HL Deb 16 January 1985 vol 458 cc1000-34

5.11 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney rose to call attention to the relationship of Her Majesty's Government to the Government of the United States of America; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Motion calls attention to inter-governmental relationships, not to the relationship between our two countries, and still less to the relationships between our two peoples. In a way, it is perhaps a postcript to the previous debate, I regret that I was not present for the whole of that debate, but I was able to listen to the winding-up speeches from both sides, when I was struck by the detailed way in which the problem was attacked.

In this debate I wish to refer to one particular aspect of our relationship. This relationship is less satisfactory than that between our two peoples, which seems to me to be admirable. The relationship between our two Governments is too near those of occupying power and satellite, and it is to that relationship that I wish to draw attention.

It must be said for the Prime Minister and her Government that the position of an ex-colonial empire such as our own, reduced, as we are now, to something approaching the status of Dr. Frankenstein in the face of a monstrous super-power, is not an easy one. Nevertheless, previous Prime Ministers have faced that situation with dignity. One thinks of Mr. Attlee, as he then was. He did not feel that a reduction in our military status entailed any forfeiture of the right to criticise, to advise and to influence. Mr. Heath was equally uncowed.

But consider what has happened under the present Government. The Queen's territory of Grenada was invaded by our great ally. There was no formal protest. The Government said (and I quote): no such action was called for". They said that the invasion was, a matter of regret". The Government said that they were "irritated". The Prime Minister said that the Americans should not use force to walk into other people's countries". The United States would not have dreamt of taking such action before the present Government came into office. Can one imagine such a thing happening to a Britain led by Churchill, by Attlee, by Macmillan (as the noble Earl, Lord Stockton, then was), or even by Mr. Heath? Can one imagine what Churchill would have said if such a thing had happened?

This Government complained of a lack of consultation: no invasion without consultation was the extent of their protest. Even today such action would not have been taken by the United States against French territory, Dutch territory or Portuguese territory—one hopes, not even against Nicaragua. So our special relationship has it seems degenerated into a right to be treated with special ignominy. What did our Government do in return for that American action? They gave the right to American soldiers to shoot British citizens in our country. The present Government's stance seems to be that President Reagan can do no wrong. It was not always so.

We have now learned, because of the declassification of Cabinet papers under the 30-year rule, that the then Marquess of Salisbury, who was Lord President of the Council in Sir Winston Churchill's Government in 1954, said in Cabinet that the Americans were a greater threat to the peace of the world than were the Russians. So they are today, my Lords; so they are today. Lord Salisbury was supported in his view by Sir Anthony Eden, then Foreign Secretary, who refused point-blank an American request for joint Anglo-American intervention in Vietnam on the side of the French.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, if I may interrupt the noble Lord, is he really saying that Sir Anthony Eden, later Lord Avon, commented that the Americans were a greater threat to the peace of the world than were the Russians? If so, what is his source of that quotation?

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I was saying that Sir Anthony Eden followed up the debate in which Lord Salisbury made that statement with a refusal to meet an American request for joint Anglo-American intervention in Vietnam. I did not state that Sir Anthony Eden made the comment which was made by Lord Salisbury. I believe that my noble friend is taking the two statements together. One is one, and one is the other.

The Earl of Longford

They were made together, my Lords.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, certainly they were made together, but they succeed each other; they are not simultaneous.

In those days it was possible to argue that the West was an association of free nations combining in mutual defence. The French recognised at that time that it would be impossible to sustain that concept if American forces were stationed on their soil. They saw that the relationship would degenerate. They saw that, instead of an association of equals, NATO would tend to become a group of satellites circling round a super-power. It was inevitable that it should be so, for the Soviet Union is a European power and until recently all its land-based nuclear weapons were located within the Soviet Union.

So if the lunatic concept was to be pursued of matching not merely total nuclear fire power but each particular type of nuclear weapon, the only way for the West's super-power to match its counterpart in the East in respect of land-based missiles was to locate those missiles in their territory. And if the subject-status of Western Germany was not to be rubbed in, then some of those missiles had to be located in the minor powers—especially in Britain, whose Government's finger is always at the forelock in NATO matters.

My wife and I marched years ago in an anti-nuclear demonstration—in fact, more than one of them—in Federal Germany. We did so because it was already becoming clear that the Americans perceived Europe as a whole as the potential nuclear battleground of the future—a battleground which included the main parts of the territory of their major opponent but included no American soil, with the United States thousands of miles away from the scene of any possible nuclear disaster. That is why in some respects this country's relationship to the United States is more dangerous for us than is the relationship of the Eastern European states to the Soviet Union. They know that they are all in it together.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question on the interesting point that he has just made? How can he possibly say what he has said in the light of the use of Soviet military power in the streets of East Berlin, in Czechoslovakia and in Hungary? How can he seriously maintain such an argument?

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I did not say anything about the size of conventional power nor the location of Soviet conventional forces. I said that until recently—it may no longer be the case now—all Soviet nuclear power was contained within the Soviet Union. That was the case and has been the case until very recently.

I was going on to say that there are important, powerful figures in the United States who sustain the illusion, and they see it, that a European holocaust would not engulf America. So to that extent the United States is less frightened, more nuclear trigger-happy than is the Soviet Union.

