§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, this debate which has now resumed is, as usual, concerned with two vast, even if inter-related, subjects, and, in the quarter of an hour which is all I am going to devote to them, it is possible to make only some very general and indeed unqualified remarks on some aspects of them. These will be on East-West relations, the European Community, the Middle East and the aftermath of the Falklands operations.
East-West relations are largely dominated by defence considerations, and my noble friend Lord Mayhew will be dealing with those later. All I will say is that, if we believe certain apparently well-authenticated reports, the present efforts of the Americans to construct at vast expense some kind of nuclear "superiority" and even, it would seem if these reports are justified, to contemplate the possibility of some "protracted" nuclear war, are both useless and dangerous, whether politically or economically. Politically, because, when you already possess the ability to obliterate the Soviet Union even on a second strike, "superiority" is nonsense and insistence on it will result only in the collpase of the existing negotiations for the limitation of nuclear weapons. Economically, because, if persisted in, it will continue to unbalance the United States budget and thus delay, if not prevent, any real emergence from the present fearful slump.
Much the same applies to the original American efforts to organise "sanctions"—as they are called—against the Soviet Union and even against Poland; to American opposition to European participation in the Siberian gas line project; and indeed—with the important exception of grain—to what amounted to a virtual declaration of economic war against the entire communist bloc. Happily, there is reason to suppose that these policies have now—thanks partly, I am sure, to the efforts of our Foreign Secretary—been substantially modified if not in some respects abandoned. I hope that the Minister who is going to wind up will confirm that that, broadly speaking, is true.
On the European Community, it is clear that all members are suffering acutely from the world depression and its accompanying—and mounting—unemployment, with consequent loud demands for protection, which, if heeded to any great extent, will inevitably lead to the collapse of the Community. That that would be a disaster is apparently now contested only by the Labour Party and certain extreme nationalists, such as Mr. Enoch Powell. We must all therefore, if we can, work together to encourage inter-Community trade and, if possible, common financial and monetary policies so as to tide over what is going to be a very difficult period. Indeed, if we had any sense we should now be contemplating a considerable increase in what are called the Community's "own resources", some of which could 127 then be devoted to common measures designed to mitigate unemployment, particularly among the young. In any case, we must surely all be fully conscious of our neighbours' difficulties, whether economic or political.
Here I should like to repeat, substantially, a point that I made the other day when congratulating the Foreign Secretary on the (as it then seemed) successful conclusion to the latest talks in the Conference of Foreign Ministers: namely, that it would be folly for us to be too insistent on our getting what we might consider to be full satisfaction as regards our own contribution to the European Community budget.
Nobody—least of all our partners—contests the fact that, if nothing is done about the long-term contribution to the budget, we shall be meeting a disproportionately high percentage of that budget. However, scarcely anybody—at any rate on the other side of the Channel—thinks that it would be right that a country which, after all, entered the Community knowing that this would be on the basis of an original deal between France and Germany whereby France opened her market on condition that her agriculturalists were effectively protected; a country whose balance of payments, thanks largely of course to oil, it is true, is now more or less, I believe, in balance; and a country which continues to import large quantities of food from outside the Market should, in spite of its alleged poverty because, owing to its own fault, its GDP is considerably less than those of its neighbours, quarrel over an odd £50 million or £100 million at a time when, unlike herself, all her partners are undergoing or expecting severe balance of payments difficulties. It would be quite wrong, therefore, for the Prime Minister, in a mood of righteous, patriotic—and no doubt electorally valuable—indignation to bang the table and demand, as it were, anything like her full pound of flesh. Far better to leave all this to the skill in negotiation of her subordinates in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or, if she does not trust them, to the skill in negotiation of somebody in whom she does have confidence but who is nevertheless sufficiently brave and competent to tell her bluntly when enough is enough.
While I am on the subject of the European Economic Community, perhaps I may add—a point which was made just now by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie—that our present excellent attitude towards the attempted veto by the Danes on a common fisheries policy obviously demonstrates that the Community can function properly only if it accepts in practice the principle of majority voting.
I turn to the Middle East. Here, as it seems to me, out of the recent appalling happenings in the Lebanon one good thing has emerged, for the Americans have at last got a definite policy which, in the eyes of most anxious observers at any rate, is both sensible and just. At the moment it seems to be totally rejected by Mr Begin's Government, and President Reagan is clearly reluctant to apply direct pressure in order to oblige the Israelis to accept, although he could do so if he wanted to. Still, Mr Begin will not be Prime Minister for ever, or even, perhaps, for very long and we must all hope that before long there will be a Government in Tel Aviv which will, so to speak, at least begin to talk the 128 same language as the Americans and indeed the Europeans.
Some mystery surrounds the attitude of the Soviet Government in all these goings on. Is there any truth in reports that they have not been very eager to assist their Syrian ally in its clash with the Israeli forces and that in any case the modern weapons with which they have supplied the Syrians, notably aircraft, are no match for the American weapons made use of by the Israelis? The Russians in any case seem to have been strangely silent lately. Can it be that they are no longer pressing to be present at any future negotiations? Perhaps the Government will be able to throw some light on this. In any case, would not the Government agree in principle that, if there is ever to be any general agreement on Middle Eastern affairs as a whole, Soviet interests must at least be taken into some account?
In the meantime, the great thing is to get both the Israelis and the Syrians out of the Lebanon, and this will be difficult enough. In principle, what ought to happen, surely, is that the international force now in existence should be strengthened so as to enable it, together with what is called UNIFIL in the south, to put the Lebanese army in a position where it can, more or less—and I repeat '"more or less"—ensure internal security in that troubled land. To help in such an effort, it is clear—as now seems to be recognised by the Foreign Secretary himself—that some British presence would be highly desirable. This may be a heretical suggestion, but could we not even transfer a few men from the Falklands? After all, the Argentines are not likely to resume the war unless they have reason to believe that they have command of the air. And if they ever got that, it would not matter very much whether our land forces in the Falklands were 3,000 or 2,750 men.
This brings me to the last matter to which I shall devote just a few minutes of your Lordships' time and as regards which, I repeat, I am expressing my own personal opinion. As the inquest on the Falklands operation proceeds, it becomes, as everybody knows, more and more clear that it was a very close run thing. Happily, our luck held and we were able, thanks entirely to the extraordinary skill and bravery of all those concerned, to avert what would have been a disaster of the first magnitude. And thank God for that. But the question remains—and this is something which I believe does not come within the competence of the Franks Committee, which has to decide simply who, if anybody, was to blame for not appreciating the imminence of the Argentine attack and for not taking steps in time which might have been likely to avert it—why did the conflict break out at all?
It broke out immediately, of course, because the Argentine Government decided on an unpardonable act of aggression which was rightly condemned by the United Nations and which has now been splendidly repulsed—something for which, after all, the United Nations should, as such, be grateful, one would have thought, if it has any regard for the maintenance of the principles which are embodied in the Charter. But that war also broke out, surely, as the result of a very longstanding dispute in which, however mistakenly, practically all Argentines, including those who detest the present murderous Government and dictatorship, believed that they were in the right. For many years Her Majesty's Government tried to solve this dispute 129 peacefully by negotiation, and some two years ago it looked as if this effort might well succeed, the issue of sovereignty being in some way blurred and the long-term interests of the islanders suitably safeguarded.
It must also be obvious that unless we are to maintain a considerable land, sea and air force 8,000 miles away in the South Atlantic indefinitely without any base or staging point nearer than Ascension Island at huge cost and to the detriment of our ability to resist any conventional Soviet assault in Europe, this must still be our objective. After all, it was our objective right up to the moment when, owing to Argentine stupidity in rejecting, for instance, the compromise which Mr. Pym agreed to on behalf of the Government in New York, there was no alternative but to reoccupy the islands by force of arms. It existed right up to that moment.
Certainly, we cannot negotiate until such time as the Argentine declares that the war is over. Certainly we cannot do so on the sole basis of a non-mandatory United Nations resolution which, I believe, speaks—absurdly enough—of the continuance in existence of a "colonial" régime. But, as Mr. Pym himself has said, negotiate eventually we must, preferably, of course, with a new Argentine Government emerging from elections—as, I think, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, said—and the sooner this is possible the better for everybody. Though, with one exception, they very properly abstained on the United Nations resolution, such is clearly the earnest desire of all our allies and friends in the European Community, to say nothing of the major Commonwealth nations, and I do not think that we ought to be too indignant if the United States, whose very difficult position with regard to the South American States must be recognised, also made this clear by her vote.
But, when we do agree to negotiate, there will be no question, even if some poor-spirited people may so assert, that our recent great national effort has been useless and that, as the poet says,The struggle naught availeth, The labour and the wounds are vain".Oh, no. The labour and the wounds have not been in vain—very much in the reverse. I am sure that that will always be recognised. That is all I shall say on the question of the Falklands, which I am sure will be debated later in this Session.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Lord Maclehose of Beoch
My Lords, I ask for the normal indulgence of the House to somebody addressing it for the first time and who is all too conscious of the fact that a number of his former masters are sitting to pass judgment on him. I wish to speak about Hong Kong because the fact that discussions about its future have started is a matter of very great importance. It is a development which has been expected for some time; but it is one thing to expect something and quite another to be faced by its reality. The fact is that the announcement of the discussions and the accompanying flurry of official, semi-official and unofficial statements and press commentary worried and confused the people of Hong Kong.
Indeed, knowledge that its future was under discussion would worry any community. Moreover, this came at a time when Hong Kong's economy had 130 been hit by world recession and when its stock and property markets were teetering on the edge of a slide—and duly slid. This conjuncture was bad enough because the period of discussion was bound to be a nervous one, and it would have been much easier to ride it out on a fairly buoyant economy. Meanwhile, I suggest that very great sympathy is due to the people of Hong Kong suffering under this double impact.
In Hong Kong the Prime Minister, and more recently other Ministers, could not have been more reassuring in what they said, but I suggest that it would be timely for the Government to consider whether there are some practical things they could do at this stage to demonstrate their concern for the people of Hong Kong. For instance, could not something be done now about university fees for first-degree students from dependent territories? The Hong Kong Government have for long offered to make a contribution; alternatively, the admirable report of the Overseas Students Trust recommended home student status for students from dependent territories. I ask whether something could not now be done.
Secondly, when the Prime Minister was in Hong Kong she referred to the problem under the new nationality Act of people holding Hong Kong passports, and undertook to look into it on her return. These people wish their national status to be described as "British". This would have no bearing on right of entry or abode in the United Kingdom, which has not existed for them since 1962. But it would be of practical value to them as great travellers in third countries and it would be welcomed. Here, too, I wonder whether something could be done.
Thirdly, and most important, Hong Kong people fear protectionism. In the negotiations with the EEC for a new textiles agreement under the multi-fibre arrangement, a cutback in sensitive items has been called for. That would be serious in itself and all the more serious because of its knock-on effect on the arrangements which Hong Kong has with other countries. In gunning for Hong Kong, the EEC is missing its target. These so-called sensitive textile items from Hong Kong have long been controlled and have actually declined in volume under the current textiles agreement. The rise in imports of these items has come not from Hong Kong but from uncontrolled sources such as the USA and Europe. I realise the pressures on the Government and their frustration at massive imports from countries which, by one means or another, frustrate our exports. But could not a simple rule be applied; namely, that further restriction should not be considered against exports from markets such as Hong Kong which are totally free?
The 5 million people of Hong Kong imported a greater value of United Kingdom goods last year than the 115 million people of Japan or of all ASEAN put together. This shows the importance to our exporters of a market which is totally free and in which United Kingdom goods are welcome. Having regard to the present situation, and on its merits, nothing would be more timely than for the United Kingdom's voice to be raised decisively to protect Hong Kong's legitimate interests.
In conclusion, I would like to return to the discussions now initiated in Peking. There has been controversy and criticism about some aspects. I fear that this is obscuring what has been achieved. The 131 mounting concern in Hong Kong made it urgent to start discussions. They have been started and they have been started with a good objective—the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong—agreed at the highest level, and this has been published in a joint communiqué. I am sure that this was the right way to start. There is a Chinese proverb that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with but one step. While I do not believe that these discussions will be a 1,000-mile journey, I am relieved that this first step has been taken.
Obviously the people of Hong Kong are anxious for the talks to be concluded as soon as possible so that they can know where they stand. But the issues are complex and there must be time to explore them thoroughly and to find correct solutions. This is bound to take time. They will be conducted in confidence but from time to time the people of Hong Kong will need to know what is happening, and I hope that this will be possible. They will wish to express their views, and I am sure they will do so—and I hope they will be listened to.
Meanwhile, they must try to do a very difficult thing, but one at which they are very good; keep their nerve and try not to be distracted by rumour, of which I am sure there will be all too much. They can take heart from the fact, which I am sure the noble Lord the Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will confirm, that there is no suggestion of early change. The Chinese Government have never made any bones about the value of Hong Kong and they have constantly endeavoured to reassure the business community. So the assumption is that a solution will be found with which the people of Hong Kong can live. Indeed, it would be an appalling failure of commonsense and common interest were it not.
Moreover, Sino-British relations have never been better and, locally, co-operation between Hong Kong and other parts of China has developed at a steadily-increasing rate in recent years with two-way trade and two-way investment. It may surprise noble Lords to know that Chinese investment in Hong Kong has been as massive as it has been welcome. This has been backed with easier relations with Chinese officials in Hong Kong and elsewhere. This is a good working background for the discussions now being held.
Hong Kong's future value to its residents and to China, to the United Kingdom and to anyone else, depends on its ability to continue developing as an international centre of industry, commerce, finance, communications and tourism, and as a free port. It is my belief that this development in any case could not be sustained without the steady expansion and evolution of the growing relationship with China that is already taking place. This should be cultivated, as it might ease other problems.
This initiative of discussions is concerned not with the past but with the future and to my mind it offers an opportunity to start off on a new footing which could be good for Hong Kong, good for China, and good for the United Kingdom—ending the uncertainties and resentments of the past and looking forward to friendship, economic co-operation, and a stable and prosperous future for Hong Kong. I suggest that it is very much in the interests of all concerned to grasp this opportunity.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of London
My Lords, it is a privilege and a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch, and to be the first to congratulate him on his maiden speech. His reputation in the Diplomatic Service, and especially as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, where he exercised his responsibilities in such a distinguished way, has been further enhanced by the quality of the speech to which we have just listened. I know that your Lordships' House will look forward with anticipation to his contributions to future debates and to benefiting from the wisdom and lucidity which has been so evident today.
I wish to speak about two specific matters; namely, the reopening of the Review Conference of the Helsinki Accord in Madrid today, and, briefly, about Cyprus. However, I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I first say something about an issue which underlies many of our problems, not least in the fields of foreign affairs and defence. I hope that I shall not appear to be moralising, though it is about a moral issue that I wish to speak. I do that without apology for, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester said last week, it is a particular responsibility of those who occupy these Benches to draw attention to the principles which should underlie our debates.
It is about conflict and its resolution to which I would draw your Lordships' attention. When I speak of conflict I do not refer primarily to military conflict, which is but one expression of it. I mean the conflict of ideas and interests which is an integral part of the human situation, however much we may regret that such is the case; conflict which in fact is very often the result of the exercise of our freedom. How we seek to resolve conflict is of fundamental importance both for our international relations and our national life.
Conflict arises from a variety of reasons. It can arise from ideological standpoints strongly held. If you believe that what a man is and the way he behaves is determined rather than just affected by his environment, his upbringing, his genetic make-up, you will believe that it is right to use all the resources in your power to modify his environment, determine his upbringing, use genetic engineering if you can to bring about changes, and to seek to extend, whether at home or abroad, the areas in which these things can be done. And you will be in conflict with those who believe that freedom is one of the greatest characteristics of the human person and that improvements in environment or upbringing must be such as to encourage and enable people to exercise that freedom.
Conflict also arises out of a concern for a moral value, such as justice, between those who are passionately concerned for the removal of injustices and those whom they regard as being content with the status quo. It can also arise out of the undesirable aspects of human nature, such as envy, and natural causes such as fear, as well as from that inbuilt propensity on the part of man to corrupt what he touches, which Christian theologians call original sin, but which I suspect many of your Lordships might describe in more earthy terms. It is this which causes compassion to become condemnation, a concern for the truth to become dogmatism, and a desire for recreation to become idleness, and so on.
133 We live at a time when widely differing views are held on a number of issues of the greatest importance to mankind, such as that of nuclear deterrence, or the distribution of the world's wealth. The urgency of the issues, and the increasing extent to which we are dependent one on another, both internationally and nationally, mean that these views are held with increasing passion and conviction. As a result, some feel justified in resorting to what is called direct action as the only way in which policies can be changed or evils remedied. When I speak of direct action I mean action which is based on the plain use of power to compel one side to do what the other wants rather than the controlled use of power through negotiations, or action within the law, such as the right to withdraw one's labour or defence against an aggressor. It is the kind of use of power which seeks to use conflict rather than to resolve it.
The resolution of conflict arising from such causes as I have mentioned must be based on an acceptance of law, of order, of human rights, which themselves must be based on a concern for justice, and I would maintain that any attempt to secure justice by direct action of the kind I have described, though it may produce a short-term gain, is in the last resort, ultimately, self-defeating, for it is contrary to the basis of that which it seeks to achieve. That, I believe, is one of the reasons why coups so seldom achieve their aim.
It is for this reason that I believe it is essential that we should make it as clear as possible that if action has to be taken—whether defence against an aggressor, or the enforcement of law and order, in order to secure the rights of which I have been speaking—it is taken for these reasons and not simply for any other, lesser reasons of self-interest or enconomic gain. I was encouraged by the fact that in the action which was taken to liberate the Falkland Islands it was made very clear that it was action taken against an aggressor, to maintain law and order, without which we would degenerate into anarchy. It is, I believe, also, whatever one's views about the matter of deterrence, much to be welcomed that the Government make it clear that their policy of nuclear deterrence is intended to preserve those freedoms which we enjoy here in the West, and which I believe are absolutely essential if man is to be enabled to act in accordance with his moral nature.
I have not mentioned ideological conflicts, differences due to ideological views. I just want to make one point. We have to be quite realistic about these differences. We must not delude ourselves and suppose, for example, that the leaders of the USSR do not mean what they say and do not intend to act upon their own professed ideology. It so happens that in the post this morning I was sent some photographs of posters which one can find up in Moscow—posters which are called Posters of Peace. They are certainly not representing what we would understand to be meant by peace, and I would say were calculated to encourage conflict What matters, I believe, is that we make our own beliefs clear, and that when we have to act in the defence of what we so often simply call the values of our Western cilvilisation, we make it clear why we are doing so. It can be as destructive of peace to allow others to misinterpret and misunderstand us and our motives as it is to misinterpret and 134 misunderstand them. This applies not only in international affairs but in all spheres of life.
If our policy is determined—at least that is our intention—by a concern for justice and for human rights rather than simply by an acquiescence to market forces and nothing else, then we must be at pains to make that evident. It is for this reason that we must continually demonstrate in our national policies our concern for human rights and the basis on which we affirm them. I quote briefly from Doctor Alan Falconer, who says in his book, The Church and Human Rights:Human rights emerge as attempts to regulate the conflicts between human beings, in such a way as to protect the individual or group, and also in such a way as to enable human beings and groups to grow to maturity—that is they seek to regulate conflict, not to eliminate it.It is for these reasons that I want to refer to the reopening today of the Madrid Review Conference of the Helsinki Accord. It is, I believe, most desirable that the Government gives the maximum backing to this conference, which reaffirms the necessity for law and order as a basis for international relations. The Madrid conference was adjourned in March largely due to the situation in Poland. While prospects may be gloomy—certainly they do not seem very bright—the follow-up of the Helsinki Final Act does not provide merely a possible way forward to improved relations between East and West. What it does and, in my judgment, what is much more important, is to provide an affirmation that a concern for human rights which is supported by law and order is of pre-eminent importance in international relations.
Fearful of the negative prospects for the resumption of negotiations in Madrid today, the Churches' Human Rights Programme organised a colloquium in October as a result of which the Churches decided to address their own Governments. They were particularly aware that the Madrid conference is the only formal multilateral instrument for political détente and can, therefore, be a contribution to progress in arms control and disarmament negotiations. The Churches therefore urged their Governments who signed the Helsinki Final Act once more to consider what specific contributions they can make to give new life and vigour to a process of détente. They believe that any programme should have two elements: first, agreement on a mandate for a conference on confidence building measures and disarmament in Europe and secondly, substantial progress in the field of human rights.
I see from The Times recently that diplomatic sources in London are reported as saying that the Government would like to see more confidence building measures which carry some conviction, such as an end to the jamming of Western radio broadcasts, and better information and freedom of action for businessmen working in the Soviet Union. I hope that when the Minister replies he can give encouraging answers to my question: what response have this Government given to that approach by the Churches' colloquium?
In August the Foreign Ministers of the neutral and non-aligned states met and expressed, among other things, their conviction that there is no lasting alternative to intensified negotiation and dialogue for overcoming the present difficulties in international 135 relations. In particular, they affirm their support for the mandate to which I have referred.
With reference to what I said about human rights—I have not warned the Minister about this and I shall not expect an answer in his reply, but perhaps he could let me have it later—I take the opportunity of mentioning the increasing concern about the state of health of Anatoly Shcharansky, who worked in the monitoring group of the Helsinki Accord. That group, after further persecution, was disbanded. We know that he has been returned from the labour camp to prison in extremely severe conditions. I should like to know whether any action is possible to bring pressure to bear for him to receive more humane treatment.
I also refer briefly to the situation in Cyprus. That, too, was the subject of a consultation in June of the Churches' Human Rights Programme. It is for that reason I mention it today. The situation there remains very unsatisfactory, with the presence of some 16,000 Turkish troops since 1974. This is in contravention of principles III and IV of the Helsinki Accord. It is, I believe, essential to avoid any action which might provoke further confrontation on that island. I should be grateful if the Minister could indicate what steps are being taken, first, to encourage United Nations' initiative and, secondly, to encourage unofficial inter-communal contacts in the island, which have already proved of some benefit.
I said earlier that we must be realistic about the reasons for conflict, but I do not believe that that means we should be deterred from making clear the moral basis for our actions, even though our basis of necessity will often be mixed and we shall have unworthy as well as worthy motives for what we do. On the contrary, I believe that the greatest hope for the preservation of peace and the remedying of injustice lies in our doing just that, even perhaps sometimes at the risk of appearing slightly self-righteous. We must not be afraid to say why we are doing things which we believe to be right, good and true, so that the basis of our Western civilisation is made clear and, as it becomes more and more evident that we are acting for those reasons, the resolution of conflict by negotiation becomes more and more likely.
§ 5.9 p.m.
Lord Home of the Hirsel
My Lords, I should like to echo the congratulations which have been given by the right reverend Prelate to the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch. It is a particular pleasure for me to follow that because for many years I had the privilege of seeing him operating in his professional field. He has been one of the great administrators, as everyone in Hong Kong, of all races, will testify. All through his career his judgments have been acute and his counsels wise. We are very lucky in this House that in future we shall be able to draw upon his wisdom.
Towards the end of what I have to say this evening I hope to follow the right reverend Prelate in some of the things he said about restraint in the use of power, and about the moral questions as they affect such issues as the possession of nuclear weapons and disarmament. One thing which the right reverend Prelate said that I can endorse immediately is that in my experience of negotiations with the Russians it is essential that one should explain the action one proposes to take. Nothing is more dangerous than to 136 allow the Russians to misunderstand one's intentions.
However, I should like to begin by saying something on the strategy of foreign policy, my thesis being that only when the strategy of foreign policy is clearly defined can the military forces be deployed to the best advantage. Foreign policy is not, of course, an academic exercise; it is conditioned by geography, by the posture of potential enemies and by the potential of friends. It is a complicated business. Nevertheless, our history has a great deal to say on the strategy of foreign policy, and with the benefit of hindsight it is highly informative.
For a good many centuries we were just another country of Europe. The Channel gave us individuality, but none of the kings, queens or Governments who had to design our foreign policy calculated that the Channel gave us sufficient security. Therefore, the continuing design of British foreign policy for more than 200 years was to collect enough friends and allies with the strength necessary to deter any single power who might seek to dominate the centre of the Continent of Europe, and to defeat that power should it make the attempt. The reason was, of course, that if the British base was invaded and defeated, then everything was lost.
The period of empire was no less instructive. The empire was global and foreign policy was recast to fit global responsibilities—both economic and political. For the defence forces the pattern of deployment was changed: the Navy being given priority and a y worldwide role, and the Army fulfilling broadly garrison roles and being the Cinderella of the services. That was the period of the Pax Britannica when, in contradistinction to the earlier period of which I have spoken, which could be described as the politics and diplomacy of influence, this was the politics of power.
That happy state for a good long time seemed to be permanent. However, understandably, there was a flaw in the calculation of the strategists. Two of my father's friends before the First World War were Sir Douglas Haig, who later commanded the allied armies, and Sir Edward Grey, who was at that time the Foreign Secretary. The first used to lament that the strategy of foreign policy was geared to empire and that the defence requirements of empire left no forces at home and exposed the British base in Europe. The Foreign Secretary was concerned that the Kaiser failed to understand the circumstances in which Britain might fight. The Kaiser calculated in terms of battalions, divisions and armies which could be deployed on the Continent of Europe. But, in fact, there were, when the challenge came, no forces of significance to deploy. The challenge from Germany did come in Europe and it did come twice and the outcome of those two wars, as your Lordships well know hung in the balance.
I shall not rehearse the history of those years because your Lordships are all too familiar with them. But even after what I have called the period of the politics of power associated with empire was gone, we in Britain were very slow to recognise that, unless Britain's European and Atlantic bases were secured, everything else would go with them, and to conclude that the deterrence of a potentially dangerous, dominating power, by an alliance kept in good repair, was infinitely preferable to improvisation at the last moment and the consequent ruinous years of extended wars.
137 Perhaps I may interrupt the sequence of history for one moment. My interpretation of the Soviet Union's cynical treaty with Hitler before the last war was that, after negotiations with us, the Russians made the cold-blooded calculation that Britain had little or nothing to contribute to the balance of power in Europe. However, that may be, we have now reverted to our more traditional role of the politics of diplomacy supported by a contribution of power appropriate to a European country. The directions in which such influence should be deployed I think are clear: to collect, as we used to do, as many friends as we can find in Europe, and to keep in the closest touch with the United States of America.
We have the instruments to hand. The European partnership of democracies—and this was said in other words by my noble friend when he opened this debate—is literally vital, because, if the ideology of international communism is to be reversed, it will be because the democracies of Europe sustain ideas, ideals and values of life, more compelling in their moral strength than anything the communists can parade. The alliance of Nato is essential because it is the United States which commands the power to deter aggression. So I believe that the strategic foreign policy of Britain is now clear and it is likely to remain in the form that we have it and in the instruments that we have in the European Community and the Atlantic Alliance.
The Falkland Islands campaign was spectacular and magnificent as a display of courage and military skill. But I do not by any means exclude the formation of a task force by the United States, by Britain and possibly by France. There is a lot of merit in such a force. But not even that would induce us to take our eyes off the European and Atlantic bases because, I repeat, if they were to crumble, the whole structure of the free democratic world would go with them.
The power which today has the resources to try and dominate the centre of the Continent of Europe is the Soviet Union. For 30 years it has taken the combined strength of Western Europe and the United States to deflect her from that goal. I will leave it to others to develop the defence requirements of NATO. But for a moment I should like, in the final context of what I have to say about the strategy of foreign policy, to include as one of our strategic purposes reconciliation between East and West, between the Soviet system and the European and Atlantic system. Were we to neglect that, we should be untrue to the instincts and obligations of a Christian democracy of which the right reverend Prelate has just spoken. It will not be easy. In 30 years I have seen only two political agreements with the Soviet Union. The first was the Austrian Treaty, and the second was the ban on tests in the atmosphere of nuclear weapons. It is still less easy when Russia is in ostentatious occupation of Afghanistan, and when, against all her signed pledges in the United Nations and Helsinki, clearly she is intervening in the internal affairs of Poland.
However, it is proper to make one exception to the general diplomatic freeze. That exception is to continue the disarmament conferences. In that context, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to offer some of my conclusions from a long experience of face-to-face negotiations with Soviet leaders over a good many years. First, may I suggest how we should 138 not proceed? Over 10 years I never found one shred of evidence to suggest that Russia could be disarmed by unilateral disarmament—not one shred of evidence. On the contrary, I found plenty of evidence that, given a concession without a quid pro quo, Russian would pocket it gratefully and proceed exactly as before. Nor did I ever detect in their calculations any moral element at all.
I hope that those who are genuinely worried about the possession of nuclear power will seriously look for the answer to two questions. The first is, why should Russia negotiate seriously when she has only to wait for Western disarmament to fall into her lap? There is no reason why she should make any move so long as she can expect the West unilaterally to disarm. Then there is the second question—and it is even more basic and pertinent: what is wrong with mutual balanced and verified disarmament? It is fair; it is equitable; it is moral. If that is so, why abandon it, when the arguments in favour are so clearly valid? I suggest that we would make a great mistake if we were to abandon the formula of mutual balanced and verified disarmament, and I suggest that we should persevere until the Russians come to recognise that it is the fair way in which to proceed.
