HL Deb 16 June 1982 vol 431 cc636-95

2.58 p.m.

Lord Brockway rose to call attention to the proceedings of the Second Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly now being held in New York; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It may seem to some of your Lordships a little ironic that we should be discussing disarmament at the end of the Falklands struggle—thank be now ended—and during the war in Iran and Iraq, and the dangerous military hostilities in the Lebanon. I believe that in time all these encounters will prove an argument in favour of disarmament, particularly because of the exposure of the scandal of the immoral arms trade.

I am just back from the opening meetings of the United Nations Assembly in New York for the renewed sessions on disarmament. My experience has been one of both education and inspiration—education: from meeting many of the delegations and reading the massive documents I have come to realise the realities of the situation; inspiration: because I have learned from so many delegations of their determination to seek an end to nuclear weapons and to reach disarmament. Also because I have met representatives from the peace movement from all over the world and learned their strength and their determination to realise these objects.

I am quite sure that I need not emphasise the danger of armaments today. That was expressed in the experts committee established by the United Nations manned by 12 leading scientists in the world who reported that there is today a nuclear weapon 4,000 times as deadly as that which fell on Hiroshima; that there are now over 1 million warheads in the world which many times over could destroy all life on this planet.

I wish to pay tribute to the British Ambassador at the United Nations, Ambassador Summerhayes, and to Frank Judd whom the Government appointed to be a liaison officer with the non-governmental organisations. Ambassador Summerhayes has spent days in meeting the representatives of the non-governmental organisations. Our delegation from the World Disarmament Campaign spent an hour with him. I am quite confident that he will have reported to the Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, before she goes to the session delayed until next week, the strength of the campaign for peace and disarmament in the world.

The session was opened by a remarkable speech by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It ought to be distributed in millions. I am concerned today, however, with actual decisions which may be reached at the session rather than the exhortations of the Secretary-General. Therefore, I want to begin by repeating what he himself urged may be realised at the Assembly in New York. He cited seven decisions which may be reached. The first was a comprehensive test ban treaty. He emphasised that, despite the opposition of the Government of the United States of America. Second, the prohibition of an arms race in outer space. Third, the extension of the nonproliferation regime. Fourth, the realisation of confidence-building measures. Fifth, the prevention of military utilisation of the seabed. Sixth, the prohibition of chemical weapons. Seventh, realistic negotiations on verification and monitoring of agreements.

To those seven possible achievements at the Assembly I want to add three based on my talks with delegations and from documents. Eighth, a European and a world disarmament peace conference. Ninth, agreement on the allocation of reduced military expenditure to development, particularly in the third world. Tenth, a United Nations world disarmament campaign. Indeed, at the first meeting of the Assembly the proposal for a United Nations world disarmament campaign was endorsed. The UN session would be worthwhile if it reached only those conclusions, but one hopes that it will reach many more.

The First United Nations Special Session on Disarmament four years ago reached four major conclusions. The first was the abolition of all nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The second, the abolition of conventional weapons phased progressively over the years. These two were to lead to general and complete disarmament in the world; the only weapons allowed would be for national internal security and as contributions to a United Nations peace-keeping force. Fourthly, the diversion of military expenditure to economic and social development, particularly to end the poverty in the third world.

These proposals were submitted to a committee representing 40 nations at Geneva, and an ad hoc committee has now prepared a comprehensive programme for disarmament. It proposes that disarmament shall be reached in three stages. The first and second stages of five years each should be used to end nuclear weapons and weapons of mass dest- ruction, progress in the abolition of conventional arms, and as reductions take place the allocation of military expenditure to development. After those first five-year stages the ad hoc committee proposal is that there should be a third stage of indefinite time which should seek general and complete disarmament. Those are the proposals now before the Assembly now in New York.

I was interested to see as I read the report of the ad hoc committee that there were repeated indications of dissent. These dissents were mostly to the more radical proposals, and particularly to the proposal that the United Nations Committee on Disarmament should administer progress to disarmament and to the use of military expenditure to establish a new international economic order. In the document those who dissented were not listed, but subsequent documents suggested that the dissent came mainly from Great Britain, countries of Western Europe and, though there is no documentary proof of this, from the Government of the United States.

There have been presented to the Special Assembly three documents of observations. The first is from the Committee of 21 representing the unaligned nations at Geneva, and their proposal is that the comprehensive disarmament should take place in four stages of five years each. The second document of observation is from the Soviet Union and the communist countries. They endorse the comprehensive programme of the ad hoc committee, but seek to make some of its proposals more precise. They emphasise in their observation the necessity that Governments should declare that they will not make the first strike with nuclear weapons. In view of President Brezhnev's message published today unilaterally saying that the Soviet Union will never use first strike nuclear weapons, I beg the Government to reconsider their attitude on that issue. If they and their allies do not do so, they will be put in a very bad position in the whole world.

The document of observation from the communist countries is particularly important for its acceptance of verification of arms limitation, and I quote its exact words: Agreements on arms limitation and disarmament should provide for adequate, reliable monitoring of their implementation so as to ensure compliance with the agreements by all parties ".

That is an extraordinarily important statement which I hope will have an influence on all future negotiations.

The third document of observation I would describe as from the West, but I am in some difficulty in doing so; it has been signed by only West Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. Were other nations belonging to NATO, and other nations of the Commonwealth, asked to endorse the observation? If so, what were their replies? The main objection in this observation from some nations of the West is that, in their view, during the first stage—they propose that it should be extended to the end of the second decade for disarmament; that is, nine years hence—negotiations should be left to the present bilateral and multilateral discussions which include the early meeting of President Reagan and President Brezhnev; the Vienna talks on the limitation of arms in Central Europe; the negotiations on non-proliferation between the nuclear powers and, largely, the developing nations; and the application of the Helsinki Agreement.

That observation from nations of the West suggests that a review of the progress of negotiations should take place at the end of the first stage—that is, in nine years' time—and that only then should further steps in the second and subsequent stages take place, depending on the results of the present negotiations.

That is the real issue of difference at the meetings of the Assembly which are now taking place. Controversy on those proposals, as against the proposals of the ad hoc committee, will be between the West, or parts of the West, and the rest of the world. The majority of the ad hoc committee in Geneva, the unaligned nations of the world and even the nations of the communist bloc will all be opposed to the British and Western suggestions.

They will be opposed because of the urgency of some settlement of the problem of the danger of nuclear weapons. In those nine years before United Nations action there will be the danger of a nuclear war by design, by escalation of regional conflicts or by accident. We all hope that the talks between President Reagan and President Brezhnev will be successful, but I suggest that the result is too uncertain to make the whole strategy for disarmament depend on them. And, as for the present talks, they are utterly bogged down. They have lasted for eight years. There is no hope at all by present methods that we may really advance towards ending nuclear weapons and bringing disarmament. In addition, can it be expected that most of the nations of the world will be content with a few Governments deciding these issues? All the Governments of the world are involved and it is only by international action that they will feel any security.

I wish to comment briefly on the constructive, positive alternative to arms in the world. Willy Brandt in his report said that a mere fraction of 1 per cent. of military expenditure could end hunger in the poorest countries within 10 years. I regret that over the last eight years the British Government with their Western allies have obstructed any agreement about proposals to end poverty in the world. They have announced their aid, but aid is not the solution; there must be a plan for partnership between the developing and industrialised nations if a solution is to be reached. About 30 million people, 17 million of them children, die from hunger or from the absence of medical treatment every year. I wonder sometimes how we can dare live in our comfort with that knowledge of mass starvation in the world. I am glad to say that I found a mood of deep concern in the United Nations Assembly about that. I am confident that as the Secretary-General has said, solutions will be proposed; I hope that the British Government is going to support them in every respect.

Lastly, I want to refer to one of the inspirations of my visit. I met representatives of the peace movement from all over the world. I was amazed by its strength and confidence. The United States of America used to be thought of as the weak area. Last Saturday we had in New York a demonstration of over 1 million people, and fewer than 200,000 of them came from other countries. The peace movement is now sweeping America, with the demand that there should be a freeze on all nuclear weapons. No fewer than 178 members of Congress support it. It is like the movement in America against the Vietnam War. It is beginnning; it will sweep the whole of that country.

I need not speak of its strength in other countries. In this country our world disarmament campaign has the support of every opposition party in Parliament, except for the Ulster Unionists. The Labour Party, of course, the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the national parties of Wales and Scotland all support it. There is the amazing fact that local and regional councils in this country, representing four-fifths of the population, have now declared themselves nuclear weapon-free areas. These include greater London and the whole of Wales.

Strong as our movement is here, it is still stronger in Western Europe. It is so strong in Belgium and Holland that it convinced the Governments that they must not instal cruise missiles demanded by NATO. It is so strong in Germany that it compelled the Chancellor to fly to President Reagan and tell him that he must negotiate with the Soviet Union. It is strong in the communist countries as well. In January I went on a peace mission to the Soviet Union. It was anti-Soviet in many respects, and known to be so, but the Soviet peace committee and ourselves were able to reach common agreement about a peace programme.

The Governments and the media are only just beginning to understand the strength of the peace movement in the world. The United Nations Assembly has established a world disarmament campaign. It will largely be educational. Our campaign will supplement it by becoming a campaign to stir the world on the information that the United Nations provides. Yes, I am 93 years-old, but I believe I am going to live to see the end of nuclear weapons in the world and the beginning of world disarmament. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.24 p.m.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, not only for introducing this subject this afternoon, but for giving us an eyewitness account of the opening of the important special session of the United Nations General Assembly. As a pioneer of peace campaigning, the noble Lord was, I felt, fully entitled to take credit for the remarkable performance of the peace demonstration at the special assembly opening. Though he did not say so, I think he could justly have said that the influence of the peace movements throughout the Western world has had a demonstrable effect on the attitude of a number of Western Governments, not least the Government of the United States of America. It was only a year ago that President Reagan, in an address at West Point, said: The argument, if there is any, will be over which weapons to build, not whether we should forsake weaponry for treaties and agreements ". Within less than a year he has changed his attitude and has now put forward a number of important and positive suggestions in the field of disarmament and arms control.

Much of the credit for this should go to European Governments and also, I freely concede, to the campaigning of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and his friends. How much brighter would be the pros pects for peace and disarmament if similar campaigning were possible in the Soviet Union and on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But of course that is not at all the case, and we all feel that it is a pity. The type of criticism which is justly put to Western Governments and to the United States Government by the peace demonstrators of whom the noble Lord has spoken may not be uttered against the Government of the Soviet Union within that country.

As the noble Lord said, in this country we have flourishing and excellent peace campaign organisations, such as the World Disarmament Conference, the Council for Arms Control and the United Nations Association. I should like to add CND, which includes thousands of good peace campaigners, but a number of its objectives, such as the unilateral withdrawal of Britain from NATO, are totally unacceptable and reflect the excessive influence of CND's communist members.

Perhaps the best informed of the British and international pressure groups for disarmament and peace is the Palme Commission. The report of the commission, which has just been issued is entitled Common Security and could, I think be claimed to be the most readable and the best report on disarmament and peace ever written. It ends with a very large number of specific and positive recommendations in the field of disarmament. I hope that the Minister is going to inform us this evening that the commission's report has been studied by the Government. It might well be a very good brief for the Prime Minister when she makes her address to the special session of the General Assembly.

So many proposals are put forward in the field of disarmament and arms control that it is difficult to know where to begin. The noble Lord reminded us of the seven objectives set out by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I think I am right in saying that we on these Benches would warmly support all the seven general objectives set out by the Secretary-General. But there must be—and here I felt myself differing slightly from the noble Lord—some kind of priority. Naturally, negotiations of different kinds, on different fields of disarmament and arms control, can proceed simultaneously—and do; but there must be some order in the way that one handles the subjects.

The issues which the noble Lord spoke about were of course multilateral approaches to disarmament, perhaps naturally, in view of the nature of the special session. I thought that he was a little hard on the need to try to get momentum and success in the bilateral and the East-West negotiations that are also continuing. I also thought that he was a little inconsistent with himself when he then picked out for comment Mr. Brezhnev's speech of yesterday. I am glad that he did. It is a profoundly important statement and I consider that the Government, and all the NATO Governments, should give a very high priority to making a positive reply to this challenge—this challenge from Mr. Brezhnev to the NATO Governments to say that they would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

1 hope the Minister will reply to that later in the debate. I hope that he will not say that this is just a verbal promise by Mr. Brezhnev that might be broken. I hope he will not say that it is just propaganda. I hope he will not use the argument that the NATO Govern- ments sometimes use, that NATO has already committed itself to declaring never to use any weapons first, because that dodges the question. The truth is that NATO strategy at the moment—what is called flexible strategy—implies the possibility of using nuclear weapons first. NATO says this, although of course the first use would almost certainly produce a nuclear response and lead to catastrophic and totally unacceptable results. Moreover, for this very reason the threat of first use is losing credibility as a deterrent.

For these reasons, any NATO strategy which has to rely on the first use of nuclear weapons is, in my view, a bad strategy which must be changed. Of course, it is argued that the conventional unbalance between the Warsaw Pact and NATO is such that there is no practicable alternative to relying for deterrence and even for fighting on nuclear weapons.

On these Benches we deny this. We think there are alternatives. The evidence for a substantial or unbridgeable lack of balance in conventional arms is not there. The best guide in this field is undoubtedly the International Institute of Strategic Studies. In its survey, recently published, called the Military Balance, after explaining the very great difficulties of comparing the conventional forces of East and West in Europe, the institute says that the trend is wrong and requires remedies, but the report concludes—and I quote: The overall balance continues to be such as to make military aggression a highly risky operation. Though tactical redeployments could provide a local advantage in numbers sufficient to allow an attacker to believe that he might achieve a tactical success, there would still appear to be insufficient overall strength on either side to guarantee victory. The consequences for an attacker would be unpredictable The report of the authoritative Palme Commission comes to a similar, perhaps rather more reassuring, conclusion.

Since these studies were published, of course, some of the key weapons systems in the equation have been tested in battle in Lebanon and in the South Atlantic, and, undoubtedly, having seen the confrontation of Western and Soviet aircraft and tanks and having seen the results of some of the weapons systems we and, indeed, the Argentinians used in the South Atlantic, the deductions must be favourable and must be reassuring, I am sure, from the NATO point of view. I think the conclusion is that, if there is a gap between the conventional strength of NATO and that of the Warsaw Pact, it is not large and it is certainly not unbridgeable. If the NATO Governments make an effort of will to close it, they can do so by improving our conventional forces.

It would be much better, of course, to close the gap by the means to which the noble Lord was referring; that is, by achieving success in Vienna in the mutual and balanced force reductions discussions. That would be much the best way of doing it. Again, in my opinion, this deserves the highest priority from the Government. It is tempting to think—and I think the noble Lord was guilty here—that because these negotiations have been going on since 1973 without reaching agreement, they will never reach agreement. I think that that is wholly wrong. An enormous amount of progress has been made towards agreement of an important kind. Agreement has been reached on the principles, on the procedures, on the definitions and on the specific objective of these negotiations. The specific objective is a ceiling of 900,000 troops or manpower on both sides, with a sub-ceiling of 700,000 for ground troops only. This is a remarkable achievement.

The real objection at the moment is simply that the two sides cannot reach agreement on the level of Warsaw Pact manpower at present existing in the reduction zone. This is something that can and should be overcome, and I urge that the Foreign Ministers on both sides should take personal charge of these negotiations in Vienna, because success can be achieved. If that is done, then, of course, even without increased expenditure by NATO on conventional weapons NATO will again be in a position to deter and, if necessary, defeat Soviet aggression without recourse to nuclear weapons. We can revise the flexible strategy and declare that under no circumstances will NATO be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Agreement at Vienna would also open the way to a reduction of nuclear weapons in Europe, especially battlefield nuclear weapons. Because they are the most easily used, battlefield nuclear weapons are undoubtedly the most dangerous of all nuclear weapons, and it is extraordinary that there has never been any negotiation about them at all. It is extraordinary that the peace campaigns have ignored them almost completely. It may be that now they have taken them aboard, but year after year they took no notice whatever of them. For myself, I think there are far too many battlefield nuclear weapons on both sides of the Iron Curtain in Europe today, and I warmly support the recommendation of the Palme Commission that all battlefield nuclear weapons and all storage sites should be withdrawn from the Iron Curtain to a distance of, they say, 150 kilometres as a beginning.

We should have a zone in the centre of Europe free of battlefield nuclear weapons. Obviously, this is only a small step of limited value. It does not mean that the zone cannot be attacked by nuclear weapons from outside, obviously, and it does not mean that the battlefield nuclear weapons cannot quickly be put into the centre, into the zone. But it does make immediate recourse to nuclear weapons in the event of war a little more difficult. It marginally raises the nuclear threshold, and that is something worthwhile and something that could lead to more substantial agreements in a similar field later.