Those of us who have visited both countries and who have met people in the peace movements on both sides, and people in or near government on both sides, know this to be the case. The culture of the Soviet Union is peace-orientated in its official manifestations to an extraordinary degree. The United States has no such obsession. Indeed, the old individualist ideas of the lone man with his gun survive to an extraordinary degree. These make themselves felt in the violence of the American screen, the high murder rates in American cities, in the widespread American mania for gun-toting and, finally, for nuclear weapons.

We must all welcome the Geneva discussions but, as I gather has been said during the debate, we should do well to remind ourselves that previous discussions led to very little and that while they were going on the nuclear weapons piled up on all sides.

Meanwhile, the present relationship of this Government to that of the United States has all the disadvantages of a semi-colonial status in reverse, with none of the advantages. The President of the United States can decide to launch missiles from this country through the means of his own servicemen on our soil and through his own means of communication, from which we are excluded. The launching of these missiles would bring about the destruction of our entire nation by Soviet retaliation and yet we have no say in the matter. That is a colonial status. The Prime Minister of such a country is not master or mistress in her own house. The relationship is sadly near that of a satrap. The idea of having our own nuclear system was sold to us on the promise that it would assure us a seat at the conference table. It has done no such thing. We have no more position at Geneva than has Japan, Cuba or Finland, and perhaps less than Switzerland, on whose soil the negotiations take place. As for the consideration given by the United States to our financial problems, perhaps enough was said about that by Mr. Heath yesterday in another place.

We exist in the worst possible of all worlds; having no say whatever in the choice of a government which is taking all the vital decisions which affect the lives of every one of us. It is an intolerable situation from which we must break free: but how can we do so? There are only two possible ways. Either we must opt out or we must apply to join the club. We must either tell the Americans to take their troops and their missiles out of our country or we must seek a way, and a say, in determining the decisions of the American Government—and not only the decisions of that Government but its nature. We can only do that by seeking to become the 51st State of the Union. That will seem to be an outrageous suggestion but we are no farther from Washington than is Hawaii or Alaska. In return we could seek to admit the United States of America and Britain to the Commonwealth of Nations.

The benefits would be considerable, and not only to us. We are a voting people and we would introduce a much-needed socialist element into the American scene. We would greatly strengthen the growing American peace movement. We would be rid of the pound sterling and its problems and we could withdraw from the Common Market—an action which would greatly benefit both ourselves and the Market. There would be some resistance to the idea in the United States. Not all Americans would see the benefit of one of the States having a Royal Family, let alone a House of Lords. On the other hand, others might want to adopt the institutions on a federal level. We should, of course, have to rid ourselves of the hereditary principle.

The present American Government would resist on the understandable ground that there might never be another Republican Administration in the United States, but that would be regarded as a blessing elsewhere. However, these things do not happen quickly and by the time the proposal had moved from the stage of an idea in the mind of a Back-Bench Peer into practical politics there might well be a Democratic President who would see the benefits of a change which might keep his party in power for a generation.

Of course, it may be that we shall have to move in the opposite direction and instead establish a more independent relationship with the United States. One thing is sure: we cannot stay in our present position, for if we do we are in danger of us all being dead before children now born leave school. We cannot leave it to the two super-powers to reach agreement while we in Europe represent, as we do, the first victims of their nuclear arsenals if they fail to reach agreement or, having agreed, fail to honour the agreement. On past form both things are likely to happen on both sides.

I have suggested that we must either detach ourselves from the United States or fully integrate ourselves into its decision-making processes—processess which are obscure, even Byzantine. Such well-placed and objective observers as the Medvedev Brothers have suggested that the monolithic nature of Soviet decision-making can be an advantage. When one is dealing with civilisation-eliminating weaponry it is desirable to know what is going to happen next. The United States has a complex power distribution moving from the Defense Department to the State Department and back, from the industrial to the political and the military complexes. The President sometimes seems to be more of a shuttlecock than a decision-maker. It is clear that Mr. Gromyko is a more certain deliverer than Mr. Shultz can ever hope to be.

Finally, it may be more satisfactory to propose to President Reagan that the United States should join the Commonwealth than either of the two suggestions I have made. But whichever solution we go for we must move towards a control system—one in which nuclear weapons cannot be fired without the collective assent of the representatives of all those millions whose lives would be terminated if restraint fails. The present situation in which the fate of the world is left to the fallible men in charge in the Kremlin and in the Pentagon is grossly irresponsible. Ideally, the power to fire a nuclear weapon should be reserved for unanimous decison by the United Nations—which means that there would never be a nuclear war. Until we begin to move in that direction we must regard the relations now existing between the United States and ourselves as an example of the need for urgent change if mankind is to survive. I beg to move for Papers.

5.29 p.m.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, for the extremely stimulating and original debate that he has introduced. As I understand it, we are faced with the fearful prospect of becoming annihilated before our children have left school unless we take one of three courses. The first is to become a member of the United States, as the 52nd state. The second is for the United States to join the Commonwealth. The third I forget temporarily but it will come to me in the course of my speech. What I wish to draw the attention of the House to is that the noble Lord overlooked the obvious solution to our problems, which is to become one of the federated states of the USSR. From here we could surely influence the Kremlin a great deal more effectively than speaking in this noble Chamber, for all the influence that we have as it is.

