HL Deb 09 July 1980 vol 411 cc1176-279

3 p.m.

Lord STEWART of FULHAM rose to call attention to the growing concern about the instability of the Middle East Region and of South Africa, and about the inadequacy of measures taken to relieve famine conditions in several African countries and to mitigate the grave effects on the developing countries of the increase in the cost of oil; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall refer first to the famine conditions prevailing in several countries in Africa at present. Famines appear to result immediately from the effects of the wars that have so unhappily been plaguing Africa recently; from breakdown of government; sometimes from failure of crops; and sometimes from failure of transport. The situation is a horrible one. Even as we talk here hundreds of men, women and children continue to die through sheer lack of food. We shall all, I think, be grateful for anything which the Government are able to tell us of their information on conditions in these parts of Africa and what action the British Government have been able to take and will be able to take to give help.

Yet, even so, terrible as these events are, they are only the striking indications of a more terrible underlying fact: that millions of people in Africa, indeed a very large section of the human race, live all the time on the edge of famine and it only needs a single untoward event to push them over from the state of chronic malnutrition to the state of actual starvation. That is a situation which has long been known to us in general terms but which has recently been spelt out more strikingly in the document commonly known as the Brandt Report. When I studied the matters with which the Brandt Report deals I was impressed, and indeed I should say oppressed, both by the vastness and by the complexity of the problem. One is left wondering whether human ingenuity can cope with it at all.

Foreign policy is, to a considerable extent, concerned with handling the immediate problems that come before us this week, this month, this year or the next year or two. And, in handling that type of matter, the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary has won well deserved praise on many occasions. But there are times when foreign policy has to look further ahead and consider what may lie in wait for mankind in the next generation and to see whether any plans can be made. Those who conduct foreign affairs are often sceptical of the wisdom of taking a long view of this kind. Sometimes they are rightly sceptical because in a generation or a quarter of a century's time how many unknown factors, unforeseeable factors, may arise that will make all one's planning in vain?

However, it seems to me, first, that the sheer size of the problem as spelt out in the Brandt Report requires us to make the effort of long-term planning and large-scale initiative. The figures involved will be familiar to many of your Lordships and I shall not attempt to produce a bombardment of them. But what stuck in my head was that there is good reason to believe that in the last quarter of this century, from 1975 to 2000, the population of the world will increase from rather over 4,000 million to rather over 6,000 million—an increase of about 50 per cent.—and on our present information there is no reason to suppose that the supplies either of food or energy will anything like keep pace with that increase. That is a situation which compels attention.

I believe also that it is worth while overcoming the original feeling of bewilderment that must afflict anyone who reads the Brandt Report, because despite the complexity it seemed to me that there were one or two matters that stood out clearly enough. The first is very simple indeed. In the coming quarter century one way or another we must bring about a great transfer of wealth from the richer to the poorer countries of the world. I do not think that that can be dodged. That is sometimes spoken of as a form of investment and there has been discussion as to whether the IMF, the World Bank, is the appropriate instrument or whether some new body should be created.

I must record my own opinion, however, that this can only be an investment in a very long-term and almost a metaphorical sense, although not an unreal sense. If either we or the oil-rich countries of the world, looking for profitable investment, see it mainly in terms of aid to the poorest countries of the world, then we shall saddle them with a burden of debt that in the end will make their position worse than it is. Unrealistic as it may seem to those familiar with the workings of a commercial world, we must think much more in terms of outright gift and something that will bring in its dividend only in the long-term and in the form of a more peaceful and a more stable world. Looked at in that way it is a precious dividend enough.

Secondly, the form of transfer of wealth must be considered with great care and with a great deal of local knowledge of the recipient countries. In some cases it can be a matter of straightforward aid, the provision of food immediately where it is needed. It can take the form of the provision of machinery and technology. It can take the more personal form of the dissemination of knowledge by the movement of people from the more sophisticated countries to the less sophisticated and, I might add, a movement of students from the less sophisticated countries here, so that there is a wider spread of wealth-producing knowledge throughout the world. It can take the form also of arrangements to give stability to commodity prices—and I am glad to see that some steps are being taken now.

Therefore, what I envisage is that there must be set up some kind of organisation, some kind of high command in the world, whose job it will be, first, to see how much help is available and then, by careful study of the countries that will receive it, what forms will be most appropriate to their needs. That will require a good deal of knowledge of local conditions. Sometimes it may take the form not of applying advanced technologies of the West to comparatively primitive countries, but of looking at the way in which they themselves carry out certain operations at present and seeing whether they could be improved with comparative simplicity and without too much upset of the way of life of the people concerned. But it is, indeed, a difficult problem.

I remember a Nigerian putting to me this question about his country: "Here is a village that is desperately short of food. It has no proper water supply and its people have not even the rudiments of education. If you could afford help with its crops, or a well, or an elementary system of education, which would you choose? "After some thought, I said that I was inclined to go for the well. He replied," Yes, but as they have never had a well before and have no knowledge of such a thing, probably a well would be polluted in a very short time". He favoured the system of education. It seems an almost unanswerable kind of question, but answers can be found if we apply ourselves with sufficient diligence and sufficient imagination to that kind of problem.

A third point seems to me to stand out; it is that although a country such as ours has its part to play—for although we speak of ourselves as a country in economic difficulties, we ought to realise that we are one of the world's rich coun- tries—certainly the oil-rich countries in the world have a very considerable part to play in this. I think that my noble friend says that they have a problem with their own people; that is true, but I believe I am right in saying that the wealth of some of those countries is capable both of meeting that problem and of helping elsewhere.

Unhappily, the relations of several countries with the oil-rich countries are entangled with what we commonly call the Middle Eastern problem—the conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbours. Therefore, I want to digress for a few moments on that problem before returning to my main theme. Recently we saw a European initiative on the Arab-Israeli problem. I must tell the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary that I am not entirely happy as to the wisdom of such an initiative, and I should like to ask these questions. First, what will come of it? It has been put on the table, but was it meant to do no more than to please the Arab countries? Are there prospects of it actually bringing us nearer to peace? If there are, we shall be glad to hear it and I shall be glad to be convinced that the evidence is available. Secondly, was it wise to make a move that was so clearly distinct from, if not in conflict with, the approach of the United States and Egypt to the problem? I am not sure that it was.

Thirdly, was it wise to give encouragement—I think that "encouragement" is a fair word—to the PLO? The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary gave an answer on this point the other day which greatly impressed me. He was reproached for giving encouragement to terrorists, and he replied that recently he seemed to have spent a great deal of his time talking to terrorists. I thought that it was a shrewd point to make. It is quite true that through those long Rhodesian negotiations he was engaged—one would hope in the main, in friendly conversation—with people who had branded each other as terrorists and murderers, and he was right to do so.

But I think it is noticeable that that exercise has been justified by the fact that those who used the methods of terrorism have now, we hope, renounced them and put constructive statesmanship in their place. Have we reason to suppose —and people may vary as to what is the full strength of those undoubted claims of the Palestinians—that if the PLO get reasonable satisfaction, they will abandon the methods of terrorism and abandon any commitment to the destruction of the State of Israel? I should have thought that throughout this business there are two cardinal points to be borne in mind, one on each side of the argument.

The first is the undoubted right of the State of Israel to continue to exist and, if possible, to exist without constant anxiety on its frontiers. Secondly, I think that it is fair to say that Israel must not pursue the practice of treating occupied territories as if they were her own territory. In the course of the wars which have been waged against her, she has, by her own skill and valour, acquired and occupied territories. It is quite understandable that she should say that she will continue to hold them as a pledge until she receives absolutely cast-iron commitments for her own security. That is one thing, but to start treating them as if they were already a part of her territory is not justifiable and not conducive to peace.

However, as we all know, there is one country in the world that is in the strongest position to persuade Israel, and that is the United States, which re-emphasises my anxiety as to whether or not it was wise to engage in a European initiative which seems to conflict with that of the United States. I do not take a dogmatic view about this and I shall listen very carefully to what I hope will be reassurance that the Foreign Secretary may be able to give us.

I return now to what I was saying about the problem of world poverty. I have spoken of the need for a massive transfer of wealth—it must be thought of rather as a gift than as a loan—which must be in many different forms suitable to the needs of the recipient countries. Certainly, as I have said, the oil-rich countries of the world will have a substantial part to play.

The Brandt Commission recommended by way of machinery that one should begin by holding a small summit of heads of Governments which would represent some of what are commonly called the northern countries, some of the oil-producing countries and some of the countries which would be the recipients of help. I do not know whether the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary agrees with me, but I think that it is probably true that all foreign secretaries are a little suspicious about summits of prime ministers. They come together; they make great pronouncements; and then afterwards their servants have to try to spell out what was meant. However, I think that all foreign secretaries will probably agree that, although they ought to be approached with caution and preparation, such meetings are occasionally necessary. Sometimes they are necessary go give final seal and authority to what has already been agreed.

In this case I think that the Brandt Commission is right in proposing a summit of this kind, because I believe that it will be necessary in order to give impetus and authority to the start of a serious campaign against world poverty. I would see it drawing up a very broad outline indeed of what needs to be done, determining the nature of the organisation or high command that will follow it up thereafter, and then setting that organisation to get on with the job. I do not think that the British Government have yet committed themselves on this proposal. Indeed, I think it is fair to say from the debate in the other place that the British Government have not yet committed themselves to anything in particular with regard to the Brandt Report; and they may be none the worse for that because it is a matter that requires careful consideration.

But if that particular proposal does not commend itself to the Government, then we are entitled to ask what they see as the next step by any Government which takes the problems described in the Brandt Report seriously. Not only will an organisation be needed—whether or not it be commenced by way of a summit —but there must be a spirit of goodwill between North and South, between the richer and the poorer, from the start, and that is not always easy. It is very natural for some of the leaders of poorer countries to say, "We know perfectly well why there is all this talk about world poverty; it is because the West is afraid that we shall go communist if it does not do something about it"; or possibly," We know very well why there is all this talk about world poverty; the prosperous parts of the world fear that they will be in for a long recession unless demand from the whole of mankind can be stimulated".

There may be some truth in both those cynical remarks, but I should have thought that both sides must say to themselves this: the other chap—the giver or the recipient—may have his own motives that might not bear too scrupulous an examination as to why he is now concerning himself with world poverty, but do not let us bother about that; the important point is that he is now concerning himself with the problem, and something useful can result from it.

Indeed, if I may make a personal reminiscence, one thing I learned at the Foreign Office was that if you can find an individual or a Government who is prepared to do a human and sensible deed, never bother yourself questioning his motives for so doing. The fact that he will do it is quite enough to be getting on with. I think that may be true here. But, in any meeting of givers and recipients in the combat against world poverty, you do want at any rate an attempt to say, "We will begin to throw aside past suspicions and try to come to terms with each other." But what is it that makes that hardest at the present time? It is the shadow across Africa of doctrines of racial domination. Until the more prosperous countries of the world put it clear beyond doubt that they reject doctrines of racial domination, there will always be some element of suspicion on the part of black people of any initiative that comes from the western and white countries of the world.

There are many tyrannies in the world today. It would be a hard task for a moralist to say which were the most cruel or the most wicked. There is a practical question that perhaps human judgment can answer: Which is the most dangerous? In my judgment, tyrannies based on racial domination are the most dangerous because they excite human emotions to such a pitch, they arouse so much mutual suspicion and hostility, as to make more difficult all the problems that come before mankind. This is particularly true in the problem of fighting world poverty where goodwill and understanding between black and white are going to be of so much importance.

To mention racial domination is to mention South Africa. I understand that the policy that used to be called apartheid is now to be called good neighbourliness. This seems to me to follow the precedent of the ancient Greeks who decided that those terrible figures in their mythologies, the avengers of blood, should not be referred to by their proper name of the Furies, but more hopefully as the Gracious Ones. But I am afraid that alterations of names do not alter facts.

Although the proposals made for changes in the structure of the South African state are complex, and it is by no means certain how much will come of them, one thing is quite clear: at the end the white Afrikaner nation is to remain on top, and the structure of the South African state, whether it be gracious or infuriating or terrifying, is to be determined by a legislature in which only whites will be represented. The final choice will always rest with them, and that, whatever the nature of the reforms, means the continuance of racial domination.

It seems to me, therefore, that the policy of the British Government, and indeed of all governments in the free world, should be to take every opportunity to dissociate themselves from those policies; to see that our dependence on South Africa in matters of trade or defence is steadily diminished, so that when we have to state our position against apartheid we can do it without feeling that we have too many hostages in South African hands. I would acid also, borrowing from an article in The Times newspaper recently, that another thing immediately to be done is to see that British firms in South Africa have a creditable record in their conditions of employment.

I make now—I do not want to take too long— one final point. One of the things we have learned in the course of the history of the Brandt Report is that the Government of the Soviet Union, when invited to interest itself in the problem of world poverty, deliberately stood aloof on the highly questionable historical grounds that the world poverty had been created by us and it was our business to put it right. I need not develop the theme. Historically, that is a piece of nonsense. There are plenty of faults you can find in the way European countries have treated Africa, but it is simply not true that the poverty of the world is in the main a result of Western imperialism. There are many other criticisms one can make, but that one is not valid, and it does not get you anywhere to pretend that it is.

What is disquieting about the Soviet Government's aloofness is that it may mean that they are hoping that nothing will come of this; that the world will move nearer and nearer towards explosion, and that things will move, as a result, nearer to the way in which they believe they are bound to move. It is that, I think, that it is our business to disprove. Mention of the Soviet Union reminds me that there is another large field of foreign policy which I am not attempting at all to cover in this debate; what is commonly called East/West relations, defence, and détente. I do not think one can include all that and what I have already endeavoured to cover in one debate. But I ought at least to say that if we are to play any considerable part in the solving of world poverty, or indeed in any venture for the good of mankind, we have to remain an independent, self-confident country. We have to be able to defend ourselves.

We have, as I have so often—I am afraid to the point of weariness—said in your Lordships' House, to maintain the double policy of seeing that our defences are adequate and that we lose no opportunity for conciliation. We have been told recently—I think Chancellor Schmidt reported this—that the Russian Government, apparently changing its previous attitude, is now prepared to negotiate on weapons without requiring as a precondition that we should not deploy theatre nuclear weapons. If that is so, that is certainly an opportunity to be seized with both hands. There are some who will fear that there is an element of insincerity in the offer, but if there is, that has to be proved; not taken for granted at the outset.

If, as I hope, the rich countries of the world, what we commonly call the West, can play a proper part in combating world poverty, if this country, in accordance with its power, can play a distinguished part in that venture while at the same time we are maintaining our defences, we shall not only be defending our freedoms; we shall be helping to create for mankind as a whole something that is worth defending. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, I shall not pretend that I do not find this rather a puzzling and difficult Motion to answer. It is, if the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, will forgive me for saying so, rather a hotchpotch. I am a little uncertain on what basis he has picked the plums out of the pie and why he has decided to put some on your Lordships' plate and to discard others. But no one could pretend, or would seek to pretend, that the subjects which he has selected are other than of immense importance among the pattern of events which are taking place in an increasingly troubled world. I know that all your Lordships will have been both interested and impressed by what the noble Lord has said. He speaks from a great deal of experience. I shall do my best, at not too great length, to discuss the separate issues which make up this Motion.

The past year has seen increased tension and instability in the Middle East. There have been the invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution, the hostage issue, inter-Arab disputes of various kinds, and the continuing failure to resolve the Arab-Israel dispute. All these things have created deep unease in the area and in the world as a whole. These crises are—not everybody sees it—closely interrelated, and yet they are not all of equal significance in their impact on the region. For example, the matter of the American hostages in Iran is a terrible and protracted ordeal for those involved and for their families. It is a source of immense concern not only to the United States but to the vast majority of the world community who care about the most fundamental principles of international law and human rights. But it is clear that it reflects a far wider problem in that unhappy country. It is a symptom, and not a cause.

What, then, are the underlying sources of instability? It would be pointless in these remarks to attempt a full answer to that question, but I would briefly identify four dominating factors. The first is the Arab-Israel dispute, which continues to cast its very long shadow over the region. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, was a little critical of Government policy, but I found to my surprise, when he started off by being so critical, that I agreed with almost everything that he said. I hope that he will agree with everything that I am now going to say. It would be naive to suppose that a settlement would immediately resolve the many complex problems of the area or, indeed, is immediately very likely. But I would say that progress towards one is essential if we are to tackle the other sources of tension in the Middle East. The only beneficiaries of the present dispute are extremists of all camps who wish to exploit it for their own ends.

This is why the Nine have agreed to explore with all the parties concerned steps which could be taken to bring closer a comprehensive settlement. The European Council Statement issued in Venice on 13th June expressed the Nine's view that such a settlement must take into account Israel's right to a secure existence as well as the legitimate political rights of the Palestinian people. The Venice Statement is in line with the policy of successive British Governments in its commitment to a just and lasting solution and to even-handed treatment of the rights and claims of the two principal sides to the dispute. The Statement has attracted some criticism from both sides. But I remain convinced that it is, in President Sadat's words—the noble Lord seemed to imply that the Egyptian Government was critical—balanced and constructive. The next stage, on which I hope a start will be made very soon, is to examine with all the parties concerned the practical progress which we can make.

The Statement has been criticised mostly for its reference to the PLO. The Nine have said that the PLO will have to be associated with the negotiations. That does not constitute official recognition of the PLO. Rather it reflects the Nine's belief that the PLO enjoys considerable Palestinian support, both in the occupied territories and elsewhere, and cannot be left out of account if a lasting peace settlement is to he negotiated. The noble Lord repeated a remark that I had made about terrorists. In one respect he was wrong. During the three and a half months of the Lancaster House Conference none of the parties concerned had given up the use of force as a means of getting a solution and a settlement.

We do not—let me make it abundantly plain—condone unacceptable PLO policies and actions. The European Statement makes clear that the PLO must fully accept the principles of a negotiated settlement, including Israel's right to exist. Let there be no doubt about that. We emphatically reject aims such as those recently expressed by Al Fatah at their fourth congress in Damascus. Their reiteration is an obstacle to peace and we call on the PLO to disassociate itself decisively from them.

But Israel, too, must modify some of its statements and actions. It cannot be repeated too often that, as the noble Lord said, the continuing expansion of settlements in the occupied territories makes the achievement of peace much more difficult. Our fundamental commitment to Israel does not and cannot extend to her actions as an occupying power. I continue to hope that wisdom will prevail over this damaging policy. Flexibility and goodwill are needed in place of dogma and rhetoric. There is plenty of room for gestures which, without prejudicing negotiating positions, would help to build the necessary confidence for the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians which must eventually take place.

None of us is labouring under the illusion that Europe is capable of producing a settlement on its own. Full United States involvement is vital to the chances of peace. Co-operation, not competition, is uppermost in our minds and, I believe, in the minds of the United States Administration. We have welcomed the achievements of Camp David and continue to wish the process well. The initiative by the Nine is complementary to that process. In this new phase we must use our influence to persuade both sides to drop the word "never" from their vocabularies. There will be no settlement overnight, but if progress has to he made by the inch rather than the mile, then so be it and let us do it that way.

A second major source of tension in the region is, of course, the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. That is recognised not only in the West but by the international community as a whole. I am afraid that my views on that subject are very well known and I will not expand on them this afternoon except to say that I am encouraged by recent developments. The Afghans have shown that they will not abandon the struggle for their freedom; nor will the sovereign countries of the world abandon them to Soviet tutelage.

The third underlying problem is less tangible. The Moslem states, and particularly the oil producers around the Gulf, have seen a social and economic revolution during the past generation which is, I think, unique in human history. This has imposed immense strains on the social and political fabric of these countries. The problem is not only one of preserving traditional values amidst so much change, but of sharing the benefits of development. It mirrors—and indeed it is an essential part of—the much wider problem of distribution of world resources which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, spent a great deal of his speech talking about and which we debated recently in this House in the context of the Brandt Commission Report.

Finally, I would note one particular aspect of this vast problem which must, I think, be considered a separate cause of unrest. I mean the increase in the cost of oil, which is also included in the Motion before us. This is, pre-eminently, a major cause, not a symptom, of international tension, instability and distress. Since 1978 the price of oil has risen by 140 per cent. This is causing a net transfer of income from oil consuming countries to the oil producers of something like 135 billion dollars this year and 100 billion dollars next year, and the year after, if things stay as they are. The current account deficit of non-oil developing countries will probably reach 55 billion dollars in 1980, even on the assumption that they cut the growth of their imports to a minimal level. And the developed nations face a balance of payments deficit of at least 80 billion dollars.

