurred by patient negotiations with both sides making concessions—for instance, on the extent of the Cuban 368 presence in Africa, on human rights in Eastern Europe or in the Soviet Union itself, or, above all, on disarmament and the limitation of armaments—so that eventually some kind of common policies will be possible, the Soviet Union also, under Western influence, perhaps becoming rather more liberal in its outlook and more humane in its general method of dealing with dissent. Eventually, the subjects of tension between the two great rival blocs would be ironed out and the United Nations would consequently take on a new lease of life. Tension would then be a thing of the past and all danger of World War III would be averted—the lion lying down with the lamb. Perhaps that is a little exaggerated, but I think it is what many people here conceive of as détente, and the long-term objects of détente.
My Lords, all this is an illusion, for the Soviet system cannot be changed without revolution, which in itself might be rather dangerous for peace. Indeed, the pursuit of détente in the Western sense may well confirm the new generation of Soviet leaders in their view that the West really has no desire to maintain a free society, is prepared to make real concessions to the Soviet point of view, and that it needs only a small push in order to topple the entire system. It is one of the sayings in the Red Army that when the fruit is ripe you have only to shake the tree. In other words, the Western conception of détente is more likely, I am afraid, to lead to World War III than the Eastern one.
I do not say that the Soviet Union, if it is obliged to renounce some major objectives by agreeing in Vienna to limit its forces, will necessarily collapse. Nor do I deny that there may be an element of fear in the general Soviet attitude—the bogey of some reunited Germany, or a modernised and perhaps hostile China. All I do insist on is that the whole world situation would be much happier if the Soviet leaders were convinced that in any conventional world war—that is to say a world war waged with conventional arms—they would be likely to come off second best. That leads me to the defence of Western Europe.
Noble Lords may well have heard tell of the recent work by General Hackett and others entitled The Third World War, which is in the Library in case anybody 369 wants to look at it. This is a vivid and, of course, completely imaginary description of the outbreak of World War III in 1985. Some, though by no means all, of the political scenarios in that book leading up to the outbreak are not to my mind, entirely convincing or plausible, though certainly it is not impossible—as was brought out in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Alport—that by 1985 Iran, Afghanistan and even Pakistan may be well within the Soviet bloc, to say nothing of Yugoslavia. All that is quite conceivable as a scenario. But even if some scenarios as to what will lead up to this outbreak are not entirely convincing, what is convincing is the idea that in a few years' time there could—I repeat, could—be a sudden assault on the Western Front in Central Germany, without much warning and before the arrival on the scene of most of the necessary reinforcements, leading to an Eastern occupation of Denmark, the bulk of the Bundesrepublik and most of the Low Countries within a matter of days, the NATO forces—this is only too likely—being unwilling to check the onrush by the first use of nuclear weapons, and the Eastern forces not having recourse to them either.
It is quite true that, presumably in order to keep our morale above zero, the General and his highly intelligent and expert co-authors postulate a happy ending, or a moderately happy ending: the Russians, whose intention was, in any case, to stop at a certain point and then negotiate from strength, being held at a bridgehead just beyond the lower Rhine and eventually pushed back by the arrival of NATO reinforcements, although after a fortunately isolated interchange of strategic nuclear missiles which obliterated first Birmingham and then the City of Minsk, which in its turn results in a revolution and in the fall of the Bolshevik régime. Also the attempt, by sea and air, to prevent the arrival of the bulk of the necessary Western reinforcements does not prevail over the competent counteraction of the allied navies and air forces. But these pretty optimistic forecasts are based on the assumption that between now and 1985 there will have been, in response to the various real danger signals which I have mentioned—and others, too—a considerable increase in the conventional forces needed by the West to contain a conventional assault by the East; 370 that is, an increase well above the apparent, present intention of the various Western Governments. Failing such improvements, we must, the authors say, expect the worst. That, indeed, is the moral.
I do not think that the authors would maintain, along with the Chinese, that this kind of conflict which they envisage is inevitable. When I was in China recently the Chinese repeated to us that World War III is inevitable, but after much argument they said that, though it is inevitable, it might be postponed! I repeat I do not think that the authors would maintain that this conflict is at all inevitable. All that they are trying to bring out, I think, is that it is entirely possible and even likely if we do not get around to strengthening our conventional defence, more particularly in the North German plain. It is a question of the old, old principle which as a democracy—as in 1913, as in 1938—we are always so reluctant to accept: If we want peace, we must prepare for war. Admittedly this is hardly a slogan on which to appeal to the electorate, but it is as true as ever it was, and we shall ignore it at our peril.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Lord CLIFFORD of CHUDLEIGH
My Lords, I recollect at the beginning of the last war having a conversation with a rather laconic naval officer in which I put forward the view that sanctions are always useless and counter-productive. I am not getting today's debate mixed up with the one that we shall have tomorrow. We were referring then to our actions during the Spanish Civil War and the Abyssinian War. To this the naval officer replied, "No. They were the only thing that enabled the British Navy to be trained and ready to go to sea when the Hitler war arrived".
The point I am trying to make is that in the early 1930s our politicians, because of their short-sighted economies, had our then comparatively large navy mainly port bound, just as we now place limitations on track mileage, training, ammunition and the replacement of worn-out vehicles of war for our forces. However—and this point was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley—I see signs of hope in the behaviour of the Government in recent months. It seems that at long last they have started slowly to reverse the dismal trend. It may be too little and 371 too late. Nevertheless, we should congratulate the Government. It began with a speech by the Prime Minister at Devonport earlier this year. This speech was not very well or widely reported, except in the South-West. I managed to get a copy of the complete speech from a friend in the Ministry of Defence. I must admit that it cannot be faulted as a survey of what should be done, and perhaps it started the ball rolling.
During the Recess there have been announcements about one or two belated increases. At long last our NATO leaders can now look their allied confrères in the face, getting away from the position so ably described by General Hackett in his article in The Irish Times to which I referred in the last defence debate. However, the Government must not stop now. Our BAOR trucks are older than their drivers. During the last exercise in Norway, our Snowcats were breaking down to an alarming extent. We neglect the Northern flank of NATO at our peril. There has been a recent build-up of considerable Soviet forces in that area. It is from the North and South of that country that the sea and air attacks on this country will come if a third world war starts.
That brings me to the main point which I hope to make this evening. It is the defence of this country to which I particularly want to draw attention. I believe that we have no adequate home defence—not by any stretch of the imagination; and it would be advantageous to remind the House of what the conditions were when last we had adequate reserves and a home defence, in the days when my noble friend Lord Shinwell was Minister for Defence. Every fit male did 18 months to two years' National Service. He then went into either the TA Reserve or Civil Defence which meant that the Territorial Army, and therefore the Regular Army, always had a trained Reserve. This applied also to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.
Those of us who were in the Regular Army at that time did not like it, because naturally we wanted our units to be as efficient as possible. We did not like our best NCOs and officers to be taken away to train National Servicemen. That was only natural. However, we had a civil defence organisation then. It included everything, from firefighters to 372 camp decontamination squads which were distributed all over the country. We had TA sappers, with Bailey bridges, ready to restore communications at the drop of a hat. They were abolished, of course. Supply bases, transport for all emergencies, water supply units, port units—in fact everything which could have been used in a day-to-day emergency was abolished. You name it, we can deal with it. In Norway today every fit male from 16 to 60 has a job to do in the defence of his country from natural or enemy disasters. Above all, we had reserves. What did we do? First we abolished National Service. Ten years ago I was motoring across Salisbury Plain and I was running low on petrol. I came up to a garage, a fellow came out and looked at me and said: "You're Major Clifford, aren't you?". I murmured that I had been several years ago. He said: "Yes, I did my National Service in your company in Malaya". He started talking and the gist of what he said was: "Well, we grumbled at the time but, looking back, I would not have missed it".
§ Lord CLIFFORD of CHUDLEIGH
Then he made a point which I think bears some relationship to the debate we had yesterday. He said: "What worries me now is that I have two sons growing up. I wonder what the hell is going to happen to them when they leave school".
That was only the beginning. In 1967 Healey as good as obliterated the Territorial Army. Overnight the strategically placed drill halls, a rallying point for all emergencies as well as a social centre in rural areas, were either pulled down or used as bingo halls. Units with a proud history in local and National Service disappeared into oblivion, and bang went our main bases for regular recruiting and, worst of all, our last vestiges of adequate reserve forces. Then, as if to make sure that the country would not survive the next war, let alone serious floods or a firemen's strike, the Home Secretary—now the Prime Minister—abolished civil defence. It so depended on the TA at the time that there was a logic in that, albeit stupid beyond belief. The only people who were in favour of getting rid of the traditional ways of defending this 373 country were, of course, the lunatic far Left. Those of us who opposed it, and from all Parties in this House—the noble Lord, Lord Leatherland, being one of the fiercest opponents from the Labour side—were baited as being imperialists.
What defeated the French attempts at invasion in the Napoleonic Wars? What happened to the French Admiral Tate in his attempt, first on North Devon and then South Wales? We have not got those defences now. Now we are left with nothing in place for the defence of this country. Now we have not adequate reserves, as more than one speaker today and in other debates has said, to support NATO, let alone defend our own country. How ironic that the Civil Defence staff college is now the staff college for civil servants—the growth industry par excellence. Some people in this country are still trying to achieve something but it is on a purely local voluntary basis. There is a national association of which I notice some Members of your Lordships' House are, like myself, members. In my county we have a thing called DEV, standing for Devon Emergency Volunteers which has the imprimatur of the county council but it is not adequate; it does not take the place of the civil defence organisation that was abolished.