It is totally impossible, of course, to cover the whole field of disarmament and arms control, and my noble friend Lord Banks will undoubtedly, on behalf of these Benches, mention a number of other points later in the debate. We have already, I think, made clear our deep support for the Geneva talks on intermediate-range nuclear weapons; for the START talks, which we think should be amalgamated with the Geneva talks; and for the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway. I think that we on these Benches are fully aware of the many setbacks and disappointments in the field of disarmament in past years. However, we are also aware how much groundwork—necessary and important groundwork—has now been done and how much agreement there is on principles, definitions and procedures; and we are aware of the changing attitudes of Governments and of public opinion. What is needed now is political will. In the Falklands crisis, the Government showed remarkable courage and determination. Let them now show the same qualities in the cause of disarmament and peace.

Lord Zuckerman

My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, resumes his seat, may I put a question to him? He referred to the policy of flexible response in relation to NATO strategy. Does he know that Mr. McNamara, the author of that policy, has recently published an important statement in conjunction with McGeorge Bundy (who was head of the National Security Council during President Kennedy's regime and the earlier part of President Johnson's regime), Gerrard Smith, who has been involved in these matters for as long as I know—and that means as long as I have, which is over 20 years—and George Kennan, qualifying that very policy and asking Governments to consider a no-first-use policy?

Is he further aware that Mr. McNamara, in many public statements made since the appearance of this article in Foreign Affairs, has said on several occasions on television and radio, not only in the US but in Europe as well, that he has put many times to various top military men the question: does any military man in command in NATO, Europe, know of any circumstances in which the use of nuclear weapons would confer an advantage on the NATO forces? And the answer every time has been, no, they do not. That is a different way of putting a question which has been referred to several times in your Lordships' House by ex-Chiefs of Defence Staff.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, I am naturally grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, for his intervention. I hope that I conveyed in my speech that I sympathise very much with what the four distinguished Americans were saying. I tried to show that some of the assumptions behind the flexible response are quite mistaken.

3.42 p.m.

The Earl of Cork and Orrery

My Lords, the Motion before the House in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway is: To call attention to the proceedings of the Second Special Session on Disarmament … in New York … ". This is a session which is attended by 173 nations who hope to continue speaking for 5½ weeks. I feel that the world, and particularly the people in New York, will little note or long remember what I may say this afternoon and perhaps not much of what any of us may say. Therefore, I hope I may be excused and not thought idle if I do not go into the whole project in very great depth and burden the House with what might be yet another speech on defence matters.

I would like to confine myself to one or two points which seem important to me, but which are not always, I suspect, remembered. I would like to say at the very outset that I do not believe it is right or possible or certainly not easy to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, particularly this afternoon, without a great deal of respect and admiration for the way in which he puts forward his views and the passion and sincerity with which he holds them. I do not necessarily agree with them for that reason, but I have a great admiration, if he would not think it an impertinence, for the way he does it.

Particularly I approve of the remarks he made early in his speech on the subject of the worldwide arms trade which is a beastly trade and not ill-exemplified in this magazine I hold in my hand, familiar, to many noble Lords. It is called NATO's Fifteen Nations. It has lots of advertisements. They are not advertisements for washing machines and underwear and other lighthearted matters but such things as, bombs you can count on to do what they are supposed to do. That is the only kind of bomb we make … thirty years' experience of half a million missiles … 35mm anti-aircraft guns ", which might be the sort of thing which would appeal to some noble Lords. the harpoon is a bargain when compared with alternatives or with the value of the targets it may be called upon to destroy ". Telling adverts, if you like. Also, …wheeled and tracked vehicles, explosives according to military specifications … and so on ". There is a rifle grenade of which it is said, "What is the bullet track?"—which is something that they use and it says after the explanation, Read of the extraordinary convenience and usefulness of these concepts ". No household should be without one. Guns, 7.62 mm, 25 mm, 30 mm, automatic weapons and, in the secondhand market you can buy assault rifles, military aircraft, helicopters, land mines, ammunition, artillery, anti-aircraft naval guns. And that is the second-hand market.

This is not edifying. The horrifying thing about it is that most of the weapons that are sold are going to developing countries. Wars are fought now with tanks and every kind of sophisticated armament between countries that two generations ago were used to fighting with knobkerries and assegais. The credit for that is due to the Western technology which has to export this kind of thing bringing death to all people all over the world simply in order to keep itself going. Not to enlarge on that, the point makes itself adequately enough.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, have referred to the Russian proposal to declare unwillingness to use nuclear weapons in the first strike. There are one or two things to be said about that, I believe. I will merely make them as remarks and not to elaborate any argument. The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, has asked the Government not to brush this off—and he hopes they will not—simply as another verbal undertaking, which seems to be a reasonable request. But I confess I would be a little happier about it if the Russians had, in fact, shown any sign of implementing their undertaking which was represented in their signature to the Final Act of Helsinki in connection with human rights.

Apart from that, I think it is reasonable to point out that if both sides say they will not use nuclear weapons in the first strike, then nuclear weapons as a deterrent automatically permanently disappear. They are no longer any deterrent. The weapons are still there, on the other hand. What has been gained'? Those who think of nuclear weapons in terms of strategic possibilities and therefore say that they arc ridiculous because they cannot be used, will say that some good has been achieved. But those who say that the nuclear weapon is a deterrent, and no other, and that it works and it has been working for 30 years (or whatever it is) will reply that the deterrent is gone, nobody can use it for the first strike and nobody knows whether or not the other side will use it but nobody knows that it will not. There is no such thing as a nuclear deterrent while the world remains littered with these horrifying weapons, so that it is doubtful whether any useful results will come out of that particular undertaking.

It seems to me that when the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and others of his way of thinking, develop their arguments they do something which reminds me rather of those old box puzzles with a glass top where a little silver ball ran about. Perhaps they still do. By great steadiness of hand you direct the ball here or there and it runs perhaps up a see-saw and then has to be guided to some delicately achievable destination. You get it up to the top of the see-saw and suddenly, Plop! down goes the see-saw and off goes the ball, disappears and comes back to where you started.

That point comes, as I will explain, when, having listed all the arguments, and all the complaints and all the criticisms against the nuclear armament situation in the whole world, suddenly we get the question: What are we going to do about it? And we find that the answer is that we, on this side of the Iron Curtain, are to enter into agreement to disarm. This is known or referred to generally under the overall, umbrella title of the peace movement.

I think there is a fallacy here and, in fact I think there are two fallacies. The first, the basic one, lies in the belief that the great treasure that the world has to seek is peace. I do not know whether the Poles would agree with that. They are at peace. I think that the great treasure that the world has to seek is freedom. It is perfectly possible to have peace without freedom. Is it desirable? It is argued by many that as long as we are not attacked by missiles, by explosives, peace remains. Yes, it might well do so. But peace on what terms? Peace without freedom; peace under the jackboot of an enemy? Is it worth having? If it is worth having, it is perfectly respectable to say that you believe that it is worth having. I do not hear this argument actually intended. I think it may be assumed it is put forward. It may exist in the minds of certain persons who call themselves pacifists—but it is inaccurate; I do not know why they use that word—who believe in not fighting at all costs. I have not yet heard them say that it is better to be occupied and defeated than to fight. If people can say that they are among those or allied to those who would have preferred to leave the Falkland Islanders under the heel of the Argentines, with them I do not personally agree. This is a total fallacy.

There is another fallacy—and this has been said certainly by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and others in the past; and it will be said again before this debate is over—which is that if the Western nations reduce their armaments, and are seen to do so by the nations of the Warsaw Pact, they too will reduce their armaments. I by many standards am an old man. Sometimes I feel very old. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is nearly a quarter of a century older than me am so he presumably knows a lot more about what has been going on in these past few generations than I do. He is old enough to know from his own experience— I am not—how the First World War of 1914 broke out. He knows—unless he never reads a newspaper or a history book—that it began with an assault upon a small unarmed nation called Belgium by a large steamroller of a power called Germany.

In between the wars, when I joined the army in 1930, we had run down our forces to such an extent that a light machine gun section in a rifle platoon in an infantry battalion was represented by one man carrying a blue flag. Tanks were represented by two men carrying yellow flags. Here was disarmament gone mad. And what became of that?—the Second World War.

The fallacy is that if you disarm and expect the other side to disarm equally, the other side will disarm equally provided that they have no more aggressive intention than you have yourself. An aggressor-nation will simply chortle and see mugs disarming on the other side, and nothing will happen. Where disarmament is needed is on the other side of the Iron Curtain, not simply on this side. The Holy Grail is flickering not here, not in New York, but on the distant horizon in the East. That Holy Grail is the mutual love between mankind and between nations in which lives peace. The operative word is "mutual". Love on one side and hate on the other leads to nothing but war, desperation and horror.

Yet it is argued all the time that we should use some of the money that we spend on arms to alleviate the conditions of developing countries in the third world—rightly and properly. But how would it be if a large amount of that money was deliberately used in order to organise a peace campaign in Soviet Russia? I hear from remarks made by noble Lords who have been in that country how they have talked to various people. I have not heard of any reports from any of them of what the peace movement there does, what the freedom movement there does, or what demonstrations there are in the streets of Moscow against the use of nuclear weapons. I do not expect to hear it; I know it does not happen, as indeed the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, said.

So long as we are going to have speeches made, debates carried out and sessions held in New York or anywhere else advocating disarmament on one side of the Iron Curtain without making the slightest effort to sway the minds and the hearts of the young people, particularly, who live on the other, so that they should grow up in the end with peace in their hearts, we are heading directly to disaster. I think that one of the chief results—perhaps almost the only result—that we shall get from this particular process until we get through the other side of the Iron Curtain is an endless repetition and prolixity of silly and unproductive speeches.

3.55 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, may I also thank my noble friend Lord Brockway for initiating this debate and for his opening speech. My noble friend's efforts in the cause of peace and disarmament throughout a long and active life have been remarkable. We must admire the conviction and resolve which sent him to New York over the past week or so. He has just returned after a very busy time there and we must concede that his performance today was a notable one.

This debate could not be more timely. War and peace are in everyone's minds. From early morning until late at night for weeks all else has been overclouded by grim reports from the South Atlantic and from the Middle East, and we are glad beyond words today—and enormously relieved—that the Falklands conflict is over and that the freedom about which the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, has spoken has returned to those islands.

However, there is another side to the coin, although it does not get so much publicity, and that is the continuing effort to which noble Lords have referred to achieve some measure of disarmament in the world. I have a feeling—and this is the feeling which my noble friend Lord Brockway referred to—that something strange is happening at this time. It is that the recent hostilities, with their loss of life—especially the loss of young life—the casualties and the destruction, are causing a greater sense of outrage and a greater frustration than I can remember in my lifetime.

The Times leader on 7th June mentioned that, public concern about arms control and disarmament is rising steadily ". There is a greater yearning for peace and also for real, practical and meaningful disarmament than ever before.

The special session with which we are mainly concerned in this debate is therefore of great significance to all mankind. There are those who say that it is all a waste of time; that the session is a charade and that nothing will come of it; that those who call for disarmament are namby-pamby "do-gooders who live in Cloud Cuckoo Land, and that reality somehow or another lies elsewhere. I find this attitude deeply depressing. Of course, there must be reality in any negotiations; of course the USA and the USSR, and all the rest of us, must come to the table with a genuine willingness to make real, bona fide concessions. But the idea that we should abandon the UN and retreat into fortress NATO and fortress Warsaw Pact is a total betrayal of the aspirations and ideals of men and women in every country in the world.

Mercifully, there is another side of the coin: the special session, where we see delegates of 157 governments together for five weeks to talk about nuclear disarmament and about the reduction of conventional armaments as well. They will try to reverse the dreadful upward trend of arms spending. Mr. Martensen, the assistant general secretary of the UN, has said that the total amount spent on arms globally is at present £335 billion, and that it will be £500 billion by the end of the century if the trend is not reversed. It is an awful prospect for people in every country and it will be monstrously evil if it happens.

My noble friend Lord Brockway referred to the Brandt Report and to the debates that we have had in this House about conditions in the third world. If one looks at this expenditure on arms on the one hand side by side with the poverty, starvation and disease which ravages a large part of our world, we find ourselves bereft of words to describe the magnitude of the crime which humanity is committing.

I know that this may be described as a simplistic approach to the world problem. In one sense it is; but in the broader sense it is not. It is the truth as future observers will see it—if there are future observers to observe. National leaders are now in New York and they will spend time at this session, and we are glad that the Prime Minister is to attend next week. I am sure that Parliament and the nation will hope that she will make constructive proposals and support all genuine initiatives towards progress in the reduction of arms.

Perhaps we can be told by the noble Lord the Minister what specific proposals, if any, the Prime Minister will be making when she speaks in the special session. We know that she has had a good deal on her mind over the past 10 weeks, but I feel sure that the need for disarmament has not been forgotten by her or by the Government. We must therefore hope for progress and constructive initiatives, although experience teaches us that we may be disappointed.

My noble friend referred to the special session of 1978—we had a Labour Government then—and important recommendations for disarmament emerged from that session. It was adopted by consensus in the General Assembly by 149 member states, including this country. We all hoped that it would have concrete results. What were the results? The recommendations have been almost completely ignored in the past four years. There must be a determination to do better this time.

The time for declarations and exhortations is past. We have had plenty of those. They are easy to manufacture and to use as propaganda; but the time for action has arrived and people throughout the world, especially young people, are desperately concerned that constructive plans should be put into practice. The demonstrations in Europe to which noble Lords have referred, and especially the one in New York, have shown that there is a conviction and determination among young people that amounts almost to a crusade to bring armaments under control; and world leaders will ignore this impetus at their peril.

I am not unmindful of the fact that we do not witness comparable demonstrations in the Soviet Union and in the Warsaw Pact countries. This is an enormous weakness on that side of the Iron Curtain, and on that one must concede the point make by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, but 1 do not think the desire for peace and disarmament is less strong among the young people of Eastern Europe than it is here, though it is not allowed to break the surface. During a visit which I paid there, I found that the people of the Soviet Union, North and South, in Leningrad, Georgia, Moscow and Armenia are as preoccupied with the desire for a permanent peace as we are here. It is a question of communicaton between the millions there and their own Government, but the message is clear both for the West and East.

What prospects are there therefore for this special session? We know that there are three drafts on the table and my noble friend has dealt with them in detail so I shall not pursue them, except to refer briefly to the Western draft, as I will call it, which has United Kingdom support. This, as I understand it, proposes a programme which would unite all the measures now in progress or in prospect—and I am not as pessimistic as my noble friend Lord Brockway about this. I refer specifically to the strategic arms reduction talks which are due to open between the United States and the USSR on 29th June. Then there are the Geneva talks on intermediate range nuclear forces, which have been going on for some time. There are also the Vienna discussions on conventional weapons—the mutual and balanced force reductions—which have become bogged down but which may now be revived and we must hope for that revival. I submit that all these are of vital importance.

These are the foundations on which we should be building, and the one thing which the special session should and must do is to breathe life into these existing negotiations which are either going on or are about to start. They certainly should not be dropped. I believe that President Reagan has shown he is now more sensitive to the urgent need for an effective East/West dialogue and that he wants to reopen talks. The USSR has indicated its ready acceptance to go into the START talks. They have both talked about cutting back on nuclear arsenals. Let us see whether they are in earnest about all this and whether practical steps will follow. The START talks are not going to be easy. The problem of the SS20s, the Pershing Its and the Cruise missiles are difficult, and detailed practical talks will have to proceed. There are now, however, practical proposals from both sides, including the zero option, and we must hope for progress which will call a halt to the waste of resources which no one can afford.

There is another initiative, which is also an important one. This is the independent commission, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew. It is headed by Mr. Olof Palme and makes a number of constructive recommendations which will, one hopes, be taken into account at the United Nations, We shall be glad to have the Minister's comments upon the Government's views about the so-called Palme Report. This proposes a nuclear-free zone in central Europe, to be achieved in stages, and dismisses any idea that a nuclear war can either be limited or won by one side or the other as "dangerous or fallacious". I agree wholeheartedly with that view. This commission, which included distinguished representatives of many countries including the Soviet Union and the United States, demonstrates once again the growing pressure all the time for real progress in disarmament.

To come back again to the special session, it is encouraging that President Reagan has made some constructive new proposals for arms control and for ceilings on NATO and Warsaw Pact forces in Europe. These have been suppported by Chancellor Schmidt and yesterday, as my noble friend said, Mr. Brezhnev, through Mr. Gromyko, gave an unconditional pledge that the Soviet Union will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

These statements by the leaders of the world's two so-called super powers must be regarded as encouraging. They are clearly a response to mounting world concern and pressure and must now be followed by a willingness by the super-powers and the rest of us to take practical steps to reduce arms, especially nuclear arms. There are difficult problems to be resolved, especially the problems of verification and of monitoring, which Mr. Brezhnev has not mentioned. However, these are matters of detail which can be discussed in committee, as we say. It is these important questions, such as monitoring, which at the end of the day prove the bona fides of the proposer.