It is difficult to exaggerate the implications of those massive figures. The shock to the world economy is of similar magnitude to that of 1973–74, from which I do not think the world has yet fully recovered. The consequences for both the developed and developing countries of the present rise in oil prices will there- fore be even more severe. In addition to huge balance of payments deficits, the developed countries face average rates of inflation nearly double those of 1978; and rapidly rising levels of unemployment.

The meeting of the Economic Summit countries in Venice last month was very conscious of the seriousness of those problems. We agreed that the recent increase in oil prices had virtually destroyed the prospects for growth in some developing countries and we expressed the hope that the consequences of these actions would be accepted by the major oil producers. The latest increases have also clearly lessened the ability of the developed countries to help.

The immediate issue is the question implied in the Motion: What can be done to mitigate the grave effects of these oil price increases on the developing countries? We must start by recognising that all countries, developed and developing, must adjust to the new and higher prices of oil. There is no escape from that. For our part, we are making major efforts to reduce oil consumption in the developed countries and to promote substitution. The outcome of the recent IEA ministerial meetings and of the Venice Economic Summit are clear evidence of that commitment. But we obviously recognise that the problem is even more difficult for the developing countries. They cannot afford their oil imports, yet they cannot manage without them.

They need our help, above all, in the search for new energy sources. Here the Government fully support the efforts of the World Bank to step up its work. Indeed, the House will recall that the Summit leaders called on the World Bank to examine the possibility of a new affiliate or facility for this purpose. We ourselves are active in the energy sector under our aid programme. To give two short examples: we have a research programme for new and renewable sources of energy particularly adapted to the needs of village communities; and we are supporting the development of the coal sector in India. In addition, we look to the private sector to accelerate its exploration and development of energy in the third world. Here the developing countries have a very important role to play, because it is for them to create the right climate for private investment in the energy sector, as indeed in other fields.

But the processes of adjustment obviously need time. The deficits of the developing countries are bound to increase in the interim. We must therefore take action to assist them by recycling the enormous surpluses of the oil producers. Some countries, of course, will be able to attract the necessary finance. It is not always appreciated, for example, that over 60 per cent. of all the third world debt is owed by only 10 developing countries. For most of these and for the countries of the North, we believe that the private banking sector should play the principal role, as it did in 1974 to 1976. But there are several countries which will not have sufficient access to the market. For them, the lending programmes of the international financial institutions will be crucial, and here the Government are playing their part in discussions under way in the IMF and the World Bank.

First, we are actively pursuing the implementation of IMF quota increases. This in itself will increase the resources available to fund members. The draft of the order authorising payment of the British share was introducee in another place on 4th July. Secondly, we are advocating that larger sums of money in relation to quota should be made available to developing countries, the purpose being to give greater help to countries in need and to encourage them to approach the Fund before their economies deteriorate too far. Thirdly, we are supporting the search for ways of increasing the sums available for lending to developing countries at rates of interest below those of the market; and finally, as regards the World Bank, we have supported the general capital increase and the sixth replenishment of the International Development Association. Parliament has already approved our contribution to this replenishment and we shall be urging other donor countries to give their full support. We have also supported the bank's new policy for lending to developing countries for structural adjustment. That is quite a considerable list and is certainly firm evidence of the active and positive role which we are playing, and continue to play, in seeking solutions.

But I would just add this for those who press for still more action, and this is an important point: the figures are absolutely enormous. This year it will cost the oil importing developing countries 35 billion dollars more to import the same amount of oil as they did in 1978. By comparison, total western aid to developing cpuntries amounted to 22 billion dollars in 1979. You can see, my Lords, how far short that total aid is of the increase necessary for the developing countries merely to maintain their oil imports. Indeed, I have already observed that the developed countries will themselves have a very large collective deficit, perhaps as high as 80 billion dollars, for some years to come. As the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, said—and I agree wholeheartedly with him—it is inevitable that we should look to those who are accumulating enormous surpluses to make a major contribution to mitigating the effects of oil price increases on developing countries. And yet OPEC aid to the developing countries is now below the level it was in 1975.

That is a particularly telling statistic at a time when several African countries, as the noble Lord said, notably in Eastern Africa, are facing famine. This is, properly, a source of deep concern to everyone, and many people in this country have written in great distress to their Members of Parliament or to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The trouble is that reliable statistics are very hard to come by in such circumstances, and particularly in this case when a great many of those concerned are nomadic people. It is, however, generally accepted that there are well over half a million refugees in the Sudan, mostly from Ethiopia but some from Uganda, Zaire and Chad; and that there are over a million refugees or displaced people in Somalia, a poor and underdeveloped country with a population of less than 4 million. Several estimates have put those at risk from malnutrition and disease, which follows in its wake, at perhaps as many as 8 million, and some estimates go even higher. Here again we have problems of massive proportions, and all the countries of the developed world must respond. Immediate relief is needed—and much has already been provided—to keep people alive. But the famine is really a tragic sympton of much deeper problems.

Though the present drought is a major cause of the shortage of basic foodstuffs, and obviously of water, the armed conflict and lawlessness in various parts of the region have greatly worsened the situation, particularly by swelling the number of refugees.

We are doing what we can. In all, we are contributing about £7 million through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees; through a direct pledge to the Government of Sudan; through the Disasters Emergency Committee's Appeal for East Africa; through our contribution to the various European Community programmes; and in support of the various British voluntary organisations, to whom millions of pounds have also been donated by ordinary Britons. It is not an easy or pleasant task to quantify human misery and it is difficult ever to feel satisfied that enough is done quickly. We are conscious of the criticism that while money has been pledged, essential goods do not get through. At the moment we are simply trying to accelerate the supply, but you know, my Lords, it is easy to call for air lifts and that kind of thing to meet emergencies. It is much more difficult to decide to spend on the air transport of one ton of grain a sum which might buy five, 10 or even 20 further tons. We shall go on looking to see what more we can do. But again I note—and I come back to it--that the major oil-exporting countries will have a current account surplus of 130 billion dollars in 1980. They surely must have an important part to play.

The Motion also makes reference to the instability of South Africa. I shall ask my noble friend Lord Trefgarne if he will deal with this topic at greater length than I would propose to do after what I am afraid has been rather a long speech. I would just say this: there have been those in the last few months who have been very optimistic about Zimbabwe. More recently there are those who are increasingly pessimistic. The reality surely is that, after the trauma of the war and the settlement, it was inevitable that Zimbabwe would face difficulties. It was inevitable that the economic condition of the country would, after the damage of the last few years, be in need of help and revival. It is, if I may say so, very disappointing to see how little aid has been pledged from our friends and allies for the rebuilding of that country. I hope that our partners in the Western world will be as generous as they can. What we must do is to support Mr. Mugabe and help and encourage him in every way that we can in the moderate and sensible policies that he is pursuing. Do not let us be either over-optimistic or over-despondent, but rather let us respond with our help and advice.

In Namibia, too, where, with the other four western Governments, we play a part in seeking a solution, we must understand both the hesitations of the South African Government and the natural impatience of the Front Line States and SWAPO. The United Nations' plan for supervised elections, accepted by both parties, must, and will be, implemented, and the remaining difficulties must be cleared away.

As for South Africa itself, the Government and all of us in this House are on record as condemning the system of apartheid and the repressive measures used to enforce it. There are some who say that we should use the threat, or actual imposition, of sanctions to further reform in that country. I suspect that sanctions would have precisely the opposite effect. Certainly they would be immensely damaging to South Africa's neighbours, and, as Mr. Mugabe said the other day, oil sanctions would be far more damaging to the surrounding countries than to South Africa itself.

I believe, too, that many South Africans would conclude that the imposition of sanctions meant that their only recourse was to abandon the present programme of reform, and to dig in for a seige against both internal and external pressures. That would be a tragedy for Africa and for the world.

There are no simple answers to any of the questions raised in the Motion before us. It is very easy to be concerned, and I accept that there is a good deal of quite genuine concern. It is easy to say that not enough is being done. It is very easy to be indignant. It is much more difficult however, to frame effective and mutually consistent policies to cope with these interrelated problems.

In the last resort we cannot act effectively by ourselves. We must join with our partners, and with the whole international community. It is surely clear beyond doubt that we are all mutually dependent: the poor countries; the oil producers; the newly-industrialised countries; the developed countries, West and East. It really is one world, and only together have we the means to make it a peaceful and prosperous one.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, the Motion put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, raises a very large number of tremendous issues, many of which have been dealt with magisterially by both the noble Lord and the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. I wish to associate myself and my party with what the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, said about apartheid, and, so far as I understood it, I do not think that it conflicted in any way with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, also said on that matter. May I also say that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, that the West is not entirely responsible for the poverty that now exists in the world. I should further like to associate myself, broadly speaking, with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a brilliant speech, said about the effect of oil, and indeed about the latest position in regard to the Palestine issue.

However, having said that, I must add that I find it a little difficult—I think the Foreign Secretary did, too—to discover any evident connecting link between the various points advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart. The unfortunate fact is, of course, that the so-called third world is in turmoil owing largely—as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, emphasized—to the tremendous and increasing cost of oil, which in its turn might, I suppose, be modified in the event of a settlement of the Israeli/Arab conflict. These human troubles, bad as they are, have undoubtedly been magnified enormously by what might be called an act of God; namely, consistent drought in the Sahelian, that is to say, the Sub-Saharan, region, which presumably was not the fault of the inhabitants—unless the substantial felling of the rain forests further south may have encouraged, if not actually induced, the general process of African desertification. To that extent the doom, long predicted by ecologists as the inevitable result of over-population, may after all be happening before our eyes.

But out of this sad welter of events I propose to dwell on two aspects only; I could not possibly refer to all the problems involved. One aspect is general, the other specific, and on both I should greatly welcome some indication of governmental thinking. My general point concerns the Brandt Report. There is, I fear, every indication that the Governments of the industrialised countries (that is, roughly speaking, members of OECD) will not agree, or at any rate not agree in time—owing, frankly, to the attitude of the OPEC countries in demanding this enormous price for their oil—to any of the major proposals made by Brandt and his colleagues, such as the recycling of petro-dollars resulting from a "Summit" of Leaders drawn from OPEC, OECD, and the Third world, admirable though this would be if it could be arranged; and vastly increased food aid, in the context of an enormous transfer of resources, to say nothing of a radical reform of the whole financial and trading structure of the international community.

I do not say that it is their fault, but the industrialised nations will be forced to all seeming to take a few half measures in the hope that somehow or other the present world recession, like all its predecessors, will eventually solve itself, world trade after recovery being conducted on much the same old lines, with the less developed nations firmly attached to a slightly less dirty end of the stick. I do not want to be pessimistic, but I think that that is quite likely.

Whether, as seems probable, this enforced policy, or non-policy, will result in a widespread repudiation of debts, with a consequent breakdown of the entire trading system, is anybody's guess, though the danger is obvious. Maybe the EEC, together with the countries of the LoméConvention—which, after all, with the Commonwealth, constitute well over half of the total membership of the United Nations—will be able to make a start in devising some new system of international trading. Let us hope so. Otherwise, the future is pretty dismal to contemplate. And it is clear, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, that the Soviet Union will know only too well how to exploit it.

But, to my mind, the ultimate solution does not lie uniquely in the great major remedies sought by Brandt, necessary though these may be. All of them, modified though they may have to be, including some sort of amalgamation of UNCTAD and GATT, are no doubt desirable if disaster is to be avoided. But, granted this, it probably remains true that the whole Brandt philosophy is a western one conceived in the context of secular western thinking. As we all know, western society began to impose itself on the outside world after the Renaissance; and, to begin with, this expansion often took the form of a desire to propagate Christian truths and to convert the pagan and the heathen. But later, more especially after the Industrial Revolution, it was under the banner of progress and of science that the West succeeded, for a time, in dominating the world. The resulting empires and protectorates were chiefly founded on what one might call the new magic of technology. Even the great empire of China largely fell under its sway. Only Japan held out and then only by completely adopting the new western philosophy.

Quite soon however the subject peoples for the most part learned the secret of the new magic and demanded independence which eventually they got. And when they did get it their one ambition was, and is, to adopt Western ways, and thus, one day, become as rich as their mentors. "Science" therefore became their guide, and "progress their prevailing philosophy, the old beliefs regarded as old-fashioned and anti-modern being largely abandoned. In spite of the Ayatollah—who appears to be fighting a losing battle—this is the state of mind of most of the so-called third world—that is to say, those states which are still a process of industrialisation—the so-called developing states.

Unfortunately, it is at this very moment that certain doubts have arisen in the fully industrialised states themselves about the very concept of "progress". Are we really wise to put all our faith in high-rise blocks and concrete jungles? Must everybody have two cars to rush about on motorways across a largely ruined countryside? Must we really be consuming twice as much energy as we now consume in another ten years' time? Should not industry be largely decentralised? Would it not be better to have more people on the land rather than lumped together in vast conurbations? Can we really contemplate the eventual construction of habitable satellites or the colonisation of the Moon? Or are these just the silly dreams of people who have lost the art of living happily together on the only earth which we are in practice ever likely to have? In short is not science "the last western illusion and incidentally one deeply hostile to nature? Is not indefinite "progress"—ever better, ever upward—a fundamentally false idea?

I do not say that these heresies, and of course they are heresies, are necessarily acceptable. They surely are not acceptable to most of your Lordships. All I do say is that they exist and that they are becoming increasingly popular. There can be little doubt that the supreme achievement of western science—namely, nuclear energy, including the nuclear bomb—has given rise to this kind of deep questioning, not only in the western world but in some of the lands of the older civilisations as well. Of course, these countries still tend to think in terms of the application of western technology for the solution of their appalling difficulties, and in a general way it must, as I have said, be true that the Brandt Report points to the best way of achieving their end. But it is also surely true that their salvation does not lie in the creation of huge industrial areas with accompanying shanty-towns and that it would be far more profitable if, for the most part, third world countries planned still to keep the bulk of their teeming populations on the land—as in China--though at the same time making rural life more tolerable and even more tolerable and even more pleasant by adopting various western techniques to this end.

I know very well that for us to give this advice to the developing nations would simply invite the retort that, having got rich ourselves, we are now inviting them to be second-class citizens in order to perpetuate our economic dominance—in other words, the old cry of "neo-imperialism" would be raised. But it would no doubt be raised anyhow unless we accept all the third world's demands for a new system, many of the results of which must be unacceptable to us, however conscious we may be of the necessity of change. So in the event of continuing negotiations, in UNCTAD or wherever, I suggest that it might still be possible to make our aid to some extent dependent on its being used for labour-intensive projects designed primarily to keep the people on the land rather than transferring them to industrial slums. That is my first reflection.

I turn to my specific proposal. There is soon to be a meeting of Commonwealth education ministers in Colombo, and my information is that one of the subjects to be discussed will be the recent staggering increases in the fees payable by Commonwealth students in British universities, polytechnics and other seats of higher learning, which, whatever the Government may say, is going to hit some of our Commonwealth colleagues very hard indeed. It is no exaggeration to say that this act on the part of the Government has given rise to great anxiety, more especially in the poorer Commonwealth countries, but also in such places as Malaysia, which has always looked to this country for intellectual support. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say that this sudden and arbitary move, taken without the slightest consultation with any of those involved, may seriously weaken the whole concept of Commonwealth solidarity. This is particularly so in present conditions in the world.

To avoid this disaster the suggestion may well be made that there should be some conference comprising the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth countries involved at which ways and means of tempering this heavy blow may be found. For instance, the whole concept of "aid" might be re-examined in this context, involving the approval of many more state-aided scholarships: there could also perhaps be agreement on a system of special students' visas for which a reasonable sum might he charged. There are, in addition, many new and original ideas for some measure of reciprocity.

But the immediate suggestion that I have to make is a simple one. The fee charged to Commonwealth students is not exclusively a matter for the Secretary of State for Education and Science. Since the whole question of Commonwealth unity is involved, it must also clearly be a matter of prime concern to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Is it not, therefore, desirable that a high-ranking representative of that department—preferably a junior Minister—should also take part in the discussions with the power to speak for a Foreign Secretary who, after all, saved the Commonwealth at the momentous conference at Lusaka? And is this not even more desirable since the point may also be raised that the privileges granted to students from the EEC countries should be extended to signatories of the second LoméConvention?

My Lords, I sincerely hope that the Government, who have so far been so adamant in their refusal to face the grave political consequences of their determination to achieve a largely illusory saving of a few million pounds, will take this new opportunity of examining with our Commonwealth friends how best remedial measures could still be taken in the general interest. I make that suggestion and I hope that noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, or the noble Lord who is to respond to the debate, will agree in principle with what I have said.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, I have already made my apologies to my noble friend Lord Stewart; I now make them to the House, for my inability to remain here until the end of the debate as, unfortunately, I have a meeting at which I must be by 6.15 this evening. I have, as I think we all must have, enormous sympathy for the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in his present job as Foreign and Commonweath Secretary. It is a job of enormous importance and very great complexity; and, compared with the job of some of his predecessors, such as Lord Palmerston, it is an infinitely more difficult, if not a more important task that he has to do.

After all, in the days of Lord Palmerston the job of a Foreign Secretary in formulating our foreign policy was a relatively simple one. It was based on self-interest, the interest of this country and of the British Empire; it was backed by force—a very large amount of force: the greatest Navy in the world and a small but highly efficient Army—and it was integrated with a policy of alliances and understandings with a small number of great Powers, all of whom spoke, in metropolitan terms, the same language and all of whom had the same objectives for their own countries at heart.

In those days, and for many decades after that, we had our gunboats and their equivalent at our disposal, and wherever disturbances arose we could quell them and wherever British interests were threatened we could come to their rescue. Suez brought an end to all that. We attempted to do that there, in company with the French, and it became very clear that the situation was no longer what it had been in the middle of the 19th century. But it was not only for us that this had come to an end. It had come to an end for the French, as Suez, as Algeria and as South-East Asia made clear to them; and we see that it has come to an end also for the United States. They cannot even release hostages held by another country—a relatively powerful one, but no power compared with that of the United States, and a country which itself is in complete chaos and turmoil.

In other words, what we need now for our foreign policy is something very different from what was needed 100 years ago or even 50 years ago. It is no longer simply a matter of armaments, of manpower in our armed forces and of hardware: it is a matter of the goodwill of the rest of the world, of an understanding by other countries of what we are aiming at and of sympathy by them for our objectives. We have to take account of all those things. Put another way, what we have to do now, as well as being well prepared militarily, is to win over the hearts and minds of all the rest of the people in the world, or as many as we can reach—and, of course, there are vast areas where we cannot reach them—and not simply to rely on our military might.

That puts our whole foreign policy, coupled with our defence policy, in an entirely different prospective; and I cannot help feeling that we would get very different answers from those that we are getting at the present time if we were to do what even in Government circles is now done at times, and that is to call in an efficiency expert. Let me put this hypothetically, my Lords. Suppose we were able to acquire the services of an entirely unbiased, clear-minded efficiency expert who came to us from Mars or from some remote planet, and suppose we told him what our objectives were and said to him, "What we want in our foreign policy is, above all, that world peace should be preserved; secondly, that our own national interests should be promoted; thirdly, that what one can call the western way of life, the western ideals and civilisation, should be extended as widely as possible throughout the world; and, fourthly, that the lot of those now living in poverty, to whom my noble friend Lord Stewart has so rightly and so movingly referred, should be improved". Of course, some might say that that should go at the head of the list, and I think they might well be right if they were to say that; but I am putting this on purely practical lines, to appeal to the hard-headed rather than the generous-hearted.

Now suppose we were to say to this efficiency expert from Mars, "At the moment, in order to achieve these objectives, we are spending so many thousand million on armaments in one form another; we are spending so many hundreds of millions on aid in one form or another; we are having a certain number of students come to this country; we are encouraging trade in certain ways, through our trade missions; and we are spending so much on the BBC and on the British Council. Have we got the mix right? Is the amount we are spending on armaments in the right proportion to the amount we are spending on the British Council, on overseas aid, or not?"