I shall conclude with two reflections on disarmament. In an intervention earlier on, the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, said that verification must be an absolute condition of disarmament. I agree. Might it not, therefore, pay to start with the possibilities of verification on the existing deployment of forces?—the purpose being at regular intervals to give East and West the assurance that no major changes are designed for aggression. We each photograph ourselves almost every week in every detail of deployment. I wonder whether joint verification of those photographs might not conceivably be arranged at regular intervals. It would give considerable confidence if it was known and proved that no major deployments were being made which could be interpreted as aggressive.
Secondly, officials can very seldom clinch an agreement. I am not competent to judge the timing, but there will come a time—and it may not be very far ahead—when ministerial involvement will be needed in negotiations. I believe that now, therefore, the strategy of British foreign policy is plain: that the NATO alliance—and I think that it should review its strategy to some extent in the near future—can be relied on to keep deterrent forces which shall make the Soviet Union think, and think again, before it risks aggression. So I am not a pessimist at the present time. On the contrary, I find these developments convincing and hopeful.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, the simplicity, the directness and the historical sweep with which the noble Lord addresses the House I, for one, find as riveting now as I did when I first heard him from the Galleries of another place all those years ago. I am happy to join with others in praising the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose. He spoke to us about Hong Kong with the same optimistic lucidity as he governed it for all those years. Lastly, may I be among the first to welcome the first major intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, as Leader of the Labour 139 Opposition, and to say how glad we all are that he is continuing the tradition set by his predecessor in proclaiming in matters of disarmament the policy of common sense and wisdom, and not that of his party?
I turn now to the problem of what we ought to do with the Falklands in the future and how we ought to conduct ourselves in the United Nations and towards Argentina. First, let me echo what has been said in the House of Commons by spokesmen of both the centre alliance parties. We supported the Government through thick and thin when they sent the task force and when they used it. There was no alternative to those two actions and they were, therefore, right. But this does not mean either that we supported the Government or that we shall now refrain from attacking them over their record in the months that led up to the Argentinian invasion. Nor does it mean that we shall necessarily support them in their plans for the future of the islands and in their policy in the United Nations. We have issued no blank cheque and we wait to see how those policies develop.
Let us just look at the story of the United Nations resolution last week, the one where we got only 12 countries—11 of them Commonwealth countries and five of them Commonwealth micro-states—to go through the "No" lobby with us. while 50 abstained and 90 voted the other way; the resolution that Mr. Pym said was:hypocritical and a charade and totally unacceptable to Britain";the one which the Prime Minister, speaking in Paris, so strongly blamed the Americans for supporting; the one which the Government throughout have treated as some sort of affront, or affirmation of Argentine rights over the islands.
If this interpretation was correct, then the diplomatic outlook for our country would be grave indeed. We should have been isolated, and isolated by some of our closest friends and allies. If, on the other hand, there has been some mistake in the interpretation of the resolution—if it has been taken by our Government to mean something which other Governments do not think it meant and which, had they been reading it through different spectacles, our Government might not have thought it meant—then things are not so bad.
The resolution is introduced—and I intend to look at it in some detail—as these Falkland resolutions always are, by reference to the very famous General Assembly resolution of 1960 called 1514; this is the resolution which enshrines the right to self-determination of dependent peoples. This fine text lays it down that:All peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory",and that:All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status",and that:All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease".If the Government think that it was our actions in the Falklands which went against those splendid words and not the actions of Argentina, then, of course, the Government were right to vote against the resolution. 140 But do they think so? The present resolution—the one that I am examining—goes on to take into account the resolution of 3rd April this year which, before the fighting began, asked for both sides to go home and, in particular, asked the Argentines to withdraw their invading army. Remember, last week's resolution was presented to the United Nations by Argentina. The first thing it does is to take account of another resolution which said that they should never have invaded at all. But, of course, if the Government think that this wording, presented by Argentina, hurts us more than them, then they could have been right to oppose the resolution. But do the Government think that?
Last week's resolution also takes account of the:expressed intention of the parties".to the war not to renew hostilities. Once again, this is Argentina speaking. In full international formality they have given what appears to me to be a pledge not to renew hostilities. But, of course, if the Government are unwilling to give a counter-pledge, which is unthinkable, then they would have been right to oppose the resolution.
The resolution then proceeds to reaffirm the need for the parties—that is us and them, Britain and Argentina—to take account of the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands. The American Government put an interpretation on this bit saying they held "interests" to include "wishes, rights, and views". Of course if the Government wish to override the "interests, rights and views" of the Falklanders they were right to oppose the resolution, but did they wish to?
The resolution next reaffirms what the Charter says about the use of force or the threat of force in international relations. This is Argentina saying in yet other language that they were wrong to have invaded, and it seems to me that they undertake not to do it again. But the Government opposed the resolution. Why did they do so? Lastly, the resolution requests Argentina and Britain to:find as soon as possible a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute relating to the Falkland Islands".and requests the Secretary-General to lend his good offices.
Of course, if the Government deny that there is a dispute, or admit that there is one and wish to continue it and do not want the help of the Secretary-General, then it was right to oppose the resolution. But all these suppositions are most unlikely, and one must ask oneself the question, what if the Government were wrong in all of this? What if the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are simply prisoners of their own secluded and fantastic interpretation? Why then, they should get rid of it as soon as they can, emerge into the light of day and begin rebuilding a policy which will not only bring a peaceful and democratic solution to the Falklands problem itself, but will also secure us the help of more than Fiji and Vanuatu, valuable though that is, in achieving it.
Let them sit down as soon as may be in the decolonisation committee of the United Nations and say to that committee, and to Argentina in its midst; "An end to all hypocrisy. This is a 'colonial situation', as your successful resolution pointed out. It was you who unsuccessfully attempted to impose an unwelcome colonial régime on a people of alien 141 language and tradition, which had freely enjoyed its present political status since 1833, and which is in continuous and undoubted exercise of its right to self-determination. Moreover, your own country, Argentina, is a colonial country, in that the invading Spanish people evicted and subjected the native people, who were Amerindians of immemorial stock. There were no Amerindians on the Falklands. Moreover, it is impossible in decolonisation terms for one settler state to make claims against another. Moreover, the average antiquity of white Argentinian families is about the same as the average antiquity of Falkland Island families. Moreover, the doctrine of Spanish and Portuguese superiority over other races, which lies behind the Bull Inter Caetera issued by the Spanish Borgia Pope Alexander VI in 1493, which purported to divide the New World between the Kings of Spain and Portugal, and lies behind the Treaty of Tordesillas of the next year, and behind the Conference of Angostura of 1819, which purported to say that successor states of the Spanish and Portuguese Empires are legitimate and successor states of the British, French and Dutch Empires are not, is, and always was, unjust, unrecognised, unenforceable and racist. The slogan 'South America for the Latins' is no more and no less respectable than 'South Africa for the Boers', and, if you think otherwise, return Patagonia to the Amerindians".
The Government should then continue, "Your best plan would therefore be to give up your claim to sovereignty, which is against the usual UN practice of leaving post-colonial frontiers where they are, except in rare cases like Cameroun where the peoples concerned agree to change them. However, if you still want to have sovereignty over the Falklands, convince the people who live there that you should have it. You could not do that in the 17 years before your invasion, and the chances of your doing any better after it are slim indeed. As for ourselves, we shall not be waiting until you can persuade free men and women to give themselves over to a foreign military dictatorship which 'disappears' tens of thousands of people. On the other hand, if you were to have another shot at democracy in your own country—who knows?—perhaps the islanders might learn to love you."
In the meantime, though, the Government should be saying, "We must press on. We shall in due course be proposing in the United Nations and to South Atlantic countries, including yourselves, a new and in some ways unprecedented régime for the Falklands. It might include all or some of these elements. Sovereignty could be transferred to the United Nations. The islands could be demilitarised under the same sort of provisions as the Antarctic Treaty, or the Svalbard Treaty; it might even be possible simply to bend the frontier of the Antarctic Treaty north to include them, or at least to include South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. There would be a symbolic UN garrison to act as a tripwire against attack from any quarter whatever, which would, at least at first, include a British element, and perhaps elements from those Latin American countries which openly stated that in their view the United Nations Charter takes precedence over the Angostura doctrine. The islanders would be completely self-governing, and there would be a UN administrator or governor, or 142 ring-holder, whose function would be mainly symbolic."
The Government should go on to say, "The wealth, whatever it may turn out to be, of the seas and the seabed around will be handled according to international law; that is, the proceeds of the usual 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone will go to the islanders themselves, and the rest of the seabed will be under the régime set up by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. All this we aspire to achieve in about three or four years. We shall, Argentina, welcome your co-operation in the programme. But we do not depend upon it."
That is how the Government should speak. Can they bring themselves to talk like that? Can they bring themselve to feel like this?—because it is clear from the Prime Minister's rather clumsy and self-righteous visit to Hong Kong, and from her, if report be true, one-woman applause act when the Argentines walked out of the General Assembly this summer, to say nothing of the parades and dinner parties, that she feels more personally about the Falklands war than is altogether wise.
There is no parallel with Hong Kong. There is no democracy there to protect. The "unequal treaties" which the British Empire forced upon China really were unequal, and there is no harm in admitting it. Nor has China attacked. Nor, I suspect, will China attack. It is time our Government got their feet back on the ground. The Falklands war was well fought and well won. But it is now time to remember that the way we got into that war was, in the words of a respected and honourable Member of this House who has drawn the consequences for his own part in it, "a national humiliation", and it is time to sound a note of alarm about the self-congratulatory tunnel vision which seems to limit our present policy. I sincerely hope that the Government can broaden that vision and take a more optimistic and positive approach to the whole matter in the United Nations before they get finally battened down into the anti-UN postures which have afflicted Conservative Governments not recently but sometimes in the past.
§ 5.39 p.m.
§ Lord Rhodes
My Lords, I had the honour in the summer to introduce to this House, or help to introduce, my noble friend Lord Maclehose. He came hard on the heels of one of the most distinguished governorships that this country has ever known. He has a big contribution to make to it now. But I should also like to break with tradition and mention his wife, because during those years that he was the Governor of Hong Kong she backed him up. The number of people who arrived in Hong Kong suffering from jet lag and were helped by his wife are too numerous to mention, and I hope he will convey to her the approval and approbation of at any rate one Member of the House of Lords.
I do not suppose I would have intervened in this debate but for the fact that I am very unhappy about how the negotiations on Hong Kong have started off, and I will tell your Lordships why as I go along. At the moment there is a general lack of confidence in Hong Kong for a variety of reasons: world depression, slump in property values, banks over-lending, speculators over-borrowing and unable to meet their commit- 143 ments and of course, not least, Mrs. Thatcher's conversations in Peking.
A shake-out in Hong Kong was inevitable, anyway; you cannot have the highest priced land in the world (even including Manhattan), as it was last year, and continue to have low-priced manufactures to sell. All this has caused a mild panic, particularly among the expatriate Chinese from Shanghai and other cities who have made Hong Kong their home and have prospered there. So the result is a flight of capital.
The Prime Minister told the people of Hong Kong that treaties must be kept but, on the other hand, they could be "varied", she said. She also said that Britain had a moral responsibility for the people of Hong Kong, but that was quickly repudiated by the Chinese when they said that if anybody had a moral responsibility for Hong Kong it was China herself. It was hardly surprising that those exchanges failed to win any confidence in Hong Kong after the visit.
The treaties are those of 1842 and 1860 which ceded Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to Britain in perpetuity. In 1898 there was a scramble by all the powerful Western countries and the "New Territories" were leased to us for 99 years, and it is the timing of the lease which has caused the present unease, as a minimum of 15 years is needed to make leases viable. It was agreed that talks should begin in Peking on the future of Hong Kong, but Mrs. Thatcher's visit revealed fundamental disagreements on the basis for negotiation.
In many ways, her visit to the Far East was dogged with misfortune. There was her mission to Japan to persuade Nissan to come to this country and manufacture motor-cars and the coincidence of the executive of Nissan Cars going to America on the very day she arrived in Tokyo has not gone unnoticed. She arrived in Peking at the same time as the leader of North Korea, and the ex-President of the United States, Mr. Nixon, was there at the same time, not to mention a prominent Russian diplomat.
We knew China claimed sovereignty over all the region, but we hoped Peking would not say so in so many words and that a bargain could be made on ceding sovereignty to China in return for the status quo. But Peking made it clear that sovereignty was not on the agenda. These are matters which should be understood by your Lordships because sooner rather than later this and the other House will have to make a decision on the question of sovereignty.
As I say, they said sovereignty was not on the agenda, but they said they would discuss what administrative changes should take place when sovereignty was ceded to them. It has also become clear that they will probably expect to take over before 1997 and that they intend to adopt a more positive role in future administration, anyway. That was made clear four months ago when China said that they,intended to regain sovereignty while preserving Hong Kong's prosperity".We should have begun putting out studying caps on that four months ago, when that statement was made, but unfortunately we were embroiled in the Falklands on another matter of sovereignty, with the Argentines. So that is how China started to pre-empt the Prime Minister's case in the Peking negotiations.
144 Opinion polls have taken place in Hong Kong purporting to show that the Chinese in Hong Kong hope for a continuance of the status quo. Of course they do. But the electorate for the urban council is comparatively very small, and I believe there is a large body of Hong Kong Chinese citizens who feel they have no dialogue either with the Chinese Government or the British Government, and under those circumstances they question Sir Edward Youde's statement when he said, attempting to instil confidence:An agreement will be reached which will be welcomed by the people of Hong Kong".Reverting to the Chinese terms, a fair amount of local autonomy has been suggested by the Chinese, but they also believe—and this needs to be remembered—they can run Hong Kong, and I have no doubt that it would not take them long to acquire the know-how. We have often underestimated what so-called under-developed countries can do. I remember going through the Suez Canal in 1962 when, thinking we could bring Nasser to his knees, the pilots for the ships were withdrawn. All that happened was that our pilots were out of work and the Egyptians took over just as smoothly as could be.
Uncertainty undermines confidence and I am afraid there is more uncertainty now than before the Prime Minister's visit. We are now seeking a way forward, but what shall we do next? First of all, we should repair one on the broken fences. The Foreign Office, or whoever was responsible for the mechanics of the delegation, made a real blunder when they went without the Foreign Secretary. I warned them about it in a speech I made in this House on 19th May, when I implored them to take the Foreign Secretary with them. Why did I make that appeal? I made it because I knew the circumstances under which Mr. Hung Hua, the Chinese Foreign Secretary, came to this country in November 1978 to accompany Chairman Hua; he was bound to remember the cool reception he got when he accompanied Chairman Hua.
My next suggestion may not be as palatable but it is one we shall all have to face up to. It is obvious that sovereignty is not a counter in any negotiation any more. We could protract the negotiations by pretending it was, but there is no point in that now. Why not, then, seize the initiative by accepting gracefully that sovereignty does indeed belong to China, and get going on our negotiations for a smooth transfer of authority under British management, having in mind the wellbeing of Hong Kong and its people? This is an urgent matter. If hardline stances are taken up now on the basis of sovereignty, we shall never get anywhere with it and it will be bogged down as a result, to the detriment of Hong Kong and ourselves.
It must be remembered too—and when I have said this I shall have done—that there is a great deal more at stake than just our relations with Hong Kong and China. What happens in the next few months will decide our credibility in Asia as a whole. Economic power is increasing fast in Asia. Japan is now the third economic power in the world. Some people say that by the end of the century it will exceed even America. It is the only growth area in the world. Japan has galvanised activity throughout that part of the globe—Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, South Asia, Singapore, all with high growth rates. New 145 Zealand and Australia are increasing their trade with Japan every year.
I say that it is absolutely necessary that what we are doing in Hong Kong, and with China, should be done with a vital perception of our role in the coming years in the Far East. We have nothing to be ashamed of in our day and generation over the question of Hong Kong and its relationship with China. But we must think about the future. We must think about the future of trade with that part of the world, and I only hope that as time goes on we do not have just secret negotiations which will land us into a situation where something is done without our knowledge. I am sure that if we can treat the matter with urgency and imagination, we can come to a settlement which will be honourable to everybody.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Lord Colyton
My Lords, I should like to add my tribute to other tributes that have been paid to the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch, on his maiden speech. As a former Colonial Minister, I had the pleasure of knowing several of his very distinguished predecessors in the office of Governor. Now the noble Lord has terminated his great career out in Hong Kong and has come to join us and give us the advantage of his ability and his experience at what is bound to be a critical time so far as that colony is concerned. We welcome him here very warmly.
I am unfortunately so rarely able nowadays to address your Lordships that I have to apologise all the more for having to leave before the termination of the debate. That is on doctor's orders; I have a broken collarbone. This is a debate on defence, as well as on foreign affairs, and I should like to put before your Lordships some aspects of the Falkland Islands question which I do not think—I might be wrong, because I have not been here—have been fully-covered, and they are in the field of global strategy. The United Nations has just laid down the proposition that we should enter into fresh negotiations on the issue of sovereignty. In the situation in which we have been placed by a treacherous act of aggression, surely any solution involving concessions on our part at this stage must be out of the question.
It seems to me that four factors are involved. There is the legal issue of sovereignty, and on that we have no doubts whatever. The facts are incontrovertible. I can remember the matter being discussed in my earliest days in the embassy in Washington, in the early 'twenties. We have again and again, going back even as long ago as that, offered to take the case to the World Court, and the Argentinians have always refused. What better proof could they give of the doubts as to the soundness of their claim? Secondly, there are of course the interests of the inhabitants, some 1,800 people of mainly British stock, and our Government have said, rightly, that their interests must be predominant. I am not clear whether that was intended to give them a veto, but obviously after all that has happened, they are not going to be anxious to place themselves under Argentine rule in a hurry. Their wish will no doubt be to become self-governing. Thirdly, as I say, there are our own strategic interests to be considered; and, finally, I would say that the last thing that we would want is a long-standing, or permanent, breach with the Latin American countries, including the Argentine.
I should like to put forward a few ideas as to how the 146 four factors could be brought together. As I have said, we must, naturally, ensure that the interests and wishes of the inhabitants are preserved. But I would submit that that must run concurrently with the strategic interests of Britain and what we call "the West" as a whole. By that I do not mean only NATO, but all the other countries, which one way or another lie under the threat of Soviet world domination—our friends in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the countries of South-East Asia. Indeed, the fact is that the neutrals, or third world, also face the very same threat. The Caribbean area, Latin America, the Middle East, with its oil, southern Africa, with its precious raw materials, all lie among the targets of Soviet imperialism. Make no mistake, we are faced with a global challenge, and if our free societies are to survive, there must be a global response.
The Soviet is essentially nationalist and imperialist. It is continually expanding its military potential in every sphere at a cost which involves poverty for its inhabitants and a dictatorial system. I fear that the fact must be faced that in many fields—I speak subject to the views of the noble Lord on my right—the Soviet military capability is ahead of that of the United States. It is also continually expanding its bases throughout the world. All of Indo-China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya, and, of course, Afghanistan, lie under its direct influence or control. Aden almost immediately became a Soviet base when we, in my opinion foolishly, pulled out. In Angola and Ethiopia proxies such as the Cubans and the East Germans exercise control.
In terms of sheer military power the Soviet is methodically building up its strength at vital points. In Europe the conventional forces of NATO are greatly outnumbered. In Norway, in the far north, for example, 400 Norwegians face 50,000 Russians. Surely any hope of successful defence must lie in speedy and numerous reinforcements by air and by sea. A Soviet battle fleet is stationed in the Kola Peninsula. It includes the latest cruisers and now, since a couple of weeks ago, a 30,000-ton submarine, the "Typhoon"—a submarine as big as a pre-war battleship, with 16 multihead nuclear missiles. There is under construction a 75,000-ton carrier that will be added to that same fleet. The same thing is going on in the Far East. There is what I believe is known as an anti-submarine warfare carrier, the "Minsk", now facing Japan, and we are told that there is another 75,000-ton aircraft carrier planned for use in Far Eastern waters.
Previous wars have shown how vital it is to our island's very existence to control the sea lanes. Like many other noble Lords, I have lived through two wars in which we were within three weeks of starvation, due to enemy submarines. Now, apart from Arab oil, Europe is dependent on imports for 80 per cent. of its mineral requirements, mostly from South Africa. It was nearly some 50 years ago that Mikoyan, the then Soviet Foreign Minister, said:Europe without Africa is like a chicken plucked and ready for the pot".That was 50 years ago. Other countries are even worse off. Japan imports 95 per cent. of her needs. All this depends on transport and the security of the sea lanes, and we are assuredly confronted by deadly perils in the face of the vastly expanding Soviet Navy—and I have 147 not attempted to go into the question of their nuclear submarines—and our own unfortunately diminishing Western merchant fleets, so essential for transport, as the recent operations in the Falkland Islands have shown.
Let us make no mistake, my Lords: the Soviet are just as well aware of this as we are. Indeed, there are some minerals from Africa and elsewhere on which they, too, are completely dependent. They have succeeded in establishing themselves in areas which lie across the world's most vital sea lanes. I have referred to Murmansk, which, with the Baltic already a Soviet lake, threatens a quick sweep across Scandinavia to outflank our defences and threaten the North Sea oil. In the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea, they threaten communications both with Japan and, further on, with Australia and New Zealand.
Then, in Southern Africa they have bases which I know well, wonderful harbours in Mozambique and in Angola, which stretch out to threaten the vital Cape route. Then, when we come to the Atlantic itself, the South Atlantic, what have we got there to contain them? They are well entrenched in Angola and in Guinea. There is NATO in the North Atlantic; there is ANZUS to protect Australia and New Zealand; there is ASEAN to safeguard in some measure the Malacca Straits; and then, of course, there are the American bases here and there in the Pacific, and some British bases as well.
But what about the South Atlantic? It seems to me that the Falklands campaign has revealed in the most dramatic terms the existence of a vacuum in that area. It was only the valour of our forces—our soldiers, sailors and airmen—Providence, superb planning and skill and, we must admit, American co-operation on Ascension Island that made the operation of the task force feasible at all. With the signature of the Panamanian Treaty of 1977 under President Carter, the value of the Panama Canal was at least partly compromised. Apart from that, of course, in wartime it is highly vulnerable to bombing or even to sabotage. Were the Panama Canal knocked out, the only means of communication, both for naval forces and for merchant forces, from the Pacific ports of the United States to the Atlantic ports will be through the Straits of Magellan, the Beagle Channel or even round Cape Horn itself.
It seems to me that in this situation the strategic importance of the Falklands becomes obvious. The omens are bad. The Soviet already have their eyes on South America. Two days before the Argentine invasion, the Soviet Union launched two satellites directly over the Falkland Islands. Then, during the fighting they launched a third, which could see through cloud cover. It is also worth remembering that the Soviet Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade was visiting Argentina at the exact moment of the outbreak of the invasion. It must be remembered, too, that the Soviet Union is Argentina's biggest customer. I do not think that anyone can gainsay the mercurial character of politics in South America. One does not want to be pessimistic, but it is not possible to exclude the possibility, one day, of a Government in the Argentine which would not only co-operate with the Soviet but, perhaps, on request, even grant them a base. Where? In the Falkland Islands.
148 In all these circumstances, what should we be doing? In the first place, I think it is essential to maintain a British armed presence in the Falkland Islands for the foreseeable future. I was glad to hear recently that the first supersonic Phantom fighters had arrived at Port Stanley. But, in addition, I suggest that thought should be given to the formation of a wholly new organisation—call it SATO, the South Atlantic Treaty Organisation—to take up where NATO's area of responsibility ends. It is not impossible, and it ought to be thought about. It should include the United States, Britain and France, and, of course, Brazil, the Argentine, Chile and Venezuela. Indeed, there would perhaps be smaller countries—Colombia, Uruguay and so on—who would wish to join in, just as they have done in the NATO Treaty between the United States and Europe.
Of course, ideally, perhaps, the Falklands should become a SATO base, a SATO-owned territory. That is a new idea, but it is perhaps something which is not altogether impossible. In any case, I think it must remain, or should remain, an Anglo-American base, or even, ultimately, an Anglo-American-Argentine base. Such triple sovereignty might perhaps satisfy Argentine pride, and some of her claims. I noticed, for example, that Lord Shackleton, speaking in this House, did not rule out this possibility of some triple sovereignty.
Of course, ideally, too, the Simonstown naval base in South Africa, from which we so unwisely withdrew, should be reactivated for SATO use. It may be said that our dependence on so many independent African States for vital mineral supplies might rule this out as impossible. I do not know; but, of course, in wartime strange things happen, and we might find ourselves being invited back.
I have tried to cover a very large field, and I hope I have not detained your Lordships too long in doing so. The Falkland Islands are only a part of the question, but they are a vital part. The essential need, I would repeat, is that we should adopt a global policy to meet a global threat. In conclusion, I should like to emphasise that in trying to analyse these threats to world security I have not been aiming to propagate hopeless pessimism or a panic-stricken picture of doom. On the contrary, I submit to your Lordships that facing these unpleasant facts is a prerequisite for any strategy to avert such a situation.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, may I first endorse wholeheartedly the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, regarding the need for a global strategy to meet a global threat. I think that it is something that cannot be said too often. May I also echo the sentiments of other noble Lords in offering a very warm welcome to the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch. I have known him over the years, first, when I was a transient Minister in the Foreign Office and he was one of its most permanent and distinguished officials and, subsequently, in my many visits to Hong Kong, where he has been I think one of the most outstanding governors that that island has had the fortune to entertain.
I want to spend a few brief moments this evening addressing myself to a single question regarding the defence and foreign affairs aspect of our concern; that 149 is to say, the parlous state (as I believe it to be) of the Western Alliance at the moment with special reference to our relations with the United States of America and in the context of a subtle but significant change which I believe to be taking place at this moment in the balance of the world's structure of power. Recent years have been a catalogue of confusion and misunderstandings with our principal ally, the United States of America. The atmosphere between Western Europe and the United States of America is about as grim as it has been at any time since the Second World War.
If one looks back over recent months and years, it is almost impossible to remember a time when there was not some misunderstanding between us. There was, first of all, the uproar about the proposed deployment of the advanced radiation warhead, or the neutron bomb. We then had a series of misunderstandings and slanging matches over theatre force modernisation, the deployment of cruise missiles and Pershings to meet the threat of the Soviet SS20. There was a great, and, I think, largely artificial, uproar about President Reagan's innocent if somewhat misguided remark about the possibility of nuclear war in Europe—a statement which, after all, was only articulating (although it was perhaps unwise to do so) the whole basis upon which the strategy of NATO is founded.
More recently, we have had arguments about steel exports, about the wisdom of the European attitude to the gas pipeline from the Soviet Union; we have had the beginnings of a great row about intelligence leaks from one of our major intelligence centres; and then, more recently, the beginnings of a row about arms for the Irish Republican Army and the part alleged to have been played in all this by the Central Intelligence Agency. Then, most recently of all, the circumstances surrounding the United States vote in the General Assembly on the resolution about the Falkland Islands—and a reaction by Her Majesty's Government which, if I may say so without being abrasive, I consider to be somewhat excessive.
If one adds to all this catalogue of misunderstandings an underlying structural weakness—which, I think, is based on doubts on both sides of the Atlantic about the validity of our present deterrent and defensive strategy in Europe—we have the beginnings of a very gloomy picture indeed. What I think has happened as a result of this is that we are seeing the burgeoning in Western Europe of, at best, an unhappy degree of neutralism, a kind of tendency to make even-handed judgments as between the United States and the Soviet Union as though these were two similar super-powers and not one super-power enjoying the full panoply of political freedoms and another in which the people live in the oppressive twilight which is inseparable from any attempt to erect the moral squalor of Marxism into a political system. How it is possible to be neutral as between those two escapes me but, apparently, not a number of other people in this country.
At worst, we are seeing also the growth of something which I think is even more dangerous; and that is a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism. This has been reflected recently in public opinion polls, but it really did not need to be reflected in those polls because it can be seen almost everywhere around us. There is scarcely a protest or peace movement which 150 takes to the streets of this capital which does not have among its banners and its slogans a high content of virulent and overt anti-Amercanism. This is a feeling which has been made no less virulent by the attentions of some of the media, the Press, television and broadcasting; and I think that it could all be summed up by a series of programmes, a travesty of television, on the subject of the cold war which was screened recently and which when it was completed led one profound television critic to state in a national newspaper that this series of programmes had definitively proved that it was not the men in the Kremlin but the man in the cowboy suit who was the real threat to world peace.
As I have already mentioned, I believe this dangerous tendency in our political perceptions in this country to be taking place against a subtle but extremely important change in the structure of the world's power. In the first place, the United States is now beginning for the first time to question the central proposition that the European Atlantic area is at the heart of its security policy. There was a time when, to the American political establishment, the River Elbe was one of the frontiers of the United States of America. More recently, with the global nature of the Soviet threat emerging (as the noble Lord, Lord Colyton, has just pointed out) and with the arrival in Central and Southern America of the first, familiar, characteristic signs of penetration by international Communism, many percipient Americans are now beginning to believe that there is too much emphasis in their defence and security policies on the European Atlantic area and that they themselves should become more global in their attitude.