I should like to emphasise just one point which was also made by the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley. Surely many of your Lordships can remember the first thing that happened when there were rumours of the beginning of the last war. There were vital points all over the country which, in nine cases out of ten, were manned by members of the then Territorial Army. We have abolished that. If the third world war starts it is this country which will be attacked as soon as the attack in Central Europe begins. With a large transport 'plane with American reinforcements for NATO arriving in this country every four minutes, do you think the Russians would not try to knock this country out as a base at the very first opportunity? Yet we have no home defence at all. I must say that when Healey did his massacre I firmly believed that he still adhered to the political Party he belonged to when we were both at Oxford. I ask the Government to wake up to the fact that this country has no adequate home defence and certainly no adequate reserves. The gracious Speech 374 says that the Government are going to ensure adequate defence. How? When? Where?
§ 6.17 p.m.
§ Lord BROCKWAY
My Lords, one of the difficulties of a debate on foreign affairs and defence is that we roam all over the place and one speech following another bears no relation to what has previously been said. I should like to throw out the suggestion that when lists of speakers for these debates are being prepared the Chief Whip should ask the subject to which Members are going to draw attention and then there might be some continuous debate on those subjects. I am fortunate in following the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who has discussed the subject of disarmament, because it is to that subject that I wish to draw attention and he will not be surprised when I say that I have a very different view from that which he has expressed.
This has been an historic year. We have had for the first time a Special Assembly of the United Nations discussing disarmament. It was a great occasion; the heads of State of many countries—and when they were absent, their Foreign Secretaries—addressed that Assembly and there was a unanimous opinion by the representatives of the Governments of the world that if we are to be saved from destruction there must be united action towards disarmament. The British Government made an important contribution. They took the initiative in gaining the support of 12 Governments of the West for a very radical statement on disarmament.
That statement included negotiations on strategic arms "with the objective of reducing and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons"; secondly, a comprehensive test ban treaty with verification; thirdly, the establishment of nuclear free zones in the world; fourthly, the prohibition of chemical and radiological weapons; next, a continuing review with a view to the prohibition of further weapons of mass destruction; and, lastly, negotiation for limiting conventional arms. That was the statement of our own Government, supported by 12 Western Governments, and surely that should give us some hope tonight. The Special Assembly did not reach decisions, but it instructed the 375 conference at Geneva—restructured, bringing in France and China for the first time—to complete a strategy leading to complete disarmament, and it gave a warning that mankind is faced with a choice; we must halt the arms race and proceed to disarmament or face annihilation.
The first point I want to make tonight is to urge our Government, when the Commission meets at Geneva, to carry out those instructions: first, to press the radical demands which they themselves have made, and second, to proceed to the big objective of a strategy leading to complete disarmament. Meanwhile there are the SALT talks and the talks at Vienna for balanced disarmament in central Europe. I think we can now say that there is a hope that the SALT talks will lead to an agreement. I hope the discussions at Vienna about central Europe will also do so.
If they succeed they will add greatly to the climate of détente in the world, but I think we should realise tonight that their results will be limited from the point of view of disarmament in the world. For example, the SALT talks on nuclear strategy exclude the two weapons which today are potentially the most dangerous. Those weapons are, first, the neutron bomb, and, secondly, the Soviet intermediate range missile the SS20. Neither of them can be discussed at the SALT talks because they are not inter-continental weapons.
The neutron bomb has been excluded on the ground that, although it destroys all life and leaves buildings standing, it will be localised to a battlefield or will be concentrated on a town occupied by enemy forces in order to destroy those forces. I think it is overlooked that all the human beings in the town itself, the indigenous people, would also be destroyed. But the important fact about the neutron bomb to which practically no attention is paid is that during the research to create the neutron bomb the difficulty of the technicians was to localise it. They found it hard to restrict the neutron bomb to avoid destruction over a wide area. And is there any doubt that, if a war occurred, and it were used, the Soviet Union would soon discover how to employ it, that over vast areas of the 376 earth whole populations would be destroyed and the buildings merely left as their tombs? This limitation of the present discussions emphasises the importance of the discussions which are going to take place at Geneva on much more drastic disarmament than these discussions will cover.
I want to say one word about nuclear arms in this country. We have 14 submarines with nuclear missiles. In addition to that there are in this country four United States bases with nuclear weapons, and it is argued that these are necessary for our defence. They are trivial in their power compared with the great nuclear weapons of the United States of America and the Soviet Union. They would have no impact at all in that conflict if there were a third world war. What in fact they would do, because they were stationed in our country, would be to ensure an immediate nuclear attack. Twelve Soviet missiles could destroy the whole population of Great Britain. So far from being a defence, I believe they are an invitation to human suicide in our country. Again this emphasises how important it is that in the Geneva discussions we should turn our minds to these possibilities.
I also want to draw attention to a new factor which now exists in the arms race: the satellites which are circling the world. Fifteen hundred of the satellites in space now are for military purposes; three out of four which are despatched by rockets are for military purposes. The Soviet Union has 902, the United States of America has 563; the remainder are NATO, France and China. I drew attention to this matter in the House some months ago. The answer which I received from the Minister was that he regarded war on earth as more dangerous than war in space.
I wonder whether your Lordships saw the programme on television the other night in which it was indicated that the military satellites, using a beam, could destroy nuclear missiles. That is welcome from that particular point of view. However, the programme went on to indicate that the beams from the satellites could similarly destroy millions of people on earth by being directed over great areas for the destruction of human life. We have now decided, although in a compromised way, that the oceans should be 377 the heritage of mankind. Surely it is time that we urged that space around the earth should be the heritage of mankind and should not be used by separate Governments, or even now by separate companies, in their own interests.
I turn to the arms trade. Are we really contemplating what is happening? The arms trade has more than doubled in the last decade. We prohibit trade in drugs and the white slave traffic. The arms trade is more immoral than drugs or the white slave traffic: it is a trade to export weapons which destroy human life. It causes mass murder and we ought to begin to appreciate that the arms trade is an infamy which civilised human beings ought not to accept. Four countries dominate this trade: the United States of America and the Soviet Union account for 34 per cent. each; the United Kingdom and France 10 per cent. each. That is another reason why, in the duscussions at Geneva, we should be seeking many more fundamental changes than have yet been considered.
In conclusion, I should like to urge that surely all these developments are absolute madness. We are spending £600 million a day on weapons with which to kill each other. Seventy per cent. of the research in the world is to create greater means of killing human beings. We now have nuclear weapons which could destroy all human life on our planet. Is that not madness! I think it likely that the people of the next century will take the view that the people of this century were all insane; they will think that the Parliaments of our Governments today were lunatic asylums. That is the real issue of disarmament which is before the world. I hope that our generation will do something to convince generations of the future that now at last we were determined to end this colossal infamy, the destruction of millions of lives. It should be our task to remove that infamy from the human sphere permanently.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Lord MAYBRAY-KING
My Lords, I first listened to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, 55 years ago when he and I belonged to the same organisation. I have watched him in his lifelong quest for peace and international understanding with great admiration. I am very happy 378 to follow him today and to congratulate him in his 90th year on his continued vigour—violent almost—in the quest of love and peace.
It is with diffidence that I intervene even briefly in a debate of such high quality and such deep gravity. But, during the Recess I had the privilege of visiting two European countries—Greece and Spain. In both I received kindness and help from our ambassadors there and I welcome the opportunity of paying tribute to them and also of expressing in your Lordships' House how much Britain owes to her ambassadors throughout the world, many of whom I have met during my 20 years of travelling among the Parliaments of the world. Their work is patient, skilled and devoted. Often in times of crisis, as at this moment in Iran, they face grave problems and they meet them with courage and diplomacy.
In Spain I met for the first time another tier of foreign service, secondary to the embassies of course, but very important to Britain. I refer to the consular service and its human and detailed work for British subjects and British trade abroad. So, I pay tribute to our Vice-Consul in Vigo, Spain, Mr. John Cogolludo, and to the shipping agent, Mr. Duran, for their services to all Britons who visit Spain in difficult circumstances, and for all they do for furthering British commercial interests in that country. Mr. Duran, his father and his grandfather have between them served the shipping companies of Britain for 150 years—a unique record. I should also point out that both gentlemen are Spaniards. Therefore, in this connection I read with dismay in the 1977 Report of Overseas Service by the Central Policy Review, to which the noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, has already made reference, the following two sentences:Many of the services which consuls provide to British tourists and residents in developed countries—e.g. in Western and Southern Europe—are available from other sources. We doubt whether their provision deserves priority in Government expenditure".I think that that statement is fantastically untrue.
I revisited Greece. There I met the Greek Prime Minister, my old friend Speaker Papaspyrou and many parliamentarians, including the former Prime Minister Kanellopoulos who fought in the 379 War with the noble Earl Lord Jellicoe, his lifelong friend. I had the special pleasure of meeting Roy Jenkins, President of the European Community, at a party where the Greeks warmly welcomed him on their approach to joining the Common Market. Talking to my friends I discovered that Greece has the same fears and problems that we had when we were joining and which some of us still have. However, everywhere in Greece there is utter friendship for Britain. Their only criticism is one of disappointment at our lack of sufficient action over the Turkish occupation of a large portion of the island of Cyprus.
