HL Deb 24 January 1980 vol 404 cc530-46

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to make a Statement on Afghanistan. I apologise for its length.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is an event of the widest significance. For the first time since the Second World War, Soviet combat troops have been used in massive numbers outside Europe to establish a military hold on a sovereign, non-aligned country.

The Soviet action is a breach of all the conventions which have governed East-West relations for the last decade. It is a vivid demonstration of the Soviet drive to gain wider influence wherever possible, by propaganda, by subversion, and where necessary by force. Together with the arrest of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Sakharov, it reflects cynical disregard for world opinion. It is bound to affect our attitude in current and future negotiations between East and West, though we naturally want these to continue where they clearly serve our own interests as well as those of the Soviet Union.

But the present crisis is not in the first instance an East-West confrontation between super-powers. Although the significance of the Soviet action is worldwide, its immediate impact has been on the region of South-West Asia, and on the neighbouring Moslem countries. Afghanistan is a strategic salient into the region. One is bound to ask oneself where the Russian drive is to stop. If the Russians are to be deterred, a sustained and significant response will be needed, not only from the West, but from the countries which themselves feel threatened.

I discussed these issues with the Governments of the region during my tour between 9th and 18th January. This took me to Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India, with a brief call at Bahrain. Despite the obvious differences of perspective, certain important points of agreement emerged. One was that the West and the countries of the area have a common interest in the stability and integrity of the Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz. Secondly, in the light of the Soviet threat, Pakistan must be able to count on the material and political support of its friends. Thirdly, the real threat to Iran's recent revolution and to her future security came from the Russians. And finally, there was of course a general repugnance in the Islamic countries I visited at the Soviet onslaught on another Islamic nation.

An effective response to the Soviet threat in South-West Asia and its neighbourhood is above all a matter for the peoples of the region. All the statesmen with whom I spoke recognised the Soviet threat of intervention, by force or subversion, which now extends across the region as far as the Yemen, and they accepted the responsibilities that flowed from this assessment. In particular, the need for solidarity among like-minded people, and for a fresh effort to overcome the divisions of the past was widely recognised. This will not be easy. Conflicts of local interest have to be overcome, and in some cases the present crisis has sharpened them.

In India, where I was able to meet Mrs. Ghandi and some of her Ministers almost immediately after they had taken office, I found a deep concern that Western military aid to Pakistan could disturb the delicate political balance in the subcontinent. The Indians have no desire to see their part of the world become the arena for a clash between the superpowers.

I pointed out to Mrs. Gandhi that Western help for Pakistan was a direct consequence of the incursion of the Soviet super-power, and that Russia is, after all, the only super-power with a powerful military presence on the sub-continent.

Mrs. Gandhi made it clear that she wished to continue the process of better understanding with Pakistan, which she herself had begun with the Simla Agreement of 1972. President Zia had already assured me in Pakistan that he too looked forward to a development of the Simla process. I found this encouraging. It will be a major contribution to peace of mind in the sub-continent if each country's worries about the other can be dissolved.

The response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is not, of course, the exclusive responsibility of the people of the region, even though theirs is the most immediate interest. They need—and they look for—material Western assistance and a firm Western commitment to their security and independence.

The West itself needs to find ways to make the Russians understand that they cannot break the rules of international behaviour with impunity, either now or in the future. This entails responses by individual countries and by the West's collective organisations, above all by NATO and the European Community.

In the region itself, the first need is to help Pakistan. There are already half a million Afghan refugees there and the number could soon double. Many of them bitterly oppose the Soviet invasion of their country, and are determined to return. Their condition is wretched. We have already sent blankets, tents and medicines and the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees is active. Other countries, and especially the United States, are helping too. Pakistan needs further help to tackle her political, economic and military problems and we are discussing with our allies how best to do this.

We are also considering other measures to help the countries of the region as a whole, both in the short-term and in their struggle against the long-term threat of Soviet disruption and subversion. We need to develop our co-operation with Turkey both bilaterally and multilaterally. We need to strengthen our links with the countries of the Arab peninsula. We look forward to rebuilding a mutually satisfactory relationship with the people and Government of Iran once the American hostages in Tehran have been released. Above all, we believe that one of the most important of all possible contributions to the political stability of the area would be a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict which recognises the rights of the Palestine people as well as Israel.

