HL Deb 12 March 1980 vol 406 cc1077-171

3.1 p.m.

The Earl of LISTOWEL rose to call attention to the Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues (the Brandt Report), and to the need for Her Majesty's Government to review their policy in relation to developing countries;and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, I think that it would be generally agreed that the Brandt Commission's Report, to which I am drawing your Lordships' attention this afternoon, is the most important publication on relations between the developed and the developing countries since the Pearson Commission's report in 1969, 11 years ago. It outlines a programme for world economic recovery which has the unanimous support of its members.

This consensus is perhaps the most remarkable feature of the report, because the commissioners came from the rich and the poor countries, and reflected every aspect of the political spectrum, from Left to Right. They were not a bunch of cranks or eccentrics, but some of the world's most experienced statesmen and economists, including, as your Lordships will observe, a former Prime Minister of this country. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to these distinguished individuals for giving up two years of their time to the preparation of this world recovery programme, which they believe will stop the otherwise inevitable drift towards increasing poverty and international tension. As they put it on page 31 of their report, We came to these problems separated widely by our experience and our positions on the political spectrum. But we have all come to agree that fundamental changes are essential, whether in trade, finance, energy, or other fields, if we are to avoid a serious breakdown of the world economy in the…'eighties and the 'nineties, and to give it instead a new stimulus to function in the interests of the world's people".

The main difference between Brandt and Pearson, which stems from a radical change for the worse in the world economy, is that the emphasis in the motivation of the North/South relationship, including aid from the North, has shifted from moral obligation to enlightened self-interest. The theme of mutuality of interests runs right through the report. Both sides have to realise that their common economic interests in the long run are much stronger than their admittedly many differences in the short run, and that unless they can establish a long-term partnership based on those interests, the world as a whole will become poorer, more divided, and more embittered.

Industrialised and developing countries these days are not only inter-dependent, but are indispensable to each other, and their economies cannot expand in isolation. It is this mutuality of interests that should revive the flagging, North/South negotiations in the agencies of the United Nations. There will be a better chance that constructive agreement will replace sterile recrimination when the "have nots "no longer gang up to make the maximum demands, while the "haves "gang up on their side to offer the minimum concessions. In future the North/South dialogue at the United Nations should be regarded as an opportunity for partnership in the development of world trade and production.

But if the emphasis in the motivation of aid from the North is shifted it still requires a much greater concern on the part of the wealthy countries for those who live in conditions described by the World Bank as "absolute poverty". The priority which the report claims for the world's poorest inhabitants, the 258 million people who live in the less developed countries in Africa and Asia, is itself a moral judgment, and would entail enormous expenditure on social infrastructure and services before anything like an economic return from investment, or approach to self-sufficiency, could be expected.

When we try to assess the gravity of the present situation, we find that the world's economy is functioning so badly that it damages the immediate and the long-term prospects of us all. In the South 800 million people are living in absolute poverty, and their number will rise with the unprecedented rapidity of the increase in world population. In the next 20 years the world population will increase from about 4 to 6 billion, and nine-tenths of this 50 per cent. increase will take place in the Third World. This is bound to stimulate a much greater demand for food, and unless this can be met by an expanding agriculture, there will be a surge in food prices that will put basic foodstuffs beyond the means of the needy. If sufficient is not done in the meantime to raise production, hundreds of millions will have their health impaired by malnutrition, and many will starve.

When we turn from the South to the comparative affluence of the North, we find the industrial countries in the midst of a severe and growing world recession. About 18 million persons—6 per cent. of the labour force in those countries—are now totally unemployed. Allowing for part-time workers and under-employment, roughly twice this number do not contribute effectively to production. In terms of annual potential output there is therefore an enormous wastage of productive capacity. Is it possible to marry the desperately urgent needs of the South to the under-used human and industrial capacity of the North? The report answers this question firmly in the affirmative, and proceeds to outline its proposals in a series of recommendations.

I should like to ask your Lordships to give sympathetic consideration to these proposals. I do so, not on the assumption that they are necessarily valid or practicable, though I hope and believe that they are, but on the assumption that they should be carefully studied by all concerned—ordinary individuals, as well as Governments and institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, because they affect us all, and none of us can afford to ignore them.

The first, and most important, proposal is for the financing of the recovery programme by a massive transfer of resources from the North to South. This would be comparable to the Marshall Plan which, as we all recollect, restored the shattered economies of Western Europe after the last war. The effect of such a transfer would be to increase global demand and thus to reactivate world trade by stimulating production in both the developing and developed countries. This would require a substantial increase in official aid on concessionary terms to the less developed and low income countries, and a similar increase in commercial lending to the middle and higher income developing countries. Such an accelerated development programme would of course generate a greater volume of world trade.

But the essential financial requirement in this connection is that the surplus countries, particularly the oil-rich OPEC countries, should be willing to recycle their surplus earnings so as to stimulate production in the deficit countries, including the Third World. The commercial policy of the industrial countries will be the key to the expansion of world trade.

Developing countries must have the capacity to industrialise if they are to raise their living standards, and to reach the stage of self-sustaining growth. For this purpose they will need access to international markets. It is the industrial countries of the North which will be the main outlet for the expansion of industry in the South. That is already recognised to some extent in the generalised preferences granted, for instance, by the European Economic Community to manufactured exports from developing countries connected with it. To fear that cheap consumer goods from the South will cause unemployment in the North is unfounded, because the loss of jobs from more imports will be balanced by the jobs gained from exports;such as, for example, the export of capital goods. While transitional arrangements during the period of adaptation of the old industries in the North to advanced technologies are permissible, there should be a gradual removal, and certainly not a further expansion, of existing barriers to world trade.

Pressures on Governments from both sides of industry will increase with worsening unemployment and declining profits; but these pressures should be resisted, because a retreat to protection would halt the recovery of world trade and condemn us all to the rigors of a siege economy. Of course, many of the developing countries arc still mainly agricultural, and often dependent on the export of one crop or one mineral. For these countries, and for the industrial countries which rely on their food and raw materials, it is essential to prevent wild fluctuations in commodity prices. So the report rightly insists on an enlargement of the number of existing international commodity agreements, and a stabilisation of the commodity price level. There is thus a converging and mutual interest of producers and consumers in the stability of commodity prices.

I will not weary the House with a catalogue of recommendations about methods of finance, monetary reform or energy strategy, important as they all are to the integrated recovery package in the report. But there is one aspect of development finance that I should like to mention, because it has a direct bearing on our own policy for overseas aid. Official development aid from the Governments of the industrialised countries is the principal source of funds for the poorest countries, which of course cannot afford to raise money on commercial terms. The target of 0.7 per cent. per annum of their gross national product was set for a 10-year period by the United Nations, and most Governments, including our own, accepted this target. The average performance of the OECD countries over this period has been disappointing—only 0.35 per cent. per annum, while the performance of this country was 0.48 per cent. in 1978. This reflects particularly unfavourably on the wealthiest industrialised countries, as some of the small European countries have already exceeded the United Nations target.

The Brandt Report now recommends that countries which have not yet reached the 0.7 per cent. target should do so by 1985, and that this annual target should be raised to 1 per cent. before the end of the century. It also wants improvement in the quality of aid, less tied aid, more multilateral aid and more concessional aid for the poorest countries. But the statement on overseas aid policy made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, on 20th February will reverse the direction in which the report believes we should be moving.

Our aid—the aid from this country—will deteriorate in quantity and quality. The amount of our official aid will be reduced, and aid criteria will change in emphasis from development needs to considerations of British commercial and political interests. Of course, we are going through hard times, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, emphasized in his speech the other day, but times will get even harder if we do nothing to revise our economy. This very recent review of overseas aid policy was nevertheless completed before the Brandt Report had been published, and I sincerely hope that the Government will undertake a further review when they have studied this part of the report.

My Lords, in my Motion this afternoon I am asking the Government to do two things. The first is to make a careful and serious study of the Brandt Report, taking into account before they make up their minds the expression of public and parliamentary opinion, including the debate this afternoon in your Lordships' House, and also likely repercussions on our partners in the Commonwealth. We have only just passed Commonwealth Day, and I think it is a fitting occasion that we should remember our partners in the Commonwealth. I believe that a Commonwealth view, as it would represent both North and South, would be a valuable stimulus to a wider international agreement. It should, if possible, precede the summit meeting between North and South called for in the report. I cannot think of a more fitting item for the agenda of the next meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.

In the second place, I should like to ask the Government to review their present policy towards the developing countries, and in particular their policy for overseas aid, in the light of the recommendations in the report. Finally, I think Parliament should be informed as soon as they have finalised their policy decisions on the report as a whole;and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will be able to answer me on that question when he replies to this debate.

My Lords, I have tried to keep my remarks short because I have exhorted others to make short speeches and I should not set a bad example myself, but may I say this one sentence in conclusion? The Brandt Report is a challenge to the imaginative statesmanship of the leaders of every national government. They should respond now, while there is still hope for the future and before we have been overtaken by another 1929—and I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will take the lead. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.17 p.m.


My Lords, I know that we are all grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for arranging to have this important report debated in this Chamber so soon after its publication. Because of its very detailed nature, I believe that at this stage I can only make observations, and the observations I make and the criticisms I intend to put forward I would wish to put forward in a constructive way for Her Majesty's Government's consideration. Also, we from these Benches look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, later in the debate this afternoon.

At a first glance of the 300-odd pages of which this report consists, one would find it difficult to disagree with either the conclusions or the recommendations contained in it. It was only on a second and perhaps more detailed look at some of the contents that I began to have doubts as to whether the commission was really on the right track after all, because it seems to me that so many of the recommendations seem to have been made before, tried out and found wanting. This makes me wonder whether the same formula on an increased scale will do much better for the world's poor relations than the last time it was tried. Perhaps it is easier to understand these feelings of doubt if I can specify more precisely the areas where the report appears to be at its weakest—the general one being, in my view, that some of the recommendations for the South should first be applied to the North, so that the world's monetary system can survive long enough to provide a stable credit base for the restructuring of industry and employment in the Northern countries. Without such a base the whole question of external aid, it seems to me, can only be academic.

My first and perhaps smallest criticism is that I find the map on the cover rather misleading, because it shows the world divided into two, presumably North and South, by a bold and not altogether straight black line. I assume that all those countries which are placed below the line belong to the South, and are, therefore, in need of the increased aid and advice which the Commission recommends;whereas all those situated above the line are designated to belong to the affluent North. I do not think it is quite as simple as this, for it must be inaccurate to imply that the oil-rich OPEC countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and many others are areas requiring external assistance from the North.

From the experience of frequent visits which I have to make to South-East Asia, when, through my lady wife, we do not have the barrier of' language in speaking with or listening to the hopes and aspirations of the people who live in these areas, it would appear that a respect for the work ethic and skill in trade may be the secret of their success, rather than a need for external aid.

I do not wish to dwell on this point, but I really do not see how we in the North, and especially this country with an unemployment figure approaching 2 million and an inflation rate of 17.2 per cent. and rising, with an interest rate to match, should wish to impose these burdens on countries such as Malaysia or Singapore, where the inflation rate is only 6 per cent., the standard of living high, and the balance of payments good. There are many aspects, as I know from personal experience, that do not make these perfect societies, but at least their economies seem to be in a reasonable order without further direction from the North, however well-intentioned it may be. This leads me on to question the conflicting economic theories which are still being argued with some heat by the industrial North, including Her Majesty's Government. I wonder whether they have any relevance at all in those areas in the South.

The main point I wish to make about aid, combined with special credit facilities, to the developing world is that, if it is to be effective, it should be directly linked to specific major capital projects, in order to achieve the maximum effect in the rural communities of the South. The all-embracing nature of a World Development Commission, which has been suggested in the Brandt report, may not be, in my view, the most effective way of disbursing the rather limited largesse the industrial world has to offer at present. This new agency will only succeed provided it can fulfil the role of an international clearing house for all external aid agencies and for recycled petrodollars;and then targets its capital lending with maximum efficiency and with the minimum opportunity for misapplication. Regrettably, these goals have not been achieved, as I understand it, by methods used so far.

There are also two serious omissions which I feel I must touch on before dealing with the energy sector in the report. The first is that no consideration appears to he given as to the impact of nuclear power on the economies of the South;and, secondly, the effect of the microprocessor revolution which is destined to take place in the late 'eighties and early 'nineties has been ignored. Omitting to take these major factors into consideration could affect the whole purpose and objectives of the report. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government, when they have had time to study the report, could indicate their views on this last observation.

I now come to the subject of energy, as outlined in the commission's report. I will make some attempt to present a case for showing that this section is inadequate and may have missed a great development opportunity for both the rural and urban populations of the South. The commission portrayed accurately the energy dilemma that exists in these communities, but it did not really come to grips with the kind of society it wants to see created in these areas for the future. The rural poor are, as the report rightly points out, in a Catch 22 energy situation, which is described on page 83 of the report. Because copies of the report were not available at an early date, I should like to quote the relevant passages for the benefit of noble Lords who may not have had time to read them. The report says: In most of the countries in the poverty belts, nine-tenths of the people depend on firewood as their chief source of fuel, and in colder mountain regions for home heating. Unrestrained commercial exploitation and increased population have led to soaring wood prices: more and more physical energy is expended to satisfy the basic fuel needs, animal manures are diverted from food production to cooking and the treeless landscape extends further, with disastrous effects on the ecology"… The diversion of manure for use as fuel leads to a loss of agricultural nutrients, damaging the soil structure by failing to return manure to the fields. The result is a circular trap. As wood scarcity forces farmers to burn more dung for fuel and to apply less to their fields, the falling food supply will necessitate the clearing of ever larger ever steeper tracts of forests which then intensifies erosion, which in turn further reduces soil fertility". I entirely agree with this and it is briefly and succinctly portrayed in those few lines. I agree entirely with the conclusion that it is a matter of urgency to plant more trees to compensate for deforestation. This could be done best through an international agency such as the World Development Fund. The report goes on to say that it is necessary to increase the energy input into the rural communities in the form of oil and electricity, but it does not attempt to say how this can be achieved. Of course, if the country concerned has the energy resources in the first place and the power generation capacity to exploit them by the year 2000, then it will be possible to provide more electricity. However, the cost of oil may be prohibitive by this time, and the supplies uncertain, when all the other energy raw materials will be at a premium. Therefore, the question remains as to whether enough fuel will be available to the South to produce electricity at an economical rate for the rural communities and the cities, which are still grossly underpowered.

I want to go back to the reference in the report about the energy trap and to show how, by bringing electricity to a rural community will not only provide light, heat and power but save waste product fuel for fertiliser, which in turn will increase crop yields. Adequate power will stop deforestation in areas which rely on firewood for heat and will help stabilise the local ecology. Rural electricity can also secure a system of water pumps for irrigation and fresh water. Finally, I maintain that it will make a contribution to reducing the birthrate. Although statistics on this last point are difficult to find, my own personal observations in these countries has confirmed the beneficial effect the introduction of light and power has had on population figures.

If these premises are accepted, then electrification of the rural areas of the South by nuclear power must be the first priority in the emergency programme outlined on page 276 of the report, because in my view it can break the circular energy trap described earlier;yet it has not even been listed in the commission's report or, if it has, I have not been able to find it. Perhaps it was omitted because the question still remains as to how it can be done, especially as nuclear power has a number of uncertainties connected with it, apart from the very high capital cost. One of the main difficulties in considering the installation of nuclear energy in the countries of the South is, first, the quality of the technical staff available to maintain the high safety precautions required. Secondly, there is the worry of misuse of nuclear waste from the reactors for military purposes, which will call for difficult and delicate international monitoring. There is a third problem of the massive volume of cooling water required by large nuclear installations, which is not always available in the more arid areas of the South where electrical power will be required. I believe that it is for a combination of these reasons that the Brandt Commission felt they were not justified in pursuing this area as a productive one, for solving the problems of the South, or giving it a higher priority in the report.

It was while considering the difficulties connected with a nuclear contribution to the problems of the South, in conjunction with a report by Dr. Marchetti from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Vienna, that an interesting solution presented itself. Dr. Marchetti's report was primarily concerned with the problems of disposing of waste heat from a large complex or battery of nuclear power stations, on which I will elaborate in a minute.

Before doing so, there is one other assumption not covered in the energy section of the Brandt Report which would ask to be accepted for the purposes of this debate. It concerns the need to conserve all raw materials for energy production. We are about to have a debate on this subject next week, which has been instigated by the noble Lord, Earl Lauderdale, when I shall make this point in more detail. However, I only wish noble Lords to accept that coal, oil and gas may become too valuable materials twenty years from now to be used in the relatively inefficient process of electricity generation. The only raw material for which there is no other energy use, except to produce electricity, is uranium;thus allowing gas, motor fuel, chemicals and fertiliser to be extracted from all the materials presently used for electrical energy conversion. This factor I have mentioned because I believe it to be of particular relevance in the South, where there is a shortage of all energy resources. Therefore, the only remaining possibility for an electrification programme of this size is nuclear power. Solar power and alternative energy strategies can, I am sure, play a part in the more remote parts of the South, but obviously cannot power the cities or large rural communities.

Dr. Marchetti's paper was based on the principle of fast breeder reactor stations, which could be sited on an offshore location. If such a nuclear city were ever built, it could have a number of direct advantages for the purposes of alleviating poverty in the less developed countries. An offshore location in international waters, besides being safer, would also enable such a complex to sell electricity to more than one country, thus transcending national and geographical boundaries. A complex of this kind would naturally have adequate cooling water, and it may even be possible to use the immense waste heat generated by these stations to convert sea water into fresh water, which could be piped on to the shores of one of the dry continents in the South.

By placing these huge stations in international waters, it would be possible to staff, monitor and control the safe production of electricity with an international and representative commission, both from the high technology countries and the consumer countries involved. The other advantage of an offshore location would mean that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a misuse of nuclear waste for military or other purposes to take place. Finally, if the industrialised countries of the North were prepared to pool their nuclear technology, to create such power complexes, a great deal of sterile competition in the nuclear industry would be avoided. The alternative of individual North countries attempting to sell nuclear power stations competitively to developing countries could lead to just the kind of problems described in the Brandt Report. I would have many worries about the success of this policy. either for the exporting nations or for the consumer nations whom they are intended to assist, and for the world's nuclear industry as a whole.