Britain, being one of the three co-chairmen—Turkey and Greece being the other two—is responsible for the well-being of an island which wants neither Greek nor Turkish domination but only the achievement, in fact as well as in name, of sovereignty, freedom and independence, with Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots once more living together in harmony and peace, as they did for hundreds of years, without foreign troops on the island. I would urge Her Majesty's Government to increase their efforts for Cyprus. Therefore, I say to my noble friend the Leader of the House that all my friends in Cyprus and in Greece will be happy at the tone and content of that part of his speech which referred to Cyprus. In particular I would underline the remark my noble friend made, that ultimately the problem of Cyprus must be solved by Cypriots. If only we could all keep our hands off the island, the Greek and the Turkish Cypriots could get together. It is the intervention of big Powers—particularly the intervention of Turkey—that has made Cyprus such a difficult problem.
I was also very impressed by the references to Cyprus in the remarkably fine speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soames. The noble Lord on the Liberal Benches, Lord Banks, also referred to Cyprus. I believe that if it is possible to achieve peace in the Middle East under the great Sadat and the equally great Begin, and the fine President of America, then we might be able to turn our attention to Cyprus. I would appeal to the Turks as well as to the Greeks to come together, hammer out a solution 380 and end some of the real injustice that still exists in that lovely island.
It was while I was in Greece that I had a moving experience, which is my chief reason for speaking today. On learning that I was in Athens, a delegation from Cyprus came to plead its case. It is the Pan-Cyprian Committee of Parents and Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons—persons who have been missing since Turkish hostilities in Cyprus ended. May I pay tribute again, as I did some years ago, to the British Government and to the Red Cross—especially to my noble friend Lady Hylton-Foster—for all that the Red Cross and the Government did in those bitter days after the hostilities ceased to try to find missing loved ones. Many people were then discovered and the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, was at all times helpful and sympathetic in those anxious years.
The delegation which I met stated that there are 2,190 Greek Cypriots unaccounted for so far—roughly 1,500 military personnel and 550 civilians. I have here a list of every missing person; it gives names, ages, the villages or places where they came from and some simple, although not very adequate, photographic evidence to suggest that some of them are still alive. The Turks say that the list of missing persons is now closed and that they will not open it again. But some of the parents have recognised some of their missing sons from photographs of prisoners published in Turkish newspapers. Some parents have obtained information from returned prisoners of war who have been released from Turkey that some missing persons are still in Turkish hands and alive.
This very moving and indescribably pathetic delegation is touring the Free World, and, wherever it gets the chance, it asks some Parliamentarian or Parliament to ask that the United Nations set up an independent commission of inquiry to discover whether some of their beloved ones are still alive. I promised that I would raise the matter in Parliament. I have written to my noble friend the Minister of State, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, about this sad problem. He has seen the evidence which I have here today. I would urge him and his Government to press this matter at United Nations level, 381 so that the minds of those who still hope against hope that their dear ones—or some dear ones—may be found alive, may be set at rest. Of course, such a commission would also inquire into the parallel problem of the Turkish Cypriots who are still missing and unaccounted for. This has nothing to do with the greater problem of Cyprus. It is a human problem. It is a cry from fathers, mothers and wives who suffer the agony of uncertain bereavement.
In Spain I met the Press—the free Press in free Spain. They asked all kinds of questions about our Parliamentary system, our two Chambers and the position of our Monarch. In Spain in these last few days they have set up and adopted a Constitution not dissimilar to ours, with a Monarch who they hope will serve the same glorious function as our own beloved Queen. I hope that free Spain and free Britain may come closer together and that friendship may grow between them. It would be of benefit to Britain, to Spain, and indeed to Europe, in the days when a free Spain joins Europe.
§ 6.47 p.m.
My Lords, I choose to speak to a subject which my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft referred to last Thursday in your Lordships' House as:… perhaps the most important decision that Her Majesty's Government will have to take in the months or even weeks ahead ".The subject referred to is, of course, the proposed European Monetary System. I hope to demonstrate that the observation of my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft was the most delicate of understatements.
In addition, I hope to demonstrate that when my noble friend said that:This field falls into an area which is more appropriate to a national than a Party approach"—[Official Report, 2/11/78; cols 31–32.]he displayed a characteristic understanding which I, for one, rejoice in. For when we consider whether or not this Kingdom should commit itself to an agreement which will affect not only ourselves, but our children and our children's children, we have at least a duty of care. How important this decision is can be seen when one appreciates that a negligent or clumsy decision has the capability of driving a stake through the heart of NATO 382 and a wedge between the special relationship of those peoples nurtured in the Anglo-Saxon tradition.
I am convinced that the frenetic urgency to create a European Monetary System at this juncture and in this form is—wittingly or unwittingly—indicative of nothing other than a power play. I deal in neither rhetoric nor overstatement. This premise is found in the fact that the Governments of Germany and France appear to be railroading the rest of Europe into a monetary system which I believe to be based upon unsound economic practice. Secondly, and far more importantly, this premise lies in what I believe to be the answer to the question: why should and how can the Governments of Germany and France propose something which in the long-term could be manifestly devisive of Europe, and thus anti-European?
I shall deal with the economic argument first, despite the fact that it flows from the strategic argument. To propose a European Monetary System which is designed artificially to stabilise and maintain currency values and to control currency parities is, in my untutored view, unsound for two reasons. First, it is putting the cart before the horse by attempting to eradicate the symptoms of the underlying strengths and weaknesses of the economies of individual European nations instead of looking into the reasons for the underlying differences in the individual countries' performances. Secondly, such a system cannot work, because it will not work, This we have seen. I shall not weary your Lordships on this point. We are only too familiar with the recent history of the failures of "snakes in baskets, in woods."!
What the Germanic/Franco proposals are attempting to do is to change the gauge of the thermometer, shove it into a child's mouth and pretend then that the child has no fever. In addition, what the Germanic/Franco proposals are attempting to do is to construct the roof on Europe before the foundations (let alone the walls) are built. Of course it is true that currency instability poses serious problems for any Government's economic management. However, when one considers that in 1978 each EEC country pursues its own national domestic objective, it becomes plain that what is needed above all else in Europe at this 383 moment is not an EMS but an EEC—by that I mean European economic cooperation. When the day comes that each member country of the Community writes its own domestic budget in conjunction with its fellow-members; when the Common Agricultural Policy is rationalised; when a common fisheries policy is agreed and acted upon; when, say, French and German civil servants are seen to be working in Whitehall; when, say, English civil servants are working in Bonn; when there is real economic, in addition to tariff and trade, co-operation in Europe, then is the time to consider monetary co-operation.
However, it is when considering the effect of the proposed European Monetary System that it becomes clear, yet again, that economics is nothing other than the accountancy of politics. The Schmidt/d'Estaing European Monetary System as presently proposed, if implemented at this time, has the capability of recreating a balance of power in Europe and, at the same time, undermining the current delicate balance of interdependence.
Should this system as proposed be implemented, the benefits to Bonn are plain. Tying the mark to a wider group of currencies than at present would minimise the mark's rise as against the dollar. This will in turn improve Germany's trading position relative to her European neighbours. Furthermore, when one considers that 50 per cent. of Germany's exports are to fellow EEC members, the picture becomes even clearer. Wittingly or unwittingly Germany could rise to a position of such economic eminence that she might well, in the future, be loath to relinquish it, and with a strange irony I can also see that Napoleon might well be hanging on to the coat tails of Metternich.
We must ask whether this is what Germany and Europe really want. I doubt it very much. How then has this position been reached? I believe it can be found in the serious disillusionment by Europe at the Anglo-Saxon nations' ability, or rather, political will to lead. Any loss of influence by those countries which are nurtured in the great and guiding principles of the common law—of the liber et legalis homo; the free and lawful man—is not only sad but disturbing.
384 Is it mere coincidence that it was in April of this year that Herr Schmidt first promulgated his European Monetary System proposals when early in the same month President Carter kept his options open on the future production and deployment of the neutron bomb in Western Europe? Is it mere coincidence that early last month the powerful Economics Committee at the Council of Europe passed a recommendation on the OECD report which, although manifestly absurd, was founded in a deep-rooted desire to try to free Europe from what they felt was the tutelage of the US dollar? Are the perpetual references in Europe to the "English disease" an indication that Germany and France are looking elsewhere? Is it significant that the Soviets have recently appointed what is the rough equivalent of a Minister State for Foreign Affairs to their Embassy in Bonn? Is it significant that the Soviets are currently dropping hints about German reunification? I do not pretend to know the answers to these questions.
I would never go so far as the noble Lord, Lord Balogh (or was it Lord Kaldor?—I find these economists so very confusing), and imply that the spoils of war are being sought without the necessity of going to war. However, I am also concerned that Her Majesty's Government resolve over the question of human rights might be weakening. May I ask the Minister of State at this stage whether there is any truth in yet another example of waiting room diplomacy where a Whitehall source was recently reported to have aid:We can't go on indefinitely being beastly to the Russians because of the dissident trials"?It can now be seen why I, a committed European, should believe that the "We must go forward in Europe at all costs" lobbyists are capable of doing Europe and this country great disservice should they not take careful stock. To criticise Her Majesty's Government for hiding behind the skirts of mere technicalities is dagerously short-sighted. On the contrary, Her Majesty's Government have displayed great courage in speaking out where they feel it right to do so. For underpinning Her Majesty's Government's counter-proposals I believe there is a most sensitive, broad and long-term political thinking, as indeed there has been by 385 Her Majesty's loyal Opposition in their exercising a duty of care over this matter.