Immediately after the Russian invasion, the British Government proposed that the North Atlantic Alliance and the European Community should discuss the measures we might take, bilaterally and collectively, to impress on the Russians how seriously we view their actions. Some of our allies, notably the United States, have already acted. I expect others to follow suit. I shall now announce the measures which the British Government have so far decided to take. These are in addition to the measures related to Afghanistan which my honourable friend the Minister of State announced in another place on 14th January.

The British-Soviet Credit Agreement, concluded by the Labour Government in 1975, expires on 16th February. Its terms were too favourable to the Soviet Union, since the export credit was subsidised more than that which we extend to other countries. The Government's view is that all trade should be pursued on a basis of mutual advantage. We shall apply that principle to British-Soviet trade. We do not propose to renew the credit agreement when it expires. Credit in future will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Assuming that other Western countries do likewise—which would be very much to our collective advantage—we shall not provide export credit to the Soviet Union at rates more favourable than those set by the international consensus on credit terms.

On technology, we are studying with other countries the tighter application of the COCOM rules for controlling the transfer of sensitive technology to the Soviet Union. The European Community has decided not to export any food to the Soviet Union which would directly or indirectly replace supplies denied by the United States. The Community has therefore decided to curb exports of grain in the future. Britain is also pressing for an end to subsidised sales of butter, meat and sugar to the Soviet Union.

The Government have also decided to avoid high-level and ministerial contacts with the Soviet Union for the time being. They will cancel military exchanges which were under consideration and they will avoid the kind of cultural and other events which would give an impression that nothing has changed and thus appear to condone Soviet aggression. In accordance with the agreement between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the BBC, I have approved an increase in broadcasts by the External Services of the BBC to listeners in the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.

I now turn to the question of the Olympic Games. Her Majesty's Government sympathise deeply with the Olympic ideal that young people from all over the world should be able to compete freely together with no overtones of politics. But this view has never been shared by authoritarian Governments, who exploit such events for their political advantage. As in 1936 for the Nazi Government, so now for the Soviet Union the Olympic Games arc a major political undertaking designed to impress the whole world with the prestige of the system. For the Games now to be held in Moscow would appear to condone Soviet aggression abroad and repression at home.

But for the Games to be cancelled entirely would be a bitter blow to the athletes in Britain and elsewhere, who have trained so hard for so many years. This is why the British Government believe that the Summer Games should be moved. That will not be easy, but it should not be beyond the capacity of the 104 countries which condemned the Soviet Union in the United Nations last week. If necessary the Games could be held in more than one country. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has accordingly urged the British Olympic Association to approach the International Olympic Committee to propose that the Summer Games be moved from Moscow. The Government are fully prepared to help with arrangements for those parts of the Games which might be held in this country.

I do not conceal from the House that recent Soviet actions in Afghanistan and at home are not a happy augury for the future. They undermine much of what has been achieved over the past decade, and more, to provide the basis for a stable and mutually satisfactory relationship between East and West.

They underline the need, above all, to develop political solidarity among the members of the European Community and among the members of the North Atlantic Alliance. It is from that political solidarity, and from the defensive arrangements which accompany it, that our dealings with the Russians have to start. But both East and West live on one planet. The consequences of serious miscalculation could be disastrous for many of its inhabitants.

It is right that the Russians should feel the strength of our disapproval. That should help them to avoid miscalculation in future. But it is also right that we should, where possible, continue the search for arms control agreements, commercially justified trade, and other arrangements of mutual benefit. In the long run both we and the Russians need a sound East-West relationship. But the Russians must understand that there can be no such relationship so long as they behave as outrageously as they have done in Afghanistan.

3.31 p.m.


My Lords, the House is very grateful to the noble Lord the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary for coming here to make the Statement that he has made—a Statement of the utmost importance, and possibly with momentous implications. It was a very long Statement and a very comprehensive one. Here and there it was a little less clear than one would have hoped, but as one who in the past has taken part in preparing Statements of this kind, I am bound to say that it was remarkably expressive of the mood and intentions of the Government.