I now turn to another aspect of the problem which was touched on by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery. It is something which has been accentuated by the Falklands conflict—namely, the traffic in arms. In times of relative peace, when our own country is not affected, we tend to forget about this, but it has been brought home to us in a most fearful way in recent weeks as we saw our own ships sunk by missiles made in France—the Exocet missile—that is, the ships of the leading NATO navy sunk and damaged by weapons made in an allied country. Today the traffic is run not by firms or private individuals as it was some 50 or 60 years ago, but by Governments. We have also seen weapons made by America, West Germany or Israel used against British forces. It reminds us that the production of conventional arms is the world's leading growth industry. What a tragedy it is! In the past 10 years, the yearly volume of transfers of such arms to other nations has more than doubled.

Even worse, if that were possible, the fraction going to the third world nearly tripled in the same period. They can afford it least of all. It is a diabolical development, and I was glad to learn that Chancellor Schmidt spoke strongly about controlling this traffic to the third world in his speech at the United Nations. As we know, the sales are made for both financial and political reasons, but Western countries are not the only culprits. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, the Soviet Union has replaced the United States as the world's leading exporter of sophisticated weapons. Mr. Frank Blackaby, the chairman of SIPRI, in introducing its yearbook, went on to say that the most alarming new element of the arms race is the growing competition in chemical weapons. The report notes: … the Soviet Union uses arms transfers as an important instrument for maintaining and expanding its influence in the Third World rather than for economic aid or trade. and that the Soviet Union also looks to the trade as an important currency earner. Lest we in the West feel too complacent, the report also states that Western European countries continued to push weapons sales throughout the past three years, with France far ahead of the others and selling three times as much as Great Britain. This report also notes the emergence of a strong public opinion demanding a cut in arms expenditure and nuclear arsenals.

For all these reasons—and they are very powerful ones—the success of the special session is vital to the whole world. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, when he opened the session in what my noble friend called a remarkable speech, called the arms race, madness and immorality ", and said, that never before in history has mankind been placed on such a narrow edge between catastrophe and survival ". Like the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, I think that we on these Benches would support the proposals which he made in his speech. I believe that the Soviet Union have now realised that their invasion of Afghanistan was a dangerous and costly error. I further believe that the Reagan administration have realised that their initial hardline policy is impractical, if they are to retain the confidence of their Western allies.

Mr. Willy Brandt summed this up recently in an article in the Herald Tribune when he said this—and it is worth quoting: But more than anything else a summit meeting between President Reagan and President Brezhnev would hold out the possibility that the superpowers and their respective allies, despite their dissimilar ideologies and conflicting interests, could join in a partnership in search of international security. This would do more than almost anything else to strengthen the tie of friendship and co-operation between Europe and America, eliminating with one blow many of the irritations and petty misunderstandings that have burdened the alliance in recent months. It is for this reason that I, along with many of my friends in West Germany and elsewhere in Europe, hope for an American policy free of illusion, oriented toward the future and aiming at a global partnership of security. We have known great wars in this century and we know that the next will destroy civilisation. We also know that the arms race is wrong and wicked and that it also must end. The time for bland and meaningless exchanges around the conference table and of dishonest propaganda is also past. Let us hope that the age of the peacemaker is at hand.

4.13 p.m.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, so far, we have had complete unanimity in this debate, and I am not going to break it. All noble Lords who have spoken have spoken of the need for disarmament and of the kind of disarmament required; namely, multilateral. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in opening the debate never mentioned the CND, nor did he mention the dangerous, unintelligent and divisive policy of unconditional unilateral nuclear disarmament by this, or any other, country. Still less did the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, speaking to us just now. How pleasant this is, and how favoured we are in this House.

But, at the risk of introducing a jarring note, I must ask the House to remember that this is not the policy of the Labour Party. The policy of the Labour Party is that this country should, unconditionally and unilaterally, lay down its nuclear weapons; that it should not belong to any alliance based on nuclear weapons—and NATO is, of course, such an alliance—that it should therefore leave NATO; and that it should not allow any ally to bring its nuclear weapons to our soil or our ports, and that includes the United States—

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, on a point of accuracy, it is not the policy of the Labour Party to withdraw from NATO.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I believe that it is the policy of the Labour Party not to belong to any alliance based on nuclear weapons—which, although it does not mention NATO, can only be taken to apply to NATO. That is a small distinction. We welcome the continuation of the Labour Peers—under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Peart, who has proudly proclaimed, "I am a multilateralist "—in the true tradition of the sensible Labour Party, to which so many of us belonged, and which we all respected in this field until recently.

May I add one more slightly disobliging remark concerning the history of today's debate? Some weeks ago, the SDP decided that it would like to do its modest bit towards the discussion of disarmament policy in a constructive spirit. We on this Bench accordingly put down an Unstarred Question on the best and most likely day we could find a few weeks ahead, which was today, in the knowledge that this was the day for a Labour Party debate and that the Labour Party had not yet chosen the subject. That Unstarred Question stood alone on the Order Paper for today throughout the Recess, for a period of 10 or 12 days. Then, down went the Labour Motion for today for a Labour full day debate, of which they have a good many in every year. We have only one a year in our party. I am not making too much of it. It is the kind of thing that happens to small parties when there are big parties barging around in the undergrowth at night. I just wanted the House to know what our intentions had been about today. Most important, the only difference between our Unstarred Question and the Labour Party Motion was that the former referred explicitly to the Palme Report, which brings me to my substance—

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would forgive me for a moment. I am very sorry that he seemed to reduce what is, perhaps, the most important subject facing mankind today—that of disarmament in general—to the level of party politics. But, since he has done so—I ignore his remarks about unilateralism and the rest of it—on the subject of his Unstarred Question, I hope the House will forgive me if I say that it was perfectly clear with the usual channels at the beginning that our debate was going to be about this subject. There was difficulty of communication with New York where my noble friend was, and it was agreed—I shall not go into any details—that, on our debate being put down, the noble Lord's Unstarred Question would be withdrawn. I do not want to get into any kind of row; it is most unseemly at this moment. I am only sorry that the noble Lord felt it necessary to introduce it.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I cordially agree with the noble Baroness that we should not get into any kind of row. Perhaps the House will allow me to say that I do not fully accept what she has just said.

To come to the substance, the Second Special Session is, indeed, the most important and highest-level occasion for disarmament discussion for many years, and I join with my noble ally Lord Mayhew in hoping that the Government—the Prime Minister, in particular—will be able to give an endorsement on behalf of this country to the Palme Report; the report of the Independent Commission on Disarmament. This is a report produced by the same method and in the same spirit as the Brandt Report on Development. It is a serious document; it is one of the most serious and fullest accounts of this matter to have appeared.

The membership was wide, from all over the world. The chairman was the former Swedish Prime Minister Mr. Olof Palme, as has been said; Mr. Cyrus Vance the ex-American Secretary of State was a member; the British member was my right honourable friend Dr. David Owen, and the Russian member was Mr. Arbatov. Here one comes to an aspect of the report which is virtually miraculous. It contains throughout a repeated insistence on the need for verification of disarmament measures. It was signed by Mr. Arbatov and the report has not been disavowed by the Soviet Government. Ten years ago, or even five years ago, such a thing would have been undreamable for the remotest future—

Lord Beloff

My Lords, does the noble Lord know whether a Russian language edition of the report is being published in the Soviet Union?

Lord Kennet

My Lords, it already has been, which is remarkable in itself. I have not had an opportunity and may not get it, life being what it is, to check that version against the English one. But perhaps, if the noble Lord could help me to find a translator with some time to spare, we could get it done. Yesterday we had Mr. Brezhnev's message to the special session of the General Assembly. This is even more important than any noble Lord has yet said, and not only because it contains the "no first use" declaration. Here are the words: The USSR assumes the obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. This obligation shall commence at the moment ". It is read out in the General Assembly, and the USSR calls for reciprocal action by other nuclear countries. It brings the Soviet Union into line with China, which has always said this, and it is a tremendous advance.

I profoundly hope that the Government will seize this declaration with both hands and welcome it, and that, if other allied Governments show any sign of rejecting it in the kind of curmudgeonly passivity which too often passes as a reaction to Soviet proposals, our Government will resist that tendency. It behoves all Western Governments to look at the old argument: "Ah, but we must rely on nuclear weapons because we are conventially inferior", and, if they find it still valid, to set out in the greatest detail what are the inferiorities which make it impossible for us to meet this declaration with reciprocity, and to invite the Soviet Union to remove those inferiorities by action in MBFR or in some other forum which would bring them down to a prefect balance with us, thus enabling us to match the declaration.

Mr. Brezhnev's statement agreed to proceed without delay to a convention on the destruction of chemical weapons. There has been delay. The removal of delay is to be welcomed with both hands. It proposes once again a freeze on nuclear arsenals. That one has well known "bugs" in it, and it has been around for some time, but let us still welcome it and see what we can make of it to make it acceptable. It proposes a cut-off in the production of fissile materials for military purposes. This is a familiar proposal, by no means new, but that it should have been made again, along with so many new ones, is good. We should welcome it with both hands and see whether we can set up verification to make it possible.

I come now to the most important, in my view, of all the Soviet proposals. This is new and has not yet been mentioned in the debate. It is that the Soviet Union now offers to place a part of its peaceful nuclear installations—namely, atomic power stations and research reactors—under the inspection and control of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. This would bring the Soviet Union into line with what we have felt able to do in this country, and in France and in the United States. It would bring them a long way ahead of China. This is a tremendous advance. For years the Soviet Union have dourly resisted the proposal that they should do this, after we have all done it. They now join, on this level, the comity of civilised nations. For Heaven's sake, let us not find any holes or pick any bones. Let us welcome it and proceed at once on the basis that it is accepted.

Mr. Brezhnev also agreed to ban the stationing of weapons of any kind in space. The House will know hat the treaty on the demilitarisation of space is so full of holes that it is virtually worthless at the moment, but this looks to me like pretty good wording: To ban the stationing of weapons of any kind in space ". The danger with weapons in space is primarily that they can shoot down other satellites which may have been observing the other side to see if there was a first strike taking off. If one can ban satellites with an anti-satellite capability—and I cannot see how there can be such a capability without weapons—that is a big advance by the Soviet Union, and it should be welcomed, refined in discussion and treated as positively as we can. The Soviet Union have also agreed—perhaps there is a little bit of new language in this—that conventional disarmament requires the most serious attention. This seems to admit that they have not been giving it the most serious attention, which is perfectly true.

This is a big day, not only because of the fact that the Second Session is taking place but also because of the Russian attitude to it, which, taken together with the series of extremely forthcoming and carefully thought-out proposals which have emerged from the American administration since 18th November last, makes this a hopeful season in the history of mankind.

The key to the matter is still the START and INF negotiations in Geneva—the strategic and intermediate range negotiations. One must hope that these either now are or soon will become the same negotiation. You cannot settle the one without the other. I hope that the Government will not too grimly and for too long resist all proposals that our own, or the French, nuclear forces should be discussed anywhere. I can see no argument against discussing them. If you agree to discuss them, it does not mean that you agree to reduce them until you think it is safe to do so. However, to refuse to discuss them can only make it harder to reach general agreement on the other things.

There is a new tone in the public pronouncements by Moscow which I personally am inclined to associate with the death of Suslov. They are no longer so rigid and so academically dogmatic about everything. The newly promoted commentator, M. V. Shishlin—I commend him to the attention of the Government—has been taking some surprisingly forward positions in public broadcasts and telecasts in the Soviet Union.

Battlefield nuclear weapons are not yet to be considered at any negotiation. This should be corrected. You cannot settle the other two sensibly without thinking about the smallest. The Palme Report called for a battlefield nuclear weapon-free zone, as the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, correctly put it—not, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, said, for a nuclear weapon-free zone in Europe. This could very safely be a Western proposal to be made forthwith to the Russians. I can think of nothing against it.

Lastly, the question of space, which I touched on just now under the heading of the Soviet proposal, is a worry. There have been no American proposals about space. Earlier, Mr. Eugene Rostow, their chief negotiator, spoke of the fact that possible technological breakthroughs in space warfare could revolutionise the problem of security as much as nuclear weapons did in their time. Those are strong and alarming words. Now we learn that there is little chance of the United States doing anything about space until the new technology, which holds out "a great promise of defensive capabilities", has shown itself in tests. I believe it would be an error to wait on that front, just as it is an error to wait on any front in the disarmament business, and that the new Soviet proposal with its new language—"all weapons"—should be seized and exploited to the hilt.

The Secretary-General has said that arms races in the world, and there are many, are mad and immoral. So they are. They are wasteful and deadly dangerous as well. For 35 years there has been no more important task before mankind as a whole, and each Government and each individual in it, than that of putting an end to the arms races and obtaining disarmament. Every moment is a good moment for doing this, and this moment seems better than a good many that we have recently had. I hope that, when he comes to wind up, the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will be able to speak positively about all the things which have already been spoken positively of in this debate.

4.28 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Winchester

My Lords, to raise moral questions about the waging of war is to tread on very dubious ground at any time. The Anglo-Saxons are both a practical and a sceptical people. Practical people suspect sentiments which ignore the art of the possible and sceptical people know only too well how easily the rhetoric of patriotism can sweep a nation into intense self-righteousness. But you cannot fool all the people all the time and, in a democratic society especially, it is very risky to pursue a strategy that affronts the independent moral conviction of a large number of your citizens. However odd and however out of date the arguments about "a just war- may seem to be, a people has to be convinced that its cause is just if it is to sustain the conflict—and not only that its cause is just but that its methods of waging war are justified.

Just to make my point, we look back in thankfulness to the seeming conclusion of the conflict in the South Atlantic: thankfulness to everyone concerned, not least our Prime Minister. Yet we need to remember that the immediate response to the ordering of the task force to embark and sail was a significant degree of public unease: unease arising from the suspicion that possibly our reaction was already disproportionate. In the event, most of our citizens came to feel quite strongly that we were facing a kind of hijack and that there is only one way to deal with hijackers if we are to retain security in our world.

But imagine for one moment—only imagine—what might have happened if a Government of this country had ordered an immediate air and naval bombardment of Buenos Aires. There would have been total outrage, not only in the area but sustained and recognised by a vast number of our own people. It would have been disproportionate, and morality itself would have been outraged. The very fact that the nasty insinuation that something much less was possibly planned in the way of an attack on the mainland was rebutted so fiercely by the Minister of State for Defence, and the sense that there was something so scandalous in that insinuation, only underlines the point that I am making.

On strictly practical grounds, therefore, it is expedient to take seriously questions of right and wrong. In a Christian society, we are starting in any event with an uneasy conscience. Pacifism or the use of nonviolent resistence has never yet been adopted as national policy in any country, although we continue to pay our respects to such figures as Martin Luther King as individual exponents of that stance. Yet, pacifism stands as the most obviously conclusion to be drawn from the example of Jesus Christ. In this House, we continue to feel gratitude that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, goes on reminding us of that close connection.

In any case, a Church still activates a tender conscience. That is what it is there to do. One development of this century must be uncompromisingly condemned as wrong; namely, the use of an indiscriminate military attack upon a civilian population. That has always been regarded as morally wrong and unacceptable, and that continued to be the almost unquestioned moral position until, I suppose, Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia, which first showed the apparent usefulness of outright attack on civilians. During the Second World War, that bastion of the moral concept of a just war began to crumble. Nor does retaliation by itself justify it, and certainly it does nothing to put matters right or to deter what has already occurred. So, in our own record, Dresden stands as a crime, and we would be glad not to have Hiroshima and Nagasaki on our conscience. Those events opened a breach in the moral consensus and prepared the way for the contemplation of the annihilation of millions in a few days as a possible method of warfare. To know that that had been ordered in the name of one's own nation would be to bring an intolerable shame. It would really raise the question whether such a nation deserved one's support and patriotism, and whether it was one worth living in. One prays to God that we shall never in any circumstances be brought to perpetrate a crime of that sort upon other people for any reason.

Too much of our objection to and too much of our reaction against the use of nuclear force has been based upon fear, lest it happened to us. All the maps which show the extent of the destruction which will be wrought are and have been maps of the United Kingdom or of the USA. It is the actual responsibility for having to do this to a vast number of our fellow human beings that should really shock us and inhibit us. It is not enough—and here I have come to my own point in this moral struggle—to feel moral outrage at the idea of inflicting death and agonising injury on astronomical numbers of one's fellow human creatures, living and unborn, for we know how quickly our moral scruples break down in the confusion and terror of war. Therefore, any nation must take steps to prevent such a situation arising as might bring this nation or its allies to be tempted to resort to such methods. Consequently, deterrence is justified.

The public believed and—I am certain that I am right in saying this— for a long time believed, that this was the justification for the nuclear deterrent; it was intended to deter any resort to nuclear weapons by ensuring a totally unacceptable and a totally inevitable retaliation. The stockpiling of intercontinental ballistic missiles was a madness with a method in it and it looked as though the Bomb had outlawed itself. There came an extraordinary sense of betrayal and, at first, disbelief when I and many of my friends learnt that, as far back as the 1950s, the strategists were exploring the possibility of a "limited" nuclear war. Perhaps we could get away with a tactical weapon; the deterrent was not against the use of nuclear weapons but against any large-scale attack by the USSR into the NATO arena. Frankly, that changed the whole picture and, in my view, undermined the whole original argument. It was a kind of brinkmanship that we were into now, and I offer my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, for demonstrating the weakness of the flexible response approach to the problem. For, morally, it is no more acceptable since it will still involve an insensate destruction of civilians.