I would doubt very much whether he would say to us, "You have got it absolutely right; no change is needed". I believe he would say, "If only in the interests of your own national security, while it would be nice if you could maintain your present expenditure on armaments it is absolutely essential that you spend more on these other aspects of the whole foreign policy; and if you tell me, as an efficiency expert, that there is no more money available, then you must divert some of your money which is going into nuclear submarines, aircraft or whatever it may be, and channel it into this other aspect of defence, the fight for the hearts and minds of people; in other words, into aid in its widest sense".

Now if your Lordships have followed me so far—and I hope most of your Lordships have—let us now look at this in relation to that particular area to which my noble friend referred—Southern Africa as a whole. That is, from the point of view of our own national security, a vital area. All the countries there are of importance to us. The complex of those countries is of vital importance to us if we are to preserve our western civilisation, our own well being. Coupled with that, in that area (and, of course, further North) there are areas where some of the most appalling hardships are being experienced at the present time.

The crucial country in Southern Africa, of course, is South Africa itself. I agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said about South Africa, but I wish he had gone further and said a little more. He condemned, as we all do, the policy of apartheid. It cannot be said too often; it cannot be said sufficiently publicly, especially by senior members of Her Majesty's Government. I hoped that he could tell us that at the same time as making such public pronouncements, there were frank but confidential talks going on between Her Majesty's representative in South Africa and the South African Government, pointing out in very blunt terms how we feel about it and what the implications for the western world are of a pursuance of the particular policy that they are still following.

I should like to see a personal meeting between the noble Lord himself and his opposite number in Pretoria, at which the noble Lord would speak with his well-known forcefulness and explain this point. That, I believe, would be of enormous help in this very important, indeed, vital, matter. This is a minor point but it indicates to many of us what we fear to be the Government's pussyfooting in this matter; that is, the question of the publication of the wages paid by British firms in South Africa. I do not believe that the present Government are any less anxious than the last Government to see that all employees of whatever colour in South Africa are paid proper wages. They have the information. The previous Government published it; let it be published now as an indication of the line that this Government are taking.

I would also urge upon the Government to do all they can to discourage further investment by the West as a whole in the industries of South Africa. I know that that is a very controversial matter but it is one of the few weapons that we have with which to influence the policy of the South African Government. The fact that South African businessmen are a very influential body in that country and find it hard to get investment to develop their enormous potential urges them to bring pressure upon their own Government. If it is known that by altering their policy of apartheid they will encourage more investment in their country, I myself believe that this will have more effect than any other action that can be taken by the West in bringing to an end a policy which in itself is abhorrent and inhuman and which also carries very grave dangers for the whole of Western civilisation.

My Lords, let me turn finally and briefly to Zimbabwe. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, described the situation there with, if I may say so, complete accuracy and balance. It has been a remarkable achievement to have got so far. The present and future are fraught with danger, the inevitable danger arising out of seven years of internal war, of tribal factions, of inefficiency, of the difficulty of building up new industries and maintaining those that already exist and, above all, of agricultural production. There is the very great problem of meeting the expectations of the Africans themselves who have now gained power for the first time in their history and whose expectations are high. If those expectations are not met, the disillusionment will be on a scale that can only cause the collapse of the present Government and bring about further chaos in that country which has already suffered far too much over the past 12 or 15 years.

Aid to Zimbabwe must therefore come very high on our list of priorities. As the noble Lord said, aid is required in two forms: technical aid and money. Technical aid we have offered—possibly not in sufficient quantity. There is a limit to the amount that can be absorbed, that is true. Money we have offered—not in adequate quantities. The sum of £75 million, spread over five years, sounds a lot; but compared with their need—and £600 million has been the figure quoted for land reform alone—it is a drop in the bucket. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has said that more money is needed. He did not deny that more money was needed but he hoped that it would come from elsewhere; not from our pockets, but from other people's.

Of course, it is more comfortable for us if the money needed in Zimbabwe comes from people other than ourselves. Of course, it is just and fair that rich nations like the United States, like Japan, like Germany and like France should all contribute; but, whether it is fair or not, we cannot escape the fact that the obligation rests upon us in this country. If we cannot persuade the other countries to put up the necessary amount it must come from our own resources. It is a moral obligation, an historical obligation and it is an obligation forced on us by prudence and by common sense if we are to preserve in this rich heartland of Africa a stable and friendly government and a prosperous and progressive society. Even if it meant the postponement of a certain amount of what is technically called defence spending, even if it meant the postponement of the purchase of some of the weapons of war, from the purely practical point of view of the defence of this country and of the Western world it would be money well spent. Another £100 million or £200 million spread over three to four years is a lot of money but it is very small as a percentage of our defence budget.

I urge upon the Government that they should not shelter behind the refusal of other countries to give the money needed to Zimbabwe but that, if it is not forthcoming from other sources, we should be there and say to Mr. Mugabe and his colleagues: "We are behind you. Proceed with your plans!"—plans for building schools which are so much needed, plans for health centres and clinics in the rural areas, plans, above all, for land reform and for compensation to those few people (there are not very many) who may have some land taken from them. Money is required to pay for the houses, the roads, the equipment that will be needed in order to ensure that land, as it is distributed to the Africans themselves, becomes productive and becomes productive quickly. Money is required for the purchase of seed, of fertilizers—quickly revolving money, but it must be there now.

The urgency of this is something which cannot be over-emphasised. Whether we do it on moral grounds, on grounds of humanity to prevent starvation and to give a better life to millions of people, on grounds of self interest or of protecting our own way of life in the long run, does not matter so long as the resources are made available. That is the overriding urgency that we have to face at the present time and the longer we put it off the greater will be the risk that Zimbabwe, instead of being the prosperous, friendly and happy country that we all want it to be, will relapse into something of the kind that we saw many years ago in the Congo but on an even worse scale.

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, we have been privileged this afternoon to listen to some outstanding speeches. I know that none of the other speakers will be in the slightest degree offended if I say there were outstanding, statesmanlike speeches from my noble friend Lord Stewart and from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary. I rise to address some remarks in regard to one aspect of the debate that we are having this afternoon, and that is in the area of the Middle East.

Let me say at once to anyone in this House who is not aware of it that I am a proud son of an ancient race which I hope has contributed not a little to civilisation and certainly not a little to the spiritual inspiration of the world. Having said that, and therefore disclosed a very direct interest in at least one part of the Middle East, in the sense that no Jew worthy of the name has anything else but a feeling of spiritual affinity with that place, let me say that I am going to try to be as objective as I can be, and your Lordships will judge whether I have succeeded in my aim.

I wanted to try to introduce, if I could, just a sense into your Lordships' House of a feeling in the country of Israel at this moment that there is a lack of understanding of Israel's position. There is a reference to intransigence and there is a reference so often to oppressive conduct. That does not mean that there are not many in Israel who do not question some of the actions of their Government. They are extremely vocal in their objec- tion to some of those policies. Israel, of course, is a democracy, the only country in that area that can proudly boast that name. If I can give a quick example, an up-to-date one, there are many of us who doubt the wisdom of some of the actions that are taking place on the West Bank and in Gaza. That has been frankly said by many people in many places who are otherwise, as I have said, very much loyal to the State of Israel and what it stands for.

Having said that, may I tell your Lordships what has been happening over the past few days so that again the atmosphere is correctly translated into your Lordships' Chamber. I read from The Times of 7th July: One of the most controversial cases to come before the Israeli Supreme Court began today with the hearing of the appeal against deportation being made by two Palestinian mayors and a West Bank religious leader who were flown to Lebanon last May. In a series of sharp exchanges between the panel of judges and lawyers representing the Government, the latter were asked whether the military authorities knew that the three leaders had the right to appeal to the Supreme Court before explusion and why they had not been allowed to do so". I now quote from one of the learned judges who presided over that court: 'The court would have met even in the middle of the night had it been necessary ', Mr. Justice Haim Cohen said. He rejected the prosecutor's reply that ' Those who plot the destruction of Israel must not hide behind judicial procedure'". Happy is the man who has such judges, and proud can be the state where the judiciary is so independent.

I quote now from the next issue of The Times dated 8th July. This was in connection with a matter that arose in regard to the takeover of an Arab firm. The Israeli courts issued an order nisi giving Israel officers 45 days to show why the decision should not be annulled. This is only to tell you why it is that so many in Israel wonder why so much that is worthy in their country in regard to their just treatment of all their subjects, be they minorities or not, and all people in the occupied territories, has not got a balance about it.

I move quickly to the question of intransigence. I visit Israel very frequently and I have yet to meet one single Israeli who does not pray every day for peace. I have yet to meet a family which has not suffered either a wounded son or father, or a lost son or father—soldiers who have fallen in three wars, in 1948, 1965, and 1973. It is even common sense, if I can put it along those lines. There are over a million Arabs on the West Bank. Their birth rate is far in excess--and so may they peacefully multiply—of the Israeli birth rate. How can any sensible person in Israel not think of a future which is impossible unless there is a proper solution to the West Bank problem? The percentage of the Arab population to the Israeli population, as long as the West Bank is occupied, makes it—

The Earl of ONSLOW

Is this not a most appallingly racist argument, my Lords? We have got a million Arabs; their birth rate is higher and therefore there must be a solution for the Jews—this strikes me as an argument which is totally akin to Afrikaner domination of the Zulus, the Xhosas and the coloureds in the Cape Province.


My Lords, I am so grateful to the noble Earl for intervening because he shows, if I may say so, an extremism that I am trying awfully hard to avoid, be it on the Arab or the Israeli side. Nothing I have said could have suggested in the slightest degree anything other than the fact that obviously there must be autonomy and self-government for an Arab minority which has so high a population in its own area and wants to pursue a culture of its own in precisely the same way as the Africans do in South Africa, but unfortunately they are prevented from doing it.

The Earl of ONSLOW

Separate development, my Lords.


My Lords, if the noble Lord talks in terms of separate development, I invite him to live in South Africa and not in this free country.

What I was saying was this. Quite apart from the question of population, Israel's defence budget is something which is ruining its economy. Israel's possibility of friendly, commercial, industrial relationships, scientific exchanges with the Arab world, is an essential part of any statesman's view of Israel's future.

So peace is essential. It has been said—and people have accused Israel of this—"Why don't you make more sacrifices for the peace which you say you want?" I will be the last person not to pay a tribute, which I think history will pay, to President Sadat of Egypt, one of the world's great statesmen and, I say, one of the world's most courageous leaders. I have not the slightest doubt about saying that.

There equally has to be a little bit of a tribute, whether one agrees with all his policies or not, to a Prime Minister of Israel who met President Sadat, who embraced President Sadat and who—following upon a promise merely of peace —gave up immediately at Camp David (if you talk in historical terms it is almost immediately) the whole of Sinai, including oil wells, when Israel has no oil supply at all. It is then said: "Israel, you are intransigent; give up some more. Deal, please, with the question of a new Palestinian state and talk about it, and talk about it immediately." If only this were something that was starting afresh! If only this was something without the history of a Munich, a different kind of Munich.

In this House we have talked about whether athletes ought to go to the Olympics because their going there might give some amount of prestige to the Soviet Union. I happen to be one of those who think they should not go; but one of the difficulties Israel has as regards sending a team to the Olympics is that their athletes were wiped out at Munich by terrorism. Their villages have had women and children killed. All that has to he forgiven and forgotten, I know, in the general aspect of history, but it is so easy, from a Foreign Office seat or even from the comfort of your Lordships' Chamber, to say: "It will tidy up the map. Please let there be a twenty-second Palestinian state in addition to the 21 Arab states that already exist, even though the twenty-second one has sworn to annihilate the one Jewish state."

I could quote from the Damascus statement of only a couple of weeks ago, which was in pretty dreadful terms, giving up nothing in regard to the idea of the destruction of Israel—but, my Lords, that is not my effort. My effort is obviously, as with so many people of goodwill who love the state of Israel and wish it well, that there should be statesmanship and there should be sacrifice, again, for the sake of peace, provided that they are not asked to commit national suicide.

Therefore, the Government have to go and I say this most humbly—with the greatest of care before they take their part in discussions which might seem to give recognition (although they use the word "association") to those who have made it their aim to destroy this little state. If the Government succeed in getting a statement that these PLO representatives will sit down and talk on the basis of recognition beforehand that Israel has a right to live within secure boundaries, then I think we would all find that, though it may take a little time, there would be a readiness to answer and, eventually, pray Heaven! a readiness to shake the hand that once was that of a murderer.

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, my intervention will be brief, but it is a fact that this debate offers an opportunity to refer to three countries, the second of which was the subject of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, who has just sat down. I admire the eloquence with which he put forward that case, and in the few words which I shall subsequently add to the second item I fear I cannot approach the eloquence we have just heard.

When I saw on the Order Paper the Motion we are discussing, I thought, "Here will be an opportunity to intervene quite briefly and express the appreciation I feel to the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, for the lead which he has given. "We all remember the decorous way in which he discharged the responsibility of Secretary of State in another place and we expected there would be an interesting speech from him today. That speech generated a brilliant review and statement of policy, tempered and firm, by my noble friend the Secretary of State.

I should like to refer first to the Republic of South Africa. I do so because it is naturally the subject of very frequent denigration: indeed, it is curious the extent to which the reviling of South Africa is a common practice. The policy of separate development—I prefer the English translation—is what generates this dislike. One often hears—and even a past eminent Prime Minister who sits in this House in opening his remarks on the Republic of South Africa would say—"Of course we abhor separate development, but …"and then proceed with less critical words. But it has seemed to me, listening for a long time to speeches in this House, even from normally well-disposed people, that anywhere in public there is always a bitter criticism of separate development. It seems to be that the way in which it is said suggests that there must be immediate change to black rule. That has always seemed to me to be the deduction from the manner in which the criticism is being made.

Just recently I remember a conversation with a certain reverend Prelate who is free in his condemnation of the Republic of South Africa, and I put to him the direct question: "But do you actually mean you want to see black rule tomorrow? Do you want to see the highly complex industrial development of South Africa transferred into black hands in the way that authority has been transferred in so many other parts of what were previously British possessions, suddenly, by the gift of independence, by revolution or by dictatorship?" I cannot believe that, in their hearts, they believe there must be an instant change which would produce chaos. It is impossible to contemplate that in the Republic of South Africa you could have a change immediately into black hands and still operate that complex economy.

I welcomed what was said by the noble Lord the Secretary of State; that is, that, as regards the state of Israel, there must be a gradual change, little by little, towards the attitudes that we want. I believe that all fair-minded people who are familiar with South Africa will admit that there is a ferment of marked change which is taking place all the time. This is visible in so many ways but, as the noble Lord the Secretary of State said, the change can be only little by little. But the whole structure of the country is so complicated and, surely, they cannot be expected to go as fast as some people want. Those who recommend drastic measures against South Africa are suggesting something which could only be counter-productive.

Here I must refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Walston, with whose contributions on so many subjects I usually find myself in strong agreement. But, today, I heard a speech from him by which I was very much astonished. First, he criticised the different wage rates of blacks and whites in South Africa. I cannot think that he has familiarised himself with the changes that have been taking place recently, and the tremendous adherence of British firms which have interests in South Africa to implementing the code which has been put forward. Great progress has been made and the percentage of increase in the last five years for blacks and whites is markedly different from what it was, and has naturally been in favour of the blacks.

May I ask the noble Lord to bear in mind that there must be other countries where the wage rates vary between different peoples much more than they do in South Africa. Why is Russia not mentioned? Why is there always this criticism of the difference in wage rates in South Africa? The noble Lord will bear in mind that several industries in this country are being put under great pressure by imports from other countries, because the wage rates in those countries are so low, but we do not do anything about that.

The noble Lord also urged disinvestment, just as the Church has done in its ignorance of conditions in South Africa. Surely, if we want to assist the nonwhites in the Republic of South Africa, the first thing to do is to inject capital and find employment for the blacks. That is the greatest blessing you can bring to the blacks. May I ask another suggestion? We have recently been discussing the Employment Bill, with its reference to trade unions. May I throw out the suggestion that the trade union movement here should use its influence to encourage missions to South Africa from British trade unions, and to get in touch with Mr. Grobbelar, the head of TUCSA. They will find a moderate and far-seeing man, and I am sure that it would benefit the trade union movement here a good deal if they saw what is the attitude of mind of trade unionists in South Africa.

I want to refer for one minute to South-West Africa. I can only say that I was very glad to hear from the noble Lord the Secretary of State that the British Government are hoping for progress in that area, as in other areas. But the United Nations, of which we form one unit, is supporting, as the sole representative of the people of South West Africa, SWAPO—the Russian-controlled African party. The head of that movement prefers violence to peaceful settlement.

I make this appeal with regard to the Republic of South Africa. Surely, this constant denigration is not helpful. Change is taking place. It is surely the strongest bastion against Russian pressure in the southern part of Africa. We have frequently heard it said that opposition to Russian pressure, not only in the African continent but elsewhere, is of prior importance. Surely, we do not want to see the collapse of the South African Republic, in which we have so many large interests and from whose trade we draw such benefits. That trade has contributed to the evolution of the African, but the noble Lord, Lord Walston, suggests that South Africa should be penalised by the withdrawal of existing investments.

I turn to Israel. I do not need to say much about the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, whom I am following, but I am anxious that the British Government should recognise that Israel must live within safe frontiers. I know Israel fairly well and admire it tremendously. I admire the efforts which the people have made agriculturally, industrially and technically, and of course I admire their history. My first interest in the country was when I was there with a cavalry regiment. After the battle of Gaza, we went 400 miles to Aleppo, living on the country, and we got a good deal of milk and honey from parts of Israel. My point about Israel is that there should be recognition of the right to live, and to live within safe frontiers. To restore the area within 14 miles of Tel Aviv just does not bear any consideration.

The third country to which I want to refer has already been mentioned today by the Secretary of State. His was an eloquent and humane assessment of Somalia, where there are a million refugees out of a population of 4 million. The misery which that must produce should be understood by us all. The Somalis have not asked for British arms assistance, but they have asked for assistance in terms of materials and money.

May I repeat what I have said before? that the figure of £850,000 which has been granted out of the £220 million that we subscribe in a year to foreign aid might well be increased. My concluding words are an appeal for compassion on this subject and a larger contribution to alleviate the misery that exists.

5.1. p.m.


My Lords, I feel under a sense of compulsion to start by thanking the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary for the last words which he spoke before he sat down. It is a fundamental truth of vital interest to every citizen of every nation in the world that they share one world. The nations of north and south and east and west share one world which they can preserve, develop and beautify by common global action or which they can destroy in enmity by the devilish machinery of war which they have devised.

I add that I believe they can preserve and develop their world only by carrying out the policy adopted in the Final Document of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1978—what I could call the policy of the late Lord Selwyn-Lloyd, a policy to which 149 Governments committed themselves in 1978: that of general world disarmament and the reallocation of the resources so released to the ending of world poverty and the promotion of social justice in every country, including our own. I reiterate what I have said before: that I believe the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, with the immense prestige which he now has in the councils of mankind, could play a leading part for Britain by laying before the Special Session of 1982 the draft treaty of world disarmament which must be drawn up by then.

Having said that, and having appealed to the Foreign Secretary to recognise and carry out what I believe to be his historic mission in the annals of this nation and of mankind, I want to deal only with one question which has been raised in the debate. It was referred to briefly by my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham, by the Foreign Secretary and, more amply in his admirable speech, by my noble friend Lord Mishcon: it is the question of relations between the Palestinians and Israel and the problem of the West Bank.

In 1919, after the First World War, I had the privilege of being a temporary official at the Peace Conference in Paris. I was the head of the section dealing with the League of Nations under the great Lord Robert Cecil, Viscount Cecil of Chelwood. I had a colleague in the delegation who had been a close friend at Cambridge, Eric Forbes-Adam, who was in charge of drafting the Palestine mandate with the help of the eminent Dr. Weizmann. The Palestine mandate was to be exercised by Britain under the authority and the supervision of the League of Nations. It was therefore necessary that Forbes-Adam and I should consult together almost every day, and almost every day I said to him, "I don't believe it can be done. I don't believe you can bring great numbers of people into a country where a population already holds the whole of the land, which they have had for centuries under their government and control, and that you can have peace". At last Forbes-Adam grew weary of my constant refrain and said, "Look, book a date for lunch on Friday week and don't let us talk about this again until then".