I do not at this stage wish to dilate on the Statement, but may I say at the outset that the Statement as it stands, and the way in which the Foreign Secretary has presented it, would not be at any serious variance with the specific gravity of view on these Benches on this occasion. We strongly support a clear and forthright denunciation, on grounds of international law and morality, of what has taken place in Afghanistan. At the same time we hope—and the penultimate paragraph of the Statement made it very clear that the Government share this view—that the purposes of détente and disarmament will continue to be pursued exactly as the American President made clear earlier today in his State of the Union message.

I should like to put one or two specific points to the Foreign Secretary, and in so doing may I anticipate that both Houses of Parliament might find it convenient and necessary in due course to discuss these matters in debate rather than in the necessarily constricted circumstances of Question Time. For the moment may I put these questions to the noble Lord: Does he agree with the general purport of the President's State of the Union message? I anticipate that the answer is, "Yes". Has the noble Lord, in putting together his conclusions and formulating this policy following his visits to the Near East, consulted closely the United States, our partners in the European Community—all of them—the Commonwealth, and other countries outside these organisations which have an equal interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in every part of the world, and some of which, in certain parts of the world, may indeed feel themselves to be particularly threatened?

In consulting our friends and allies and others, have Her Majesty's Government put together the package of action in denunciation of Soviet behaviour? Have they in fact concerted their action with other countries? For instance, one should like to feel a little more confident that the European Community was moving as one on this matter. There are some who from time to time have expressed certain reservations regarding the economic organisation of the Community but who have worked very hard for, and welcomed, the progress towards political co-operation in the Community. It is those who find in the events of recent days cause for a little disappointment and indeed alarm about the maintenance of European unity. May I ask the noble Lord whether he will recall the exchanges regarding the advent of Spain and other countries to the Community in 1981 and 1982—and possibly other countries after that? It does not augur well for the expansion of Europe, of democratic Europe—which we all hope to see—if present-day Europe falters in the test of unity which this particular challenge presents to it.

I very much hope that the Foreign Secretary and the Government with, I think, the support of both Houses and indeed that of the overwhelming majority of people in this country, will speak clearly to our European friends about the need for concerted action, as well as an agreement about words.

Secondly, I want briefly to reinforce the point made on both sides of the House, that while we must stand on the United Nations Charter and indeed on the firm base of international morality in denounc- ing actions such as those that the Russians took in Afghanistan, nevertheless, today it is more than ever necessary that there should be a strong democratic initiative for real détente, real disarmament; that in fact we meet the Russians certainly to denouce, but also to discuss. We should do this in order to say to them: "The threat of destabilising actions such as these are as much to your disadvantage as they are to ours. We have a common interest in sustaining the clear and definite provisions of the Charter and a common interest in not taking an adversary position the one against the other—systems come, systems go—but, whenever either of us sees a situation of instability arising or about to arise in discussing how best not to take unilateral action, but rather to consult and to concert the necessary measures to reestablish stability and peace in that particular part of the world."

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, we on these Benches should like to congratulate the Foreign Secretary on the really magisterial survey that he has made of the situation arising out of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and on the clear indication of his general attitude towards this monstrous aggression. Before I say anything else may I say that though I believe that detente has suffered a very severe blow, naturally we would not be opposed to, but in fact would favour, every effort still being made to achieve some kind of agreement on arms limitation, if that is possible. But I believe that, if we are realists, we must recognise that the probability is that the Soviet Government have now found themselves strong enough to throw down the gauntlet, as it were, towards the West. Both the occupation of Afghanistan and the exile of Sakharov show that now they could not care less what the West or the United States thinks. The Soviet Government believe that they are strong enough to do more or less what they like within reason, dictated by other events.

Having said that, I—and I am sure my colleagues, too—would approve of the action that the Foreign Secretary is taking. Broadly speaking, I am sure that we would agree with all of it. We can only hope that our friends across the Channel will agree not to supply surplus butter to the Soviet Union any more and indeed not to go ahead with competition in credits with their allies when everything indicates that we ought to have a joint policy on reducing credits. I think that most people would be in favour of that.

With regard to measures being taken, I am very glad to see that the Government are now agreeing that the BBC should have a further extension of its programmes to the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. That is only to be desired, and I hope that it will be greatly extended in the near future.