The last of a number of exercises to work out something of the logistics of such a "limited" war using nuclear weapons was that initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General. It was an inquiry into the probable effects of such a tactical nuclear war in Europe. That inquiry envisaged the use of 1,500 warheads by the two sides. That was a very modest estimate, for it is believed that 10,000 battlefield and intermediate range warheads are there in Europe today. With the use of 1,500 warheads, it was estimated that between 5 million and 6 million casualties would occur within a period of days, followed by 1 million affected by radiation. The momentum of events would almost certainly escalate into larger and larger scale nuclear war. Lord Mountbatten himself said it was folly to suppose that limited nuclear war was a possibility. Certainly it is just as morally offensive as the outright nuclear war which we thought we had bottled up with the deterrent of terror.

The other alternative being offered to us is the knock-out first strike against the enemy's weapon silos and fixed launching sites. Apart from the fact that this would leave quite untouched the nuclear weapons on submarines, on planes, or in mobile land-based missiles, it would create huge radiation. In the USA they have estimated that such a strike against their silos would result—although a figure is almost impossible to calculate because weather conditions and all sorts of other factors enter into it—in casualties numbering between 2 and 22 million. A similar exercise in the USSR estimated that there would be between 3.7 million and 27 million casualties. It is ludicrous to talk about a first strike against the missile silos as being in any sense a reduction of the total destructiveness of nuclear war. No, my Lords, there is no such thing as a "limited" nuclear war.

Nuclear weapons are to be abhorred in exactly the same way as chemical weapons are to be abhorred. Here I wish to pay tribute to the Governments of the United Kingdom in their consistent attempt to reduce chemical weapons and indeed the taking of almost unilateral action in destroying stocks of chemical weapons, as we did in the 1960s. Our record with regard to chemical warfare is one of which we can be proud. In 1981 it was the United Kingdom Government that tabled a paper establishing the different categories, and in February of this year tabled a paper on procedures of verification. I hope that our Government will maintain their consistent concern over the reduction of chemical weapons, will continue to set their own example, and will resists any attempt to bring about a possible resumption of manufacture.

But if we feel that this is justified with regard to chemical warfare, I can see no reason whatever why we should not regard with exactly the same urgency, and with just as much distaste, the very thought of using nuclear weapons at any time and on any scale. We need to see this same persistent record with regard to the reduction of these weapons also, starting with the tactical and the intermediate, which, as has already been pointed out, are by far the most dangerous, the most risky.

As this conference goes forward at the United Nations, and as again our Governments are confronted with various proposals from various quarters, let us at all costs never show a cavalier brushing aside of any proposal, whatever it may be. For example, the proposal for a battlefield nuclear weapon-free zone in Europe; I was disquieted at the rather supercilious dismissal that this appeared to receive not so long ago from our own Secretary of State for Defence. It seems to me that any proposal deserves our fullest consideration.

We must be ready for a flexible response in our thinking at least, and not come with minds made up. Nor must we play around with superficial excuses for inaction. One of the worst arguments is that of employment, that we are going to increase unemployment if we begin to reduce defence budgets. That is an argument that needs to be looked at very carefully, because in one after another of the large firms, most notably Lucas Aerospace, the whole workforce has proposed a programme of steady transfer to socially acceptable products, using the very skills that are used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other weapons of war at the present time.

As we have already heard, we have to bring a sense of morality to bear on the arms trade. One has the horrifying thought from time to time that the conflict in the South Atlantic, which was honoured, which was brought to our attention with such signal gallantry and skill, might none the less have been dishonoured with the sense that it might have been used as an obscene shop window for showing the effectiveness of some of the weapons that have not previously been able to be tested. The arms trade and the proliferation of arms is something that is deeply distasteful.

So we must take seriously the outcry of the peace movement all over the world. I know that it is often written off as a movement of starry-eyed idealists probably infected by Communism. That is just one of those assumptions on which too many of us are living. I have met those who have held those assumptions until they actually met some members, at least, of one or other peace movement and were compelled to realise that they were not dealing with thoughtless idealists or with people infected by Left-wing views.

I want at this point to remind your Lordships of the mistake we made so often with regard to the independent movements in Africa. We were reluctant to give them the support they so desperately needed. Again and again we lost the opportunity of making friends with those movements, and subsequently with the independent states themselves, because we were too grudging in our support, and a lot of that grudging attitude was due to our easy writing them off as being Communist inspired. They were Communist inspired largely because they did not get our support: the one caused the other. That may equally be the case in the peace movement. Unless responsible Western Governments take the peace movement seriously, and listen to what it is saying, it will be wide open to the Communist influence of which we already accuse it. Do not let us get the cart before the horse.

The people, mainly young, in those movements are crying out against the irrationality that wears such a rational face. When you consider the vast expenditure year by year on weapons of destruction that are totally unacceptable to the conscience, where does the irrationality lie in protesting about that? When you contemplate the genocide, the slaughter of millions, that might result from the use of these weapons, where is the irrationality in questioning that? Above everything else, because we are living in a world that is dogged, bedevilled with assumptions about one another, we must enter into the business of confidence building before anything else. We must know one another, and, even though it is risky, we must begin to trust one another's motives and to recognise one another's fears within this conflict.

If it does not sound too pious, may I end by saying to noble Lords that this morning when I was reading the Anglican office for today I came across the final verses of the Second Lesson from St. James, Chapter 3: The wisdom from above is peace-loving, considerate, open to reason; it is straightforward and sincere and rich in mercy. True justice is the hardest reaped by peace-makers from seeds sown in a spirit of peace ".

4.48 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth

My Lords, may I first apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and indeed to my noble friend on the Front Bench, Lord Belstead, for my inability, probably, to remain here until the conclusion of this debate. At the same time might I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, for not being able to stay to hear all of his speech. His opening remarks were something of the order that it is widely thought that perhaps many in the peace movement are somewhat namby-pamby, far removed from the realities of warlike activities.

I come to this debate largely through my association with young people and the peace movement as a result of work in the North Atlantic Assembly, and I do not quite see it in that light. I think it is quite reasonable for any who recall the horrors of war—and unhappily there are now, by virtue of the affair in the South Atlantic, a lot more people who have personal knowledge of war—to wish to do all that can be done to ensure that this does not occur. I find, talking to young people at various young political leaders seminars, mostly across Europe and once in America, that they have a profound ignorance of what it is that the NATO countries have been attempting to do.

The NATO movement is really a peace movement in itself. It was set up originally, of course, for mutual defence. Its policies over the past 30 or 35 years have resulted in peace and that is something which I think very many people are quite happy to disregard. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, who said: "Please Minister, do not give me the type of answer that it is good enough that we have had peace for 35 years". It may not be good enough, but it is a fact and the principles of the alliance are based purely on being defensive, on not initiating forceful actions and on a strategy of deterrence.

It seems to me that in the West there is a debate on peace as between the actions of the Europeans versus, or and, the Americans. I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, when he calls for a nuclear-freezone Europe. I just cannot see how, within the limitations of space and with our responsibilities to our American allies and, indeed, their responsibilities to us, we can, on the one hand, declare a nuclear-free zone or a battle nuclear weapon-free zone in Europe—and I mean Western Europe—when, on the other hand, only a few miles away and, indeed, as far as 3,000 miles away, there is a nuclear force pointed in our direction. It is quite ludicrous to suggest that we can pick out, right across Europe, nuclear-free zones. Surely the whole element of disarmament is across the board and not as regards zones which have been specifically appointed?

Therefore, I take the view that the difficulty, the debate, is primarily between the super-powers: the Americans on the one side upon whose coattails we hang from time to time for our weaponry, and on the other side, the Russians. There are those who say that arms control, rather more than defence, can lead to security and peace and that that must be displayed by us in the West through goodwill measures and unilateral action. I believe, on the other hand, that war has been deterred and independence preserved by the maintenance of an adequate defence force, and that it happens to include nuclear weaponry as well as conventional weaponry, I do not think matters. It really does not matter which type of weapon you are using —they are weapons.

Again it seems to me that arms control can only be effective if we start the discussion from a base of equality. It was the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who said that that was a very old argument that has been going around for a long time and he suggested there was not much in it. On the other hand, I believe that there is all in it. As the right reverend Prelate reminded us, it was in the 1960s that this country demolished all chemical weaponry. It was in the late 1950s and the early 1960s that the Americans reduced their forces. We, indeed, did much the same in the 1970s as regards our air force, our naval force and so on. Yet all the time the Russians, who we see as a threat to peace and security, were increasing all their armaments. So for all the talk at the United Nations Special Session I see little likelihood of very much coming out over the next few years except a mutual declaration of intention with all the caveats that each side will apply one against the other.

Long before we can talk about arms control we have to define what we mean by "arms". We have to define the types and the numbers. That is a Herculean task in itself and perhaps we might get something in that direction from the special session. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, mentioned the seven points that the Secretary-General had made and he added three others of his own. I think that he is being extremely optimistic if he supposes that one or two of the seven points might be achieved; but to add on another three is really asking too much.

There is a fear among young people—indeed among most of us—of what may happen as between one power and another. That fear, I believe, is engendered through ignorance of the facts of what each side aims to do or wants to do. There is great fear of Russian intentions. Why should there not be if one looks back between the 1950s and today? There was Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Poland and so on, which all involved aggressive attitudes, some with force and some without. It seems to me that there has to be something more than a declaration of intent from that side before it would be reasonable for our side in the West to take even more positive steps than we have in recent years. We need confidence and until we have confidence one with another, the political will to disarm generally and to move towards total disarmament cannot and should not be there, because that is where reality disappears out of the window. The USSR have failed in nearly all their international obligations, notably their obligations with regard to human rights under the Helsinki Final Act. They and their satellites have totally ignored the United Nations Charter with regard to the use of force.

I should like to conclude quite simply on a very personal note which I trust your Lordships will not find out of order. I have a son in his mid-twenties who is an army officer on a regular engagement, stationed abroad. I said to him about three of four months ago, "I suppose that if you went into an action theatre you would get promotion very quickly and I suppose it would be the raison d'etre for your choice of career". He said, "Good Heavens! Dad, if that is what you think, then I am sorry for you. We in the Services do not want a war, and if you in politics would provide us with the weaponry to ensure that there was not a war, there would not be one. But if we are shown to be weak then those with aggressive attitudes will overrun us and then we will have to fight. But if we have the right weaponry we will not need to do so because they will not attempt it ". So I believe that, while the aim is absolutely ideal, the practicability of achieving it within my lifetime—the foreseeable future so far as I see it—is not sense and it is good, therefore, that those who suggest that they can reach their goals by force and by aggression, should be deterred and the deterrence is in having strong defence forces available to us.

5 p.m.

Lord Soper

My Lords, first, I want to say a few words of thanks and to express admiration to my noble friend Lord Brockway for introducing this topic, and not least for the coverage he gave to the affairs that have been taking place in the disarmament conference, of which in recent days the newspapers have given little account and should have given very much more. I declare —as I feel impelled so to do—that, in approaching the question of disarmament, as the right reverend Prelate indicated, I am committed to a total programme of disarmament—alike for the moral ground of the Christian gospel as I understand it and for the practical grounds that I believe it is the one consistent programme that could remove once and for all the fear of war.

Perhaps I may comment about the reference that the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, made to the pacifist. As I understood him, he had not come across who was prepared to say that he would rather be dead that Red. The position I take is that I hope I have the courage to resist the evils of communism by non-violent means, and I would regard that as an obligation. But enough of that declaration, of which your Lordships have heard me speak before, and I do not wish to over-egg the pudding.

I would invite your Lordships to consider that there are three areas in which, over the last 13 years and particularly over the last four years, there have been manifest changes in the questions that centre upon war and disarmament. I cannot remember in the old CND days the same apocalyptic element that, indeed, has been stated quite clearly by Arthur Koestler and others in their writings. But it has taken hold over the last few years in no uncertain fashion, and the do-it-yourself kit, whereby we are now competent to get rid of the civilisation and the whole human species whether we like it or not, is something which has taken hold of the minds, or at least the attention, of a great many people. In its turn, it has produced a sense of helplessness which I believe has to be taken into account in the prevailing attitude to disarmament and in the prospects of disarmament conferences.

Secondly, until comparatively recently I do not remember being apprised as clearly and unmistakably as now is the case of the utter iniquity of the arms trade—what a filthy business it is, how widespread it is and how farcical becomes any concept of morality when you consider the way in which you are as likely to be killed by weapons made by your own friends as you are to be dismissed by weapons made by your so-called enemies. This has produced a cynicism almost alike to that sense of impotence.

I have just come straight to this House from an open-air meeting which I attend every week, and I would venture to impress upon your Lordships the extent to which this cynicism has taken hold of a great many youngsters who I would have hoped would have been resistant to it. But I understand it and I sympathise with their attitude that it is a very wicked world indeed in which we tolerate such abominations.

The third element—and I have been mixed up in demonstrations of one kind and another for many years now—is the increase at least in the publicity which is given to, and the number of those who attend, demonstrations. I was in Hyde Park the Sunday before last. In honesty, I have to tell your Lordships that a great many of those who marched were dubious allies in the sense that they were committed to propositions which had very little to do with some of the elements that belong to a programme of disarmament.

But the overall sense was a sense of anger, and that sense of anger at the kind of world in which these youngsters are growing up—and they were predominently young people in that crowd—is I think one of the outstanding elements, and has taken the place of more considered and more reasonable judgements in the minds of many who react violently to the sense that they are taking part in a so-called civilisation which threatens their very lives and which contaminates almost their every action.

It is against that background that I deplore, as this House must deplore, the slow progress—if there be progress at all—in practical results that has emerged from the continuous process of argument and proposition, suggestion and programme. I want to suggest to your Lordships that we have a startling innovation for which I have pleaded for long enough. The attitude of the Soviet Union, through Mr. Brezhnev, in unilaterally declaring that his country will not make the first strike in nuclear weapons, is the more hopeful because it breaks through that curtain of multilateral action which has so often belied its expectations.

The fact is that what is needed at this moment, much more than the goodwill, the cynicism, the hatred and the indifference, is that people should be able to cling on to something to which they are themselves committed, in the belief that others will follow in their steps. I know that this is an adventure; I know it is a risk; but I believe that it is comparable to many other risks which a Christian ought to take and which an enlightened civilisation ought to take. I believe that the Government would be well advised—in fact, I believe that it is imperative—to make a positive response to an attitude of the Soviet Union which is no longer dependent on whether or not others are prepared to agree to it. It is not a proposition; it is a declaration, and in that declaration I take great hope.

I would conclude with another matter upon which I believe disarmament hinges. It is the question of verbal disarmament. Not so many yards from where your Lordships are now sitting, I heard, by ear—I did not actually partake in the proceedings—the declaration by the American President. I found it most unfortunate and I am prepared to say so and to stick by it. Preeminently, the trouble with it was that it assumed that America was right and that Russia was wrong, and that that simplistic attitude to the world was a statement of truth rather than a piece of propaganda. I do not support many of those things—how can I?—which belong to the Soviet Union. I dislike the lack of freedom; I hate their restrictions in many respects. But I also hate the imperialism, the capitalist domination, represented in so many cases by the United States of America, and I thought most deplorable of all the references to El Salvador.

It seems to me that in these matters there is a paramount need for a quietening down of the vociferous hatred that is now promoted by speech after speech on the part of both sides, and nothing would contribute more to a mood of practical disarmament than that we should, perhaps for the first time, be prepared to trust those who, in the past, have not been trustworthy and to risk a trusting attitude over and against a suspicious one. If this is not true, then I for one cannot believe in the moral principles, but I believe that it is true.

Therefore, I regard this debate this afternoon as being of immense importance and I think that nothing would be more profitable than that this Government should immediately respond to a unilateral proposition which takes itself into a new realm of practical opportunities. If that is so, then I think that those youngsters who, in a cosmic sense, think that there is nothing they can do, will be revived. I believe that those who see this as a breakthrough will be encouraged to go further, particularly to reduce the filthy behaviour of the arms race. Above all, I think that the youngsters and the others in the world are the tinder of hope, and this movement of youth and other people is momentous. I believe that it will give them not only the hope and the intention, but will provide the spark which will ignite that tinder, and give to those people and to the rest of us the hope of peace.

5.10 p.m.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, will your Lordships allow me to begin by apologising for the fact that although I wanted to stay to the end of this debate I have diocesan business early tomorrow morning in Norfolk, and so I cannot. I apologise to the House for this discourtesy because this is perhaps one of the most serious and possibly far-reaching debates that your Lordships have been engaged in for a long time.

I have the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and his passionate concern for world peace, and the greatest respect for the noble Lord, Lord Soper, in his passionate concern as a Christian pacifist. I do not believe that they are right, because I believe that the pressures upon the world are so serious that, however much it may be discomfortable to seek one's ways through what at the moment is a very popular Christian movement concerning the peace movements, it is right to look straightly at the peace movements and see what in fact they are saying, and what right response should be made to them with deep understanding for the idealism which our young people—and they are mostly young—feel about the present world situation.