There is a further point that worries me about the speech of the noble Lord. I have heard him speak often in this House with great interest. Always he has supported Britain's membership of NATO. Today he has plainly changed his mind. He is no longer believing in Britain remaining a member of NATO. The basic difference, I think, between my noble friends and myself on the one hand and the noble Lord is that, though we, too, have reservations and criticisms of United States foreign and defence policy, we believe that it is of overriding interest for the United Kingdom to remain a loyal and effective member of the Atlantic Alliance. That is the point.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, may I disillusion the noble Lord on that point? My proposal does not imply any suggestion that we should immediately secede from NATO at all.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, it was a strange kind of NATO speech! I have heard a lot of NATO speeches in a long career in this field. I have to say with great regret to the noble Lord that the content and tone of his language was not that of any ally of the United States. One could listen carefully without detecting any sense of obligation, loyalty or affection for the major participant in the NATO Alliance—the United States.

I say again that we on these Benches are critical of many aspects of United States policy. The list of examples is quite formidable. If I may mention one or two, we have doubted both the skill and the degree of commitment of the United States Administration in arms control and disarmament. We dislike very much the one-way nature of the arms trade across the Atlantic. We oppose its ruthless attempts to destabilise Nicaragua. In the Middle East, as supporters of the Venice Declaration, we deplore the unconditional nature of the huge aid from the United States to Israel which enables her to oppose the Venice Declaration, and indeed all other international peace-keeping initiatives. In general, I think that I speak for my noble friends when I say that we are worried that its perception of the Soviet threat is simplistic.

I am reminded here of the speech that we heard in the previous debate (I hope that I am in order in referring to it) of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. In his interesting and pertinent speech, his concept of the Soviet threat had some of the failings that my noble friends and I see in the concept of the Soviet threat in the United States—namely, it is too simplistic. The noble Lord said (and I checked with him) that the Russians are our enemies and do not behave otherwise; we cannot co-exist with them. That is a common attitude in the United States.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, before the noble Lord goes on, may I set the record straight? I said that the Soviet Union was a potential enemy and not an enemy. We are not at war with it. Secondly, I think that the expression I used was that our two systems are irreconcilable. My views on co-existence with the Soviet Union may or may not be of interest; but to set the record straight, what I said was that totalitarian Communism is irreconcilable with liberal democracy.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, I am sorry if I misquoted the noble Lord, especially after I went to the trouble of consulting him about his words. But let us take it then that we agree that the two systems are irreconcilable. Of course that is a different matter. I would though very strongly urge on the House that to say that we cannot co-exist with the Soviet Union is a dangerous and unconstructive point of view. It is in fact classical Marxism. It is Marxism itself which says that the world is divided into two opposite social systems, and that these social systems are inevitably destined to conflict and one will supersede the other.

There is the mirror image of the Marxists in the United States who say that the other ideology is one with which they cannot co-exist: it is evil, it is their enemy and they cannot co-exist with it. Apart from anything else, that lacks historical perspective. It is quite absurd to equate the Soviet Union of Chernenko with that of Stalin. In terms of human rights the Soviet Union is still a tyranny, but compared with the Stalinist era it has changed. It is still to some extent isolated in international affairs; but compared with the Stalinist era it has changed. When one puts these things into historical perspective, one sees the possibility of peaceful co-existence, and that I believe to be a major feature of a constructive policy.

However, having said that my noble friends and I disagree with a great deal of United States foreign and defence policy, we are primarily interested in the overriding duty that we have to maintain the Alliance and an effective NATO. The question for us is: how can the disagreements between the British Government and the United States best be handled and diminished? The first thing that I think we would say is that we have to recognise that our worries are not unique. Almost without exception they are shared by the other European members of the NATO Alliance. The problem is not Anglo-American. It is a problem between the United States on the one hand and her European allies in NATO on the other. The balance of power between those two groups is not satisfactory and needs to be changed.

The United States undoubtedly has a disproportionate influence on strategy, in arms control and disarmament, and on questions of East-West relations. That balance was acceptable and realistic after the war when Europe was so weak and when the United States was far more dominant economically, politically and militarily than she is now; and—I must say this—when she was better led than she is now and when her world leadership was more widely respected than it is now. Now the balance must be changed. I think it is the unanimous view of my noble friends and myself that it should be changed, first, by increasing Europe's military contribution to the Alliance and making it a contribution that is respected in the United States; and, secondly, by increasing Europe's influence over decision-making. The two matters are of course interconnected and both are pretty difficult.

What it seems to us is needed is to ensure that European foreign and defence Ministers meet regularly, without the Americans, to consider and to concert their views on Europe's security needs within the NATO Alliance. They should discuss, for example, the consequences for Europe of the strategic defence initiative; the nature of the Soviet threat in Europe; the balance between detente and deterrence and between nuclear and conventional defence; Europe's interest in arms control and disarmament; and arms procurement. They should produce their own intelligence analyses without too much reliance on American sources. It is tempting to suggest a new European institution for this, but it may well be wiser simply to upgrade existing institutions such as the WEU, the European Political Consultation, Eurogroup and the European Programme Group and share the work between them.

In conclusion, I feel that we would all agree that if it can be done safely, of course we would be happy to see the American forces returning home across the Atlantic, and they themselves would be only too happy to do so if it could be done safely. But they are there because in 1945 and subsequently the Soviet Union kept their armies in position and subjugated Eastern Europe. That is why the American troops are needed in Europe; that is why they are here today.

It is true that in the 1950s the Russians offered to take their forces home if the Americans did the same. We sometimes forget this and sometimes I think it is worth looking at this idea again. However, meanwhile we have no alternative but to remain loyal allies, welcoming the American presence and reforming NATO by methods which are legitimate and acceptable between allies.