However, what puzzles me is this: If Her Majesty's Government are taking what I believe to be a strong pro-European stance, why is it that they have done so little to lay the lie that the United Kingdom is the errant schoolboy of Europe, or at best Europe's coy bride? I should be most grateful to the Minister if he would be good enough to answer this question when he sums up this debate. However, it cannot be stressed too strongly that it is fundamental that Her Majesty's Government do not put the United Kingdom into such a position that we are left out in the cold. For the reasons I have tried to enumerate, it is of paramount importance that our influence in Europe is in no further way diminished. On the contrary. I hope that my noble friend Lady Elles will be developing this point to the full when summing up from this side of the House. Notwithstanding that, I believe that there are indications that Her Majesty's Government are aware of, and concerned with, the indecent haste of Herr Schmidt's proposals for a European Monetary System and, if that be so, Her Majesty's Government, and those whose counsel they seek (the Queen's good servants) deserve not only our admiration and support but our gratitude.
§ 6.59 p.m.
My Lords, I want to follow the noble Lord, Lord Maybray-King, in his remarks on Cyprus. On the question of missing persons, I have here a copy of the News Bulletin of the Turkish Cypriots dated Tuesday, 24th October, which is headlined:Denktas reiterates readiness to initial agreed procedure to trace missing persons".I shall show the noble Lord this copy afterwards. Mr. Denktash made this statement when he returned from New York, and he said in detail:I feel it my duty to appeal to Mr. Kyprianou once more at this stage. He raised the question of missing persons both last time and this time in New York and accused us of being intransigent. An agreement on the question of missing persons has been reached through friends mediating between us for the past three or four months. I wanted to meet him in New York to initial this agreement, he refused to meet me This time I expressed my readiness to meet him in New York again; once more he refused to meet me".Eight months ago to this day I asked in an Unstarred Question whether Her 386 Majesty's Government were ready to take a lead in helping to restore normal conditions to Cyprus. After an interesting debate, the Leader of the House gave a bland but non-committal reply, and a rather similar expression of commitment appeared in the gracious Speech and in the speech of the Leader of the House today.
Since last March there has been some progress, a lot of frustration and a little retrogression in the situation in Cyprus. The progress came with the Turkish Cypriot proposals, made very soon after the debate we held here, for negotiations to start on a final settlement. Their offer stated "at the time to be negotiable"—that is important; they always said that offer was negotiable—and was based on the guidelines agreed in February 1977 between Denktash and the late Archbishop Makarios; and later, in July, the Turkish Cypriots improved their offer by adding to it the possibility of a quick agreement for Greek Cypriots to return to Varosha, the ghost town next to Famagusta.
That has been the extent of the progress because the Greek Cypriots have refused to come to the negotiating table. The frustrations start with that refusal. President Kyprianou just will not come to the negotiating table. Mr. Denktash has been in New York for the meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations and has failed to meet President Kyprianou, although he has tried to meet him on several occasions. Other frustrations include the continual failure to allow the Turkish Cypriot airport at Ercan to be recognised internationally as an airport. This is a very serious handicap to the efforts which the Turkish Cypriots are making to improve their economy.
I find it extraordinary that Her Majesty's Government should continue to refuse to recognise Ergan as an airport. The reason for this is the fact that under its Greek Cypriot name of Tymbou, it was given the role in the Treaty of 1960 of being the reserve airport for the British troops in Cyprus and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus were instructed to keep the runways ready for use. The Turkish Cypriots have not only kept those runways ready for use, they have rebuilt Tymbou into a modern airport at Ercan, yet no one is prepared to recognise that airport internationally except the Turks themselves.
387 Another frustration—this is the retrogression I spoke of—happened in September when the Post Office issued an internal instruction that telegrams should be refused to be accepted if they were addressed to addresses in Turkish Cyprus through Mersin in Turkey. The reason why telegrams and letters are sent to Turkish Cypriots through Mersin is to ensure they are not tampered with by the Greek Cypriots who run the Post Office in Cyprus. The fact that the British Post Office should encourage this situation—of channelling post and telegrams through the Greek Cypriots—is extraordinarily irritating to the Turkish Cypriots in this country, and there are some 40,000 of them here who are British subjects and who are very angry at the situation.
Her Majesty's Government have a very special responsibility for Cyprus, and not only as the third guarantor of that island's independence—a guarantee which included guaranteeing the basic articles of the 1960 Constitution, which gave many rights to the Turkish Cypriot minority that have been completely abrogated by Greek Cypriot Governments in power since 1963. Her Majesty's Government's special responsibility also arises from the fact that Great Britain took over the government of Cyprus in 1878, ten years before Cecil Rhodes was given his charter to go into Rhodesia, and we have remained associated with and indeed still occupy the sovereign bases in that island as a result of that deal with Turkey. There are 400,000 Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus who are at present unrepresented because Her Majesty's Government will acknowledge only the Government of Greek Cyprus, and that Government do not in any way control the 400,000 Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of the island.
§ Lord BETHELL
My Lords, I think I heard the noble Lord say there were 400,000 Turkish Cypriots. Is that really the figure he means?
My Lords, if the noble Lord thinks that figure is wrong, I should be grateful if he would quote another figure.
My Lords, does that mean there are only 600,000 inhabitants of Cyprus?—because the Turkish Cypriots comprise at least one-fifth of the population of the island.
We now have political stalemate in the island, rather like an industrial situation which arises when a strike is called, in that Kyprianou and his colleagues are on strike, a strike which is very beneficial to them; they still enjoy the position of being the President and Government of Cyprus recognised throughout the world, whereas the Turkish Cypriots have no recognition and are being frustrated through this non-recognition of the airport at Ercan and so on.
It is a particular responsibility of this country to try to resolve that situation, and I ask the Government and Foreign Secretary to make every effort to do so. It is no use saying it is a matter to be resolved between the two parties themselves getting round a table; they will not come to that table and somebody must get them there. The Secretary-General of UNO has tried but has not succeeded. Cannot we, as the third guarantor, now take our part in trying to get the two parties together? This impasse cannot go on for too long.
I have noticed during the last six months a certain hardening of attitude on the part of the Turkish Cypriots to whom I have been talking, and I think that we have all noticed a hardening of attitude by the Turkish Prime Minister. It is a dangerous situation. There are 30,000 Turkish troops in the island. It would be easy for them to move South-West, and no one could stop them. President Kyprianou is playing with fire by not coming to the table, but surely it is our responsibility to try to stop that conflagration—
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down I should like to ask whether he agrees that President Kyprianou is the constitutionally elected 389 President of Cyprus, not of Greek Cyprus, and that the reason for the lack of representation of Turkish Cypriots is the presence of Turkish armed forces in that island?
My Lords, I would agree with the first point; President Kyprianou is without doubt the constitutionally elected President of Cyprus. But the reason there are no Turks represented in the Government of Cyprus is that the Government of Cyprus will not allow them to come in. They kicked them out in 1964, and they have never been allowed to come in since.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, before I start to address myself to the problems of winding up for the Opposition the debates on the gracious Speech, I wish from this Box to express messages of sympathy and good wishes to John Davies and his family. This comes particularly from those of us who have worked closely with him, albeit as junior colleagues, and we wish him well in his recovery. As someone who has worked with him over the last few months I can only say how greatly I admired his very wide knowledge and experience, and to my limited ability I benefited from it. He has always been one of the kindest, most courteous and most helpful of people with whom I have had the pleasure to work.
In turning to the debates I know that your Lordships will not expect me to reply to all that has been said nor cover all the subjects that have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Roll of Ipsden, quoted a Chinese saying and I feel that I must do the same. I have been greatly reminded of the old Chinese saying to the effect that when one visits a country only for a short time and one dares express any criticism or opinion of it, it is rather like someone who is on a galloping horse trying to pick flowers from a field. I feel rather like that myself, particularly in view of the very large number of subjects that have been covered this evening; and I have no pretensions that I have been to even half of the countries that have been mentioned.
The debates following Her Majesty's gracious Speech have covered three separate aspects of Government policy: home, 390 economic, and foreign affairs. There seem to me to have been two constant themes relevant to the whole state of the nation weaving their way through the many speeches. The first came from my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft when he opened this series of debates. The question which he put to the Government, which I believe is the question most relevant to all these debates, was, "Where do the Government want to take us? In what direction do they want this country to go?"
The second point, which I think has also found its way into almost all the speeches during the three days of debate, is the increasing realisation of the intertwining relationship of domestic and foreign affairs, no longer separable, but part of the same intricate trelliswork of policies which closely affect each and every aspect. Are we at the end of these debates any nearer to finding the answer to my noble friend's question? In my mind there is no evidence so far that we are, though we have yet to hear the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, wind up for the Government, and perhaps he will be able to give us the answer we seek. This question is not irrelevant to this debate. How often has it been stressed that without a strong economy, without a strong and secure defence system, there can be no foreign policy? Only the strong are in a position to have some say in their own destiny, or indeed to command respect from others. If you cannot be strong alone, at least be strong in co-operation with partners who, together with a common purpose, join to implement policies of neutral and lasting benefit to the community.