I had a post card this morning from a young girl from Norfolk who wrote to me asking for my prayers for today's conference. She writes from the United Nations. She has been sponsored by half a dozen societies in Norfolk, and she is there as just one example of an idealistic young person. It is probably good and salutary to say that for over half the psalmist's lifetime of three score years and ten—for 37 years—the nuclear deterrent has been a vital part in the continuance of peace in Europe. This needs saying. It is a long time since those of us who are now older experienced VE Day and VJ Day and the passionate concern we had then that our world should not be subjected again to the world wars through which many of my generation went.

I served with the Royal Marine Commandos and I remembered that war is a young man's game, and I have been conscious of that in prayer, sympathy and though as young Royal Marines of units to which I was attached have so gallantly been working out in the South Atlantic. It is 37 years since World War II ended, and we cannot disabuse ourselves of the fact that the deterrent quality of this awful shadow of nuclear bombs has in fact a part to play in it.

I suppose that in preparation for this debate many of us have read Lord Zuckerman's book, Nuclear Illusion and Reality. Your Lordships will remember, for he is an honoured Member of our House, that, on page 81, he said: Nuclear weapons are clearly both the most powerful instrument of destruction and the most potent deterrent to aggression ". We live in a world where potential can in fact be good or bad, and this particular potential can be very bad indeed. This underlies all the fears and anxieties which are part and parcel of the whole peace movement today, and yet we should be grateful that we live today.

I am glad that reference has been made in our debate to the United States of America, one of our oldest allies —and it is quite a popular thing to knock the United States of America and at the same time not to knock the USSR; I should find it psychologically interesting to know why this is—and ourselves. It was our Governments who unilaterally abandoned chemical warfare while the Russians' stockpile, by my reckoning and research, is at 70,000 tonnes at the moment.

Having given that rather sombre fact, it may seem strange for a Member of these Benches to speak in these terms. We have had a magnificent, solemn and serious speech from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, and it is proper that from these Benches we should seek, within the whole interplay of Church and State which makes this particular Chamber one of the great debating Chambers of the free world and of the world, to ask what is the Church's attitude in this.

Of course, we realise the dangers, and of course we recognise idealism. But if there are no unilateralists in the Kremlin—and I believe up until yesterday morning, and President Brezhnev's speech, there are no unilateralists in the Kremlin—then up until this day it has been right and proper that we and our Government, and the Governments of the western world, should work on that principle. If what was said yesterday by President Brezhnev is not only to be words but to be clothed by actions, then we have a right to ask that the Russians should in fact show by their actions what impact their words will have.

The history books of the last 20 years cannot erase the words Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Afghanistan, and now the brooding pressure over Poland, and still Lech Walesa shut up and not free, and the total crushing of freedom by Russia is a sheer fact of history of the last 20 years to which we cannot close our eyes. It was the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, who said in his book that we must not let down our guard. It was Nye Bevan himself who said that, if we went unilateral, we would walk naked into the conference chamber.

My problem when I talk like this, not in the respectable confines of our Chamber but in the open air and in areas of the diocese where I work, is that if one does not take a unilateralist view—and I am sorry that CND appears to have moved almost to such a unilateralist view—then it is difficult for those who are passionately concerned for peace (and I should like to think I could be numbered among them) because we find that the CND stance is now so unilateralist that it is difficult for a Christian multilateralist to ally himself fully with them.

When one speaks in these terms one is spoken to as though one is a warmonger. There are Christians by the million in Russia today who are hoping that the West will continue to stand for freedom, that in their turn one day they might know freedom again. We are to think the unthinkable, I believe. We are to believe in prayer and hope that there might one day be free elections again in Eastern Germany; we are to think and pray that there might one day be free elections in those great countries linked with Russia right across towards the Far East of the world.

That great, horrible gash across Europe—and many of us, and many of your Lordships, must have stood there at that point and seen the wall put up not to stop people from the West entering the East but to stop people in the East seeking to flee to the West—is itself a reminder that until the communist countries and Governments respond to public opinion within the peace movements of today and give tangible evidence of verifiable multilateral disarmament, then it would be at our peril—and our responsibility to care for our people is such that it would be a derogation of duty—if we simply gave in to a unilateral viewpoint for the sake of the moral pressures brought on us by peace movements.

I have the greatest respect for peace movements. I see them as a cry in the world for peace, and I recognise, as a simple believing Christian, that the heart of man is wicked and needs to be renewed by the Prince of Peace, our Lord himself, and that we have responsibilities. I wonder if your Lordships noticed a small piece in The Times this morning headed "Soviet swoop"—the Associated Press reporting from Moscow: Soviet authorities detained and interrogated all 11 members of Russia's only independent peace movement, The Group for Establishing Trust Between the USSR and the USA', formed earlier this month ". It is for those reasons that I believe we should continue to take the unpopular line of not lowering our guard and of still asking for verifiable multilateral disarmament, of course doing all we can to work for it. I honour, if I may use the phrase, my Christian friend Dr. Billy Graham for going to Moscow recently, realising all the pressures on him. I was with him at his press conference in Boston just before he went there, and he said, "As a loyal United States citizen, if my Government tell me not to go, I will not go. They have briefed me, yes, but they have not told me I am not to go ". He went and bravely preached, because he felt that God was opening doors for him into Eastern Europe to proclaim the Christian Gospel. Those are signs of hope. He made his simple statement that he believes that all nuclear weapons come under the care and need of Governments to reduce them until such time as we may be able to do away with them.

But until that time, I believe it right that our Government, who have the terrifying responsibilities of the care of our citizens, should not be pressurised by public opinion into weakening the defence of our nation when, by that defence, I believe we shall maintain a stabilising influence in the world. We have a responsibility not just to our country but to the world. I believe that stabilising influence is best maintained by not lowering our guard but by seeking never to be aggressive, never seeking to acquire weapons just for the sake of aggression, but seeking the true defence of our people.

5.23 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Brockway not only for giving us the opportunity of debating this vital matter but for the inspiring manner in which he introduced the debate. I have been greatly struck by the gradual spread among most speakers today of the realisation that we live in a new world and that we need a new perception of reality in order to encompass a way of dealing with our problems and of carrying mankind through the imminent dangers of the next few years. Humanity is in serious danger of extinguishing itself, and I was sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich felt unable to agree with his other colleagues of the Cloth that this is indeed a new world. But of course it is difficult for people to break out of traditional ways of thinking. The Government have not succeeded in doing that and we cannot expect all members of the Church to make the effort—or, if they make the effort, to succeed—and to understand that the values which they rightly hold must be dealt with in a new way, realised in a new way and expressed in a new way if mankind is to survive. I will say no more to the right reverend Prelate. I leave him in the hands of his right reverend colleague, and let us hope they argue it out between themselves and arrive at a compromise.

A compromise is what has been happening in this debate. I have had the hitherto unexperienced pleasure of agreeing in large measure with a number of noble Lords; for example, I found myself in surprising agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, whose diatribes in the past against the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, of which I am a member, have been extremely painful. Today, however, we seem to be moving into a consensus, and 1 ask myself why that should be the case. While my noble friend Lord Brockway was in New York, an important event was happening here; the President of the United States was talking in the Royal Gallery. A very unimportant happening was occuring in the Soviet Union; I was there. Therefore, if one looks at it from those three points of view, one can begin to see that the world is now a very different place from what it was and that there is throughout the world a gradual realisation of the reality of the peril in which we now exist.

Without being boring about Dr. Johnson, it is the case that the first necessity in this matter is to have a real appreciation of the reality of the peril. If one brushes it aside and says, "This is only another weapon", I suppose one is only reacting to the way in which one reacts to any other weapon. But if one says, "For the first time in mankind's history we are in a position to eliminate all life on earth", then maybe we have to think a little differently about the sort of future, if any, which faces us. It is that perception which has brought the degree of unity which has been, for the most part, apparent in this debate.

That perception is not confined to this country; it is widespread throughout Europe, so much so that, when the outstanding and most powerful representative of the West, President Reagan himself, came and delivered his traditional message of attack on the Soviet Union, it went down like a lead balloon, not only in this country but in the Soviet Union. Not surprisingly, it was greeted there with hostility and horror. But it was also unwelcome in large sections of Europe, and it was equally unwelcome in the United States.

As has been pointed out, it is a mistake to suppose that the Americans are a docile people, all taking one point of view. Neither are the Russians, who are prefectly prepared to express themselves quite freely, in private, but of course that is a closed society. I would not care to belong to such a closed society. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to believe that within a closed society people do not hold and express views which they are unable to express in the free and general way in which we express ourselves here. But they do express their views; they have their methods for doing so and they manage to shift Government policy by various means.

It is also a mistake to suppose that the Soviet Peace Committee is merely an instrument of Government. It has an independent structure and it collects its own subscriptions. I agree that it cannot, if it is to avoid persecution, express views which differ from those of the Government, but the fact that the Soviet Government have consistently put forward one suggestion after another to try to resolve the present situation is partly due to the extraordinary strength of the Soviet peace movement. It is huge—much bigger than anything we have, even in the United States. If there is any doubt about the will of the Soviet people for peace, I suggest to the right reverend Prelate that he goes to Leningrad and stands in the cemetery where are buried the people who died in that great city at the end of the last World War. He will then recognise the effect that the war still has in that country, and he will realise that there is in the Soviet Union a passionate will for peace. This passionate will for peace is I think being recognised by the Soviet Government, and its latest expression is in the declaration by President Brezhnev to the effect that they will not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

I have not seen the full text of the declaration, and one of the questions that one ought to ask is: is the declaration a total declaration? Does it include all nuclear weapons? Does it include intercontinental weapons? Does it include theatre weapons? Does it include battlefield weapons? I am not sure about that. If it does, it is the most extraordinary unilateral statement ever made by anybody. But, even if it does not include battlefield nuclear weapons, it still should not be spurned. What we ought to say is that we will go as far as that, and then get down to talking about how we get rid of the battlefield nuclear weapons.

I agree with the noble Lord who spoke from the Liberal Benches to the effect that we have paid insufficient attention to the widespread development of the battlefield nuclear weapon. As some of the American generals have recently said—and I rather suspect that this may be the case with the Soviet army, too—the nuclear weapon is so integrated into the American forces that it will be extremely difficult for them to fight a non-nuclear war, so far as battlefield nuclear weapons are concerned. If that is true on both sides, we are in real peril, because it would mean that what Lord Mountbatten feared—the escalation from the use of a battlefield nuclear weapon to a theatre nuclear weapon and then to an intercontinental nuclear weapon—would be almost inevitable.

I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Noel-Baker is not here this afternoon. He had a letter in the Guardian the other day, and, if I may, I should like to quote a passage from it in his absence; perhaps I can speak as his voice. He was talking about President Reagan's speech in the Royal Gallery, and he said: Mr. Reagan's attack on totalitarian dictatorship was coupled with vicious vilification of the Soviet Union ". He went on: Mr. Reagan speaks about his nuclear stockpile as if he thinks it is the object of admiration and respect. In fact, it is the object of hatred and contempt. His plan to add 17,000 more weapons to his existing 30,000 makes us despise the waste and the folly of this senseless escalation of the arms race. The 17,000, if they are ever used, will do no damage to the Russians; they will be already dead, killed to the last man by the 30,000 ". And so the noble Lord went on in his powerful letter.

Another comment made on the President's speech has also received little publicity. It was contained in a letter to the President from the Labour Party, and I shall quote just one point from it: Labour's approach to East-West relations means that we utterly reject an ideological crusade against the Soviet Union, and identification as the sole or even prime source of conflicts in the world ". That is the view of the Labour Party in this matter.

There are all kinds of reasons for conflicts; the existence of the Soviet Union is only one of them. But in this world in which we now live we have to make the readjustment that I have talked about. We have to recognise that the Soviet Union is a closed society, with features which I find deeply repugnant. Nevertheless, if we try to concentrate our minds on changing the very nature of that society, we shall be seen as totally hostile towards it, and the reaction will be not the one that we want but quite the opposite one. We shall get into a conflict situation. It would be better for the time being if we were to accept the nature of the Soviet Union and try to attain a peaceful situation with that society, because it is only in an atmosphere of détente that the improvements that we should like to see in the Soviet Union will actually come about.

Therefore, so long as we maintain a conflict position in relation to the Soviet Union, that society, far from improving and becoming more liberal, will be inclined to do just the opposite. It is only if we can gradually move into a position in which we are trading, exchanging cultural relations, and recognising that we are beginning to get rid of the nuclear weapon, that there will emerge in the Soviet Union the more liberal of the voices of freedom. I have the utmost admiration for people such as Roy Medvedev, whom I had the privilege of meeting in Moscow. He is a wonderful man, who says exactly what he likes. He writes articles in our press, which are not printed in the Soviet Union, in conjunction with his brother, Zhores, who lives here, and he puts for the Soviet Union a case which, if they could only see it, they would realise is much stronger than the official propaganda can achieve. That is because it is a critical case. It is a case in which he argues for the Soviet Union a line in which he says, "In spite of this, these are the reasons why the Soviet Union is like it is. If one behaves in this way, then the Soviet Union can improve". The intention of the people of the Soviet Union, their wish, their desire, is the same as that of humanity all over the world; it is a desire for peace and a desire that their children shall not suffer the fate that many of their fathers and grandfathers suffered.

So I believe that the debate has performed a useful purpose. I hope that when they reply, the Government will show that they, too, are beginning to recognise the new reality of the world in which we live, and that when Mrs. Thatcher goes to the United Nations she will no longer talk in the old, traditional way, but will recognise that in the world in which the very fate of humanity hangs in the balance we have to think anew, think afresh, and think very clearly if we are to survive.

5.36 p.m.

The Duke of Norfolk

My Lords, I regard this as an immensely significant debate. We have heard one or two extremely important speeches, and the one with which I find myself most aligned is that of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich. I found that I agreed with everything that he said. I shall not speak for long—I never do—but I should like to start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for raising this subject, at this time, and I should like to ask him, when he replies to the debate, to cover the points that he and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, always seem to me to be totally incapable of understanding.

Broadly speaking, I support all that the Government are doing in their foreign and defence policies, which, in one brief phrase. is, to have freedom and peace. The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has had an incredible career. I admire him immensely, and I know about his career. I would not say that he was my hero when I was at Oxford, but I certainly admired somebody who had the moral courage not to fight in the First World War, in which my father did, and in which my uncle died, in the Welsh Guards. To have that courage, and to be imprisoned under the Defence of the Realm Acts and so on, showed that he really did believe in all that he was preaching. But I can never understand how the noble Lords, Lord Brockway, and Lord Jenkins, and people of their group, can seriously say that their peace movement, the peace movement of the youth of our Kingdom—and of course of older people too— and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, is something in which they believe and the Government do not. We all believe in peace; we all believe in disarmament; but our problem is the total impracticability of what the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, puts forward. He said in his speech again today—and Lord Jenkins implies the same thing—that if we got rid of nuclear and all other weapons and just had peace forces, it would be a peaceful world; and it is the Western Governments of NATO who are the only people stopping this.

We know that the reason why the western world has not done this is because of the Soviet empire, the Soviet tyranny. If there were no arms supporting the Soviet tyranny, it would be a very different tyranny. There would no longer be Poland as it is today; Poland would revolt tomorrow. Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, Hungary, Rumania—all of them are held in subjection by the Red Army. If we were to disarm completely—just suppose we did—would we be prepared to see the NKVD (or whatever the Soviets would call their internal troops holding down those unfortunate satellites) deny freedom? My side of the House—I say to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway—believes in freedom as well as in peace. We wish to see total disarmament; we wish to see a world of peace and freedom. I hope that when he replies the noble Lord will say to me quite simply how it is he sees the Soviet, having disarmed—what it will look like—and whether he believes any of the satellites would wish to be under the Kremlin.

To make one or two other points which are, so to speak, factors in this situation, I think that when Lord Mayhew talked about a nuclear-free zone in Europe as being ideal, that is not something that is practical. I have lived a lot of my life in the European theatre, both with the Russian Army in BRIXMIS, with the mission to the Group of Soviet Forces in Germany, and commanding the First Division in Europe. We often said, "We have only got some small nuclear weapons", but that did not mean to say that we thought we had a nuclear-free zone. We well know that the Soviet submarines or the United States submarines or our own submarines can reach the European battlefield, with their ranges of 2,000 or 3,000 miles from the Mediterranean, from the seas of the world. To talk now about a nuclear-free zone in Europe is simply to use a meaningless phrase.

I am not saying that I do not want to see a nuclear-free world. I greatly welcome President Brezhnev's speech, which I have not read properly, about nuclear disarmament and him not being the first to fire a nuclear weapon. That is marvellous. We no longer now have to talk about the campaign for nuclear disarmament being unilateral, because it is now multilateral. Russia is going to come in with us. That is marvellous—if you believe them. I sincerely hope we can. They are wonderful people, but they are ruled by the most appalling tyranny. But, still, we have to get on with tyrannies, and negotiate with them.