5.41 p.m.

Lord Beloff

My Lords, the subject which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, has proposed for our debate this afternoon is an important and serious one. Relations between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States, which have had a varied interest since the United States cut loose from us some 200 years ago, are always worth looking at. Indeed, we are fortunate that two noble Lords who have held the important post of Her Majesty's Ambassador in Washington are to take part.

However, I cannot say that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins' speech, lived up to the importance or interest of this subject. He did not to any significant degree discuss the relations between the two governments: the way in which one might need to influence the other, or be able to influence the other, or wish to influence the other. Instead, we were treated to the fantasy, which has so often marked the noble Lord's speeches in your Lordships' House, that in some sense this country is a satellite, a colonial territory, of the United States of America because, of its own free will, it has decided that the common interest is best served, for the time being, by the presence of American armed forces on its soil. That is a decision freely arrived at. It is a decision which a future Government could, if they wished, remove—and the latest remarks of Mr. Denis Healey suggest that even a Labour Government might not wish to do this very soon.

I feel one can only explain this extravagant outburst by dwelling on the fact that, as so often, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, who talked about his acquaintance with leaders on both sides of the Atlantic, was reflecting a Soviet point of view and Soviet policy. I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, that Soviet policy has changed and may change in the future. But what can he said about Soviet policy is that one element of consistency ever since the end of the second world war has been an attempt to divide European members of what became the North Atlantic Alliance from their friends in the United States, either through diplomatic activity or, as in this case, through appealing to or trying to raise popular prejudice.

After all, it is slightly absurd to talk about the peace-oriented culture of the Russians as compared with the warlike United States when on every anniversary of the Revolution we can see on our own television martial parades in Red Square to which there is nothing comparable either in the United States or in Europe. There may be Latin American countries which go in for this kind of activity but Russia is the only major power in the world which still regards the public display of military strength as important in presenting its own conception of itself. To compare this with the gun-toting habits of people in Dallas seems to me to be asking your Lordships to swallow rather too much.

I would venture the point that it is very important for us, for reasons many of which have already been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, to keep in very close touch with the United States on a whole range of issues. The nuclear issue is only one. At the moment, from the point of view of Her Majesty's Government, there may be economic issues where agreement is even more urgent. It is important to do this. The question is: how best can we do it?

It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said, that a more independent position could, in some respects, be taken by Her Majesty's Government—His Majesty's Government, as it was then, many years ago. But the differences in scale and power, in military preparedness and in economic strength, have grown over that period. We cannot now think of ourselves, and do no longer think of ourselves, as sitting at the top table, as the centre of a Commonwealth which was the Empire under a new name. We are a moderately-sized power which has a specific series of interests, some of them overlapping with those of the United States (the Middle East, for instance), some of them much less (in parts of the world like the Pacific basin, to which the United States now attaches very great importance).

Having studied this from an academic point of view, if you like, over a very long period of time—over 40 years—what strikes me, looking back, is that on the whole the Americans listen to us more than one might have expected. Despite everything, despite these differences, despite the fact that "special relationship" is now only referred to in quotes, it is nevertheless true that the United States, for a number of reasons—and no doubt the noble Lords who are former Ambassadors can enlighten us on this—are prepared to enter into a dialogue with us on the most vital national interests of their own in a way I do not think they do even with countries to which they attach the greatest importance: Japan or the Federal Republic of Germany.

Being able to talk to the United States in a frank and friendly fashion, as the Prime Minister clearly has managed to do with President Reagan, must be an asset. But, to be able to do this, one has to bear in mind certain conditions. I would think that one of them is that. though we may differ from the United States and criticise the United States, it must be done in such a way as to make it clear that it is done within the framework, as the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew said, of an unshakeable alliance.

I think it is important that this is not only what the Government of the day do but it also places some burden, if you like, upon the ways of speech of people in public life who are not members or supporters of the present Government, such as, for instance, the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. I think that it is weakening for this country, whoever is right about Nicaragua (and different views are possible) for the Leader of the Opposition to make speeches outside this country indicating that he criticises Her Majesty's Government at home—which he is perfectly entitled to do—and indicating that he is wholeheartedly opposed to United States policy in that region. If—and I regard it as a big "if"—Mr. Kinnock were one day to be Prime Minister, he would himself have to establish the kind of intimate relations with whatever American administration might then be in power. A record of criticising the United States on its actions in an area with which he can claim only the most limited and passing acquaintance is perhaps not a great commendation.

It is therefore necessary to be even more wary of using the kind of exaggerated language with which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, opened our debate. It is, after all, I should have thought, likely to be counter-productive. The organisation to which the noble Lord frequently proclaims his adherence, as he did again this afternoon—the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament—has attempted, by demonstrations and by propaganda in a variety of ways, to prevent the implementation of an agreed military and disarmament strategy by the NATO Alliance. That having failed, what one must see now as the current thrust of Soviet diplomacy is in other ways to create suspicion—to talk about giving American soldiers free rein to shoot down British civilians and things of that kind.