In the gracious Speech it is said that Her Majesty's Government:… will continue to play a full and constructive part in the development and enlargement of the European Economic Community".Several noble Lords have rightly commented upon this part of the gracious Speech—in particular my noble friend Lord Soames, with his vast experience and knowledge of this aspect of foreign affairs. Of course that is not an exclusive statement; it merely refers to what he was talking about today. My noble friend has commented in his speech upon the conduct of the Government in relation to the European Community—not exactly enthusiastic, nor indeed co-operative. It would 391 be interesting to know from the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, who admitted his reluctance to join the Community, whether he now accepts that there is an international treaty which binds nine member States together; that we have legal obligations one to the other, as well as economic obligations, and that, after all, we work together as a result of a referendum which was initiated by his own Party and which overwhelmingly showed that the people of this country wish to stay in the Community.
Therefore, I think it is time that the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, and his colleagues in the Labour Party, and in the Government, should realise that the standards of our country are judged by the people in it. If we are no longer able to uphold our international legal obligations, people are not surprised that we are having crime in our own country. Once you fall foul of the law and you do not respect your obligations, you cannot expect the people of your own country to do so. Now—
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, will the noble Baroness allow me to answer that direct point? I said in my speech that I admitted fully that I had been a complete opponent of British membership of the EEC. I fully accept all that the noble Baroness has said on this matter. There is now a binding treaty and it is the responsibility of this country, and of any Government of this country, to apply that treaty.
§ Baroness ELLES
I hope now that we have another real European on the other side of the House. This is very welcome news.
Returning to the speech of my noble friend, one of the factors which are distorting and complicating the conduct of our interlinked economic and industrial policies is the variability of the exchange rate. I am referring at the moment to the question of EMS, upon which my noble friend has already commented. This variation causes more difficulties not only between member States but—and we should remember this—for third countries, particularly the less developed countries. Indeed, this was a point which the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, touched upon indirectly when he spoke about the relationship between the Community and third countries.
392 One of the very great difficulties of Western European industrialised countries when dealing in commercial matters with less developed countries is the totally variable exchange rate. How many less developed countries have said, "It is impossible for us to be sure of being able to sell in your markets when over the last four years you have devalued the pound sterling by 50 per cent."? We must remember that the difficulties in exchange dealings are not only those of the Community but of the individual nations within the Community whose exchange rates have varied enormously—particularly our own.
We must also consider the situation when the whole international exchange rate system has broken down, with all the difficulties of the dollar. When member States of the European Economic Community, led, I would remind my noble friend Lord Morris, by the President of the European Commission, Roy Jenkins—not as an arrangement between France and Germany—have tried to evolve a system which may contribute to creating a stable monetary zone, at least we on this side of the House would be pleased to see the Government taking a positive attitude to the problem.
Of course, we are not aware of all the intricacies, of the details which are involved, or the technical matters. Indeed, we have not seen even a statement by the Government as to what the economic and financial effects might be on the nation as a whole. It would, I think, be very helpful for the people of this country to have some idea of what the implications are, and I would certainly ask the Government for a Green Paper on this matter setting out the problems, setting out the proposals and setting out the possible effects of joining the EMS; because, although the Government are obviously having difficulty in deciding whether to join such a system or not—and, of course, any Government would have the same difficulty, whichever Government were in power—nevertheless I think the alternatives have to be put. What would be the effects on this nation of remaining in the Community and not being a member of the EMS? I think it would have very difficult technical results. For instance, if Ireland were to join, what would happen to the sterling relationship between 393 the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom? What would happen to the green pound? How would it be measured? There are untold consequences. I do not intend to bore your Lordships with a long list of the kind of difficulties that there will be, but certainly it is the duty of Government, I believe, to inform the nation of the kind of decisions they are taking, and on what basis of fact and on what considerations they are taking them.
Indeed, my Lords, we wonder why they are so unenthusiastic. Is it because they think it would be harmful to our economy and impair its development? Is our economic development so wonderful that it could be impaired by measures which would bring some benefit to other countries? Or is it in fact that the Government must admit that the situation of our economy is so appalling after four years of Labour rule that, despite cosmetic attempts at claiming success, they know we have fallen too far behind our fellow member States and that our economy is too weak even to benefit from such measures? I am putting the question: it is for the Government to answer. Whatever the answer, we have not yet had an opportunity to discuss the merits or demerits; and, as I repeat, I should be grateful to the noble Lord if some kind of information could be given to the public as a whole.
My Lords, there is another suspicious phrase in the gracious Speech—but perhaps women are more suspicious than others, so I accept that the suspicion may not be shared by all in your Lordships' House. It was rather surprising to observe that Mr. Silkin was suddenly going to agree to a common fisheries policy—and this was referred to in the gracious Speech. That is a policy which we had been led to believe he has resisted for two years, claiming protection for the fisherman. One can only ask (and, of course, this is not by any means a suggestion): Might it be that this is a quid pro quo for us staying outside the EMS? It is also indicative of the way that the Government have dragged their feet on the fisheries policy. Was it held back, possibly, because there was going to be an Election?
§ Baroness ELLES
It is of course a great pleasure to hear the protests from the other side, because it may be that that is somewhere near the bone. However, it is quite clear that there is a genuine need for a common fisheries policy because it has been quite impossible for the Commission to negotiate with third countries and to protect our fishermen; and this has been one of the consequences of the delay in coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Anyway, from this side of the House I am quite certain that we will all be pleased when a common fisheries policy has been produced and when there can be genuine agreement between the nine member States for the benefit of all the fishermen in the member States, particularly, of course, our own fishermen, who catch 60 per cent. of the fish within the Community.
It is to be asked: What hopes have we of retaining the goodwill of nations and our own commercial viability when we are rapidly losing any respect from our closest trading partners? As a trading nation having to rely on imports for nearly 50 per cent. of our food and very large quantities of raw materials needed for our industrial production, can we afford the luxury of annoying our partners in the member States? I will not say more than that. Many noble Lords have commented on the aspect of certain Cabinet Ministers not co-operating to the full in the Community; but I hope that Cabinet Ministers will have taken note of the robust attitude of the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, and will say that they accept that we are in and that they are going to try to make the thing work. This would be very beneficial both to us and to other member States.
With my noble friend Lord Soames I welcome the enlargement of the Community and encourage the drawing together of Western democracies to co-operate closer, not only for our own economic and social well-being but for the active preservation of Western democracy as we know it. I should also like to take this opportunity to express my pleasure that the Constitution of Spain has now been passed by the Parliament of that country. I think they have done a remarkable piece of work in a short time in very difficult circumstances, and I think they are to be warmly congratulated on this achievement.
395 But, my Lords, democracy is not just a state of existence: it is something all of us have to fight to preserve and in order to prevent the ever-encroaching bureaucratic power of the State from taking over all our decisions and removing our freedoms. That, after all, is what the protection of human rights really means, and that is why, in our view, human rights as we know them can be guaranteed only in a democratic system within a free market economy, and by the very nature of the State are denied and violated in Marxist and other totalitarian régimes. Indeed, it is ironic when you think that those who believed in revolution, in freeing the working classes from subjugation, have created that part of the world where the masses are totally controlled and where the word "freedom" is unknown; where equality is non-existent, even among the elite; and where true comradeship is to be found possibly more frequently in the Gulag than on the factory floor. As we know, the greatest critics of the system itself come from within. Indeed, many noble Lords have referred to the stand of the dissidents on the problem of human rights in the Soviet Union; but I think we must not exaggerate. Although, of course, they have suffered and have put up a magnificent fight—and they are still doing so—do not let us forget the position of Czechoslovakia and the signatories of Charter 77, who have just revealed that nearly a quarter of a million citizens of Czechoslovakia have been denied the right to carry on their careers and that there were about 6,000 political prisoners taken between 1970 and January 1975.
It has yet to be understood that there is no generally accepted definition of human rights. Every region of the world has its own view, based on its own traditional and historic standards. I think this is a very important point in relation to the one that my noble friend Lord Bethell made with regard to Iran. You cannot expect every country in the world to have the same standards as, for instance, a country like ours, which has evolved over 700 years of Parliamentary democracy. Iran is very important for the key position it plays in the world, and I think my noble friend Lord Alport brought that out very strongly. I do not think it is helpful to attack a country 396 which is going through enormous social and economic difficulties, and where undoubtedly there is surrogate action and subversive action by foreign States whose only interest could be to cause disruption and, indeed, the fall of the monarchy.
My Lords, one must also ask: How can one take seriously the orchestrated balalaikas of the Soviet Union and its six supporters at the United Nations when they bring in resolution after resolution on anti-apartheid? Of course all of us in this House are against apartheid—I do not think there is one noble Lord who could ever in any way support that system—but let us not forget that whole nations have been obliterated from the map by the USSR in recent years. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and the destruction of the people of those countries, always appear to pass almost unnoticed until, perhaps, one lone voice raises the subject. This was a case of genocide, which according to the definition which was in fact pushed by the USSR at the UN is a crime against humanity. Why do we not hear about these countries? So, if the Government are really searching for ways to develop constructive relations with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe, let our own standards of freedom be made perfectly clear: that we disapprove of their systematic and continuous violation of rights and freedoms; and, as I say, not only in the Soviet Union itself, but in its peripheral countries and in those countries where it has taken over imperial domination—and they should be reminded of this.