The phrase that encompasses this in the current jargon of the State Department and the Pentagon is "global unilateralism". Of course, this is nothing to do with unilaterism in the sense that is most familiar in this country. What it means is that there are many people in the American Government and among those who advise it who now believe that the United States should divest itself of institutionalised and entangling alliances, and should seek its friends throughout the world where they are most needed. This would mean far less concentration on the European Atlantic area than was previously the case and possibly even the removal of American ground forces in Western Europe.
At the same time as this shift in American perceptions is taking place, I think we should not ignore the first signs of what seems to be a rapprochement between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union. I think that we should not take as entirely insignificant the fact that at the recent, extremely impressive military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, while the Western ambassadors were absent, as a mark of our disapproval of the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China was present for the first time in 17 years. This is a straw in the wind that we ignore at our peril.
I do not intend to pursue this theory any further at this stage in a debate which is going to go on very late. What I suggest is that it is time for us now to restate our commitment—and the commitment I hope of the rest of Western Europe—to the aims of the Atlantic Alliance not to be become so myopic that we concen- 151 trate entirely on the methods and on the petty differences which might at times bedevil our relationships. One of the basic aims of the foreign policy of every Western European country should be to secure the permanent commitment of the United States of America to the security of the European Atlantic area. It seems to me that the attitudes towards the Americans, which are growing in this country and being sedulously fostered by those who have political reasons for doing so, is one of the most dangerous developments in our political life for many years.
If the United States retreats into its global unilateralism—which is only a modern word for a form of isolationism—one of the main aims of Soviet foreign policy over the past three decades will have been achieved: the beginning of the disintegration of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the separation of Western Europe from the United States of America. As the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, said—with his immense experience of these matters—if the integrity of the European Atlantic area begins to disintegrate, that will indeed be a sinister development for the free world.
I should like to conclude with a very simple proposition which I hope will lie at the heart of the foreign policy of this Government and of the Governments of Western Europe for the future. It is this: the United States can possibly survive without Western Europe; Europe cannot conceivably survive without the United States of America.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Lord Brockway
My Lords, may I first apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, because I do not feel able to stay until the end of this debate. Like many others, I have lost a friend in this House. May I also express my appreciation of the maiden speech made by the noble Lord who was the governor of Hong Kong. In this House I have criticised the administration of Hong Kong and that only makes more sincere my appreciation of the speech which he delivered.
I had intended to discuss many of the issues in foreign affairs and defence which were dealt with with refreshing directness by the Leader of the Opposition. It may be to the relief of the House that I shall not be making that longer speech. However, I have decided that these issues—urgent as they are—are incidental to the major issue in the world today: the confrontation between the West and the East, and particulary between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. There are two developments in the world—counter developments—with which I wish to deal in detail. On the one side there is evidence that the super-powers are moving towards a nuclear war. It is no longer merely a distant and uncertain threat to mankind. It is becoming closer and more probable.
For many years both the United States of America and the Soviet Union have been deterred from using nuclear weapons because of their mutual realisation of how it would destroy many millions of their population. But now there is an American view of a limited nuclear war, and there is even talk of a prolonged nuclear war. If a nuclear war begins, it cannot be limited. Even if in the first stage nuclear weapons were directed to military objects and political 152 objects, many millions of people would die. But in a war situation, with each nation overwhelmed by the danger to its own security, a limited war could never take place. Our own experience in the Second World War indicates that. We began and Germany began by attacking only military objectives. The war ended with Germany dropping its bombs on the civilian populations of London, Plymouth, Coventry and other places, and with Britain dropping its bombs to destroy civil populations in Hamburg, Dresden and the Ruhr. If you begin in war by directing your weapons on military objects, inevitably—with the security of nations threatened—it becomes an all-out attack.
In the past 10 days this situation has become much more serious following the reaction of President Brezhnev in the Soviet Union to American's attitude and decisions. For many years now President Brezhnev has been devoting his speeches to détente. More recently, he has even taken unilateral action to withdraw missiles in central Europe and declared that the Soviet Union would no longer be the first to use nuclear weapons. But his speeches during the past 10 days indicate a change of attitude because of the policies which President Reagan is carrying out in the United States of America. President Brezhnev is now concentrating on the strength of Soviet military arms and making it clear that they will be used in the event of any early war. I regard the extension of the American policy and the reaction of the Russian policy as indicating a great danger that the nuclear war which we fear may occur.
May I, just for a moment, become philosophic? From the point of view of the universe it would be no great disaster if a nuclear war occurred and destroyed all the inhabitants and life on earth. There are so many planets in the universe. It is inconceivable that there is not life on many of them—with, perhaps, supermen and super-women developed. But, while that might be philosophically a universal view, lessening the effect of a nuclear war on earth, when we think of our children, of future generations, of the achievements of man in art, music, literature and architecture which would be destroyed for all time in a nuclear war, when we think of the ending of all the beauties of nature that are in the world, surely we must dedicate ourselves to preventing nuclear war.
We now have to ask ourselves this question: whether our moral sense can master the destructive techniques which mankind has developed. I want to urge tonight that if we are to avoid this danger there must be a revolutionary transformation of the attitude of governments and peoples in the world.
That brings me to the second development in the world about which I wish to speak. The results of the United Nations Second Session on Disarmament are sometimes regarded as destroying the hope of disarmament. The results were disappointing, but I do not think that they were disastrous. Opinion at the United Nations—and I was there—had to be reached by consensus. In that assembly, fewer than 12 nations opposed the comprehensive programme for disarmament which was proposed. The assembly was begun by a marvellous speech in which the Secretary-General indicated seven progressive changes that might be made. It ended with none of them being accepted. I have got to say that that was largely due to 153 the attitude of the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom. At the end of that session the Secretary-General, in a mood almost of despair, said that we could no longer rely on the great governments; it must now be for the peoples of the world to bring such pressure for disarmament that it will be realised.
I am not quite sure that members of the Government—indeed, Members of the House—understand the strength of the movement in the world now to end nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and bring disarmament. I have been active in politics for 75 years. I have never known a movement like it, not only in this country but all over Western Europe. How surprised we were when we went to America to find the strength of the movement there, demanding a nuclear weapons freeze. The Democratic Party in America has now adopted it as its official policy. The election results in November showed how the Democratic Party is becoming the majority party in America. Throughout the West—not only in Europe and in America but also in Japan—the movement for peace is more powerful than any movement has ever been before.
More than that, we arc now making contact with the peace movement in the Communist countries. We have adopted a common programme with them. We are planning great joint demonstrations at border towns: West and East co-operating for peace and disarmament. And not only West and East but North and South. One of the splendid features of the session in New York was the leadership which Sweden, India and other unaligned countries gave for disarmament. We are now bringing the unaligned nations into association. Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, has agreed to appoint a special representative in India to urge the cause of disarmament not only in India but in association with us, in association with the East and the West.
§ Lord George-Brown
My Lords, out of obvious respect for my noble friend I am reluctant to intervene, but just in case anybody outside should misunderstand, may I ask him this straight question: where in Moscow or in any significant city in the Soviet Union is he organising his anti-nuclear demonstration?
§ Lord Brockway
My Lords, I have dealt with that subject before in this House. Probably the noble Lord was not present when I did so. We have reached a common programme—
§ Lord George-Brown
My Lords, I beg my noble friend's pardon but he must answer the question. Mr. Sakharov, who is at least as distinguished as my noble friend, is being harassed beyond endurance for trying to say this. Every other dissident, as they call them in the Soviet Union, is being harassed for saying this. Will my noble friend please tell me where he, Mr. Sakharov and his friends are going to be allowed to have their demonstration inside the Soviet Union?
§ Lord Brockway
My Lords, I do not propose to be diverted from my argument. I will merely be content to say that, while we have come to an agreement with 154 the Soviet Peace Committee on a common peace programme which I believe would be endorsed by most Members of this House, we have not been silent on the Soviet Union's treatment of dissidents and have actually written to President Brezhnev criticising his treatment of the peace activists who are there. What I was saying was that there is now this worldwide peace movement, so strong throughout the West, making co-operation with the East and bringing in the non-aligned nations of the South. This is a worldwide movement.
§ Lord Brockway
President Eisenhower once said that the time would come when the peoples of the world would so demand disarmament that governments would be compelled to accept their demand. That movement is now becoming powerful all over the world.
§ Lord Brockway
I believe that we can exert such pressure as to prevent an early nuclear war and that within 10 years we can not only end nuclear weapons in the world—
§ 6.42 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I do not propose to follow at length the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, who has preceded me because I have in the past made speeches to counter the plausible and utterly misleading point of view with which on these occasions he regales us. I do not do so because I am beginning to think that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, is a figment of someone's imagination—I believe it to be the imagination of my friend the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. When Lord Chalfont explains to us the degree to which the policies of our ally the United States of America are being vilified and misrepresented to this House and, what is much more important, to the British people at large, the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, gets up and gives a speech which bears out what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has been saying.
It is just impossible for anyone who has given serious study to the political or military literature and history of the Soviet Union to find anything novel, or any new turn or any new threat in the recent speech of President Brezhnev. He was restating in slightly different words (he cannot always repeat himself because he is not a noble Lord) what has been a standard Soviet view; that the world is divided, that the Soviet Union is protected by Russia's military might, and that if necessary that might would be used to protect it once more—no more, no less. To try to read in this some extraordinary provocation on the part of the United States of America is really past enduring.
155 I have one or two other things to say, and since one or two of them may not be wholly palatable to my noble friend the Minister, I will begin by doing him a favour, if I may, by removing any necessity for him to reply to the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. After he had made his speech about United Nations and the Falklands resolution, I was so moved and so disturbed at the idea that Her Majesty's Government might have made some fundamental error that I did something which I suppose would only occur to a pedant in your Lordships' midst; I went and read the resolution. It bears no resemblance to the account of it which was given by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. Although he appeared to be brandishing a paper, perhaps the noble Lord was speaking from memory.
I will make only four points, which seem to me to explain not only the impossibility of the United Kingdom accepting the resolution but also why the Government felt unhappy that some closely allied countries, such as the United States of America, found it possible to do so. First of all, the resolution refers to the maintenance of colonial situations as being incompatible with the United Nation's mission to bring peace to the world, or words to that effect. The word is "maintenance" and that seems to me to imply that the British position in the Falklands, which its people wish to retain, is a colonial situation inimical to peace—and, if that is so, retrospectively it would perhaps justify Argentinian military action. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, suggested that we should accept that this was a colonial situation but by doing so we would be accepting that our position there was indefensible.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, will permit me to intervene. I was trying to point out that the maintenance of a colonial situation down there would equal the maintenance of the Argentinian claim to sovereignty over land to which they had no title—it is a colonialist's claim, and that is what I was trying to say in my confused way. I am sorry that it did not come across.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I am delighted if that is the view of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, but clearly it is not the view of Argentina and of other countries which supported that resolution. No reading of it can make one feel otherwise.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, why on earth should the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, think that my view is the same as the Argentinian view? I was seeking to contradict the point of view of the Argentinian Government.
§ Lord Beloff
The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, will excuse me, but I believe the impression he gave to the House was that he was trying to contradict or criticise the reactions of the Foreign Secretary and of the Prime Minister to that resolution. If that was not his intention then he fell short of his usual clarity of exposition.
The second reason why I think the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and others found the resolution unacceptable was that it refers to a sovereignty dispute. A sovereignty dispute is something that exists in international affairs and has always existed. It is a set 156 of rival claims to the same piece of territory or stretch of water. If it is decided peacefully, it is usually decided by judicial means. If there is a sovereignty dispute, why then did the resolution not suggest that the appropriate recourse was to an international tribunal? I venture to suggest that it did not do so because Argentina has always been opposed to the judicial settlement of sovereignty disputes.
Thirdly, the resolution does say—as the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, reminded us—that is a settlement due account should be taken of the interests of the population of the Falklands. But, contrary to what I understood the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, to claim, the resolution did not say that a settlement should take any account of the views of the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, of their current allegiance or future wishes. Surely it would not be possible, at a time when we are trying in various ways—material and other—to enable the islanders to rebuild their confidence, for Her Majesty's Government to accept a resolution about the Falkland Islands which gives no place whatsoever to the wishes of the islanders themselves.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. reads Hansard tomorrow, he will see that I quoted the resolution correctly.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, I assume then that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. gave a quotation which was the same as mine; that it refers to the wishes but not to the views of the Falkland Islanders.
§ Lord Kennet
It refers to the interests but not the views and the wishes. I introduced the words "views or wishes" because they were used by the American Government in a statement on its vote on the resolution, and I said so.
§ Lord Beloff
That takes us a long way from the resolution. The most important fact, however, which it seems to me one has to recognise—because this does I think explain our deep distress about the fact that many of our friends did not support us—is that although the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, said that the resolution refers to the expressed intention of both parties not to resume hostilities, that intention has never been formally expressed in clear terms by the Government of Argentina. Why otherwise would this country, which is. as we all know, stretched militarily, financially, be spending, proposing to spend, vast sums of money on defending the Falkland Islands if no military threat existed, if we do not feel it necessary to do so for other parts of the world? There is a military threat; it has once been actual. The authors of that actuality have not repudiated it. And to say that the resolution recognises the intention of neither party to resume hostilities, which incidentally puts the parties to those hostilities on an equal footing as though the aggression had been, as it were, shared between them, again makes that resolution unacceptable.
Far more important is the fact, to which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, drew our attention, and rightly, that we are running through a bad patch in our relations with the United States of America, not only because of their regrettable unwillingness to support us in the matter we have just been discussing, but also because of a considerable degree of revulsion against 157 the lighthearted way in which American justice appears to treat what to us is a matter of great importance, the export of arms to enable British servicemen and civilians to be killed in Northern Ireland. It is not a friendly action on the part of American justice, however much one may say, and rightly say, that of course American justice is independent of American Government. My suggestion, however, is not that. I do not wish to join in the criticism of the American Government. I only wish to say that these events and others reinforce the view which I have expressed before, that we are not particularly good at making our case known to the populations of countries friendly to us, and most notably in the case of the United States.
I have said before in this House that I think that the rundown of our information services, and particularly in the United States, has been a regrettable economy and one for which we are paying dearly. I understand from the press that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is to go on a speaking tour in the United States in the New Year. But to send a senior Minister who can be spared for only a few days to make a series of set speeches, while no doubt valuable in itself, is no substitute for a continuing effort to see that our case is presented in the American press, through the American radio and television, and in every way we can find to influence opinion and to make clear our position on the Falklands, on Northern Ireland and on other matters.
The rundown of information services and those things connected with the projection of Britain has been discussed by noble Lords, not with particular reference to the United States, on frequent occasions in relation to the BBC. I want, if I may, briefly to refer to one other feature of our information effort which has been given publicity in recent weeks; that is to say, to the decision by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to curtail the activities of the Wilton Park discussion centre. I know that the Minister will say, if he finds time to reply to this part of my speech, that it is not their intention to diminish activities of which they approve and which they feel are valuable; that it is merely a question of applying proper economies.
But it is the fact that the Council of Wilton Park, the academic advisory council, of which I am, I think, by now the longest serving member, has come to the conclusion that what is proposed will in fact damage the potential of Wilton Park, which has been widely recognised as one of the ways in which opinion leaders in large numbers from friendly countries, mainly but not exclusively the OECD countries, have come to better understand our ways of looking at things. It seems to me that if this is the view taken by those who have been closely associated with an institution over a number of years, and who are, I am afraid, likely now to offer their resignations in the light of this decision, it is at least proper that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office should look again at this matter.
It is not a question, I repeat, of denying the duty, let alone the right, of Government to make due economies—and if there are to be economies in the machinery of Government, then no doubt the Foreign and Commonwealth Office must do their best to fall in—but it is a question of priorities. It is a question, do you attribute more or less importance to diplomatic activity in this or that country or part of the world, or 158 do you, at a time when it is so important to maintain and rebuild friendly association with our allied countries, say that this area is one which so far from needing retraction at the moment actually requires expansion, and that there will have to be some transfer of resources to make that expansion possible? I believe this to be, if you like, marginal to the great issues of life and death with which a debate of this kind confronts us, but it is a matter about which many people feel strongly, and one which links with what I believe to have been the most important speech we have heard so far this evening, the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that relations between the United States and Europe and the United States and ourselves are the key to world peace.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Lord Wells-Pestell
My Lords, there was reference in the gracious Speech to the Middle East, and I want to confine myself tonight to dealing with the situation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel. I want to begin by asking the noble Lord the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office whether he can explain what the Foreign Secretary-meant, when he was asked a few days ago about the Palestine State, by saying that we would want any state that existed to be demilitarised, and that we want the whole area and Israel, for that matter, to be demilitarised. That seems to me to be an extraordinary statement to be made by a Foreign Secretary when one considers that the State of Israel has been there since 1948. If it had not been for it ability to defend itself it would not be in existence now. I cannot believe that the Foreign Secretary is so naive as he sounds. Perhaps there was a slip of the tongue. I should like the Minister to put that right.
I do not know how the government, or any Government for that matter, would accomplish the demilitarisation of Israel. What is much more important from my point of view is this: do the Government visualise a Palestinian State alongside Israel? The Government need to take a fresh look at the situation. Israel has existed since 1948. It has built up a tremendous democratic society. To put another country, or group of people such as the PLO, in a state alongside Israel, can only mean trouble. It would be possible for all the Arab countries around to arm that state in a comparatively short space of time.
Are the Government still committed to the view that the PLO must recognise the existence of Israel and its right to freedom and peace, and for the PLO to renounce its intention to destroy Israel, which is in the PLO charter? Do the Government still support the statement in which Dr. Kissinger promised Israel that the PLO would not be allowed to take part in negotiations unless it officially recognised Israel and renounced the use of force? That promise was made by Kissinger in 1975.I also ask the Government to make it clear that it is not possible to leap a yawning chasm in stages, as the PLO want to do. The chasm between non-recognition and complete recognition has to be made in one jump. It cannot be made in stages.
As I said a moment ago, we need to take a fresh look at the situation and decide that our action in future is shaped and guided by what is just and what is right, and not by any economic considerations. I am appalled, as a good many of your Lordships must be, 159 at the behaviour of the United States at the United Nations only a few days ago, when it voted in support of a Motion put by the Latin American countries. It has been explained that America has to mend her fences with those countries. It has been explained that America is to some extent, from a trade point of view, dependent on those countries. Is loyalty going to depend on whether a country can get a certain return from one group of people in preference to another? I believe that we are in danger of making the same mistake ourselves when we have an eye on the Middle East and on all that the Middle East has to offer in the way of trade and oil. I ask the Government not to allow such considerations to affect a just settlement in that part of the world.
No nations, no people in history, have had to fight so long and so desperately for survival than the Jews. Fortunately for the whole world, they have survived and still remain. I say "fortunately" because Lord Balfour, of the Balfour Mandate fame, said in 1917 that the Jews were the most gifted race that mankind has seen since the Greeks of the 5th century. It is perfectly true today. There has been no race more gifted than the Jews in the last 1,500 years.
We need to take a fresh look at the cause of the difficulty. The 1945 Labour Government cannot disclaim their responsibility for a good deal of what is happening today. They treated—at least, the Foreign Secretary did—the Jewish nation in a deplorable way and set the scene for some of the difficulties that we, and the Jews, are now experiencing. Israel has been involved in four wars in the last 34 years. They were wars not of conquest but of survival. The Jews were attacked in 1948, a few days after independence. They were with us and France in the Suez expedition of 1956. In June 1967 Israel pre-empted a strike by striking against Egypt, although not against Jordan and Syria. They were attacked, as we know, in October 1973. The losses that they have sustained in terms of life have been enormous. The losses they have sustained from an economic point of view have resulted in them having probably the highest cost of living in the world.
I can understand why the Israelis are embittered by the failure of nations to recognise their struggle for existence and, if I may say without giving too much offence, by the double standards on which they are being judged and treated by some of us here and elsewhere. It is regrettable, but I believe true, that to some people Israel can never be, or do, right. The Israelis resent the selective morality demonstrated by the West. I do not want to play down or minimise what happened in Beirut. It was appalling, but we have yet to hear the whole of the facts, and presumably they will emerge in due course. Here again, are we really being honest? Many will recall the slaughter of nearly 100,000 Christians and Moslems in the Lebanese civil war a few years ago which was triggered off by the incursion of the PLO. Were we bothered about it? Did we raise a finger or a cry? Of course we did not. There was the massacre of Syrians in Hama by their own Government. Those were dreadful happenings, but they produced very little reaction or condemnation from the rest of the world.
It perhaps would not be popular for me to remind your Lordships of our own reaction at the time the 160 atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or of the saturation bombing of Germany during the war and the total destruction of German cities, which appeared at the time to be applauded rather than condemned. We must see these events against the things that have happened in recent years, when we ourselves did not lift a finger or raise a cry. We need to ask ourselves why the Israelis went into Lebanon. We need to ask ourselves what happened to make it necessary.
I have been to Israel a number of times. I can remember being in Israel two years before the 1967 war, when the Syrians launched a surprise attack on Israel and where they had on the Golan Heights—a plateau 40 miles long and 15 miles deep—2,000 tanks, 300 aeroplanes, 300,000 soldiers and where they had been shelling for a long, long time the villages and the kibbutz in the area. Is it surprising that Israel will not return to the original state lines? How can we expect them to return to the original state lines? How can we expect them to agree to have on their left side, on the West Bank, a force which is totally opposed to them and which has been opposed to them for some considerable time?
There has been some discussion this week in one of the quality national newspapers about the rights of the Israelis, of the Jews, to be in Israel. The Old Testament of the Bible shows that the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, and grandson of Abraham settled in the area of Israel some 2,000 years BC, which means over 4,000 years ago. I am not a biblical scholar and I recognise that there are biblical scholars who reject this, but I understand that there is no doubt that by 1,000 BC—3,000 years ago—Israel was a kingdom and David was the king, and ever since then they have fought and died for survival. I shall not burden your Lordships with the saga of how 1,000 men, women and children, when they were encircled at Masada, committed suicide rather than give in. But for 1,000 years they were dominated by the Romans and the Egyptians.
If we are to play our part, as I hope we shall play our part, let us be realistic. Let us try to understand not only the PLO—because they have a voice and they have certain rights—but also why Israel has found it necesary (and I repeat, "found it necessary") to behave in the way in which she has done. On the tapes in the corridor this afternoon it was reported that the PLO guerrillas expelled from Beirut are to resume training to build up their military strength. Training will be in the camps where they are now. The PLO say that the 10 Arab countries where they are now living will provide them with arms. That was reported less than four hours ago. That is the situation. Therefore, I ask the Government to take a new look at what has happened and to recognise that there can be no question of having a PLO state on one side and Israel on the other. There must be some other solution.
I should like to put a final question to the noble Lord the Minister. It has been said in a number of papers in the last few days that a well known diplomat, Sir Anthony Parsons, is to become special adviser to the Prime Minister. I think that I shall probably be told, "You must not believe all you read. Wait and see". But I believe that the Foreign Office has already got an Arab legion there. Why do they need another? It would be much more to the Prime Minister's 161 credit—and I do not say this sarcastically—if she had an expert in Israeli and Jewish affairs to try and balance the situation.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, we are not even halfway through the speakers and it is already getting late. Therefore, I shall confine myself to one subject only, which is the Falkland Islands. Let us see what the gracious Speech says about them. It says that the Government: will encourage the economic development of the Falkland Islands, maintain an appropriate defence force and at a later stage, in consultation with the islanders, consider their future political development and security.
Since the gracious Speech we have had the United Nations' resolution passed, which was supported by the United States. The Government and many others including the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, today, have strongly reacted against the American action and against the resolution, feeling that it was in some way unfriendly and wrong. I do not agree and I shall try later, without getting into too much controversy, to give your Lordships reasons why I think that that is the wrong judgment to have made on the resolution.
Let me first go back to the gracious Speech and to the question of the welfare of the islanders. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and his committee were charged to outline ways in which to develop the islands' economy. I am sure that all of your Lordships who are interested in the question, will read the valuable report. Its recommendations included better roads, better sea and air communications, improved harbours and an enlarged airport. The economy might be improved by better farming, especially of sheep and salmon, and by greater sea fishing. But I am sorry to say that in my view the report did not really offer us very great hope for long-term growth and prosperity for the islands.
As the report pointed out, much will depend on outside communications and close links with South America—ideally with the Argentine, their nearest neighbour. That may or may not be achieved, but without it the outlook is very difficult. All of this was to cost some tens of millions of pounds. Added to that—again following the gracious Speech—we are to have a garrison of some 4,000 forces, which, by its very presence, would cause great problems for the islanders who number less than. 2,000. Certainly the forces will be constantly changing and there will be a shortage of womenfolk. I know that every care will be taken and that every goodwill will be shown to try to make the overwhelming force fit in with the islanders. But I am fearful that it will be a very difficult task. Somewhere I have seen a figure for the cost of all this over the next five years of over £1.5 billion—something near to £1 million a head for each islander. Are we really wise to contemplate all by ourselves an expenditure which gives no guarantee of long-term prosperity and growth for the islands? The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. mentioned the possibility of perhaps a triple alliance being centred there. It certainly seems to me that the more we can get others to share such a burden, the better.
I should now like to return to the United Nations resolution. Of course, in a sense, it was too soon. The memories of the tragedy and of the fighting, even 162 though it was a glorious victory, are still very much in our minds. Again, to put it mildly, it was a pity that it was the Argentine which took the initiative. But let us also recall that many of our friends sponsored the resolution, such as Brazil or Chile, not forgetting the United States of America. Do not let us forget that the United States helped to get the wording of the resolution changed in our favour. She, interpreting the word "interests", said that it meant the wishes, the rights and the views of the islanders. It is my hope that before too long the service which she may have done us will be recognised. Anyhow, her role in future negotiations will be of the very greatest importance. The very fact that she was one of the sponsors of the resolution may help her to guide matters in the way we want.
I do not want to get into an argument over the exact meaning of the resolution. I have it here; others have looked at it. It reaffirms the non-use of force; it recognises the interests of the islanders—I know that some people are unhappy about the word "interests"—and it asks for we and the Argentine to resume negotiations on the sovereignty dispute. The sovereignty dispute has been going on for 20 years, 30 years or much longer. The resolution calls on the Secretary-General to help and ultimately it calls for a report to be made back to the United Nations. One distinguished diplomat said that these are "weasel words". Time will show. But I very much hope, and I am sure that all your Lordships hope, that it will not prove true.
I make one suggestion for trying to test the sincerity of the Argentine. It is simply that we should ask the Secretary-General to clear up one question; that is, whether the Argentine agree that they have renounced hostilities both for the past and for the future. They do so in the resolution, but many people here—and I can understand this—have expressed grave doubts. Would not the simple course be to ask the Secretary-General to clear up this matter? If he is successful in this to our satisfaction, then is the time for us to go forward with our negotiations.
I shall not at this moment outline what may be a long-term solution. We have been promised a White Paper and I hope that we shall have a debate when it is published. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has given us one or two ideas. I would only now ask the Government to look most carefully again at the Antarctica Treaty, and to study whether in some way the Falkland Islands might be linked with Antarctica. For example, it might have some role to play as a headquarters of the signatories to the original treaty. Perhaps the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, might be asked to help here and to further its studies to produce yet a third report.
Both the Argentine and ourselves are signatories to the Antarctica Treaty. I believe that sooner or later they must have an interest—dare I say a presence?—on the islands. If that is the case, what is important is that we should bring in others of South America and, indeed, of North America—the triple base mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Colyton. We have no quarrel with the Argentine people as such. Indeed, we have a long tradition of friendship. If we can work things out together, helped by the United Nations, that must be a right course to follow, especially—and I stress this—for the islanders. To those who say that to think in those terms is a betrayal of what we have fought for 163 and of those who sacrificed their lives, I would say that we fought to uphold a principle vital to world peace: that is, that the use of force for territorial gain and disregarding the wishes of the inhabitants must not be allowed, must not triumph. We won; a dictator fell; and the world is a safer place. Therefore, I do not think that that particular worry should occupy our thoughts.
I understand the instinctive reaction of many that somehow or another this resolution is a trick, that it came too quickly, and so forth. But we have always prided ourselves on being realists. I feel that we should seize this chance to see whether there is an opportunity to do what we all want, and in the doing I think that we should call on our friends in the Community and the United States, who helped us so greatly in the recent conflict, to help us again and to try to establish a lasting peace in which the wellbeing of the islanders will be an integral part.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Lord Orr-Ewing
My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Earl, Lord Perth, in his very thoughtful speech because I agree with almost every single word he said. I want to concentrate on the diplomacy, not in the run-up to the Falklands incident because on that we await the Franks Report, but during the crisis itself and what I believe we ought to be doing now in that field. I also want to draw attention to the muddle we got into in the manner in which we organised the information coming back from the battle zone and the difficulties which the media encountered.