We are not in the position of a satellite. We are not in the position, as the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew pointed out, which has been the position of Czechoslovakia and Hungary and which is, although the force is still in reserve, the position of the unfortunate inhabitants of Poland. We are not in the position of a satellite which is trying to get away. I do not think that if we were to break our relations with the United States we should, like the villagers of Afghanistan, be suffering under a hail of bullets from helicopters. We are not in that kind of position. The issues between the United States and Britain are serious and will be serious. And it would be your Lordships' pleasure today, I should have thought, to ignore that aspect of things and to look at what can be done to improve the intimacy of those relations.

5.52 p.m.

Lord Caccia

My Lords, like the two previous speakers, I had thought that this would be an occasion for what might be called a serious review of our relations with the United States. At least one possibility advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, he has himself, I think, already destroyed. That is to make us an alluring partner as the 51st state of the union. So that, at least, can be put aside.

To go on to the more serious questions at issue, the noble Lord raised the subject of Grenada and Nicaragua and the situation on the southern border of the United States. We should do well to remind ourselves, first, that this is an area of special interest to the United States; and, secondly, that when it came to an area in Latin America or near Latin America that was of prime importance to us—namely the Falkland Islands—we had great support from the Americans at vital points. It would have indeed been difficult, I imagine, to conduct our military operation as successfully as we did without that understanding and support despite the fact that the Americans thereby got into serious trouble in their relations with other Latin American countries. This does not mean—I do not intend it to mean—that we should refrain from any comment or criticism about what the Americans may do over Grenada or Nicaragua or over the situation in Central America. It does suggest, however, that the tone of voice in which we offer our criticisms and our suggestions should be much more those proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, than those put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins.

The noble Lord then turned to the American preponderance in NATO and its rights, as he claimed—although I hope that this will be challenged by the noble Baroness who is to answer the debate—in this country to launch nuclear weapons without any consultation with or reference to Her Majesty's Government. If the situation in NATO was different, if really NATO had become a second pillar to a combined defence system—one pillar being the United States and an equal pillar being that of the European members of NATO—then perhaps we would be able to claim as of right a voice greater than we now can enjoy. But, for good or ill, although great sacrifices have been made by European countries, they have not, despite their economic success and financial advantage, so far agreed to build up a system that could be called an equal pillar. We should therefore also remind ourselves that if the Americans coined the phrase "no taxation without representation" there is a converse to it. That converse is "no full representation without taxation". It is a question rather whether NATO really has allowed itself too much latitude to claim such a position. The fact of the matter is that our safety depends on the United States umbrella and on the presence of United States forces in Europe. And, in Europe, I count the United Kingdom.

To continue from there, questions have also been raised about our financial and economic relations with the United States. Looked at from a European point of view—this is where I wish to join with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew—there is an advantage in looking at this not simply as a British-American issue. It is more widely a European-American issue. Indeed, so far as exchange rates are concerned, it is Japanese as well. Here, perhaps I should sound one word of caution. It is essential to bear in mind always that for the Americans, for any American administration, the prosperity and welfare of the United States is the prime consideration. What conduces to that in their opinion conduces to the better prosperity of the western world. What does not so contribute they will be liable to eschew, thinking that their interests in the longer term are also the interests of the West.

Of course there is something in this, The prosperity of the United States in the past two or three years has been of immense benefit to the western world. But it has brought with it complications for the European economies and the economy of Japan. Still, a balance has to be struck and perhaps, and with any luck, this year it may be possible to persuade the Americans that their interests coincide more closely with ours in that their expansion is showing some signs of weakening and that they may themselves therefore see an advantage in lowering interest rates and various other measures that would be, to put it mildly, convenient to other western powers.

I hesitate to continue in this vein. If there is one aspect that has to be continually borne in mind it is that if someone like myself, who has not been in any way personally involved or responsible for our relations with the United States for 20 years, starts to pontificate, it may be certain that he is out of date and that others, who are more up to the present situation, should take his place. I hope to be able to stay to the end of the debate. If, however, owing to a previous engagement, I cannot do so, I hope that the noble Baroness will forgive me. I shall learn what I should learn when I come to read what is written in Hansard.

6 p.m.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley

My Lords, I suspect that, in spite of what has been said so far, the country as a whole is fairly unanimous in its attitude to the United States. This attitude consists, on the one hand, of affection and admiration and, on the other, of that complex mixture of envy, resentment and even fear which is felt by a client state to its protector—a complex of emotions which we must be well aware of since we ourselves, as one of the great nations of the world in the past, must have been—or should have been—infinitely aware of how it was borne to us by our colonies and our client states. Such a relationship is a perfectly understandable one, but because it is complex I think it can often lead to the wrong estimation of what is happening and to actions which are guided often (or sometimes, anyway) more by emotion than by common sense, not always as well thought out as they should be.

Dearly as I should like to leap into the fray which has been started this afternoon, really I want to talk about a minor but not unimportant part of the subject which has not yet been mentioned. I do so the more readily since I was full of admiration and full of support for the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, from my Front Bench. I entirely agreed with them and I thought that his affirmations and his reservations were most fairly put. What I should like to mention very briefly is the attitude that we and the United States have to a number of institutions, among them the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

I believe that the attitude or the present political masters of America to the World Bank is unfortunate to say the least. They combine a hard-nosed approach to economics with a general attitude, in dealing with smaller countries, that, "He who is not with me is against me". The effect of this is that they cultivate an attitude towards the World Bank and its cognate institutions which is remarkably suspicious and which, as a result, has impeded the efforts of the bank to expand and, indeed, is causing it to contract. I deplore this attitude because I believe it is not what the world economy as a whole needs, particularly at a time when the approach of the World Bank to the third world and its problems is much more constructive and much more intelligent than it has been in the past.