On Friday week he mobilised at lunch himself and me, Lawrence of Arabia and the Emir Feisal, later King Feisal, the leader of the Arabs at the Peace Conference. At the beginning of the meal, the Emir Feisal, translated by Lawrence, explained to me why the Arabs were in favour of the Balfour Declaration, why they wanted a national home for Jews in Palestine. He said, "The Jews and Arabs, racially, are cousins. There is no reason why they should not easily agree. When the mandate is carried out we know that the Jews will bring to Palestine the greatest scientists and the greatest technologists in the world. They will bring vast sums of capital. They will turn the deserts of Israel into flourishing agricultural land. They will make Palestine blossom like the rose. Then we, who have made deserts of our countries, will borrow the experts and the techniques which the Jews have brought and we, too, with their help will make our countries blossom."

I had the unique experience of being converted to Zionism by Lawrence of Arabia and the Emir Feisal and I remained thereafter a dedicated Zionist. For years in another place I was regularly briefed by the Zionist movement. Before the war I was speaking for the Labour Opposition in Palestine debates, always in support of the Zionist movement. I have remained a passionate admirer of the Jewish people, the most gifted of all the people in the world. I have always had the closest friendships with Jewish colleagues. I mention only the great Ludwig Raschman of Poland, the true creator of the World Health Organisation and of that fabulously successful United Nations agency, UNICEF, the children's fund.

But I have had an uneasy feeling for some years that the armed forces of Israel and perhaps the Israeli bureaucracy and some Israeli statement have felt that the long future of Israel can best be maintained by military power. They recall the three victorious wars. They have won by superior armament and by greater military skill, but in the last the scene began a little to change. When the Egyptian army crossed the Suez Canal and won a great initial victory they were showing what the future might bring forth. As my noble friend Lord Mishcon has said, the Israelis are inevitably outnumbered by many times in military manpower. What maximum population can Israel ever hope to have? Ten million? I doubt it. But the Arabs may soon be 100 million. They will certainly be good soldiers and if Israel relies on its nuclear weapons I would venture the assertion that if they have nuclear weapons the Arabs will quite certainly get them too and that one five megaton H-bomb would exterminate the state of Israel and the Israeli people.

The great Sadat, as my noble friend Lord Mishcon has said, made a supreme effort to achieve the true co-operation between Jews and Arabs of which the Emir Feisal spoke so long ago. I believe Sadat's speech in the Knesset was the greatest speech I ever heard. I think it was the most daring and the most enlightened act of statesmanship I have ever heard. Thanks to President Carter it has led to the signing of a treaty of peace but there is a risk that that treaty may be sterilised by the problem of a national home for the Palestinians—a national home of the kind that Zionists have claimed for so many centuries for themselves. Of course as my noble friend Lord Stewart said, the PLO must give guarantees that it accepts, recognises and will treat with friendship the State of Israel, but I believe it is also necessary that the policy of increasing Jewish settlements on the West Bank, of keeping Jewish forces there, must be abandoned if true peace is to come.

As my noble friend Lord Mishcon said, the cost to the Israeli people of relying on military power has become literally immense and is growing. In 1975 at current prices and in local currency the armed forces of Israel cost approximately £22,000 million. In 1979 the figure had risen to £86,000 million. It had multiplied by four. Of course there was a great element of inflation in that figure but the inflation is itself a mortal danger to the economy of Israel. And what is the inflation? In 1975 the price index was 100; in 1978 it had become 266. That is an increase of 250 per cent., or rather more, in three years. That is economic disaster and of course the diversion of scientific and technological skill from civil to military work has degraded the efficiency of Israeli industry as it has done the industry of the United States of America and of Britain and it has degraded the quality of their products.

My Lords, it is not too late. To rely on military power, in my belief, is to sign the death warrant of the State of Israel but if true friendship can be made between the Palestinians, whose record has been so lamentable, and the Israeli nation, then there is great hope for the Middle East and for the world. Let us recognise that the Middle East wars have cost the world a great deal, too. A recent report of a congressional committee in the United States Congress said that the wars in the Middle East in recent years had cost the United States between 55 billion and 70 billion dollars—thousand million dollars—apart from the increase in inflation and other troubles which the disturbance in the Middle East had caused.

In the interests of the world, in the interests of the whole Middle East, in the interests of Israel, it is vital that this problem of the West Bank should be rightly solved and I hope the Israeli Government and the Israeli people will remember a wise dictum of the greatest of all Jewish intellectuals, Albert Einstein: Peace cannot be preserved by armed force; it can only be won by understanding".

5.19 p.m.


My Lords, I am very happy indeed to follow my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker. He has saved me going into some of the points that he himself has raised and I entirely agree with him with regard to how the State of Israel came into being. My own federation—the Zionist Federation (and I have belonged to an organisation relating to Zionism for 70 years) has invariably passed resolutions which have proffered friendship to the Arab world. I could point to innumerable resolutions of that kind. And the Arabs to whom the noble Lord has referred really saw what was the right attitude to adopt towards this glorious state of Israel, which has proved to be a jewel in the crown of the world.

Do not let us misunderstand where Israel stands. Israel is a country which has shown by its own efforts that it must fight one great foe that is the enemy of mankind, the erosion of the land. I think it is timely that, when we discuss these matters, we keep in mind, and try to point out to the enemies of Israel what an advantage it would be to them if they would follow what Israel desires and has constantly desired throughout the whole of its existence—peace. Israel has never started a war. Israel has had to defend itself. Brave men of Israel would, within a matter of days or a matter of hours, go from their desks at the universities, fly in order to protect their homeland, and go back to their desks in the universities to study. They are a devoted people who believe in what we see every day if we care to look in the Moses Room—the principles of justice and law which the Patriarch Moses, my old ancestor of whom I am extremely proud, produced for the benefit of the world.

My Lords, this is not a light matter, for Israel alone, not at all. Israel is a cultured nation. Israel is a nation which has done its utmost to help with world problems and is doing so today, in its universities, in its technological colleges and in its general activities. It has no animus against Arabs. I have been to Israel a large number of times. I have never yet heard in the whole of my experience a single Israeli talking badly about his Arab neighbours. I am talking of neighbours in the state of Israel. Arabs have never been better off, whether it be in Israel itself or in the so-called occupied territories, than they are now in consequence of the fact that Israel has given them opportunities which they had never had before. Of course, a lot of them were kept in ignorance of what was actually happening. They were used as pawns; the refugees were used as pawns, they who had been enticed to leave Israel. I have seen the document which our British representative approved for the policy of allowing Israel Jews and Arabs to live so that they would not harm the Arabs in any way; the Haifa community, the Haifa municipality was carried on peacefully by Jew and Arab alike for many years. The Arabs were asked to stay behind when Israel was attacked: they would not be interfered with at all. But the forces of, in my view, evil induced them to leave that country.

My Lords, some people think I speak emotionally. Of course I do, as I am sure my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker would speak, with the vast experience he has had of what has been going on. Not everybody agrees with everything we do. Not everybody agrees with everything the Israelis do. Rut they are a democratic country, and consequently if they come to a conclusion I am not too sure that we as a democratic country have a right to interfere with their decisions, except to give them advice.

May I for a moment try to tell your Lordships why I am disturbed and why my friends—vast numbers of people who have the highest respect for democratic rule and for democratic understanding—are disturbed? We are upset because the force of evil which exists at the present time, the PLO, is being induced to believe whatever horrifying acts they may do against Israel they are going to be brought into negotiations. How can you expect Israel to accept the kind of thing that is being said?

May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who is a very capable and very much admired man, that I cannot understand, and large numbers of people cannot understand, how at the Venice meeting the PLO were referred to in the way they were? It is all very well saying, "If they agree to recognise Israel". They do not agree, and they have indicated that in the clearest terms you can possibly have. I hope your Lordships will excuse me because I feel very deeply about this matter, and I think we are going the wrong way for our own country and for Europe. We are opening a door for enemies of our country and of European countries which may, I am afraid, result ultimately in having possibly—I will say probably, though I hope not—a further pro-USSR state in the Middle East. I thought it might be a good idea if for a few minutes we asked noble Lords who have spoken before, and particularly the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, how he could possibly relate what was decided at Venice to the horrific document that was issued by the PLO—not only the PLO, but Al Fatah—only a matter of a few weeks before. Do we really think that the PLO are going to change their minds so rapidly'? Do we really think that will happen in the near future or the distant future? The PLO is intimately connected with the USSR. Let me put this to some of our noble friends here who are calling for higher sums to be provided for defence. We have only to read some of the documentation that is available to see that the PLO is not only connected with, but trained by, the USSR. It is given arms by the USSR and by other East European countries which we are afraid might cause a war.

Why not be frank with each other? Do we need another state in the Middle East to help these people or are we not doing our best to be in a position to oppose such attacks? I do not want to take up too much time, but we have only to read the Al Fatah document produced in Damascus to find the answer. In that document they said categorically that the alliance with the USSR is of high importance and that Israel must be destroyed culturally. I repeat, "Israel must be destroyed culturally"—have your Lordships ever heard such impertinence, let alone such an attack? Israel—the country which produced and which has through the centuries maintained monotheism. Israel—where the Maccabees saved Jerusalem from the idolaters for the benefit of all the monotheistic religions of the world. What are they talking about?

Your Lordships may think—and you are right—that I am subjective. Of course, I am subjective, but I have lived through the history of this situation in the same way as my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker. I know that the understanding Arabs were prepared to be helpful. I know that what has happened recently is one of the greatest achievements that could possibly have occurred in the Middle East. But your Lordships should read the Al Fatah message—away with the Camp David Agreement! That was issued only a few weeks before the Europeans met; so the document was before them. How could we meet a situation like that?

I suggest that first we should try to show the world what Israel has done in the course of its activities before Palestine. Incidentally, it was not a Palestinian state—not at all. It was part of a Syrian state but it was under Turkish rule. During the First World War such men as Ben Gurion, who later became the Prime Minister of Israel, and other prime ministers actually took part on the side of the allies. Indeed, Lloyd George paid a tribute to one of my predecessors occupying the office which I have the honour to hold, by saying that one of the main factors, if not the factor, as regards the establishment of the Jewish national home was what Chaim Weizmann did in order to help the allies to win the war by his chemical discovery.

The PLO is out to destroy Israel. They wrote a letter in Venezuela and gave an interview which they denied later. However, Arafat did not deny that what he said in that interview meant that he accepted the state of Israel—oh, no! They have sent emissaries to Europe to throw dust in the eyes of the Europeans to make them believe that they are moderates. When they returned to the Middle East—and I can give chapter and verse for this—they denied what they had sail to the European countries by saying that they had been misrepresented and that they did not include Arafat in their views. That, in my opinion, is the situation.

I have said that I am subjective. Of course, I am subjective. I have been there and I have seen it. Indeed, I was there a fortnight ago. I went down to the Negev. After the tremendous sacrifice that Israel has made in respect of the Sinai it will have to find billions of dollars to pull itself out of a situation which it has created as regards security. Indeed, as has already been said, even the oil wells have been given up. Of course they want peace. No one in Israel will talk of anything other than the desire for peace. They have already sacrificed a tremendous amount. They believe in the Camp David Agreement, which has been violated in many instances, but not by them. They have stuck to the Camp David Agreement and to Resolution 242.

I have pushed to one side much that has already been said by my noble friend Lord Mischon and others. I do not propose to deal further with the actual notes and passages to which I have referred. However, any noble Lord who wishes to see the actual articles in the Daily Telegraph and the documents which have been issued by the PLO and by Al Fatah needs only ask me for copies. They and their fellow criminals plan to kill children. They come by stealth specifically to kill children. Their brutal and horrific plans are being put into effect. They shoot children in the head and go to a settlement in order to take babies hostage. They are inhuman, barbaric and act contrary to all accepted principles of any nature at all. Before we settle down to accept and acknowledge them, I hope that the noble Lord and his colleagues will consider the matter very carefully. Even if they say that they will accept them—which they do in Europe now, but which they deny when they get back—they must make sure that they really mean it.

Israel has had very bad experiences as regards help. Who has come to her help in the various wars in which she has been involved?—nobody at all except the Americans in the 1973 war when they flew their planes which were refused landing in European countries. I hope that my remarks will be regarded in the way which I intend them to be. I hope that what I have said will mean that we shall reconsider what happened at the recent conference and that we shall try to explain to Europe the dangers that they face if in the Middle East there is a state controlled by the USSR.

Let us remember that half the Arabs now support Israel. The state of Egypt contains half the Arabs. The state of Jordan, which is a real Palestinian state, has some 70 to 80 per cent. of the Palestinians within its borders. Why not let us try to make Jordan a Palestinian state, and so have one state instead of two? Let us have a state which is not determined to kill Hussein but to follow the example of those Arabs who, throughout the world, were considering the position of the Jewish national home at the time when my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker and I were having these experiences.

5.41 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, for initiating this debate and to say that I found myself very substantially in agreement with all that he said. However, I would agree with my noble friend Lord Carrington that his Motion is very widely cast and, therefore, I propose to confine myself to issues of the Middle East. My interest in the Middle Eastern and Israeli problems stems from my championship of human rights. Last January I was, indeed, privileged to pay my first ever visit, with a party of Members of Parliament, to Israel. We were privileged to meet the Prime Minister and four other Ministers, but I do not want to deal with what they then told us because that has been very adequately covered by others who have already spoken and who have a more intimate knowledge of Israeli foreign policy.

I want to speak about what I saw and assessed with my own eyes. I was impressed by the very real and sincere admiration of the Prime Minister and all Ministers for the courageous action of President Sadat. After years of war and bitter and vehement opposition to the state of Israel they were extremely generous, before many witnesses, in their tributes to his statesmanship and his foresight in trying to bring about a settlement in the Middle East, and, above all, provide a bulwark for those who believed in demo- cracy and in progress towards democracy for those who do not have it.

One must remember that this was before the Shah of Iran was deposed; it was before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. I join with those whom I met in Israel in saluting both these very courageous men—the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Israel—for making history in trying to bring about a settlement. I regret that although, backed by the United States and supported by the United Kingdom—it was damned with faint praise in France and, in fact, some of their leaders said that it was doomed to failure—it received a very lukewarm reception from the European Commission. To me it was a fantastic breakthrough for which any person who genuinely wished to see peace in the world should have used all their efforts to support and encourage. Instead it appears to me that people have been too lukewarm and all they have done is to encourage those who want Camp David to fail.

The President of Egypt has been ostracised by the Arab League; it has moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Indeed, at our recent meeting in the Duchy of Luxembourg some 10 days ago, which Arab League representatives attended, members of the European Commission and I believe some United Kingdom delegates heard complaints against Israel and President Sadat. They were emphatically complaining, saying: How dare Great Britain negotiate with the Gulf States en bloc. We have long associations and still have outstanding treaties with the Gulf States. Are we really to be dictated to that we may negotiate with them individually or, rather, is it that those who do not want to sec peace in the world know that many of those very small Gulf States probably believe that strength lies in unity and in their long and valuable associations with the United Kingdom and other western powers? The Gulf States know that it is in their interests and in the interests of peace to be joining together, especially with the Russians in Afghanistan breathing down their necks and being too near for safety. But that does not suit the Iraqis or the PLO.

I am a very great admirer of my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and I do not think that I have ever even slightly queried his judgment, but I should be less than honest if I did not say that I think we are making too much of the PLO—perhaps the press are to blame. I was very grateful for a sentence in his speech this afternoon in which he emphasised that there are other groups involved. But, in the publicity about the Geneva arrangement, all we hear is the progress of the PLO negotiations. We do not hear—and nor are they much named—about the other groups which must be considered. We all know that the PLO has been Soviet-backed and some of its members are Soviet trained and armed. We all know that the PLO has given support to the IRA, and we all know that it has never rescinded its goal to destroy the state of Israel — not one word has it said. Only last June it came out with fresh resolutions that the state of Israel must be destroyed. What suddenly makes these boasting terrorists, who glory in their acts of terrorism, respectable? Let us negotiate with Egypt, with the other oil states and with the Gulf States, but let them be named more often in the negotiations than the PLO.

Indeed, one of the issues also raised at Luxembourg was that of the pressure by the Iraqis and, to an extent, the Jordanians, that above all else—and apparently they put this higher than the issue of the West Bank—the holy city of Jerusalem must be Arab dominated. If there is one city with multi-religious affiliations, it is Jerusalem. It is the holy city for the Jews; it is a holy city for the Christians and the Moslems. Its future must transcend national politics and prejudices. We must be assured that in one city rival and diverse religions, which have more links between one and the other than they will admit, can work, worship and survive in their own way, but side by side. It was significant too at the Luxembourg conference that the one thing never mentioned was the Lebanon; the PLO powder keg.

I hope that my Jewish friends will not take it amiss if I say that they are not renowned for hiding their light under a bushel, but if there is one issue on which they have fallen down it is on letting the world know what they have done for the Arabs in the occupied territories, which I tell you frankly I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes. In Judaea and Samaria, every report one can read from whatever source, spoke of the abject poverty of the Arabs in those territories; in barren territory from which they endeavoured to scratch and scrape a living with poor stock. People living in stark poverty with virtually no educational services, no welfare services, and certainly no viable economy.

Anybody can check it for themselves. A quarter of a million Arab children are now receiving regular education, universal education, financed by the Israeli Government. Can that be a bad thing? Everywhere one goes one sees acres and acres of tiny trees which are six years old and can have been planted only since the Israelis occupied the territory. It is the same in the southern area, the Gaza Strip and the Negev. You see wonderful orchards, avocado farms, much better stock, even fish farms which could only have been instituted and built up in the last 10 years. Those farms are Arab farms. They are Arab occupied. The stock, the knowhow, the ability to turn sand and bouldered land into flourishing territory that will sustain a population, and the genius that the Israelis undoubtedly have for land reclamation, have been used in this occupied territory.

We left behind our Israeli guides and went to one of the community centres, welfare centres and clinics run by Arabs in the occupied territory. The biggest regret and moan of their Arab leader was that they were not able to have similar clinics in dozens of villages in the area because the PLO would not tolerate it, and would destroy them. I think it is fair to record what has been done. When indeed there was a civil war on the eastern side it was Israeli doctors, Israeli ambulances, which came and rescued christian Arabs to bring them out for medical attention and care.

When we are considering the future of this territory, may I, without presumption, say that I am delighted to see the two right reverend Prelates, and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and indeed we have listened to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, all of them famous humanitarians, because I have had some considerable experience of refugees. I was privileged to move, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, the resolution at the United Nations in 1958 which initiated World Refugee Year, and which was followed by a quite brilliant campaign by my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood, who broke all records by raising £8¼ million.

I was at the UN not only when we took the resolution through but again when we had to interpret our words and votes into priv2tical aid. I was authorised by Her Majesty's Government to start with an initial contribution from Her Majesty's Government and announce it. No communist country turned up. A few of the Arabs did, to see what we were going to say. With all their then oil revenues we were offered a few tons of food by, I think, two countries.

I think we should study what Arab does to Arab—their own race. Forty-odd nations have taken in aliens into their midst with the various unhappy exoduses of refugees that we have seen: Germans, Polish, Hungarians, Vietnamese, Chinese, and now Cambodians, and indeed the Egyptian expellees who came to this country. So I do not think it is a bad thing to look at how these people treat their own.

At a recent conference in the Gulf area the Minister for Overseas Development, Mr. Neil Marten, said: The most likely area of assistance must be the long-term settlement of refugees". I had long conversations with the late Mr. Carver, who was then Dr. Lindt's opposite number in charge of UNRWA in the Arab countries and who was tragically killed in a car accident. He said, "They do not want them to go. They do not want to clear the camps. We do everything we can. "I am convinced that in World Refugee Year and the two ensuing years we could have cleared every Arab camp if we had had support from the Arab nations. One day's oil revenues would have done it.

I was determined on this trip to see the much publicised UN camp in the Gaza Strip, and I went. It was an experience I shall never forget as long as I live. We drove along the causeway between the beautiful Mediterranean and the magnificent beach, with a camp the other side. The first thing I spotted, cheek by jowl, were many dozen fishing trawlers. As your Lordships know, I have an interest in the fishing industry. I have been a director of a fishing harbour for 18 years. Therefore, I cast an eye over the trawlers. Quite out of the blue I said to the UN guide associated with the camp, Do the refugees get employment as fishermen? "He looked at me as though I were a raving idiot. He said, Employment as fishermen? They own over 80 per cent. of those trawlers. "That was a start.