As I have said, we must await the Franks Report, and I am sorry that it is taking so long. Six months have already elapsed and, as I understand it, some more months will elapse. Whether the Franks Committee will be able to come up with any clear responsibility or faults within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I do not know. I feel very much that a dictatorship controlling its media is in a position to change its tactics in a matter of an hour, whereas a democracy, like ours, cannot do that. When a dictatorship is 400 miles away from the zone, as is the Argentine, and we are 8,000 miles away, this adds further to the discrepancy and the differential in reaction time.
I think that we in this House in particular would like to see this committee get on with its work because we all miss the wisdom and the service which my noble friend Lord Carrington gave to public life and to Parliament for very many years. For the moment he stays away and awaits judgment. I think that we lose that service very sadly and we miss his presence. Meanwhile, we ought to acknowledge the fantastic achievement of our diplomatic staff in the USA during the early stages of the Falklands crisis. I am sure that Sir Nicholas Henderson and Sir Anthony Parsons, as the two leaders there, must bear a great deal of this credit together with the staffs that they have with them.
We believed implicitly that right was on our side, but it is no mean achievement despite this to have the following support: first, we achieved the support of the Security Council in backing Britain; secondly, we achieved the support of the EEC in backing Britain; thirdly, of NATO in backing Britain; fourthly, of the Commonwealth in backing Britain; and lastly, and not least important, all four political parties in Parliament 164 were backing the action of the Government of the day. In the face of that unity world wide and at home, I could not help feeling that it was surprising that the BBC found so much critical and dissident material, and I shall return to that aspect of the affair later.
Having done so well diplomatically I cannot help feeling that Her Majesty's Government are in danger of sitting back and imposing too long a period of cooling off. I am not asking, and nor did the previous speaker, that we should immediately open negotiations with this undesirable, tough, military dictatorship, but I am asking that perhaps we could use the cooling-off time to better advantage. We cannot afford to do nothing, and just relax. The Argentine is active in creating, or re-creating, friendships and support for its own viewpoint, for its own claims on sovereignty. Neighbouring South American states are bending to their desires, and neighbourliness. Even the USA, as we have heard from so many speeches today, seems to have divided loyalties, and we read and watch the action of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
We believe that we have a cast-iron case on sovereignty. If that is so, may I endorse what was said by many earlier speakers: ought we not to submit our case to some international judicial body? It seems to me that either the United Nations or, perhaps better still, the International Court of Justice are the best available. If it is not the right one, perhaps the Government could consider other ad hoc international judicial groups, or setting up some body, or asking our friends to create one.
The lessons of Chile are interesting in this respect. They have had a quarrel with the Argentine about the Beagle Channel and the islands therein, which has been grumbling on for decades. The International Court of Justice was asked to take up the matter. They deliberated first for some years as to whether it was in their remit and terms of reference, and later about the dispute itself. Eventually they found in Chile's favour. In the meantime the Argentine forbore to start any military action, and in fact the Argentine subsequently rejected the findings of the International Court of Justice and put themselves in the wrong by so doing.
Chile then asked the Pope, as they were two Catholic nations alongside each other, to adjudicate on this matter. Again long periods of years of delay and deliberation. I think that the Pope found again in favour of Chile and against the Argentine's claim. Again the Argentines rejected it. However, in the meantime again peace was bought and time went on. During all these negotiations the Argentine never embarked on any military action against Chile. No doubt the Chilean Ambassador in the United Kingdom, who was for some time the Foreign Secretary in Chile, could give our Government much helpful advice as to how these negotiations were started and how they worked out. I would ask Her Majesty's Government to take the initiative while time is passing and wounds are healing to get a judgment on the single point of sovereignty.
I want now to turn to the second part of my speech, and I want to ask the Government also to look at the manner in which they handled the media, and particularly TV, during this dispute. The TV media is a new dimension in war, and it deserves greater planning, greater thought, and greater attention. It is no good 165 Her Majesty's Government having good military plans, perfectly trained and equipped men, if they cannot report the events back to the public, on whose continued support any and every Government ultimately depends. Of course, there are those old characters who would like no publicity, no radio, and no TV, but we cannot disinvent these forms of media. Looking back, perhaps General Templer won Malaya so successfully because there was no TV there, and because we were not able to see just what was going on. Perhaps the USA lost the Vietnam war, because TV was reporting back some of the more horrific scenes, and of course reporting back from one side of the frontier only.
We assembled a force of over 26,000 men, military men and merchant seamen included, with speed and thoroughness, but we do not seem to have given the same attention to the news media. I have been rereading the evidence given to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee at the end of July. Apparently the Ministry of Defence originally planned for six correspondents to go with this huge task force, and that was to cover the newspapers, the radio and television. Quite rightly, of course, pressures built up and No. 10 intervened to make that a larger force. Finally there were 29 travelling with the task force. They covered correspondents, cameramen, still photographers and engineers.
The BBC had one correspondent, Brian Hanrahan, and very well he did, one cameraman and one sound engineer. I think that the ITN ultimately had five, and the Independent Radio News one. I wonder whether the ultimate numbers were right. Of course, there is always the argument whether you sacrifice a bayonet and replace it with a pen, but I urge the Government to remember that in this day and age what the public see at home, and what other nations see because they all take the output from our media, is of supreme importance to the success of the plan and the success of the project.
It is no good getting good film pictures, good video tape pictures, good reporting, if you do not attend to the manner in which this can get back to the public. Of couse, it was much easier to get messages and pictures back from the Argentine because there were established communication links there. But surely, in these days of satellites and transportable equipment, it would have been possible to use the satellites to get our pictures back. I remember much of the time there was delay, and three weeks after the whole thing was over, we were then looking at events which happened at San Carlos and other landing places. This seems an intolerable time in this day and age with satellite communications. We ought to have made better arrangements.
Now one word about the BBC. They seemed to feel obliged to adopt what they call "even-handedness", which gave the same credence to Argentine claims as it did to British reports. So one heard the practice grow up of commentators referring to "The Argentine version of this event is so and so …", and then go on to say, "The British version of this is so and so …". But this is comparing a military junta dictatorship's views, twisted (as all their views have been, and all views can be in a dictatorship) to suit the home media, with the considered views of a democratic nation; it is 166 not comparing like with like. That, of course, led to that unfortunate remark by a rather senior BBC person at a conference in Spain where he said, "An Argentine widow is to us the same as a British widow".
They are the British Broadcasting Corporation. Of course, they must get the truth and as much of the truth as they conceivably can, but we did not in wartime take pains to broadcast every claim that Goebbels made, and I cannot see why they took pains to show pictures and make claims—and make disturbing claims to those who had relatives serving on these ships—which came from the military junta.
The BBC had problems because, as I said, it was easier to get pictures and news from the Argentine than from our own task force. Further, the task force communication links were clogged up with vital operational messages, and there was the need not to give away the ships' position by acting as a radio beacon whilst transmitting. Certainly Colonel "H" Jones, before he died, felt the BBC had, possibly inadvertently, helped the enemy, and had he survived he intended to take action. It was a sad reflection. I am . sure it was not done purposely, but both the Government and the communication media have to reexamine what we should do on future occasions.
I would summarise these views in a short speech by saying let us not open negotiations—I do not think that is possible or even desirable at this stage—but take some diplomatic action to resolve the sharply different views as between ourselves and the Argentine on the question of sovereignty, and let us use some international forum to undertake that. Secondly, I urge the Government to see whether we are planning the best possible information service for future conflicts. Whether they are small or large, the country and the world now depend on pictures coming back, punctually and effectively.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, I will not seek immediately to follow the noble Lord, Lord Orr-Ewing, though I shall have some comments to make about the Falklands later. I find myself on this occasion much less in disagreement with him than I have on some previous occasions.
In the gracious Speech the Government say they plan to meet NATO expenditure targets and to seek the more efficient use of the resources of the alliance. However, they show no consciousness in the gracious Speech of the fact that the NATO doctrine of reliance on nuclear weapons has come under increasing criticism in recent years. The criticism is not always that of unilateral nuclear disarmers; we are increasingly being joined by more and more people who believe that the 50,000 or so nuclear weapons now in the world must be reduced and that if they are not reduced mankind will stagger into a disaster from which civilisation would be unlikely to recover. Many reflective military men in NATO have revealed their concern. The noble and gallant Field Marshal, Lord Carver, has described the NATO doctrine of "flexible response", as it is called, as incomprehensible and illogical. I am sorry he is not here to speak for himself tonight—I am sure he has good cause to be elsewhere—and in his absence I will, if I may, quote him. He says: 167To pose an unacceptable risk to the enemy automatically poses the same risk, or perhaps an even greater one, to yourself. But to attempt to reduce the risk in order to make the threat of use more credible by some form of limited nuclear war—territorially or by types of targets or means of delivery—begins to make the risk more acceptable and therefore less of a deterrent. The more acceptable war may appear to be to governments and military men of the nuclear powers, the more likely it is that it will actually come about. And even if it is limited in some way, the effects on those who live in the countries in or over which the nuclear weapons of both sides are exploded will be catastrophic. To call the result defence or security makes a mockery of the term.I agree with that absolutely. Lord Carver is not alone. A leading West German military strategist goes further; General Krause claims that NATO figures showing vast Warsaw Pact conventional superiority are inaccurate. In a study published by the Frederich Ebert Stiftung in Bonn, General Krause shows that,there is no need to counter Warsaw Pact conventional forces with nuclear weapons, nor to increase drastically the conventional strength of NATO.Why has that study never been translated into English and published here or, so far as I know, in America?
Professor Robert Neild, in his balanced book How To Make Up Your Mind About The Bomb, reaches a similar conclusion, taking the view that the Soviet forces would be strong in conventional defence but weak in conventional attack. Admiral Rickover, who has been called the father of the American nuclear navy, has changed his mind, too; he has called for an international conference to outlaw nuclear weapons. So the anti-nuclear forces in the world, not least in America, are growing stronger all the time as the consciousness of the grave risk in which we exist itself grows stronger. Our own expensive nuclear weapons have not been of any use to us. The notion that they have played a part in keeping the peace hardly bears serious examination. We must convert both NATO and the Warsaw Pact to non-nuclear defence and we must repudiate first use.
In the gracious Speech the Government go on to talk about the economic development of the Falklands and about keeping a defence force there. Some noble Lords have cast some doubt on the long-term future of this policy. A year or so ago the Government were talking to Argentina about the sovereignty of the islands. The reasons that brought the Government to the conference table then have not changed in the meantime. They are geographical, economic and strategic. Those are the reasons, and they add up to a gradual British retirement from sovereignty. That is why the Americas, both north and south, want us out of their continent, just as an increasing number of Europeans want not Americans but American nuclear weapons out of our continent.
The Prime Minister finds the American support of the recent United Nations resolution to be incomprehensible. That tells us more about the Prime Minister than about anything else. The Falklands war has done nothing but create an emotional climate in which reality is having a hard time, and it is only gradually beginning to reassert itself. As some of us—notably Lord Noel-Baker, who is sadly missed—tried to say at the time, the Argentine aggression was not best dealt with by counter-aggression. As it is, we have lost lives, men have been maimed and gallant deeds have been done, but some grave errors have been made, not least by the Government, and, if I may say so, something 168 like lies have been told—or something perhaps approaching lies—as will increasingly emerge.
I wish to ask a few questions. Is it the case that some of our warships carry nuclear weapons all the time and that they did in fact take them into the South Atlantic? Did the "Sheffield" go down with nuclear weapons on board? It now seems that the honest answer to both those questions is, yes. As early as 27th April I asked the Government to undertake that the task force would not use, deploy or carry nuclear weapons. I did not receive a straight answer. The noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, said that there was no question of nuclear weapons being used. He said nothing about carrying them, nor about deploying them —
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt? He has had explanations from myself and I think other spokesmen from this Bench, on more than one occasion, and in writing, that for very obvious reasons it has been the policy of every Government neither to confirm nor deny on any single occasion the location, presence, or absence of a nuclear weapon, or where it goes. The noble Lord continues to ask these questions with, in my mind, one view only—in order to use the obvious difficulty of the Government in replying to carry with his question a suggestion which is quite unfounded.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, if the noble Viscount says that, I would say that of course the suggestion carried in my question is that the Government were in breach of their obligations under the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which makes the South Atlantic and Latin American waters nuclear-free zones. If the Government say that we are not in breach of that undertaking, we shall know that the whole thing is wrong; but if the Government refuse to say that, can they wonder that they are losing out in world opinion? Is not world opinion entitled to say, "Here is a state in breach of its obligations bringing the nuclear weapon into our waters"? If the Government fail to deny that that is the case, and take refuge in generalities, can they be surprised that they are beginning to lose credibility—
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
I shall give way to the noble Viscount in a moment, and I shall be happy to do so. But before I give way to him, I should like to say that it seems that we took nuclear weapons into the South Atlantic on this absurd venture and, in the absence of any denial, it is not surprising that other countries take the view that that is what in fact happened. Now if the noble Viscount wishes, I shall give way.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, I should like to suggest to the noble Lord, who has been a prominent member of a certain unilateral disarmament movement, that next time he visits Moscow he should ask loud and clear which Soviet submarine is carrying nuclear weapons when it goes near any Baltic nation, or any other nation. He will not receive a clear answer, and for the same reasons I shall not give him one. I do not think that the House will welcome the kind of propaganda that his questions serve—to try to discredit this country in areas where national security cannot allow a definite answer.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, I do not expect to receive a straight answer from the Soviet Government, but I expect to receive one from the noble Viscount. This is an issue which is of very great importance, because if it is the case that there is no effective political control over the movement of nuclear weapons in the world, then the peril of the world is indeed great.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, the noble Lord is simply making up his ninepins in order to knock them down as he goes along. I said no such thing; and the political control that we have and the allies have over all of our defences and security is in my view 100 per cent. sound and permanent. The noble Lord is really inventing these assertions and questions for a purpose of propaganda which is not in the interests of this country.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
Well, my Lords, I think that we had better allow the world in general and the people in general to make up their minds about that issue. Personally I take the view that it is in fact in the interests of our people to know to what degree their security and safety is being prejudiced by the Government.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord will allow me to intervene in order to say, as a former Navy Minister in a Labour Government, that of course the attitude that the Government are now taking is identically the same as that taken by the Labour Government when I was a Navy Minister.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, the noble Lord will be the first to agree that that constitutes no excuse. Perhaps we may turn to another question, though I am perfectly willing to pursue this one myself. In the interests of the Government, who are clearly embarrassed by it, I shall move elśewhere. But I do not think that we have seen the end of this question. I think that the world is turning against the Government, and I believe that that is a factor in the change of attitude towards the actions of this country in relation to the Falklands. It is, I think, only a matter of time before our own people begin to discover the truth, and I believe that they will soon seek to dissociate our country from the self-righteous and repulsive jingoism which has characterised the British press during the period of the Falklands. The popular press did this country no good service during this period.
I am rather pessimistic about the future of the human race. When I spoke in these terms on 27th July in this Chamber the noble Lord who followed me, the noble Lord, Lord Murton of Lindisfarne, said that he did not think that I could believe what I said. I do not object to people quarrelling with what I say—it sometimes takes a little time—but I wish it were true that I do not myself believe it. I fear that I do. I think that we must get rid of the bomb, or the bomb will get rid of us, and more and more people all over the world are coming to this conclusion. It seems that the nuclear freeze now has majority support in the United States, 170 which in terms of this country would mean no cruise and no Trident. In the United States the nuclear disarmament must, and will be, multilateral, or at least bilateral with the USSR. Disarmament must be preceded by reduction, which in turn can only follow a freeze. You have to stop escalating before you can reduce. The order is freeze, reduce, disarm.
Here at home the Church is moving in the direction of nuclear disarmament, with the possible exception of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London. The time will come when only the eccentric will still believe in nuclear weapons. We can be sure that when that time comes the present occupant of No. 10 will be numbered among the eccentrics, and I am sure that their voices will still be heard in this Chamber.
The Falklands conflict has shown that something that some of us have been arguing for some time is correct. It is that the invention of the PGM (the precision guided missile) has altered the nature of conventional war. It has turned warships, tanks, and even aircraft, into mobile crematoria in which the unfortunate crewmen are very likely to be burned to death. The PGM—the Exocet missile is an example—has altered the balance fundamentally in favour of defence, with the exception of the nuclear weapon and perhaps of chemical and biological warfare. It means that if these weapons could be outlawed, if we could get rid of nuclear warfare, biological and chemical warfare, we no longer need fear a conventional attack with ships, tanks and aircraft, for in the age of the PGM it would be madness to launch such an attack, which would be certain to fail.
It is a curious fact that the Government grossly overestimate the conventional threat of the Soviet Union in Europe and equally grossly underestimate Russian nuclear capacity to extinguish this country and its people. Why is this? I suggest that it is part of the nuclear dilemma pointed to by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver. On the one hand, reliance on a nuclear response in Europe means that the nuclear weapon has become essential to our defence strategy. But this very reliance on nuclear weapons based in this country has attracted Soviet targeting on Britain on a massive scale. Therefore the Government must try to reassure the British people that Soviet aircraft and missile strength will not be used to anything like its full possibilities.
So the Government have got into the mess of insisting on the need for massive nuclear response to a weapon they minimise when talking in terms of civil defence. But the Government's civil defence asumptions are that the Soviet Union will not use the weapons it has targeted upon us in this country to anything like their full potentiality, whereas in Europe they posit a massive conventional attack which has never been likely and is now virtually impossible.
This really is absurd, and terribly dangerous; for nuclear weapons show every sign of getting out of hand, and once that happens, once this weapon gets into non-governmental hands—and this is becoming an increasing possibility—we are finished. Time is short, and the signs are not very hopeful. The number of Soviet delivery vehicles targeted on the United Kingdom, aircraft and missiles, is between 200 and 250. Most are missiles of various SS types, and many have multiple warheads. An attack of 222 megatons is 171 well within the capacity of such a force. It constitutes less than a quarter of the Soviet's Western European deployment.
Such a figure has been used by the Government themselves. Yet Lord Elton, in a Written Answer to my Question on 28th October, said that a survival rate of 1 per cent. in London did not derive from any realistic attack assumptions. But that is not so. The attack assumptions of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms are strikingly similar to those of the Government themselves. Where the difference arises is in the estimate of the consequences of an attack on such a scale. The scientists believe that 72 per cent. of our population would be dead two months after an attack of a strength that the Government themselves believe to be perfectly feasible. It would result in the death of our nation, for, as the American doctors have said, the condition of the suvivors would be such that they would envy the dead. And nothing that the Government could do in the way of civil defence would have any considerable effect.
The Home Office has recently revised downwards its own estimates, but the scientists have used the United States estimates, produced by the United States Defense Department, and they have recently been revised upwards. Even on the smaller scale used in the Government's previous operation Square Leg, the difference between the two estimates means that the Government's figure of 1 million is increased to 5 million dead in London alone. The scientists believe that their estimates are on the low side, but in any event it is clear that the Government's pretence that some form of civilised society could emerge from a major nuclear attack is mere wishful thinking.
The Soviet Union realise this, too. They know they are in peril; they are fully aware of it; and they are anxious to reduce and eventually to eliminate nuclear weapons. We can negotiate with nothing but advantage to ourselves, for the precision guided missile provides protection without the awful moral dilemma af the nuclear weapon. Yet in these circumstances the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, refused to print in the Official Report a statement which sets out what the Soviet Peace Committee are ready to accept. Of course, it is not an inter-governmental document, but one would have hardly thought that it was not worth exploring, containing as it does formulations proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, and accepted by the Soviet signatories.
My Lords, I conclude by saying this. There are already signs, as the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has said, that the Soviet position is hardening, and if the present opportunity is lost all may be lost. I urge the Government to throw themselves on the side of peace before it is too late. Let them start by printing in the Official Report the 14 points my noble friend has drawn up. From that basis, let us examine the matter with care, and let us put it to the test. If the Government are prepared to do that, then I believe that they will be doing us more service that they are at the present time.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Lord McNair
My Lords, perhaps I should make it clear that I am not speaking on behalf of my party. Whereas I found myself in agreement with my noble friend Lord Gladwyn and expect to agree with 172 everything that my noble friend Lord Mayhew will say later, if he is in good form, that does not mean that either of them necessarily agrees with me. I want to speak about just one subject, one very small segment of the diplomatic horizon; namely, the Lebanon. In a minute or two I shall propose something that I believe we could actually do to improve the situation in that tormented country, but first I have to make one or two background remarks, in the course of which I shall distance myself somewhat from the polite conspiracy of silence in which so much of our press seems to be involved when it writes about the Lebanon.
That grossly fallacious cliché about the Lebanon having been the Switzerland of the Middle East has a lot to answer for. It is the sort of nonsense one would expect to find in a travel agent's brochure. In fact, now I come to think of it, that is probably where it originated. Just about the only thing which the inhabitants of Beirut have in common with the solid burghers of Berne is a very enviable ability to make money out of almost anything. But there the resemblance stops. It is difficult to think of any two countries which are politically more dissimilar.
The proposal which I shall shortly make concerns the Palestinians who are still in the Lebanon, and it is therefore necessary to etch in the relationship which has developed over these last 10 years between the Lebanese and the Palestinians. I referred earlier to a polite conspiracy of silence. It might perhaps better be described as an epidemic of tunnel-vision which I claim to have diagnosed on both sides, in the pro-PLO press, which has been making most of the running, and in the pro-Israeli press, which has been somewhat subdued.
For example, in the post mortem (and I use those words in full knowledge of what they mean) retrospective comment on the horrors of Sabra and Shatila, which must have shocked every single Member of this House, it has been fashionable to assume that those butchers, as they went about their work, were motivated by a desire to avenge the assassination of Bashir Gemayel. I do not believe it. That may have been, as it were, the trigger, but the deep underlying motive is far more likely to have been the memory of kinsmen of their own murdered in an even bloodier massacre at Damour in 1976, when the roles were reversed. And that massacre, that Palestinian outrage, was probably in revenge for some earlier massacre the other way round.
In other words, what we face is nothing less ugly, nothing less frightening, than an ethnic blood-feud which is raging in a country in which the tradition of the blood-feud is still, to this day, more honoured in the observance than in the breach. Who started the vendetta is a sterile question. Its distant origins, of course, go back at least to Black September, a month which turned out to be just as black for the Lebanese as it was for the Palestinians, and which was hardly the fault of either of them. So do not let us waste time on arguing about who started this. Let us face the more fruitful question of how we can stop it.
I have visited the Lebanon only twice, but my second visit was as recent as July of this year. Conversations with as many Lebanese as I was able to buttonhole have convinced me that the Palestinians will never be either safe or welcome in the Lebanon. I am also convinced that the Lebanon will never be 173 what we all want it to be—a peaceful, unified and preferably democratic country—as long as it has this Palestinian problem superimposed upon all its homegrown problems, which, God knows, are formidable enough.
I therefore suggest that, in order to protect the Palestinians against further massacres, and in order to relieve the Lebanon of a burden it cannot support, in principle the Palestinians should be enabled to leave the Lebanon en masse. Put like that, I realise that this suggestion probably sounds drastic and impractical. But closer, more detailed examination I think makes one ask, although it is drastic, do not the events of September 16th to 18th require some drastic remedy? It may be drastic but I do not think it would prove to be altogether impractical.
First, however, in order to make it precisely clear what I am and what I am not proposing, may I put my suggestion into formal "resolutionese" language. I ask that the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be asked, first, urgently to study the feasibility of removing from the Lebanon all Palestinians who are willing to leave there and of transporting them, without prejudice to their eventual destination, to any country willing to receive them; and, secondly, to implement such a project if found to be feasible. I must emphasise the two important qualifications contained in those words. First, it can only apply to those Palestinians who are willing to leave; there is no question of a Stalinian mass deportation; and, secondly, it is without prejudice to their eventual destination. In other words, in the great homeland dispute this proposal is neutral.
I believe that everybody ought to have somewhere that he can call home. I want to see a Palestinian homeland but it can only come to pass, and will only come to pass, in such a way and at such a place that it does not threaten the existence of Israel. I simply seek to ensure that, when that intractable problem has been solved, and when that great day dawns, as many Palestinians as possible will still be alive to greet it. May I now examine this proposal in greater detail? What about numbers and destinations?
Nobody knows how many Palestinians there are in the Lebanon. The Government do not know, UNRWA does not know, and the Palestinians themselves do not know. The most authoritative guess I have been able to get is that there may be 400,000-plus. From this formidable figure, we can at once subtract a biggish number who will not wish to leave. There are many, many Palestinians who are so well integrated into the economy and society of the Lebanon that they would certainly choose to stay. And these, of course, being well established and being dotted about inconspicuously here and there are not in the same danger as the refugees. Next, a smaller number, I believe, would be admitted into Israel proper, or the West Bank or Gaza, on compassionate grounds—next of kin, elderly dependent relatives and so on. I have solid reasons for believing that this would be possible, although the number would not be very great.
Next, a larger number surely could be offered at least a temporary asylum for purposes of family reunification in those Arab countries to which their menfolk, their breadwinners, were evacuated under the Habib arrangements. Here, perhaps, one should 174 add that there are still armed Palestinian units in the North and in the Beka'a who will have to leave, along with the Israelis and the Syrians, if the Lebanese Government is ever to have a chance of reasserting its authority over its territory. So there will have to be a "Habib Mark II" plan which will increase the number of dependants who would come into this category.
Last, the residue, who do not come into any of these former categories, would mostly have to go, I imagine, to Syria and to Jordan. And I recognise that our greatest difficulty may well be in overcoming the reluctance of those countries to accept any more Palestinians. They would certainly need to be assured that UNRWA would be on hand to arrange for their reception—as it certainly would be if the world would give it the necessary funds. Before leaving the question of destinations, I should add perhaps, although not with any very great hope, that if Western countries, especially the USA, could bring themselves generously to offer residence permits to Palestinians, there would be no lack of takers.
And now to logistics. Let us suppose that we were left with as many as 150,000 men, women and children wanting to be transported a few hundred miles. Is that such a daunting prospect for the United Nations? It is the sort of problem which even a non-super-power like ourselves would tackle unhesitatingly if it felt it to be in its national interests. Surely, the resources of the world are equal to that. Break it down how you like—a fleet of 100 50-seater buses would need to make 30 trips with lorries in support for the transport of household goods; or a fleet of 25 300-seater aircraft would need to make 20 flights. Of course, there is no shortage of shipping in the world. And, last, there would be a substantial number of Palestinians who, given safe conduct and a residence permit, would make the trip in their own transport.
To sum up, I am only suggesting that the Secretary-General should be asked to study the feasibility of this idea. But, of course, somebody has to ask him to do so. Could it be possibly Her Majesty's Government? Of course, I am not expecting the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, to say, Yes, tonight, but I am hoping he will not say, No. Could he, I wonder, have it considered by some of his officials? If some drastic scheme such as I have put forward is not put into effect, we shall see what we shall see, and I fear very much that we shall not like it. But if we could do this, if we could put it forward and press it, and if it proves to be possible, we would win the gratitude of not just the Palestinians, of not just the Lebanese, but of everybody, everywhere, who values human life above everything else.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Baroness Elliot of Harwood
My Lords, I have listened with great interest to the speeches in this debate and I think that many of them have been very remarkable. I think that the speech that we had from the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel—one of the wisest people we have in the country today—was of enormous interest and great importance. I should also like to say, as I had intended to talk a little about it. how much I agreed with everything that was said by the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, on the subject of the State of Israel. I endorse everything he said. I will not repeat any of it, but I should like to say here and now that what he said and the way he expressed it was 175 entirely in accord the views that I myself hold—and I have had quite a long experience of following the interests of the State of Israel.
In my very short speech this evening, what I really want to talk about is the great importance of our membership of the EEC which, so far, has not been spoken of very much. I believe that one of the disadvantages which we suffer from at the present time is that the media, whether the newspapers, television or radio, so often criticise everything that happens in the European Community. They fail to tell the public of the great advantages which the Common Market brings to us all.
First, I can never forget the fact that the Community brings together European nations which in our own lifetime have twice had great and terrible wars. This will never happen as long as the European countries remain together and work together in the policies which we can all help to create. Of course, it is not easy and there will be disagreements. There are disagreements at the moment on the subject of fishing. However, with perseverance and patience we can achieve, and have achieved, much in the years since we have been members of the Community.
I should like to suggest that we may press one or two subjects particularly in the Community. I should like to see more development go to the regional policies of the Community which improve conditions of housing, transport, employment, training and various developments along those lines. The industrial recession affects all the countries of the EEC as well as ourselves. I should like to see the training of young people for the new techniques of industry and commerce developed still further. The twin evils of inflation and unemployment can only be met if the nations bring down inflation at the start—and we in this country have done that more successfully than any other country—and also concentrate on new developments, consulting the consumer in the sense of trying to develop new industries which the consumer wants and where there are new markets to be explored.
We have done a lot in this country to bring down inflation—more than any other member of the Community. All we all want is new industry, new techniques, based on the demand from Europe and other parts of the world. It is along these lines that the regional and social policy could be developed and the European Commission can draw together experience and knowledge on these problems. The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, backed by member states, should be able to help to find out developments in the Community market as a whole and to further these plans and possibilities for the benefit of the whole Community, but more particularly young people. Training these young people for future developments is one of the things we should press for very strongly.