The persecution of religious believers, only the right to propagate atheism in accordance with the most recent constitution; and above all, it must be made plain that we object strongly and will resist infiltration of our own social and economic structures with active supporters of the CPSU. The noble Lord, Lord Gore-Booth, touched on this in no small measure and made a valuable contribution on this aspect of human rights. I know that we are all grateful to him for the very careful and objective way that he developed this particular aspect of the problem.
I should like to say just a few words on the human rights issues raised by my noble friend Lord Bethell. I have touched already on the question of Iran, but I think that I must say that the question of 397 refugees into Hong Kong is not quite as easy as he would like it to seem. Hong Kong had a population of 400,000 under twenty years ago and now has a population of over 4 million; and it is quite remarkable what the people of Hong Kong have managed to do with the refugees from China. Let us be under no illusions. The Government of China are very well aware of the situation. The situation is very delicately balanced between Hong Kong and China and it is in their mutual interests that there should not be this overpopulation of Hong Kong which makes it impossible for the people to raise their standards of living. As the noble Lord knows—and we have had this debate before—certainly on this side of the House we should like to pay tribute to Sir Murray MacLehose for the way in which he and his Government dealt with the housing problems created by this influx of refugees.
§ Lord HATCH of LUSBY
My Lords, would my noble friend nevertheless not agree that at some stage it might be appropriate to raise the question with the Chinese Government that bona fide political refugees coming from the People's Republic into Hong Kong should receive the asylum traditionally granted by this country to political refugees?
§ Baroness ELLES
My Lords, this is another matter. The question has been dealt with between Hong Kong and the Government of China repeatedly and the Government of China are well aware of the problem. We sometimes forget in this question of emigration and immigration that it is the sovereign right of any territory to decide who comes into their country. This is possibly the one sovereign right which remains, and Hong Kong has the right as much as any other country to say who comes into its country. One must take account of the fact that there is a natural difficulty with the refugees who can swim across the river; nevertheless, the Chinese Government, as I understand it, have allowed a limited flow of people into Hong Kong and that number is controlled. I hope that when he comes to wind up the noble Lord the Minister will be able to reply on the question by my noble friend.
To turn to defence, again in the debate on home affairs, introduced on this side by my noble friend Lord Rawlinson, he 398 reminded us that the duty of the Government is the defence of the realm and the maintenance of peace within the kindgom. Concern for the maintenance of peace we believe is at last being recognised by Her Majesty's Government, belatedly possibly: but the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, the Minister, yesterday gave us a sober account of the admitted failure of the Government in that respect and the difficulties which face this country. Nobody denies the difficulties over the problem of the increasing crime rate. This is not the subject of this debate but it is interconnected with the problems facing this nation.
With regard to defence, is the Government's record any better on that score? The noble Lord, Lord Peart, gave us a most interesting account of the intentions of the Government. However, we sometimes wonder, as we watch the television report of the Soviet military strength on parade in Red Square on the 61st anniversary of the October Revolution, whether we can have any sense of pride of possession of our own military power. If not, do we rather have a very uneasy feeling that the present Government have allowed our defences to sink so low that a march past of our defence capability around Trafalgar Square would be in comparison but a toy parade? One hears that the level of our defence aircraft has been reduced to 74. I believe that that is correct; and if it is, it is less than that of Kuwait. Can we take seriously the Government's undertaking to continue to safeguard the nation's security and to make a full contribution to the North Atlantic Alliance and to improve the Alliance's defence. That would be good news if it were correct. But we must ask what meaning is to be attached to this claim when, from the figures produced by the Government, we know that the Government have made cuts in defence expenditure to a grand total of £10,000 million, when the 3 per cent. increase announced for the two years 1979–90 and 1980–81 in fact mean a real reduction of £55 million and £188 million respectively.
The noble Lord, Lord Peart, touched on the question of MBFR and the Vienna negotiations; but certainly many people in this country—of course noble Lords in this House will be aware of it—are not aware that the Soviet Union and the 399 West have completely different concepts of what MBFR is all about. They want a reduction on an equal basis but we want to equalise more closely the strength on both sides. This is quite a different matter and would lead to quite different results. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, quite correctly pointed to the dangers of SALT 1. He referred to the fact that the SS2O medium-range missile system comes outside the SALT negotiations and those particular missiles mean a defence system which covers Europe and North Africa. They are no threat to the USA but the USSR, with this system, have the largest air defence system in the world. Their submarines increasing, I believe, by something like six nuclear submarines a year, are all equipped with nuclear missiles. What do we do in the face of this massive military programme? We apparently cut our defence expenditure.
There is one point that I raised last year and we hoped that the Government would do something constructive and helpful about it. This is the question of the pay of the Forces who have the task of defending us if the need comes. Has their position improved? The Government tell us that wages increased by just over 14 per cent. last year. Did the Forces benefit to that extent? They certainly should do so, for they are among the most important of those employed by the Government. What has been done since the matter was raised last year and, indeed, continually by my noble friends and Members in another place throughout the year? The figure which I was given—and which is subject to correction—is that a private soldier with a wife and two children received an increase of 1.8 per cent. at weekly spending power. This was a reply given in Hansard. It is nowhere near the 14 per cent. average increase given to workers throughout the country.
Our own defence capability is relevant to the protection that we owe to our dependent territories. Diplomacy, such as it is, appears to be the only weapon left in negotiations for the freedom of these territories. In our relations with these territories, there remain outstanding problems; but whatever the future may be (or whatever they may need) for the Falkland Islands, Belize and the other 400 remaining territories, it must be decided by the inhabitants themselves. We on this side would deplore any secret negotiations carried out with other third countries interested in these territories without full and open debate and consultation with the people of these territories before any decision is made. Let us remember that self-determination is not the privilege only of national liberation movements and the views of British subjects must be considered. This year alone, as we know from the Bills which have passed through your Lordships' House, three territories have acquired independence: the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Dominica. We wish them well. Dominica gained her independence only on 3rd November. But independence does not always bring them the economic prosperity or wellbeing which they aspire to; but rather the reverse. It means injections of finance from outside for support.
I should like to say a few words on our relations with the less developed countries and the third countries generally. That must be guided by a set of principles which have as their objective to benefit the peoples from our own country as well as those of third countries. It must be in our interest, for instance, that LDCs industrialise. This not only means increasing their own economic growth but providing markets for our own more sophisticated products. Whatever we do, we must not expect these countries to develop their industries at our initiation and then for us to follow policies of protectionism, denying entry of their goods. This would be totally counterproductive and should not be supported. We have the ability and skill to seek new sources for economic growth, not only for the benefit of our own people but also for others. This must be encouraged and must be interlinked with our external policies.
Our aid contribution together with other member States of the European Community, it must be remembered, is something like 30 per cent. of the total aid given to developing countries. It compares fairly well with that of the Soviet Union, which is somewhere around 3 per cent. It is not surprising then when the citizens of the Soviet Union suffer from great food shortages and a low standard of living in comparison with the West. There will only be progress, both 401 in the Soviet Union and in developing countries, when it is realised that Marxism and poverty become synonymous. That is one of the problems facing the financial assistance that we give: the effectiveness of that assistance is mitigated by the political structures of some of those countries. As we know only too well, and as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, referred, the real poverty remains not always because of lack of opportunity but because of lack of distribution, lack of being able to apply the principles of a market economy, the lack of having techniques and skills needed.
Aid programmes need constant review and assessment. It is questionable whether large financial assistance to countries with a Marxist economy really contributes to improving the well-being of their poorest inhabitants. I will not touch on the many problems that were fully dealt with by my noble friend Lord Alport, and the noble Lord, Lord Roll of Ipsden, who spoke interestingly on China. We cannot now touch on other problems. Nobody has referred to Latin America in this debate, but as time goes on we cannot deal with the whole world tonight. Perhaps there will be opportunities during the course of this Session, since this is a very meagre document, and we shall be able to have some Unstarred Questions on these important matters.
The United Kingdom especially, with its centuries of trade and commercial skill and links throughout the world, has immense opportunities and goodwill. But these can only be successful if the people of Britain are encouraged and enabled to do so by a favourable climate at home. And not only economically encouraged, but encouraged by a climate where initiative, enterprise, creative thought and investment can succeed. Only if there is such encouragement at home will the United Kingdom earn and retain the respect of the rest of the world. My Lords, the question which my noble friend Lord Thorneycroft put in his speech in opening—In what direction are the Government taking us?—is of profound importance to our future, both at home and abroad. The Government, through the programme expressed in the gracious Speech, unfortunately give little indication, and even less hope, that they have the courage and ability to put Britain on the right road to prosperity.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, I am sure that we should all like to join the noble Baroness in sending to Mr. John Davies, and indeed to Mrs. Davies as well, a message of our deepest sympathy in the serious illness that has befallen him, and our strong wish for his speedy recovery and return to public life which he adorned for some time with great courage, distinction and integrity. The noble Lord. Lord Soames, raised at least three very important questions—I make no apology for moving abruptly from one point to another; it has been impossible during this very wide-ranging debate to compartmentalise the various points that have been raised. The noble Lord quite rightly asked me to tell the House as far as I know what the position is in regard to EMS: that is a question of immense importance.