I would say to your Lordships that the most important thing that I think he said, from what I hear, is that he would allow verification. Verification has been the biggest stumbling block of all disarmament conferences. The West—that great West that we belong to, and in which we depend upon our brothers the Americans (who make mistakes; they are making mistakes in Salvador, I think, and I have said so in your Lordships' House, but, my golly!, we are free because of them)— will allow verification of all its nuclear weapons, but we have never had that from the Soviets. If it is true, it is an immense step forward.

To turn to another point, I sincerely hope that in the disarmament negotiations that are going on at the United Nations we might somehow split up the problem and possibly get rid of chemical and bacteriological weapons. It has been said tonight—and we mean it so sincerely—that we have given up that capability completely. If the Russians would do so. it would be a great step forward. But, of course, they are a long way from that, and all their troops are training in anti-chemical war which they know (I think I am right in saying; I am not certain of this) NATO has not got in Europe. With chemical warfare, of course, goes bacteriological warfare, which is one of the most terrible sorts of war—far more terrifying than nuclear. When people talk about having nuclear shelters and civilian nuclear defence plans, it is a load of rubbish. It might be of some use against a conventional bombing; it is of no use against a nuclear bombing; and it is utterly useless against bacteriological warfare. I am talking about the people who say that cities ought to build things. Bacteriological and nuclear war has no defence of which I am aware.

I make another small point just because I think Lord Belstead ought to have this said, and if he does not make the point I want to make it. Of course I am against the filthy arms sale— "filthy" is the word; degrading and awful—but I would be the first to say that we must be willing to sell defensive weapons to those who depend on us. I am thinking of, shall we say, a colony (an ex-colony, of course, thank heavens!) like Kenya. If Kenya wishes to have weapons to defend itself—warships, training for its infantry, artillery—I see nothing wrong in any way in our letting them have weapons for defensive purposes against, shall we say, the unfortunate situation where Abyssinia is being armed by the Soviets.

I would end by saying that I believe I have really no quarrels with Lord Brockway or Lord Jenkins. They want disarmament as much as I do. My only quarrel is when they portray me as something or as some body, some movement, which wishes to have war, which is deliberately perpetuating the production of armaments and which is causing the increased scale of armaments which is occurring. My Lords, we are not doing that on the Conservative Back-Benches, nor on the Front Bench. We are sincerely wishing to have a balanced and verified disarmament; and we are determined that we will look after ourselves and our allies by footing the bill to defend ourselves. We believe that the nuclear deterrent is a vital part of our defence. I am no priest, but I am a great friend of Lord Soper and of the right reverend bishops, I hope. I believe—and I have arguments with my own Church about this; but I found it can be theologically said so—that there is nothing immoral, theologically speaking, in having a nuclear deterrent which you intend not to use on population centres but the existence of which is necessary so as to deter others from attacking you.

I have heard it said by the peace movements and, in particular, by a friend of mine, Monseigneur Bruce Kent, the president of CND, that it is immoral and irreligious to posses a nuclear deterrent. It is not immoral, not irreligious, not un-Christian and not "un-any-other-religion" too, to have a deterrent which you do not intend to use except to destroy some part of the enemy which would not mean killing a big civilian population but to use in, say, Siberia. There is no use in quoting Nagasaki and Hiroshima; they were population centres. We are not intending to do that. There is nothing immoral in possessing a nuclear deterrent, the terrible hydrogen weapon, which we never intend to use but have only so that others will not attack us. I conclude in believing that it is both peace and freedom and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

5.51 p.m.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, this is the first debate associated with foreign affairs or disarmament that I have addressed in your Lordships' House and I do so because I have played a small part in the work of the world disarmament campaign, being the chairman of a sub-committee which had certain arrangements in connection with the organisation of a petition which secured the magnificent total of 21 million signatures. I should like to express my thanks to my noble friend Lord Brockway not only for initiating this important debate but for the work he has done for the world disarmament campaign and the inspiration he has been to that campaign, and for his work for so many years for the things in which he believes.

I am sorry that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich has had to leave. Because I respect him so much, I am disappointed with the tone of his speech this afternoon. There may be among your Lordships supporters of CND; there may be supporters of nuclear unilateralism, of which I confess I am one; and there may be pacifists. I will confess that I was one who went before a CO tribunal in the last war. But that is not the issue before us this afternoon. We are not debating Britain giving up weapons unilaterally, but discussing whether or not we can move in the United Nations Second Special Session towards disarmament. That is what we are discussing this afternoon. I am sorry that the noble Duke somewhat followed the same lines, but I agree with him that there is no such thing as a peace movement comprised of the only ones concerned with peace. There is not a noble Lord in this House who is not concerned with peace and who does not want to achieve it. It is a question of whether we can use this opportunity presented by the Second Special Session on Disarmament towards that end.

May I, on a personal note, say that as a young and active member of the Labour Party I first went to the Labour Party headquarters as a full-time member of the staff in 1933. I was put to my work in an empty room, the room of the then general secretary of the Labour Party. He had been seconded to be the chairman of the disarmament conference; that is why his room was vacant. I refer to that great statesman, Arthur Henderson. That conference met with frustration and procrastination and his efforts were such that I believe they contributed greatly to Arthur Henderson's untimely death. We must see that this Second Special Session does not go the same way. That is what I believe the debate this afternoon is all about: how far we can move towards that direction.

The session has now been on for one and a half weeks. There has been very little media coverage. My noble friend Lord Brockway referred to what he described as the brilliant speech of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. What coverage has there been of this brilliant speech in the press, on television or on radio? Noble Lords who disagree with the basic policy of my noble friend nevertheless agree with his stance towards world disarmament and have said that they agreed with many of the eight points that the Secretary-General put forward. Very few of the public know anything about those eight points. The details of them I did not know myself until my noble friend referred to them this afternoon.

I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Cledwyn, in his excellent address, made clear that we must not in any way abandon the United Nations. I was therefore disappointed that when President Reagan addressed the Members of both Houses he hardly referred to the United Nations and certainly did not refer to the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament. I hope that the President will put that right when, as I understand he will, he attends the special session.

The First Special Session was an eventful conference held in 1980. It carried a final document which included a programme of action. It is that programme of action which the committee of 40 representatives meeting in Geneva has been discussing. As my noble friend Lord Brockway has said, three alternatives will now be before the special session for consideration.

In a speech to the United Nations Association in October 1980, the then Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, said: We are already giving thought to the Second UN Special Session on Disarmament which is to take place in 1982. I believe that there are several desirable objectives. We in the West want to avoid an artificial confrontation with the developing countries ". That was nearly two years ago. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, when he replies, will be able to tell us the results of the thought that the Government have given to this special session now taking place. What proposals will the Government put forward on our behalf? Will the artificial confrontation which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, wished to avoid be avoided?

I am pleased that our Prime Minister is going to the special session. I hope we may be told the type of proposals which the Prime Minister may be taking on behalf of the British Government. I hope that she will declare her full support for the general work of the United Nations and the general aims of the special session. I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and others have said about the type of response that we ought to give to the statement made by Mr. Brezhnev on the question of nuclear first strike.

The final document to which I referred had a paragraph dealing with the arms build-up. If I may, I will read paragraph 11: This situation both reflects and aggravates international tensions, sharpens conflicts in various regions of the world, hinders the process of détente, exacerbates the differences between opposing military alliances, jeopardises the security of all states, heightens the sense of insecurity among all states, including the non-nuclear-weapon states, and increases the threat of nuclear war ". The total world military expenditure, according to the figures that I have, is approaching £250 billion a year. That is, £500,000 a minute. I worked that out and I may be a few hundred thousand pounds out. Apart from the obvious danger of the arms build-up, this takes away urgently needed finance not only from the major powers but from the smaller ones which take supplies of arms. In our debate on world population on 12th May this was made apparent.

Apart from the steps towards planned phasing of general disarmament, what is suggested for dealing with the arms trade? The noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, spoke about and showed us the NATO arms brochure. I was brought up in my younger days on a pamphlet called, The Merchants of Death. That dealt with the way the private arms firms sold one to another and then to an enemy.

Today we not only have the problem of private firms supplying arms, but we have Governments which encourage the supply of arms. As my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos said, we all know of the tragic situation where arms are supplied to a country which the Government at some time thought were friends. In Argentina British soldiers have been killed by such weapons. Other countries have made similar supplies.

Apart from nations taking arms supplies they cannot afford, circumstances change and allies change. In that way arms have been supplied in the past to countries who are now no longer allies. Apart from any plan for general disarmament, is it not possible to have some control over the arms trade? We already have a fairly effective international organisation for dealing with the control of drugs. The major arms exporters are from North to South, USA at the top, then the USSR and France. Below that—we are relatively small compared with those countries—there is the United Kingdom, Italy, West Germany, and at the bottom China. It is frightening that we have that amount of trade going on. But with such limited supplies it should not be too difficult, if we can exert some confidence in the world, to have some control on the arms trade.

As I said at the start of my few remarks, all will agree with the objectives of the special session. Everyone wants peace. That is not confirned to what is described as a peace movement, which I think is a misnomer. What the peace movement seeks to do is to bring publicity to the need for certain action, and everyone in this House and generally throughout the world can be in the peace movement. All nations wish to remove the threat of nuclear weapons and then move on to some other form of disarmament. These are not just the aspirations of unilateralists or pacifists; I believe that they are the aspirations of everyone.

What stops progress in this direction? It is fears, apprehensions and the need to establish confidence. I may be said to be one of those who are starry-eyed; but I recognise the necessity for machinery for verification and machinery for control. That is vital. I am given to understand that in 1978 112 military satellites were sent in orbit. In the 21 years from 1957 to 1978 no fewer than 1,601 satellites were sent into space, three-quarters of them for military purposes. I am not a weapons expert, but I wonder whether that does not give a greater opportunity for verification and control which we never had before satellites were set up. That may be a possibility.

I conclude by making a plea to the media. We need to have more discussion about the United Nations special session. We need to have more news as to what is taking place there; we need to have more news about the alternatives being put forward so that we can see and understand what is taking place. I hope that we shall get a sound lead from the United Kingdom representatives, and I make the plea that the world must not let this opportunity go by as it did in the disarmament conference in the 1930s.

6.5 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, suggested that there was a movement of consensus sensible in this debate this afternoon and that this arose from the newness of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I must plead, then, to being the odd man out on both. While appreciating the motive of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in bringing this Motion before us today—because indeed international discussions on disarmament are matters of vital importance—I cannot assent to the praise and respect which has been offered to the noble Lord or to those of his persuasion because in my case it would be hypocritical to do so.

It is my belief that the peace movement, however we define it—but in the course of this afternoon we have heard about it again from the noble Lord, Lord Underhill—petitions, speeches by the noble Lords, Lord Brockway, Lord Noel-Baker or Lord Jenkins, are all enemies of peace. All of them make more difficult the task of the governments which have to find a way out of the situation in which the world finds itself.

I do not propose to argue the case which has been argued by others in this House, for it is not because the peace movement, CND or part of it, works consciously or unconsciously to the benefit of our adversaries by concentrating on our own weapons and those of our allies, but for an even more far-reaching reason that I believe that this kind of language about nuclear weapons and disarmament encourages a total oversimplification in the public attitude to what is the real problem that we face, which is not the problem of weapons but the problem of war. Wars by the use of modern weapons may be made more horrific, though the greatest losses of life have occurred centuries in the past and before any of these modern horrors were invented. The reasons for war are complex. They deserve study and reflection.

The idea that housewives leading tots in prams and waving banners can do anything to help solve the problem of war is greatly mistaken. At the most effective, what it does is make Governments feel that they must produce something, even if it is a formula that they know in their hearts gets us no further. We have, as the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, said, to consider the fact that the Soviet Union requires its forces largely for the purposes of maintaining its rule in other countries, although this is not the only source of war and trouble in the world. This has been at the root of our problems in the negotiations at Vienna over the balancing of conventional forces. Western forces are not required for these uses but are required for the purpose of peripheral defence. This has made it difficult—and this was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who is a great authority in these matters—to ascertain what should be the simplest element in arms control: the actual size of Soviet ground forces in Eastern Europe.

Furthermore, it does not seem to me that there has been the major change in circumstance or attitude which would justify a call to re-think the fundamentals of war prevention. If we look at wars in the world today, for example, the war in the Falklands which we hope is past, two wars in the Middle East, the violent occupation of Cambodia and other conflicts, we can see that they arise out of multiple causes, some of which could be removed by statesmanship or by economic action, and very few of which would be affected by agreements reached between the great powers on nuclear disarmament.

I think it is a pity—perhaps it does not matter for the housewives or the toddlers—that the young in the universities who, we have been told by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich and other speakers, form a large part of this Peace Movement, should be diverted into the simplicities of denouncing the effect of nuclear weapons—because we do not have to win a Nobel Prize to know that nuclear weapons kill a lot of people in a very nasty way—from the real tasks of this world in studying the causes of war and thinking about ways in which their countries and other countries could contribute.

One of those ways is to begin to look at countries in their own terms, to think what is it that makes them fearful and what it is that, if you like, makes them aggressive or which makes them choose one strategy rather than another. We may differ about this, as they differ about it. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, regards the action of Israel in the Lebanon as wholly without justification. I can see, though I would not like to justify that action in detail, the fears which come from the practice of terrorism and which have led to what may well be an over-kill in that conflict. But certainly if the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and I myself cannot agree, it would be hard to expect the Governments or the peoples concerned to agree. Therefore, we have to say that we can only begin to do this if we begin to study.

The same thing, of course, is true of the great brooding conflict which we all hope to avert or avoid between the United States and the Soviet Union. I did not think it was particularly noble of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, first to adjure us not to make hostile speeches about other countries and about other leaders, and then give vent to his personal dislike of the President of the United States. I certainly do not propose to follow him along that line because I agree with his principle though not with his practice.

Let me come to one of the points which has been said to bring about a new situation; the offer or the declaration, if you like, by the Soviet leader not to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. I believe that this is a perfectly sincere declaration. It would not be one that one could in fact verify; one can verify the position of weapons, but one cannot verify the intentions as to their use. But I do not think in this case that verification is important, because I believe that President Brezhnev is perfectly sincere in making that declaration. I hold that view because the more I study Soviet military doctrine, Soviet foreign policy and action, the harder I find it to think of any possible contingency in which President Brezhnev might be advised by his military advisers to make first use of the nuclear weapon. I think that the way to study what a country is likely to do in the military field is to think of what its own military experts might be likely to advance and, given the current distribution of arms in the world. I should think that is a very unlikely scenario. But, since that position has existed for a very long time, I cannot see that this verbal declaration makes the difference which has been suggested.

I think we must hope and believe that the various practical proposals which have been outlined by the Secretary-General of the United Nations by various Governments and now in the Palme Report, to which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred, will provide material in which, and through which, Governments may be able to reach practical conclusions about the reduction of weapons—nuclear, certainly chemical and perhaps ultimately others.

If I may, I would like to say that in many of these cases it remains true—and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, agrees with me on this—that a degree of verification is essential if confidence is to be built. The mention of verification in the Palme Report, signed among others by Dr. Arbatov, even if it proves to exist—as it may, and I have no reason to disbelieve this—in the Russian version, should not be taken too seriously, because while Mr. Palme, Dr. Owen and Mr. Vance have held and may hold again high political office, Mr. Arbatov is not a person at the centre of the Soviet political world. He is an academic/ journalist employed—and he does this with considerable success—to maintain contacts particularly with the English-speaking world, and his signature is not a commitment even of a general Soviet position in the way in which a signature of, say, Dr. Owen or Mr. Vance might be held not to commit the British or the American Governments but certainly something which they would take seriously.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, if the noble Lord will give way, does he not share my impression that 10 or five years ago even Dr. Arbatov would not have been allowed to sign that document by his own Government?

Lord Beloff

My Lords, that would depend upon the Soviet calculation of the results of the publication of this document, and I am not in a position to know what their calculations about that would be. They may well have thought that in a debate in the British House of Lords—that curious institution which they see still exists—it would indeed be quoted to support the view that they are moving towards verification, when there are simpler ways, particularly in regard to the Vienna talks, by which in action their adhesion to the principle of verification could be ascertained. I do not know, but I do not regard the matter as a closed one. But it is not, as I said to begin with, on details of this kind that we should linger because on the whole, for quite different reasons—nothing to do with the peace movement and if anything pushed back by the peace movement—I think there are reasonable possibilities of an advance in the disarmament field.

The principal one is the one which was alluded to, though in a different context, by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and other speakers; namely, the economic burden. It seems to me, not that the Soviet Union would be likely to spend the money saved on the kind of beneficent projects in the third world to which they have so far shown themselves pretty indifferent, but that they might well think that the rising discontent in the satellite countries, where the standard of living has fallen, is falling and looks like going on falling, and perhaps in the Soviet Union itself demands an infusion of economic resources; and that, in a system of this kind, a reduction in the pace of the growth of their stocks of armaments, if it could be done without imperilling their national security, might be the way.

Very often, things that we would like to happen come, not because they are ideal, certainly not because we sign petitions expecting them to happen, but because in the logic of things they are likely to happen, and the most important thing that could happen to the Special Assembly of the United Nations is that the statesmen and experts are left to get on with the job.