Here in this country in the Queen's Speech we are told that we are going to have a large training programme for young people. I hope that it will be very strongly supported and will lead to the training of people for the next decade (which I hope will be more prosperous than the present one). One of the advantages of being members of the Community is that we help to bring about the growth of industries, and one initiative which I know has been criticised by 176 some people is the help which the Community has given to the agricultural industry. It may be that more money than we ought to spend is being spent in that way, but there is no doubt that it has brought about a revolution in agriculture in many countries—not least our own.
Although we are suffering at the moment from overproduction, it is better to have a surplus of food in the world than a shortage. We in our agricultural industry have had enormous help from the EEC. The grants that we received in these past years improved our land, whether by drainage, fertilizers, lime and slag, machinery, new methods of cultivation, or advice through the Farm and Horticultural Development Scheme and our own department of agriculture. That is something which nobody stresses sufficiently. You always hear of too much money being spent on agriculture but nobody tells you of the extraordinary improvement and development that has taken place as a result of these grants.
I speak as one who has been farming for nearly 50 years. I can testify to the revolution which is taking place and which has led to us having the most efficient agriculture in Europe. All this has been enormously helped by grants from the EEC and the Common Agricultural Policy. It has led, as I have said, to problems of over-production; but I believe that we can improve our selling policy and get a better distribution of food not only in Europe but in other countries by a closer study of marketing and studying consumer demand.
I was impressed a few weeks ago when four of your Lordships (of whom I was one) made a one-week tour of some of the areas of Europe which had been helped by the EEC. We went to the South of Italy, which was a less favoured area. We visited Bavaria; Southern France, Provence. We saw there that, by the co-operation between the farmers, and the development of marketing in the subjects which are common there—namely, the production of wine, and milk and the growing of fruit—they have managed to do much to improve their distribution and, in consequence, the consumption of their production. We can learn from Europe, just as they can learn from us where our production of cattle, sheep and cereals is probably better than theirs. Without our membership of the Community, without our close association with the CAP, we should lose out on so much. I am convinced that, from all the points of view that I have mentioned—and there are many others—the Government are absolutely right to remain a leading member of the European Community. I hope that at no moment in our policy shall we fail to support and to lead in the Community, because I am quite certain that it is one of the really big developments that has happened in the past 10 years.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Lady Kinloss
My Lords, I do not wish to follow other noble Lords who have spoken on defence, although one cannot entirely disentangle it from foreign affairs. I wish to speak only on a limited range within foreign affairs. In 1950 His Majesty's Government was kind enough to send me to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to learn Swahili preparatory to 10 years with my husband in what is now Tanzania. My travels took me to Zanzibar 177 and Kenya as well, and later we went to Aden for several years. It was therefore a great pleasure to me to be able to go to Kenya for a month this summer, very shortly after the attempted air force coup. The origins of this coup are still partly obscure, but it has left Kenya virtually without an air force and made her more vulnerable than before to the notorious trilateral alliance of friendship and co-operation between Libya, Ethiopia and South Yemen.
First, I have no doubt whatever of the warm and friendly feelings of the people of Kenya towards ourselves; and many, as soon as they knew one spoke their language, were overwhelming in their welcome. In particular, this was noticeable on Lamu Island, where my husband and I spent most of our time, and on Pate Island, where we were made most welcome. I had no doubt that on the Kenya coast there is a deep loyalty to President Arap Moi's government, and also of their apprehension of the danger presented by the trilateral alliance of friendship and co-operation. It would give me great comfort if the noble Lord who is to reply can say that we are ready to provide Kenya with facilities for any training schemes that she may desire for her reconstituted air force.
Of course one can detect behind this Libyan activity the hand of the USSR and its puppet, Cuba—as also behind the projected Mauritius, Seychelles, Malagasy alliance. Together, the trilateral alliance and the projected alliance pose a threat to the security of our oil routes and to the stability of the Governments of the Sudan, Somalia, North Yemen, Kenya and Uganda. Perhaps also one should add Tanzania, where President Nyerere has announced that this is his final term of office. In spite of asking many different people, including Tanzanian friends, I have not been able to discover the name of any possible candidate as his successor as president who lives in Tanzania. This again is a weakness which must be noted. It worries my friends as much as it does me. All these countries and, indeed, India have but one desire. It has been made explicit by India: their wish is that the Indian Ocean should be made a peace zone. This is something, I venture, which we must support, both in the interests of our friends and of ourselves.
What can we do for our friends? I have mentioned the School of Oriental and African Studies. The recent university cuts have seriously reduced the number of lecturers and students, and especially those students from the poorer countries overseas, who cannot afford to come. Does this really help anybody? May I also ask how many within our foreign and Commonwealth service can speak Swahili, which now, after Arabic, is the most spoken African language?
I had a conversation with an officer of the World Bank who was most concerned about the financial state of Kenya, which is dangerously near the brink of collapse. Surely we must keep stable or increase our material and technical aid and friendly support to the countries of Eastern Africa. It is clear that Russia is attempting to set up a series of client states throughout the world. We gave these people independence. We ask nothing but friendship. Their independence is threatened, and we must be alert and ready to do anything we can that they may desire to help them.
All these problems are fraught with the greatest difficulty. I see no easy solutions. I can only say 178 "Istakfar allahi"—as we say in Swahili—"I take refuge with God".
§ 8.33 p.m.
Lord Paget of Northampton
My Lords, I want to make two short points and one slightly longer point. The first concerns Zimbabwe. When this Government came to power there was a multinational Government in Zimbabwe under Bishop Muzorewa which had recently been confirmed by quite a convincing election. Lord Carrington, who was then Foreign Secretary, refused to recognise that election and insisted on another which quite inevitably, we all knew, would return the man with the biggest clout. That was Mr. Mugabe, the leader of the Shonas. When he got back there was, of course, a tribal war. It has been running ever since. It was foreseeable and inevitable.
That is not what I am really concerned with at the moment. But I am concerned about our unfortunate air force officers. We asked them to help the Mugabe Government. We asked them to accept Zimbabwe citizenship which Zimbabwe felt necessary—and understandably necessary—for the leaders of its armed forces. Those men—distinguished officers, British in reality—have been arrested, tortured and held incommunicado in order to try to get them to confess that they conspired to sabotage their own planes. The thing is quite too fantastic for anybody at all to believe it. Are we submitting to this? Are we going to supply aid—even a pennyworth of aid—to Zimbabwe until those men are released? I very much hope not.
The next point I want to make is with regard to the Falklands. I certainly agreed with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, when he referred to the astonishing luck which we had. That in no way derogates from the great courage and professional skill which we had, too, but to get away with it was astonishingly lucky. I hope we shall learn the lessons. In a general way. one learns far more from what one does wrong than from what one does right.
The first lesson which I think we should learn lies in the field of defence. The day of the surface ship is over. The advantage of the two-dimensional vehicle, either the submarine or the aeroplane, in combat with the surface ship has moved quite enormously. We knew—I do not say that Mrs. Thatcher knew, for at that point she was determined and certainly was not interested in any facts that would affect her decision which was already taken—and the Navy knew all about the Exocet. Well, not all about it. The only thing they did not know about the Exocet was that two-thirds of the warheads would not go off. That was the important fact. If they had gone off, then the disaster of first magnitude to which the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred would have certainly overtaken our fleet. But two-thirds of them did not go off.
The second lesson which I think we ought to learn is that the responsibility and the authority of the Sea Lords and Air Command should be increased so that never again will a Prime Minister, described as the only hawk in her Cabinet, be in a position at 12 hours' notice to commit a force in the reckless manner in which this force was committed. We must never push our luck to this extent again. It came off this time and it is marvellous and encouraging that it did, but never again must we be in that kind of position.
179 Lastly, there is a political lesson to learn, the very old one: not to commit ourselves to untenable positions. Those are positions from which one must extract oneself before the challenge becomes too humiliating. Our great and very distinguished feat of arms—do not let me detract from it; I enjoyed it and it was a tremendous performance—has left us with a prestige commitment which was untenable in the first place and which will become more and more untenable as Argentinian arms techniques advance and as, within certainly the next two or three years, she becomes nuclear armed. When one talks about the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, even now it would be much cheaper to give each family £1 million to go and settle wherever they fancied in the world. Believe me, families with £1 million in hard currency are very welcome anywhere they like to settle. Even today that would be much the cheapest solution.
Now may I turn to the point with which I wish to deal a little further; namely, the Middle East. We are under great illusions in our part of the world as to what the Middle East is really like. The Middle Eastern question is not a dispute between Arabs and Jews; it is a great deal older than that. It is a division between the Persian Aryans and the Semite Arabs; it is a division between the Sunni and the Shi'ite; it is a division between tradition and revolution. All these divisions have held the Middle East in chaos for a thousand years.
There is nothing new in this. Within that chaos the assassins are hard at it. The Crusaders knew them. Indeed, the Assassins added their name to our language. They are a movement of Moslem heretics. They have worked all the time over the past 1,000 years within the Moslem faith. We have seen them in the Sudan. We have seen them wherever we have been—these Moslem heretic assassin groups, devoted to a religious and fanatical belief that they will win eternal life in heaven if they obey the command to assassinate. Fear of the man who controls the assassins has guided much of the Middle East policy.
The PLO are assassins. Not all of them, of course, but they are masters of the assassins. It is the assassin group within the Palestinians that controls, rules and conducts them and to a considerable extent intimidates, too, the rulers of the Arab states. That is what one is up against. In 1948, they found themselves either leaving or being driven from Palestine. There was not a single Arab country willing to take them in—not one. Egypt would not take a single one, because the Arabs understood the assassins. They would not come out and deny them as patriots and their religion, but they just did not want them. The only country which had them was Jordan, because they were there. It did not take very long before Jordan expelled them, if Jordan was to live. Then they were driven into the Lebanon and, like cuckoos in the nest, they took over Lebanon—and, oh dear! were they hated. They were hated worse than the Jews. The massacres we have been hearing about were the Lebanese people seeing their chance. Nothing was clearer in the Middle East than that there could be no peace while the Lebanon was an assassins' base. Mr. Begin had the wisdom to see this and the courage to deal with it. That is the real story of what has been happening.
180 Again, I have been critical of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, although like everyone else in your Lordships' House, we both like and admire him very much. But I did not admire him as a Foreign Secretary. At that time he was chairman of the Common Market Foreign Ministers Association. He came to the astonishing decision, to my mind, that the Common Market should have a foreign policy. I do not think that a trading committee is very good at having a foreign policy. At Venice it appeared that they did have a foreign policy. It became Common Market foreign policy that Israel should accept not only an assassins' state on her borders but also within her borders. The Common Market who put forward that policy did not have a single member prepared to commit a soldier or a guinea to supporting it. I do not think that sort of antic from a Foreign Office is very helpful. All it does is to get the contempt of the people you seek to support, without being prepared to provide anything more than support, and the rage and fury of the other side. Never were relations so bad between us and Israel as when this policy was produced. It is also profoundly annoying to the people who are really carrying the baby and taking the responsibility for what is happening—and that was the Americans. General Haig was very angry indeed and it led very much to his resignation. Now we are losing our best friend there.
The Israelis went into Lebanon, rightly, to do what was necessary. The assassins had to be destroyed. In a brilliant military campaign they were driven into Beirut. Then, as has happened so much, there were the screams for a cease-fire and a plea not to storm West Beirut. Then there was the reckless policy of trying to persuade the Arabs, each in their turn, to take their bodies of assassins. The Arabs objected very much, and very wisely, but eventually they had to get in, and now they are very busily trying to keep those assassins isolated. They can play with guns inside their camps but cannot do anything else, and it will not be long before we are hearing about assassinations of Palestinians by their Arab hosts. The poor devils—if they cannot go where they want then they will survive where they are. It is like the grey squirrel; if he gets about he will always assassinate the local inhabitants. There is only one way of dealing with him and that is by extermination. That is the position with these bands of assassins which we are distributing around the Arab world.
§ Lord Hankey
My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Paget of Northampton, will allow me to intervene, he has made a very interesting speech about the Arab-Israeli conflict, but what about Begin's intention to assume total control of the West Bank and probably of Gaza as well? What is going to happen to the very great number of Palestinians who live there? I do not believe that they are all assassins.
Lord Paget of Northampton
My Lords, as far as those people are concerned, first there is no doubt in my mind that Begin will take control of the West Bank, and I have not the slightest doubt, either, of his right to do so if he wishes Israel to live. That West Bank is absolutely essential to military control and defence. With regard to the Palestinians living there, by whom are they going to be governed? Will they be governed by Israel or will they be governed by the 181 assassins? If they are to be free from fear and the assassins within them—and this has always been the difficulty wherever they have gone in the Arab world—it will mean very tough ruling indeed of the West Bank. This is the grim alternative—military control of the West Bank. Israel's life depends upon it. It is not realised how thin Israel is there, and how completely vulnerable is her commercial capital to guns from the West Bank. She is within artillery range of the West Bank. The situation is really totally untenable militarily.
Again, any nation that tolerates an assassin society within its borders either destroys those assassins or is destroyed itself. This is Israel's situation. I believe that Israel will live. I believe that she has the will to live. But this is certainly a time when she needs to count her friends.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Lord Weidenfeld
My Lords, I would like to join with others in congratulating the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch, whose great distinction and knowledge of an area of mounting importance to the world is a great gain for your Lordships' House and will enrich future debates.
Of all the five rounds in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli operation in the Lebanon has proved, and will continue to prove, the one most passionately debated. There are basically two plausible attitudes that one can take; complete denunciation without regard to root causes and outcome, or justification on grounds of pre-emptive self-defence. What I think is not tenable is to denounce the invasion and then seize on some of the results and hail them as openers of options and fresh opportunities. This is roughly what Her Majesty's Government and the Labour Party have done.
I myself incline to believe that the Lebanese operation will have a cathartic effect upon the region's problems, that the net gains will outweigh the net losses and that a degree of cautious optimism is thoroughly justified. A week in Jerusalem talking to leaders of Government and Opposition, and a brief visit to East Beirut from where I have just returned, have done nothing to change my mind. There is a deep awareness in Israel of the seriousness of what has happened in the Lebanon, and in the Middle East as a result. The man in the street, the soldier on leave, the decision-maker behind his desk, they all share in the anguish of participating in a war costly in lives and demonstrably vicious in its exhibition of man's inhumanity to man.
Never has a war been fought in so glaring an arc-light of media coverage and attention to gruesome details of sectarian hate; while a world of onlookers shuddered, it was an equally severe shock for Israeli civilians. It was a culture shock for many soldiers. The raw recruits of the kibbutzim, the youngsters fresh from school and the older reservists used to waging defensive wars in battle formation, suddenly came face to face with complex patterns of blood feuds, gang warfare, tribal vendettas—forced to intervene here, to strike there, to choose and arbitrate between remorseless enemies around them.
As a demonstration of Israeli democracy at work the press and television journalists of Israel, far from lagging behind, have been in the forefront of the investigation of transgressions, wherever they 182 occurred. Of course, there has been dismay about what may have been felt to be the over-reaction of the foreign media, a strong feeling that double standards were at work which have defied all codes of fairness. But, even so, no attempt was made to minimise, in terms of absolute condemnation, the horrors of Sabra and Chatilah.
I say absolute condemnation because it might be tempting for some friends of Israel to compare her code of practice with that of others, her adherence to law with the rule of the rack and the reign of the thumbscrew in neighbouring lands, the slaying of thousands of President Assad's opponents in Syria, the killing of prisoners of war in Iraq and Iran. Jews and Israelis are as sensitive as anyone when it comes to weighing the statistics of death and destruction. The judicial committee in Jersualem now in session will report by the end of January. It has already shown, by its sweeping powers and by the integrity and toughness of its three judges, that it means business and that its results will be impressive and conclusive. To prejudge these results now is grossly unfair. To speculate about the fate of certain public figures sub judice only means indulging in that basest of all political blood sports—character assassination.
The first tangible net gain of the campaign has been the destruction of the military infrastructure of the PLO. The dispersal of the High Command and of the principal cadres of the PLO's military wings has made that organisation inoperative in terms of military confrontation with Israel, while the dispersal of its political bureaucracy among various Arab states of diverging interests has also, I submit, made the PLO politically far less effective. No amount of accolades, red carpets, joint press conferences or private audiences with leaders, temporal or spiritual, can alter this significantly.
The second tangible benefit of the Lebanese campaign is that we can now look forward with greater confidence than before to a restructuring of the Lebanon as a state with an independent Government. When the procedural wranglings are over there is every chance that the remaining PLO militants, Syrians and Israelis will leave the country by the end of the spring. Everyone I spoke to in the Israeli Government assured me that Israel is anxious to withdraw behind the international frontier. Of course, a security arrangement for Southern Lebanon with the Lebanese is an important pre-condition, and one which would be of benefit to both countries and to the region as a whole. It could be an extension of the original armistice agreement of 1948, or a special compact between Beirut and Jerusalem with American co-operation, but, whatever its status, the agreement must ensure that the Lebanon will not become once again a base for operations against Israel, and thus guarantee in turn the Lebanon's immunity from renewed Israeli incursions. Let those who still question the legitimacy of the Lebanese operation ponder on these figures. Israel captured intact, or destroyed, close on 500 heavy artillery pieces, guns, Katyuschas, missile launchers, et cetera. The whole of the British army in 1982 has, according to the Institute of Strategic Studies, 875 comparable weapons.
Before the foreign forces leave the Lebanon a harsh and hazardous winter lies before us—hazardous because I fear the clans and factions in the Lebanon 183 still have men within their midst with vengeance in their hearts and murder on their minds; and harsh because tens of thousands of Palestinians in the South are short of shelter and clothing. At the moment it is the Israeli Army who are pressing for durable houses, while the Lebanese wish to provide tents and indeed are bulldozing existing makeshift dwellings of the displaced Palestinian families. I think the European Community should make its voice heard and seek to convince the Lebanese Government that, whatever the ultimate settlement of the Palestinians, a goodish proportion of those who wish to remain and become permanent citizens should be allowed to do so.
Israel's security arrangements with the Lebanon may be a first step towards normalisation. Those who are impatient for complete peace must understand the delicate position of President Amin Gemayel. He needs the goodwill of the Syrians, the money of the Saudis, the confidence of the Arab world, to assume his country's habitual role as the premier trader and broker in the area; but he must not overdo it. To be regarded as the ally or protege of Israel is one thing. To denounce the Jewish state from the rostrum of the United Nations as the sole perpetrator of woe and evil is another. Bluntly, for all one's sympathies with the dilemma of the moderate Arab, has the time not really come when the gulf between overt hostility and whispered recognition, between forensic fireworks and furtive friendliness, could be narrowed?
When President Amin Gemayel assigns to Israel the guilt for all that has befallen the Lebanese, does anyone in the know really believe him? How many Arab leaders are ignorant of the fact that it was the President's late brother who, as long ago as 1975, urged Israel to intervene? On the eve of the civil war he told Shimon Peres, then in government, "You will have to march into Beirut sooner or later, so why not sooner". Peres declined. I submit that, if the Israelis suddenly decided on unilateral withdrawal, the Lebanese leader would be a desperately worried man.
To those Middle East leaders and their friends abroad, Arabs and Arabists, who point out that in politics excessive courage is a foolhardy and lethal luxury, and cite the murders of King Abdullah and President Sadat, one is tempted to predict that in the annals of history the risk-takers for peace will not only make a better moral showing but will also be seen to have achieved more in practical terms than either fainthearts or rejectionists.
The hope for a workable settlement in the Lebanon, however fragile, the destruction of the military infrastructure of the PLO, and the withdrawal of all foreign forces should pave the way for a resumption of the peace process and bring the parties to the conference table. The Reagan plan has been commended by all sides here tonight in your Lordships' House, and elsewhere in the country. It is a subtly balanced, politically mature, constructive document. It has the imprint of Reagan and Schultz, but there are echoes of Gunnar Jarring, Rogers, Allon and plenty of Kissinger, all encased in the framework of Camp David. At its most ambitious, it is a discourse on methods and prescription for ultimate peace. At its most tentative, it is a position paper of American preferences.
184 The surface reactions to the Reagan plan showed subtle differences. The Israeli rejection was instant and complete. The Arab reaction at Fez was one of muted approval, though the reservations expressed seemed to negate the very essence of the content. The crux of the Reagan plan, by which it stands or falls, is whether King Hussein can speak for the Palestinians. If he can, if he is prepared to enter the conference chamber accompanied by Arab leaders of the West Bank and Gaza who accept the reality of Israel and its right to live in security, the Israeli Government will, I am convinced, sit down and negotiate. The King still has enormous prestige and the fact that he did not follow Sadat at Camp David Mark I strengthens his hand, for he has escaped the stigma and opprobrium of the Arab world. Yet, unlike others, he has never been a faint heart nor a rejectionist. His position was far more difficult than, say, that of the Saudis, who in my own opinion, could have been much more positive peacemakers in the past.
King Hussein has been explicitly denied a mandate to speak for West Bank Palestinians by the Arab summit of Rabat in 1974, but, once he is reconfirmed as spokesman for Arab Palestine, his role could be decisive. In such a constellation, my understanding of the attitude of Israel is this: they would argue that so far we have had statements of different positions or preferences. Most Arabs want a Palestinian State, and some would opt for a linkage of a West Bank-Gaza entity with Jordan—an option which is favoured by Washington and, to a large extent, by the Israeli opposition parties. The Begin Government would prefer no transfer of West Bank and Gaza sovereignty. Indeed, some of its members would even want outright incorporation. These are all different positions, options, and they are all open for negotiation, according to the Israelis, without precondition, within the framework of Camp David and after a transitional period of three to five years of gradual self-government.
To those who may ask why Camp David Mark II should be any more positive and yielding than its predecessor, the answer is, I think, the Lebanon and the diminished role of the PLO. The Israelis are hopeful that a new leadership of the West Bank will emerge. They say there is already quite recent evidence to this effect. To the hardened doubters anywhere, I would submit this: is it not reasonable to assume that the people on the ground would wish to be represented by their own leaders, free from threat and intimidation, in the knowledge that King Hussein is on their side? Would they not prefer their native notables to those exiled veterans of a hundred ambushes, kidnaps and hi-jacks who have failed to recover a single inch of territory or particle of independence? However, should the PLO leadership in exile decide to abjure its covenant and accept the reality of Isreal in all formality, it should not be excluded from the conference table, but should sit side by side with the local leaders of the West Bank and Gaza and those from across the Jordan river.
Where Europe and Britain can help is in bringing about this stage by encouraging King Hussein, by encouraging the Palestinians on the ground and those PLO leaders who are in favour of peace, and by reassuring Israel of their good faith.
185 Britain has no shortage of channels and links with the Arab world, but it has some ground to recover if it wishes to regain its influence with the Israeli Government, whose goodwill is quite pivotal in this enterprise. Our relations with Israel, always on a zigzag course, have, since Menachem Begin has been in power, resembled a snakes and ladders board—"up" in the era of James Callaghan and David Owen, "down" under Mrs. Thatcher. In spite of the right honourable Lady's well-known sympathies for Israel, she has lost many friends in Jerusalem and, while Lord Carrington's brief visit did much to restore the ties of better days, his successor, the present Foreign Secretary, admittedly a newcomer to the Middle East, seems to have plunged relations to near freezing point. I am told that of the 30-odd conversations that the Israeli Foreign Minister has recently held at the United Nations, the talk with his British counterpart, in tone even more than in substance, was perhaps the chilliest.
The resumption of the talks is the time, and the conference table is the place, to begin to exert all our persuasive powers and influence with the parties. That will be the testing time and testing place for Israel to show that, relieved of immediate threats to her security on her northern as well as her southern border, she can bring sacrifices to bear and make substantial concessions.
This will be the opportunity for the Palestinian Arabs to redress the errors of 1947, 1967 and 1973 and, for once, to improve rather than worsen their position by replacing the three "Noes" of Khartoum—no recognition, no negotiation, no peace—with their positive opposites.
What Britain and the Europeans must do requires true even-handedness and a sensitive awareness that in approaching either side one is dealing with suspicious minds, fine-tuned ears and outraged self-respect. To the Israeli consensus the mere mention of a Palestinian State, whether by means of a Freudian slip or pious wish, is just as obnoxious as are the terms Judea and Samaria or a roll-call of Jewish West Bank settlements to a forum of Arab nationalists. Yet one day, when the dust has settled, perhaps the right of Palestinian Arabs to political self expression and the right of Jews to settle anywhere within historic Palestine must and will be reconciled.
The Reagan plan, by distancing itself from the West Bank Gaza State, does not imply a denial of Arab independence and political self-expression. All it does is underscore the perception that there is no room for more than two states—one Jewish, one Arab—in the whole of Palestine on both sides of the Jordan.
Only a large enough territory offers its inhabitants security, the room to develop and deploy resources and to achieve security for itself and for its neighbours. The West Bank, linked to Jordan, provides space for settlement and expansion and allows for a symmetrical solution of the vital security needs of Arabs and Jews. The symmetry lies in the fact that as soon as peace occurs—breaks out, as it were—there will have to be open borders, because the only way for the citizens of Nablus and Hebron to reach their relatives in Gaza, Nazareth, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem would be through Israeli territory. Access to free ports in Haifa and Ashdod would be implicit. In exchange, Israel could justify her right of surveillance and protection against surprise attack, through having 186 strong points on West Bank territory up to the Jordan River. Such arrangements, for which there are precedents elsewhere, are one thing when they affect only a very small part of a large commonwealth, and another thing when they mean demilitarisation of an entire state.
We must calm tempers and not consciously, or inadvertently, arouse passions by arousing false hopes. It is puzzling why so many European leaders from Pym to Palme and Pertini to Papandreou still cultivate the legend of the PLO's political gains in Beirut when, in fact, it is the manifest loser. Whether the Reagan plan succeeds in its present form or in a new variant, if the parties can be brought to the conference table, then not only will some of the suffering and horrors of the war in the Lebanon not have been in vain, but an opportunity—perhaps the last opportunity for a very long time—will be within our grasp to end the "Thirty Years War" of our time.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Lord Hankey
My Lords, we have listened to a very interesting and constructive speech by my noble friend Lord Weidenfeld. I do not want to go further into the middle East question today, but I should like to make two points. First, I hope that Lebanon—a most beautiful country with delightful people—will be able to progress now that it is liberated from the terrible scourge of the armed Palestinians who have led that country a most terrible dance.
Secondly, I want to stand up for my noble friend Lord Carrington, because I think that he was quite right to see the danger coming and to try, together with other European colleagues, to find some sort of way of making a negotiated solution by drawing the Saudi Arabians and others into this terrible question. I do not see how else the process of Camp David could be carried forward. Indeed, at that time I recall that the United States had not got around to formulating their policy under their new president, and that there was really a diplomatic vacuum in the Middle East. I think my noble friend Lord Carrington was absolutely right to do what he did and he had bad luck to fall through the thin ice as regards the Falklands. In my view he was a very good Foreign Secretary.
That brings me to the Falklands. I want to try to draw a few conclusions about the Falklands not locally—because we still await the Government's paper—but against a worldwide background. The first point is that somehow we must avoid letting potential aggressors misread our intentions or underestimate our strength. The noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, made a very good point in this connection. I think that President Galtieri was sincere when he said that he never expected us to react forcibly to the Argentinian attack. Many of the Argentine prisoners that we took apparently said they had been told that there would be no fighting. Undoubtedly Senor Costa Mendez, the Argentine Foreign Minister, has a terrible responsibility in this respect. However, perhaps our announcement of the removal of HMS "Endurance" came at a particularly unfortunate moment, and, anyhow, I do not think that we ought to have said that we were going to remove it.
This is a general question of making our own position and strength sufficiently clear for our intentions not to be misunderstood. I do not think that 187 Hitler and Ribbentrop ever thought that the British and French would do more for Poland than they did for Czechoslovakia. After being well treated as German Ambassador in London, Herr von Ribbentrop, who became the Foreign Minister in Berlin, was certain that after the defeat of France, the British would make peace. Perhaps that was one reason why Hitler was quite unprepared in the summer of 1940 for an amphibious operation across the Channel. I never could understand why he was not ready. The magnificent gallantry of the RAF saved us anyway; but that does not affect my main point, that Hitler very dangerously underestimated our power, our guts and our determination. I believe that that was one contributory reason why he started the war. The other reason, of course, was that Soviet Russia helped him to divide Poland.
Therefore, my first main conclusion is that if we appear to our enemies to be weaker or less determined than we really are when it comes to the big crunch, a war may start almost by mistake. This problem poses very real difficulties for the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence. We must indeed try to settle international disputes by negotiation and show ourselves to be reasonably reasonable. You cannot ask allies and friends across the world to aid and abet an attitude of total intransigence. But equally the diplomats—and this hinges on what my very distinguished noble friend Lord Maclehose was saying—need firm backing from the Government and, in the Falklands and places like that, from the Ministry of Defence just in case things go wrong and in order to make sure that the other side does not think that it can take matters into its own hands as Galtieri did.