There is one outstanding point, as I see it, in the measures that we are taking to build up some kind of common resistance, as it were, to Soviet aggressive policy, and it relates to the situation in Israel. If anything can be done in the way of inducing the Israeli Government to be less intransigent about the situation on the West Bank—I do not know whether the Foreign Secretary can do anything about that, but certainly the Americans can if they want to—then that, I am sure, is really the best way to get the Islamic resistance, which is inherently improbable now, to the threat of further advances of the Soviet Union in that area.

Finally, my Lords, on the Olympic Games, in spite of what the Government are suggesting as to the transfer of certain events to London or elsewhere, I do not myself believe that the Olympic Committee will agree to that. I think it is very difficult to imagine that that will be possible. I believe that the Olympic Games will therefore be held in Moscow in all probability, in the probable absence of an American delegation; I dare say Australia and certain other countries, too, will not be there; and in the case of other countries, perhaps including our own, there will be only a partial representation.

However, I believe that it would be wrong to put definite political pressure on our own athletes to attend or not attend. It should surely be a matter for their own conscience whether they do. But it should still be represented to them—and I am sure it can be represented to them—what is going to happen if they turn up in these circumstances. What would happen if, for instance, near or during the Games, the Soviets proceeded to occupy Azerbaijan or proceeded to indulge in increased pressure on Yugoslavia? Would our Olympic Committee still be in favour of proceeding with the Games? Do they not imagine that there is any political aspect to this problem? Apparently they do not, but they should; and I believe that our athletes ought to understand that. Therefore, although we cannot force them, I think they ought to be told what the situation will be if they do turn up.

3.42 p.m.


My Lords, I am most grateful to both noble Lords for what they have said, and for the specific assurance by the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, that the sentiments expressed in the Government's Statement are shared, as I knew they would be, by noble Lords opposite, and I know also by noble Lords on the Liberal Benches. If it is the wish of your Lordships that there should be a debate on this matter, I have no doubt that it can be arranged easily enough through the usual channels. I think that earlier on in the afternoon I made it clear that Her Majesty's Government agreed with the President in what he said in his State of the Union message, not just about détente but also in what he said about the problem of Afghanistan and his condemnation of the Soviet action.

During and since the visit that I paid to that part of the world I have both consulted and kept informed my American, Community and Commonwealth colleagues, and I have shared my impressions with all of them. But, of course, the conclusions which Her Majesty's Government have come to are our conclusions, and not the conclusions of anyone else. This is the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord spoke about concerted action, and, of course, there has been a great deal of discussion both in NATO and in the Community about what action should be taken. I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the unanimity which there has been in both those organisations, certainly on the condemnation of Soviet action. There was a very strong statement from the Nine, and also from NATO. Quite a number of other countries have already detailed the measures they intend to take against the Soviet Union as a result of the Soviet Union's action in Afghanistan. They tally very closely with what I have announced to your Lordships this afternoon. Others have not taken quite the same view, but certainly I do not feel that the reaction of either the Community or NATO has in any sense lent comfort to the Soviet Union in what they have done.

I agree very much with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, when he says that what has happened must obviously slow down the process of détente. It is inevitable that it should do so. Indeed, the very fact that the President of the United States has postponed the discussion of the SALT II agreement in the Senate for a period of time means inevitably that it is slowed down; and it would be foolish to deny that the atmosphere for détente has not been soured. Her Majesty's Government will be pressing our colleagues in Europe as hard as we can, and the Commission as hard as we can, not to sell surplus butter, sugar, poultry or meat to the Soviet Union, but, of course, it does not lie entirely with us.

The noble Lord also spoke about the need for a settlement of the Middle East problem, the Arab-Israel problem. Certainly one of the chief impressions that I got from the trip from which I have just returned is that the conflict, the Arab-Israel dispute, bedevils politics in that area, and to some extent obscures the Arab reaction to what has happened in Afghanistan. Finally, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for what he said about the Olympic Games, and I hope those responsible will note the words, the very strong language, that he used.


My Lords, may I dare to ask the Foreign Secretary a very short and specific question? No one can praise more highly the efforts that he has made in the last few weeks, but there is an idea that the motive behind the attempted conquest of Afghanistan was to move towards world domination. Did he find, in his travels, that there was another reason for the attack on Afghanistan? Was it that they want to get hold of the Iranian oil?