We then got to the camp and it looked squalid and horrible, because there between these little square hutments which each family is given was an open gulley for sanitation. But 200 yards away from the camp boundary is the proud, wealthy city of Gaza, an Arab city, and there are more Mercedes in that city to the acre than I have ever seen in any city in the world, including Bonn.

The UN and the state of Israel would pay to have piped water put on. They would pay to have electricity connected, and for 30 years the Arabs have denied piped water and electricity. To me that is the greatest inhumanity of the lot to their own race and their own people, and something of which they should be ashamed.

We were there just as the school was turning out. It was a delightful new school, financed and aided by the Israeli Government. There was a new clinic provided by the Israeli Government. Pouring out of school were these fine, lively, boisterous children who crowded round us. Certainly I pay a profound tribute to the United Nations Organisation —they were healthy, they were fit, they had bright eyes, and, I will be honest, they were unexpectedly, extraordinarily well dressed. I could not see a patched pair of jeans or a torn sweater, and I pay my full tribute to the magnificent work of the UNRWA organisation, in which T have always had great confidence. I had many times seen it at work in Europe but I had not seen UNRWA's work there before.

Then we said, "Where are all the working-age men? "There were a few old gentlemen and a lot of mothers and children. We were told that they were all working in Gaza. The city of Gaza is prepared to employ them, but if with the income they raise they wish to move into the city they are not allowed to do so; they are second-rate citizens. What happens if they inter-marry with a citizen of Gaza? There are cases where the husband has to live in the camp because he is not allowed to live in the city. He cannot vote. Let us be practical about this. If one could live in the camp, where one gets the monthly allowance, and one could then work outside; if one could live in a camp where one knows one's children are going to get a good education and good health services under the wide umbrella and the efficiency of UNRWA, one is not going to take them to live in Gaza, even if allowed to. There one pays for schooling, and one's daughters probably will not be able to go to school because they do not have quite the universal education upon which Israeli has insisted, and, indeed, the UNRWA camps always did before the territory was occupied.

It made the most profound impression on me, not least that every one of these little chalet blocks had a television aerial; the televisions are run off generators or batteries. Every one had its television aerial and at least a quarter of them had the latest small, standard, solar sun system, which I understand costs £300 and which the UN authorities assured me they did not pay for; the individuals paid for them themselves. If that is how they will treat their own race how are the PLO going to treat the thousands of Christian Arabs who are only surviving under Major Haddad for the food and supplies they get from Israel? Will they be wiped out in a great holy war? Will the daughters, as they are now, be allowed to be educated, or shall we see a return to mediaeval Islamic faith such as we are seeing in Iran with the women being forced back into the veil and being stoned to death if they are prostitutes? I believe we shall.

I make no excuse for speaking as I have, because, as I said, it was a subject in which I had a great interest and I demanded to go to sec the camp because I wanted to see what had happened. So much could be done; so easily could that camp be cleared. Three-quarters of the camp are employed and could pay their own way if they were allowed to have a bungalow, a little dwelling, outside. All along the roads round that strip there are farms; there are trucks trundling to Tel Aviv across the border with cheerful Arabs, with wonderful crops of fruit, flowers and vegetables going to Israel to be sold, being flown from Tel Aviv to the South of France and to other European countries. They have enhanced the status and the economic standard of living of those people. It is something for which, I believe, they should be given credit. They have provided a better standard for those who, however one may regard it, are under their domination and within the occupied territories. They have given them a standard of life they had never seen.

I would end with one comment. I spoke to an Arab lady in one of the little shops. It was 4 o'clock. Her two little daughters had come in and were beside her. I said, trying to be tactful without asking a probing question, "How do you get on here? "She looked me straight in the eye and said, "I do not want it to change. You see, my daughters are being educated".

6.6 p.m.


My Lords, I promise to be brief. I have got only a few comments to make on what has been an outstanding debate from all parts of the House. We cannot be grateful enough to my noble friend Lord Stewart for his absolutely outstanding speech, and to the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, for his outstanding speech. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, described the Motion as a hotch-potch and it really is a hotch-potch. This subject deserves more than one debate; it deserves half a dozen; it deserves debate after debate.

I agree with everything that my noble friend Lord Stewart said, and also with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, except that I would like to chide him on one small point. I agree with him about the PLO, the two rights that we have to consider—those of the Israelis and the PLO. But he left out one very important thing. He left out what is in the covenant of the PLO, which has as its intent the destruction of the state of Israel. There are very few people who are familiar with the covenant. Ordinary people have not read it; they have not got it; the' have not had it. But the destruction of the state of Israel is there in the covenant. I was in the General Assembly of the United Nations when Yassir Arafat made his very dramatic debut in the General Assembly. I did not hear him there because I could not bring myself to go to hear him; I must be frank. But I heard the interview he had on New York television, when he was asked, "Are you intent on the destruction of the state of Israel?". His reply rang out strong and clear: "This is the first step". I am sure most noble Lords have not heard that remark and do not know about it. How could they? But this is one of the greatest stumbling blocks—although of course it is not the only stumbling block—to real peace in the Middle East.

We have had some very good speeches; they have all been very interesting. I will take the first three and give them top marks. I am referring to the speeches of my noble friend Lord Stewart and those of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. But I do not think that Lord Gladwyn's ideas are going to be accepted by the Third World. In fact, I know that they will not be accepted. A conference on population which I attended in 1974 absolutely rejected the idea that we put forward for them. They want to be as rich as we are; they want the know-how; they want the technology; they want all the things we have here; and it is no good pretending that we can say, "Why don't they go back to the land and become an agricultural country? "They will not do that.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness whether she thinks the example of China is something to be considered? They are more numerous than the whole third world, about which she is talking, and I should have thought they were pursuing a very effective policy of keeping their millions on the land, and she seems to believe in it.


Believe me, my Lords, at this conference they rejected even the idea of family planning and birth control. I do not mean they rejected it utterly; they put it very low down on the list. However, I wish to return very briefly to the one point I have raised about the PLO, which I consider to be extremely important; namely, the fact that they are intent on the destruction of Israel. If we do not take that fact into consideration, I do not think we will ever get peace in the Middle East. As I said, that was the one point which was not made in the way I should have liked by the Foreign Secretary and I felt I had to tell noble Lords about my experience at the United Nations.

6.12 p.m.


My Lords, I too at first sight of the Motion on the Order Paper shared with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, a sense hotch-potch, but after listening to the admirable speech of my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham, I saw that there was a connecting link between the various items he had selected for especial attention and that there were underlying problems which were by no means of a hotch-potch nature. One of them which seems to me to be relevant, but which hitherto has not been adumbrated, is that there is an almost apocalyptic element in the problems suggested by and specified in the three or more parts of the Motion.

Hitherto the Christian Church had a monopoly in the apocalyptic business for long enough. There have been clerics who have proclaimed the imminent end of the world, and for various reasons known to the Almighty and sometimes shared by his prophets, that end was proximate and a terminal condition was to be expected. But after repeated reprieves, the edge of expectation has now been somewhat blunted and I think I can give noble Lords a reasonable assurance that the Summer Recess is pretty safe. However, it is an interesting and to me profoundly important contribution that hope I can make, however imperfectly I make it, when I say that instead of an ecclesiastical or, shall we say?, theological apocalyptic concept, from the secular world in which we live, many of the elements of apocalypse are now appearing in a formidable and very dangerous form. Two of them seem to lie behind the problems ventilated this afternoon. One is the problem of mass violence and the other of poverty, and first let us deal with the problem of poverty.

I was listening last night to Gerald Durrell discoursing on threatened species. Are we quite sure that the human species is not threatened? Is its habitat not in considerable danger? And are we not embarking upon programmes which may well erode the living substance of the world in which we live to such an extent that it will be irremediable? I have no wish to curdle anybody's blood or to be melodramatic about it, but people with much wiser concepts than my own seem to share the view that we are confronted at least with a possibly terminal condition. If that is so, then we are in a revolutionary and unprecedented condition. Is it surprising that we are not able to find conventional or hitherto applicable suggestions and plans for a remedy of what is unknown and has been unknown hitherto?

In the sphere of violence, this particular question of the imminence of a terminal condition is by no means out of order in this sort of debate. I remember the way in which the late Lord Snow, whose death we lament, almost frightened me to death by the certainty he had that sooner or later, with the proliferation of arms, one of them of a deadly and perhaps terminal nature would go off by mistake if it did not go off by intent. The ratio and probability of such events increases with the proliferation of armaments, and they are deadly enough in the world now with 10 times overkill.

I take two others at random. Arthur Koestler will be regarded by some of you as a polymath and by others as perhaps a man educated rather above his intelligence, but I think you differ from him with considerable difficulty. He is fairly certain that there is an irremediable quality or disqualification in human beings of violence and that that violence will bring an end to the human species unless we do something drastic about it, in the same way as we got rid of the sabre toothed tiger and the mammoth. I heard Doris Lessing the other day—and she is no insignificant figure—more or less voicing the same fear. If that is so, then to call attention to it may be ineffective unless we know what to do about it. I do not think that the hitherto acceptable remedies are likely to meet this emergency. At the same time, I am concerned to repudiate the idea that we can do nothing about it except supinely wait for the end; that is theologically impossible for me and I am sure it would be quite out of context with what has been said this afternoon. But do noble Lords remember Mark Twain's comment that everybody talked about the weather but nobody did anything about it?

What do we do in the circumstances, which are unprecedented and which I think have an apocalyptic nature? For the problems that are presented by poverty, by world refugees, by the acrimonious differences between communities in the Middle East, I seek to propound no simple answer. I share with the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, a sense of difficulty, a sense almost of repudiation of anything that appeared to be a cheap or simple answer. But I am convinced that a reduction in the capacity and intention to use violence would pave the way for answers which would then appear, though they do not appear at the moment. I would therefore seek to introduce into this debate the question of disarmament.

There are those who, like myself, are pacificist and unilateralist. Most of your Lordships, l am sure, would agree in principle to a multilateral form of disarmament. However, there must be a unilateral element in any multilateral disarmament programme. Unless initiatives are taken, you cannot believe in spontaneous combustion as a way by which the nations of the earth will repudiate the arms to which they are committed. What would more easily and simply make possible new adventures in peace-making—after we have heard over the last four speeches of the enormous difficulties that confront those who would seek peace in the Middle East—and what would more conduce to some kind of improved situation in which new emergencies of opportunity rather than of danger would appear? I believe in taking the initiative in advocating, even short of total disarmament, measures of collaboration and intentions to keep talking, and what better opportunity now serves than that which is presented by the USSR?

I would interpolate here that I have a rooted objection, and I hope your Lordships have, to the nomination of your enemy, for the immediate result is that you heap upon him all the iniquities that are present in a situation, and, in the process, tend to whitewash yourself. I do not believe in the good intentions of those who invaded Afghanistan. I abominate them. Then I am equally critical of many of the more surreptitious but equally dangerous interventions of the United States. I repudiate those as well. I am in no mood to say that one country is right and another is wrong, and I remember dear old Eisenhower once saying, "What a wonderful world it would be if only the Russians would behave themselves". I have nothing to do with that kind of nonsense; it is not that kind of world at all.

It is a world in which you can take your choice: you can say you will accept, even on evidence which does not seem conclusive, the bona fides of your so-called enemy, and I believe now that nothing would contribute more to the prospects of détente than for us to go on with that process—which I do not by any means accuse the Government of forsaking—of talking and making suggestions, and inviting programmes which could ultimately lead to multilateral disarmament. If I have to add that in my judgment it will not come about in that way unless there are very considerable unilateral preparations on the part of this country, which I believe is admirably suited to make them, it nevertheless remains for me the doorway into the solution of the complex problems which have vexed this House, as well as illuminated our contemplation of the problems themselves this day. In my view nothing could be more constructive to the elimination of some of the impossibilities than a general programme of disarmament.

I come now very briefly to what one does for those people who are starving and hungry, who are destitute, who have nowhere to live, or at least have only places where they can merely exist. I do not believe in the arithmetic that pretends that one can give only with the expectation of receiving in return. I believe that there is a paramount need today for a widespread, co-operative, comprehensive, global attempt to give people what they need basically, in the confidence that sooner or later out of that giving will come the kind of response which will be economically as well as morally satisfactory.

Knowing a little from the Methodist Church and its missionary efforts and from the Anglican Church and its missionary efforts, and so forth, I appeal to the Government not only to sustain as best they can the giving of vast amounts of required food, clothing, and education, but also to support those voluntary organisations that are still on the spot, and which in many cases still have the opportunity of serving at the basic level of real need those who are destitute and impoverished.

It is in those ways that I do not believe we shall find an immediate answer to the complexities of the modern world. But, in strict contradiction to the apocalyptic concepts of my forefathers in the Christian Church, I believe that there is hope at the end of the tunnel. I say this because there is an awakening among all kinds of people to issues which were denied to their knowledge in past generations. I think of the well water of kindliness and good sense which seems to me to spring up in so many unexpected places today. If your Lordships will allow me to say so, I came straight to the House this afternoon from Tower Hill. There, as I tried out a little of this speech, I was enlightened as I found the response of ordinary people, who are now concerned to take new and revolutionary steps to meet an unprecedented, and indeed a most dangerous present, yet one in which I believe there is infinite hope. I plead with the Government and I offer them my support— to reduce in any way they can the menace of violence, and to improve the livelihood of those who are most impoverished.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Soper, for whom I have long had the deepest affection and the most profound admiration. I should like to take up the last point that he made, and perhaps to add a mite to the alternative to the apocalypse which he is so rightly seeking. We are talking today about foreign policy and the Motion of my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham allows us a very wide range. I want to confine my comments to a single, though I believe profound, subject; and I wish to begin by reminding your Lordships that foreign policy is indeed an extension of domestic policy. So long as we have the nation state, it is the duty of those who are responsible for foreign policy to protect the citizens of that state. I believe that that point should be extended a stage further. The duty is to protect not only those citizens at present living, but also their successors— their children and grandchildren—as well as the habitat in which they will grow up and live their lives.

Over the past four months since the publication of the Brandt Report we have had some guidance—and four months is quite a long time, as I wish to emphasise later. In this connection the Brandt Report makes two comments on which I want to base virtually everything that I have to say. The first comment is particularly addressed to those who are responsible for foreign policy in any part of the world. It is: Real progress will only be made nationally if it can be assured globally". The second comment is that, the self-interest of nations can now only be effectively pursued through taking account of mutual interests". I would underline those two sentiments by the simple point—also brought out in the Brandt Commission Report—that from the time of the massive increase in oil prices in 1973, the fact that the developing nations did not restrict their imports between 1973 and 1977 resulted in 900,000 jobs being created each year in the countries belonging to the OECD. In other words, although there was a massive increase in oil prices, which led to a decline in trade between the industrialised countries, those industrialised countries were able every year to employ 900,000 more people because of their exports to the developing world.

Yet we still see before us the basic issue which was approached by the Brandt Commission, and it is the central issue that anyone dealing with foreign policy must approach, as was so well illustrated by my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham when he opened the debate. On the one hand we see death. Each minute, as this debate continues, 30 people are dying simply through lack of food. On the other hand, we see in the industrialised countries of the West 18 million men and women unemployed a total that is constantly on the increase. To me, and I believe to every noble Lord in this House, that is an obscene commentary on the state of society that we have created. But that is the state today. As I say, foreign policy must look ahead to the kind of world that we are creating for our children and grandchildren between now and the end of this century. We shall see in this world another 2,000 million people living, whatever measures of birth control are accepted or adopted.

It took from the early 19th century to 1930 for the population of the world to increase from 1 billion to 2 billion—1,000 million to 2,000 million. It has taken only from 1930 to 1975 for that number to double again. We shall see that figure of 2,000 million added to our population between now and the end of the century, 80 per cent. of whom will be living in the third world.

We have to consider what kind of pressures that very steep and rapid increase in population is going to have on such necessities as the provision of food, as the use of raw material, and on the deployment of energy. It is calculated that between now and the end of the century the per capita use of energy will be trebled. In the whole of this new scenario we have also to watch, as has been pointed out by noble Lords earlier, what is happening to the environment of the globe, of the planet on which we live.

These issues, which have been dealt with by various noble Lords—and I am not going into the details of them simply from the point of view of repetition concern Governments. If the noble Lords on the Benches opposite question me on that, I would simply refer them to their former leader, and ask them to read the words of the leader they used to have and with whom some of them served, in the debate in another place on the Brandt Commission, when he emphasised time after time this cannot be left to private enterprise; this is a responsibility of Government, because only Government can affect the basic institutions governing the issues we are discussing. He emphasised something else; he emphasised the immediacy of each of these problems. I say we have had four months and nothing has been done. The immediacy of these issues will determine the outcome of any efforts to solve them. If we do not during the next few months take action—not just words—then we shall be increasing, multiplying exponentially, the profundity of the dangers that we face.

Summarising very briefly the main recommendations of the Brandt Commission Report, first there has to be a large-scale transfer of resources, and I say specifically "resources" because this is not just a question of money. Secondly, there has to be an international energy strategy. Thirdly, there must he a global food programme. Fourthly, the international economic system and its institutions must have radical reforms.

We have heard from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary this afternoon something about the problems caused by the OPEC oil price rises. Indeed, the noble Lord said that these were a major cause of instability and unrest. He, I thought a little misleadingly, played down the part that OPEC countries are playing in the provision of aid to the developing world. I am not certain of my figures here, but I believe I am right in saying that the aid which the OPEC countries are providing today is two or three times larger per capita than the aid which is provided by the industrialised world. I know that there have been fluctuations, but at least that aid was quadrupled between 1973 and 1977, although it showed a certain decline in 1978. We must look at OPEC not just as an isolated phenomenon. When the OPEC price rises first came in 1973, the price of oil was 25 per cent. lower in real terms than it was in 1955. What is more, when we talk—as we talk so frequently—about the conservation of oil, how many noble Lords recognise that the price of petrol in this country today, in real terms again, is the same as it was in 1960, 20 years ago. How many recognise that the tax on petrol today in this country is roundabout one-half of what it was in 1970. This hardly suggests that we are playing our part in the conservation of oil. That is known, of course, in the oil-producing countries. Oil is one commodity. It is a commodity which is going on increasing in price. It is going on increasing in price for the very simple reason that the oil producers are quite prepared to keep the oil in the soil rather than cut down on their prices, and indeed many economists would advise them so to do in their own interests.

Oil is one commodity; there are many others. I suggest that we have to learn to live with increasing prices for the basic commodities of industry. The oil producers were able to raise their prices because they had peculiar advantages and were able to establish a cartel. Other people producing copper, tin, cocoa, coffee, tea, and sugar are trying to do the same. It is not so easy. However, unless they are able to get better prices for their commodities, then the poverty of the nations we are talking about will deepen. The instability will increase, and the world will become a less safe place in which to live. What is important surely, both from their point of view and our point of view, is to get a stability, almost certainly a stability above present prices, but a stability and a method of so regulating the prices of commodities that both they can plan their economic development and we can plan the prices that we have to expect.

Here I come to another of the issues which must be tackled internationally, and that is the part played by the multinational companies in this whole scene. The multinational companies are frequently the only institutions with sufficient technology to be able to exploit and develop the commodities to which I have lust referred. The multinational companies, though, must be controlled, not only in the interests of the countries which produce the primary products but also because unless there is stability in the activities of those multinational companies then we ourselves will also be the sufferers. I would suggest that this is a matter on which Government, trade unions and employers should get together in order to combine their efforts for a regulated control of the development, exploitation and marketing of the primary products on which the industrialised world depends.

But I am bound to say that I am asking of this Government what must be virtually the impossible, because the Brandt Report itself practically contradicts the whole philosophy on which this Government have based their policies: their policy of monetarism; their high interest rates; their expensive pound; their cuts in public expenditure; their cuts in aid—the 14 per cent. cut over a three-year period, which is deliberately against almost everything that has been said this afternoon—including that mean little cut of £1 million to UNICEF, to the poorest children in the world; and the reduction in subsidies, particularly subsidies to research and development, on which so much of this programme depends, and the reduction in production.