Looking back on 38 years as a diplomat, I think also that we want a bit of "mum and dad" about it. Mum can be reasonable to Johnnie, kindly and understanding, but when it comes to the crunch, she says "Gosh, Johnnie, if you do that, look out what dad's going to do to you". Moreover, there is a correct time for everything. To think that we could or should discuss sovereignty with Argentina now, after what has happened in the Falklands, as the recent United Nations resolution did, is really idiotic and completely inept.
I want to return to the importance of our not appearing to be weaker than we are. What could be better for the Russians, with their vast nuclear arsenal on land, at sea and probably in space, than a large movement in the West in favour of unilateral nuclear disarmament? Even if we did not disarm in a nuclear way, there might be such a failure of determination in our Government that the Russians would misread our intentions. I think that the unilateral disarmament movement—the Peace Ballot in the 1930s—had just that effect on the Germans and on Herr Hitler. The whole far Left has been encouraging many moderate people with high ideals to back the movement for unilateral disarmament. In a very notable speech some time ago my noble friend Lord Chalfont—and he knows what he is talking about—showed that the unilateralist movement has had much encouragement from the Communists and fellow travellers. Noble Lords will recently have read how a Soviet dissident, who was chucked out of Russia for favouring multilateral disarmament, has been advising that 188 unilateral disarmament on our part would be an absolute disaster for the cause of peace.
Marshal Sokolov's book on Soviet Strategy is not encouraging. It is a very interesting book. It can be got from the Library and is well translated by the Americans. This particular book is not very well written because it is a combination of articles by various generals and Soviet experts. The book makes it clear in several sections that the Russians have no intention of losing the advantages of the first strike if it really comes to the big crunch.
If we had to face any major war nowadays without nuclear weapons, I think that we should face certain defeat, either by bombing or by the blackmail threat of it. I cannot easily think of any action or attitude by ourselves or other Western powers more certain than unilateral disarmament to provoke war and defeat, with the destruction of all our democratic and spiritual ideals. Having dealt with Russia and lived behing the Iron Curtain for years, I really know what I am talking about. One only has to look at Poland to see what Soviet domination would bring. I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, or any of the other noble Lords who have spoken about this, would enjoy the state of affairs that would ensue. Please remember that the Soviet submarine stranded last year near a Swedish naval base apparently had nuclear torpedoes. I am very relieved indeed to hear that at least one of our ships in the Falklands campaign apparently had some nuclear weapons on board. We might not know when they will be needed.
This brings me back to the Navy and the Air Force. One major requirement of NATO is that the United States should be able to send troops and supplies across the Atlantic in huge quantities at the very beginning of any conflict and that the oil suplies and other materials needed to keep the armed forces and industries of the NATO countries going should be brought with equal security round the Cape of Good Hope and across the Atlantic.
In the light of the Falklands and of the losses which we suffered in quite a small campaign, I am absolutely sure that for this immense task to be carried out in face of a far larger and more effective submarine force than Herr Hitler ever had, we must need more escort vessels and also more aircraft carriers, more seaborne long-range air cover out in the oceans, and more early warning radar than anything we now possess.
I am amazed to see from a written reply yesterday in another place that no fewer than 16 frigates and two destroyers are to be withdrawn in the next two years. This will be part of a total of 28 ships and five auxiliaries which are to be withdrawn. In the light of this reduction, I cannot see that the present programme of ship construction, welcome as it is, can possibly meet our vital needs as now revealed. Incidentally, I look forward to seeing how the Government will assess our need for more submarines. It was our submarines which kept the Argentine navy at home.
I want to say a word about the vital importance of bases both here and overseas. As we no longer have Simonstown, which was lamentably enough given up by the Labour Party some years ago, I think we must keep the Falklands and all other outposts such as St. Helena, South Georgia, and islands in the Indian Ocean. Do not let us weaken on any of these. Please do 189 not forget that Russia has a naval base in India, and naval facilities in ports in East and West Africa as well as an outpost in the Antarctic.
I recall that in the Falklands campaign Gibraltar, Chatham and Portsmouth were all vitally necessary to get our ships ready for the Falklands. It was absolutely amazing that our ships were able to get away and to be effective at vast distances at such short notice. But let us face it, it was only done with the aid of the bases I have mentioned, Gibraltar, Chatham, Portsmouth and of course Devonport, and probably others as well. I refuse to believe that any of them could be less necessary in a major war. It seems to me now that it would be sheer folly to scale them down or abolish them. And, for heaven's sake, I hope that the Foreign Office will not be too weak or compliant about Gibraltar, which has been British longer than it was ever Spanish and is full of most loyal British subjects, besides being in a vital strategic position. I say this although I have served in Spain and have many Spanish friends. I still think this is an absolutely essential British interest, and that we should stick to it by hook or by crook.
If we do not want to lose the next war, or appear so weak that it may start by mistake, then we have to hold our own everywhere in co-operation with our allies and to provide the ships, arms, and bases necessary for this purpose. There are times when the requirements of national security as we now see them in the light of the quite testing Falklands campaign are more important than reducing public expenditure. I personally think that deflation has anyhow gone quite far enough. I urge that building more ships and equipment would give employment, save our shattered shipbuilding and steel industries, and stimulate other industries in engineeering, electronics, armaments and other equipment right through industry. It would save many millions of pounds in unemployment insurance and the social services, and would stimulate growth and exports in all the new technologies on which our industrial growth and economic recovery must really depend.
In foreign affairs it would show our friends and enemies that we mean to defend our interests and NATO interests effectively. Considering that the Russians gained control, in the times of President Carter and the Labour Government here, of Afghanistan, Aden and the Red Sea entrance, Mozambique, Angola and Ethiopia with most of Eritrea, without the Western powers doing anything to stop them, it might reasonably be hoped that our determined action to make ourselves stronger would at least make the Kremlin more careful. We cannot go on losing cold war battles in this way. And who better to build up our strength than our Iron Lady?
Among my conclusions from the Falkland's affair I come much closer to home, to Ireland. As usual when we are up against it, the Irish tried to stab us in the back at the United Nations. Please take careful heed; there really must now be no possible question of any Irish settlement which would weaken our control of the coast of Northern Ireland near which our ships and submarines have to pass when going in and out of the Clyde. If Soviet submarines were able to lurk there—as they seem to practice lurking in Swedish inlets and as German submarines lurked off the West Coast of Ireland in the last war—they might succeed in follow- 190 ing our Polaris submarines and the effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent might be fatally undermined. Therefore, I urge that we must keep control of Northern Ireland, and as the population is now again shown to be 60 per cent. Loyalist, I see no democratic reason why we should not do so.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Lord Soper
My Lords, I wish to be associated with the acclamation offered to the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose, on the occasion of his most trenchant maiden speech. On the last two occasions on which defence has loomed in your Lordships' House, I presumed to profess and advocate the pacifist position. I warn myself on the highest authority that I am not necessarily heard for my speaking much, but I shall detain your Lordships for a brief time in assessing, at least in three areas, further reasons which seem substantial to me for the furtherance of the pacifist argument and its ultimate necessity.
I begin by referring to the ominous and thoroughgoing examination by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, of the deterioration in the present situation, with its accompanying dangers of an outbreak which the deterrent hitherto has apparently been sufficient to avoid. Let me add to that the apocalyptic references of my noble friend Lord Brockway, a problem not unknown to a theologian, the difference of course being that whereas it was divine injunction that provided the opportunity of apocalypse in the past, we now have our own do-it-yourself kit. That is not a frivolous remark; it bears witness to the ever-growing terminal condition, so to speak, of our present arms race and the calamity, the holocaust, which would supervene unless the race can be halted and, in its place, constructive peace programmes can be undertaken.
The pacifist case, as I see it, rests on the proposition that the avoidance of war does not demand an absolute and final rejection of every form of violence. What it does is claim that the repudiation of the weapons of war is the only effective method of defence against that holocaust, should it arise. In that regard my noble friend Lord Brockway has given evidence of a quite remarkable change that has taken place among ordinary people throughout the world. There can be no mistaking the ebullience of the claim for disarmament of various kinds, how widespread it is and how permeating it is of communities which hitherto have been averse to it or prevented from advocating it. It may be of interest to your Lordships to know that the. Patriarchate in Moscow now issues in English—I receive a copy of it every month—a pamphlet into which the peace proposals that have been mentioned today have found their way, and they are now widespread. This may be a very small thing, but it is a radical change, as I have every reason to know, and as I am sure your Lordships, too, will know.
The change in the situation which prompts me to advocate, with greater strenuousness if possible, the argument for pacifism lies in the very fact of the widespread dissemination of information and advocacy about the needs for disarmament. But here I find two very great difficulties, and I should not be honest if I did not mention them. I cannot believe that multilateral disarmament is a programme. It is an achievement, and it is an achievement that can be 191 forthcoming only when the fear of the hypocrisy or duplicity of the other side can be removed by a stronger emotion. So long as we claim that multilateral disarmament depends on the fact that we cannot trust the Russians, and that they cannot trust the Americans, and that neither of them can trust us, and so forth, it seems to me that any programme must begin elsewhere. Psychologically it does not seem to me to be a very difficult case to make that great achievements in disarmament must be the outcome of unilateral action of some description, which can remove that fear and can introduce into the situation a greater sense of confidence.
That is why in one sense I entirely would want to support unilateral disarmament as the way in which you initiate a programme which carries with it the necessary dynamic to overcome that fear which now possesses both sides, and all sides. But here, again, to be honest, I find difficulty. It seems to me that if you ask for unilateral disarmament in the nuclear field, and at the same time believe yourself still to be attached to a NATO organisation in which nuclear arms proliferate and are normal, then it is rather like joining a cricket team and agreeing to play provided that there is no fast bowling; and that to me is unacceptable. I do not believe that it is necessary for us to limit the concept of disarmament to nuclear weapons. I think that by so doing you imperil the outcome as much as you further it.
That brings me to the moral argument. I should like to begin here by a reference to Wittgenstein—if it is not impertinent—and his first incarnation, where he asserts that that which cannot be said clearly is strictly senseless. I find that a warming thought as I read of the various words that are used in the moral argument. Let me begin with one that is found in the working paper sponsored by the Church of England. It is that the just war, which is further canvassed, I think rather unfortunately, stops short at the use of indiscriminate weapons, and the fact that the nuclear threat provides an indiscriminate result means that it cannot be regarded as part of a just war. Well, that is all very well, but what about Dresden; was not that indiscriminate? The word "indiscriminate" is here a senseless word until it is applied to a degree, or to the abolition of discrimination, or to indiscriminate faculties that are exercised by those who drop bombs or spread nuclear, or indeed bacteriological, weapons.
I come now to a second word which, again, in general terms it seems to me is senseless. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London advocated action. I apologise for referring to this in his absence. I did not have an opportunity of saying it while he was still here. Now I am all for action, but action is a generic word which covers a multitude of virtues as well as a multitude of sins. It depends on what the action consists of. It depends whether is is an action to take away life or whether the action is to sustain it.
I come now to a further word, and here again I refer to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, who the other day said that he believed that there was a distinction between that which is morally good and that which is morally acceptable. I cannot follow such a convolution, because I think that, strictly speaking. the only thing that is morally acceptable is that which is morally good. In all this usage of words we are 192 concealing, it seems to me, the fact that the precise meaning of war today is the commission of all the sins; and, therefore, morally speaking, there is no way in which you can baptise war, even with the hosepipe of necessity.
I know that this sounds highfalutin, perhaps ridiculous, to some, and so completely idealistic as to be impossible of any practical outcome. I only want to make my witness again to the fact that I take very seriously the quite awful prospect that we may slither, if we do not plunge, into such a disaster as will put an end to everything that we hold dear. We have become so accustomed to taking that risk that we have become impervious, it seems to me, to the alternative risk.
In a very few days, on Armistice Day, we shall gather to remember the Armistice, and unless there has been a radical change due to changes in the hymn book, which I very much doubt, we shall sing,Oh God. our help in ages past";and when we get to the second verse, we shall sing:Sufficient is Thine Arm alone, And our defence is sure'".I find it increasingly impossible to subscribe to the principles and teachings of the Christian faith and even to contemplate in general terms—for that is the only way in which one can contemplate it—the practice of that which is totally averse to, and contrary to, the spirit of Christ.
This, of course, is an argument which applies to those who accept the Christian faith. This House officially does. I attend its prayer meeting regularly, and apart from one or two references to "the Lord of Hosts", as to which I demur, it is an essentially Christian undertaking. For that reason I hope your Lordships will not think it impertinent if, once again, I pay my tribute to that which sustains the faith: the way of non-violence is ultimately the only one which can succeed in bringing peace.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Lord Gisborough
My Lords, I was lucky enough to be able to visit China in March, and I felt it would be appropriate to say a few words about my experience there. We encountered great friendliness from those we met, and most of the population seemed by nature to be happy and smiling. We were generously looked after, and were shown every consideration and friendship. But when one sees the low standard of living at all levels that inevitably goes with communism, one wonders what on earth makes Left-Wing socialists in the West aspire to reduce their own countries to such poor standards.
In China, no one has anything but basic needs. Peasants work seven days a week, and there are no paid holidays. Health care has to be paid for; education is free. Wages are low, from about £60 a month for a very senior manager or general in the army, to £15 a month for a basic worker or soldier. With controlled prices and allocated living accommodation, they can live on this, but there are no luxuries, no choice and very primitive housing. Having said that, there are not many beggars to be seen. Needless to say. no one owns a car. Peculiarly, the ratio of pay of four to one from top to bottom compares with, in Britain, an after-tax difference of spendable wages of about five and a half to one. The difference in Russia, by comparison, is 40 to one.
193 There is vast unemployment in China, and they get no unemployment benefit. There is also a vast underemployment. For example, on a 330-acre farm run by a production brigade, there were 263 dependent households. On the farm that we saw, and which was the pride of the province, the new brick houses were of a design perhaps some 500 years out of date by Western standards.
Crime is on the increase, as elsewhere in the world; but when one sees the Left-Wing assault against the police in this country, it is interesting to see what happens in China. An offender is first criticised by a public security bureau officer, who is in effect their policeman. If the offender's attitude is not correct, the officer can then fine him on the spot. The miscreant can appeal, but it is to the public security bureau, the same people; and it is the same bureau which can then punish the miscreant. Only severe crime goes before a judge and a committee of the commune.
Many of the young that we met seemed dissatisfied and they were quick to tell us so—as were the officials quick to stop them from talking to us. They made clear their disenchantment with the whole system. They are all well aware of how much better is everyone else, living in capitalist countries, in South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and so on. As contacts with the West increase, so will the young increasingly want change and a better standard of living. Just as the old leaders want to retain power and to uphold the principles of the revolution which they won by the agony of the "Long March" and dare not hand over to the young in case they do not do so. so the young ones say that they did not do the "Long March" and are far more interested in better conditions than in ancient dogma. Thus, the octogenarian leaders, while extolling the virtues of retirement and handing over to the young, are tending individually to cling on to their own jobs and to die in office.
Some of our group—it was an IPU group—declared that there had been great progress in the last 10 years, and that in a few years Chinese cheap labour would create a commercial threat to the West on a par with Taiwan, Korea and Japan. I find this difficult to believe. The political system will never allow efficient production and the quality of the goods will never be good enough. For example, we were shown an old petrochemical works and were told that it made a profit. It did, indeed; but the cost of the crude oil and the price of the products were controlled and bore no relation to world prices.
But China expects to become much more active in world trade. It expects increasingly to export, for example, oil, coal, handicrafts and light industrial products, while importing heavy industrial and manufactured goods, clothes and food. The opening up of the country has also been demonstrated by the increase of tourism, and China will have had a million visitors in 1982. They desperately need foreign currency and could thus offer the prospect of huge import opportunities. The difficulties of selling to China are well enough known and great efforts and cost are too often rewarded by no orders. But we can help our firms to export if we help China to export and earn currency. I hope that one day China will have a more active trading outlet in the United Kingdom. In particular, I should like to see a Chinese pavilion at the 194 Royal Show, so enabling them to advertise their products, and we could the more easily make contacts to sell our agricultural technology—which is a field in which we should be able to be of great value to China.
My Lords, last and most important in our tour came our visit to Hong Kong. The business activity of Hong Kong accounts for no less than 40 per cent. of the foreign currency earned by China, and its continued prosperity is therefore of vital importance to the Chinese Government. They are well aware of that. They drive a hard bargain. An example is the sharing of the Peking—Hong Kong air route with Cathay Pacific. The Chinese have 47 flights and allow Cathay three flights in the week. They will not allow Cathay to enlarge their aeroplanes. In Shanghai, ships are built for Hong Kong owners. In Peking, there is a new hotel built and financed entirely by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, who yet owns only 49 per cent. of the equity. During the next 10 years, he will get his return and thereafter the hotel will become the sole property of the Chinese Government.
If Hong Kong does not flourish, they have a great deal to lose. The Chinese have a very long history, stretching back 6,000 years, of which they must be proud. Therefore, it is not surprising that they resent the political existence of Hong Kong and Macau, however dependent they are on them as a trade window. They will never agree that the treaties are internationally legal and it would be surely better to avoid dissension by discussing that point. Anyhow, they can move in by force any time they care to do so. They would have preferred to avoid discussing 1997 altogether. The Chinese have enough problems to solve without solving something that does not appear to be a problem to them, and which can only become a problem if they are forced to discuss it and take the inevitable stance of demanding sovereignty. Unfortunately, as we all know, western capital needs a politically safe minimum 15 years for continued development schemes. Indeed, if the Chinese were to take over Hong Kong, they would find themselves with appallingly complex problems of management and of integration with the mainland economy. Already young girls working for Hong Kong firms near Canton on piece rates, making widgets and earning as much as senior management, have created waves of social problems on the mainland.
So the important aspect for China is to have a face-saver so that they can feel that they have won a diplomatic victory and won the sovereignty of Hong Kong without disturbing the administration or confidence of Hong Kong. I think one answer would be for them to be given the right to give notice of revocation of all the treaties and the return of Hong Kong at any time from now on, but on one main condition: that the lease would then terminate exactly 20 years after the notice was given. This 20 year minimum period, starting at any time, would allow the Hong Kong population adequate notice at any time and would allow the continuation of development schemes even after notice was given, and would essentially maintain confidence that there would never be a sudden entry by the Chinese.
Further, that 20 years would give adequate time for the Chinese to assess and discover the effects on their own country of Hong Kong being run down. The Chinese have passed the dogma of Mao to some 195 extent; they have condemned the cultural revolution and have become pragmatists. Two factors would have to be met before the Chinese would be likely to give that notice. One would be if their exports were to make them independent of their earnings through Hong Kong. The other would be if living standards on the mainland became in equilibrium with those in Hong Kong. Neither is likely to happen.
The Chinese have suggested sharing the adminis- 196 tration of Hong Kong, with their officials working alongside the present administration. Joint administration would badly shake the fragile confidence as well as impeding efficient government. Finally, the matter of Hong Kong students was brought up in the very finely delivered maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose—a speech which, if I may say so, was a model of brevity and clarity. I believe that we must look again at this matter of students, if only as a hard matter of self-interested investment for Britain.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, I wish to address myself solely to one sentence in the gracious Speech which has scarcely, if ever, been mentioned since the opening speech of my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Cledwyn. The sentence reads:They are committed to a substantial programme of development aid concentrated on the poorest countries".That seems to me to be a very ironic, if not hypocritical, description of the policy of the present Government since it was elected in 1979.
It has become a truism to assert that foreign policy is the extension of domestic policy; but I should like to try to persuade the noble Lord who is to wind up this debate—as I have a succession of his predecessors—that what I am talking about tonight is not simply morality—although I hope in this House that we do not exclude morality—but hard economic fact. This Government, when they were elected, put into practice a domestic policy which has been broadly described as that of deflation. They cut public investment; they reduced social services; they diminished the standard of living of a large number of British people. They decreased employment and stagnated production. So it could hardly be expected, with this domestic policy, that the foreign policy of the Government would be that of a self-confident British nation taking part in the great drama of the 20th century. And, indeed, it has not been so.
I give as my first theme the famous words of John Donne, "No man is an Island, entire of itself". We in Britain are not an island, entire of itself. We have a part to play in world affairs which we cannot escape, even if we wish to do so. But where do this Government stand in the face of the realities of the international village within which we are all living? We have heard very little of this today. We have heard a great deal of the conventional, nationalist outlook: that the nation state is a personality to which we all owe automatic loyalty, that we have a national policy which must override all other considerations.
It is of course the responsibility of the Government in foreign policy, as in other policies, to think and act on behalf of the interests of the British people. But what are the interests of the British people? Are they separated from the interests of people in other parts of the world? I would suggest that there is a growing number of British people—particularly British young people within the Churches, if I may say so to the right reverend Prelate opposite—who recognise that Britain has a special part to play in the obscenity of the present era of human history, an obscenity which can be outlined in these figures. In 1981, 17 million children under the age of five died, very largely as a result of malnutrition. That is, over 45,000 children per day are dying for lack of, what? For lack of the kind of things which the 31 million unemployed in the Western industrialised world could have supplied. That is the obscenity of which I speak. Could there be a more horrific, ironic contrast than millions of children dying on the one hand and millions of men and women unemployed on the other?
And yet—may I emphasise to the noble Lord the Minister that I am not talking simply about charity—it is the policy of the present Government, and has been 198 their policy since the day they were elected, to cut the overseas aid programme of this country. It has been cut by more than any other item in Government expenditure, with the exception of housing. In this year alone, that figure has been cut by 11 per cent. In 1979. when the Government were elected, overseas aid totalled 1.10 percent. of public expenditure. This year the figure has fallen to 0.82 per cent. I suggest that in this period of three and a half years the Government can be accused of conniving at this horrific situation, in which children, men and women are dying for lack of that sustenance which could be provided if the Government's policy was so designed as to use the resources which are available.
To those who have spoken on the security angle may I give just one quotation to show the connection. Robert McNamara, who I do not need to describe in this House, said only in July of this year at the Brookings Institute:I believe that the US buys more security by spending a dollar on development assistance than on military hardware.This Government have followed their domestic policy into foreign policy. They have taken the Ministry of Overseas Development within the Foreign Office and therefore it comes within the purview of this debate—wrongly I believe, and disastrously I believe, but it has done so. Therefore, the Minister speaking for the Foreign Office is responsible for that part of foreign policy. May I ask the noble Lord the Minister just one auxiliary question, because I believe there may be some confusion. May I ask him whether the British contribution to the International Development Association has been reduced this year? Why I ask that question is because we know that the American contribution has been reduced—so much so that the World Bank president himself. William Clausen, had this to say about the IDA programme, which has been cut by 35 per cent:This is not a trimming programme. This is an amputating programme.In another place it was stated last week that the British contribution has been cut; this was not denied by the Government spokesman. But as I understood it, if the noble Lord the Minister will recall, when I asked a question along the same lines not very long ago I was at least given the impression that there was to be no British cut in the IDA programme. The IDA programme is of tremendous importance to the developing countries because it is that programme which provides for the soft loans, which are interest free and the capital of which does not have to be repaid for 50 years. So I ask the noble Lord the Minister that specific question.
Let me go on to talking the language of so many of Her Majesty's Ministers. At the time when the present Government took over, the aid programme of the outgoing Government was to be increased by 6 per cent. per year instead of being decreased by 15 per cent., as it has been under the present Administration. When there was a Labour Government it was estimated that the aid programme itself provided at least 40,000 jobs to British workers each year—and that was a conservative estimate. That figure, of course, is out of date. Can the noble Lord the Minister update the figure, and tell us today what is the number of jobs provided by the British overseas aid programme?
199 My Lords, can I get this through to the Government: The Government have a difficult task to perform, but they themselves can recognise that overseas aid is investment to the advantage not just of the recipient country but also the donor country. Can I get it through to Ministers that overseas aid is part of the oil which can lubricate the wheels of world trade and get world trade moving again? I know that Ministers have a very difficult task in persuading the electorate of that argument, but it is their responsibility, it is also our responsibility; but it is primarily the Government's responsibility. And yet it is the Government which have virtually destroyed that promising, hopeful endeavour which the Labour Government had put into operation from 1977 onwards, the programme of development education.
Let me just give your Lordships some very bald figures. The United Kingdom last year spent 0.3 pence on development education—that is educating the British people into the need for, and the self-interest of, overseas aid. The Swedes spent 23.6 pence, the Danes 6.9 pence. The Germans, the Belgians, the French, the Italians, the Dutch, even the Americans, all spent a great deal more on convincing their own people of the necessity for, and the self-interest of, overseas aid than did this Government. What do the Government intend to do about the tragic, horrific situation that I have spoken of in the world? What part are they going to play in educating the British public into the realities of our responsibilities?
In passing, may I say that, although it is very early days, following our debate of two years ago about the use of the fourth channel, I am encouraged with the beginnings of the fourth channel. They have shown some initiative; they have been innovative; they have included within their programming some observation of the realities of the world in which we live, not the narrow confines of the nationalist spirit of this Chamber.
If I may return to the point that I quoted at the beginning of my speech, unless the Government can recognise the kind of world in which we are living, unless they can recognise the relations that we have, whether we like it or not, with the millions of people outside these islands, then John Donne's forecast will come true and his abjuration to you might well at least give you cause to pause when he says:Any man's death diminishes me. because I am involved in mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls".If I may paraphrase, not only does it toll for thee, it tolls for our children and our grandchildren.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Lord Briginshaw
My Lords, in terms of academic debate one may be able to subtract economic mention from the title of our discussion this evening. In reality I suggest that it is impossible. Even an attempt becomes ludicrous. It is a question of priority as to how one places actuality, but it is for sure that the first action of the dynamic of our title is economic. I have no desire to pre-empt my remarks in tomorrow's debate on the Address in your Lordships' House.
We have experts in all possible spheres of total defence armed forces. Have we the same volume of 200 expertise in the totality of the matters worrying us with regard to the defence of our people in all the ramifications of what is entailed and may we not find that our present policies are misdirected and are an actual danger to our defence and basic national interests? I am suggesting with some confidence that there must be another and better way than the one we are at present taking. It may mean leaving aside at this moment matters of strict dogma.
The Times has recently been publishing editorial coverage in a number of "lessons" concerning the British Government's defence posture. It might be better to speak of the defence postures of successive United Kingdom Governments since 1945. I refer particularly to The Times issue of 4th November 1982. One can extract some positive features from its efforts. At least it begins to refer to the previously unthinkable concerning NATO. It said that since 1945 Britain had shed a world-wide capability upon which a 250-year-old maritime strategy used to depend. By 1971 most military resources were concentrated on NATO's central front and the Eastern Atlantic. It then went on to apply a critical analysis of the period 1945 to 1971. Yet it put forward a general continuity in fresh wrappings and nothing in policy direction really changed, whereas I am, with many others, trying to give voice to a fresh, but simple, suggestion; one of total reappraisal of defence policies which have manifestly failed, and taking into serious and urgent consideration the critical situation facing the peoples of the United Kingdom and of the world right now. There must be another way, and I am optimistic enough to believe that it can be found.
I do not profess to be a pacifist, although I greatly respect the pacificist views held and expressed by noble Lords in this House and elsewhere. I would not seek to argue that dialogue between unilateralists and multilateralists is irrelevant or ought not to go on. but time is so obviously short that I do seek—and so should we all—to get urgent and positive movement in an increasingly dangerous world situation. That means that in the United Kingdom we need to unravel our own premises.
I do not suggest that there is no such thing for a nation to establish as a just defence structure. That is the kernel of the matter. What do we mean by a just defence structure? Who and what are we defending? For me, it is the national interest of the whole British people, priority being given to their survival, which is simply the defence of the real wellbeing of the people of the United Kingdom and definitely not the continued operation of policies which lead to the possible incineration of our country and the annihilation of the British people. Such is not a policy of national defence, but a policy of lunacy.
Our grasp in regard to defence structure must never get beyond our just requirements or abilities. This means that the prime concentration must be on our economic strength. We must assess that our standing in world affairs is always ultimately controlled by this factor. It is, I suggest, our failure to accept such simplicities that has landed us with the contradictions which now face us, which in turn now threaten the very existence of our people—I refer particularly to the increasingly rapid pace and extent of our de- 201 industrialisation, and the pursuance of policies which seek to turn back the pages and actuality of history, instead of participation in a universal development of historical opportunities in establishing a new world order. Failure to follow such paths and possibilities has produced a weaponry which, but for the discovery and extraction of our oil resources in particular, would have bankrupted our country. We have already wasted billions of pounds gained from these resources by playing politics and indulging in doctrinal sales of national assets to the detriment of our national security. A classic example is the Britoil doctrinal sale. By these and other similar acts we loosen our control-grip of our North Sea assets.