The main objection, other than the sheer technical ones, is that of cost. Very few, if any, of the countries of the South can afford to embark on the massive expenditure of a national nuclear industry of their own. However, I do think that it would be possible for them to co-operate individually in a multinational nuclear power station complex of the kind I have described in relation to the amount of electrical power needed for their local consumption. The main bulk of financing projects of this kind could only be done through recycling the pyramid of petrodollars that will have reached unmanageable proportions in the OPEC countries by the end of the decade. Repayment of these loans could be achieved eventually through charging electricity to the consumer countries of the South.

I believe that the present method of repayment of loans for capital projects, by merely establishing further loans, just does not make sense. The kind of capital project I have described may sound both impracticable and almost outrageous in its magnitude. However, I ask that it be given some consideration by Her Majesty's Government within the context of the Brandt Report's comments, because I cannot see any other way in which electrical power can become a reality to the rural and growing city communities of the South, unless projects of this scale are made equally real or alternatives found to them before the end of the century.

Whatever may be considered the defects of this suggestion, the underlying financial considerations are sound in an aid context, in that there is a specific international target for a major capital project, which must be an improvement on the blank cheque approach for individual national projects apparently advocated in the Brandt Report. Furthermore, the present practice of developing countries to borrow long, in order to meet the shortfalls on current account for oil purchase, cannot continue much longer. The whole system of international finance has been put under great stress since the massive increase in oil prices and will be in grave danger of breaking down completely through default. Therefore, alternative sources of energy must be found quickly for the South, or no funds will remain available for the development projects they have in mind and on the drawing board today. The new World Development Fund should be set up quickly for this purpose, or, alternatively, as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, has said, greater use made of the OPEC special fund in order to relieve the burden that oil price rises have caused the South and to provide the capital base for alternative and nuclear energy electrification programmes.

What has not been properly discussed in the report are the consequences of the downside potential, to use the jargon, if the programme for survival, as outlined by Chancellor Brandt, fails. According to the report, the world is lurching from one crisis to another, year by year, in population, food, environment and resources, to name but a few. Many serious speeches will be made under these headings, learned papers will be read and discussed, and at least one more United Nations agency will be recommended. Large office blocks will be put up for new institutions—no doubt in very agreeable locations—to be filled with well-intentioned bureaucrats to ponder on these problems. Individual governments will set up similar organisations, with fine sounding names. In Britain there are already Departments for Overseas Development, Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources, and on the first page of the report is a whole list of other agencies, including some which I regret never having heard of, all with the same object in mind.

However, these problems will never be solved simply by creating new bureaucracies to worry about them. It would, therefore, be interesting if the Minister could give us an estimate of the gross annual costs of all the aid agencies mentioned in the report. Alternatively, could he give an indictation whether the output in aid actually exceeds the input in overheads of these agencies? As I see it, the dilemma that the poor and hungry nations sense when they attend international conferences of the kind recommended in the report—they could be called summits—is that the isolated crisis on the agenda is seen as part of a wider population —resources—development crisis which, unless wholly resolved, will condemn their people for good to the ranks of second-class citizens on their own planet. These problems when discussed in the past have appeared too great and too complex for solution. This realisation may have engendered an alarming spread among the developing nations of what could be called the Samson complex—the view that things will become so bad we may as well let the whole system collapse about our ears and start again.

This is a form of cosmopolitan nihilism that has many long-term attractions for those developing nations like the Peoples' Republic of China, India and South America. For these largely decentralised rural based societies will stand a good chance of survival during a period in which world trade, communications and the monetary system have been totally disrupted. This is something which the centralised rich urban nations most emphatically could not live through. Yet the small cultivator in the areas I have mentioned would remain quite unaffected by such a collapse, even if he were aware it had taken place. Therefore, the Samson theory, as I call it, has powerful political reasoning behind it, in that it allows for the collapse of industrial society while at the same time promoting a sound strategy of national self-sufficiency.

This reasoning is well suited to oriental political thought and can be expected to spread unless much more clearly defined initiatives than those outlined in the report are made by the developed nations to deal with the main crisis problems of food, population and rural development. The first step in this direction would be to implement an extensive programme of nuclear electrification throughout the countries of the South, as a matter of urgent priority.

In conclusion, we on these Benches must give warm support to the general concept that lies behind the entire Brandt Report. That is the concept of world government, which we believe may be brought one step nearer if the main objectives outlined in the report can be achieved. It is worth quoting in this context the words of Chancellor Brandt, who said on page 12: There must be room for the idea of a global community, or at least a global responsibility evolving from the experience of regional communities".

He went on to say on page 15: …we must aim at a global community based on contract rather than status, on consensus rather than compulsion". This liberal philosophy is not new. It has been spelt out before now in similar terms, which were that: The world should be but one state, the state of mankind, in which all men live in harmony and in unity of heart and mind—world citizenship with one language, complete freedom of movement and choice of marriage partner, the only divisions of men being those of good or evil intent". This plea was made in a prayer offered by Alexander the Great 2,300 years ago at Opis, before leading his troops up those same mountain passes where today an entirely different army is encamped. There is no philosopher general in command of these soldiers, whose regime will not permit such ideals to be expressed in public, or even in private. Whatever the defects of the report may be, if the underlying philosophy of Chancellor Brandt is not accepted, or if the countries of the South lose patience with the North, then that army, poised in the mountains of Afghanistan, may march southwards, and snuff out those Alexandrine principles, for ever.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, the entire House will be grateful to my noble friend Lord Listowel for the admirable way in which he has initiated this important debate. As he has said, the Report of the Independent Commission, under the chairmanship of the former Chancellor Willy Brandt, is a document of the utmost importance. It is true that it does not claim to present new facts or new solutions but it marshalls the facts with a new intensity and it presents the solutions with a new authority. That, perhaps, is to be expected from a commission recruited from among the ablest and most distinguished statesmen of the Free World, among them our own Mr. Edward Heath, whose contribution to this report and to the thinking and speaking on international affairs generally, certainly in the last year or so, has given him a quite new eminence.

The report is a state paper for all States. I echo my noble friend's appeal at the end of his speech that not only our Government but all Governments, and not only in the Free World, should study this document with urgent attention. That is the first point to be made about this report. It is a document of urgent importance, and the note of urgency is sounded from the very beginning. The sub-title of the report is given as A Programme for Survival—not a programme for prosperity but for sheer survival, no less.

The second point about the report which strikes one is its global approach to the problems it discusses. It does this in a way that its admirable predecessors, among them the Pearson Report, did not quite manage to do. Here we have an approach to the North/South problem in the context not only of the North and of the South but also of the East and the West—in fact, of the whole world. The global approach inspires and is instilled in every paragraph of this notable report. Throughout it there is the insistence that the undoubted dangers, the urgent dangers, as well as the humane opportunities of the situation, are of vital concern not only to the industrialised North and the less-developed South but also to the ideological East as well as to the Free West. There is a new and welcome clarity with which the report demonstrates that all systems—State capitalist, private capitalist or mixed —are threatened by the deepening curse which afflicts the economic, monetary and social arrangements to which all systems in all countries seem to cling.

Thirdly, the report is emphatic that the old adversarial assumptions and attitudes must be replaced by those of mutuality of interest. That is the truth that hurts. It comes up against all kinds of prejudice and selfishness—nationalistic, ideological, even religious—yet, as the report makes utterly clear, unless all States, unless all systems, indeed, unless all religions, accept the fact of mutual dependence, there can be no survival, let alone prosperity, for any of them. All systems go—if they do not come together. I believe that the leaders of these various systems exaggerate their importance. The facts of life, of danger and of opportunity, that link the people of Eastern Europe with the people of Western Europe, like those that link the people of the North and of the South, are far more compelling and important than the persistent patina of the special pleading of the ideologists.

But things are changing. We see it in some of the iniatives pursued by our own Foreign Secretary, in a reaching forward, not for an adversarial advantage but for the opportunity of co-operation. The peace of the world, at least freedom from a third world war, shows that co-existence is possible. That is the meaning of the period from 1945 to 1980. Co-existence takes place. Now, it must be co-survival. Co-existence can succeed by restraint;co-survival needs something positive. It needs initiative. This is the third important point made by this report.

My Lords, the fourth point is what my noble friend has so admirably illustrated: that the wider the gap between rich and poor regions, the more likely it is that tension, instead of détente, will take over. If a starving man cannot get food for his children he will come and get it;and somehow he will arm himself in order to get it. Indeed, it was one of the melancholy facts of the last 10 to 15 years that, proportionately, the less-developed countries, the poorer countries, are more clamant to buy armaments, more keen, more insistent on buying armaments, than are the developed countries. There are the tears in this thing: when they need every penny that they can spare to develop the life of their people, somehow they feel they must arm themselves for some contingency.

The report seeks ways to narrow the gap between rich and poor;and some very glaring examples of disparity between the wealth and well-being of North and South are given us. For instance, the developed North has only one-quarter of the population but 80 per cent. of the world's income and 90 per cent. of the world's manufacturing capacity. Moreover, it consumes, often wastefully, 85 per cent. of the world's oil production. Those are the startling facts of the imbalance between the developed and the less-developed world. It must be corrected;the gap must be narrowed—for political as well as moral reasons, for practical as well as ethical reasons.

On the other hand, as we have heard, probably more than eight hundred million people in the undeveloped world live in what the report describes as absolute poverty;that is, well below subsistence levels. Consequently many of them—and many of us have seen this on the spot in these countries—lack the energy, mental and physical, to make the most of themselves and the most of their countries' resources. A kind of persistent lethargy, a hopelessness and a haplessness grips an entire community. At the same time, there are in the North some 20 million people, many of them highly skilled, who are unemployed. We have something like £175 thousand million worth of productive capacity lying idle every year. The problem is to activate the idle skill and plant of the developed North, not to make constant donations to the less developed South, but to use it to trigger off production in the South which will create the income and the employment which in turn will create the normal market for these things in the North. One market of course begets the other. The only way we can pay for what we buy is to produce something that the other fellow from whom we want to buy wants to get from us.

There is no doubt that the market is there. Despite this poverty, a third of all the exports of the North go to Third World countries already, and it could be much more given the kind of massive investment by the North in the South which the report urges and indeed endeavours to quantify. The report goes on to suggest a new approach to development finance based on a system of compulsory levies on all countries. For instance, a worldwide progressive tax based on national income, or revenues raised on what is known as global commons—the global domain such as seabed minerals—or a tax on arms production and exports. I think that that is a Swedish concept. It is very attractive.

Less attractive is the proposal—it is not a recommendation but it is given the imprimatur of the report—to tax international trade. One would not expect that one to get very far at a time of looming recession in world trade, when everybody is desperately trying to expand international trade or at least prevent its further contraction by removing as many tariff and non-tariff restrictions as possible. Perhaps that part of the report was written in early 1978 before the hard facts of recessive life were upon us.

Nevertheless, the main thrust of this part of the report is in the right direction. It regards what it calls the massive transfer of resources—I like the word "investment "—in the underdeveloped world by the North in the South not only as a moral imperative to rescue hundreds of millions of human beings from deadly crippling poverty, but also as a practical necessity for the survival of the North as well as the rest of the world—perhaps particularly the North, the industrialised North and West, the Free World. It depends so much on assured access to raw materials, including oil and commodities. The mutuality of interest is very clear indeed.

The major engine of development is finance, and the report makes wide-ranging suggestions, as we have heard, about the reform of the structure and the policy of some of the more important international financial agencies, including the World Bank and the IMF. I was interested to read the reference to the IMF which we are told should be a little bit less prone to impose socially restrictive policies on less developed countries as a condition of assisting them. I am sure that this report will be studied with very great interest—with receptive interest—in the IMF.

More promising, perhaps, is the recommendation that the industrialised countries should definitely meet the present targets of 0.7 per cent. of GNP for official aid to developing countries, and to do so by 1985. That will yield about £30 thousand million extra per annum by that date. It will go a very long way indeed to "beef "up—as is needed—this massive investment from the North to the South in the way the report recommends. Together with strong policies on lending, these injections might indeed trigger off a significant development in countries which are now inert: countries dragging out an existence of poverty, ignorance and disease with their potential as sources of raw materials and as markets unrealised. The report also calls for a global strategy on oil, with the oil-producing countries guaranteeing production levels and avoiding abrupt and disruptive increases in prices.

This is one of the most important single elements in the worsening situation economically and financially in the past decade or so. Since 1973 the intensification of inflation, the disruption of the exchanges, and the acute embarrassment of the national economies, can be traced in part at least to the way in which oil prices have, as it were, without warning doubled, trebled, quadrupled and quin- tupled. As the report suggests, such a strategy—a new stability in the prices of essential materials such as oil—is vital to both developed and developing countries. One welcomes also the emphasis on world food supply—and I was glad to hear my noble friend Lord Listowel make an important point on this—and, in particular, new international arrangements to ensure the supply and reserve storage of grain. We are all in this together. The first requisite of everybody in every country is food;it is probably of higher priority than oil. We must all have food. They must all have grain in Russia, and the needs of different countries may help the creation of a practical mutuality of interest. Many of the less developed countries are indeed potential sources of food, given the right investment in agricultural technology, training and infrastructure. At the same time, they are the most vulnerable to hunger and to famine.

I often think that the problem of food production rivals that of energy in worldwide importance. Since the Industrial Revolution, for about a century and a half, at least, manufacturers have somehow commanded higher prestige and prices than agricultural production. This is changing and it should no longer he assumed that a naturally agriculturally-based country or region must, for prestige purposes as well as assumed economic reasons, have also a considerable manu-facturing industry.

The report here and there tends to repeat this assumption. One would have hoped for a reasoned argument for the development of many underdeveloped countries on modern agricultural lines which of course entails a very wide range of technology and derivative industry. There is still something to be said for the teachings of Adam Smith from time to time, although my friend Professor Milton Friedman has no idea what it is as yet. This specialisation of regions, dictated by climate and maybe temperament—a variety of compelling circumstances—may indicate the most natural and profitable activity for an area. We should not distort it by deferring to what is very often a sense of prestige—" We must have a motor car industry ", and so on. You need not have. Your own resources and your own circumstances will generate the appropriate industry if you work at it.

The excellent analysis of the report prepared by the Overseas Development Institute gives this interpretation of this section of the report—and I hope it is correct: The central aim is to build up the productive system of the poorest countries through large-scale investment in the development of natural resources and infrastructure. The report will have done a great service to the entire world, and not least to the underdeveloped countries themselves, if it gets that message across. That is certainly the right approach. There is no need to reproduce Dagenham in Dakar or vice versa. Let countries and regions do their own thing, with comparable prestige and reward and providing complemental markets.

To conclude, my Lords, I have said that the report is a State paper for all countries and all Governments. It is in truth a programme for survival. No one, I hope, will minimise the urgency of the problems it analyses;and it looks to a summit meeting of representatives of Governments drawn from all parts of the world. It does not hold out much hope that the Communist countries will take part, but it is vital that they should. There is bound to be an unreality about the report itself and about any summit that is convened which is not global in composition and intention. While I agree with my noble friend that we should do everything we can to persuade our own Government, and that other countries should try to persuade their democratic Governments, to give the fullest attention to this report, I think we must speak clearly to our prospective partners in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet Union and in China and say: "Here is this report: it analyses the dangers which threaten you and us;it indicates important solutions which cannot be effectively carried out without you and us".

Therefore, with a mutuality of interest which not only binds North and South but also East and West, I think the next step is to talk clearly and constructively to our counterparts in the Communist regions. All countries and all systems face a common threat to their survival. It should be the aim of this report not only to persuade the North to help the South hut also to persuade East and West to work together so that they survive together.

4.4 p.m.


My Lords, I am fortunate to be able to make my maiden speech on a subject as important as the Brandt Report. Its subject matter has interested me for some 20 years, although my own experience has been rather moreနshall I say?နat the coal face than concerned with international conferences and commissions. if one is to find a text for the report I should rather like to take Browning's: Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's heaven for? There is running through the report, and particularly in the passage by Herr Brandt, a sense of stretching out for goals that are barely attainable and an idealism which I found extremely attractive. May I add how refreshing it is to read a report which is written in such good English? But, just as important, the report argues, I thought convincingly, that it is just as much in the North's interest to foster development for our own good, both politically and in a global sense, for sound, if currently unfashionable, Keynesian reasons.

As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, reminds us, ten years ago Mr. Lester Pearson chaired a commission of equal distinction. Their report, which was also widely acclaimed, concentrated rather more narrowly on what might be called conventional aid. In contrast the canvas of this new report is much wider and recognisesနthis, I think, is perhaps the most important pointနthat Third World development depends upon a whole range of other factors, such as North/South trade, the role of multi-national corporations, balance-of-payments difficulties and the world monetary system, to name but a few.

In 1971, following the publication of the Pearson Report, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by acclamation an overall strategy which was to achieve a growth rate in the developing countries of at least 6 per cent. The target per capita was for an annual average increase of 3½per cent. In the event, the estimated growth rate is likely to be at best 5.2 per cent. and only 2.8 per cent. per capita. For the countries that matter, the poorest countries, with 61 per cent. of the population, the per capita growth rate was only 1–7 per cent., and in Africa a mere 0.2 per cent., which is effectively stagnation.

The first point I want to make, which may seem a bit pedantic, is this—and I use the forceful words of Mr. Robert McNamara in a recent speech: There is little point in establishing overall targets which the poorest countries have no hope whatsoever of achieving". It is for that reason that I find it disconcerting to read of an UNCTAD estimate, which is referred to in the report, of the external capital need to support a 3½per cent. per capita growth rate for the least developed countries in the next two decades. It seems to me that an understanding of the problems of development and how to resolve them in those countries is not going to be advanced by giving the impression that average growth rates can be doubled in such a short time and, even more, that merely supplying sufficient funds will do the trick. Even to achieve far more modest targets requires, according to the World Bank, very bold assumptions both for the economies of the South and in terms of the growth rate of the OECD countries.