Above all, perhaps—and I have had a number of exchanges about this with the noble Lord who is to wind up—the worst thing that this Government have done in terms of the attack on world poverty is to destroy the Government's development education scheme, which was instituted by the previous Government and was designed in order to educate the people of this country in the facts of the world. No Government can attempt to put into operation any section of the Brandt Commission report's recommendations without having an enlightened public opinion. Our public opinion is not enlightened. I have asked the noble Lord before whether he has read the Schlackman Report. I wonder whether he took note of the conference of the Gallup organisation held in London in May, which showed that the British public was at the bottom of the league when it came to answering the question whether overseas aid should be increased. Only 13 per cent. of those polled in this country—less than any of the other industrialised countries—believed that Government expenditure on overseas aid should be increased.

would say to the Government that the whole of the Brandt Report is based, not on charity and not even on the aid lobby. It is based on the mutuality of interests, and I believe that we can hope to get out of the apocalyptic prospect which my noble friend Lord Soper has mentioned only by putting into operation this very simple lesson which comes out of Brandt, that only by increasing the purchasing power of the two-thirds of the world that today does not have that purchasing power, and is virtually outside the market, can we hope to revive the economy of the British Isles. I would say that to the Government, and I would ask them to look at Brandt and to notice that Brandt is based on facts. These facts cannot be brushed aside by bromides; and I would ask them specific questions, as my noble friend Lord Stewart has asked.

There is the specific proposition of a small, 25-country summit to consider the basic issues that arise from the Brandt Report. There is the demand in Brandt that by 1985 every industrialised country shall be providing 0.7 per cent. of its gross national product in official aid. That was asked for by Lester Pearson twelve years ago. Are we going to put Brandt where Lester Pearson is? There is a demand for a reform of the international institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, in order to approach the much wider issues that have faced the world since the oil price rises of 1973; and there is also the demand in Brandt for every Government to associate themselves with the development education of their own people in the real facts of the real world. On 16th June, in another place, the Minister promised that an analysis of the Brandt Commission Report would be supplied to their Select Committee. I should like to ask the Minister to tell us when this analysis will be produced, because the Select Committee has committed itself, I understand, to publishing it so that we can all see what is the Government's detailed attitude to this most important report.

Finally, I would ask the House itself to recall, to remember and to note that over the last two days no lesser dignitaries than the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have both pledged their support and their commitment to the underprivileged of the world, in leading their churches and their followers into this crusade. We surely can do no less. Can the Government give us an answer as to whether they associate themselves with the same cause? Let us just remember the point that I made a few minutes ago. During every minute that this debate has been taking place 30 more people have been dying through lack of food—food which we can help to provide; and in helping to provide it we can help ourselves by reducing the unemployment queues in this country and in the industrial world itself. But, above all, let us remember that our children will have to try to build their world along with the fathers and mothers who were watching those children die.

6.50 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to thank the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, very much for putting this Motion down and for enabling so many of us to make a short contribution. My contribution at this hour will be short, but I should like to say how interested I was in his speech and how much I agreed with all that he said. I should also like to say the same about the speech of my noble friend Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary.

Listening to the debate, I thought that I might make a contribution on something which happened quite recently and which, I hope, shows something of the anxiety and interest throughout the world over the questions of agriculture, food and the Brandt Report to which the noble Lord referred. I accepted an invitation to attend an international agricultural conference which took place not far from Jerusalem between 23rd and 30th June last. The hosts were the Israelis and the conference was organised by an organisation called the International Farm Management Congress. I was invited as a guest and participant by the Ministry of Agriculture in Israel to this conference on the role of agriculture in society. I knew nothing about the organisation until I got there; but I found that there were no fewer than 30 nations from all over the world taking part in the conference. There were people from many nations in Africa, from Nigeria and Kenya; there were white representatives of South Africa, people from Rhodesia, representatives from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Brazil, and from all the European countries.

What was so encouraging, helpful and hopeful was that there was no disagreement of a political nature between any of those delegates. They were of all colours. I saw Nigerians talking to South Africans, Japanese discussing with Brazilians, and so on. It was an exciting and interesting conference. As we all knew, many of the nations represented there were opposed politically, but when it came to discussing all aspects of agriculture—how to improve the soil, how to increase food production, how to increase land reclamation, the many aspects of farming and making the desert bloom—not a cross word passed between one delegate and another. Everyone concentrated on what amounted to a better way to increase production and to bring all nations of the world together. It was a great and inspiring experience to see all these different people taking part in this gathering. It shows what can be done in the world if there is goodwill and unity of purpose—and that is what has been talked about this evening in the question of the rich and poor countries.

In the course of the conference, I had the good fortune to be shown many magnificent wonderful developments in Israel. I was taken with some delegates down to the Negev where had been 10 years previously and had seen nothing but desert. Today there are grain crops, sheep and cattle. Further north in Israel there are the great citrus plantations and so on; but in the desert where previously there had been nothing, there were now all these developments; fields of cotton, fields of sunflowers grown for oil and, of course, citrus. All these activities were being worked by the citizens of Israel. As my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith has said, this does not mean only Jews but Arabs also. The Arabs were making their contribution and learning from the skills and experience of the Jewish community, who are, I suppose, one of the most enterprising of nations in the agricultural world.

When I listen to noble Lords talking about developments necessary to fulfil some of the Brandt Commission recommendations, I feel that it is exactly the skills of the Israelis which could do so much to develop desert in other parts of the world or underdeveloped areas in Africa and elsewhere. There is no doubt that this small territory which is being discussed here this evening can give more to the third world countries than almost any other nation in the world. I was tremendously interested in seeing what had been done during the last 10 years in Israel.

When I came back, the summit conference took place. I need hardly say that I was very worried and I hope we can be assured by the Government that this conference will not in any way frustrate the developments which are going on in Israel today. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and many others, one is very worried by the idea which has been put forward that we should bring into consultation a nation which is determined to destroy the state of Israel. It may well be that our Foreign Secretary, who has skills of negotiating beyond any that I have ever known, will succeed in getting something firmly said by the PLO and Arafat stating that they do not want to continue this war. I, myself, am somewhat sceptical about it because the PLO is obviously financed to a large extent by outside finance; and that we know to be from Russia. It would suit the Russians very well to have a small state in the Middle East from which they could operate with the help of the PLO. I should feel unhappy if that proposal took place.

The noble Lord was talking about the OPEC countries. I hope the OPEC countries will not have a great influence on all the other countries who are dependent on oil supplies—which are all the European states. That form of blackmail is something that no one in the world would want to see develop. No one was more excited than I when the Egyptian and Israeli Governments got together. The courage of President Sadat and Mr. Begin in those days was tremendous. I think that that desire for peace is still very strong in Israel. I think that someone said they had never heard any criticism in Israel of the desire for peace—peace not only with Sadat and the Egyptians but with other nations.

We must remember that already a considerable amount has been done. It must be mentioned that the concessions which Israel made to start off these discussions have been very great: the Sinai, the oil fields, the airfields—all things of great strategic importance to Israel—have been conceded already. I think that the further suggestion of a transition period of five years until further discussions can be carried out will be better than trying to hasten matters by bringing in so many of the European countries. I have a feeling —and I have been to Israel several times—that it is between the nations in the area that the peace will have to be made. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who, I know, has said that the main object of bringing in the other EEC countries is to try to strengthen the peacemaking activities in that area, succeeds. But I doubt whether that will work out like that. In many ways it is easier and better for the nations involved in this peacemaking to get together, rather than to have outside forces which are pressing them beyond what they are prepared to do at the present time.

There are few nations in the world who would agree to make a peace including one of their greatest enemies. I think that that is where the real difficulty lies. If the PLO will alter their principles and alter their propaganda, then the situation could change. But who among us in any nation would make peace with someone who is determined to destroy us? If there could be a settlement along the Camp David lines which would lead to further discussion, and eventually to a peaceful settlement, then it would need to provide, as has been said, security for Israel and security which goes beyond resolutions passed by the United Nations which very often have very little possibility of being carried out.

I think that the world owes a tremendous lot to the state of Israel; to all that they have done in science and in a variety of different ways. Agriculture was the aspect that I was looking at. But there are a good many other subjects upon which they have led the world. It would be very sad indeed if the countries of the Nine were to make it more difficult or to frustrate in any way the Camp David discussions between the Americans, the Arabs and the Jews. My noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith has given a first-class impression of what she saw when she went to Israel at the beginning of the year. I also have seen the refugee organisations and was, as she rightly said, responsible for raising a large sum of money with the help of this whole nation in the World Refugee Year. Incidentally, it turned out to be £10,100,000, not £8¼ million. However, that is by the way. In any case, it shows what good will can do if you can really rouse people to interest in a subject like that.

I am quite certain that we can raise money for helping with the underdeveloped areas—the Brandt Report ideas and so on—if there is goodwill behind it. But if there is not, and if people are not prepared to discuss together, then it is very difficult indeed. I hope the Government will not press from outside too strongly and break up discussions going on now under the Camp David agreement. Anything that prevents that kind of discussion going on would be very unwise.

I hope very much that it will be realised that Israel is desperately anxious for peace. Every single soul to whom I spoke talked about the peace of the world. The contribution which I saw being made in getting together 30 nations from all over the world working together, talking together and planning together, knowing that politically they might be divided, was an inspiration which I hope can be carried on again in some other field on this subject.

7.6 p.m.


My Lords, I follow the noble Baroness in saying that the answer to the Middle East problem, I am sure, is in the settlement of the Israeli problem. It is pivotal to the whole question. It is also a paramount consideration. Thirty years ago, when we were looking for answers for all the problems now magnified and multiplied in the world today, I went for UNESCO to Israel to see what they were doing about the restoration of the deserts. I then wrote a pamphlet called Born of the Wilderness. Anyone who goes there now can see what that wilderness has become. I was looking, from the point of view of our exercise, for the practical answers, the functional answers, to the problem. In the Israeli approach to the problems and their practical application one could see the possibilities of, first of all, desert reclamation, which they demonstrated, but a solution of many other problems us well.

I should like to suggest to the Minister or the Government that they might look again at a suggestion that was put forward in this House by myself, but instigated by the Parliamentary Group for World Government, in which we were proposing to extend the Israeli example practically internationally, and with total international backing, to the Sinai desert. There was never any question of denying that the Egyptians were entitled to it. But we wanted to take in this case a 40 years' lease of the Sinai desert. We thought that if it was long enough for Moses it was long enough for us. This could be a very practical way of absorbing refugees of the Arab population—and very much in the context of their own traditional past.

This brings me to the point that we are discussing, which is the Middle East region and Africa, and so forth. In terms of the problems of the Middle East and Africa, with all the political complications, there is the terrifying picture which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, and many others reminded us about which is existing in the world today. It is discouraging. I go back a very long time, and in the immediate post-war world we believed in all kinds of possibilities of finding answers. We were let down by the failure of nations to concede even an iota of their sovereignty in order to make things possible.

The day before yesterday the director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation presented us with a very grim picture of the world food situation today. He told the Economic and Social Council in Geneva that, with this year's growing season now at an end, most of the 59 most vulnerable developing countries lack in fact one-third of the food they require for their minimal needs this year. With little or no money to buy it, they will need 85 million tonnes of imported food to take care of the shortfall in their own countries.

In addition to the national catastrophes—droughts, floods and the locust plague of West Africa—there have been the aggravations of our man-made catastrophes such as the refugee situation in Kampuchea, the refugee situation in the Horn of Africa (which has been mentioned), the situation in Ethiopia, in Somalia, and everything else, the refugee situation in Pakistan with a spillover from Afghanistan, and now the upheavals in Latin America and the quite horrifying situation of the 2 million hungry people in Uganda. Relief measures are not only inadequate but, as in Kampuchea, they are hampered by the political and military authorities, who are using starvation as a genocidal weapon against the innocent.

And in Europe, what do we have? We have the butter mountains, the sugar mountains and the milk surpluses. We also have the EEC crisis over sheepmeat. This reminds one of the discussions in the 1930s when we talked about "hunger in the midst of plenty": in fact, I helped to make a film on that subject. This is much worse than that because we are trapped ourselves; we are in fact glutted and almost choked by the food that we ourselves are not able to consume and which is not available for the starving people of the world. This situation is considerably contributed to by the fact that we are taking types of coarse grains, and so on, to feed to our stock in Europe which might very well be going to feed people who are hungry.

At the same time, the world's food reserves have shrunk to 17 million tonnes, which is less than two months' consumption. If we were besieged by Martians we would have two months to survive. As regards the reserves available for distribution, those are cynically small. Six years ago the nations attending the World Food Conference in Rome set a food aid target of 10 million tonnes. Only 9 million tonnes have been pledged and the international emergency food reserve, the amount physically in store—what our late colleague, Lord Boyd Orr, when he was Director-General of the FAO, called "Joseph's granaries"—is only 302,000 tonnes. It is far short of the promises. Most of the world's grain reserves are in the market, politically and commercialy controlled on a national basis, and likely to go to the highest bidders at prices far beyond the reach of the starving countries. All efforts to reach an international wheat agreement, to stabilise prices and regulate food resources have failed.

To the indictments of the Director-General of FAO have been added the reproaches of Mr. Edmund Muskie, the Secretary of State of the United States, to his own Congress. With only 90 days of the financial year left, the funding of the USA aid programme is still not agreed. He said that the programmes which were being held up involved more than humanitarian instincts. He said: It costs less to invest now. We would rather send technicians abroad to help to grow crops than to send soldiers to fight wars, which may result when people are hungry and liable to be exploited by others". I would remind your Lordships that 40 years ago, in the Atlantic Charter, Churchill and Roosevelt propounded as our war aim the four freedoms. The third freedom was freedom from want. In June 1945 Clement Attlee, as Prime Minister of this country, pledged: I hold that it should be the principal object of the United Nations to wage war on hunger, poverty, disease and ignorance and to promote the greatest measure of economic co-operation between all nations in order to raise the standard of life of the masses of the people". To that end the Food and Agriculture Organisation was set up, with John Boyd Orr as its reluctant first Director-General. He was reluctant because the organisation was, as it still is, not what he wanted. The nations were not ready, and still are not ready, to yield the fraction of sovereignty which would ensure the fulfilment of that organisation. It was to be a fact-finding and an advice-giving body. But Governments could disregard the facts and could ignore the advice. In a speech made almost as soon as he had taken office he said: The people are crying out for bread and we are going to give them pamphlets". He wanted the FAO to be operational, to go in positively and with adequate resources to help people to help themselves. He wanted a world food board to take food out of politics and politics out of food. The world food board was an imaginative and practical concept, which I am convinced would have averted the horrifying plight we are in today. I say "we", because in the inexorable logic of the world situation we are all involved one with another, and I was glad to hear the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary confirm that. We are all in it together. Nothing can change the picture we are talking about now in terms of redounding to the ultimate benefit of any one country. We know it now. We have pretended to ourselves for too long that we could in fact live within our own back gardens.

We cannot do that any longer and therefore what we are discussing this evening, in the complexity of disaster and the whole political complication of the Middle East, is not just the apocalypse that my dear noble friend Lord Soper was talking about. I can assure him that I am taking care of it. I am writing the future of the world just to take care of the noble Lord's latter-day apocalypse. But what we are talking about from now on must be positive ways of finding the answers.

I also want to say what has been repeatedly said today: that there is no answer unless in fact we begin to divert the money we are squandering on armaments, which are not a protection of a way of life and which create the deprivation which only the redeployment of our resources can assuage. I agree that there is an opportunity here in which we might, and should, involve the OPEC countries, if we can recycle that money into people's stomachs and not into real estate. That is important but, above all, and I say it to my Government, as I would say to the Government of any party in this country, we must get out of our heads finally and completely the fallacy that aid is charity. Aid is not charity. Aid is investment in the future and a hope for our posterity.

7.20 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a remarkable debate. It justifies a second Chamber for the expression of informed opinion. I want to join many others in thanking my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham for initiating this debate. His speech was moving, comprehensive and constructive. The Motion has been described as a hotch-potch, because it has raised many separate issues. But behind those issues is concern for the two greatest evils in the world today—the danger of war and of bloodshed, and the existence of millions who are hungry.

He mentioned first the Middle East. Certainly, there is the danger of war there, beginning, perhaps, between Arab populations and Israel, but almost certainly involving also the Great Powers. We now have to face the fact that the Camp David discussions, which began with such great hope, are not likely to have a happy conclusion. If that occurs, and if Egypt and Israel do not agree, Egypt is likely again to become united with the other Arab countries, and in that situation the danger of war in the Middle East will be great.

Undoubtedly, all over the world there is a consensus of opinion that the problem between Isreal and the Arabs can be settled by the acceptance of two principles. The first is security and recognition for the Israeli state, and the second is the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Is it not now important that we should renew at Geneva a world conference which would consider the situation in the Middle East? I find it difficult to believe that if there world opinion were expressed—by the West, the East and the unaligned nations—either Israel or the Arabs would be able to resist that expression of world opinion.

The Motion proceeds to discuss the situation in South Africa and Namibia. There, also, is the danger of conflict and of bloodshed, and of increasing confrontation between the Afrikaners, whom the Republic of South Africa represents, and the African people who are now being shown a new solidarity by the coloured people of mixed races and by the Indian population. South Africa is now becoming geographically isolated by Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the Protectorates of Lesotho, Basutoland and Swaziland. It is also becoming psychologically isolated in the whole world, and I believe that those in South Africa who are realistic must appreciate their new position in the world.

Again, I urge that if the United Nations were to call a world conference of all governments, where the opinion against apartheid would be expressed by all the continents, their representatives would be sufficiently realistic to appreciate that in their geographical and psychological isolation they must recognise the opinion which is worldwide.

I believe that that applies to Namibia as well, where the South African Government is at present defying the United Nations and the United Nations Mission, increasing the powers of the puppet government which has been set up and raiding deep into Angola. Quite inseparable are the problems of apartheid and the future of Namibia, both of which could be influenced if the world conference which I have suggested were called.

The Motion proceeds to discuss the second great evil, not just of the danger of bloodshed in the Middle East and South Africa, but of famine in the world. I do not know whether others feel this, but sometimes I feel that life is intolerable in our comfort and even in our luxury when we know that millions are starving in the world. The Motion refers to East Africa. There are some areas in East Africa where hundreds are dying every day from starvation.

My noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder referred to the speech which Dr. Edward Saouma, the Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, delivered yesterday in Geneva. I hope that Members of this House have been able to read reports of that speech. He criticised strongly the international community for its failure to respond to the need of the hungry millions in the Third World. He said that the world was on the verge of a simultaneous human disaster of an unprecedented character and that 59 vulnerable countries, mostly in Africa, lack 30 per cent. of the food which they need. He reminded us of the food conference held in Rome six years ago which gave a pledge on the part of the Governments of the world that: not a child should go to bed hungry". My Lords, how we have all failed!

May I raise one particular point with the Government? The World Food Council has initiated a food strategies scheme, linking developed countries and international organisations with a Third World country which is short of food, and 32 countries, but not yet Great Britain, have agreed to participate in this scheme. I believe that consultations are going on as to whether we should be linked with the Sudan, and I should like to know from the Government whether progress is being made in that respect.

The Motion refers to the OPEC countries and to the price of oil. I want to confirm what my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby said: that the OPEC countries have done something to alleviate the position in the Third World. Kuwait in particular is carrying out a scheme under which aid is given, I recognise mostly to Moslem populations, to help them to develop agricultural products, and in exchange for the aid enabling them to do that they send their agricultural products back to Kuwait.

However, having given that recognition, I want to say at once that the OPEC countries, with their great wealth at the present time, could be doing far more for the developing countries than they are. They are members of the group of non-aligned nations. If they have a sense of unity with hungry Africa, Asia and Latin America, they should be doing far more, with the wealth accumulating from their oil supplies, than they are to lift the conditions of those people. Often I almost feel anger when I see Arabs who have profited from the OPEC prices living in conditions of luxury—which they are—in our own London and paying enormous prices for accommodation when they could be helping, from OPEC funds, the millions who are in poverty in other non-aligned territories.

I wish to conclude, as I often try to do, with constructive proposals. What can be done on a world scale to meet hunger? First, I suggest that there should be an expansion of the United Nations Emergency Food Reserve Fund so that it can reach the target of 500,000 tons of food available in a crisis. Only 300,000 tons have yet been promised. I should like to ask the Government whether they have made a contribution to that fund.