So economic strength and pro-human and intelligent direction by our rulers is the supreme prize and necessity. Yet the whole structure of the military defence world systems which we have so elaborately constructed is built on sand and must eventually collapse unless we, by our own misplaced efforts, hasten our own demise as humanity by bringing them into action or we really seek settlement and accommodation in world affairs. In this our Government have a responsibility to get beyond a revival of cold war rhetoric, tactics and negatively dangerous posturings and turn to a real expression of patriotism in ending the give-away of British interests in the base interests of doctrinaire positions. Successive Governments have done this since 1945. We have been caught in the traps of our own ideologies. We have given away many of our first inventions in science and technology. We cannot be serious if we glibly talk of our way of life in a context in which there is not life—a context of mutual annihilation. It remains a truism in the world of today that we either live together or we die together.
§ 10.14 p.m.
The Marquess of Ailsa
My Lords, I will be very interested to learn whether Her Majesty's Government have had any further thoughts regarding their policy towards the Horn of Africa and its neighbouring countries and ocean. Since I asked that question in June this year, during the last Session, certain events have taken place. Early in July Somalia was invaded by Ethiopia. At the outset every endeavour was made to give the impression that this was the work of Somali dissidents who were only aided by Ethopia, these dissidents being under the impression that they had only to enter Somalia for the Government of President Siad Barre to fall. In this they were totally mistaken. The Somali people, whether or not they like the Government they have, certainly do not wish for any Government that is supported by Ethiopia, and they have made that completely plain.
The invasion that took place was one of the acts that has taken place under the tripartite pact of Aden, Libya, South Yemen and Ethiopia working together. The object of this pact is to create revolutionary cooperation; the purpose is to create disability and insecurity for all its neighbours. That is its purpose.
Recently I visited Somalia and while there I had the opportunity of meeting the president of that country and various members of his Government as well as going to the front and meeting his commanders in the field and seeing his troops in the field. To me there was very clear evidence of a very strong Ethiopian 202 presence. I was able to see, and I have outside, photographs of Ethiopian prisoners. Equally, I was able to see a large number of documents, some of these being personal letters, others being identification papers from Ethiopian soldiers. There were orders written on message pads, exhortations in Russian on message pads as well as instruction manuals which were very clearly written in the Russian language. These manuals dated from about 1980–81; there was nothing for 1982. I was also able to see a number of captured armoured vechicles, ordinary cargo vehicles, artillery and normal infantry weapons, all of a very recent origin and nothing earlier than 1980 in issue.
The Somali army, while it has to date been able to stop the invasion, has not as yet been able to throw the Ethiopians entirely out of Somali territory, the main reason for this being its total lack of modern equipment. The Somali army has not been re-equipped in any major form since 1977.I understood while I was there that American weapons were coming to hand, and that their soldiers were being trained in their use. I just hope that these weapons were the right weapons and were in sufficient quantity because, as it stands, the Somali army and Somali people know that they are under constant threat, since the Ethiopians are supported, under the pact of Aden, by the Libyans, who I understand are providing the money, and by the South Yemenis who are providing trained pilots.
I might add that, I understand, the Somalis can put only eight or nine aircraft into the air at any one time. Nobody has ever been able to tell me how many Ethiopian planes come into the air. The artillerymen, who are on a daily basis bombarding the Somali positions, are South Yemenis. Down to battalion level the Ethiopian army has Russian advisers. Behind them there are somewhere in the region of 15,000 Cuban regular troops. These Cubans, I admit, have not yet crossed into Somalia, but they are there behind, ready to act as a long-stop. All the time the Somalis are waiting for another attack. This attack may come either in the North to take Berber, an important port which may be used by the Americans for their redeployment, or they may take Mogadishu in the South, or they can, if they so desire, cut Somalia into two by severing the road links between the North and the South of that country. This is, as of today, how the situation stands.
All this has played havoc with the Somali economy. They have done their best to try to make sense out of their economy, but they have now had to go on to a war footing which, as we all know, makes life exceedingly difficult. Just to add joy to these proceedings, Libya, in its wisdom, has decided to try to make things more difficult by sending forged currency into Somalia. All these dissidents that we hear about are paid and are given large sums of forged currency, with the sole intention of having this circulated into the Somali economy to try to bring it down.
Are Her Majesty's Government prepared to take any positive action to show that they support Somalia just now in its time of trouble?—more positive action than just saying how horrible it is, but that it is somebody else's job. Before leaving this point I must say at once how pleased I am to learn that Her Royal Highness Princess Anne was able to go right up to within five miles of the border between Somalia and Ethiopia. We all owe her a great debt of gratitude for 203 her courage in taking on and performing this arduous task. It has done a lot of good for us in that country. Recently a junior Minister went to that country, but more needs to be done, because we must try to win the hearts and minds of the people of Somalia, in fact of the people within not only Somalia but the Sudan, Egypt and other countries in that area because they are beset with difficulties which we here find it hard to comprehend.
One thing which Her Majesty's Government could, and in my view should, do is to endeavour to get a settlement of the border dispute which goes on between Ethiopia and Somalia. This dispute goes back a very long way, well into the depths of the Colonial days. It is true that the Ogaden was finally made over to Abyssinia only in 1954, but the border has never been resolved. If that question could be settled, much of the steam of the trouble that pervades the area would be taken out, and that would go a long way to settling the area. I have heard that the Somali Government have no territorial claims over the Ogaden. that they are only concerned that their fellow Somalis who live in that area may live their life as they are accustomed to do. and live it as equal citizens with whoever else lives there.
Another aspect at which I feel Her Majesty's Government could look is the aid currently being given to Ethiopia. At present, much economic and material aid is being poured into that country and. from what I am able to learn, they are only laughing at us for giving it to them. I have heard accounts on good authority, but whether they are true I know not, that a great deal of grain, for example, which has been supplied by the West to Ethiopia has been sold on to the Soviet Union. Many of the other supplies are being used to bolster the Ethiopian economy so as to allow it to carry out what it calls resettlement within the Ogaden; what it calls "resettlement" we might call genocide.
There is a deliberate programme by the Ethiopians of making life for Somalis who live in the Ogaden—they are the natural inhabitants of that country—intolerable and unliveable. Their herds are destroyed, their wells fouled and they are rounded up and transported elsewhere in Ethiopia. There is a programme of trying to encourage Somalis from the Ogaden who have fled into Somalis and who are now in refugee camps, to return so that they may be resettled in other refugee camps elsewhere in Ethiopia. We seem to support this.
To me there is an even more sinister programme going on. Most of us were brought up to believe that Ethiopia was at least basically a Christian country. Now there is a deliberate programme of eliminating all religious leaders, whether Christian. Moslem, or whatever, with a desired effect of creating a simply godless society. Are Her Majesty's Government prepared to go on supporting that kind of Government? I have recently heard that in this country certain companies are helping to improve the ports of Massawa and Massara, which are currently used by the Soviet navy. How kind we are to the Eastern bloc!
I do not wish to keep your Lordships for much longer, but I should like to turn for a few minutes to what I term as the Soviet influence, which lies behind much of what is going on within the Horn of Africa 204 and in the Indian Ocean. I think that it is clearly known—I should be surprised if it were not—that the desire of the Soviet Union is to have control in some way or other of all the countries in Africa and in Asia, in certain parts of Arabian Asia. In this regard she has instigated the creation of the pact of Aden, of which I have already spoken—a pact including Libya, Ethiopia and South Yemen. There is also within the Indian Ocean what they like to term the zone of peace, which includes the Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. I am always intrigued that within the zone of peace the only people who may be accepted in this matter are those who believe in the Marxist-Lenin ideals. The rest of us are deliberately excluded and. if possible, driven out. I am certainly aware that the intention of the zone of peace is to deny to ourselves—Great Britain—as well as the West, the use of the island of Diego Garcia by the American Rapid Deployment Force, while at the same time the same peaceful Marxists-Leninists are prepared to allow their facilities to be used by the Soviet navy.
I now turn back to the mainland—the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, North Yemen and Oman. Because they do not wish to come under the influence of Marxism-Leninism, they are under threat. I feel it is essential that we, or Her Majesty's Government, show that we are prepared to give positive political and practical support to those countries that wish to be free, and wish to show that they have freedom under the law—not by the gun.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Lord Gifford
My Lords, I make no apology for devoting my speech tonight to southern Africa-southern Africa where there has been building up over the years a confrontation between the forces of apartheid and the forces of those who wish to win, or who wish to retain, their freedom. At the heart of that confrontation at the moment is Angola, where I have recently been travelling—a country which is far too little visited and too little known. In relation to southern Africa, there are features which are perhaps unlike other zones of conflict around the world. In the first place, the United Kingdom has a very direct responsibility for the future of southern Africa. We are one of the five members of the contact group which is seeking to negotiate the implementation of the United Nations resolution for the independence of Namibia; we are a major trading partner of South Africa itself; and we are much more closely involved than we are in many other theatres of war.
Secondly, in perhaps no other area of conflict around the world are the issues so clear as to where justice and morality lie. On the one hand, we have the South African force occupying Namibia in defiance of international law and in defiance of the International Court of Justice—a presence which I do not think any country in the world, including ourselves, accepts as lawful. And in South Africa itself we have the one remaining Government which is set up on the basis of racialism. There really can be no doubt whether we should be on the side of apartheid or whether we should be on the side of those who are struggling for their freedom against it.
That regime has suppressed great leaders, like Nelson Mandela, now in his twentieth year of imprisonment; and has brought about the death of 205 young men of great promise, such as Steve Biko and Neil Aggett, who met their death in gruesome situations in police stations. There is a new constitution being put forward which is said to be more liberal and more democratic, but which is really a confidence trick. It maintains racial separation, it maintains the Bantustan policy, where 13 per cent. of the land, little fragments of it, is to be set aside, on the basis of racial division, for 80 per cent. of the population.
But in recent years, particularly since the winning of independence of Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe, there has been a more gruesome development. There has been a desperate escalation of violence and of terror, orchestrated by the Republic of South Africa, against a number of neighbouring states. Angola was invaded in August 1981 by a large force of some 11,000 South African troops. An area of South Angola, in the Province of Cunene, remains under South African occupation. I visited the province next door to Cunene, the Province of Huila, which is having to contend with the flood of Angolan refugees fleeing from what has become a hell in the province where they live. They have recorded 130,000 displaced people who have made that flight some 200 miles to the north and who are having to be accommodated, sheltered, fed and healed in camps for displaced persons. The danger of an escalating war hangs over the whole of that country.
It is not just Angola. In Mozambique, on the other side of Africa, a different strategy is being pursued. Armed bands are being recruited, trained and flown in by the South African forces. They call themselves the Mozambique Resistance Movement, but they are a creation of the South Africans. Their tactic is partly to create terror in Mozambiquan villages and partly to commit acts of sabotage by means of sophisticated saboteurs along the communication lines between Zimbabwe and Mozambique and the sea. In Zimbabwe itself, a similar tactic is being pursued. South African troops have been killed inside Zimbabwe and were said to be on an unauthorised mission. Acts of sabotage against the Zimbabwe air force have been carried out, acts which could have been possible only with sophisticated South African weaponry. Even the Seychelles, out in the Indian Ocean, has been the subject of an attempted mercenary coup. One asks in those circumstances: who are the terrorists?
There are not just acts of military warfare; there are acts of direct assassination. Many noble Lords in this House will have mourned the murder of Ruth First, a great fighter against the evils of apartheid, murdered by a letter bomb while at work in Mozambique. In Zimbabwe, in Lesotho, in Zambia, in Swaziland, in Botswana, similar acts of murder, of explosion, of deliberate assassination of leaders of the African National Congress have been perpetrated. That being the state of affairs, let us look to the responsibility of the United Kingdom. We look, of course, immediately at the situation over the negotiations for the independence of Namibia. During recent months there has been expressed a number of reports of optimism about the progress of those negotiations. I spent a long time earlier last month with Paulo Jorge, the Foreign Minister of Angola—incidentally, a white man. I say, "incidentally" because one of the exciting things about 206 both Angola and Mozambique, in particular, is how the question of colour has become totally incidental and how multiracial, non-racial, partnership has become reality. Paulo Jorge did not share the optimism of those reports.
Many aspects of the Namibian independence process have yet to be agreed. There is no agreement as to the form of the electoral system for the elections to the constituent assembly; there is no clarity about the composition of the United Nations assistance force and, above all, there is no sign of a cease-fire—which is the very first step in the independence process. But what is happening is that the negotiations have been stalled and sidetracked because of the obsession of the United States with the presence of Cuban troops in Angola.
Cuban troops entered Angola at a time when South African forces. South African columns, were pushing through the country and approaching the capital. Luanda. That was in 1975. Since then, there have been talks and attempts to consider reducing the number of Cuban troops, but every time that is considered there is fresh aggression in the South from the South African forces. I met members of the Cuban assistance force. They are not sinister figures. They have given great assistance to the Government of Angola, both in military and technical ways. They are a supportive force; they in no way control anything; the one watchword of the Angolan Government is that it should be Angolans who run the country, neither Cubans, because they happen to be the allied force nor, for instance, the United States because it happens to be Texaco and Gulf Oil who are exploiting the oil resources of Angola. They wish to be a non-aligned nation and I believe that the United Kingdom Government recognise that and are anxious to have fruitful and positive relations with them.
But what we have to ask ourselves is this. What is the contact group doing? What are the other members of the contact group, including ourselves (who do not, I believe, share this obsession with Cuban troops in Angola), doing to change the aberration of the United States? When is pressure going to be taken away from this issue of Cuba and Angola and brought back to where it needs to be applied—that is to say, upon the Republic of South Africa—so that we shall discover whether South Africa really is willing, as it claims to be, to allow free and fair elections in Namibia?
In Angola they are acutely conscious of the might of the South African military machine and that it could be used to escalate the present aggression still further. What Paulo Jorge said to me was this: "We are not going to allow our country to become another Lebanon. If there is an escalation by South Africa, we will call in the support of our allies to defend our territorial integrity". That is a measure of the menace which hangs over that country.
In the longer term we shall have to come to terms with the bitter struggle between the mass and the minority in South Africa itself. We shall have to realise that it is in both our political and economic interests to support the struggle for freedom, to isolate South Africa and not to be a party—as we were only last week—to a vote in the International Monetary Fund which gave assistance to those who wished to continue the policies of white supremacy.
207 There have been reports that we might try to play one issue off against the other; to allow South Africa to give way to independence to Namibia in return for some guarantee that apartheid is secure in South Africa. We cannot make such deals. Not only would it be immoral, but the people of South Africa themselves will not let us. The existence of a Government which relies on racism, which divides people according to black and white and Indian and coloured according to their origins and their colour, infects the whole world. It gives courage to racialists in our own country, and we have the duty to use the considerable influence that we possess to ensure that that regime becomes consigned to the dustbin of history before there is more bloody and bitter confrontation in Southern Africa.
§ 10.48 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, our debate began with a distinguished speech from the noble Viscount, a feature of which was his bold and fresh defence of NATO's flexible strategy. I think that it was the first time that a British Minister argued that, in the event of imminent defeat in conventional war in Europe, a single nuclear shot carefully selected as to its size and as to its target, possibly accompanied with a warning in advance, might not provoke nuclear retaliation and might bring the fighting to an end. I hope that I am doing the noble Viscount justice.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, this matter is extraordinarily important. The noble Lord has very nearly done me justice. I actually asked the question whether, if NATO did this, the aggressor would retaliate, whether he would escalate and whether it was in his interests. I leave the House to answer.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I think that the noble Viscount is being needlesssly defensive because I was going to agree to the extent that it is impossible to say that retaliation would be certain. It would be impossible to say that such action might not in fact bring the hostilities to an end. What I missed in the speech of the noble Viscount was a declaration that it was the policy of Her Majesty's Government to avoid being placed in a situation where such a decision might have to be taken. I missed in his speech any argument that a NATO strategy which has to rely on the first use of nuclear weapons is an unsatisfactory strategy which needs to be changed. That is certainly the position of those of us on these Benches. I had hoped that the noble Viscount might agree with the Supreme Allied Commander, General Rogers, when he drew attention to the unsatisfactory nature of having to rely on the possibility of using nuclear weapons first.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, I can only ask the noble Lord to read Hansard carefully. Never at any point in my speech did I say that this was the key to defence. Indeed, I would merely ask him to read the speech in its full context. I was prepared to speculate on his line in the event of all sorts of other things having failed.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, the last thing I want to do is in any way to misrepresent the noble Viscount, but I want to make it perfectly clear that we on these Benches regard this strategy as wholly unsatisfactory 208 and as something which needs to be changed. We cannot understand why it should come about that NATO has this inferiority in conventional weapons. I think the gap is often exaggerated. If one reads with care the publication of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the gap is not so wide as is sometimes assumed and it is not, in our view, unbridgeable. We find it extraordinary, when the Western countries are so much more advanced in technology, including military technology, than the Russians—and the experience of Israeli operations in Syria convinces us still more of this superiority of Western military technology—when we lead the Russians so strongly in GNP and when we do not have their problem of two fronts, with China on the other side of them, that we should be conventionally weaker than the Soviet Union, and we are not content with that situation. It is because we believe there has not been the political will to have a proper conventional balance in Europe—because we have tried to get defence there on the cheap.
We on these Benches also see a danger that, as things stand now, the decision to use nuclear weapons first might be taken at too low a level, in conditions of fighting where there is some danger of our forward nuclear weapons being overrun. We were sorry that the noble Viscount did not pay attention to the constructive proposal we put forward for a battlefield nuclear weapons-free zone in Central Europe. It is not a major proposal. The difficulties are obvious. Verification would be difficult. It would not mean that the zone could not have nuclear weapons exploding in it from outside, nor that nuclear weapons could not be quickly moved into the zone in the event of fighting. All these things we concede. Nevertheless, it does remove the possibility of a low-level decision to use these battlefield nuclear weapons, perhaps in danger of being overrun, very much too early. We are sorry that the noble Viscount appeared, from what he said, to rule out this concept. This is the greatest danger of a nuclear war. Always the arguments are conducted in the belief that the first nuclear strike will be an SS20. a Minuteman or something like that; but the first nuclear weapon to be exploded in a war will almost certainly be either a nuclear depth charge or one of these small, nuclear, battlefield weapons. And that is why we pay great attention to this proposal.
Another feature of the debate has been the number of stirring defences of Mr. Begin. This was a surprise, I think, to some of us. I have never concealed my own view of Mr. Begin since, 36 years ago, I was a junior member of a Government which very rightly put a price on Mr. Begin's head. I agree with Sir Harold Wilson, a longstanding and loyal friend of Israel, who recently said publicly that in his view Mr. Begin was an evil man.
I must avoid the temptation of getting into the Middle East debate, but I would like to make it clear that so far as these Benches are concerned, we stand four square for the maximum security of Israel within her recognised frontiers—but we also utterly condemn the invasion of Lebanon and the bombardment of West Beirut, which completed the killing of 17,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. We utterly condemn, too, the appalling massacre at the camps inside West Beirut. We also condemn the colonisation of the West Bank and the brutal repression of 209 the Palestinians there. It has not stopped; our attention may have been diverted by the appalling massacres in Beirut, but in fact there are still scores of unarmed civilians—sometimes demonstrators, sometimes passers-by—shot by the Israeli defence forces or by Israeli soldiers.
In this debate, the most challenging and provoking of all the speeches, I found, was that of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, which was very keenly listened to by noble Lords and seemed to win a great deal of agreement. He spoke of the rift in the alliance, which is surely the most immediate, topical and important subject in almost the whole field of world affairs today. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, listed the rifts. He mentioned the steel quarrel, the pipeline quarrel, the American vote on the Falklands, and the flow of American arms to the IRA. I confess that I expected him to follow with some polite criticisms of the United States Administration, or with a polite request that President Reagan might mend his ways. But I do not believe I am doing the noble Lord an injustice when I say that I did not hear any criticism of the policies and actions of the United States Administration in these and other matters.
Instead, we had some criticism of the European reaction to the rifts. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. said that at best it has produced a tendency to equate the Soviet Union and the United States; a kind of dangerous neutrality. At worst, he said, it creates a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism in Western Europe. I take a different view, with great respect, from the noble Lord on this. I do not believe that the Europeans are to blame in this way. I am a strong supporter of NATO, but, as I think, we have watched a series of extraordinarily foolish actions by the United States Administration which has created strong and entirely well-justified criticism in Western Europe.
I cannot go through all the examples but will take the most important of all—the question of United States' strategic nuclear policy. We on these Benches accept that while the Russians have nuclear weapons the West must have nuclear weapons too. But it is one thing to support an effective Western deterrent and quite another to approve the preposterous scale of current United States production of nuclear weapons. An effective nuclear deterrent, after all, is one that is invulnerable and can inflict unacceptable damage on an adversary; that is an effective nuclear deterrent. It can thus quite reasonably be argued that a single Soviet or American missile submarine of the smaller type carrying, say, 100 warheads on station is an effective nuclear deterrent—100 warheads; and yet the Americans are now in the process of increasing the number of their strategic warheads from 9,000 to 15,000.
This is lunacy, dangerous lunacy. They are building a strategic nuclear capability some 50 times larger than is necessary for an effective nuclear deterrent. The Russians are doing so too. Let me risk the wrath of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and maybe of the noble Viscount too, by comparing their attitude of the two great powers in this regard. Why are they both doing it? Why do they both build up this absurd overkill? Both reply that they must match the other's build up; both reply that the other is planning a protracted 210 nuclear war; both reply that the other thinks it can win a nuclear war.
§ Viscount Trenchard
My Lords, the noble Lord earlier put great faith in the International Institute's figures of comparison, and I know that he has read them carefully, the last two years' reports. I know they have confirmed clearly the great swing that has occurred, and is still going on at the present time, towards the balance tilting in favour of the Soviet Union, heavily in the intermediate area, nearer equal in the strategic.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, may I ask the noble Viscount, what is he arguing? Is he arguing that if you already have a fantastic overkill of fifty times the deterrent needed, the fact that the other side has sixty times means that you must have sixty times?
§ Viscount Trenchard
That is why we back the American moves to multilateral disarmament, my Lords. The fact that the allies spent less in all areas on defence and declined as a percentage of their GDPs was not matched by the Soviet Union, which built up its arms in the opposite direction. The reversal of that may lead to multilateral disarmament, which is what we all want.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, with great respect to the noble Viscount, how likely is it that this build-up of overkill on both sides creates the conditions for multilateral disarmament? Does it not increase tension, increase suspicion on both sides? How far is it possible for people who believe in the necessity of their own country's overkill to go to the negotiating table and negotiate it away with the other side? I think it very unlikely.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, will the noble Lord help me, and I think some other Members of the House, in one respect? In comparing the two sides in this way, and leaving aside whether there is overkill or not, does he agree that one side, one alliance and one power, is aggressive and the other is defensive?
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, I think that is a little over-simple, May I come to that later. What I am arguing is that the building up of fantastic overkill both by the Soviet Union and the United States is not, as the noble Viscount suggested, a happy prelude to multilateral disarmament, but it creates exactly the opposite atmosphere; and, what is more, that people, Soviet and American leaders, who are supporting the overkill, who are dedicated to creating the overkill, are on the whole by that fact less well qualified to get rid of the overkill by negotiations at the conference table. It means, in my view, that any Soviet or American negotiator who thinks that his country's overkill adds to its security should not be allowed within 100 miles of Geneva, because he does not understand the way that nuclear weapons have transformed the whole problem of disarmament and security; he does not 211 understand that there is a stopping point in the number of nuclear weapons needed for deterrence; he does not understand that both sides have nothing to lose and much to gain by rapid agreement to sweep away this overkill capacity. It is little wonder, in view of what I am saying, that discouraging reports have come from Geneva.
I am challenged by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to say that one side is aggressive and the other defensive. I believe that is a little simple. Let me again risk his wrath by comparing the Soviet Union and the United States. Let us compare the most typical and most important matter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. One of the major features of recent events in Palestine has been the remarkable restraint shown by the Soviet Union. We have all said hard things about the Russians and—rightly—about their foreign and defence policies.
We have rightly pointed to Afghanistan and called the Russians aggressive and expansionist. But let us suppose for one moment that the Russians had acted in relation to the Arabs as the Americans have been acting in relation to Israel. Let us imagine that President Brezhnev, after saying that he would ensure Arab military supremacy in the region, continued lavishing arms and money on Arab countries after they had illegally invaded Israel and were bombarding Tel Aviv from the air, sea and land. What would we say? We would say that the Russians were outrageously aggressive and a menace to world peace. Yet we know, and no one can deny it. that President Reagan has guaranteed Israel military supremacy in the region and continued lavishing arms and money on Israel after it had invaded an Arab country and was bombarding Beirut from air, land and sea.
These may not be popular things to say, but I am challenged by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to say that one side is aggressive and the other defensive. I challenge him to apply that to the recent events in the Middle East to the disadvantage of the Soviet Union.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, since the noble Lord insists on suggesting that he might incur my wrath, is he aware that it is not my wrath that he incurs but my astonishment? Is he now telling the House that, in the view of the Liberal Benches, the Soviet Union is not an aggressive, expansionist and imperialist power when compared with the United States of America? Is he denying on behalf of his party that the Warsaw Pact is an aggressive organisation and that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a defensive one? I shall be most grateful for a straight answer to a straight question.
My Lords, the answer is "no," and that I entirely agree with the noble Lord. He said that one side was aggressive and the other defensive. I said that that was too simple. I gave a single example, which I stand by, where it is not quite correct to say that one side is aggressive and the other defensive.
However, it is not only in the Middle East and not only American nuclear policy. I do not mind criticising the United States Administration. Europeans are not second class citizens. We are not satellites of the United States. Wherever we look, we see in the American Administration, the speeches and actions of President Reagan, whether over the Middle 212 East, the pipelines, the vote on the Falklands, the sanctions against Poland, nuclear weapons, the law of the sea or arms for Taiwan—I do not have time to go into that now—a long catalogue of folly. Why should Europeans feel guilty about criticising the United States Administration? We support NATO and we support the United States, but we have our rights.
I conclude on this far more important point. It is no wonder that the West is divided, but it is not the fault of the Europeans. It is the fault of the United States Administration. The reaction of Europeans should not be weasel words or stringing along. Not at all. They should examine these issues on their merits and reach an agreed European view on them. They should try to get the European view greater weight within the alliance, ensuring that Europe's calmer and more experienced attitude on these major problems carries more weight; resisting measures to escalate the cold war—and I was so glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, saying that he thought that reconciliation between East and West should be our objective—and pressing for a serious commitment by both sides to nuclear disarmament. I believe that I am speaking for these Benches in what I have said and that I am speaking for quite a large section of European opinion. I believe that, to the extent that Her Majesty's Government follow this road, they will get support from these Benches.
§ 11.10 p.m.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, a great many different opinions have been expressed on many topics, but we are all unanimous, I think, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose of Beoch, on his excellent maiden speech. It was a special pleasure for me to listen to him, having profited from his wise advice when we both worked together at the Foreign Office. Since then I, like many others, have admired from a distance his most impressive career in Hong Kong and the great services rendered to Hong Kong, to Britain and to mankind at large by the success he had there. I would add the hope that the Government will decide to follow at least some of the advice that he gave. We on these Benches listened with particular interest to what he said about a more favourable attitude towards citizens from dependent Commonwealth countries who come here as students. I would particularly commend that advice to the Government.
I want to begin what I have to say by reference to the Falklands, because I believe that it is not only important in itself, but that it contains certain lessons that govern the conduct of foreign policy as a whole. In the first place, we are now up against, as one always is after a victory of any kind, the problems that victory brings. We have to decide what the future of the islands is to be and Britain's future relation to them. But we ought not to allow the fact that we have now got some rather difficult problems to solve to start us wringing our hands and regretting that we ever sent the task force at all. That would be a most disastrous mistake.
If we had not sent the task force, the Falkland islanders would now be ruled by an arrogant, successful dictatorship which had no regard at all for either their wishes or their interests. We could not look to anyone to come and help, since we ourselves had not been prepared to play our part. The whole world 213 would have drawn the conclusion that, as far as resisting aggression is concerned, "You can count Great Britain out". These would have been very dangerous results, and we should bear them in mind if ever we are worried about the inevitable results of having sent the task force. We now have problems to solve.
I think that we are right in saying that negotiations cannot begin yet. That is partly for emotional reasons which are perhaps difficult for even those foreign countries most friendly to us fully to understand. However, now let us consider the following. If we say—and I think that we are justified in saying it—that we cannot begin the negotiations yet, then we must answer the questions: When? How soon? We cannot for ever go on saying, "Not yet". We must understand why some countries—old friends and members of the Commonwealth—genuinely well disposed towards us, were not prepared to do more than abstain. Indeed, the Prime Minister when speaking particularly with reference to the French abstention, spoke as if abstention was a mark of real goodwill.
Why is that? It is because most of the nations in the United Nations feel, "Well, we all know that sooner or later this matter has got to be talked about, negotiated and agreed on", and they do not feel prepared to give a vote which might suggest that they think that negotiations can be put off for ever. That is the lesson that we have to learn from that vote: that, understandable as our own feelings are, in the end we must come to the negotiating table. One of the things we must do when we get there is to ensure that there is a proper status for the islanders; that is to say, that they have real self-government, enjoyment of all the ordinary human rights and a certainty that their country will not be overrun by people brought in from outside.