Whether I or indeed your Lordships should deplore the attitude of the United States to these institutions is neither here nor there. Undoubtedly, the United States will continue to do what appears to it—possibly wrongly—to be right, and what appears to it—possibly rightly—to suit its book. However, it is a different matter if the United Kingdom follows suit; and this is where the subject I raise is at the heart of this particular debate. Here again I may differ from our present Government as to what is the right course of action for the bank to take for the benefit of the third world; and, again, my view might be one which they reject, in which case I have to live with it.

Where I think I can challenge them is in their largely unspoken assumption that if the US takes an economic view we should necessarily take the same one, because our basic economic positions are extremely different. Many of us get the impression that the Government's judgment on this is unduly swayed by the basic economic attitudes that the two Governments have in common; that because they are both monetarists and supply "siders" they should therefore agree. But it does not follow. The USA is a largely self-sufficient nation. Its economy does not rely very much on trade. Its share of world trade has been falling steadily for the past 10 years and it has not taken any serious steps to reverse this. It does not really matter to it.

Ours, for better or worse, does, and as we are a small, over-populated country, it will continue to do so. As a result, our self-interest should cause us to back all efforts to expand the world economy. I say "all efforts" because in dealing with the World Bank and the IMF I do not think that I have to add many riders. No one, or virtually no one, accuses the World Bank of profligacy. It is not subject to the same kind of criticism that UNESCO, for instance, rightly or wrongly, encounters. It is thought, even by its critics, to be economically basically sound. It is both right and in our own interest to see that these international financial institutions are not unduly hampered and that they are indeed helped to do their job. I think that the present American Administration is hampering them in this way and I urge our Government at least to appreciate the necessity for detaching ourselves and trying to do our best to see that the World Bank in fact is able to operate more efficiently.

I do not ask for a reply today from the Government on this particular subject. This is an aspect of today's debate that they had no reason to expect, and I have not given them warning that I was going to raise it. As a result, given even the encyclopaedic knowledge of the noble Baroness and the resources of the Civil Service Box, I would get only the standard response; and I know the standard response. What I do hope, though, is that the Foreign Office and the ODA, who I think have little emotional capital invested in the economic views which seem to motivate the Government, will take note that there are many more people than I think they believe who care about these matters and will redouble any efforts they may be making to change our approach in this field.

We are not making friends in the world by our present attitude, and that is a pity. If we are wrong in the beliefs that form this attitude, it is a double pity. If we are not making friends, and we are wrong, and we are cutting our own throats commercially, it is a treble pity; and I think that we should do something about it.

6.10 p.m.

Lord Sheffield

My Lords, like other noble Lords I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, for raising this matter, but perhaps he will forgive me if I do not follow him in what I venture to call his more tongue in cheek flights of fancy. Like my noble friend Lord Caccia, I have no first-hand knowledge of the recent dealings and negotiations between the two governments, but as far as I can tell the relationship has been very well managed on our side in the last three or four years with one exception to which I shall return. Therefore, I do not propose to say much about current issues except perhaps that, far from being afraid that the Americans will get us involved in another war, my concern is rather that they might become disenchanted with their European allies and begin to weaken the links which at present guarantee the security of ourselves and our European friends. Therefore, if your Lordships can bear a few glimpses of the obvious, I shall briefly sketch part of the changed and changing background in the United States which inevitably shapes and conditions the relationship between our two Governments.

Many people have talked for many years about our special relationship with the United States. That is not an expression which I myself use. Certainly there is a special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. It is based on a common language, on the common law—particularly on the common law—on a common political heritage, on a common literary heritage and on a partnership in two world wars, particularly the Second World War. Those are ties of fundamental strength and importance.

But the United States has a special relationship with many other countries—for example, France. I remember once meeting my French colleague in Washington at the airport. He had just returned from a very special occasion in Franco-American relations: the anniversary of the British surrender at Yorktown. He said to me, "We had the same menu which was served to Lafayette after the British surrender". I asked, "What was that?" He said, rather crestfallen, "Well, mostly beans". I said, "Well, Henri, that served you right".

Take Japan. Two years ago I listened to a discourse by the American Ambassador in Tokyo, the distinguished former senator, Mike Mansfield. His theme was that the future prosperity, indeed the future centre of the world, lay in the Pacific basin, and the only relationship which was really important to the United States was their relationship with Japan.

China used to have a very special relationship with the United States due mainly to missionary involvement. That could now be revived. Take Latin America. It was easy to see the pull that this special relationship had for the United States during the Falklands affair.

There are other examples. However, I think that those are enough to say that the implication that there is a special—in the sense of exclusive—relationship between Britain and the United States is demonstrably inaccurate.

On the ethnic front, the pattern has been changing significantly, if not dramatically, in the last two or three decades. It is now some 30 years since I called on the Automobile Workers of America in Detroit. A senior official was complaining then of the influx of immigrant and black workers into the area. "In a few years," he said sadly, "I shall be the last of the Monroneys". Since then Miami has become a Spanish city, and the whole of the border from Texas to California is becoming Spanish speaking, and similar ethnic changes are taking place in other areas.