Secondly, I want to suggest that in addition to Government contributions today, there should be an organised effort, in all the more affluent countries, through voluntary organisations, to end hunger in the world. In our own country, Oxfam, War on Want, Christian Aid are doing wonderful work. They could do far more if the Government were to make contributions to their funds so that they might organise a campaign throughout our country, to which I know people would respond when they knew that it would help to end starvation in the world. If that were done in this country, it might be extended to other countries as well.

Thirdly, there is going to be, as my noble friend Lord Ritchie-Calder said, the problem of an increased world population without an increase in food. That difficulty could be met if the deserts of the world were fertilised. It is now technically known that they can be fertilised. Let us bring the lakes and rivers of water under the Sahara to the surface. It could become fertile, food-growing land. There ought to be a great international effort, organised by the United Nations, to develop the fertilisation of those desert areas.

Next I want to emphasise what has been pointed out by so many speakers: the need for the Government to carry out the recommendations which were made by the Brandt Commission. Four months have passed, but we have not yet had the promised analysis by the Government and their decision as to the recommendations made. I suggest not merely that the recommendations of the Brandt Commission should be carried out but that there should be a much more cooperative attitude by the industrialised nations in the North and South talks regarding the new international economic order which has been proposed by the group of 77 non-aligned nations. It is by these fundamental changes in world economic organisation that the poverty of the Third World can be removed.

Lastly, I want to reiterate what has again been said by my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker and by the noble Lord, Lord Soper: that we should be making in the world today this deepest of all contributions, that we should be seeking an agreement to bring about disarmament in the world and the transference of the vast expenditure upon arms to ending starvation in the world.

My Lords, every human being in Britain from birth to death pays over £3 a week in taxation towards military expenditure. Extend that to the other countries of the world and, as pointed out in the Brandt Report, in 10 years our expenditure upon military arms could end hunger in the world. These two evils of war and hunger are inseparable. When shall we have world-conscious governments who will respond to the need? For our generation there can be no service greater than dedication to this purpose.

7.41 p.m.


My Lords, I must first apologise to the House for speaking without my name appearing on the list of speakers. This was due to a clerical error for which I am in no way responsible, but which unfortunately happens sometimes in the best regulated organisations. May I also pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Hornsby-Smith, for what I thought was a really magnificent speech in this debate. Every word of it rang true, with a sincerity and incisiveness which I think all of us admired.

It is highly opportune that we should be afforded an opportunity to discuss the Middle East at this time. In so far as peace has ever reigned in that part of the world, there seems at the moment to he hardly any lull in the violence, although many of us deeply hoped that an end or a cessation of much of the terrible tragedy which has occurred there over the last three decades might at last take place. But poised as we are now between the election of a President in America, the Olympic Games in Moscow, and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, this afternoon seems as useful a time as any other to discuss the Middle East.

We have had the momentous decision at Venice to take the PLO into consideration before attempting a settlement. That decision pleased very few and displeased very many. The PLO itself hoped to gain recognition as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. Instead they have been bitterly disappointed, and have stated that they now intend to rely purely on their own resources. Israel, too, hoped that the PLO would be ignored. The acceptance of the PLO in Venice, even if it fell short of recognition, has only infuriated Israel. So our Venice intervention can hardly be said to have got off to a promising start. We had indeed been warned in the strongest possible terms by the United States and by President Sadat not to intervene. Their warnings were heeded to some extent, but we were lucky to get off as lightly as we did.

Nevertheless, I think the Foreign Secretary was right to try his luck, if only to realise that he could not hope for too much to result. His intervention in the Middle East has hardly served as yet to bring peace much nearer, for any attempts at even-handedness are bound to be hazardous in the extreme, in an area where emotions are apt to be explosive. All that seems to have been achieved so far was the unnecessary stirring of muddy waters in a pool that might well have been left stagnant.

I yield to no one in my admiration for the Foreign Secretary's achievements in Zimbabwe. But his declaration in favour of secure borders for Israel was bound to arouse the anger of the Arabs. The PLO still remains the Palestine Liberation Organisation, however much we hope it will eventually be content to become the WBLO, the West Bank Liberation Organisation. The Arab has always been a fundamentalist in his beliefs, and he believes very deeply in his faith.

Equally, the Zionist has never waivered in his faith. To be a Zionist one has to be something of a philosopher like Arthur Balfour, or something of a romanticist like Lloyd George, or something of a visionary like Winston Churchill. Although the present Foreign Secretary may be endowed with all these endearing qualities among many others, he is, above all, a pragmatist, whose vision is bounded not by centuries or even by decades but rather by the immediate future. When he tries to be even-handed it is well to realise that one is dealing with extremists so that results are bound to be meagre, Still, we may feel glad that he has tried his luck in his attempts to solve the Middle East problem, and thankful that so far he has escaped almost unscathed.

I think, too, that he was absolutely right to have apologised so generously to Saudi Arabia over the film "Death of a Princess." It was certainly the right thing to do, regardless of what the results might be. But have there been any results? Can the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, inform the House what progress has been made so far in the resumption of diplomatic relations between ourselves and Saudi Arabia? Am I wrong in assuming that the answer is, None? Can the noble Lord also tell us what new contracts in Saudi Arabia have since been secured by British firms? I should be surprised if there were any at all, but can only hope, for the sake of the prestige and economic future of Britain, that I am wrong.

It is fair enough to ask that Saudi Arabia should try to understand the problems that face a democracy like Britain. But why should they try to understand us? They are fundamentalists. A ruler has to rule and a wrongdoer has to be punished. Why should the perpetrators of a film that insults their religion be allowed by us to go scot free and for us to hope that they will understand? In their country they would have been stoned to death in public. So first we are expected to mete out due punishment in this country to the wrongdoer, however repugnant the whole idea of this may seem to us. Only then can we hope to earn their sympathy and understanding. But here I stand open to correction and only hope that the public apology made by our Foreign Secretary has achieved the desired results. At any rate, the British public ought to be informed. Sometimes one is apt to wonder whether a study of the Koran ought not to be made compulsory reading for our diplomats who intend to serve in the Middle East. It would certainly help to guide us in our policy in that region.

So, my Lords, what now? Where do we go from here? Are the decisions of Venice to he submerged in the waters of the lagoon, or are they to expand into something of greater significance? Masterly inactivity is alien to the Foreign Secretary's character. I suggest that he still has an excellent way out. The traditional Arabists of the Foreign Office have not as yet confined him to a narrow direction. He still has some scope for future action. He has already gone to Canossa. Why not now go to Cairo? There he will find the one statesman in the whole region who has proved his faith in a peacful settlement, and has shown his courage to vindicate that faith. The Foreign Secretary has repeatedly declared that we support the Camp David agreement. Let him now demonstrate his support in a practical way. He has already sent his two lieutenants, Sir Ian Gilmour and Mr. Douglas Hurd, to Cairo before him, but they failed to contact President Sadat. He himself would endow his visit to Cairo with world significance in the cause of peace. He has already declared his intention to go. Now is the time to act on it.

The Foreign Secretary has achieved, through no fault of his own, somewhat strained relations with Saudi Arabia. It is merely one of the unforeseen hazards of the office which he holds with so much distinction. He is now stymied in Afghanistan. We have first to wait until the Olympic Games in Moscow are over. And what will be our policy then? Meanwhile, the peacemaker in Egypt has been deserted by his Arab neighbours. Yet President Sadat pursues his quest for peace undaunted. He remains today a giant among the Arab leaders. Alone of all the civilised countries of the world he has offered a sanctuary to the Shah, a practical vindication of the nobler teachings of the Islamic religion. If only King Hussein of Jordan or President Assad of Syria or Mr. Yassir Arafat of the PLO could show the courage that President Sadat has shown and visit the Knesset in Jerusalem; and why not? If only they would undertake to expunge, as he did, all resort to war against Israel and resort instead to ways of negotiation, peace in the Middle East would be brought immeasurably nearer.

Since Britain now stands to gain very little diplomatically from Saudi Arabia or Jordan, or Syria or Lebanon, or Libya or Iraq, could not the Foreign Secretary bypass them all and pay now a personal visit to Cairo? He would be welcomed by President Sadat with open arms and set his seal on his support for Camp David. He would align himself at once with President Carter and President Sadat and be greeted as a fellow pilgrim on the road to peace. Imagination, courage, initiative—all these gifts he possesses in full measure, as he has shown abundantly in the case of Zimbabwe. He responded with deep feeling to the cry of the Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong and the Kampuchean refugees. Their plight is infinitely worse than the plight of the Palestinian refugees on the West Bank. And even their lot is so much happier than the lot of the hapless Palestinian refugees among their fellow Arabs in neighbouring Lebanon. If the Foreign Secretary could make the decision to visit Cairo now, on an official visit, he could well be hailed by the whole world as one of the great Foreign Secretaries of all time.

7.57 p.m.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, I too must apologise to your Lordships' House for not putting my name on the list. My reason for not doing it, I am afraid, was incompetence, as opposed to the reasons of the noble Lord, Lord Segal, which were totally blameless. My Lords, I think it was Ernest Bevin who said in 1948, testily perhaps, perhaps with regret, that there were no Arabs in the House of Commons. There seem to be none in your Lordships' House today. It seemed to me that the noble Lord, Lord Segal, failed to understand any of the feelings of the Palestinians. Perhaps the Motion before your Lordships' House today is not quite as disparate as has been said by Lord Carrington and Lady Hornsby-Smith.

After all, land-hungry Afrikaners and Israeli settlers have a lot in common. The Afrikaners have evicted blacks from parts of Cape Town and coloureds from District 6 and parts of Johannesburg. The Israelis have blown up Arab houses in Jericho and Hebron, in Jerusalem and the West Bank. They have cemented up houses of Arabs because the children of those Arabs threw stones in political demonstrations. Think, my Lords, of the outcry in this country if we cemented up high-rise flats in Kirkby because some youngsters had gone on the rampage after an Everton football match! I put it to your Lordships that football hooliganism is perhaps a worse crime than deeply held personal convictions going overboard. And finally has not the Israeli-Boer marriage been consummated in their joint explosion of nuclear weapons? An American journalist was evicted from Israel for saying so. A South African soldier confirmed it to me. Gush Emunim and the Bröderbond have a lot in common and are perhaps soulmates.

Having drawn these parallels between the arrogance of the Afrikaner and the arrogance of the Russian, English and Polish settlers in Palestine and their children of the Jewish religion, one must point out, as did the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, that Afrikaner and Jewish hard work, inventiveness, bravery, are a major contribution to the world's wellbeing which must be preserved and encouraged to flourish. My Lords, Alexander the Great ensured the preservation of Cyrus's tomb and added to it a suitable description. The tomb, it is rumoured, was destroyed by Moslem fanatics last week. Alexander realised his empire would not survive without the consent of the conquered, and so he kept most of the old Persian satraps in office. As a result of this policy the Greek Kingdom in Bactria lasted for 300 years after Alexander's death.

Why did Jerusalem fall in the late 12th century?—because the Crusaders lost the consent of the surrounding Arabs by their attack on Damascus. In spite of the intransigent and unattractive attitude of Menachem Begin, whom I consider to be one of the nastier actors on the world stage—David Ben Gurion said very similar things of him in 1948—in spite of the Teutonic arrogance of some of the Israelis which is, of course, contrasted by some extremely liberal defenders of Arab rights before that court which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, rightly pointed out to us, the contrast is similar to that of the English speaking South African press which is always going for the illiberalities and the tyrannies that it sees among the Boers.

After all the injustices to the Bantu and the Arabs it is essential that further injustice must not be committed. Israel and Afrikanerdom must and will survive, but they can only survive with the consent of their neighbours and co-citizens. That consent is justifiable and necessary and certainly possible. But herrenvolk attitudes of Jew and Boer must go.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, in his opinion of President Sadat. Lord Noel-Baker's opinion of Sadat's speech is mine. Sadat offered peace and recognition to Israel in return for a recognition of Palestinian wrongs. I listened on the day my wife came out of hospital to that speech, riveted by it, because it seemed to be one of the noblest speeches that we have heard. It seems to me that Begin has let him down. He has done no long-term service to Jewish settlement in Palestine. Israel must see, as must the Afrikaners, that others have rights. They must stop treating their Bantu neighbours, or Arab neighbours, as underlings. They must stop it, otherwise they will never survive. They can only in the long-term survive, with their enormous talents, by consent.

When we think of the PLO and before we condemn it totally, let us remember that Begin invented the parcel bomb. Let us remember that his Foreign Minister was a senior member of the Stern gang. Let us remember the indiscriminate attacks on the refugee camps. Let us remember that Russia was the second country to recognise Israel. But let us remember that the supreme importance of the whole exercise is to stop both Jewish, Arab, Bantu and Boer terrorism. Let us remember that the Palestinians have a grievance, that they have been evicted, sometimes with brutality. Let us also remember that Jewish children have been shot and murdered in schools—and I am saying this as regards inside Israel, not outside. Let us also not forget that every Arab from the Gulf to Mogador feels the dispossession of the Palestinians as a personal insult. Let us try and accept with that personal insult, that Jewish settlement, because of its contribution, must be made to stay. Sadat has tried; Begin, I submit to your Lordships, has hindered.

The way to wean the PLO from the Russians is to understand and rectify the problems of their dispersion—their Diaspora, perhaps one should be entitled to say; then perhaps they could see who are their friends. But, I must underline it: it must be not at the expense of Jewish property, Jewish lives, or Jewish settlement.

The argument that the colonised like it, as provided by my noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith, was the argument of the lords lieutenant in Dublin; the viceroys of India: and other governors-general, including the Minister for Bantu Affairs in South Africa. When that dispossession and this settlement is solved then the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and myself will have no argument over foreign affairs. As he is a man whom I like and admire, I would hate that to go on.

I think that there is a way that possibly can be shown. It is that Zimbabwe will show the way. Mugabe can sit down and work with General Walls. Shona and Matabele peasants can sit down and work with the present Minister of Agriculture. If the Palestine and South African ulcers of injustice can be removed, if the lions of Begin and Botha can sit down with the lambs of Arafat and Mandela or—if your Lordships prefer—the lambs of Begin and Botha sitting down with the lions of Arafat and Mandela, then we can have the energy and the money to address ourselves to the appalling problems of the third world as emphasised by Brandt, by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who so rightly spoke of our discomfort in our luxury.

8.6 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we are all extremely grateful to my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham for the admirable way in which he opened this debate. He has brought to your Lordships' House distinguished experience as a former Secretary of State as well as a practical idealism—qualities which were amply in evidence in his speech today. We also appreciate the constructive clarity with which the Foreign Secretary spoke this evening. He was, indeed, a little disparaging of our Motion, but I thought his own speech, by its structure and content, was the clearest evidence possible that the four themes we had introduced into the Motion were indeed closely related, as I think my noble friend Lord Brockway showed.

However, the Foreign Secretary quite rightly devoted much of his time to the Middle East. It is a situation that not only threatens the stability of the countries immediately concerned there, but also the important and legitimate interests of this country and, indeed, of the West. We have long-standing ties of friendship and a mutually profitable commerce with all the countries of the Middle East. Our determination to ensure a future of security for Israel, as well as to work for the proper satisfaction of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, reflects a proper even-handedness of approach by this country towards the peoples of the Middle East which goes back many decades indeed.

We must work against the further polarisation of the assumed conflict of interests there and assert the traditional British attitude that we have friends everywhere in the Middle East and we wish to improve and strengthen that friendship. Indeed, the two interests are not incompatible—those of Arab and of Jew. If they were, then there would be no future for the region other than continuing conflict erupting, very possibly, into a major conflagration. They are cousins in the same family, as we have heard, and I particularly agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, that in a stabilised and peaceful Middle East there will be a special role of leadership for Israel with its cousins in various Arab nations. It is in that sense that we in this country and in the West should work for the accommodation in that area which is vital to us all.

I am sure that we particularly welcomed some new emphases and clarities which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary was able to give us—for instance, that Europe is not capable of producing a solution in this area on its own. I think that that needed to be said. There has been a certain assumption on the other side of the Atlantic by possibly our closest, and certainly our strongest friend and ally, that perhaps Europe was moving off on its own policy with regard to the Middle East. That is not so. The Camp David discussions and achievement are not contrary to the European need and search for an agreement; they are complementary to it. We ought to join with the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary in once more asserting that the only possible basis for a just and lasting peace in the area will be on two resolutions of the United Nations which have been so frequently quoted in this House, possibly with an emendation bringing in the need for a proper settlement of the Palestinian problem.

Of course, the two resolutions refer to the refugee problem as such, and although it is very closely identified with that of the political Palestinian movement, nevertheless it may be that we shall need to look at those two resolutions afresh in terms of the implications of a political settlement. The right of Israel to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries is absolutely paramount. It is counterparted by the obvious need to satisfy the legitimate claims of the Palestinians. But neither is possible without the other. There is no security for Israel unless there is proper Arab satisfaction; and there is no satisfaction for the Arab world or for the Palestinians unless the claims of Israel to maintain its nationhood, its statehood, are put beyond question. The two go together.

In order to achieve this, both sides must co-operate. Indeed, both sides must make concessions. The Palestinian leaders must formally, clearly and finally renounce the infamous aim of the destruction of Israel. Unless that is done beyond all reservation, there is no place for them at a peace conference. If they do it credibly, sincerely and finally, there should be a place for them at such a conference.

On the other hand, Israel, too, must accept that some of its actions on the West Bank—especially in the last few months—have been singularly unhelpful to creating a climate of accommodation in the area. Mr. Begin would be well advised, for instance, not only to halt but to reduce the evidences of permanent occupation of territories which everybody in the Middle East—except some in Israel—regards as temporarily occupied as an insurance of security and peace in the Middle East. In particular, one would like to see the Israeli leadership pressing forward somewhat more energetically to implement Part 2 of the Camp David agreement, which provides for full autonomy for the West Bank for an agreed period, leading to a more permanent solution which would help the comprehensive agreement we all look forward to in the area.

But no agreement can be credible unless it is guaranteed. As the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary will recall, I was by no means entirely and exclusively critical of the Venice Statement when he made it in this House. One feature of it which appealed to me and to many others appears in Section 5, which says, among other things: The necessary guarantees for a peace settlement should be provided by the UN by a decision of the Security Council and, if necessary, on the basis of other mutually agreed procedures. The Nine declare that they are prepared to participate within the framework of a comprehensive settlement in a system of concrete and binding international guarantees, including on the ground". If agreement is reached—and it will be a difficult operation—it will be because those taking part in the discussions can see ahead of them a credible guarantee that the agreement will, in fact, be effectively sustained. Israel has the right to demand this. I believe, equally, that the Arab countries, many of them feeling the dangers of destabilisation, have a feeling of insecurity, as Israel has, and would welcome a firm guarantee buttressed by the power of the international authority. We saw how this worked in a situation like Zimbabwe. It was not quite the same; nevertheless, there was hovering, as it were, over the procedures of the discussion the certainty that the implementation of an agreement would be guaranteed internationally.

I should have liked a word of confirmation from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary in his speech that what he set his own hand to in Venice he still adheres to. I am a United Nations man. There is no substitute for the perfection of an effective rule of law backed by the requisite force to enforce that law. This is what we must never be discouraged from pursuing. Any other substitute can lead only to further danger and, indeed, to conflict.

I pass now to the second element in our Motion, and here again I was extremely impressed by what the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had to say on the effects of rising oil prices on developing countries. By far the heaviest burden of the price rises since 1973 falls on the world's poor, and although the immediate impact of higher oil costs is on the balance of payments position of these countries, it is really on their ability to develop at all.

One sees this when one looks at the kind of figures which the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary gave us: estimated costs of the oil imports of developing countries in 1980 will be approximately 50 billion dollars—more than one-third of the total value of all their exports of goods. That represents an increase in real terms of five times what they had to pay for oil in 1973 for a volume of oil which is only a quarter larger than that which they bought in 1973. In other words, they are paying five times as much for one and a quarter times as much.

I turn to what my noble friend Lord Hatch said about refined oil prices—petrol prices—in this country. We are getting away lightly in what we pay for oil and its refined products as compared with what the world's poorest are paying for a fuel which is vital to them. I also entirely agree with what the Foreign Secretary had to say about helping these countries to develop their own fuel resources; helping them also to find substitutes. Many of these countries are sun spots. Many of them have excessively high rainfall. By definition, therefore, solar and hydro-electrical fuel could, if it were funded properly, be of great help to precisely these countries which cannot afford the oil. But that is a long-term proposition. As it is, many of them have inert supplies of oil and gas which are not being adequately explored.