The House will recall—and I think that I repeated a Statement on this matter—that in July the Prime Minister agreed that a zone of monetary stability in Europe was a highly desirable objective. He went on to say that any new system must be one which will last and will take full account of the economic as well as monetary interests of each member of the Community. In company with other members of the Community, he proposed parallel studies to be made of the action that is necessary to ensure a greater convergence in the economies of the member countries, especially in such matters as commitments to growth and the transfers of real resources.
I have this to say in reply to the noble Lord's question. Since July the studies on the features of the proposed EMS and the action needed to assist the economies of less prosperous member States, have gone forward as planned in the appropriate Community bodies. The first aspect has been considered by the EEC monetary committee, and the committee of central bank governors, and the latter by the economic policy committee, all reporting to the finance council. The finance council will consider all the relevant reports at its next meeting on 20th November with a view to preparing for the European Council in Brussels on 4th and 5th December. So since July there has been real progress in the necessary studies which may hopefully help us to achieve agreement, possibly in the Council meeting in December.
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, yes indeed. I believe the Government have in mind some form of statement—possibly a Green Paper would be most appropriate—so the implications and the possibilities can be widely studied very much as the arguments for our entry and confirmed entry in the EEC were properly brought to the attention of the people.
The second important question that he put to me was the state of play of the GATT negotiations. The countries represented at the economic summit in Bonn last July agreed to try to conclude the negotiations by 15th December. Recent action by the United States Congress, notably their failure to renew the administration's authority to waive counterveiling duties, may have made the achievement of this outline more difficult. However, we believe it is vital for the future of the open world trade system that the negotiations should be brought to a successful conclusion and we hope that this will take place in the near future. A number of high level meetings are taking place, and the prospects should be clearer towards the end of the month. No doubt I or other Ministers will be asked here or in the other place in the next few weeks how that is proceeding. So far it seems to be proceeding satisfactorily.
I will return to the very substantial speech which the noble Lord made at the commencement of this debate. For the moment may I refer to another very important question which has been raised by a number of noble Lords concerning the relations of this country with China. A noble Lord from the Cross-Benches reminded us of something which perhaps not everybody in this House, let alone this country, realises: that China is a vast country—a world in itself—of some 900 million people. It is a very high proportion of the entire population of the world and increasing at a very rapid rate, even by Asian standards. Therefore, when a country of that size and importance culturally and economically—a very substantial element in the life of the world—decides on the basis of a centralised Government that it is going to take a headlong leap forward into a modern industrial condition, we need to take notice politically as well as economically. 404 This we have done. I know that there are people on the other side of the House who have been equally concerned about this and equally interested in it.
So the recent expansion in our contract with China is part of a necessary inevitable development. It is right that China should be encouraged to play a full part in the international community. During the past year a number of Cabinet Ministers have gone from this country on visits to China and a number of highly-placed Chinese Ministers have visited this country. Vice Premier Wang Chen will be here until 19th November. There are indeed open invitations to the Prime Minister to visit China, as his predecessor did, and to Premier Hua to come here.
We are already winning a growing share of the commercial opportunities from the new Chinese policy, linked, as it is, as the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, reminded us, with an enormous revolutionary change in their financial attitudes and techniques. We are already winning an increasing share of the commercial opportunities now being made available. Since August this year, contracts worth nearly £200 million have been signed; that is in two or three months. We hope that a science and technology agreement will be signed shortly. That will not only spring from the cultural and educational exchange between us, but it must be a force for peace. I sometimes say that in diplomacy, perhaps as in love, there is no influence without contact. You must exchange technology, education, literature, music and the arts; and indeed a very large programme of such exchange will be signed shortly. We expect to receive about 400 Chinese students in this country next year—400; and cultural, Parliamentary and tourist contacts with China are also increasing.
This brings me to the question of defence sales, and while I cannot deal with every defence point that has been raised during the debate, I will most certainly give attention to them by communicating with those noble Lords who raised them. I should say this, not only in response to what the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, said but also in response to what was said by a number of other noble Lords: purchases of advanced technology and defence equipment are an important aspect of China's modernisation plans. 405 We are prepared to discuss Chinese requirements for defence equipment within the framework of our wider commercial relations and subject to our international obligations. Although the subject of defence equipment may come up in discussion, the purpose of this visit by Vice-Premier Wang Chen is to further our relations generally, including the extension of commercial ties across the board. The Vice-Premier therefore will have discussions here not specifically and only directed at defence items. That subject may well arise in the context of more general talks about wider trade matters.
I move now to another important part of the world, dealing with this part of my reply territorially, that is, to the Middle East. My noble friend Lord Gore-Booth hoped that somehow I would be able to breathe some rhetoric into the gracious Speech. Why he should expect me, coming from where I do, to be able to do that I do not know! But we will do our best, as we always do in Wales. Of course he is right. President Carter's initiative at Camp David associated with the courageous move of President Sadat and the equally courageous and responsive response of Prime Minister Begin, are subjects for congratulation. We should make much more of acts of statesmanship of this kind, and while perhaps the gracious Speech is not quite the vehicle for the kind of hosannahs which my noble friend had in mind, nevertheless, he has made the point.
It is not only this country that has drifted into a situation of knocking itself; it is the entire West. When I am urged somehow to strengthen the Western democratic reply to totalitarianism, I say: "That begins at home. Let us make much of the good things this country has been responsible for and what it is doing now and what, with its added strength, it will achieve in the future, and let us take the same positive and optimistic attitude in the West". After all, we have democratic tolerance, the system of taking the people with you, because after all we are the future; the people, through their democracy, will determine the future. So what happened at Camp David was something quite revolutionary—an act of statesmanship, of tripartite statesmanship, which I do not think can fail. Too much idealism and too much practical thinking has been invested in this venture, and the 406 signs are—although I will not remain with this point unduly long—that this is going to succeed.
The Nine—and here I reply directly to the noble Lord, Lord Soames—welcomed Camp David, of course. Those agreements represent a great step towards a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East. We very much hope that other Arab States—and here may I specially mention Jordan and our old and good friends there—will come in and we hope that all the Arab States will see that this is a signal not only for the comportment of Israeli-Egyptian relations but for a new future of co-operation and peace in the entire Middle East. In this connection, I was delighted to see my noble friend Lord Weidenfeld present, although unfortunately I missed most of his speech. He has, in his own way, exercised great influence in favour of moderation and compromise in this troubled area.
Moving a little beyond the Middle East to the Near East, as we used to call it—when, as a junior Minister, in so far as a junior Minister is responsible for anything, I was supposed to be responsible for the Near East—we shall hear a lot about responsibility shortly. Junior Ministers will expect to be understood when they say that work was handed out to them lavishly and responsibility very carefully. The noble Lord, Lord Alport, spoke of an area that I know very well. He is absolutely right, of course, in describing an area between about Turkey—he does not appear to be here: yes, I see that he is here and I am not surprised that the noble Lord has moved that far to the left! I have detected this movement in him for some time with great pleasure. The noble Lord is quite right: the area is between Turkey and Sri Lanka, shall we say? There is a vital area which historically has offered opportunity and threats to a wider area. I thought his speech was salutary, in that it reminded us of an area that we tend perhaps to forget for its strategic and economic importance to the West.
We associate oil with Iran, and that is about it, and he very properly reminded us of our partial dependence on Iranian oil. We shall do well to watch very carefully what happens in that part of the world. Everybody is entitled to have 407 relations with those countries on a peaceful, commercial and cultural level, but no one is entitled to intrude and to attempt to hegemonise. The noble Lord had other excellent things to say, but mainly he stressed the importance of stability and independence for all those countries—and he named them—in that part of Asia. I entirely agree, and our best efforts are being bent, usually in concert with our friends and partners the Americans, to maintaining stability in that area.
Here may I say a word about Iran specifically? It is fairly fashionable to go for Iran, and indeed its ruler, and to point to a long history of repressive measures, but that is not enough. The fact is that Iran has been moving socially as well as economically for quite some time, and this country, as a friend and mentor of Iran at times, can claim some of the credit for that. What a pity it would be if, in the interests of something right outside the immediate interests of the Iranian people themselves, that country was plunged into chaos! All one would hope is that these gifted people, living in this potentially very wealthy country in good relations with us and with other countries in the West, will have now a period of stability gradually moving forward to an ever more democratic system.
I take note, also, of what the noble Lord had to say about Afghanistan and the other countries in the area, and also about the possibility that we might be able to help in more than one context of friction in that area. We were there for 200 years and are still well regarded in the Indian sub-continent. What I would say to my noble friend is that we stand ready, if anybody wishes us to assist in composing differences and difficulties between member States of that area, with whom we have very longstanding contacts and who with us are indeed members of the Commonwealth. I was very glad to hear reference to the possibility—we can say no more without being too presumptuous in regard to a sovereign State—of Pakistan, an old friend of ours, perhaps finding its way back into the Commonwealth. We should be delighted if she did.
Here I join with my noble friend Lord Hatch and the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, 408 who spoke at Question Time—he has paid us the compliment of coming back for more, although he did not take part in the debate—in once more asserting from this Box the utility and importance of the Commonwealth. This is an organisation which in no way is in competition with the Community, the United Nations or any other international organisation of which we are members, but is unique. If it were not in existence, if it had not evolved, we should have to try to invent it and we could not. It is a product of the British presence in every part of the world. The Commonwealth has distilled the best of the British presence in all continents. It was a great pleasure to me personally that the President of Zambia, without any prompting, at the last meeting of the Heads of Governments of the Commonwealth rose in his place in London and paid such a marvellous tribute to the British Queen, of his own volition. We have friends in this world and especially in the Commonwealth.