Development is not just a rather mechanical business of supplying funds. It is a much more subtle and complex process in which institutional and human factors are often the dominant constraint. The constraints may be of tradition and religion, land tenure, education, inexperienced public administrations, inadequate managerial infrastructures or inappropriate social and economic policies. Some of these problems take a long time to resolve and tend to limit a country's capacity to absorb funds. All this is much better appreciated today than it was 10 or 20 years ago, and organisations such as the World Bank nowadays pay them a great deal of attention particularly at a project level;hut I must confess that I thought the Brandt Report dismissed the problem of absorbtive capacity rather too lightly.

I should like, if I may, to illustrate the sort of problems that arise in practice by examples from the electric power sector, with which I am familiar. Too often one finds, usually for reasons of ignorance or political expediency, that both the level and the structure of tariffs do not reflect economic costs. Again, it is not uncommon to find that anything between 30 and 40 per cent. of electricity supplied is not charged for. The reasons are various. For example, apart from the normal transmission losses, one finds that meters have broken down because of inadequate maintenance. Meters are not read and fraud and theft are extensive. In one country I have been to recently I found the little stores depot had no fewer than six different sorts of meters from Iron Curtain countries. It seems to me quite impossible to run a sensible maintenance workshop if you have an array of meters of that sort. This, as I say, is not untypical. It may be argued that it is wrong to apply Western standards to this sort of thing, but I do not think that gets to the point. A poor country simply cannot afford such losses, which often directly impinge on a very weak balance of payments.

Diagnosis of these problems is the easy part;carrying through effective remedies is much more difficult. It is usually a human problem because it involves people's motivations and attitudes—often down to a grass roots level, such as to the people who read meters. Change of this nature takes time so that it is not surprising that projects take a long time to get off the ground, but it is the stuff of development. It is here that technical assistance, provided that it is imaginative and that there is a long term follow-through—two very important "ifs "—can be highly effective, particularly in getting better use from existing investment let alone new projects. I believe that this is a field of great opportunities.

I suppose I should declare an interest at this point since my firm undertakes a considerable amount of work of this sort for the aid agencies and for Governments. If I may be forgiven a personal note, in our own affairs we do just what I am preaching. We have a vital interest in strengthening our offices in Third World countries. We do this by technical assistance, particularly in the form of staff exchanges—in both directions and on a quite large scale.

It is against this background that one needs to view the recommendation that official aid levels need to be more than doubled by 1985. In the present climate, and however strong the Keynesian arguments, this seems to me to be unrealistic. The Pearson Commission made the same sort of recommendation in much more favourable circumstances ten years ago and, as we have heard, the actual amount of aid in terms of GNP fell slightly. We now learn that the United States, Germany and Japan have said that they will not significantly increase their aid levels over the next five years. It sounds as though Her Majesty's Government are saying much the same thing. It is important to be realistic. Planning can only take place effectively on that basis.

If these are to be the circumstances over the next five years, what should be done? First, I hope that it is reasonable to assume that official aid will not be reduced. Secondly, much more effort needs to go into tackling what I loosely call managerial and organisational problems through technical assistance. Thirdly we need to develop as fast as possible imaginative arrangements such as those of the LoméConventions;for example, commodity schemes and improved access to Northern markets. Last but not least, the private sector needs greater encouragement. I shall come to that point in more detail in a moment.

However, I believe that there is an even more urgent issue;namely, the balance of payments problem. After the 1973–74 oil price increase, the recycling problem was handled to a major extent by the commercial banks. That was a remarkable achievement, even though in some cases it was not perhaps to the long term good of the recipient countries, nor did it always strengthen a bank's balance sheet. Today, it seems highly doubtful whether the commercial banks will be able to step into the breach to the same extent again. The burden will tend to fall on official bodies, probably the International Monetary Fund, and whether it should be done through existing or new instruments remains to be seen. For some countries debt service ratios are now poor. Therefore, it will be even more important to distinguish between the support needed to adjust to the new situation and the support sought to fund deficits arising from levels of expenditure which, regrettably, can no longer be sustained in the long term. The transition will not be easy and will require tolerance on both sides.

Before bringing my remarks to a close, I should like to mention two other points. One, which I was glad to see recognised in the report, is the brain drain of skilled managers and professionals to the North. Obviously this is often a question of money —but not always. Often it is sheer frustration. I am sure that many of your Lordships have come across people from the South who, for one reason or another, or through travelling from one post to another, have come to the North. The loss to the countries from which they come, although the numbers are relatively small, is enormous.

The other point which I should like to mention and which I believe the report rather underrated is the role of the private sector. I fear that it is a habit of planners to forget the entrepreneur, whether he be peasant or business proprietor. In the event, he tends to be, at best, not encouraged and, at worst—certainly in some countries—held back so that a major engine for growth is stunted. There are exceptions, but I believe they rather prove my point. I also put in a plea for greater recognition of the role that our own overseas banks and trading companies can play. I am not thinking of co-financing arrangements so much as making better use of their experience in Third World private sector commercial and industrial investment. They have the knowledge, skill and finance to fill in the gaps which the planners often tend to miss.

I began my remarks with a quotation from Browning. In the light of that challenge, my own response may seem to be rather faint-hearted, but that is certainly not my intention. My reservations relate to practical problems which need to be thought about and opportunities which need to be exploited. Progress depends on imagination. I wish the report Bon voyage and I hope that the Government will be able to do the same.

4.17 p.m.


My Lords, it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on his maiden speech. He chose a most stimulating subject and acquitted himself with distinction. We all look forward to hearing, him again. With the exception of the need to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war, there is no subject more important or of greater urgency than that chosen by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, today. I wish to express from these Benches our gratitude to him and our thanks for the way in which he introduced the Motion.

This is an urgent matter because it relates to the survival of the human race—not survival in the short term but certainly in the medium term. Some of your Lordships may have seen a letter in The Times on 27th February from Mr. Victor Gordon who said this of the Brandt Report: To accept the argument that developed countries threaten the planet with pollution and resource exhaustion, hut at the same time demand intensified efforts to develop the under-developed countries is contradictory, stupid and very dangerous. The developed countries do not know how to run their own economies, and societies—let alone anyone else's

Mr. Gordon concludes by saying: Sir, there are no poor countries, only over-populated ones—our own included". I have some sympathy with those remarks, even though they may be exaggerated. There is a basic contradiction in the argument, and it would be dishonest not to admit that a degree of paradox exists. Where I differ from Mr. Gordon is in the remedy he advocates: namely, that we should stop so-called "aid to Third World countries and leave them to stew in their own juice. I do not think that would be practicable, even if it were desirable. We are now one world and somehow, whatever the difficulties, we must try to solve our problems together.

I propose to confine my remarks largely to that aspect of the report dealing with the link between poverty and high birth rates. A number of sobering forecasts are given. The increase in world population from the present figure of 4½billion to 6½billion within the next 20 years is virtually certain. That is the case because the prospective parents of the new children have already been born.

What happens after the next 20 years is more problematical. It will depend on the decline in the level of fertility, and according to the report we could end up with a world population of anything between 8 billion and 15 billion within 100 years. My own guess is that it will be nearer 15 billion than 8 billion, and I think that the report tends towards over-optimism. Bearing in mind the appalling conditions which already exist in many of these countries—the malnutrition, the starvation, the lack of housing, the unemployment, the shanty towns and over-urbanisation—I am only glad that I shall not be alive to witness the social and economic problems which such an explosion will provide.

The report draws attention to the recent welcome trend of fertility decline in some countries. This is certainly encouraging, especially in China which contains nearly one-quarter of the world's population. But I do not think we should be too euphoric. There are still large areas of the world—the whole of Africa, for example—where no decline has taken place, and indeed in some cases the population growth is accelerating. The latest figures that 1 have seen for Kenya show that the population will double within the next 18 years—the fastest growth rate in the world.

When I was working in Kenya about 20 years ago, I remember seeing the Kikuyu women going further and further each day in search of their load of firewood, which they brought back strapped to their foreheads. Women's Lib had not reached Kenya in those days, and I doubt whether it has reached it now. But the time must come fairly soon when there are no more forests for them to plunder.

Last week I asked a Question in your Lordships' House about the alarming rate of destruction of tropical forest. The disappointing reply which I received indicated that the Government were not very concerned. Yes, forest was being depleted, but there was an awful lot left —that was the gist of the reply—and there was not very much to worry about. But this complacency is not shared by the Brandt Commission. They explain, on page 83 and on page 114, the disastrous effects of the present rates of deforestation —this has already been touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw—how the firewood crisis of the poor has an indirect effect oil the food supply, because of the diversion of dung from its proper use as a fertiliser, and how the world's ecological system and climate may be gravely threatened. So I hope that when the Government have had more time to consider the implications of the forestry aspect, they will take a less negative view.

Then, my Lords, take the cases of India and Bangladesh, and here I move from deforestation back to population, though, Heaven knows, the firewood crisis applies to India as much as it does to any other country in the world. In spite of the most strenuous efforts by the Indian Government—efforts which may at times have been misjudged and for which, to my mind, Mrs. Gandhi has been most unjustly condemned—the birthrate continues at an alarming level. As Richard Wigg, in one of his series of articles from South India in The Times on 4th March put it: The doubling of its population over the past 40 years, has been the greatest single obstacle across India's path to progress. The country has ' voted by the genitals ' to negate its own economic gains". In Bangladesh, the position is even worse than it is in India. Already the most densely populated country in the world, it will double itself within 24 years. What we have to do is to try to ensure that India and other developing countries do not negate in the next 40 years the same economic gains as they have negated in the past. This can be done only by introducing economic development, hand in hand with population policies. One is useless without the other. And, of course, economic development means in this context education and the emancipation of women. It is largely the lack of education in India, especially of Indian women in the countryside, which is responsible for the relative lack of success in controlling population growth in that country.

The effect of education is well illustrated in Sri Lanka, which has a high literacy rate, and which I was fortunate enough to visit last August as a member of the British delegation attending the Parliamentary Conference on Population and Development. It is a small country and an impoverished one, but its record is impressive. It has already reduced its birth rate to 26 per 1,000 which is low by Third World standards. Population control is stressed at all levels, from government departments down to village schools. The British Government have given—and wisely given, in my view —substantial economic aid to Sri Lanka for the Mahaweli dam project. This will bring many hectares of uncultivated land into agricultural use. But the Sri Lankans are well aware that more land is not available for indefinite projects of this kind. It will merely give them a breathing space in which to settle some of their surplus population, until such time as they can achieve zero population growth.

What are the lessons for us in the United Kingdom? I believe that there are several. First, we should—subject to one important condition—keep up, and if possible increase, our aid to the developing countries, whether bilateral or multilateral;and here I support strongly what was said by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. As the Brandt Report makes clear, it is in our own interest to do so. But the condition is that such aid must take account of population policies, or the lack of them, in the countries concerned. Aid to Sri Lanka is an example of aid well spent. Aid to a country which is taking no steps to curb population growth, is money poured down the drain. It is useless and it is an insult to the British taxpayer who has to foot the bill.

Secondly, a higher proportion of our total aid should be tied to population projects. Of the present £706 million given annually in overseas aid, only £7 million is tied to such projects;that is, 1 per cent. Even if this were increased to 2 per cent. or £14 million, it would still leave £700 million for overseas aid in general. I really do ask the Government to consider whether or not some reallocation of resources in this way would be appropriate.

Thirdly, I believe that we in the West have to do more to educate our own people to understand the gravity of the crisis with which the world is threatened. I believe that there is profound ignorance at all levels. The ignorance starts with Ministers and it pervades the whole body politic. It is hardly surprising that the average man and woman in the street has no idea of the transformation in social conditions which must be expected as a result of the doubling of the world's population within a generation.

Within the last two years a parliamentary group under the chairmanship of Lord Houghton of Sowerby has come into existence with a view to stimulating parliamentary interest in Westminster. But, in my view, the process should extend well beyond the confines of Parliament. I believe that education on population and development should start in our schools, just as it starts in Sri Lankan schools, and that adult awareness should be achieved in every way possible, including through the medium of television, especially when the fourth channel comes into operation. Surely the Government have a big part to play here. They can give enormous encouragement, if they choose.

The report covers an enormous field and I have covered only one small aspect of it. What is to me important is that it is not the brain child of academics, however brilliant, but the distilled wisdom of some of the world's most distinguished statesmen—statesmen who have practical experience of the issues and the difficulties involved. So I hope that when the Government have had time to digest it—and as it was printed only yesterday they have not had much time so far—they will look very carefully at the recommendations of the Brandt Report. It seems to me that they are so important that it is incumbent on the Government to give them the most sympathetic consideration.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him one question? The noble Lord knows that I sympathise with him totally about birth control, but may I ask him whether he remembers that at the Bucharest Population Conference practically every country got up and said, "We do not want just your aid;we want your know-how." That is something we must always take into consideration when we talk about birth control.


My Lords, I take the point of the noble Baroness, and I am sure that the Brandt Commission have taken it also.

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, I join your Lordships and the previous speaker, Lord Vernon, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on his excellent maiden speech. We hope that we shall hear him many times. The Brandt Report is very significant. As the papers very properly say, it is the most important document which has been produced in Britain this year. But it is more than that. It is an historic docu- ment, in the ultimate sense of the word. It can either be treated as a Domesday Book in William the Conqueror's sense of the word or it can be treated as a Domesday Book in terms of the Apocalypse. We are assessing here the world's resources and the nature of the world's problems which can be resolved by the handling of these resources—within those resources, naturally I include human resources—and how we can deal, in a chaotic world, with situations which are so out of hand at the moment that, no matter where we live, in fact, as the report makes clear in all its analyses, we are heading for very, very serious trouble.

As I have said, the report is historic. We have had many reports in the past, including the Pearson Report which, as has been pointed out, was an analysis of how we are going and where we are going. This is a completely new look. It embodies what I, from my own personal experience, regard as the lessons of the last 30 years—lessons which have been consistently and very considerably ignored. Thirty years ago through the UN we embarked upon this great experiment in social development.

It was a great experiment in which for the first time in man's history Governments took responsibility for populations other than their own. We moved in with the special agencies of the United Nations;we moved in with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund;and we moved in with technical assistance to try to transfer our existing experience and knowledge to those who could benefit from it. My experience of the last 30 years has been very trying. When I speak about population, I have to say that I am one of those people who can always put names and faces to statistics;and that is very sobering when you look back and think about the suffering which you have seen and which you thought you were getting rid of and then you see the extension of that suffering simply by people's omissions.

Naturally, I am impressed by the Brandt Report. I am very much impressed by Willy Brandt's personal introduction in which he says what is the hard and regrettable truth about most politicians and statesmen. On page 9 of the report he says: But it is none the less true that, as a head of government, other priorities took up most of my time and kept me from realizing the full importance of North-South issues. I certainly did not give enough attention to those of my colleagues who at that time advocated a reappraisal of our priorities". As has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, this is a peculiarly important document in another sense. It has not been produced by eggheads but by experienced statesmen, including our own Mr. Edward Heath. But I think that what Willy Brandt says is probably true of the lot of them; not that they had been disregarding the world at large but that they had been preoccupied with other things which kept them from realising what is now being impressed upon us;namely, the quite enormous significance of this North-South situation, a situation which, as has been said, is in its way as dangerous as the risks of nuclear war—and which may include nuclear war if we neglect it. That is something which we must get to grips with, and I think the report has quite admirably got to grips with it.

It has been said that there is nothing very new or original in the ideas that it contains—that it has all been said before. Certainly it has been said before in the variety of the conferences which I have attended during all these years. But the report is very important in this sense: it accepts, recognises, analyses and gives authority to those who a few years ago would have been regarded purely as "cranky". We have now got authority —when I say "we "I mean the people who have had this intimate and active concern in the actual interventionist sense —and we are now beginning to make our point clear. One of the points which we must recognise in this approach to the development of the world is that it cannot be a "we "and "they "situation.

I think I have previously quoted in your Lordships' House the poem of Rudyard Kipling, Debits and Credits: Father and mother and me Sister and auntie say, All good people like us are We ' And everyone else is ' They '. And ' They ' live over the sea, While ' We' live over the way. But would you believe it, would you believe it They look upon ' We ' As only a sort of ' They '? This is no longer a "we "and "they "situation. As the Brandt Report made manifestly clear, we are all in it together. It is not a question of where we are looking for our prestige;and it is not even a question of where we are looking for gratitude. One of the things which I am afraid comes through too often is the fact that we have been treating this as a problem of charity. This is not a problem of charity;it is a problem of investment, and I agree with my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts that in fact we should speak about investment and not about just the sharing of resources. Aid in this sense is the sharing of resources and, as I always say, that includes human resources.

We now have here an analysis, a study, suggestions, substantiations and so forth, of arguments. What we have to do now is to look around and see things clearly at this late hour—and I assure your Lordships that it is a very late hour because of what has failed to happen in the last 30 years. I did a report for the Secretary General of the United Nations on the application of science and technology in the developing countries. I travelled the world to cover it, and when I came to write that report and, finally, to present it, the Secretariat of the UN said, "What are we going to call this report?". I said, "Call it The Years that the Locusts have Eaten "—the years of the lost opportunities, because the evidence had been plain and we neglected the evidence. I may say that we did not call it that;we called it New Dimension and New Opportunities. That is the way in which we now approach the world's problems in general—hoping we have profited from our mistakes.

I say emphatically that this report, to a degree which has not been evident in most studies of this kind, recognises the fact that so often the mistakes we made were made always with the best intentions. There may have been some mischief-making on the commercial side, but in terms of what we, as people, were trying to do, it was with the best intentions. It often went wrong, and it went wrong for a very good reason: that was that we gave them what we knew they needed without ever asking them what they wanted. So nothing could stick: it was a graft that would not take. We were imposing our ideas as to what culturally, and indeed ideologically, we wanted and without ever thinking for one moment that they might have different ideas and aspirations and culture from those we had.

This has meant the failure of our work: not just the fact that we were wrong in trying to do it;it just did not work and could not work. So now we have here, I think, a proper appraisal: the exposure of the great, gaping and ghastly wounds that in some cases we have inflicted on the international community in the last 30 years. Because we tried to do this business of saying, "We are so much better and so much wiser than you are". That was wrong because our ultimate wisdom did not even work when it was on the ground;we did not even get the "comeback "from it. This means that we must think again and as this report makes clear, thinking again means that there is no sense in today's world monetary policy. We must find new mechanisms. There is also a great deal of criticism, in which I have certainly joined—with a great many of my friends who are intimate with the workings of the United Nations' agencies —in saying that we must have another look at how the United Nations works. We are not trying to destroy the international order, but are simply saying that after 30 years there are many practical ways in which the organisation can be improved.