It has been suggested that these countries, the developing countries, which now produce only about 6 per cent. of the world's oil actually contain 40 per cent. of its oil potential. They thus represent one of the world's principal potential sources of new oil and gas production. It is clearly in the interests of all these countries that their oil prospects be explored and developed as rapidly as possible. But the exploration effort is lacking.

On this point the Foreign Secretary urged that private investment in exploration and exploitation of oil potential should be promoted. One reason why there is a lack of exploration, I am told, is this lack of confidence, and the mutual suspicion which often exists between developing countries and private oil companies. There is the factor which goes with this feeling; that the private oil companies are interested in finding oil for export; that it really does not pay enough to exploit resources and to dispose of them on the spot. I hope that this is not true, because no one would wish to be too dogmatic as to who does what in solving this urgent problem of the need of developing countries for this form of fuel.

As to the costs, they must be astronomical. But so is the arms bill. We have heard from my noble friends Lord Noel-Baker and Lord Brockway of the fantastic amount that developed and developing countries spend. There are figures which suggest that the rate of arming among developing countries is startlingly rapid. Many of them divert to arms what would be much better used for productive purposes. Be that as it may, the cost of measures like this would be very heavy indeed, but it is right that in this kind of debate we remind ourselves of the comparative expenditures which we often thoughtlessly accept.

The World Bank has set up a new programme to meet this need. It seems as if the amount of money will be impactive. It could involve over 4 billion dollars by 1983. The United Nations, of course, has its own technical assistance programme in the oil and gas field and in the related infrastructure needs. I pass now from the question of oil and the impact of oil prices on the developing, countries to the more general question of aid, which is the third point mentioned in the Motion. One or two speakers made comparisons between the performance of western industrial countries and the OPEC countries. The OPEC countries are doing better than the western industrial countries are doing in aid, but it is still not very much. That does not say very much for what the western industrial countries are doing, does it?

I should like to repeat a point which I made when we debated the Brandt Report. The Brandt Report, of course, is a major document stressing the urgency, in a factual way, for a massive operation of support, of development in the hitherto developing underdeveloped countries. But it talks in terms of the western industrialised world doing it all. It admits that the absence from its deliberations and from the authorship of its report of the communist world is an obvious lack.

I would suggest once more that the follow up to the Brandt Report is not to go on persuading the Governments and peoples of the West—a good deal of propaganda and education is needed in the West, I agree—but somehow to get within the ambit of this massive aid programme which is necessary, two other sectors of the world. The communist world must come in and help; and the countries of OPEC at a rate more commensurate with their wealth.

We should therefore, diplomatically and otherwise, promote Brandt as a world operation. We can do a lot in the western world of course if the operation is confined to us, but how much more could we do if the rest of the world—and it is the major part of the world; the communist world, plus the OPEC countries—joined in.

Finally, there is the concern we all feel about instability in Southern Africa. May I just say this about Zimbabwe? We all greatly admire the statesmanship with which Mr. Robert Mugabe has been endeavouring to lead his country from civil war into democracy. We pay tribute once more to the efforts of the Foreigh Secretary and his colleague, Lord Soames, who contributed to that statesmanship. It would be tragic if this marvellous attempt to enthrone democracy in the heart of Africa were to fail because the western world stinted on their assistance to this new country.

I was alarmed to hear the noble Lord say—and I know that he does not say these things without great thought—that even our friends and allies, who ought to see this as we do, are sluggish in their contribution to helping Mugabe and his colleagues to build up in Zimbabwe a model for the rest of Africa. If Zimbabwe fails, then it will be tragedy not only for their own people, but for other parts of Africa too. If it succeeds then it will be a model, an encouragement and a triumph for the rest of Africa. So I do hope that we in this country will not only ourselves look again at how much and what we are giving to Zimbabwe in the form of aid but also look to our friends and allies, speak clearly to them and urge them to be more generous than they have been so far.

Of course, what happens in South Africa is of immense importance to us all. Apartheid is not just an internal evil. It would be bad enough if it were, but by destabilising the whole of black Africa and, indeed, populations all over the world, what happens in the Republic is a threat to peace and security in every part of the world. An increasing number of white leaders, Afrikaners included, have seen this for some time, and I believe that the present South African Prime Minister has shown some courage in facing up to his extremists and pressing forward as fast as he feels he can with reforms. But it is in danger of being a repetition of too little, too late.

What should we do? I do not favour extremist courses in this particular case. We have immense and proper interests in Southern Africa and in the Republic—a tremendous capital investment and a trade, a legitimate trade, which is amongst the highest, country to country, in our list. I think we should speak specially to them. There is a movement of liberalisation among the whites. It is slow, but it is there. It needs strong encouragement, and I believe that South Africa, despite the Boer War and some tensions since then, is prepared to listen to us. Those of us who have seen some of the white leaders recently feel that a change is coming and that the response might be greater than some of us have thought if we spoke clearly and helpfully to them. I believe we can have considerable influence in South Africa, and we must seek every opportunity of exerting that influence.

I hope we are talking frankly to them, and talking about the urgent need to accelerate reform leading to the abolition of apartheid, and to stop frustrating the advance of Namibia to free nationhood. I want to say how much I agree with my noble friend Lord Brockway. In some ways, Namibia is even more important to Africa and to the West than Zimbabwe may have been. It is urgent that there should be a settlement there enabling Namibia to set itself up, like Zimbabwe, as a free democratic country, co-operating with every other country. We should speak firmly to the South Africans, urging them to co-operate and not to confront their neighbours to the north, in particular Zimbabwe and Angola.

8.34 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to wind up this debate for the Government I face a daunting task. My noble friend Lord Carrington indicated that I would refer particularly to Southern Africa, and so I will. But I must clearly underline some of the matters referred to by my noble friend, relating to other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East, and of course respond to points made by noble Lords.

We sometimes use the words "instability" and "stability" almost without thinking, to describe on the one hand a threatening state of ferment and on the other a desirable state of order. Yet the western emphasis on "stability" is distrusted by many developing countries who believe that we equate it with the status quo. They would argue that we are concerned about threats to the existing world order because that order suits us well. Change of any sort would bring disruption, which, in turn, would threaten our positions of privilege.

Yet stability is emphatically not the same thing as the status quo. It is noteworthy indeed that the stable Western societies guarantee, through their democracies, a level of political change which would be unthinkable, say, in a communist state, or, indeed, in many of those referred to in the Motion before us. So the growing concern about the instability of the Middle East, to which the Motion calls attention, should surely not be seen as a blinkered resistance to development. We accept that there must be change in the Middle East region in response to regional circumstances which have been transformed beyond all recognition by oil wealth and modern technology. Yet it is in the interests of people of the region and of the world that the process should be a peaceful, evolutionary one.

In his opening speech my noble friend identified four particular obstacles to peaceful development in the region. The first is the Arab-Israel dispute. The second is the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the continuing attempt by the Soviet Union to subdue the Afghan people by force. Thirdly, my noble friend drew attention to the difficulty of adjusting to the pace of change which has been forced on the region by economic and political circumstance. This is not so much an obstacle to peaceful development as an immense challenge to the imagination and resourcefulness of the people of the area. In Iran we are seeing the unhappy consequences of a failure to rise to that challenge. Finally, my noble friend commented on the disruptive effects of the dramatic increase in the cost of oil.

In each of these areas we are seeking to exert helpful influence to overcome the obstacles to peaceful development. With the Nine, we have tried to impart new momentum to the complicated process of achieving a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute which takes account both of Israel's right to a secure existence and the political rights of the Palestinians. Together with the vast majority of the world community we are calling for total Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and demanding that that country should be granted again its traditional neutrality and non-alignment. In the third task, of helping countries to cope with the pace of change, there can be no general prescriptions. We hope, however, that through regular friendly contact we can provide useful support.

In this connection, I would express our particular regret that our relations with Saudi Arabia, one of the areas most important states, should have been damaged by an event which the Government deplored but were powerless to prevent. Despite the difficulties, we are in continuing touch with the Saudi Government and I believe that there is a desire on both sides to restore our relations to their normal cordial state.

The noble Lord, Lord Segal, who I see now on the Woolsack, asked me particularly about that matter. I can say that we are doing what we can at official level with a view to re-establishing representation at ambassadorial level as soon as possible. As for the effect upon our exports, it is too early to say how far our trade figures have suffered. Obviously, recent problems have made things harder for our businessmen, and we want to be in a position to give them all the help we can.

On a happier note, I would mention Britain's friendlier dealings with Iraq.

Our views are converging on a wide range of foreign policy issues, from condemnation of Soviet expansionism to a mutual wish that the Gulf should preserve its independence and be left to develop in peace. There are still points of difference between us, principally over British subjects held in Iraq, but in general there has been a welcome and perceptible improvement in our relations. We hope that this will continue.

I will now answer as many as I can of the points raised by noble Lords during the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, asked about a meeting of Commonwealth education Ministers in Colombo shortly and the fact that they may propose a further meeting to consider the implications for Commonwealth students of the recent increase in fees at universities in the United Kingdom. We have noted the suggestion of the noble Lord that a Foreign Office Minister should attend such a meeting, but of course it is not yet certain that the meeting will take place, but we will certainly bear what the noble Lord said in mind.

Several noble Lords referred to the awful problems of the famine in East Africa. In May we pledged £850,000 to provide refugee relief in Somalia through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and last month it was announced that a large part of that would take the form of 5,000 tonnes of food aid. My honourable friend the Minister for Overseas Development pledged £850,000 to the Sudan Government for refugee relief and resettlement there in support of that country's generous and imaginative programme for coping with the massive influx of refugees. My honourable friend also announced a Government contribution of £500,000 earmarked for relief in Uganda to the Disasters Emergency Committees Appeal for East Africa, and that will be used by the agencies concerned to provide food, medicines, transportation or whatever they judge to be the most pressing need. Before announcing that contribution, we had already spent or committed over £120,000 of assistance for relief activities in Northern Uganda being carried out by various organisations, and I understand furthermore that the European Community is also supplying substantial funds for these purposes.


My Lords, I did not refer to this because I did not want to detain the House too long and because many of my noble friends had made the point so eloquently: may I ask the Minister to address himself to a question which was put to him about how far we were helping to strengthen the United Nations Emergencies Reserve Fund? This is strategically important to deal with sudden crises arising from sudden natural phenomena.


I agree that is a most important point, my Lords, and perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to obtain a full reply and write to him in due course.

Several noble Lords referred to the Brandt Commission Report. The fact that there have now been three debates on the report, one in your Lordships' House and two in another place, demonstrates, I suggest, how seriously Members of both Houses from all sides regard the issues raised by the commission. The Government have already given an extensive account of their views in those debates. We have made it clear that we regard the report as a valuable contribution to efforts to tackle the current problems facing the world economy. Not only does the Brandt Report identify these problems, but it offers us a blueprint for action. A memorandum giving the Government's detailed views on this blueprint will be submitted to the relevant sub-committee of the other place within a matter of days and, with their agreement, is to be published, and printed copies will be made available during the course of next week.

I will not, therefore, go into further detail now, but I will answer a few specific points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby. First, the Government regard the proposal for a limited summit as interesting. Indeed, the question was discussed at the recent Venice summit, but careful preparation and indeed careful timing for a North-South summit are essential, since expectations would be bound to be raised. We must be careful not to waste such an opportunity by pushing ahead if conditions are not favourable. Secondly, the noble Lord referred to the target for official aid of 0.7 per cent. of GNP. I assure your Lordships that we are not withdrawing from our predecessor's commitment to that target but, like them, we cannot yet set a timetable for achieving it; our progress must continue to be conditioned by our financial and economic resources.

I stress that the Government are very conscious of the seriousness of the situation facing developing countries, and my noble friend made that clear in his opening speech. The views he expressed are shared by our Western partners, as the declaration issued after the Venice summit demonstrated. The Government are not inactive on the Brandt proposals. Your Lordships will realise that proposals of this magnitude can be tackled only along with our partners and indeed with co-operation with the developing countries themselves. I assure your Lordships that this Government stand ready to play their full part in these discussions and negotiations.

The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, also raised, as he has done before, the relationship between aid and domestic employment. I really cannot accept the cause and effect relationship he described. I suggest that our aid policy and our aid budget must be tailored to fit our resources. It is perhaps unlikely that I and the noble Lord will ever achieve a meeting of minds on these matters, but I will study his words again, although I hope he will not hold his breath waiting for my conversion. The noble Lord referred to OPEC aid and reminded your Lordships that OPEC aid is per capita four times higher than OECD aid per capita. I do not have the figures on wealth per capita in front of me, but I fancy that OPEC wealth is very much more per capita than the four times figure he mentioned.


This has occurred before, my Lords, and I do not seem to be able to convince the Minister that when I am talking about the mutuality of interests, I am not talking about aid. I was trying to emphasise, as Brandt does, the fact that investment and transfer of resources to developing countries is in our interest as well as theirs. It is not charity and it is not aid; it is an attempt at a mutual solution to a common problem.


As I said, my Lords, I will study what the noble Lord said, but a meeting of minds between us is not, I think, very likely on that matter.

Time is pressing and I wish to come to the question of the Middle East, which was uppermost in the minds of many noble Lords. First I wish to refer to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and I accept and acknowledge the depth and sincerity with which he spoke. As to the question of the occupied territories, which is in the minds of several noble Lords, I do not doubt for one moment the merit of the welfare services provided in those territories, which several of your Lordships described, but Israeli withdrawal from these territories is, we think, an essential feature of any settlement, for the acquisition by force of such territory is not likely to promote a solution to any problem. Thus it is that we greatly regret the Israeli policies relating to the settlements in these territories.

My noble friend Lady Hornsby-Smith, I am sorry to say, delivered a speech, for all its passion and conviction—which I acknowledge—which was, I felt, somewhat unbalanced. She does not perhaps appreciate that there is more than one view in these matters. Indeed, if a man from Mars had landed in your Lordships' House during my noble friend's speech he might have been excused for thinking that the Middle East problem could be solve by simple and complete acceptance of the Israeli position. I assure my noble friend, if that is her view, that she is mistaken. The noble Lord, Lord Janner, in another long and interesting speech, said the Israelis had stuck to Resolution 242. That resolution, among its other provisions, calls for the Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, which I have yet to see.

My noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood spoke of the wish for peace in Israel and the need to avoid doing anything to upset the peace process which flowed from Camp David. It is not part of the purpose of the Nine to undermine the Camp David process, which we continue to wish well. I believe that the United States Administration understand this. We wish to work with all those concerned, including the three Camp David parties, towards the common objective of a comprehensive peace settlement.

My noble friend also said that it might be easier for the parties directly involved to negotiate peace without outside interference. I wish it were so. In reality, we see the Palestinian leaders whose many unacceptable statements—for example, about the destruction of Israel—have been rightly condemned by your Lordships today. On the other side we have Israel, which appears determined not to enter into any negotiations with the PLO—the noble Lord, Lord Janner, described them quite simply as the "force for evil"—or with any representatives of the Palestinians, if one may judge by Israel's deplorable decision to expel Palestinian mayors from the West Bank.

There is I believe a role for an outside party which can help to open the way for peace. I pay tribute to the part already played by the United States, and we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for his comments, though I am not yet ready to go all the way with him to a Geneva Conference, which he suggested. But I do believe that Britain and Europe have a part to play.

The argument with which I opened my remarks about the danger of confusing stability and the status quo applies with still greater force to South Africa. Here the British Government wholeheartedly support fundamental change; yet we believe that desirable change is most likely to occur in a stable political environment. The difficulty is to give enough external and internal encouragement to the South African Government to accelerate the process of necessary change without creating instability of a sort which would produce only a defensive retreat into the laager.

It is partly for this reason that the British Government have expressed their profound concern at the recent disturbances which followed the coloured schools boycott. But, in the terms which my noble friend proposed in his opening speech, this latest violence is a symptom of the deep-rooted problems which afflict South Africa, not a primary cause. Even the issue of Namibia, to which I shall turn in a moment, is not the heart of the problem; no, the root cause lies in the system of apartheid. The abhorrence with which this Government view that system is well known. It is not only morally unjustifiable, but in the longer term it is also politically untenable.

While the system of apartheid remains, there can be no possibility of any lasting peace in Southern Africa.

However, I suspect that our natural repugnance for the present system sometimes blinds us to the tremendous potential of South Africa: the positive influence that it would exert if it could work in co-operation politically, economically, and in human terms with the whole sub-continent. The question is: how can we help to unlock this enormous potential by getting South Africa to come to terms with African nationalism, rather than shrinking from it?

Of one thing we are sure: the process is unlikely to be helped by threats to impose further sanctions on South Africa. We hope for Western solidarity and for broader understanding in recognising that, far from producing a change of heart by the South Africans, such threats could produce the opposite effect, driving them into even greater isolation, and destroying such limited leverage as the West has in encouraging accelerated change.

In South Africa itself there are signs that the Government recognise the need for change. Mr. P. W. Botha's proposals for reform represent a significant broadening of the internal South African debate—perhaps the biggest change in attitudes that we have witnessed in South Africa for more than 30 years. The question is: how can the South Africans be encouraged to build on this, maintain the momentum for change, and convert thought into deed? This is a challenge not only for the West, but for the independent African states, and for the international community as a whole.

One way in which we can contribute is through continued concentration on a successful outcome to the negotiations over Namibia. These talks may seem both interminable and impenetrable to many observers, yet they are crucial to the future of Southern Africa. Success will remove one dangerous source of regional tension. Failure would lead to mounting violence and increased pressure for the imposition of further sanctions against South Africa. We are convinced that the United Nations plan offers the best—perhaps the only—possibility for a lasting and peaceful settlement. Fair terms for the implementation of the plan are on the table. We urge all parties to accept them. In particular, we hope that South Africa will reply positively to the United Nations Secretary-General's letter of 20th June, which we expect to be an important step towards final agreement.

South Africa holds enormous potential for good and for ill. Time is not on her side; nor can the West protect her against the terrifying consequences of a failure to recognise the political imperatives of her situation. This applies over Namibia, where flexibility needs to be shown by all the parties involved, but still more to the internal situation, where the onus lies on South Africa alone to accelerate the process of reform.

We have also discussed in this debate the famine which prevails to the North, and particularly in Eastern Africa. There is much that Britain is doing, and has done, with our partners and allies, to bring immediate relief. My noble friend identified a British contribution of some £7 million. Of course no sum can be adequate while there are people dying of malnutrition, and its associated diseases; but nor should we spare any effort to eradicate the underlying political and economic causes of the distress.

One such cause is the dramatic rise in the cost of oil, which has given a further twist to the unhappy spiral of international recession and inflation. The consequences fall particularly heavily on developing countries. We can help in the energy field by seeking to enable Third World countries to increase energy production; by reducing the oil dependency of our own economies, and of theirs; by researching new sources of energy; and so on. More than this, we shall continue to assist in the rural and agricultural development of these countries, and we shall seek to restore our own economy, so that we can do more. But these are the long-term solutions.

In the short and medium term the international financial institutions face the challenge of helping to maintain the economics of those countries most badly affected by the oil price increases. We are playing our part in ensuring that the institutions are equipped to rise to that challenge. But Britain can do little on her own in what are major international problems. In the last resort the major oil-exporting countries must themselves accept a much heavier share of responsibility for coping with the consequences of their pricing policies.

The subject of this debate has been a wide one, but the problems facing the world are wider still. Britain can make a real contribution to their resolution by the imaginative use of her unique positions in Europe, in the Atlantic Alliance, in the Commonwealth, and in the community of all nations. The limits on the financial contribution that we make are all too clear. We must compensate through greater intellectual and political effort, and greater will to achieve lasting solutions.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him please to correct one of the statements that he made with regard to the question of the occupied territories. If the noble Lord looks at the Camp David agreement, he will see that it does not say "all the occupied territories". It says, "within boundaries which will protect it".


My Lords, the noble Lord may prefer to study Hansard rather than to deal in semantics at this hour.

8.58 p.m.


My Lords, I am very grateful that so many noble Lords have been ready to take part in the debate and to enrich it with speeches based on knowledge and experience drawn from many sources. I think that all of us are also grateful for the full and informative statements that we have had from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary and the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, and we shall want to study them with care. My Lords, with the leave of the House, I beg to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.