Politically, the eastern establishment (the white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants) have, relative to other groups, lost influence. The centre of political power has been moving to California. The Irish and Jewish political influence has not diminished, while the influence of the blacks has increased. Nor is there all that amount of interest in things British. Not long ago I spent 10 days in San Francisco during which the only reference to Great Britain in the local press was an account of the collapse of a giraffe in the London Zoo. That made the front page.

Economically, in 1983 for the first time the volume of United States trade across the Pacific area overtook the volume of trade across the Atlantic. There is one area which has historically been a source of friction between the two governments and that is the area of trade and commercial policy and the attempts made by the United States Government, or rather its agencies, to extend their jurisdiction beyond the confines of the United States.

When I first went to Washington in 1931 the main controversy in that field was the assertion by the United States of the right of pursuit of bootlegging vessels on to the high seas. There have always been these issues. Recent examples have been the chicken war, exports to the eastern bloc, and the attempt to exercise jurisdiction over foreign airlines. I think it is one of the advantages of our membership of the European Communities that these are now dealt with on a European-American basis, which not only makes for a much stronger negotiating hand, but which also lessens the strain on the bilateral relations between the two Governments. Happily none of these issues over the years has been of fundamental importance, or had more than a transient effect upon our relationship.

All these factors are obvious and well-known. Taken together they have a significant bearing on this Motion. What it adds up to is that a close relationship is more important for the United Kingdom than it is for the United States. So the dialogues between our two countries must be carried on. I am sure that we, the British, are still listened to in Washington. We can, and I believe on occasions we do, have an influence out of proportion to our resources. Indeed, on that point I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, said. But we cannot expect to call the tune, especially in matters affecting national security—in fact, we have never done so.

Reference was made to Mr. Attlee, as he then was. I accompanied Mr. Attlee when he went to Washington for discussions with President Truman on the rumours that the Americans might use the nuclear bomb in the Korean War. As many of your Lordships will remember, those rumours caused a good deal of agitation in Parliament and Mr. Attlee went to Washington to discuss the matter with President Truman. Of course, the Americans were not prepared to give any public assurance in these discussions. They could not do so for constitutional reasons. But Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman had 15 minutes' private conversation and as a result of that conversation—and, of course, the Americans had no intention of using a nuclear weapon in Korea—Mr. Attlee felt able to come back and reassure the House of Commons. I am sure that the relationship between the present Prime Minister and President Reagan is as close and as intimate as that between Mr. Attlee and Mr. Truman and allows that sort of exchange to take place.

Reference has also been made to a remark by Lord Salisbury, or, as I think he was at the time, Viscount Cranborne. It so happens that I was Ambassador in Washington in 1954, the year in which this remark appears to have been made. I accompanied Viscount Cranborne to a great number of conversations in Washington at that time, and if he really thought what he is supposed to have said, all I can say is that he concealed it extremely well.

The dialogue with the United States Government, the cultivation of our relationship, and the effort to keep it in good repair need more understanding, sensitivity and skill than ever before, and this of course is particularly true at the highest levels. As I said earlier, I believe that it has been well exercised recently. It was certainly well exercised in the Falklands affair. But the subsequent Grenada episode was a severe setback. I hope that this fence is now repaired at Government level, but I fear that that is scarcely the case at the level of popular feeling. It is true enough that the Americans acted precipitately and without proper regard to our constitutional position and rights, though, because I do not have enough knowledge of the subject, I could not endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, said about it. Nevertheless, it was a setback. In our dealings with the United States Government in the future we cannot afford any more Grenadas.

6.23 p.m.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, my qualifications for taking part in this debate are small indeed compared with those of the noble Lord who has just addressed us, and, for that matter, compared with those of the noble Lord, Lord Caccia. My great-uncle led the last British troops to engage in battle against the Americans. It is true that his forces were defeated and that he was slain, but the Americans acted very generously and set up what are now called the Pakenham Oaks in New Orleans in memory of him—they seemed to be proud of their victim. That is a past connection, and the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, who has generated such a gifted tribe of Anglo-Americans, will be pleased to hear that I have just heard that I have a second Anglo-American grandchild. That is small fry compared with his achievements, but it will give him pleasure.

I shall use up my few minutes stating what I would call the obvious, but what is obvious to me is really no more obvious than the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, which were extremely sophisticated. My remarks are banalities compared with the noble Lord's refinements. I entirely agree with what the noble Lords. Lord Mayhew, Lord Beloff and others, said, that since the war the whole defence and foreign policy of this country has rested on the alliance with the United States. Of course, I am very pleased that we are now members of the EEC; there are, of course, a good many other countries which are members of NATO; and the Commonwealth is a wonderful institution presided over with unique skill by Her Majesty the Queen. But when all is said and done, our survival has depended upon the Anglo-American alliance—as it seems to me, the ponsasinorum of the whole subject: the beginning of wisdom.

That alliance did not exist before the war. During the war there was a very intimate alliance. We did not have such an intimate alliance with the Russians during the war. In fact, that came into existence slightly before the alliance with the United States, because the Germans attacked the Russians a little sooner than the Japanese attacked the Americans. That was the wartime alliance. But what has been such a tremendous feat since the war has been the establishment of a peacetime alliance, which is something unique in the history of the United States and, to some extent, of this country.

We on these Benches can certainly take pride in the fact that that alliance was established by a Labour Government, of which the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, and I were members. However, the noble Lord was rather closer to events at some of the moments in question than I was. At any rate, it was established by a Labour Government. Thererfore, I hope that no one will think that there is something rather remote from Labour policy in this alliance: that is not the case at all. The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, does not use quite the same language as I do about all this now, but the fact is that he was a very ardent socialist for many years. In fact, if it comes to it, he was my pupil!