6.21 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, there have been several references in this debate to the speech delivered near here by President Reagan. To my mind, the most significant thing about that was that the criticisms that we have heard this evening, and indeed other criticisms, could equally be made in President Reagan's own country by President Reagan's own fellow citizens, and that this is not so of the statesmen who come from the countries of Eastern Europe. It is this fact that helps to forge the powerful link between ourselves and the United States; that, when everything is said and done, when every criticism we have made of United States policy has been made, it remains true that we are both—together, fortunately, with a number of other countries—countries who believe in the right of the citizen to speak his own mind and to have a share in the choosing of his government. We shall get the whole perspective of world events wrong, on disarmament and everything else, if we pretend that that fact is not there.

It has a very considerable relevance to disarmament. A country which can suppress freedom of expression, a country where the Government can decide what facts its citizens shall hear and what they shall not, finds it much easier to pursue an aggressive policy than would the Government of this country. If the Government of this country were considering an aggressive and dangerous foreign policy, they would begin almost immediately to run into criticism from almost every quarter and would have great difficulty in making their way. A Government which has all the mechanism of opinion-forming in its own hands, is in a much easier position to pursue an aggressive policy, or to make promises at a disarmament conference and go back on them afterwards. This, also, we have to remember.

I do not necessarily regard this fact as a cause for despair, and I agree with my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Putney that we ought not, because there are these profound ideological differences between ourselves and the Soviet Union, to think in terms of crusades against them. We must rather think in terms of how, despite these differences, we can live at peace. The whole disarmament conference is one aspect of that.

But, as I said, do not let us begin with the false assumption that these profound differences in the nature and quality of our two societies do not exist. Let us recognise that there is need for democratic countries to exercise special caution when they are bargaining with countries whose governments are not democratic; whose governments are not subject to the immediate, automatic criticism which is directed by their own citizens at the governments of democracies. We have, then, to pursue what has, for some years now, been called détente. Although the word is a little less in fashion than it used to be, I take it to mean an attempt to reduce tension, to make it possible, as 1 said, to live at peace, despite profound differences of philosophy.

Here, I refer to something said by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, who pointed out that the negotiators in Vienna have been making steady and important progress, though there is one key fact that still eludes them. I think his moral was that these problems of disarmament, although extremely complicated and difficult, are not insoluble, and I believe experience bears that out. There was the Austrian state treaty, which looked as if it would never be signed but was ultimately signed. There was the partial test ban treaty, and may I say that, even if I live to be as old as my noble friend Lord Brockway, I do not think I shall ever perform any action that will give me as much pleasure and pride as it gave me to put my name, on behalf of this country, to the treaty for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

That was, itself, a quite limited measure. It did not apply to all the countries and it is already beginning to crack at the seams. But it held back for a good many years a very dangerous prospect of rapid proliferation all over the world and, more important, it became a lever by which the countries which were nuclear powers were obliged, by pressure of world opinion, to begin to consult about reduction of weapons. The SALT talks were something built on the pedestal of the non-proliferation treaty. Your Lordships may say that they did not come to very much either, though, as a matter of fact, more has been observed that was agreed at the SALT talks than either government has officially agreed to ratify. We now see the possibility of this taking a forward move in another shape, in what are called the START negotiations.

The point I am making is that, slowly over the years, if you sweat away at it, you do make some progress. I stress this, because some of the young people who speak most passionately for peace are inclined to paint a picture of a world where the affairs of mankind are run in each country by a group of elderly, stupid or ill-intentioned men, who turn a deaf ear to all the generous pleas of youth. I do not believe that the world is at all like that. I believe that, if some miracle swept the young leaders of peace movements into the corridors of power in democratic countries, they would find that either they had to give the Soviet Union everything it wanted, or, if they drew the line at that, they would have to sit down to the hard slog of negotiation which their predecessors had been doing before. I think that that ought to he better understood. I say "the hard slog of negotiation", because it is a gigantic business.

One of the interesting points about the Palme Report is that, although it is a small book, the number of different propositions in it, all of them at least worth advancing, is alarming. It is quite clear that we shall not solve all the disarmament problems at a stroke. Therefore, it is important to pick out what we can reasonably go for. I want to mention two points which I hope the Government will specially consider. I have chosen them because they are both rather technical in nature. I think that the difficulty of the disarmament problem is liable to increase over the years, because men are always inventing new kinds of weapons, or new kinds of defences against weapons, and because what seemed a hopeful project 18 months ago has suddenly become completely out of date due to a change in the nature of the weaponry. That is why it is important to pay attention to technique. Secondly, I have tried to take two points that are not so small as to be nugatory, but, on the other hand, not so huge as to be utopian and impossible.

The first—and they are both mentioned in the Palme Report—is a comprehensive test ban treaty. The difficulty with that used to be that you could have a partial test ban treaty, because there were some kinds of tests which, the moment you performed them, the whole of scientific mankind would know about. It was self-policing and you could therefore make a treaty. But underground tests could not automatically be policed in that manner. The Russians said, "We are not going to have people snooping round to see whether we are doing underground tests on our soil. Rely on your scientific instruments", to which the West replied, "The scientific instruments do not distinguish between an underground test and a natural seismic disturbance".

I believe that two things have happened since then. First, the Russians seem to have made a move—in words, at any rate—towards willingness to accept verification. Let us press that. Let us say, "Can we sit down and devise the precise methods by which you would verify a comprehensive test ban treaty?" Alternatively, I think it may be true, though I should not like to be dogmatic about it, that the scientific objections advanced by the West in the past may no longer be true. I believe that it may be possible now, by scientific instruments, to detect an underground test and to distinguish it from a natural seismic disturbance. If that is so, I do not see any obstacle to the conclusion of a comprehensive test ban treaty covering underground as well as other tests. The importance of that is this: if you turn off the tap regarding future inventions, which is what you do when you ban tests—a nation is not very likely to use on a large scale weapons that may be very dangerous but which it has not tested —you slow down the rate at which mankind is constantly devising fresh and more terrible horrors. That is a great gain.

The other point—it is equally pedestrian and technical, and comes out of the Palme Report—concerns satellites. The great value of satellites was that they made verification much less necessary than it used to be. I think that President Eisenhower years ago proposed what he called an "open skies policy" whereby we could all fly over each other's territory and see what we were all doing about military preparations. It did not get much of a reception in Moscow, I am afraid, but it is less necessary to do it now that we have got satellites and can, in effect, spy on each other in that way.

What we do not want to see happening is the putting into space of instruments the object of which is to destroy or nullify the effect of satellites. That is what we may find happening. When a new invention is just on the horizon and it is going to add to the dangers of mankind, it always seems to be more important to get in first with a treaty preventing people from doing it than to wait until they have all done it and then to try to get them to sign a treaty saying that they will undo it once they have done it. Here we have a chance of getting agreement about what kind of things one should or should not put into outer space.

I put those two points to the Government and shall be very interested to hear what they make of them. Compared with the whole agenda of disarmament, they are not all that massive, but if both of them were achieved we should not feel that this session had been too unfruitful.

Finally, my noble friend Lord Underhill said that we were not discussing unilateralism. I must voice my opinion that the movement to persuade this country and other countries in the West to engage in unilateral nuclear disarmament is at best an irrelevance and at worst a frightful danger to the cause of peace and disarmament, for an extremely simple reason. A disarmament conference in its nature consists of bargains. We agree to concede something; the Soviet Union and its allies agree to concede something. Can we really imagine that the Soviet Union will make concessions of its own if it knows that it has only got to wait until we are in such a mood as to give them everything that they could ask for on a plate? Is it commonsense to suppose such a thing? To say that is no sneer, or denigration of the Soviet Union, because the same would be true of any great power. No great power at a disarmament conference, if it had good reason to believe that it could get all it wanted for nothing, would start by being prepared to pay a high price in order to get it.

Therefore, I do beg those who engage in this campaign to consider the great enterprise of universal disarmament and its enormous difficulty (though the fact is that, with patience, worthwhile progress could be made) and not to endanger it by this irrelevant approach to the whole problem.

6.35 p.m.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, I do not think that it would be hypocritical of me to congratulate my noble friend who introduced this Motion today, although I disagree with quite a lot that he says. I want to express my admiration for him. He is an extraordinary man and his speech has shown that, despite his age—which he told us—he has lost none of his vigour or idealism in this, one of his most impassioned causes. What has spurred him on, I believe, throughout his life is his deep belief in the ultimate goodness and good sense of human beings—though he does not like Governments much.

I share a number of his hopes and beliefs, but with many reservations. For instance, not only Governments are immoral; many people are not so nice or so sensible as my noble friend would like them to be. I agree with my noble friend Lord Soper that many of those who would seem to place themselves behind the banner of his oratory today have not always got the same ideas as he has, or got their ideas so well worked out as he has—and many of them he did not adduce today.

Nevertheless, I believe, with the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, that the problem is not weapons but war. Given the war-mindedness in the world, the existence of the nuclear bomb has so far appeared to have a beneficent effect, because neither armaments nor soldiers in themselves cause wars. Wars are caused by Governments who recruit soldiers to fight for them with weapons paid for out of general taxation. And nearly all wars have popular support. Only in democratic countries might it be difficult to get support for a war. However, as your Lordships know, there are only too few democratic Governments.

If Governments, and the people who support them, come to understand, either through sober reflection or out of sheer funk, that they themselves are likely to be obliterated if they begin a war, they are much more likely to look for other ways than wars to settle arguments. Or, better still, they will not start arguments at all. So fear of the bomb may be the beginning of wisdom, and part of that wisdom may indeed be the manifestation of the peace movement. I do not despise it. I was told that in the great German rally last year, which one-quarter of a million people are said to have attended, some bright person had the idea of attaching a banner to the back of a 'plane flying backwards and forwards over the crowds which said, "And who is demonstrating in Moscow?" I hope that the point went home, or began to go home.

The likelihood of wars happening, using only conventional weapons, is very much greater because their use still poses comparatively little risk to the lives of Governments and to the populations of the nations which start wars. The same applies to terrorism which is a form of war practised mostly by Governments, or by aspiring Governments. There is now an almost unbelievable quantity of conventional arms washing around the world. We are told that in real terms their value is 12 times what was around about 50 years ago. Perhaps it has not escaped your Lordships' attention that these arms have proliferated in proportion to the number of nations which have come into existence since that time.

This is another point at which I part company with the peace movement in this country; for the nationalism which so many of its leaders aspire to and the peace which they strive for are mutually contradictory to each other—the reason being that nationalism is the most bellicose political philosophy ever devised. It breeds and fosters racialism, hate and war. It is, I believe, the greatest evil that the world has to face and constitutes almost the only threat to peace.

To support nationalism by suggesting, for instance, that it has something to do with helping the freedom and dignity of the individual flies in the face of all the evidence. Almost needless to say, the most nationalist and the most aggressive country in the world today is Russia, where there is little liberty for the individual and where the state has such a claim upon the person that the citizen has the greatest difficulty in even leaving the country. Nor is there anything normal about nationalism; it is quite a modern, artificial political invention. It was exported to the rest of the world from Europe where, appropriately and thankfully, a beginning has at last been made on mitigating its poisonous effects and, I hope, one day banishing it to nothing but an ugly dream.

That a reduction in armaments can be achieved, as my noble friend hopes, on the initiative of the United Nations I wonder very much, my reason for doubting being that the very term "United Nations" is itself something of a paradox. The ideology of nationalism has it that a nation is antagonistic to other nations. One might say that nations are by definition disunited. As people, as individuals, the members of national delegations to the United Nations might be able to agree among themselves on many things, but as representatives of supposedly individual nations, there is no knowing what they might be allowed to agree upon or, having agreed, might be made to run out on. For their Governments do not trust each other. They are war-minded, and to take away their armaments emasculates their nationalism and takes away their national machismo.

Until there are changes of attitude towards nationalism and there can be progress on such matters as a steady diminution of claims of national sovereignty, and until people cease being encouraged to believe that it is respectable and even glorious to die, to kill, to destroy, to grab, to tyrannise and to terrorise in the cause of nationalism, I feel there is very little hope for a lessening of the chances of war and terrorism in the world or a reduction in armaments—let alone their abolition.

Viscount Barrington

My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, sits down may I ask him a question? He says that nationalism is the most dangerous and poisonous form of war. Would he say that it is more dangerous and poisonous than imperialism? Would he not agree that there is a difference between the two; that the urge to protect one's own country from something that—rightly or wrongly—one dislikes is very different from attempting to spread one's own ideas through other countries? Would he agree, for instance, that Joan of Arc was a nationalist but not an imperialist, and that Napoleon was more of an imperialist than a nationalist, because he was born in Corsica? Is it not slightly confusing not to compare nationalism with imperialism? They are very different things and I believe that the last few weeks in the Falkland Islands have been showing that quite clearly.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Barrington, has raised points which would take me too long to answer. I do disagree with him—but I would say that modern nationalism is a development of imperialism and there is not much difference between them.

6.44 p.m.

Lord Blease

My Lords, I apologise to the House for this intervention, but I will be brief. Like many noble Lords in this House I have a deep concern for and interest in matters concerning disarmament, world peace, and support for the United Nations. I had not intended to take part in this debate and therefore my name did not appear on the list. In his opening remarks my noble friend Lord Brockway mentioned that the Ulster Unionist Party was the only Opposition party which does not support world disarmament. The noble Lord will understand that I do not speak for the Ulster Unionist Party, but I can say that in Ulster, and indeed in the Republic of Ireland, there is growing and strong support for world disarmament and world peace—and, above all, for practical expressions of human dignity, justice and brotherhood.

I am pleased that in this debate we have heard raised the voices of many interests in life, including those of the English, the Welsh and the Scots. I feel that perhaps the voice of an Ulsterman and of an Irishman could be added to those. There is evidence of genuine efforts to achieve world peace being taken by various bodies in Ireland. Included among these bodies are the churches and the trade unions. As a member of the Presbyterian Church, but as one who respects the faiths and beliefs of all peace-loving people, I wish to draw to the attention of your Lordships' House a resolution accepted at last week's General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The Irish Presbyterian Church is comprised of some 200,000 families—almost half a million people in both Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. The resolution read as follows and it was unamimously adopted: The General Assembly, convinced that the escalating arms race is contrary to the mind and will of God in Christ, is an offence to the conscience of many Christians, is a misuse and waste of the earth's resources, and constitutes a serious threat to the continued existence of humanity, urge the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to do everything in their power at the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament to enable the general abolition of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction and the subsequent transference of military expenditure to end world poverty. That resolution was immediately sent to the heads of the United Kingdom Government and the Government of the Republic of Ireland. I hope that it will have some influence on the matters to be raised by the delegations that might subsequently be made at the United Nations.

I am a realist and whatever might come out of resolutions passed by such bodies as the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and whatever they may mean to those persons who are the recipients of such resolutions, I believe that it is this growing expression of support that enables statesmen and others to put forward their views to these international bodies. It is that hope which has raised the belief of mankind that perhaps we are building a new hope for peace in the world for our children and grandchildren.

6.48 p.m.

Lord Banks

My Lords, I believe that the whole House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for raising this subject this afternoon. A few minutes ago the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, said that we were all for peace. I think he can certainly say that we would all like to see disarmament, however much we may disagree about the way to attain it. I believe that those present at the United Nations special session now going on in New York are perhaps in very much the same position as we are in this House. They can discuss what is going on elsewhere but they do not have a great deal of power to control it, although they may hope to influence matters.

At the beginning of this debate the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, read out to us seven possible decisions which the Secretary-General of the United Nations said the special session might take. I think most of us would welcome those decisions if they were taken. But he then read out four decisions which had been taken at the last special session. I am afraid that none of those has been put into practice throughout the world. So we see that the special session, although important and will, we hope, have influence, does not itself have the power to decide matters which are being discussed in so many different fora throughout the world.

The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, enumerated those for us: the discussions about theatre nuclear weapons, the START negotiations, the balanced force reduction discussions in Vienna, the Madrid Conference, the Committee for Disarmament in Geneva, and then of course the special session itself. The noble Lord told us that three plans had been put before the Special Session on World Disarmament, one from the West, one from the Non-aligned and one from the East. I think I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, that he did seem a little cavalier in his treatment of the proposals put forward by the five from the West. I think the fear which many people have is that while there will be much sincere talk there will not be any ultimate action; that there will be a lot of talk about disarmament when the actual fact will be continuous rearmament.

It is in that context that I think considerable importance must be attached to the report which has been referred to by my noble friend Lord Mayhew, by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and by many other noble Lords this afternoon, the Report of the Palme Commission, the independent commission. When you look at the recommendations of that commission, of course, you see that many of them are asking for agreement on matters that have been for a long time on the international disarmament agenda, but nevertheless the significant fact about that report is that it has been signed, as pointed out so many times this afternoon, by people from the East, from the West and from the non-aligned countries. The noble Lord, Lord Beloff, put a reservation which I think we would appreciate on the value, on the extent to which we could place reliance on the signature of Mr. Arbatov, but I think the very fact that he signed it at all is, as Lord Kennet pointed out, of very considerable significance.