One thing is lacking in this report—and this is not a recrimination. I am surprised, in the light of the breadth and depth of the report, how little account has been taken of what in fact is now, I suggest, a major factor in thinking about global problems: the development of the resources of the sea. We are now entering the ninth session of the Law of the Sea Conference and we hope within a year to get a law of the sea convention, but in all the discussions and all the implications of the law of the sea there has to be what this report is asking for;namely, a new approach, a new type of thinking, a new "institutionalising "beyond the narrowness of simply national bargaining.

Bargaining is going on on the Law of the Sea Conference, but in the ultimate what we are really looking for is some kind of order for the oceans which in fact would provide a model for what should he possible in terms of international co-opera- tion. As I have said, we want an adequate, properly conceived and inspired international seabed authority and we want the "International Enterprise", technologically to develop the oceans as the common heritage. All the things that are going on in the ocean debates at the moment concern all the people we are talking about, including the 40 landlocked countries. In the work that I have been doing on the law of the sea we have been literally, physically and geographically in the coastal countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, saying "Look what you are taking on. You are taking on the 200-mile limit, you are claiming the resources of the sea bottom, you are claiming to control the environment of the coastal waters, and you are trying to get economic advantage from this, and still saying that you are not going to be exploited in the way that the colonial countries of the 19th century were exploited in terms of the extraction of resources". They want to have a say in what is done.

This is a very big problem because the peoples of the developing countries must acquire the kind of experience which will make it possible for them to cope. They need not just the ultimate technology, but the knowledge how to choose the technology before one even gets into the technology. Otherwise, as will certainly happen in the case of the sea, the whole of the ocean bed development, the mining and everything else, will be taken over not only by the multinational corporations but by congLomérates of them, to the extent that we shall not be able to identify the nationality of the components. What we are talking about here is development through the transfer of knowledge and skills from North to South, and indeed an exchange of resources. All my experience of 30 years has taught me that this is not in fact charity;it is not aid in the narrow sense of giving: it is in fact mutual aid in which we are getting as much back as we are putting in, in all senses of the word.

4.50 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of DERBY

My Lords, there is a danger that we should so concentrate on the details of this report at this stage and begin to criticise them and qualify them that we render the whole report nugatory. That would be disastrous not only for ourselves but for the world in general. I should like to reiterate what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in his fine maiden speech about the vision of this report and the fact that it is worldwide in its range. It represents to us the interdependence of the different parts of the world and the different races in a moving and challenging way. We need to be facing this challenge with all its urgency.

In the report there seems to be something of the nature of prophecy, seeing the vision, accepting its challenge and then showing the way forward, the path which people need to take if they are to realise the vision. A striking thing about it is that it is completely lacking in the kind of patronage which we and other western countries so easily adopted in generations past. We are shown that we ourselves are dependent on the developing countries, and this is a recognition that needs to be given fully. So I see in this report a great responsibility laid on any who have the well being of humanity at heart, and within this I see a particular responsibility for the Christian Churches and their leaders.

I think that we shall be failing greatly if we do not give this report priority in a great deal of our thinking. But it is also a particular responsibility laid on Members of this House and Members of the House of Commons, and I share the gratitude to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for bringing this report at this early stage before the House, because attention needs to be given to it. But within the total parliamentary responsibility Her Majesty's Government, whatever Government may be in office at this particular time, have a special responsibility. Successive Governments have done a great deal, but the stance of the Government in power, as the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, has implied, is of particular importance in determining attitudes and actions in the community in general.

There is one general criticism that some people have made and that is the appeal to self-interest. The criticism is made as though this was something new. In fact, it is a principle on which people act in a large part of their lives, because few actions are performed from utterly pure motives. Self-interest very often strengthens and supports good motives. This is demonstrated continually in the way in which people are moved to be honest and speak the truth. But here is more than self-interest;here is mutual self-interest, and mutual self-interest moved by justice and compassion.

There must be many people who find in the report something of an answer to their quest and their deep longing for world peace. How is this to be secured?

There is a fine sentence: More arms are not making mankind safer, only poorer.". This is something which we need to grasp. I do not question the need for weapons of defence, but it is increasingly clear that the main threat to the western position is from subversion, and therefore it is best countered by non-military means. The battle is for the hearts and minds of ordinary people around the world, and this is one reason why the proposals in this report are of such urgent importance.

Another point at which interest and concern in this country could be kindled is the awareness of world hunger. Something has been done to bring this into people's consciousness and the consciousness is becoming more concerned, but a great deal more needs to be done. So the need is for the global food programme—one part of the four-part emergency programme for the coming five years that the report outlines. Along with this go the needs for health and education, and the need for people in other countries in the South to be themselves able to earn a reasonable income. This is part of the way in which our mutual dependence can develop.

The report stresses, and rightly stresses, the quality of aid, and we need to go on stressing that. We need to ask, for example, what tools and techniques are needed by the ordinary worker in other countries if progress is to be made. Doing this would help to avoid the kind of haste which has occurred because of indiscriminate charity and the corruption that exists in some cases where it has been given. We have Intermediate Technology UK, which has been well supported by Her Majesty's Government over the past few years. There is the American counterpart, Appropriate Technology International, but we ought not to ignore the new financial appeal of the Schumacher Centre for Appropriate Technology. This country can give a great lead in this field, but we should acknowledge gratefully what has already been done.

We are, however, being asked to double official development assistance. Is this unrealistic? Yes, to some extent it is. The phrase has been used, "the relevance of an impossible ethical ideal ", and we can say the same sort of thing about some things being unrealistic. Here is the kind of unrealistic vision which can be realised, if the people have the will to realise it. Of course, there is a need for an enormous change of mind, something of a conversion on the part of people in general. No Government can do this without popular opinion being ready for this new outlook. But a Government can give a lead. Its own moral convictions and its deeds are important. So I hope that Her Majesty's Government will support this report in its whole world of ideas, but also I hope, as has been suggested already, that it will not cut its present aid, but increase it. I recognise the need for cuts in expenditure at the present time but there must be discrimination. A reduction in what is given to overseas aid would not only be disastrous in itself but would represent something seriously wrong in the whole attitude and understanding of the people of this country.

In conclusion, in these days when the parable of the Good Samaritan is becoming part of the stock in trade of political speeches, perhaps I may be allowed to make some reference to that. The parables of Jesus are not allegories, although they have frequently been interpreted in that manner, so that we cannot argue that the priest and Levite passed by because they were having to cut their personal expenditure. The parable was told in answer to the question, "Who is my neighbour?", asked by the lawyer wanting to vindicate himself. But, as always with parables, the way in which Jesus deals with them at the end is the crucial point, and what he does is to turn the question right round. He does not answer the question "Who is my neighbour ", but asks, "Which do you think was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" It is always our response to the situation which matters, and not our attempting to decide who the limited group of people are to whom the help must be given. "Go and do as he did" was the result. Charity, love of neighbour, expresses itself corporately in justice which is brought about by a mutual sharing of resources, and this in general and in particular is what this splendid report urges us to do.

5 p.m.


My Lords, the congratulations of this House are due to two noble Lords. First, they are due to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, because I believe that this is the first legislature that has debated and discussed this important international document. We are, therefore, indebted to him for having given us the opportunity of a "first". Secondly, the congratulations of the House are, of course, due to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who spoke with such distinction and knowledge of the subject that is before us.

We are fortunate in the House of Lords to be able to assemble a fair range of expertise, knowledge and experience when we address ourselves to problems of this kind. Of course, it has been said by almost every speaker who has participated in this debate that, unless we face and deal with the issues which have been raised, we shall not survive. Perhaps we say it so often, and have been saying it so often, that it tends to become rather meaningless and a cliché. However, if we look at the fabric of Western society or of the world community we can see that it is already shredding here and there. We see the uncertainties, the difficulties and the insecurity which are threatening the future of our society.

When I read the Brandt Report, two personal experiences came back to me. The first was when, during the war, London was suffering bombing, I made my way to a flat in Regent Square where there was a very wise old man with great prophetic wisdom. He sat amidst the ruins around him in Regent Square and contemplated the future of mankind. He said: "As a biologist, I have studied how species in the animal world survive or disappear. Those that disappear have been incapable of adapting to the environment in which they live. "Mr. H. G. Wells, contemplating the post-war world, and looking at the ruins around him made the same judgment on us. He said: "Unless we are able to create international institutions with authority recognising the fact that we have become one world "—and that is our environment—" and unless we adapt to those circumstances, mankind will perish. "It is interesting that in 1980 the Brandt Report repeats that judgment.

The other experience which came back to me on reading the Brandt Report is one which I share with the noble Lord, Lord Galpern. He and I entered the Glasgow City Council in the 1930s. At that time the infantile mortality rate in the East-end of Glasgow was 103 per thousand live births. In the West-end of Glasgow it was 23 per thousand live births. We were living in that city in a sense in the same situation as depicted in its much more extreme forms—the disparities are much greater—in the Brandt Report. We realised that there was no security, no community of spirit and no morality in a city which permitted these disparities. Because of our growing social awareness and because of growth in wealth-production, we were able to iron out some of those disparities and to create a better social environment for the children of Glasgow to live in. In a sense the Brandt Report paints that picture on a global scale. There is one part of our world living in affluence and another part living in mass poverty, and they are doing that within what we must recognize as one world community.

Nowadays there is no escape. I visit some parts of the world where there is great affluence and where people try to escape from responsibility. But there is no escape. We are interdependent and to the extent that we ignore the claims of the developing world we, in fact, shall suffer too. The central message of the Brandt Report is the mutuality and interdependence of the North and South.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby who has just spoken, quoted the question asked by the lawyer in the parable;namely, "Who is my neighbour?". That was the challenge. Our neighbour is no longer the fellow next door or the other chap in Glasgow where I live: our neighbour is in other parts of the world. Our concern for our neighbour is the important point of the Brandt Report.

It has been said that the Brandt Report arises at a most unfortunate time and that perhaps we should have paid attention to the Pearson Report of 10 years ago when we were not operating in an atmosphere of public spending cuts, cutbacks and so on. I do not believe that that is so. I believe that the Brandt Report has arrived at a most appropriate time—at a time when the world is looking for new directions, and the basis of modern Western society is being questioned and challenged. Any society which runs out of its momentum, its dynamic and its growth is difficult to justify. But if we look around the world today we can see that investment is slowing down, unemployment is increasing and the basic justification of our society, which was a growth society which contributed to the creation of increased wealth in the world, is now being questioned.

Is this not the time to try to inject new directions and even inject some idealism into the situation which is becoming dark with depression? I think that we must face these matters realistically. I mentioned that the basis of our society is being challenged. The uncertainties are there for all to see. Those of us who operate in the financial world will appreciate the great uncertainties that exist in the world's banking system. As has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on the last occasion we were able to recycle the petro-dollars—a great achievement of the world banking system. We did it by various devices and notably the substantial development of the Eurocurrency markets.

If we look at the present situation of United States banking, which is central to the whole world's banking situation, we see that more than 50 per cent. of United States bank assets are now held in fixed interest stocks in a period of rising interest rates;that substantial commitments are at risk in Iran; that substantial loans are also at risk in the developing countries and that we are now engaged in international competition on interest rates. In order to combat its own internal inflation, one country after another is pushing up its interest rates day after day, and even with our higher interest rates today, there are suggestions that we may go even further. These are frightening prospects because if interest rates are pushed up to that extent, it becomes increasingly difficult to invest. That is bad for the West and for the growth of the economies of the West, but it is even worse for the developing countries who have to borrow substantially in international markets in order to finance their necessary progress.

The uncertainty in world financial markets is causing the OPEC countries to think again and to ask: "Where will we put these petrodollars if they cannot be recycled? "In that event they may be attracted to keep the oil in the ground, because it is an asset that will survive if it is kept there. A cut-back in oil production of the OPEC countries could certainly contribute to a general slowing down of the whole world economy. That is the threat that is before us. We are in a situation where we must move in new directions if we are to justify the existence of the kind of society that we all cherish and enjoy.

I should like to say a few words about investment and the importance of investment. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, about the importance of private investment in developing countries. This may sound less morally justified than outright aid, but outright aid will never solve the problem of growth in the developing countries. Aid is extremely important, but the great and substantial influence for growth in the developing countries must come from encouragement of private investment. However, private investment must see that investment not as a rip off in old colonial terms;it must see that investment as a partnership and must provide for equity participation of the countries concerned in the growth of the economy and in the development of their material resources.

Therefore, there must be an attitude on the part of private investors to develop the partnership and have the exchange of personnel which the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, mentioned, and the exchange in technology. Partnership and not simply investment is the key. Private investors can live and develop for mutual advantages in these countries. The trouble about investment so far has been that these countries, because they are in a high-risk situation, have had to borrow short-term in order to finance long-term investment, on which there is a slow return and a delayed pay back. I am always fascinated by the fact that there is great excitement in British industry about going to China to sell power plants and other major capital items, or lining up to enjoy the excellent terms for supplying capital equipment to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. They feel that in these countries there is a degree of safety in long-term investment;these Governments tend to he around for a long time.

However, there is less certainty and, therefore, less enthusiasm in investmentof the developing countries. Perhaps the new international institutions about which the Brandt Report speaks can provide some kind of security and protection for private capital investment in some of these developing countries. The ECGD can only cover its normal insurance risks, but we must have a much greater protection if private capital is to be sufficiently encouraged to take the long-term views which are essential in the developing countries.

I should like to make one final point, and I apologise for speaking so long. There is one area that has not been discussed at great length in the debate so far, but to me it is a critical area. It is in relation to armaments. The figures quoted in the report state that we spend 450 billion dollars per annum on arms and that we spend 20 billion dollars per annum on aid. Surely that is an imbalance;surely we should realise that the mere pumping of arms into these areas creates the uncertainty and insecurity which we seek to avoid. Surely there are opportunities for initiatives in this direction. I read in the Financial Times yesterday that Uganda—poor old Uganda, suffering from a post-Amin hangover—will this year spend 23 per cent. of its budget on defence and 7 per cent. of its budget on agriculture, on which its economy depends. Its whole economy is based on agriculture, yet 7 per cent. only will go to agriculture but 23 per cent. to defence. It is that imbalance that we must help to correct and this is an area where we can take initiatives.

Finally, I come to the queston of aid, which has been mentioned. We are far short of the 0.7 per cent. which is the agreed target. We are far short—and I have quoted this before in this House—of the I per cent. of our GNP in this country which we gave in aid at the end of the last war, when this country was bombed and seriously disrupted by the years of war and destruction. We then gave I per cent. of our GNP for the reconstruction of Europe and the world. Those who believe that Communism can be contained by simply multiplying arms should read the figures quoted in the Brandt Report, which says that the United States gave 4 per cent. of its GNP to Marshall Aid, and it was Marshall Aid that was a major contributor to the defeat of the spread of Communism throughout the whole of Europe. Therefore, in addressing themselves to the challenge of the Brandt Report, I hope that the Government will look at the areas in which they can take initiatives. They will earn the credit they deserve throughout the world if they are shown as pioneers in responding to the challenge of the Brandt Report.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, I join with other noble Lords in thanking my noble friend Lord Listowel for introducing this debate and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, for contributing his maiden speech to it. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, is obviously well informed and has given a good deal of thought to this matter. I think that we shall need him in the future, and I hope that we shall hear from him on this and other subjects again.

I am really concerned with attitudes towards this problem because, unless we can change attitudes, we shall get nowhere. I do not know whether your Lordships read what I thought was a remarkable leading article published in the Sunday Times of 17th February, which was a splendid introduction to this debate. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to quote the first paragraph: The most important event this year was the release last week of a small paperback book of 300 pages. It surfaced only briefly in the headlines, rapidly submerged by Mark Thatcher and his mother, Arthur Scargill and his bully boys, Kevin Keegan and his manager, and tremors from Teheran to Lake Placid. That in itself is part of the problem. The book has more real meaning for all our lives than any of the clamour which routinely assails us. What a lot of truth there is in that. Indeed, I am sure that many noble Lords will have had the experience I have had from time to time when friends have come over from Asian countries and visited Westminster to listen to our debates. They go away reflecting on the politics of affluence. They think that we are afflicted by some form of congenital discontent. The higher the standards of living rise, the more the grievances multiply over relativities, fair comparisons, and differentials. Now as we face cuts in public expenditure the air is thicker still with grievances. Some of the cuts foretold cause pain and anguish, and send thousands of people on to the streets when they feel deeply about some threat to their sectional or personal interests.

But one cut which may well pass almost unnoticed at all times is a reduction in overseas aid. Even where poverty is very real this bit of saving, marginal saving on overseas aid, can be made without upsetting the man in the street. The Labour Government did it on one occasion, and this Government did appear to be doing it themselves. It may not be a chop, it may be a slice with a razor blade, but the wound nevertheless will be there. We may yet see some further cutback in our overseas aid in the White Paper on public expenditure. That would be the economics of shame. The economics of reality and of self-interest would surely be to put overseas aid on the defence budget, because that is where it really belongs. It is the peace of the world as well as the survival of the world with which we are concerned.

The Brandt Report—a remarkable document—tells us that one quarter of the world's population has 80 per cent. of the world's income, and 90 per cent. of its manufacturing capacity, and consumes 85 per cent. of the world's oil production. How can we hope for a peaceful future on a formula like that? This is the recipe for revolution, chaos, and war. There is no doubt about it. How much longer will the greater majority of the world's population tolerate the maldistribution of the world's resources? If these wide differences between wealth and poverty existed in this country we should say that this is a moral issue, and we would apply all our political, economic, and social morality to getting some improvement in the situation. But to many people in this country the morals of this problem stop at the boundary of our country. The nation state is an issue unto itself.