My Lords, I think that the Soviet motives are complex, and the Russians would be best qualified to express the reasons for what they did—better qualified than I would be. But I would judge that, having by subversion got to a situation in which, with this spurious excuse, Soviet troops could be asked to be brought into Afghanistan—a country in a vitally important strategic situation—the opportunity will be open to the Soviet Union, should they so wish, to expand by subversion and other means in any direction that they care to expand.


My Lords, the Foreign Secretary has been good enough to tell the House the actions and policies of Her Majesty's Government in (if I may use the phrase) a peripheral sense. I wonder whether he would be good enough to enlighten us as to what the reaction of the Government is in the purely military sense. Obviously, the Government have collaborated with President Carter, and President Carter has announced that he is taking steps to introduce registration of manpower as a prelude to, if necessary, re-instituting the draft. In comparable circumstances—comparable in the sense that the Foreign Secretary has drawn a parallel between now and what happened before the last war—in May 1939 the Government of the day introduced a measure to register all young men. This was not the question of a call-up; it was a registration.

In that way the Government would in fact be able, at very short notice, to take steps to improve both the quantity and the quality of the armed forces, so that at least they would catch up with their NATO allies; because we are the only country in NATO which is incapable of expanding its forces at short notice.

In my judgment—and I hope the Foreign Secretary will accept this—the test of this country is not what the Foreign Secretary says at that Dispatch Box but what he does, and it is that test which the world will apply. If the Government therefore introduced such a measure, or showed evidence that they intended to introduce it, it would strengthen the Foreign Secretary's own hand and it would certainly strengthen the reputation of this country.


My Lords, I do not think that Her Majesty's Government feel that the situation at the moment makes it necessary to reintroduce conscription, or anything of that kind. The noble Lord will of course have noticed that Her Majesty's Government are increasing the spending on defence, and that, I think, is extremely important. But what we will obviously have to do in the light of what has happened in the area of South-West Asia is to keep our defence policy in that area under review. What we must do is to contribute to the security of our friends with equipment and with military training, and with a periodic deployment of naval, air and land forces in the area. I do not think we see at the moment any need to re-establish a substantial permanent United Kingdom military presence in the area.


My Lords, may I ask whether my noble friend recognises that, although the vulnerability of Pakistan may to a great extent be military, it is even more vulnerable from the point of view of the economic and social conditions existing in that country and, not least, as a result of the enormous influx of refugees? Although I realise that the Government have sent £120,000 of supplies for the refugees, that is a very small contribution to the solution of this problem; and even though the overseas aid programme may be under strain, as the noble Lord has said, is it the intention of Her Majesty's Government to give increased economic aid to Pakistan in the near future?


My Lords, I recognise wholly what my noble friend has said. I think the problems of Pakistan are both economic and political. It is the Government's intention this year to increase aid to Pakistan. We shall be giving something in the region, all told, of the equivalent of £30 million.


My Lords, although my noble friend said that we ought not to underestimate the unanimity or near unanimity of support that he got from Europe, would he allow me to say that he ought not to over-estimate the value of that, either; because the reaction from the European Parliament, from its elected representatives, was muted, diffuse and not very impressive as regards the possible impact it may have. Will he allow me to say that I hope that he might get better support from the Council of Nine than he got from the elected Parliament as I witnessed it a fortnight ago.


My Lords, I spend most of my waking hours trying to keep a balance.


My Lords, has the noble Lord brought China within the ambit of his discussions? If so, what has been the consequence of the approaches?


My Lords, only in so far as when I was in Pakistan, the Chinese Foreign Secretary was due to visit the following week, and did so. Clearly, the Pakistan Government set great store by their friendship with China because they felt themselves to be doubly threatened now that the Soviet troops were on their border. Equally, you have the mirror image, that of distrust when you cross the border from Pakistan into India. It is important that all of us should do what we can to eliminate the distrust between Pakistan and India because that, in itself, will be a security for the subcontinent.