The proposal in that report which has attracted most attention, and which has been referred to in your Lordships' House this afternoon more than once, is the proposal for a battlefield nuclear-free zone. It is a comparatively narrow zone that is proposed of 300 kilometres, 150 kilometres on each side of the Iron Curtain. I may be wrong, but I do not think the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, had quite appreciated the precise nature of the proposal here, which I think does not deserve the criticism which he put against the general idea of a nuclear-free zone. It is a nuclear-free zone which is concentrating on tactical weapons and seeking to push them back from the frontier, to make the danger of a limited nuclear war less, to reduce that danger, to raise the nuclear threshold a bit. And, of course, once you do that, once you raise the nuclear threshold, as I think most of us would want to do, you are perhaps putting greater reliance on conventional weapons.

Here again this commission has a suggestion to make with regard to the mutual and balanced force reductions which are being discussed in Vienna. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, referred to the fact that much progress is being made, although there is some difficulty, in this particular field. The suggestion of the commission is that this matter should now be dealt with at a Foreign Ministers' meeting, at Foreign Minister level, believing that some result can really be achieved in this particular field.

The commission deals also, of course, with the great danger of the spread of nuclear weapons. There are, I believe, some 10 threshold countries, some 10 countries which are well on the way to being able to produce nuclear bombs. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart, referred to the non-proliferation treaty, with which he himself was associated, which I believe has been signed by 118 nations. He said it was beginning to crack now at the seams, and one wonders how effective it is. It has not got the signatures of France and China, for example.

But that treaty said that there should be both horizontal and vertical non-proliferation. That meant that there should be a reduction in nuclear arsenals, the vertical non-proliferation, and it is very difficult to get the horizontal unless you get the vertical. So the first thing which we need, I think, if we are to secure nonproliferation is that there should be some reduction in the nuclear arsenals of the super powers. Secondly, there is the need for a comprehensive test ban treaty to which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, also referred. Then one wants to see all the nations of the world in the non-proliferation treaty. So those are objectives which I would hope are going to be followed vigorously by the Governments involved in negotiation.

The fourth point that I would add under this heading of non-proliferation is the need to take steps to deal with the trade in arms, which was described by the noble Earl, Lord Cork and Orrery, as a beastly trade, and by the noble Lord, Lord Soper, as a filthy trade—which epithet was repeated by the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, although he had an important reservation.

I repeat that we on these Benches are multilateralists in our approach to disarmament. We know that it is the SS20s that are targeted on us; we want to get those removed for our safety and security, and we believe that we can get them removed, if at all, only through multilateral negotiation. We are multilateralists, but we do realise that there is pressure on multilateralism to show results. That is why I am suggesting that this report which has been referred to so often this afternoon, since it is a product from all sides of the discussion, might well be taken as the basic agenda for the search for multilateral disarmament.

6.58 p.m.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Belstead)

My Lords, the Government welcome this debate, which draws attention to one of the most vital issues in international relations. Whether we see the continuation of a relentless build-up in military arsenals, or whether we can reverse the process, very much depends on the outcome of the various disarmament negotiations now in train or in prospect. The most important of these are the talks in which the nations of East and West are trying to reach agreement on reducing the weapons and forces deployed on both sides.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, for initiating this debate on his return from New York. But it is right to keep in mind that the special session is a deliberative body of the entire United Nations membership. It is not going to produce specific agreements or solve the problems of the global arms race overnight. It is, we hope, going to agree on a realistic and flexible programme of disarmament as a framework for negotiations in the years ahead. But discussion is no substitute for negotiation, although the special session can act as a spur and a stimulus for the individual negotiations. I very much welcomed the emphasis which I think it is fair to say the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, placed upon the importance of the special session in this respect—a session which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is due to address in New York on Wednesday of next week.

Of course, our thoughts today are very much still with the men of the task force in the South Atlantic. But we must not forget that the overwhelming threat to the security of this country still comes from the Warsaw Pact. It is towards that threat that our security policy has primarily to be directed. Arms control is an integral part of that policy. The other part comprises strong and well-balanced defence forces. There is no question in Government policy of neglecting the latter, but I believe that it is possible to enhance our security by reducing the level of armaments held by the East and the West.

The United Nations special session is meeting at a time when international tensions are probably more marked than for some years, and the need for arms control is therefore all the greater. I think that it is clear from the debate that we have had today that all your Lordships feel that you are speaking in precisely that context. The hopes which we all entertained for rapid progress following the consensus which was reached at the first special session in 1978 have not been realised. In many parts of the world we have seen the continued build-up of military forces. More seriously, there has been an increasing tendency for states to vitiate discussion and negotiation through a resort to force in order to attain their political objectives, in defiance of the United Nations Charter.

The role of the United Nations is the creation of a just and peaceful international framework, governed by the rule of law, within which nations should be able to choose their own way of life, in safety and in peace. We believe that the aim of the United Nations Special Session should be to increase international understanding of the factors which have hindered disarmament agreements and to create a climate in which current and forthcoming negotiations can make progress.

But any moves towards disarmament which do not improve security are a path to disaster, for peace and security are indivisible. Any kind of disarmament which neglects the essential verification provisions will only serve to increase suspicion and therefore tension. Any kind of disarmament which does not result in an equitable balance of forces is asking for trouble. I was most grateful to my noble friends Lord Cork and Orrery and the Duke of Norfolk for making particularly this final point very clearly in their speeches. We really must focus our efforts on the areas likely to produce balanced, verifiable agreements of genuine security value. A proper balance of forces at lower levels is surely the right answer. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich made the point that, despite recurrent tension and difficulties, for 37 years Europe has now lived in peace. But there are still threats hanging over our continent. So, like the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, I turn to what the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, called the hard slog of the individual negotiations between East and West.

The Government fully support the NATO proposal for a "zero level" outcome in the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on intermediate-range nuclear forces. We should welcome the complete dismantling of the existing Soviet missiles—the SS4, the SS5 and the triple-headed SS20—in return for the non-deployment of American cruise and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe. That is the outcome which will best enhance security and reduce weapon levels on both sides.

Similarly, we welcome President Reagan's proposal for substantial cuts of one-third in strategic arsenals of the two major nuclear powers. The United States' intention to seek significant reductions, particularly in intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are the most destabilising strategic systems, is a bold but realistic offer which, if agreed, would result in greatly increased strategic stability and would thereby strengthen peace. We hope that the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks which begin on 29th June will lead firmly in this direction.

In parallel with these nuclear arms control negotiations, we want to see progress in the reduction of conventional forces and the risk of conflict in Europe. We are about to put forward major new proposals in the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction Talks in Vienna. We shall continue to press for a conference on disarmament in Europe with acceptable terms of reference to negotiate confidence and security-building measures. The noble Lord, Lord Underhill, asked what proposals we shall be putting forward at the special session. Those really are the basis of the proposals, but of course they are being put forward in the context of the INF talks the START talks and the MBFR talks. I am bound to say to your Lordships that we have not yet received any satisfactory response to these proposals, which I believe are far-reaching. In the case of intermediate-range nuclear forces, the Soviet proposal for a moratorium would simply freeze the present imbalance which is at present about 4-1 in favour of the Soviet Union. On strategic arms, too, the Russians have so far proposed no more than a freeze on the huge arsenals at present deployed. In the MBFR talks they have steadfastly refused to co-operate in resolving the longstanding dispute over force data and the need for proper verification measures.

While referring to verification, I should like to do so also in the context of a comprehensive test ban, to which the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, referred. He and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, in their different ways, talked about verification. The problem of verification remains an obstacle to agreement on a comprehensive test ban. We, therefore, welcome the fact that the Russians agreed in April of this year to the Western proposal to set up a working group in the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva to consider this problem. We very much hope that the working group will contribute to progress towards a comprehensive test ban.

The Western peace initiatives which I have been seeking to describe were reaffirmed at the NATO summit last week. They really do offer unprecedented opportunities for progress on a wide range of issues. Compared with 1978, when really very little was happening in the arms control field, there are now good proposals on the table and negotiations are either in hand or about to be undertaken in the START talks about to begin at the end of this month. This is the context in which the Government see the role of the United Nations and the special session. The comprehensive programme of disarmament which is being discussed in New York really must reflect, and I hope will reflect, this genuine attempt to find peace and security.

Many of your Lordships have referred to the recent report of the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, which was under the chairmanship of Mr. Olof Palme. The report was entitled Common Security. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, that it is a very important report and that the findings of an independent group of statesmen deserve, surely, our serious consideration. The Palme Report rightly puts disarmament in the context of security and the international situation. It stresses the importance of verification in any arms control agreement. On strategic arms control, the report emphasises the need for reductions which would reduce fears of a "first strike" capability. This is precisely the approach adopted by the Americans in their START proposals. On intermediate range nuclear forces, the Palme Report calls for parity at the lowest possible level. This is, of course, precisely the objective of President Reagan's zero option proposal which we support, and the Palme Report recognises that the most promising route for the future lies through a series of specific and balanced agreements, step by step.

A great deal has been said in this afternoon's debate expressing abhorrence at nuclear war, and with that the Government would certainly wish to join. But whether we like it or not, nuclear weapons exist. They are so horrifyingly destructive that the highest priority must be given to preventing their ever being used. That is the essence of our deterrence strategy. There are, of course, points in the Palme Report with which we would not entirely agree. While the report rejected deterrence as being the last word—a view which successive British Governments have certainly endorsed—we believe that deterrence nevertheless forms the basis of peace and stability at the present time. History has taught us that the freedom of this country relies upon the deterrent strength provided by collective security. That is why NATO is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. For nearly 40 years the deterrent value of NATO has guarded the freedom of Western Europe. We ignore that at our peril. Nor would we accept the argument in the text of the Palme Report that British and French deterrents should be included in the INF negotiations, not only because these forces are strategic but also because we believe that the INF negotiations should seek agreement based on parity between the United States and the Soviet Union. Attractive though it might appear at first sight, and to the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, it was attractive, there are problems we believe in the idea of a "battlefieldnuclear-weapon-free zone". The noble Lord was very fair in referring to one or two of the problems, but the report did not address the problems. We do not believe that battlefield nuclear weapons should be excluded from arms control. But our current priority really must be the negotiation of United States—Soviet agreements on strategic system and intermediate range nuclear forces.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, if the noble Lord will allow me, if he does not agree, because they are strategic, with the British and French nuclear deterrents being included in the INF talks, should they be included in the START talks?

Lord Belstead

My Lords, this is not, of course, comparing like with like. We believe that the difficulty about making the comparison which the Palme Report made, and which I have no doubt the Russians would wish to make, is that you will not get a durable agreement. We believe that, if you included both British and French forces, you would simply be going down the road of granting superiority to the Russians. Therefore, my answer to the noble Lord is that at the moment we believe that this is not the way in which to proceed.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester asked about the future Government policy on chemical weapons. A chemical weapon-free zone would not solve the problem of Soviet stockpiles, but we are seeking to tackle this problem through a British proposal in the Committee on Disarmament for a comprehensive ban. Incidentally, the foreword to the Palme Report is incorrect in stating that: The British Government has recently announced that it is considering deploying chemical weapons in Europe ". We have no such weapons and we have no plans to acquire any. I was grateful to your Lordships for recognising this, including the two right reverend Prelates and my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk. The Palme Report contains some interesting suggestions for strengthening the United Nations role in the peaceful settlement of disputes. We have always viewed this as one of the central functions of the organisation, and we have worked hard to try to develop and strengthen it. We sympathise with the view that is widely held by informed opinion that the United Nations ought to have developed its enforcement role. But the history of the various crises with which the Security Council has had to deal, and in particular our recent experiences over the Falklands, lead us to doubt whether some of the main recommendations in the Palme Report as regards the United Nations are really practicable.

Your Lordships asked me some questions and in the time remaining I should like, briefly, to try to answer them. First, the noble Lords, Lord Brockway and Lord Mayhew, and others asked about the statement made at the United Nations yesterday on behalf of Mr. Brezhnev. While welcoming President Brezhnev's assurance that the Soviet Union will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, the Government believe that this does not go far enough. NATO has adopted a more comprehensive policy. We say that none of our weapons—nuclear or conventional—will ever be used, except in response to an attack. President Brezhnev's assurance is of no comfort to those who are threatened by or who have fallen victim to attack by Soviet conventional forces. I very much hope that my noble friend Lord Beloff is right, that Russian self-interest will lead to further statements from the Soviet Union which will give practical effect to an intention for arms control and for peace.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, spoke about the International Atomic Energy Agency inspecting the Russian nuclear installations, and attributed that—I believe quite correctly—to the statement made at the United Nations on behalf of President Brezhnev. The Soviet Union was, of course, the only party to the Non-proliferation Treaty—to which the signature of the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, was put—to refuse in the event IAEA inspection of its civil nuclear facilities. In Mr. Brezhnev's statement it has now been agreed to accept inspection of: a part of its peaceful nuclear installations ". I believe that that is an accurate quotation. It is also a step in the right direction,which we welcome.

Several of your Lordships in your speeches referred to peace movements in general and the influence which they have, and asked that the Government should take these movements seriously. We do. Our delegate at the United Nations Special Session includes, afer all, in Mr. Judd, a leading representative of British nongovernmental organisations. But at the same time we ask that the peace movements should take us seriously, should try to understand what we are trying to achieve in the disarmament negotiations. We should also like public opinion to become a universal world instrument. At present it cannot operate in closed societies and only this week, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich said, 11 Soviet citizens trying to establish an independent disarmament movement in Russia were simply arrested.

Finally, may I meet head-on the very difficult point which was put by several of your Lordships about arms sales. Sovereign states have the right to self-defence under the United Nations Charter. We claim this right for ourselves and we cannot deny it to others. I was most grateful to my noble friend the Duke of Norfolk for saying this clearly and simply. That leaves us with a very important question which is: why states should want to buy arms? 1 think that it was to this that the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, addressed himself when he said that it was not arms, but it was governments which made wars. Almost invariably it is insecurity which creates a market for arms, and, of course, although I realise that there are many different causes of wars, insecurity is certainly caused by aggression. So far as the United Kingdom is concerned, arms are not permitted to be exported from here indiscriminately. Proposed arms sales are carefully considered in the light of all the relevant factors and an export licence would not be granted if it were thought that the equipment would be used for the violation of human rights.

I have tried in answering this debate to show that the West has what I believe is a genuine and practical approach to negotiations to reach agreements which must be balanced and verifiable. Some people argue that disarmament can be undertaken without the guarantee of reciprocal action to reduce the level of armaments on both sides. The Government do not share this view, but we will spare no effort to ensure that the United Nations Special Session promotes the progress of genuine, balanced disarmament based on security at a lower level of armaments. In that way we can and we will continue to pursue the cause of stability and the cause of peace.

7.21 p.m.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, I think it will be generally agreed that we have had an interesting and valuable discussion. The Motion which I put to the House referred to the proceedings at the Second Special Session of the United Nations on Disarmament. Quite inevitably the discussion has gone very much further. May I say that the real issue now being debated in New York is whether the coming of disarmament in the world shall be through a series of separate bilateral discussions, even discussions with a group of nations, or whether it should be the responsibility of an international authority. I appreciate that the session now in New York is not mandatory. It cannot impose decisions upon Governments. But the resolutions which it adopts will be enormously important in maintaining and strengthening the climate in the world for peace and disarmament.

I particularly welcome, of course, the speeches made in support of world disarmament. The attack upon our position has been almost entirely a criticism of conditions in the Soviet Union. I have even been challenged as to whether I believe in freedom. I think I can say that I have devoted most of my life to the cause of freedom. I have criticised the denial of freedom in the Soviet Union not only in this country, as others have done, but in the Soviet Union itself.

I am particularly concerned about the treatment of dissidents not in the Soviet Union but in Czechoslovakia. Some of the dissidents there have been my friends ever since 1928. But I want to say to the noble Lord who made that challenge to me that the struggle for freedom is not only the change of conditions in the Soviet Union; it has been for 70 years changing conditions in this country and in the Empire. I have stood for the freedom of peoples in oppositon to Governments here, just as I have sought to stand for freedom in the Soviet Union.

Seventy years ago those of us who stood for disarmament and peace were regarded as impossible idealists and Utopians. The idealism of yesterday is the realism of tomorrow. Today disarmament is realistic. It is realistic because the peoples of the world realise that mankind cannot live with the nuclear weapon, because the peoples of the world are realising that we must go forward to an international order of harmony and co-operation which makes the maintenance of arms unnecessary.

I say to your Lordships that in these coming years those who are sceptical about the demand for disarma- ment will change their minds. During my lifetime I have seen a transformation in world affairs just as fundamental as would be disarmament in the world. How we were ridiculed when we stood against imperialism as impossibilists ! The whole of Africa, most of Asia, was owned by Governments in Europe. In 20 years political liberation was won for the colonial territories. That was just as great a transformation of world affairs as disarmament will be. Just as those of us who stood for the rights of people to self-government were ridiculed before the last world war, so, when we are called impossibilists and utopians today, I am confident that within the next decade disarmament will be achieved in the world and nuclear weapons will be abolished, because the peoples of the world will demand it.

My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.