The great thing about this report that we have had from Willy Brandt and other distinguished members is that it spells out the writing on the wall. A lot of it we have heard before. A lot of it is so true that it will have to be repeated time and again. But we have to regard this as yet another warning to the peoples of the world. Our own distinguished Edward Heath was a member of the Brandt Commission. While it is not unusual to turn to former holders of political power for our wisdom and vision—especially our vision—we want these matters also to engage the attention of those who hold political power at the present, because it is their responsibility.

What qualities of statesmanship emerge when Ministers are released from the bondage of office! It is astonishing, and welcome, because politics is too often the pragmatic response to short-term pressures. The media take the political temperature every few weeks to warn Governments not to go in for long-term solutions of anything that might prove unpopular, and this is really what governs the length and breadth of the vision of a country under a democracy unless it is stimulated to understand the problems that have to be dealt with, and education endows it with the intelligence to pursue them.

No intelligent and far-sighted view of the future can be taken by any country anywhere without studying population trends both at home and elsewhere. If world population is growing by 1 million every five days, what will another 2 billion people mean to us in the next two decades? There are already hundreds of millions below the poverty line, and if this number grows and grows where does the breaking point come? When is the ultimate reached? When comes the real threat to world order and civilised living?

The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, referred to some of the problems of the energy shortage that faces the world in the future. How long will it be before the insatiable demand for energy of the industrial nations drives oil starved nations to grow grain, crops, and sugar for alcohol fuel instead of food? What price starvation then when the distillers of the world unite, rather like the OPEC countries, in order to send up the price of the new-found energy?

Many of the points in the Brandt report are not new, and unfortunately they make little impact upon millions of people throughout the world, in the better off countries as well as the others, because they are concerned with their everyday affairs. Living to many people is a full-time job, and they are not able to cast their minds over a wider perspective of world conditions and become aroused by it. What we need in this context is more emotion; more feelings of the morality of the situation. If more of our moralists could get sex off their minds and devote their deep feelings about what is decent in the world to looking at destitution and poverty and the ghastly conditions elsewhere, then it might be a better world to live in.

We shall not get public opinion aroused easily over this, but we have to do our best. Above all, it is the political will, and the political leadership of men and women of determination, with a sense of national duty, who feel as strongly about this as they feel about security and defence that is needed. I believe that our political leadership need the reinforcement of the numbers and voices of Members of your Lordships' House and of another place to encourage them, and to give them the feeling that they are doing what it is wise and desirable to do.

The noble Lord, Lord Vernon, in an interesting speech, was kind enough to refer to me and to the British Group on Population and Development—a member of the International Group of Parliamentarians on Population and Development—which came into being two years ago. It is a remarkable creation in parliamentary activity. Only two years ago was this movement started throughout the world, and the initiative was provided largely by a few able Members of both Houses of this Parliament. At the Colombo Conference last September, at which Mr. Edward Heath spoke among many other notable people from many parts of the world, 58 delegations of countries with a parliamentary system came together to join in one common declaration on one common purpose, and noble Lords were supplied in large numbers with what has been called the Colombo Declaration.

If I may be permitted a parliamentary commercial, I beseech noble Lords to give attention to this group and to join it because the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, and the noble Lord, Lord Oram, who is yet to speak, are members of this group. We believe that throughout the world people are looking to the British group for leadership and initiative in this field, and it really would be disgraceful if our prestige were to be undermined at this particular time by the Government's unimaginative approach to public expenditure. I wish Cabinets could get rid of this schoolboy mentality that they are not able to save any money unless every Minister shares in the misery; I have seen it happen myself. There should be some courage which enables Ministers and Cabinets to discriminate between one form of saving of public expenditure and another.

What we are looking to the Minister to give us is as firm an assurance as he can that by 1985 this country will reach the target of the proportion of GNP to be devoted to overseas aid that we set ourselves to accomplish this year, and we are only half way there. I sincerely hope that that at least can come from the Government. I believe it would be quite shocking if Britain pleaded poverty to the destitute of the world and said, "We are sorry, but we cannot afford it". They know we can afford it, and we can. What a mockery in The Year of the Child to know that in the poorest countries one child in four dies before the age of five, and I conclude with a parting shot to the House, to the Government and to anybody else who is listening: that alone should put some of the worries of this week in better perspective.

5.33 p.m.


My Lords, I wish all of us could show the capacity for exporting fervour to others as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, has shown us today and on other days. I agree with him. We have a job to do in the country as a whole to make people understand this problem, and I join with others in thanking the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for initiating this debate, even though he knows that I found it difficult to get through the report in time for this debate, bearing in mind that it was published so recently. I also join noble Lords in congratulating my old friend, if I may call him that, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who for many years was an auditor of a great international bank of which I was chairman, and who displayed a mastery of the problem about which he spoke to us so well this afternoon, as well as an awesome and perhaps wholesome strictness about figures. I wish also to thank the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts, for what he said from the Front Bench opposite and, if I am allowed to do so, on behalf of my right honourable friend Mr. Heath, I should like to thank him for what he said, I believe most deservedly, about his contribution to this discussion. I hope his noble friends will pass on those thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Goronwy-Roberts.

I asked myself, as I prepared for this debate, besieged as one is by the problems of today, running one's business, looking at the problems of the economy and the problems of Europe, besieged all around, why it was that somebody like myself —and there are plenty of others like me—should wish to take time off from those things and join your Lordships in a discussion of this great problem and of solutions to it that seem to run counter to everything we read in our morning newspapers about cut, cut, cut and to everything we read about the impossibility of having growth in the standard of living and the earnings of people.

My answer is quite simple, and it is the same as the answer given by several of your Lordships. It is simply that the world is one;one world, an idea of today just as important as the idea of our ancestors of 120 years and more ago when they had to explain to our countrymen that we were one nation. It is this global vision of the Brandt Report which has brought me here this afternoon and persuaded me to inflict myself on your Lordships about overseas aid policy for the first time for about 10 years;in fact, on the last occasion my noble friend sitting next to me, Lord Home of the Hirsel, was answering the debate.

As Chancellor Brandt wrote, it is precisely in this time of crisis that basic world issues must be faced and bold initiatives taken. At this stage in the debate there is no need to rehearse the report's analysis of the facts about the world. These facts are horrifying and the certainty is that all these things will get worse if we go on as we arc, despite the very praiseworthy steps that have been taken by many countries and their Governments, by international institutions, the World Bank, the United Nations, food organisations and so on, despite the enormous increase in private international lending to developing countries, in recent years particularly, and, I think we should add, despite the very significant steps that have been taken by a number of countries of the developing world to improve their own situation in recent decades. I would mention Kenya and India and, more recently, South Korea, and to me the thriving success of some others, Singapore and Taiwan, is not a reason for doing nothing but a sign of what can be done.

It must be said about this report that it is in every way a balanced document as well as a comprehensive survey of the world situation. Frankly, I do not detect in the report the shortcomings mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, speaking from the Liberal Benches. He mentioned two—energy and conservation—and I turned up the pages, carefully indexed, and I found exactly the points covered which he said were not mentioned, and I will return to one of them shortly.

The report reminds us of the steps taken by international agencies even right up to last year. It reminds us of the great benefits to many of the developing nations that have followed from the activities of the private sector in the North and particularly from the activities of what are called trans-national companies, and it reminds us of the fears which some peoples have of them. The report also reminds us that the developing nations of the world have themselves a vital role to play and want to be self-reliant. Again, in answer to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, it certainly does not seek to set out the kind of society which the developing countries should have. It specifically says that they must decide that, and on this occasion I am on the side of the report, not on the side of the Liberal Benches in this House.

I should like to ask the noble Lord who is to speak for the Government a more simple question than was asked by the noble Lord who preceded me. I should merely like to ask him whether the Government accept the analysis in the report of the present world situation and of the consequences of the world going on as at present. If the answer is, Yes, I think the noble Lord will get the right answer to his question, too.

The great theme in the report is the theme of mutuality;the theme that there is a mutual interest shared by the North and the South, and that this mutual interest is the cement that should bind us together in tackling the problems. It is this mutual interest that is the basis of the recommendations that are made, and, I think, the basis of the hope of the Commissioners that more action will follow more quickly than has followed other reports, which perhaps stressed more the duty that we have—and it is a duty, as the right reverend Prelate reminded us—arising from common humanity to eliminate poverty and suffering, and to give opportunities to the developing world.

Some Members of your Lordships' House—I do not think many among those present today—may, like some outside commentators, nurse the suspicion that a document signed by 18 prominent commissioners drawn from so many parts of the world, and from the whole political spectrum of the world, must be the product of some unholy alliance, devoid of vital principle. This unworthy suspicion perhaps explains the barely concealed hostility to the report that was shown by at least one question in your Lordships' House, and by some questions in another place, when Government Statements about development policy were made on 20th February. There is one comment to which I want to refer, made by one of my noble friends, who warned my noble friend the Secretary of State that: While the Brandt Report may be good bedside reading, it is full of clichés and much of the evidence seems to have been brought from a period in which the atmosphere is quite different from today's in terms of productivity.—[Official Report, 20/2/80;col. 753.] Actually on 20th February the report had not of course been published, and clearly my noble friend had not read it. Certainly there were summaries in the newspapers. But those of your Lordships who have read it will, I think, join with me in saying to others that it is only by reading it fully that most of us can get a full comprehension of the problems, of the commission's very balanced attitude, and of the need for the commission's recommendation. My experience shows me that it is certainly far from being good bedside reading, whatever that may mean. It is certainly not full of clichés, and it is most certainly right up-to-date and very sensitive of the problems of last year and this.

I am reminded of an old advertisement—I think it was a Guinness advertisement—which some of your Lordships may recall seeing. It was a picture of a man gazing at a bottle of Guinness and at a glass full of it, and saying, I do not like it. I have never tasted it! Perhaps without being accused of having no soul, nor any humanity, I might now turn to the arguments—or some of them—of mutual interest;and I think that on this occasion I do so with the blessing of the right reverend Prelate. First, there is the question of the available resources of the North and the urgent needs of the South. The report makes these clear in stark reality. There are 18 million people unemployed in the OECD countries, and there is a crying demand from the South for the products which might result from their being employed again, and which are worth between 250 and 400 billion dollars a year. There is straight proof of spare resources and need for them. As the economist puritan of The Times put it in a leading article: It makes sense to raise the living standards of the poor to stimulate trade and economic growth. Nor should we be unmindful of the fact that 60 per cent. of the world's exports of the major agricultural and mineral commodities, other than oil, originate from the Third World;and there is plenty of evidence that further exploration and better agricultural methods could enormously increase the production of these commodites. All these things would be to the benefit of the world as a whole.

In these times of inflation and recession, surely the Northern countries can see the value to them of an increase in world trade generally, in world wealth generally, that comes from better markets in the developing countries and more exports of commodities and, yes, manufactured goods, too. Then there is a mutual interest (is there not?) between North and South in helping the South to avoid conditions in which peace and ordered government are impossible because of shortage of food, bad health, bad living conditions, overcrowding and lack of work—situations in which terrorists grow and thrive.

It is against that background of mutual interest that I shall now refer for a few minutes to some of the recommendations. The report calls for a massive additional transfer of resources, rising to an additional 60 billion dollars a year in 1985. Of course, we know that in this country we are short of resources, or we feel that we are. We are forced to use more of our resources on defence, or we feel that we are;and over recent years we have transferred several billions of dollars, in addition to that which we used to transfer, to the oil-producing countries as a result of the increased price in oil. Happily that situation is beginning to be balanced. We should remember that we are trying to slim ourselves down so that we may be a more productive nation.

But, surely, none of these things is necessarily a bar to maintaining, or even increasing, the level of our aid, which in relation to our gross national product is, I believe, less than what it was eight years ago. Indeed, there is much to be said for fulfilling statements of intention made to the world to raise the level of our aid to 0.7 per cent. of gross national product. If we did so, we should not destroy our economy, any more than we do by increasing our defence expenditure, or any more than we did by having to pay more for our oil. We might put ourselves under a little strain, but if as a result of more aid our trade goes up, that might help us to achieve other economic objectives;for instance, more jobs.

Of course, the Government have to make a balanced judgment of priorities and the consequences. Of course, I understand that;and of course I know that you do not strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. But, my Lords, this is not a case of expenditure being better carried on by the private sector. That is not an alternative. Banks and industry play their part, and will go on playing their part, in relation to loans and production in the developing world, but they cannot do very much more than they have been doing, unless the developing world's infrastructure is strengthened by governmental aid and world institutional support. As we have been reminded in the report, and by some speakers this afternoon, there are poor countries where private industrial aid without governmental support is just not possible. I certainly agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, said about private investment.

There are other recommendations for increasing the funds available to the developing world. The World Bank are, I know, looking at all the recommendations in the report which affect them, including the increase in their borrowings and their borrowing powers. Knowing the quality of that institution and its leadership, I do not find it surprising that they are already examining closely each one of those recommendations.

Then there are the proposals about special drawing rights, which I need not go into, other than to say that the report specifically deals with the charge that these might be inflationary in the world. This is to be conducted in a way that will not be inflationary. The new type of recommendation in this field is that more funds should be raised from automatic sources, or in an automatic way. The commission examined a number of possibilities, including levies related to international trade, military expenditure, arms export and some other things. Immediate fright has been taken to the possibility of such levies by some commentators and some industrialists. The commission does not rely upon this new automatic source in the immediate future, for the next five years;but the report does claim that a system of universal and automatic contribution would help to establish the principle of global responsibility, to which they attach a lot of importance, and could be a step toward co-management of the world's economy. Surely, in principle, we would all agree with that as an aim.

In principle, I find it hard to see how a levy of, say, 0.5 per cent.—because that is all they are talking about—even on international trade, would harm or in any way obstruct trade—and here is the one difference I have in the whole speech made by the noble Lord who spoke from the Front Bench opposite. We are used to far larger percentages of levies on home trade, and even on some parts of international trade, admittedly for national reasons, but nobody can say that they greatly block the arteries of trade. The one doubt I have is the doubt expressly stated in the report;that is, that a levy on international trade will impinge very differently on some of the rich countries who import little. But that funds have to be available to the South there can be no doubt, and I say again that private funds will flow if the basic structure in each country is secure, and only if it is secure—and that is the importance of governmental aid and of the support of world institutions.

There are some other recommendations which I have no time to mention, other than that on energy, to which I attach enormous importance. The energy problem in the developing world is dealt with very fully;and then, in addition, there is the problem of the oil-producing countries, with the vast amount of dollars that are transferring to them from the rest of the world. All this has been dealt with very well by my right honourable friend Mr. Heath in an article written in The Times, to which I hope your Lordships have paid some attention, suggesting a kind of concordat between the rest of the world and the oil suppliers. I see great hope if that idea is pursued.

The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, referred to the importance of nuclear energy. Who am I to deny that?—because I am still the chairman of the National Nuclear Corporation. But I have to differ from him in thinking that nuclear power would solve the problems of energy in the poorest countries. It most certainly would not. Nuclear power is economic and useful where the demand is high, and nuclear power is most economic in big dollops, if I may put it like that. There are other sources of energy—solar energy —which are very relevant from the point of view of many of the developing countries. My Lords, I have taken rather too long.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but he referred to cliches, he is now directing himself to energy, and he had the kindness to say that he was not on the side of the Liberal Benches. Would the noble Lord agree with the Liberal Benches that more technological assistance, apart from funds, should be given to the developing countries?


Yes, my Lords, I do. If I mentioned every point on which I agreed with the report—because that is in the report—I should be here, not for 20 minutes, which is much too long, but for about 60. So the answer is, Yes, my Lords, and I should now like to bring my speech, which I hope has lacked nothing in fervour following the noble Lord who preceded me, to a conclusion. I hope very much that Her Majesty's Government are going to give a lead to other countries, including the Eastern bloc, in supporting this report—the facts, the conclusions and the recommendations. Certainly it is possible to pick holes in the details of a number of individual recommendations, but I agree with the right reverend Prelate that what those who have the power of leadership should concentrate on is the theme of the report, the attitude of it and the package of recommendations, and I hope that that is what we shall hear from Her Majesty's Government this evening.

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, I am glad to be following the noble Lord, Lord Aldington. It is a new experience. The spokesman from that Bench and the spokesman from this Bench generally represent the extreme opposites in this House;and therefore, tonight, it is particularly welcome that he has delivered a speech with which those on these Benches are in almost entire agreement. We very much hope that Her Majesty's Government, who pay more attention to that Bench than to this, will seriously consider the appeal which he has made that priority should be given by the Government to the problems which are raised in the Brandt Report.

In previous speeches and in publications I have tried to put forward, broadly, the economic measures which are necessary in order that the gulf between the rich North and the poor South can be bridged. They have been based, mostly, on the proposals of the group of 77 (now a group of over 100) nations in their new international economic order. But tonight I do not wish to speak in that context. Instead, I propose to try to paint the background of the North-South confrontation, and to suggest the attitudes which may, instead, lead to co-operation.

It has been a saddening experience over the last six years to see how, at conferance after conference between the North and the South, there has been deadlock. The UNCTAD conferences, the Paris North and South dialogue, the conferences of all the agencies of the United Nations —yes, a little agreement here, but deep differences regarding an approach to these problems. I believe that the report of the Brandt Commission will break through this deadlock. Its membership was quite extraordinary—distinguished figures from all the Western countries and distinguished figures from Africa, Asia and South America. They came from completely opposite ideologies, and yet they came to these quite extraordinary conclusions. Britain was represented by an ex-Prime Minister belonging to the party opposite, Mr. Edward Heath.

I want to pay a particular tribute to the chairman of the commission, Willy Brandt. I regard him as the greatest world statesman of today. His introduction to this report is a masterpiece in analysis, in direction and in inspiration, and I hope that his contribution may be only a beginning to contributions towards world settlement in the sphere of war as well as in the sphere of economic differences. The world is now in a very deep depression. No one can see the end of it. It is graver than any depression has been before. It affects not only the North but also the South. Indeed, the South is in an almost permanent depression, but in recent years the gulf between standards of life in the North and standards of life in the South has actually grown.

In this report attention is drawn to the fact that the United Nations Childrens' Fund, UNICEF, estimates that in the South in the one year, 1978, more than 12 million children under the age of five died of hunger. The last recession in the West was in the 1930s. It is significant that every economist analysing that depression stated that it was due to the deepening poverty of the peoples in Africa and Asia. That depression was ended not by constructive planning but because this country and the West, indeed the world, moved towards rearmament and war.