The noble Lord, Lord Soames, and others addressed themselves to the important question of the North-South dialogue, the developed and developing nations, and I have time only to touch on just one or two of the important points raised. There is, of course, a chapter on Stabex in the Lomé Convention to which the Government, along with the rest of the Community, are fully committed. Stabex is a fundamental part of the Convention. In the current negotiations for the new Community/ACP Convention, the Community has made clear to the ACP its willingness to see provisions on Stabex similar to the present ones included in the new Convention. I do not know whether they can be improved as my noble friend suggested, but our entire posture—and we are not alone in this in the Community, as the noble Lord knows—is to try to improve it. This is the way to do it. One needs from time to time to assist by way of grant and technical assistance—unrequited gifts, one might say. But fundamentally the way to assist the developing world is by guaranteeing them a living wage for their own work, because that is what Stabex is, and I suggest that there is something much more constructive and much more durable about that way of doing things. We shall be taking an active role in the commodity discussions in Geneva in the UNCTAD forum.
409 I now turn to Cyprus, on which a number of noble Lords made substantial speeches. I undertake to the noble Lord, Lord Spens, to look into the matters he has raised. I have a note here about postal and telegraphic communications with Northern Cyprus. It is too lengthy to be given to the House at this hour and I do not wish to detain your Lordships, who are no doubt anxious to get home to prepare for tomorrow's debate. But I have to say this. The Government—any Government in Britain—can recognise only one Government in Cyprus, that of President Kyprianou, and therefore the only authority in Cyprus with which the Post Office has dealings is the Cyprus telecommunications authority. However, the points that the noble Lord, Lord Spens, raised are worth looking at again. I know that my honourable friend the Joint Minister of State has spent some time over this, as a result of letters sent to him by Lord Spens. I undertake to draw his attention to what has been said this evening on this point.
This takes me across almost automatically to Greece and to Turkey. I was asked whether we were thinking of any initiative to help Turkey vis-à-vis the Greek application to join the EEC. Of course, we are strongly in favour of the enlargement of the Community by the enrolment in due course of the three countries who are making application—Spain, Portugal and Greece. Turkey has association status. I could not anticipate what the Community as a whole would find right and necessary, nor would the House expect me to do so, but I think that the point is well taken. We should perhaps look beyond even the accession of these three very substantial countries, these three new or restored democracies—Spain, Portugal and Greece—to other implications; and certainly Turkey—politically, strategically as well as economically—is of immense importance to us. All of us will be thinking about the points which the noble Lord has made.
May I move back a little now to Hong Kong, which the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, raised. The noble Lord is well aware of the position there. He asked me whether political refugees are sent back to China. The answer is, No. If the Hong Kong Government is satisfied that it is a genuine case of political 410 dissent, the genuine political refugee is not sent back, nor do the Chinese Government insist that he should be. Indeed, the Chinese Government have been most helpful and understanding about the entire question of the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong and our own presence there. It is, in a way, a curious arrangement whereby we operate without quarrelling and without arguing about the ultimate status of Hong Kong. And it works. I am tempted to think sometimes that it is very British or that it is very Chinese. It is based on mutual interest and mutual agreement, without too much precision about signed documents and so on.
As to human rights, to which the noble Lord moved after mentioning Hong Kong, of course I agree with him. I and my fellow Ministers take every opportunity to speak absolutely forthrightly to the representatives of the totalitarian countries, both here and in their own countries. They understand what our attitude is. We do not muffle our voice on human rights. I was grateful to the noble Baroness for her reference to the part that we played at Belgrade. I think it is recognised that the British voice on human rights was strong and clear. We are in the van now of preparing the ground for the second conference in Madrid—I hope in 1980. Already we are having bilateral talks with a wide range of countries, not all of them like minded. But one must speak to the others, too.
The whole point of CSE is that you want to influence people, as I keep on saying to them, and not to overturn their system (it is counterproductive to speak in those terms) but gradually to establish a floor of assumed basic human rights and freedoms which every system must respect: whether it is, as it is sometimes desribed, a Communist system, or even a Fascist system (which is a little hard to imagine) or a mixed economy: a Social Democratic or a Liberal-Capitalistic economy. The system is not in question. Human rights are. Sometimes I feel fairly confident that, so long as we are prepared not to overturn systems—because we ask them not to try to overturn ours, do we not? And we send them home if they try—but instead are prepared to bang away at the central fact that human beings everywhere, whatever the system under which 411 they live, are entitled to certain fundamental rights, we shall get somewhere.
The noble Lord, Lord Bethell, asked me about a letter relating to Academician Zhakarov. This reached the Prime Minister through a third party. I understand that it was of the open letter type—very much of the circular type; I mean no criticism of it for that reason—and therefore not of a nature normally requiring a direct reply. I am quite sure that my right honourable friend never intended by not replying to this letter to minimise the importance of the issue raised or, indeed, the importance of Academician Zhakarov—a distinguished artist whose resolution and moral strength I know that the Prime Minister admires as much as anybody.
There were a number of points on defence to which I think I ought to refer. Before I do so, I ought to reply to the third important question put to me by the noble Lord on COCOM. I think the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, also raised the point. The United Kingdom maintains its commitment to COCOM and keeps it under review. In particular, we keep under review the strategic criteria which govern its operations. We are concerned to ensure that the criteria continue to reflect current political and economic realities. That is to say, the COCOM system of determining what categories of sensitive goods are exported from this country is the cornerstone of our policy. We are, naturally, in close consultation with our friends and allies and we would not depart in any substantial way from COCOM without having their concurrence on what we proposed. I can give that assurance.
I do not know whether I should respond to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Soames, about South Africa or leave that for tomorrow. I might as well do so tonight. The noble Lord asked about mandatory sanctions against South Africa. Let us be clear that this would be a step justified only by a situation of the utmost gravity. We hope that by co-operating with the West to solve peacefully and constructively the problems of Southern Africa, South Africa will help to avert such a situation. That is fair enough. It is within the capacity of the 412 South African Republic, with which many of us have personal ties and with which this country has historic and very strong economic ties still, to come a certain way in regard to a solution of the problems of Southern Africa in order to make that kind of action unnecessary.
I have a number of defence points here which, in consultation with my noble friend, I should like to set out on paper for the noble Earl, Lord Kimberley, if he agrees, since time has gone on. I want, however, to close by a reference to two speeches that we heard: one by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who seemed to me to be taking a very strong anti-détente view. I had to be out of the Chamber for a portion of his speech, but Si vis pacem, para bellum: if you want peace, prepare for war. I agree with the noble Lord that détente means two things: deterrence as well as disarmament. You will not have disarmament unless you are assured of security. You can whistle in the dark for it and talk all the headlines and slogans ever concocted. People will not disarm until they are secure. I have attended many of these conferences and I have made a few speeches myself, but of this I am absolutely certain: that there is no disarmament without security.
§ Lord GLADWYN
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is prepared to accept my definition of the difference, in my view, between the conception of détente on each side: the difference between the Eastern and Western conception of détente?
§ Lord GORONWY-ROBERTS
My Lords, not quite. The difficulty is to speculate about these matters, to think aloud about them. I do not believe that there is a monolith conception held in any totalitarian country. All countries have their hawks and their doves. The noble Lord may not agree with me. He may think that some countries are inhabited entirely by hawks. I have not yet seen such a country, or even such a system. We have been talking about Chernyevsky and a number of others—they are Russians too. There are always people to whom you can go and appeal: the crack in the concrete. The task of diplomacy—and I would say the Church—is to try to get through to the residuum 413 in any system of liberal tolerance. It is always there, so I cannot agree with him.
What I said about disarmament is equally addressed to my noble friend; and may I join in the congratulations to him on being 90 years young. May he go on to ask me 90 Questions a week. Indeed, it seems almost that he does that already; and so well he does it. He has toiled with brilliance in the cause of disarmament all his adult life. Of course, many of the things he says are matters of common belief to us all. All I would say to my noble friend is this. It is essential to create a sense of confidence, of security, before you can get much more than a signature on a piece of paper in disarmament. We could stack this Chamber full with signed papers about undertakings to do this and that, but unless the heart and the mind are convinced that it is safe to do so, those undertakings would be valueless.
As he said very generously, the United Kingdom contribution to the disarmament conference was a constructive one. We have indeed advanced substantially. We shall be reviewing the Biological Warfare Treaty—a great boon to mankind. We take that for granted and it just shows that it is possible to get agreement on important matters of terrible danger. The Biological Warfare Treaty will come up for review in the next year or so. We are in the lead there. We have given the Americans and the Russians a draft treaty on the banning of chemical warfare. We are hopeful that it will come back to the Committee on Disarmament very much in the spirit if not in the form of the original British draft.
Then there are the tripartite discussions on a comprehensive test ban which are making progress. Here, again, British expertise and practicality have made themselves felt. There are also other initiatives for which personally I am very glad, and I feel sure that we can join together in being proud that our country has made its contribution. I repeat: This has been a debate on foreign affairs and defence—on disarmament and defence. The two go together; without the one, the other is impossible, and I believe that there is a 414 consensus in this country and the West that we should do our utmost to achieve disarmament by agreement based on assured security.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente: the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.