My Lords, would the Foreign Secretary agree that one of the most important items on our agenda in the immediate future must be the furnishing of accurate information from our own sources to all who are interested in immediately forthcoming events? Will he (or his department generally), who did such a good job on this front in Rhodesia, be considering urgently whether we need to reinforce the number of people engaged in this matter so that we keep our voice heard right away and consistently on our side?


My Lords, I believe that the fact that we have a worldwide diplomatic Foreign Service, and the fact that we have information from all corners of the world, helps the West generally and British foreign policy in particular. I believe that one of the ways in which we can help the countries in the area that I have visited is to let them have the assessments that we have as a result of our worldwide representation. That may be of some use to them in making up their own minds.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, will the noble Lord comment on this: The original reason for the Americans cutting off arms aid to Pakistan was the nuclear factor and the possibility that they might be on the threshold of developing a nuclear weapon. If you ally this to the inherent instability of Pakistan, and then further ally that to the possibility that the Russian intervention in Afghanistan was a combination of gerontocracy, fright, worry and incompetence as well as aggressive intentions, does this not make the situation possibly even more dangerous than we have already thought it to be?


My Lords, the Pakistani Government have repeatedly said that the nuclear programme they are undertaking is for peaceful purposes. I think that it is the wish of all of us—and I am sure that it is the wish of everybody in this House on all sides—that no country in the sub-continent would build nuclear weapons.


My Lords, while congratulating the noble Lord and thanking him for the hard work that he has done on behalf of peace, would he try to take the initiative that was taken by a famous Foreign Secretary, one of his predecessors, Sir Anthony Eden? I was at the Geneva Conference in 1954 after the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu when the Russians, the Chinese and others were taking a completely different attitude. Could he make the effort to get once again a conference similar to the Geneva Conference which at this moment is needed? Before we effervesce with righteous indignation, let us remember that Cambodia and Vietnam at one time suffered more bombing than the whole of Europe—and it was Western nations that were involved. I believe that we must try. Would he try to revive some type of Geneva conference?—because the sanctions that we are now taking will hurt Europe more than the Soviet Union.


My Lords, is the noble Lord referring to the Arab-Israeli conflict?


My Lords, the Far Eastern—


My Lords, I think perhaps the global situation is a little more complicated at the present time than a Geneva conference would settle for the time being.


My Lords, I heard on the Asian broadcasts a fortnight ago that we have already told Thailand that we will revive the Manila Pact, and we have a liability to defend Thailand. Britain cannot take on liabilities all over the world. Can we have the opportunity of a full debate on this?


My Lords, certainly. I have said that if there is need for a debate then I am sure that my noble friend behind me will arrange it.


My Lords, the Foreign Secretary was good enough to outline the measures that the Government so far have taken—and he emphasised "so far". Would he, in future measures which the Government are considering, consider the future of the Soviet-inspired States in the area of Yemen and Aden with a view, possibly, to their elimination? Would he agree that a tit-for-tat policy is the one thing that the totalitarian countries understand? Would he also agree that the one thing which has made Greece a part of the Free World today was the personal intervention by Winston Churchill in 1944, against massive criticism from many quarters, which persuaded Stalin that Greece was not part of his sphere of influence?—whereas the Persian Gulf is part of our sphere of influence.


My Lords, I do not think I could disagree with the noble Lord about that. I think that the situation in the PDRY, the country to which the noble Lord, Lord Paget, thought that we were referring earlier, is extremely worrying. We must see what we can do.


My Lords, will the Secretary of State clarify what he said about the invitation to the Soviet Union to send troops into Afghanistan? Have the Government any evidence that such an invitation was sent and, if it was, that it came from a party who could legitimately at that time have been described as the Government of Afghanistan?


My Lords, the Soviet story is both confused and unlikely. On occasions, we are told that the request was made on 26th December by the Afghan Government, which would have meant that President Amin, who was running Afghanistan at the time, asked the Soviet Union to come in to depose him. Equally, we hear that it was made on 28th December, which was after the Soviet Union troops had arrived.


My Lords, the Foreign Secretary mentioned the importance of worldwide representation. Can he assure us that it is still worldwide and that his governmental colleagues, particularly in the Treasury, have not been getting at him to reduce it?


My Lords, should they get at me to reduce it, I shall enlist the support of the noble Lord opposite.