It is ironic that war, despite all its destruction and death, brought more prosperity to the common people of this country and, even more, a common purpose, a readiness to serve and to sacrifice, more than we have ever yet achieved in peace. After the war great reconstruction, aided by the Marshall Plan, meant that we went for some years without depression, but now there is recession again. I want to emphasise to this House that the present recession is more serious than we have ever had before. Few economists believe that the policies of the present Government will solve it and bring prosperity. Even if their policies were correct domestically they would fail because this recession is a world depression and has world causes.

Unlike the late '30s, rearmament and war are not going to end our present recession, because war today with its nuclear weapons would end us all;but unless the recession is ended a disaster almost equal to war will occur. I do not think we have yet begun to understand these possibilities. I mean the disaster of chaos in the world. The first dim warnings of this are already being sounded. What do I mean by the disaster of chaos? Millions unemployed;destruction of welfare to the point of actual want;ill health, even death;mounting economic catastrophy;and that to be followed by mass revolts which will pay little attention to law and order. The danger today of our depression is that it will end in a revolt against any social order itself.

If you think this view is extreme, turn to the introduction of this report by Willy Brandt:

We are aware that this Report is being published at a time when rich countries are deeply worried by the prospects of prolonged ' recession ' and the diminishing stability of international relations. We believe that these difficulties are more serious than those of past recessions and economic crises. It would be dangerous and insincere to suggest that they can be overcome with the conventional tools of previous decades. He adds this: War is often thought of in terms of military conflict, or even annihilation. But there is a growing awareness that an equal danger might be chaos—as a result of mass hunger, economic disaster, environmental catastrophes, and terrorism. It is the greatest indictment of our time that mass hunger exists in the world when technical advance would enable us, if it were properly organised, to feed, clothe, house and educate within the period of a decade every human being on earth. What is the reason for our failure? I suggest it is the poverty of the millions on the earth. Without their demands for goods the factories close. When demand is reduced to a trickle, as it is now, recession comes and it continues until demand grows.

The Brandt Report is not only a measure of cheer to the poor of the South;it is a message of cheer to the unemployed of the North. It is a document which promises our return to full employment and human welfare equally with the emancipation of the South. It is a charter of hope to the world. We have seen that one way to increase demand is rearmament and war. Are we really going to accept that as an alternative to ending poverty? Armament-making provides work and also increased consumption through wages, but the product is sheer waste or annihilation. The world's expenditure on armaments could end poverty in the world within a few years.

I should like to quote the Brandt Report again: One half of 1 per cent. of one year's world military expenditure would pay for all the farming equipment needed to increase food production and approach self-sufficiency in food deficit low income countries by 1990. My Lords, one half of 1 per cent. of military expenditure could end the hunger for food in the world. We have fewer than 20 years to go before the end of this century. The aim of all who care for humanity must be to end both war and poverty by the year 2000. I believe it can be done.

This is a mad world but there are more sensible people in it than there have ever been. That number will grow. In the next few years there will be a mass movement throughout the world of peoples who will say, "We will have no more war and we will end poverty". I welcome this report because it is a beginning of that kind of approach. It will have to go very much further, but, although it may seem impossible to those who are listening to me, I believe we are on the eve now of a great crusade, a great revival, a great enlightenment of the peoples of the world which will seek to achieve the ends of this report and the end of war and of poverty.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to begin by offering an apology to your Lordships for not attending the early part of this debate. I arranged that I should speak rather late in the afternoon because I had to attend an important meeting which I could not possibly avoid. I think it is inevitable that if I were to make a speech at length I should be repeating much of what has gone before. I am extremely grateful to my noble friend, Lord Listowel, for arranging this debate, but I am most pleased that I was here to listen to my noble friend, Lord Brockway. I have been listening to him and reading him for more than 30 years, and whenever I listen to him the words of Conrad come to me. He said that mankind was forever walking on a thin crust which was likely to open up and engulf him at any time. I think the time is drawing near when something like the kind of proposals contained in the Brandt Report must be put into operation if our world is to survive.

My noble friend, Lord Houghton, referred to the leading article in the Sunday Times of a few weeks ago. I think the heading to that article might be a sub-title to the programme for survival, because it says: "How to avoid the Third World War". That goes to the essence of the problem facing not only this country but the whole of the human race. I have listened with great interest to Mr. Edward Heath, both on television and on a radio programme recently when he appeared on Radio Wales. What struck me about Mr. Heath's approach to the Brandt Report was the realism of that approach. Throughout the whole of the interview he stressed that it was in our interests as well as in the interests of the poorer people of the world that there should be a coining together and a mutuality of interest.

In a debate which I introduced in the House recently on the social and economic problems of Wales, I was pleased to call the Sunday Times article in aid, because Wales is mentioned in the article. It says—I repeat what I said a week or so ago: What is more eccentric, one might wonder, than having a steelworks in Llanwcrn lie idle while India laments a shortage of steel? There, in a nutshell, is the essence of the mutuality of interests. I am bound to confess that when I listen to Mr. Heath and when I read the comments on the Brandt Report—here may I say that I am extremely grateful to my noble friend, Lord Listowel, for sending me a summary of it, because I have not read the report—part of the politician in me wonders whether it is possible to get the message over to people that the Brandt Report may be the last hope for the whole human race.

How does one say to redundant steelworkers, "It is in your interests to help the people in the underdeveloped world "? But the attempt must be made. We all have a responsibility and a duty to say to our people, whatever their problems in this time of economic crisis for ourselves, that if they think they arc suffering poverty they do not know the meaning of the word. The real poverty in the world. the poverty which is brought closer to us as a result of television, is aching, poverty, poverty which we in this country never experienced even in the 'thirties, when I was brought up.

My Lords, 1 referred earlier to my great respect and admiration, even love, for my noble friend Lord Brockway but I had not read his book, Tomorrow, Tomorrow. and I took advantage of your Lordships' Library to do so. It is a wonderful book and if any Member of your Lordships' House has not read it, I commend it. He pays this House a great number of compliments. He says in a chapter, "Going to the Lords ", how impressed he was by the experience of many of your Lordships. However, he pointed out that perhaps there was a gap in this experience and that there was little experience here of actual poverty. I myself do not claim to be a special case in any way;but I was born in a period of depression in a depressed area. I lived through the whole of the 1930s, which led to the most horrible war in our history, a war which was ended by the most horrific weapon that mankind has yet devised. Since then, we have all lived through a period of increasing tension in the world, of increasing suspicion in the world;and if we survive to the end of this century it will he more by luck than by design.

It is my belief that we in the Western world, the affluent world, however difficult we think our circumstances are, must take this report seriously. My noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby has said that there is a group of your Lordships who are already active to this end. May 1 say to him that if my puny efforts can help in any way I shall be pleased and anxious to join them? The report calls for a world summit this year to consider an emergency programme. It lists the priorities as: a global food programme, a worldwide energy strategy, a reform of the international monetary system and a huge transfer of funds to the poorer countries. I shall be extremely interested to hear the response of the Government to this invitation, because somebody—an American, I believe—said that Britain had lost an empire but had yet to find a role. It is here waiting for us.

6.23 p.m.


My Lords, it is a pleasure for me to follow the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa. I should like to add my gratitude to his to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for not only initiating the debate but giving me the chance to assure him that even very new Peers are well aware of the service that he has rendered to your Lordships' House in the past and are also aware of the work that he did in various parts of the Commonwealth during the two decades that followed the last war. Scientists, although not always entirely unanimous, are at least in agreement that the planet on which we are now making our temporary home has existed for quite a long time. I believe that it is generally thought to have existed between three billion years and five billion years. They also agree, I understand, that human beings have made their own appearance on this planet comparatively recently. I fancy that the historians of the future are probably going to add that, over the few centuries during which the actions of individuals, or of collections of individuals, have had an impact on the whole world, or on a considerable part of it, mankind has managed to sow very real doubts as to the capacity of the human race to survive very far into the third millennium after Christ, which we hope to enter in about 20 years' time. Thus, while scientists are judging this planet on which we live to be at about the middle of its useful life, we have a score of distinguished and, as has been emphasised, most experienced men, considering man's ability over the next few decades so to shape the course of the world that we can avoid destruction within a few decades. I should like to express my agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who remarked that he thought that the Brandt Report has arrived at a very opportune time. I should like to add also how greatly I relished the vigorous welcome given to it by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, whom it was, for me, an enormous pleasure to hear again.

The prospects ahead certainly demand strong nerves and call for courageous decisions. There are the problems of overpopulation, of grinding poverty, of starvation, disease, vast unemployment—all on a scale that various speakers during this debate have pointed out that we can hardly imagine--and, over all else, the desperate, death competition of the arms race, which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in particular has mentioned. On some of the looming problems of the next few decades, even the leadership of archangels could hardly make an impression. I doubt whether there is anything except disaster itself, or the unlikely abstinence of billions of young and fertile couples, that can now prevent a world population of about 6 billion in the year 2000 A.D. That means more human beings on this planet then than the sum total of all who have lived since the world began.

I believe this to be perhaps the fundamental problem of all;and, if I may say so, few people in this country have as great a right to speak about it with authority as the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, who has done so much in this field. Mercifully, however, there are areas in which the existing representatives of the human race are not completely powerless in the face of doom;although the present prospects of constructive co-operation to prevent it are not what one might call dazzlingly bright.

It is conceivable, although not immediately probable, that East and West might agree to calm the race for arms. The commission, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has clearly implied, has pointed to the enormous social benefit within easy reach if arms production throughout the world could be halted for even 24 hours. Fortunately, too, we can still avoid what the Brandt Report described as the irreversible destruction of significant resources or of the environment;although the commission warns us of our present nearness to that danger in many parts of the world. But it is clear to me that we can avoid that irreversible destruction of resources only if the excessive demands which we make on a reasonably bounteous earth and sea are reversed before it is too late. Meanwhile, despite these well-founded warnings of possible disaster, to an observant visitor from another planet this basic problem of our planet must seem delightfully simple, and its solution is surely not beyond the wit of man or of a visitor from Mars.

This has been well described by my noble friend Lord Aldington and others. Here are two-thirds or more of the world's population, hungry, sick, illiterate, badly in need of the goods produced by the richer North and the technical skills at our command. Meanwhile the North, at present rather less affluent than it was, is dreaming of an effective demand for which goods could be produced by 18 million at present unemployed. This was well brought out by the noble Lord in his speech just now. It should not be impossible for the world to provide the South with purchasing power to make effective at least part of its immense potential demand. For the South, this would offer the hope of progresss;for us and other industrialised nations it would open up economic possibilities of almost infinite scope and value.

My noble friend Lord Aldington and many other speakers have stressed the mutuality of interest between North and South, out unfortunately I think we suffer from one small disability in the way that we refer to the assistance that the North gives to the South. The word "aid ", with which I have some connection, unfortunately, suggests to a great many, and a great many who are critical of the aid programme, the idea of a handout with the absence of any obligation on the recipient to make any corresponding effort in return. Even to many of the supporters of the aid programme, aid appears to be the mere execution of the clear obligation of the relatively affluent to the poorest nations. Even overseas development, which is, to my mind, an improvement on the concept of aid, suggests a contribution towards the economic advancement of poorer nations which the critics would argue—probably superficially—that we in Britain managed to do without at the early stages of our own development about 2,000 years ago.

But rather than the concepts of aid or overseas development, the idea that I should like to convey and which I think is in line with the thinking of the Brandt Commission is that any future aid provided by Britain or any other members of the OECD should be what I would call an investment in the future of the world, a contribution towards the prevention of the collapse of the human race which is unhappily not unthinkable and which would undoubtedly wound Britain and the industrial North no less grievously than the poorest of the developing countries. Of course, the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, my noble friend Lord Vernon and many others who have spoken in the debate are absolutely right that the present and past investment by the North is too small, and the inability of Britain and other comparatively rich nations to invest in the world's future more than a small fraction of 1 per cent. of our gross national product is a sad commentary on our present scale of values.

I share the blame, and my noble friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers, having accepted the objective of the Pearson Report, are presumably equally dissatisfied by our present performance. They will, no doubt—and rightly—point to forms of investment other than the official aid programme and to other means of generating purchasing power in order to make this pent-up demand effective. If, for instance, developing countries had been in the past and were now at this time more receptive to private investment of all kinds and ready to offer such outside investors reasonable security, then it is hard for me to believe that their economic prospects would be quite as sombre as they are today;particularly, I believe, because there are many skills, and especially managerial skills, which are more easily imparted through private investment than by the flow of official aid. No one made clearer than the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in what I believe to be a most perceptive speech, that it is skills (and I believe the noble Baroness made this point also), technical mastery at all levels, which are among the major needs of developing nations and which are, at the same time, the most important potential contribution which the North can make, both through private industry and through official sources.

There remains the still larger question of the wide creation of purchasing power, on which I am far too inexpert to dare to be in any way dogmatic. But if the political will exists—and this is what we are talking about this evening—to overcome the obstacles, a number of international financial vehicles are available for a rapid and significant expansion. On the other hand, caution may prevail. The experts may say that this just cannot be done, and the industrial nations may decide to move in exactly the opposite direction by erecting a protective barrier in a narrow and vain attempt to guard their future. In that case, in my view, we shall not only sow but rapidly propogate the seeds of our imminent destruction.

Meanwhile, at this crisis in the world's affairs the richer nations are seriously handicapped by their disunity. Bridge building between the North and South is far more difficult as long as a curtain divides East and West. Co-operation between the two in Third World investment would be a vast gain;but far greater would be the opportunities offered by a halt or even an abatement in the crescendo of armament. This is why my noble friend the Foreign Secretary is obviously so right to continue to search for a lowering of tension and the removal of suspicion that divides us.

To me the deepest tragedy of recent events is the added incentive that they have given to increased and continuing armament and the receding prospect of co-operation between the most powerful nations in a joint effort to save the world. In the world's past the human race has many times had to rely on the triad of misery—war, hunger and plague—to solve problems less formidable than those which now face us. Today no one other than a madman wants again to invoke their aid. But one or other may come to appear as the only escape for the rest of the human race unless, before it is too late, we can agree on more civilised solutions.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, may I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Listowel for introducing this debate. I apologise to him for not being in my place to hear his speech. I received a call just before coming here and had to visit a patient. That explains the apology I need to give the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, because I had to get the patient into hospital and had to slip out during Lord Vernon's speech to make the appropriate arrangements. I hope they will forgive me. I can assure both the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, that I will read their speeches in Hansard tomorrow with the utmost interest. I should like also to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on his very remarkable maiden speech. I take it for granted that we shall hear from him on many occasions and that he will be able to make real contributions to the debates in this House.

The problem of how we bridge the gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is the biggest problem confronting the world today. What the report has done is to put the issue in perspective, put it straight before us as it is, and point out to us the mutuality of interests and the fact that it concerns both North and South that the gap should be bridged—because the North stands to gain as much as the South by the bridging of the gap and the North stands to lose as much as the South over any failure to bridge the gap.

That is the whole theme of the report. It says that we must recognise that this is one world and there must be international solidarity. It also says that we must open our eyes and recognise that there is some enlightened self-interest in doing the things that are suggested. It says that we must accept, and not merely pay lip service to, this principle of inter-dependence, and that the search for solutions is not an act of benevolence but a condition of mutual survival.

This commission was composed of many eminent citizens, most of whom in fact have held political office. We had three ex-Prime Ministers of developed countries, a former President of a developing country, together with several former finance ministers and, in one case, a current finance minister. In addition, we had the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who has, from the time he took office, recognised this point of one world and the absolute necessity for the two areas of the world to recognise their mutual interests and come together to deal with their mutual problems.

I remember well the part he played in bringing together the Asian, Carribean and Pacific countries in the first negotiations between these countries and the EEC. In fact, it is because of Sonny Ramphal that the ACP became a united organisation and were able to negotiate together. At the time, I remember we were all certain that that could not happen, because the French have always been able to get their former colonies to go with them;but that was one occasion when they met their match and Sonny Ramphal was able to organise them in that way.

This commission has made some very important recommendations which we hope the Government will accept, and I should like to join the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, in asking the Minister whether the Government accept the analysis of the Brandt Commission and are prepared to play their part in making sure that these recommendations are met. Her Majesty's Government are in a good position to make a major contribution in this matter. As part of the EEC, we have through the Lome Convention played a minor—I regard it as minor—role in the bridging of the gap, in that some of the former colonies of the EEC countries have been able to get some protection and some help, so that in fact they can develop. What I hope the Government will feel obligated to do, having read this report, is to revise to some extent their own approach to the Lome Convention. I was very sad when I read that it was Her Majesty's Government who were dragging their feet about the increase in the fund which the ACP countries were asking for. It was Her Majesty's Government who were saying, "Not a penny more".

Eventually a little more was granted but not as much as was required.

I therefore hope that, having read this report, Her Majesty's Government will now go back and study their own attitude to Lome and see that they adopt a more liberal approach so that the Lome Agreement can benefit both the EEC and the ACP countries much more than it has done so far—because a liberalisation approach by the EEC can have tremendous consequences in terms of gains for both sides. I also hope that they will again raise with their partners the question of generalised preferences, so that a more liberal approach will be made than what I have read in the Press is likely to be the approach at the present time.

Her Majesty's Government also have a very important and useful instrument through which they can play a major role. I am referring to the Commonwealth in this connection, and I invite your Lordships to remember that it was the Meeting of the Heads of Government, held in Jamaica in 1975, which set up the Commonwealth Group and which did a certain amount of stimulating in trying to get some agreement between North and South. Again, in 1977 it was as a result of discussions at the Heads of Government Conference here that Her Majesty's Government changed their attitude to the common fund. Although the common fund is nothing like what it ought to be, the fact is that we have now agreed to a void.

What I now hope Her Majesty's Government will do, having studied this report, is to take a more liberal approach to that particular fund, so that the fund can play the important part which most people who have studied this issue think it can play. Of course, Her Majesty's Government have important voting rights in the IMF and the World Bank and can therefore play a leading role in trying to get both bodies to take the kind of line that the Brandt Report has suggested they should be taking.