Many permutations of a solution have been offered. When the war was on the Government themselves went a very long way with a proposal for a United Nations administrator, which the Argentines, if they had had any sense at all, would have accepted on the spot. I wonder whether the Government still stand by proposals of that kind. We know that they are not ready to answer that question at present, but it is a question that will have to be answered.
However, whatever solution is adopted, whatever arrangement over sovereignty is reached, it must be one that makes sure that the islanders themselves have all that we understand by the real substance of liberty and human rights. For my own part, I still take the view, which I expressed in the several debates that we had when the war was on, that we have to think of this problem as part of the whole problem of the Southwest Atlantic and, indeed, the Antarctic: that we must have some kind of international grouping jointly responsible for the development of that part of the world. That must be reconciled with the human rights of the islanders.
It seems to me, then, that the whole Falklands episode illustrates this point about foreign policy. You will not get anywhere if you are not resolute in meeting present difficulties. If we had not been resolute at the time of the invasion, we should be nowhere at all now, with nobody except a victorious Argentine Government deciding what is to happen to the Falklanders. But in the long run you do not get anywhere unless, in 214 addition to being resolute and firm in dealing with an immediate emergency, you have some vision and imagination for the future. To take a dead view like, "We have won back the islands; there they are; that is that", is also not the right answer.
I believe that this runs throughout foreign policy. Possibly one of the reasons why human affairs are, on the whole, so unsatisfactorily run is that so few human beings possess the qualities to enable you to be firm in meeting a present emergency and the qualities that enable you to show vision, imagination and so on for the future. However, that is what we must try to do, and it does not apply only to the Falklands.
Talking of vision for the future, when the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose, was speaking I was reminded of an occasion in 1929 when, as a young student, I attended a meeting of the General Assembly of the then League of Nations. I heard the Chinese delegate make a speech drawing attention to the article in the covenant of the League which said that there were certain treaties that were generally accepted as being out of date and that one of the League's jobs was to deal with this problem and try to bring the situation into line with reality. I think that I was one of the very few people in the hall who was actually listening because I had come there as a student and it was all new to me. The delegates had heard this speech over several years and were giving it no more than a polite show of attention. It is interesting to speculate that if it had been taken seriously, if the West had realised how deeply the Chinese felt about the unequal treaties, and had understood that in 1929 or earlier, we might have a very different situation now.
Of course, the Falklands episode has provided one of the points of strain between the United States and ourselves, and between the United States and Europe, which the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, was listing with, I thought, perhaps rather unnecessary relish recently. It is true that there are a number of points on which we have disagreed, and have been right to disagree, with the United States. I do not think I find their vote incomprehensible, but I still think it was a profound mistake, even while realising what their special problems are on that side of the world. In the long run making it quite clear which side you are on is, on the whole, fairly sound policy.
I found it difficult to sympathise also about the pipeline and one or two other matters, but I do not believe that any of these differences, which we have simply got to live with for the present, ought to be allowed to undermine the reality of the Atlantic Alliance itself. This is so large and obvious that at times one almost hesitates to state it because one wonders, is there anybody who cannot be aware of it?
We are ourselves a democracy, and although the scholars can argue as to the exact meaning of that word we have a fairly good idea what we mean by it. It is our great good fortune that the most powerful country in the world is also a democracy. It does not run its democracy quite in the same way as we do, and we naturally think we run ours rather better, but on things that really matter it is a democracy. The other great power in the world is emphatically not, and from time to time makes no bones about saying what a sham it thinks our democracy is. In that situation an alliance between ourselves and the United States and the other nations is of course an enormous advantage, and it would be complete folly to try to weaken it in any way.
215 That brings me to what, in a sense, must be the main topic of any foreign affairs debate, the East-West question. Like the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, I was especially interested in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Home, and his use of the word "reconciliation". May I say that a member of the Conservative Party needs to be in enormously good standing to be able to use the word "reconciliation" about the Soviet Union and be sure of getting away with it. I do not know what the noble Baroness may say when she hears of it. but perhaps the noble Lord may feel that that does not matter very much.
I reckon that this must be an objective of policy. It is once again, dealing with the East-West question, an example of the point I was trying to make earlier; the importance of combining firmness in the immediate difficulties of the situation and a degree of vision and imagination for the future. In the immediate situation when the two alliances face each other across an enormous heap of weapons, and when there are a large number of causes of disagreement spreading, as we have heard in this debate, all over the world—the Horn of Africa, Poland, Afghanistan, Europe, Asia, Africa—it is plain enough that we have to be resolute in that immediate situation. It has to be quite clear that our alliance has both the power and the will to defend itself.
I am not going to attempt to add up the figures of armaments on either side, still less to engage in some of the speculations, which are becoming increasingly fashionable, as to how long this country would last after so many bombs of such and such a size had been dropped on it, and so on. I believe there is a great deal of argument there where people are claiming a degree of certainty that, in the present state of knowledge, is not available and I do not believe ever will be. What I am quite certain of is that it would be wrong for this country to put itself in the position where it had both deprived itself of nuclear weapons and had behaved towards the United States in a way that threw great doubt on the validity of the alliance. That would put us in a position of enormous risk; and as to the Soviet Union, I will say no more than that, in the light of what we have seen them do. I am not prepared to expose my country to that risk. One does not need to be a rabid cold warrior to remember right back to the attempt to seize West Berlin, and the whole series of subsequent aggressions and threats. One has only to look at the position of all the countries in Europe that border on the Soviet Union, all of them reduced to a greater or lesser degree of subjection (except Norway and Turkey, which belong to NATO), to realise that it would not be sensible to behave on the assumption that there are no risks to be run and that we need not bother to defend ourselves.
We must, therefore, continue to maintain our defences, but I put this question to the Government: when they have added up conventional defence, our present nuclear defence, Trident and whatever they are considering by way of the future of the Falklands, are they happy about what it is all going to cost? If it will cost a lot, that cost must be met, and I do not think it is wise at the same time to go around talking about tax cuts in the near future. They may not find that it adds up. And I have always rejected the idea that some members of the Conservative Party have; namely, that 216 you can always pay for necessary defence by reducing the social services. If the situation is such that our defence burden will increase, it should be increased in a way in which people contribute according to their ability, and trying to pay for it out of the social services is the exact opposite of that.
I listened very carefully—I always do—to the speeches of my noble friends Lord Brockway (we appreciate that he cannot be here at the moment). Lord Jenkins of Putney and Lord Soper. All I can say is that I, for my part—and I do not think I am alone in this—cannot agree to the proposition that we should take action that will make us virtually helpless in comparison with the Warsaw Pact, and that is what it amounts to.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
I do not know what the view of my two noble friends is on the point, my Lords, but the proposition which my noble friend Lord Stewart has just asserted is not one I have put forward; neither do I believe in it.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, I understood my noble friend to believe that this country should not own or make or possess any nuclear weapons itself or have any nuclear weapons on its territory from any other country.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
I do not think it is, my Lords. It greatly weakens our own defence and puts us at odds with our most powerful ally.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
That is the difference between us. my Lords; whether that is or is not a position of defencelessness. I take the view, which I tried to enunciate at some length, that to de-nuclearise ourselves does not create a defenceless position. That is not a position I support. All I am wishing to do is to recognise the difference between myself and my noble friend, but to state what the difference is.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, if my noble friend can persuade people that we can deprive ourselves of all our nuclear weapons and put ourselves at odds with our most powerful ally and not be at risk, he may try to do it, but he does not convince me, and I do not think I am alone in that regard.
What, then, ought the approach to be? It is, first, that we maintain adequate defences, and I gave a warning comment about the cost of that. Secondly, the Government should press on vigorously for agreed verifiable disarmament. It sometimes seems that the Government do not give the impression of having their heart in the search for agreed verifiable disarmament. We usually have to extract information about how negotiations are going by way of Question and Answer. I hope that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, will be able to say how they are getting on. I recall asking a Question a little while ago about progress towards a complete test ban treaty and being told that certain technical problems had been referred to a working party. Have we got beyond that? I wish the Government would put more life, more enthusiasm, into their approach to this problem.
217 Then, in addition to immediate defence and the search for agreed verifiable disarmament, there is the search—as the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, put it—for reconciliation. I suppose that in a sense that means an attempt to get back to what we all hoped for when the Helsinki Agreements were drawn up. I believe that it is possible to have not real understanding and friendship between groups of nations whose ideologies are so different, but a sufficient recognition on both sides of the folly of waging war against one another so that they will seriously decide to live with each other; to take the argument a little further back, to what used to be called coexistence. How are we getting on with that? I believe that the talks in Madrid have just begun, and in a sense they are a continuation of Helsinki. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London referred to the Madrid talks. Can the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, tell us what is to be the British Government's contribution to those conversations?
It is of course true that what has happened to Poland and Afghanistan does not, to say the least, inspire confidence in regard to conversations with the Russians. But perhaps the Government can tell us what they feel should be the right stance of European Governments towards events in Poland and Afghanistan. There was recently a rather unkind article in, I think the Economist, pointing out that we were criticising America for its vigorous reaction to events in Poland, but did not appear to be willing to do anything ourselves. I know that it is an extremely difficult question to answer. What do you do when you have a great tyrannical power tyrannising over its neighbours, and you are not in a position simply to stop it? Are other measures likely to make things worse? Perhaps we may have the Government's feeling on that.
I see that I have already spoken for too long, but lastly I want to take up matters that were raised by my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos at the beginning of the debate, and more recently by my noble friend Lord Gifford—the questions of aid to the third world, the developing countries, and our attitude towards South Africa. There is here another example of what I call the need for vision in tackling longer-term problems. It is necessary that we should at present have a firm stance on defence, but by itself it is not enough.
As my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby pointed out, the Government's record on aid is not encouraging. Yet we know that it is in some of the most poverty-stricken parts of the world that the danger spots are likely to arise. Can the Government tell us whether their record on aid is to be improved? Are they going to make any attempts to improve the world's monetary system? We had the example recently of the IMF granting a loan to South Africa. Not only should it not have done that, but we should be considering more positively what changes ought to be made in the organisation of the International Monetary Fund. It does not at present do enough to help the poorest parts of the world, and that ought to be at any rate one of its functions.
The point that I have been trying to make throughout is that we stand in a position where we must be resolute. As we defended the Falklands, we must be prepared to defend ourselves and our alliance in 218 Europe and elsewhere. But there are great problems for the future. In particular, the problems of race and of world poverty face us, and our resolution in the present will be to no purpose if we have not the vision for the future.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to ask him one question, if it is right to do so. In the light of his very encouraging and warming speech, is it right now to believe that there is a shift in official Opposition party policy about, the vexed question of nuclear disarmament of a unilateral kind? If I understood the noble Lord correctly, he was taking a multilateral stand openly and boldly.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is quite right about the stand I was taking. The answer to his question is, "No".
§ 11.35 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Belstead)
My Lords, this has been a wide debate, with speeches from many of your Lordships who have great experience of the problems which confront us today, and this was evident especially in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose. We have been fortunate today to have had the benefit of the views of the noble Lord, who has served both Hong Kong and Her Majesty's Government so well for so long. The noble Lord governed Hong Kong during 10 of the most dramatic and successful years in the eventful history of that territory, and his speech today has been of great value to our determination to try to find a way of ensuring the future stability and prosperity of the territory.
The gracious Speech records the great importance which Her Majesty's Government place upon the Commonwealth. The noble Lady, Lady Kinloss, spoke of the need for training a reconstituted air force in Kenya; and, indeed, the noble Lady spoke with her knowledge of that part of Africa. The Government share that view of the noble Lady. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence visited Kenya in September and discussed a range of defence issues, including training, which we already provide for Kenyan armed forces; and he also discussed possibilities for the future.
Perhaps I should explain that I have been absent from your Lordships' House because I have just returned from representing the Government at the South Pacific Conference, and from all-too-brief visits to Australia and New Zealand. The message with which I came away from that visit was the determination of the independent island states of the South Pacific to maintain their freedom and their wish for Britain, together, of course, with Australia and New Zealand, to be associated with maintaining the stability of that vast region of the world. I am therefore particularly glad that although, of course, the aid programme, which was referred to towards the end of this debate, is always under pressure, our bilateral aid to the countries of the South Pacific is among our highest programmes in per capita terms, and at a time when Britain's contributions to multilateral aid also are ever-increasing.
219 We are showing our concern for the difficulties of developing countries, and particularly for the difficulties of the least developed, during the present recession. Nonetheless, the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, were critical of our aid levels. Britain is above the average of the OECD aid donors. We are in fact the fifth largest giver of aid. in volume terms, in the whole world; and as a result of the statement of my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, there will be an increase in the net overseas aid programme of this country, next year, of £85 million. So unlike the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, I do not see the reference to aid in the gracious Speech as being in any sense hypocritical; and I would add, in answer to the noble Lord's question, that Britain has met its full obligations under the IDA.
I also came away from the visit that I paid to the South Pacific with a very strong conviction about the value of the Commonwealth. Across geographical and other boundaries of the world, the'countries of the Commonwealth share many institutions and beliefs which rely, ultimately (do they not?) upon the principles of freedom and justice. But, of course, freedom and justice flourish only where people are ready to defend them.
The gracious Speech therefore makes clear that the first duty of Government is the security of the nation. We in the Western Alliance have a twin aim: to defend freedom in the face of the Soviet military build-up, which is unquestionable; and to work constructively for the elimination of international tension—and with it to work, as my noble friend Lord Home said, for reconciliation, where it is possible, in the face of the Soviet policies of interference and repression.
In his speech my noble friend Lord Trenchard referred to the contribution which Britain is making to fulfil our duty to NATO and to maintain our readiness to respond to threats out of Europe. If I may reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, yes, we are certainly satisfied that we can and will pay for our defence budget. As an integral part of our security policy, we also support the negotiation of arms control agreements. Without re-starting the argument, despite what the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, had to say, the United States Government has taken an imaginative lead in the negotiations over the START and INF arms reduction talks in Geneva, and NATO is united in its support of the United States commitment to negotiate balanced reductions in current nuclear weapon levels. At the same time, NATO stands firm by its decision to modernise its intermediate nuclear forces, if the Russians are not prepared to negotiate an equitable and genuine agreement.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, asked about the progress of the talks. The talks in START and INF between the United States and the USSR are being held in confidence but, perhaps I may say, on the MBFR talks, that the West have met a main stated requirement of the East for firm commitments by all members of each side for conventional force reductions from the outset. But those reductions are to be balanced and verifiable, and we now await a response by the Soviet side to that initiative which was taken by the West in the month of July. My noble friend Lord Home made the point that regular and 220 mutual verification would be something which would now be well worth close study. I assure my noble friend that we will certainly closely examine my noble friend's interesting suggestions.
We have also made plain our views on the Soviet Union's human rights record. In recent years, we have witnessed a sustained campaign by the Soviet authorities against the right of political and religious expression and of freedom of movement, and in Poland the repressive measures of the authorities have been met by consistent condemnation from the Atlantic Alliance.
These examples of repression are all likely to be critical issues at the conference to review the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act which reconvened in Madrid today. If I may reply to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London, I would like to take this occasion to reaffirm the commitment of Her Majesty's Government to the Helsinki Final Act. We shall continue to impress on the Soviet Government the need to observe their commitments agreed at Helsinki seven years ago, for their present performance affronts basic human values and serves to weaken international trust upon which the CSCE process ought now to be able to build.
If I may turn to Europe, I join my noble friend Lord Trenchard in saying that whatever view, historically, the British people may have taken of their relations with Europe, today we cannot ignore our close ties with the Community. As your Lordships know, the reasons for this are both political and economic: the contribution of the Community to peace in Europe; the consolidation of democracy in countries where it might otherwise be threatened; and the far greater influence which the countries of Europe can have in political co-operation than they would ever have individually. These are all political considerations. And. on the economic side, there were put very vividly by my noble friend, first, the tariff-free market of 270 million people; then nearly half our exports now going to the Community; and then our membership of the Community being a key factor in attracting foreign investment, upon which it is assessed that one-fifth of jobs in manufacturing industry depend.
There are of course many problems. Your Lordships have drawn attention to the lopsided budget arrangements which weigh heavily upon us, and are the result of the common agricultural policy. The Government very much has this concern. It was a major achievement that at the last Foreign Affairs Council we were able to resolve the outstanding problems of our refunds for 1982. We are also working to tackle the longer-term problem urgently, for whatever the virtues of the CAP in principle, in practice the Community really has to find some way of limiting the enormous amount of surplus production and the cost of disposing of it. Only then can there be a better balance in the budget, and that of course very much affects the interests of this country.
My noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood identified some interesting ways in which the regional and social policies of the Community can be developed. Certainly we shall look closely at what my noble friend said, but we will look at it—and do not let us forget this, my Lords—in the context of the fact that outside the Community we would be at the mercy of some very chilly economic and indeed political winds. 221 Within it, as I think my noble friend was saying, we can and we will work with our partners to secure control over our future.
May I turn to the Falklands—about which a good deal has been said in the debate this afternoon—and indeed the situation in the islands and the vote last week in New York. As to the United Nations resolution, which called on the United Kingdom and Argentina to resume negotiations on the sovereignty dispute, this was a cynical and hypocritical affair, coming as it did from a country which only seven months ago severed diplomatic relations and broke off negotiations to launch an armed invasion of the Falklands. I realise that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet. does not take the same view, but after the fairly lengthy exchange between the noble Lord and my noble friend Lord Beloff, I do not think that I will add to that except to say that the resolution, even in the watered-down form in which the Argentines were finally compelled to present it, remains totally unacceptable to the British Government, and we were glad that more than 60 members of the United Nations refused to support it.
My noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing made a very interesting and thoughtful suggestion about a reference to some form of arbitration. If I may say so, after peaceful and lawful occupation since 1833, and in the view of most certainly the Government and all the people in this country, there is no question about the sovereignty of the country; it is arguably not a matter for us to refer, and it is something on which the Argentines should take the initiative if they think they ought to do so. But of course the difficulty is that the record of Argentina so far as arbitration decisions are concerned has been very bad indeed in the past. Of course I shall draw the attention of my right honourable friend to what my noble friend has said, but I just make the point that there is that very great difficulty if one looks at the record of the other side in that kind of matter.
The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, spoke of the need to have one's rights resolutely defended and then to look constructively to the future. Much remains to be done simply in the terms of letting the islanders recover emotionally and physically from the Argentine invasion and occupation. But the islanders once more enjoy essential services. Mine clearance remains a major problem, but at least mined areas have now been fenced off and clearly marked. Large quantities of building materials, fuel and other essential supplies and equipment have been shipped out. More supplies are on the way. Work has begun on providing new permanent housing. The airport has been given essential immediate repairs and has been extended. The longer-term development of the islands is of course very much needed. The recommendations of Lord Shackleton's report—and we are indebted to him for all the work he has done—are being very carefully considered, both in the Falkland Islands and by the Government. The Civil Commissioner has now reported on the islanders' views, and the Government hope that we shall soon be in a position to take decisions on the future economic development of the islands.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, asked me about the allocation of the additional £622 million for 1983–84 included in the Statement made by my 222 right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on extra costs following the Falklands action. The scale and the cost of the future garrison on the islands will depend upon the level of the threat posed by Argentina. As we all know, they have yet clearly to notify their intentions towards the islands. In these circumstances, it is not possible to estimate how, and how soon, the costs which undoubtedly are going to have to be incurred in the immediate future can in fact be decreased.
The noble Lord, Lord Hankey, referred to Gibraltar and expressed the hope that the British Government would remain firm in the commitment—which is firmly in the preamble to the constitution of Gibraltar—that Gibraltar will not pass to another rule unless this is the wish of the people of Gibraltar. I gladly repeat that undertaking today. I add that we hope that the new Spanish Government will lift the restrictions on the frontier as soon as possible, as was agreed at Lisbon in 1980. We remain fully committed to the Lisbon process.
The situation in Hong Kong is, of course, entirely different. Indeed, the problem there and the successes of that territory are unique, as the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose, pointed out in his speech. As your Lordships know, meetings in Peking to follow up the Prime Minister's visit have now begun. The agreement reached during the Prime Minister's visit to start these meetings was a very considerable achievement. The content of those meetings must of course remain confidential. The issues are complex and the talks will take some time, but the will is there. The important result of my right honourable friend's visit is that, despite the differences of view on the question of sovereignty, both we and the Chinese are on record as sharing the common aim of wishing to maintain Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. I believe that these differences can be reconciled and that an agreement can be reached which will be acceptable to Britain and to the people of Hong Kong.
In his speech the noble Lord, Lord Maclehose, spoke about the problems facing Hong Kong over the multi-fibre arrangement. I am pleased that the European Commission intends now to resume negotiations with Hong Kong on 16th November, and we hope for an agreement satisfactory to both sides. The noble Lord also spoke about students from Hong Kong. I hope he will not mind me saying that none of us should run away with the idea that in some way there is now no support for students from overseas in this country. Over 30 per cent. of overseas students last year were in fact funded from Government money. It is worth keeping that in mind. Having said that. I know that there is a problem. I realise that the Hong Kong Government have taken an initiative. I realise also, in answer to the noble Lord, that there is a recommendation in the Overseas Students Trust report. Immediately the trust reported in the month of June, we set up an interdepartmental committee to look at all the recommendations of the trust report. That committee is still sitting, but I hope very much that we shall be in a position to report shortly to your Lordships' House on our conclusions regarding the report.
I turn now to the Middle East, the subject of many of your Lordships' speeches, reflecting the wide shock at the tragic events in the Lebanon. Despite the recent 223 progress in Beirut, the urgent need remains for the withdrawal of all foreign forces. We support the United States' efforts to bring that about, and it will be no easy task. In Southern Lebanon, UNIFIL remains in place and could play a useful role in future peacekeeping arrangements. Its mandate was recently renewed for a further three months, and in Beirut the multinational force is assisting the Lebanese army to restore its control in the city. The Lebanese Government has asked for a British contribution to the force. We are giving this request serious consideration, but we must bear in mind our heavy commitments elsewhere—notably, in the Falkland Islands.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, asked about the help which the British Government are giving to rebuild shattered Lebanon. We have now given £4 million through various channels as humanitarian aid to victims of the conflict, and we are also considering, together with our partners in the Ten, what contribution we can now make to the efforts which will be co-ordinated by the World Bank. We have urged the Arabs and the Israelis to seize the opportunity presented now by President Reagan's initiative. We realise that the initiative does not offer either side all they would wish, and neither is it identical with our own approach. But it is a well-judged and realistic attempt to stake out the middle ground between the parties and has generated momentum. We have been disappointed at the outright Israeli rejection. There is much in President Reagan's proposals that the Israelis should find reassuring; in particular, his firm commitment to Israeli security, which is a sentiment we heartily endorse.
We have encouraged the Arab side to look hard at their own position. Their objectives are now defined, and although we do not endorse all of them, it is useful to have them on the record. The process of reconciling differences is under way; it is better than a stalemate. King Hussein has the key role in all this. We have kept in the closest touch with him. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary left this morning for talks in Jordan. King Hussein's discussion with the PLO on the best way of enabling the Palestinians to express their political rights is an example of the practical thinking which can with perseverance clear the way to a negotiated settlement.
The message of Venice that each side must accept that the other has rights continues to be valid, and we shall remain active in the search for a compromise. But it must be compromise based on the even-handedness of that approach. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Wells-Pestell, will accept that assurance. The noble Lord also asked whether we sought a demilitarisation of the whole area. The point made recently by my right honourable friend in another place was that an independent Palestinian state, if one was created, would clearly need to be demilitarised so that Israel's security ws not threatened, and that a lower level of forces in the whole region would be of benefit to all concerned.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London asked about Cyprus.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, can he say whether or not the 224 Government have decided to accede to the request for British troops to go to the Lebanon?
§ Lord Belstead
No, my Lords, we have not yet decided that. We are obviously considering it in the ambit of the caution we must have and which I explained. We are obviously considering that very seriously.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, before the noble Lord the Minister finishes with the Middle East, can he say something about the possible attitude of Russia and the Soviet Union?
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I do apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, who said that the interests ol' Russia should surely be taken into account.
§ Lord Belstead
Yes, in the long run. Obviously what the noble Lord says is wise and far-seeing, but the matter which is upmost in the minds of the British Government at the moment is that we very much hope that Israel will come to see that her interests are better served by exploring every avenue possible that might lead to a lasting peace. In doing that. I think it is fair to say that Russia has not given any pointers as to what she would like to see happen in the Middle East. It was for that reason that I was silent on the question of Soviet Russia.
If I may now turn to Cyprus and answer quickly about four questions, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of London spoke on this intractable problem. We believe that the inter-communal talks under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General—in the chair of which is Mr. Gobbi, who has done indefatigable work in these difficult talks—offer the best hopes of progress towards a settlement of the Cyprus problems. Following the tabling of the Secretary-General's evaluation last November there has been some, if limited, progress from which we find that we have drawn some encouragement.
Discussions in Washington between the seven economic summit countries, plus representatives of the European Commission and the Presidency, are continuing at the moment on the definition of an agreed framework for East-West economic relations. Considerable progress has been made and we hope that these questions will soon be settled. Should agreement be reached, this should make it possible in the future to avoid unilateral actions that prejudice the development of common western positions and appropriate policies on East-West economic relations. We also hope that such an agreement will help bring closer a resolution of the dispute on the pipeline.
I was sorry that my noble friend Lord Beloff felt that the effectiveness of the Wilton Park Conference Centre is being reduced. I share with my noble friend his regard for Wilton Park conferences as being a unique and successful information activity of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Certainly, as with all Government funded bodies, it is the case that we are seeking to ensure that Wilton Park is run cost effectively and efficiently, but before renewing the lease next year and after a comprehensive review. At the same time, we have decided to renew the lease for seven years, a longer period than before, and will be spending a 225 substantial sum on capital improvements. We hope that, with the co-operation of the Academic Council, Wilton Park will therefore have an assured future on the basis that the Government have recently outlined.
Finally, on southern Africa, I was asked by Lord Cledwyn and Lord Gifford where we stand on a Namibia settlement. Most issues connected with Security Council Resolution 435 have now been resolved. The timing of implementation of the United Nations plan for Namibia will, however, depend largely on the negotiations of the United States with Angola and South Africa, on regional security issues in general, including the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola. I would repeat words spoken by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in another place, that the crucial question is not whether the so-called linkage exists. Of course there is a linkage in Security Council Resolution 435, but the crucial question is whether a further reserve of political will on both sides can be found to clear away the few remaining obstacles.
Inevitably, a reply to this debate has fallen short of many of the questions that have been asked, and perhaps I may write on the ones to which I have not replied. I have probably had to refer more to the past than to the future. Therefore, a final word on the future. Through our membership of the Atlantic Alliance and within the EEC we will in the future work for greater security and stability in Europe. We will ensure, as the gracious Speech says, that the Commonwealth remains a force for peace. Through the United Nations we will continue to contribute wherever we can. and especially for a settlement in Namibia. In the Middle East, as I said, my right honourable friend is now engaged in talks with King Hussein, a key figure in that troubled area. In Hong Kong. Gibraltar and in the Falkland Islands there are problems, all of a very different nature, to be solved, but Britain faces those problems with confidence in one thing, confidence in the people of those territories, as I believe they have confidence in us. So we embark on a new parliamentary Session determined to work for security and prosperity, upon which our freedom ultimately depends.
§ The Earl of Perth
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask whether the Government will consider in future giving two days to this debate? There have been a number of very important speeches in the last three hours, but only a handful of your Lordships to listen to them. It is midnight, no dinner has been available, and it seems to me that this is an unnecessary hardship to inflict on your Lordships' House at the beginning of the Session.
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I shall draw that to the attention of my noble friend the Chief Whip. It is, of course, a matter for the usual channels.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, I did not want to interrupt the noble Lord, but at the beginning of his reply he appeared to me to slide very quickly over his answers concerning aid. Will he now elaborate on them and dispel certain ambiguities which appeared in 226 the words that he used? May I ask him two questions in order to clarify certain matters? He mentioned a statement made yesterday by his right honourable friend at the Treasury about added aid next year. Can he tell the House whether this will change the Government's announced intention of reducing overseas aid by 11 per cent. in the year ending March 1983? Secondly, can he say specifically whether the British Government are paying as much, more, or less to the IDA in the current financial year?
§ Lord Belstead
My Lords, I do not know the answer to the second question. All I do know is the answer that I gave to the noble Lord, that we have fully discharged our commitments to the IDA. I repeat, fully. I do not have the figures. If the noble Lord does not believe me when I say fully, then the noble Lord must go away unsatisfied.
§ Lord Belstead
I shall not give way, my Lords. The answer to the noble Lord is absolutely straightforward. We have fully discharged our commitment to the IDA. I am delighted that we have done so. Indeed, we shall do our very best to fulfil our commitments to j what is called the special assistance programme of the IDA in 1984. As regards the noble Lord's first question, I was talking about the increase in cash terms—£85 million—in the next financial year for our aid programme compared to the present financial year.
§ The Earl of Swinton
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Cockfield, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until later this day.
§ Moved, That this debate be now adjourned until later this day.—(The Earl of Swinlon).
§ On Question, Motion agreed to. and debate adjourned accordingly.