We know that example is always better than precept. Therefore, we want an example from Her Majesty's Government. The obvious example is for the Government to commit themselves to reach an aid figure of 0.7 per cent. of GNP in respect of official development assistance by a specific date. They should state firmly, as requested by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, that the present level of aid will not be reduced, but will be steadily increased until the figure of 0.7 per cent. is reached. One hopes that, as requested by the Brandt Report, they will continue to increase that sum until a figure of 1 per cent. of GNP is reached. That would be the commitment.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, that if we accept the analysis of the Brandt Commission, then in effect we should be in a position to accept these suggestions. This would be a way of indicating Hcr Majesty's Government's commitment to the implementation of these recommendations. I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Derby and other speakers in this debate that the Government must carry the people with them in this task. Both Houses of Parliament have a role to play, not only in pressuring the Government, as we are trying to do, but also in supporting the Government once they take the right decisions. The Government certainly will need to be supported.

However, we must do more than that. We must ensure that the people of this country get the message. It is not easy to get that message over, but we must do all in our power to do so. The man in the street must understand, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooks of Tremorfa, said, that there is a co-relation between the fact that steelworkers are out of work in Wales and the fact that some people in the world are too poor even to buy steel anyway. The man in the street must realise that something must be done to bridge that nap. Workers should be willing and indeed anxious to see that something is done. The Brandt Report sets a challenge that we must accept. If we do not do so, I believe that we shall forfeit the right to any respect. I invite your Lordships, and even more so her Majesty's Government, to make a start in accepting that challenge.

6.53 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to pay my tribute to my noble friend Lord Listowel, who opened the debate. I also wish to congratulate my noble friend Lord Chorley on an admirable maiden speech. I had the privilege of knowing the first Lord Chorley when he was a brilliant rock climber on the hills of Cumberland. I followed him and admired him. I am glad to admire the present Lord Chorley for his brilliant contribution to the debate, and I hope that we shall hear him often in this House.

This has been a notable debate, particularly for the great wisdom and eloquence of contributions from all parts of the House. One could mention in that context every speech made by my noble friends. I wish to single out the contributions of my noble friend Lord Houghton and Lord Brockway, who surpassed their own achievements in persuading your Lordships to accept their view. I also wish to pay a special tribute to the speeches made from the Government Benches by the noble Lords, Lord Aldington and Lord Holderness. They added to the power and weight of the message which I hope will travel throughout the world—not only to No. 10 Downing Street and to our own Foreign Office, but to other continents and capitals.

The noble Lord, Lord Holderness, spoke of the four elements of world poverty—shelter, disease, ignorance and hunger. We all know of preventable slums that exist in the world—the appalling tragedy of shanty towns and mud huts that exist in so many countries. A week ago my son was in an Indian village in which a thousand people were trying to live a civilized life. They had no wood, stone or metal. Their houses were made of mud, bricks and nothing else. We all recall the tragedy that occurred only 3 years ago in Kerala where a tornado destroyed mud huts and with them 15,000 human lives. Not one person escaped. If those people had lived in proper houses not one of them would have perished.

Preventable disease—malaria, leprosy, yaws, trachoma—impose an appalling burden of suffering and economic loss every year on the Third World countries, but they could all be abolished by the World Health Organisation within a short period of years and at a cost of only 500 million dollars. If your Lordships do not believe that fact, one has only to remember that in the last six years WHO has wiped out smallpox in 32 countries in which it was endemic on an epidemic scale. That organisation spent 83 million dollars on that task—less than the cost of a single B1 bomber.

The most tragic and important element of poverty is preventable ignorance and illiteracy. There are 1,200 million people in the world who cannot read or write, and 400 million children for whom there are no schools. They face darkness of the mind. Many face the cause of material poverty—hunger. My noble friend Lord Listowel emphasised the fact set out in the Brandt report that 12 million children under five years of age died of hunger in the year 1978—I repeat, 12 million!

I have been very close to hunger. I worked for Fridtjof Nansen when he was raising relief for the Russian famine of 1922. Dreadful things can happen when starvation stalks the land. On the Volga and in the Ukraine there was cannibalism;human flesh was sold on the market place;corpses were dug up and boiled for food, mothers ate their babies. The hunger of 800 million people, the absolute starvation of hundreds of millions, is a wrong that ought to stab the conscience of every one of us by day and by night throughout our lives. I agreed profoundly with my noble friend, who said a few moments ago that it is a shame of our affluent, advanced nations that we do not understand the poverty, the misery, the cruelty that are inflicted on these suffering peoples of the other continents which we call backward.

There is a twin evil causally connected with world poverty. It is the menace of which the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, spoke: the danger that civilisation will disappear. In the Final Document of the Special Session of the UN General Assembly which was devoted in 1978 to disarmament, there were seven separate warnings that the issue at stake was the extermination of mankind and there is no eminent scientist, no great soldier, who would seriously deny that that is the present menace which faces the world.

The Final Document of the Special Assembly, faced with these twin evils, faced with the danger of total disaster, proposed a policy of total change. I summarise it as briefly as I can. The document began by saying that armaments no longer defend. The exact words are:

The accumulation of weapons today constitutes far more a threat than a protection to the future of mankind". It went on to propose that the only true solution is general and complete disarmament of all the nations of the world. It defined what that means—reduction of armaments to the level proposed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 in his Four Freedoms speech, and proposed by our colleague Selwyn Lloyd in his speech to the UN General Assembly in 1959;reduction to the level at which aggressive war is impossible, because no nation has enough armaments to fight it;reduction to the level required for internal order only, and the contribution of manpower to a UN force.

The Final Document said that the release of the vast resources that would then be available should mean the reallocation of our wealth from war and armaments and conflict to human welfare, to social justice in our own advanced countries, but, above all, and in large measure, the reallocation of resources available to the poverty stricken countries of the Third World. It means a redistribution of wealth between the affluent and the poorer nations. Are we really frightened of a redistribution of wealth by Government action?

It is only 44 years since I fought a by-election in the city of Coventry. I went to visit my constituents who were still living in huts put up for munitions workers in the First World War, 20 years before. They were horrible dwellings with no proper roads. A lady lifted a mattress on a bed and said, "Look, that was new a month ago. "It was mildewed with damp. She said, "The children are never well. They are up to their ankles in mud before they get to school."

I went to a school to see the children, and in a certain class I saw them doing sums. Nearly all the children were getting the sums right, but there was a group on one side sitting together who not only got the sums wrong, but did not know whether they were trying to add up, to subtract or to divide. I asked the teacher "Why is there this great difference? "And she replied, "I put those children over there by themselves. I call them the little dunces, but they are not dunces really. They do not get enough to eat at home."

In 1933 Lord Bruce of Melbourne, and a great colleague in this country, drew up a League of Nations report on minimum diet for maximum health. By their test, they showed that one-third of the population of Great Britain were getting less than was required to keep them well. They were mal-nourished. They were hungry. There were hundreds of thousands of building workers who were out of a job, and hundreds of thousands of slums and hutments that ought to have been swept away. There was food in the world, but not for the poverty stricken of Coventry.

Since then, we have had new taxation and social services which have redistributed our wealth, and there is not the most reactionary of Conservative Peers on the Benches opposite who would go back to the poverty of those old days, who would tolerate the fact that our people should suffer as the poor of Coventry suffered in 1936. We need the same feeling of indignation, of hatred for such cruelty about the Third World nations. If we adopt the policy of the Final Document, the reallocation of resources from war to welfare, we solve the danger of the great recession and the danger of inflation.

Some noble Lords may have heard me quote before a transatlantic saying of my youth: If you took all the economists in the world and laid them out in a row end to end, they would not reach a single conclusion". Every economist since Adam Smith has said that inflation is too much money chasing too few goods. Every economist since Adam Smith has said that armament expenditure is unproductive. There are £200,000 million a year pouring out in new purchasing power through the pockets of armament workers, members of the forces and armament manufacturers and no goods at all that anybody can buy or use. Of course, it stands as clear as day that armament expenditure is the main cause of the inflation which we have come to think of as endemic, which is undermining our social system and which may create the great recession of which noble Lords have spoken. We cure the poverty of the world. We solve the problem of inflation. We avert the great recession.

My noble friend spoke of what UNRRA did in 1945. I was the Minister who represented Britain in the councils of UNRRA. I had to pass through the House of Commons not only the first 1 per cent. While we were still afflicted by post-war troubles and engaged in our post-war economic reconstruction, another place voted a second 1 per cent. And UNRRA did a marvellous job in putting Europe back on its feet, with minimal help to Russia. Britain can afford to lead today by giving much more economic aid than it has given in recent years. But we can lead in a much more important way. We can press for the early adoption of the total change which the Final Document of the Special Session prescribed.

In a recent debate, a noble Lord speaking from the other side said that the Government still accept as an ultimate objective the general and complete disarmament which the Final Document demands. The ultimate objective? Ultimate after the nuclear war, or soon before the nuclear war can happen? I have said it before and I say it again: Britain is well placed to lead in this great change in world society, because we were the first to make a welfare State, because we had the greatest military empire in the history of mankind, because we demilitarised that empire and because to 650 million people—one-quarter of the human race—we gave freedom, independence and self-government without the firing of a shot. Let us be true to what we did then. Let us think of the innocence and the nobility of our children, and let us leave them a world in which they will grow up with a civilisation of which they can be proud.

7.13 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a number of notable speeches in this debate and I am sure that my noble friend Lord Listowel is gratified that his initiative has led to such a valuable commentary on the Brandt Report. I should like to join those who have congratulated the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on his maiden speech. He spoke most interestingly—and obviously on the basis of personal experience, which is always a good basis upon which to speak. I congratulate him upon his contribution.

Many of the speeches about the Brandt Report have made the point that it is an historic document. I believe that indeed it is. We now need to match this historic document with a series of acts of world statesmanship comparable to the Brandt Report. Historical parallels can be inadequate and misleading, but in contemplating the world economic situation today, which has been described not only in the report but in many of the speeches to which we have listened, I cannot help thinking of the economic situation of Europe after the Second World War when the Marshall Plan was the means of revival. I believe that there is a parallel between the nature of the crisis and the method by which it can be overcome.

But today's crisis is not that of one continent needing to be rescued from devastation, as was the case with Europe at that time. It cannot be met, either, by the resources from any one nation, as was largely the case with American aid under the Marshall Plan. What we are concerned with today is not one poverty stricken continent but a poverty stricken hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere. The action to overcome that problem must come not from one rich, powerful nation, as with the Marshall Plan, but from a group of rich, powerful nations acting together. Those in the OECD, those in the Communist bloc and those in the OPEC group all need to find a common ground for action. As my noble friend Lord Goronwy-Roberts and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, said, the problem which we face is a global problem. The solution therefore must be a global solution.

I think that one further comparison with the Marshall Plan is worthwhile. That plan was as much in America's interest as it was in Europe's interest. Therefore today, as the noble Lord, Lord Holderness, said, it is not a case of charity, of altruism from the rich to the poor;it is as much in our interest, in the interest of the developed world, as in the interest of the developing countries that this world economic crisis must be solved. As a number of noble Lords have pointed out, that is the essential message of Brandt—the message of mutuality, of mutual common interest between the North and the South. Either we learn to swim together —North and South, rich and poor—or we shall certainly sink together.

We are concerned in this debate not only with the Brandt Report but with the second part of my noble friend's Motion: with the policies of Her Majesty's Government towards developing countries. If I have any criticism of the way the debate has gone, it is that almost all speakers have concerned themselves with the Brandt Report and that few have concerned themselves with the need for the Government to review their policies towards developing countries. Perhaps I may attempt to redress the balance in that respect. It is not enough to examine the Brandt analysis and to accept its proposals. We need to know what Britain can do and what Her Majesty's Government propose to do. How much I should like to think that when the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, speaks he can be as forthcoming and as enthusiastic as was the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, in addressing the House today. I rather doubt, though, whether the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, can be thus, because in doing so he would have to retract a great deal of the Statement on aid which Lord Carrington made to the House on 20th February. I doubt whether Lord Trefgarne is authorised so to do.

When we think of the Government's policies towards developing countries we come up against two supremely ironical aspects of the present situation. First, we have had a Statement on the 20th February from the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, about the Government's review of their overseas aid policy, and as Mr. Neil Marten said in another place, the review was produced before the Brandt Commission published its report.

Was there ever a more blatant example of putting the cart before the horse? Here we have a major and thorough review by Brandt and his eminent colleagues which has been under preparation for two years. It was initiated by the President of the World Bank and received the support of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, although of course, as has been noted, it was independent of those two bodies and now, as all have agreed, the report turns out to be a document of outstanding significance. Yet the British Government, instead of waiting for the commission's report in order to relate their own policy decisions to the commission's analysis and conclusions, go ahead with their own inward-looking review in isolation and an nounce decisions which in major respects run directly counter to the proposals of the Brandt Commission.

The second great, and indeed somewhat sad, irony that I find in the present situation is that the British signatory of the report is the man who was first rejected as leader by his party and whose talents in world affairs were then spurned by the leader who replaced him;and I believe it is to Mr. Heath's great credit that, having been so treated, instead of retiring to his yacht, as no doubt he was tempted to do, he is raising his voice and giving a lead for sane and imaginative policies in world economic affairs. I hope he will continue to do so with ever greater strength and support and influence. Within the Brandt Commission he worked with eminent colleagues with very different political views, but they found, as Herr Brandt has put it, that consensus became a reality, and what was true on the international front in these respects I believe could be true on the home front.

It is indeed the case that the issues with which the report is concerned do transcend party politics, as has been evident in the debate today and if, as I hope, Mr. Heath is intent upon putting before the British people the conclusions which he and his colleagues have reached, he will find support from across the party boundaries. It is to be hoped also that he will find support from within the Government, but it is here that I am afraid the signs are unfavourable, from what we know so far. I have already said that the Government's policy has run directly counter to Brandt in certain major respects, and I want to deal briefly with two of the ways in which 1 believe it does run counter: the size of the aid programme and the character of the aid programme.

It was clear from what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said on 20th February—and indeed from what he did not say when he was directly challenged by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones—that we may expect a cut in the aid programme when the figures are announced in the forthcoming White Paper. Yet the Brandt report indicates that one of the major causes of the world's present crisis is the failure of the developed nations to fulfil their obligations of providing 0.7 per cent. of GNP to overseas aid, and it urges that that target should be reached by 1985. Yet according to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, we are proposing to go in the opposite direction.

It is not valid for the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, to say that Britain is a poor country and therefore we must give only what we can afford. This is the whole point of defining an aid target as a percentage of GNP. If our production turns out to be less than hoped then we are committed to a smaller aid programme than was expected. If a country is smaller or poorer than another then its contribution is correspondingly less. So it is not right for us to plead poverty in aid-giving. But the path which we now seem to be treading is one which leads away from the United Nations target. Apparently what we are proposing to do is to go back on our word: to make cuts in real terms, cuts relative to GNP. I believe that is the implication of what we heard the other day, but if it is not so then I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will say so and I will gladly withdraw that part of my criticism of the Government's policy. I hope he can say that we are not going to cut aid.

The second major way in which the Government's policy runs counter to the Brandt Commission concerns the tying of aid to British products. The Brandt Commission argues cogently in several parts of this report that more aid should be provided for development programmes rather than for projects. I myself experienced this when 1 was a Minister in the Ministry of Overseas Development and when I engaged in discussions with ministers from developing countries. What we had to offer was not what they needed most for development. They wanted to be able to choose programmes of development and technologies suited to their own local needs. They wanted resources with which to meet local costs, and our conditions often compelled them to accept inappropriate aid or none at all.

Now it is proposed that we should go further in that wrong direction. It would seem that we propose to take a narrow-minded and restrictive view of the aid which we provide. Aid tied to British products is much less useful to the recipient than untied aid and also it is an illusion to believe that it is in the long-term commercial interests of the donors. What we need are markets, and markets in developing countries result only from sound development programmes. So I am not opposed by any means to the Government's declared objective of conducting our economic relationships with developing countries in order to serve our own commercial and industrial interests, but we can do so only if we know where our true interests lie.

Let me give an example from the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, which 1 have seen in the field and which I am sure many of your Lordships have seen. In their work they are doing a great deal to build up the economies of the developing countries where they operate;in other words, they are building markets for British goods. Yet I understand that they are threatened with severe cuts in their budgets, resulting from the gneral policy of the Government. This country's commercial interests depend on the kind of work that the CDC is doing in the developing countries and I believe it would he a great folly to inflict cuts on that kind of work.


My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me to intervene, 1 think it is the case (is it not?) that the CDC has access to many funds other than just Government funds.


My Lords, that may be so, but to a major extent it depends upon the funds which are provided through Acts of Parliament and it will be those cuts which will severely eat into their viability. I say again that our task is to create markets in the developing countries for our goods and services. That is the long-term objective. But there is another problem to which I want to call attention;that is, the immediate and urgent task which faces us in preventing the collapse of the markets that already exist. That is why in my concluding moments I want to say a word or two about the problem of the increased indebtedness of the developing countries and to emphasise one part of the Brandt proposals in that connection.

There are of course, as we have heard in this debate, a multitude of other problems and I do not propose even to list them;we have heard of them from other speakers. The monetary problem, and particularly the indebtedness of many developing countries, has been getting alarmingly worse in recent years. The Brandt Report call particular attention to this, if I may quote from it. The report says: One of the most dramatic changes in recent years has been the increase in the loans of the international private market, which now account for nearly 40 per cent. of the outstanding debt of developing countries compared with only 17 per cent. in 1970. As the loans fall due they "— that is, the developing countries— need to borrow more in order to repay and service them, and the debtor economies, and the entire international credit structure, are now very vulnerable to any disruptions in the flow of capital. As Professor Singer of the Institute of Development Studies has written in The Times: If the large deficits projected particularly for 1980 are not financed, some non-oil developing countries may be unable to cover their balance of payments deficits and may increasingly default on their repayments of debts, with very serious consequences for the international banking community and world economy. He goes on—and this is the point relative to our commercial interests: This would worsen also the recession of the developed countries, as important markets for their exports in the Third World would be lost. So what I am saying is that our commercial interests should be served, but we should have a proper view of what those commercial interests are. Those commercial interests will not be served by cutting aid to the developing countries;they will be served by an expansive attitude to what we need to do for the developing countries.

The resources for us to do that are there, as the report makes clear, and indeed, it was made very clear in that article by Mr. Heath in The Times of 26th February, to which the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, referred. There are trading surpluses arising from the transactions of the OPEC countries and of the members of the OECD. There are already powers exercisable by the World Bank, the regional development banks and the International Monetary Fund which could do much to meet the problem of world monetary liquidity. And beyond them there is the possibility of a new institution, as proposed by the Commission, to fill the gap if those existing institutions should prove inadequate.

I am not urging—and I do not think anyone who has spoken in the debate is urging—that the Government should here and now espouse all or indeed any particular one of the many proposals put forward as part of the programme for survival. I am not suggesting, indeed, that any one country, least of all perhaps our own, is in a position to act alone in these matters. What I am suggesting is that we can and should, as a nation and as a Government, respond positively to the challenge that Brandt places before us. We should at least—and I hope we can have this at least this evening—announce our willingness to join with others in a global effort to avoid the international crisis which confronts us, knowing, as we do, that the world has available to it the material and technological resources to overcome that crisis. It is the political will that is missing, and we as a nation can, if we bestir ourselves and if the Government will respond, make a full contribution to the creation of that will on the international scene.

7.35 p.m.


My Lords, like other noble Lords, it falls to me to thank the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, for raising this matter this afternoon, and of course to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, on his most enlightened and absorbing maiden speech which clearly—as several noble Lords have already said—came from the depth of his own experience.

My Lords, the Brandt Commission was an original and imaginative concept. I would pay tribute to Mr. McNamara, who proposed it, and of course to its ditinguished members, particularly Herr Brandt, who led it during its two years of work, and indeed to our own Mr. Edward Heath. Indeed, I noticed that the right honourable gentleman was sitting for a good long time on the Steps of the Throne earlier this afternoon. He clearly has the same fortitude as your Lordships in surviving the all-night Sittings. Those steps are not particularly comfortable.

The commission has produced a clear and comprehensive account of the whole range of problems which will confront us in the remaining two decades of this century. They have addressed problems whose scale is truly daunting. In the course of its work the commission has achieved broad agreement between its members, despite the wide differences that might have been expected. In doing so, they have produced a report that will command serious attention around the world.

As many of your Lordships have said, the 1980s will clearly be difficult, particularly for the less developed countries. The world faces grave economic problems. There is serious concern about the future adequacy of oil supplies, their price and inflation which is widespread and intractable. Unemployment, too, is rising. These are universal phenomena, but for the developing countries they pose particular problems. In many of the poorest countries the growth in food production is inadequate in relation to a population which is still growing too rapidly. I will refer to that point a little more later on. The burden of debt which developing countries carry, already high, will rise as increases in oil prices take effect in their balance of payments. Many developing countries face a painful process of adjustment and nearly all of them are critically dependent for their export earnings upon a renewal of world economic growth. We fully appreciate the difficulties which these countries face and we well understand the impact which this prospect has had on the authors of the Brandt Report.

My Lords, the result of their study is a major document. It is extensive, running to nearly 300 pages, and I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, that the Government are giving it the most careful study that it deserves. At this early stage, the remarks that I shall make should, however, be regarded as of a preliminary nature. The report covers a very wide range of issues. The commission members have brought their considerable collective experience to bear in providing a comprehensive view of world economic relations as we enter the new decade. Their general theme is simple: a world in want is an unstable world. Or, as Herr Brandt himself has put it, While hunger rules, peace cannot prevail. Their account of grave and growing difficulties in developing countries is a sobering one, and one can readily endorse their overall intentions and aims. The issue for Governments is how to make progress in the desired directions while preserving and strengthening the existing means of world economic co-operation.

I am sure that my noble friend Lord Aldington would agree that our approach should be evolutionary and not revolutionary. I can assure my noble friend that we endorse the commission's central message—the need to advance the North/ South discussion for the furtherance of the mutual interests of all the parties concerned. The noble Lord, Lord Pitt of Hampstead, also raised that point. Any new arrangements, if they are to be both credible and durable, must clearly be in the general interest. The commisson is therefore right, I believe, to urge a freeing of the log-jam which has too often characterised North/South discussions: the two groups have tended to dig them selves deeper into entrenched positions. I hope that the commission's encouragement of a balanced and constructive approach will point the way to a more promising future.

Unfortunately, not all countries have been willing to play a part in world economic development commensurate with their economic resources. In my view, the commission were fully justified in pointing to the poor performance of the Soviet Union and its partners. The Russians have sought to disguise the very modest dimensions of their civil aid programme by making exaggerated promises. But it is the sums actually paid over which count. The OECD estimates that in 1978, apart from Cuba and Vietnam, which are clearly political special cases, repayments by developing countries exceeded new disbursements of aid by the Soviet Union by some 135 million dollars. That same year the British aid programme paid out a net £768 million or nearly 1.5 billion dollars to developing countries. Your Lordships will have noted that the Soviet experts told the Brandt Commission that "necessary military expenditure "prevented an increase in overseas development aid. The world has recently seen some of the uses to which that military expenditure has been put. The answer to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, is that we cannot advance along the road that he would wish—indeed, that we would all wish—while the Soviet Union builds and develops its military capability at the present speed.

We agreed also with the stress placed by the report on the importance of the efforts of the developing countries themselves and particularly of the key role of their own economic and social policies. The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, raised this point. It is also true that the stronger developing countries are increasingly well-equipped to play a fuller part in world trade and to assist their less fortunate partners, and we welcome the attention given in the report to regional co-operation.

The Brandt Report contains a great number of recommendations which, as I have said, are being given careful study. Some of the measures suggested are already familiar and are being examined in international fora. The report's value is that it takes a comprehensive view of the measures needed to tackle the world's problems. A full appreciation of the report needs to be addressed, I think, to its proposals as a whole, so I must emphasise again that any comments by me tonight on individual proposals are just preliminary reactions.

The Report proposes a massive transfer of financial resources to the developing countries. The commission is confident not only that this would benefit the developing countries but that, through increased imports from the industrialised North, it would prove to be an effective way of stimulating world economic growth—a point which the noble Lord, Lord Oram, dwelt upon at some length. But clearly one has to consider the implications for inflation, and for economic and monetary policy. Recovery in world economic activity is a vast and enormously complex process. I would note in passing that South and South-East Asia contain both the poorest among the developing countries, and also the most successful;it is evident that economic growth results from many different factors, many of them of a domestic character, and not merely geographical origins.

The transfer of resources alone cannot magically dispel internal obstacles. For instance, greater agricultural and food production depends critically upon the share of total investment which each country directs to the rural sector. It depends on the terms of trade which public policies induce as between town and country;and on overcoming cultural and political obstacles to needed land reforms, as well as the development of effective agricultural training and infrastructure.

Several noble Lords—the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, my noble friend Lord Aldington and others—referred to the report's recommendations in the field of energy. The way in which we manage our energy resources will surely be critical for the development of the world economy and, indeed, for the lives of future generations. The report has some interesting suggestions for a new approach to these problems which we shall wish to consider very carefully. However, as regards the specific proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, about nuclear power for the developing countries, I rather feel that the difficulties described by my noble friend Lord Aldington will prove very formidable, indeed.

Another novel proposal in the report is for a new kind of summit conference intended to promote what is called a "leap forward "in understanding. We shall certainly look carefully at any such proposals which may emerge. But if expectations are not to be disappointed, the ground would have to be prepared very thoroughly.

The Brandt Report will undoubtedly prove a valuable catalyst for further serious thought among the world community. At the same time, we should not forget how much has already been achieved and what is going on at present. The IMF—as one noble Lord mentioned—has greatly extended its facilities and modified the terms on which it can lend its considerable resources. A doubling, by 40 billion dollars no less, of the general capital of the World Bank is expected, as is a sixth replenishment for the International Development Association. Overall financial flows from the developed to the developing countries have expanded greatly. They include official aid flows from the major OECD donors which now have a grant element in excess of 90 per cent. Some major Western aid donors have, in common with the United Kingdom, written off past aid loans to the poorest countries, or taken equivalent measures.

Trade between the OECD and the developing countries has expanded more rapidly than trade within the OECD, and developed countries have largely resisted protectionist pressures. The Multilateral Trade Negotiations have been successfully completed with general reductions in barriers to trade and special—and indeed, favourable—measures for developing countries. The new Lome Convention extends and improves on the trade arrangements of its predecessor as well as providing aid totalling £3.3 billion over the next five years. As the noble Lord, Lord Pitt, mentioned, discussions on a common fund for commodities has been making some progress. I am sorry that the progress is not as fast as the noble Lord would wish, but these are difficult matters and we are certainly playing our part. An agreement was reached towards the end of last year on stabilising the price of natural rubber and on establishing a buffer stock for it;that agreement was under the auspices of UNCTAD.

As several noble Lords mentioned, in particular again my noble friend Lord Aldington and, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, Governments are very far from being the only factor in the development process. The contributions of private individuals and private companies are vital. They bring technology and management expertise which are essential for the recipient countries. Indeed, commercial finance now represents some 70 per cent. of total financial flows to the developing countries. The United Kingdom has traditionally been a major investor overseas and, now that we have removed all exchange controls, there is no hindrance to private funds flowing from Britain to projects overseas. Furthermore, we take positive steps, by means of investment guarantees and investment protection agreements, to encourage such flows. Complementary to these activities, it is very important that developing countries themselves play a full part and provide an attractive climate for foreign investors.

For our part, our overriding responsibility must be to restore the strength of the United Kingdom economy. Renewed growth in the United Kingdom will benefit all, not just through increased investment flows, but also through increased trading possibilities for the develop-Mg countries. Furthermore, our ability to continue to provide aid to the develop ing countries on a substantial scale is clearly dependent upon the state of our own economy.

The efforts of the developed countries, which I have just described, demonstrate the importance that we attach to our relations with developing countries. Their political importance has been underlined by developments in recent years, and particularly by the invasion of Afghanistan.


My Lords, the noble Lord seems to be moving away from the point I raised. I have the impression that, in effect, the Government, or probably on this occasion the noble Lord, have not given enough information to the House about the part that we, as a developed country, would play in accepting manufactured goods from the developing countries. The noble Lord did not seem to deal with that point, which I thought was important. As the noble Lord seems to be moving towards the political aspect of this matter, perhaps he can give us some assurance on my point.


My Lords, there are two important points here. First, our ability to receive goods from developing countries, or anywhere else, on a substantial scale depends, of course, upon the health of our own economy, and that we are working to rectify. The other important matter, to which I have briefly referred, is our resistance to clamouring calls for protection by British industries. There are many applications to the Government, particularly through the European Community machinery, for protection from what are called imports from low-cost suppliers, and these we have been able to resist to a very substantial extent. I hope that that is helpful to the noble Lord.

However, the political importance of the developing countries has been underlined by developments in recent years, and particularly, as I said, by the invasion of Afghanistan. This action has caused many developing countries to reassess the role and policies of the Soviet Union. On any objective analysis, they have a greater community of interest with the West, their major trading partner and source of both finance and technology, than with the Soviet Union, which, as my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said, has offered them little apart from arms and dogma. If, however, developing countries are to accept this, they will look to us for evidence that their economic difficulties have been understood and that we are willing to work with them to overcome the problems ahead.

Just before I close, may I deal, as far as I can, with some of the points that have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Oram raised the question of the Colonial Development Corporation—I say the "Colonial "Development Corporation because that is what it was when my father was its first chairman in 1947. It is now, of course, called the Commonwealth Development Corporation. But I can tell the noble Lord that the CDC does, indeed, raise funds commercially, and from the ODA, and can borrow from the National Loans Fund. I fancy that the noble Lord knew that already, but now at least I know it as well.

The noble Lord, Lord Oram, also criticised the Government—and I suppose, by implication, me—for announcing the results of our aid policy review ahead of the publication of the Brandt Report. But, of course, the Brandt Report—as every noble Lord has suggested—refers to the aid policies of the entire Western world, or the North, in respect of the developing countries, and we have to consider our policies in accordance with the restraints placed upon us here at home. That was an important consideration which persuaded us to bring forward the results of our aid policy review at the time we did.

The noble Lord, Lord Noel-Baker, whose speeches I listen to with such admiration, although not I confess always with total agreement, I felt departed from his usual high standard for one brief moment this evening when, as I understood him, he referred to my noble friends sitting on this side of the House as being in favour of all sorts of evil things, which, of course, we are not. We are just as compassionate as noble Lords on any other side of the House, but in the context of the topic which we are discussing this evening, let me just say that we must first create the necessary wealth and not, as some of our predecessors have done, seek to spend the seedcorn first.


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Lord too much, but are not the Government missing the point that investment in overseas development should be regarded as an investment and, therefore, it is not a question of eating the seedcornit is a question of using it in order to produce more corn?


My Lords, it really does not matter what we call it;we still have to find the money, and that is the difficulty. The aid programme which we inherited from our predecessors could not be sustained with the funds available to the Government. That was why we had to revise them. My noble friend Lord Holderness delivered, as he always does, an illuminating and thought-provoking speech founded on his great experience and eminence in these matters. It might be presumptive of me, as well as time-consuming, if I discussed in too much detail, what my noble friend said, but I shall certainly undertake to study it very carefully indeed.

Several noble Lords raised the point of population control. I agree with them and other noble Lords, who referred to the great importance of population programmes—which are, indeed, set out and vividly analysed in the Brandt Report—that this is a sector to which we ought to give considerable attention in our aid programme, and indeed we do. For example, last year we spent about £7 million on aid for population projects, but progress in moderating population growth goes hand in hand with economic growth and progress generally;and of course our aid programme contributes to these factors generally. However, I certainly accept and agree with the noble Lord, Lord Vernon, and others that a root cause of the problems of so many of these Third World countries is overpopulation.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would care to say a few words about our contribution to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. Is it our intention to maintain that contribution?


My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have that information in front of me. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Oram, will allow me to find out and write to him.

The final point with which I should like to deal was raised by a number of noble Lords, including the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and my noble friend Lord Aldington, who said that the Government should be moving more rapidly to the United Nations' target of 0.7 per cent. of GNP. We accept that target—as has been done many times from this Box, by me at least—but we have never set a date by which we should reach it, and I am afraid that it is not possible for me to do so tonight. However, there is another United Nations' target of 1 per cent. of GNP for all financial flows—that is, both private and governmental—and I am pleased to say that we have greatly exceeded that target for a number of years past.

The speeches that have been made in the course of the debate tonight are evidence of the widespread interest that has been aroused in this matte!. The commission have shown how a fresh approach to these major problems can command the attention of an important and influential audience. Governments must now look anew at these problems to see how we can move forward. As my noble friend the Foreign Secretary made clear on the 20th February, our ability to support development overseas is dependent upon the state of our own economy and the need to strengthen it. We shall nonetheless be examining the report of the Brandt Commission with great care to see how progress can be made in ways conducive to the welfare of all.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down—


My Lords, before the noble Lord the Minister sits down —


My Lords, I should like to point out to your Lordships, at the risk of incurring your Lordships' displeasure, that this debate has been going on for five hours and there have been only 17 speakers. There is another debate, just as important, if I may say so, in its field, in which there are eight more speakers. There are some noble Lords in your Lordships' Chamber who have been here since 2.30 yesterday afternoon.


My Lords, I was going to ask the noble Lord before he sat down this question. I was perplexed by what he said earlier in his speech that British aid was greater than what we received in return. Is it not the case that private investment is included in our estimate of aid? Was it not estimated, up to the end of 1978, that we received back in repayment for loans, dividend and interest three times more than the expanded interpretation of aid which was given?


My Lords, I think we are not talking of like with like. 1 was referring to the raw figures, if I may call them that, of our aid programme which, in the year I referred to, was £768 million net from the United Kingdom: that is to say, the gross figure less the receipts from loan repayments and interest. I compared that with a similar figure for the Soviet Union.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him to consider that he has misunderstood what I said tonight and what I have said before? I have never proposed that we should reduce our armaments, or get rid of our offensive weapons, before the Russians or other nations do the same. What I have proposed, and what I urge upon him and upon the Government, is that our admirable Foreign Secretary, who has spoken and worked for us all on the question of Rhodesia, should do the same in the United Nations on the even more vitally important twin evils of the arms race and the world poverty with which the Brandt Report has dealt, and that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington—


My Lords, would the noble Lord give way? I think it is the feeling of the House that the noble Lord might be abusing the custom. He may ask probably one question, but I think it would be the feeling of the House that the noble Lord might pursue this argument either by writing to my noble friend or possibly at a later date. The noble Lord made a lengthy and worthwhile speech. It might be the feeling of the House that my noble friend has replied to all the points. I think that the noble Earl would like to wind up, and we have the feeling of the House that many of us have been here for a long time.


My Lords, may I apologise to the House if my inexperience has led me into error.

8.5 p.m.

The Earl of LISTOWEL

My Lords, I shall be very brief indeed. This debate has been memorable, if not unique, because it has displayed a complete and wholehearted agreement between the noble Lord, Lord Aldington, and my noble friend Lord Brockway. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, for the undertaking he gave that the Government would give serious consideration to the proposals of the Brandt Report. I did not expect him to go further this evening. I do not think he will be surprised if I say that I shall not leave him or the Government alone until they can come back to this House and say whether or not they accept the main recommendations of the Brandt Report.

I should like to join in my congratulations to the maiden speaker, who is not here at the moment. I should like him to read in Hansard—

A noble Lord

My Lords, he is here.

The Earl of LISTOWEL

I apologise, my Lords, he is here. I should like to tell him that I have listened to many maiden speeches but that I have listened to none that has shown such an extraordinary excellence in the qualities that your Lordships particularly appreciate: first-hand experience and balanced judgment. I should like to thank all your Lordships who have taken part in the debate for your welcome to the broad outline of the Brandt Report. It is indeed impressive that this welcome has come equally from both sides of the House. This has been an important expression of Parliamentary opinion. I hope that it will influence public opinion and the policy of the Government. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.