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, if the noble Earl will give way, I must reply that when I belonged to the Labour Party it was a loyal supporter of the NATO alliance.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, it still is. My Leader will explain that later. At any rate, in so far as this country is concerned the Atlantic Alliance was created and established by the Labour Party, and supported by the other parties. This attitude towards America was not shared by everyone in all the parties. The Conservatives were sound on the NATO alliance, but they were not at all sound on the American loan. In the House of Commons Sir Winston Churchill had difficulty persuading his party not to vote against the American loan, but quite a few Members did vote against it. That is just one aspect of their activities at that time.

In this House (although it was not in this particular Chamber but in another part of this House) I can well remember Lord Salisbury doing his best to defend the American loan with Lord Beaverbrook, his old wartime colleague, sitting beside him. Lord Beaverbrook gave Lord Salisbury a very rough time. At one point Lord Salisbury, speaking about Lord Beaverbrook, said rather incautiously: Of course, the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, can afford to take a dispassionate view. He is well endowed with this world's goods". Lord Beaverbrook then said in a Canadian accent, which I cannot imitate, I thought the House of Salisbury was pretty well off? That was the nature of the argument that was taking place in the Conservative Party at that time about the American loan.

In the House of Commons, it is true that a dear old friend of some of us, Mr. Dick Crossman, a young MP at that time, brought forward a resolution which was a vote of censure on the whole Anglo-American policy of the Government. He persuaded 58 Labour MPs to sign his Motion. In the end, it was defeated by 353 votes to none. However, 130 Labour MPs abstained out of a party strength of 352. So we must realise that throughout this period there have been times when groups in the Conservative or Labour Parties—if there had been an Alliance Party I have no doubt that it would have had its own problems—have opposed the policy being pursued by the Government of the day. However, throughout the whole of that time, which is nearly 40 years, whether the Conservative or the Labour Party has been in power the policy of the Anglo-American alliance has been firmly supported.

In my own case, this policy was supported by Lord Attlee—to whom the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, referred in such an interesting way—by Mr. Harold Wilson and Mr. Callaghan as Prime Minister, and by Hugh Gaitskell when he was Leader of the Opposition. When he made his great speech, which some of us heard, in which he said, "Fight, fight and fight again", he denounced some of his opponents as neutralists, pacifists and communists. That is how he felt about the minority at that time. In a healthy democracy there are minorities on both sides. We went through all these periods; but those who have been in power, whether Labour or Conservative, have consistently supported this policy of the Anglo-American alliance. For my part, in all humility, what was good enough for Lord Attlee, Lord Wilson (as he now is), Mr. Callaghan and Mr. Gaitskell—and, I am sure, for our leader tonight—is good enough for me, so I have no qualms about that.

Of course, there will always he differences. In the days to which Lord Sherfield referred, the days of Mr. Attlee (as he then was) and Mr. Bevin, there was a great struggle with the Americans over Palestine. There was a deep division of opinion. There will always be these divisions of opinion. I will not cite any particular divisions tonight.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, wrote an important letter which appeared in The Times last Friday. I am not sure that I was quite clear about the implications of that letter. If I were clear, I might not agree with them.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, may I—

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, before the noble Lord had even heard what I had to say—

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, I will elucidate a little on that letter in the remarks I shall make in five minutes' time.

The Earl of Longford

My Lords, I know the noble Lord is quick to rise to counter anything that might be said by way of criticism, but I thought he was rather faster than usual this evening to rise to his feet, even before I had made a criticism. I did not intend to criticise him. Perhaps that was what he was objecting to.

I was intending to quote favourably two sentences that appeared in the noble Lord's letter. If he wishes to correct this he will remind me of the late Lord Fisher, who never would allow any sentence to pass without correction. The sentences read: No doubt Europeans are in a weak position to insist that the SDI should be traded away in the forthcoming negotiations, if the Americans decline to do anything of the sort … So there seems to be no reason why the Europeans should not at least be allowed their say". I agree with those two sentences.

I promised to stay within my time. I feel that what the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, has said provides in itself a good reason why this debate should have been brought forward. I am glad, as always, to listen to my noble friend Lord Jenkins. In a way, he is the Dick Crossman of today. I hope that remark will be understood as a compliment. There is just this difference, that I usually have a pretty good idea of what the noble Lord intends to say, although tonight he surprised me. I never had any idea of what Dick Crossman would say, because if he said something yesterday it was certain that he would say the opposite the next day. I think Lord Jenkins is far more consistent. However, I must give place to more qualified speakers.

6.35 p.m.

Lord Reay

My Lords, the freedom and prosperity of every man, woman and child in this country and in every other Western European country depends on the strength of the Western Alliance. In turn the strength of this alliance depends on a cohesion between its members, particularly on the cohesion between the United States and Europe.

Given the antagonism which has to exist—I shall return to this point in a minute—between Russia's repressive empire in the East and the Western liberal democracies, it follows that the Soviet Union will always be alert for opportunities to damage Western cohesion, as my noble friend Lord Beloff reminded us. We experienced a protracted attempt to do exactly that with the Soviet campaign to prevent the installation of cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe.

It also follows that it is our vital need and duty to strengthen this cohesion; the more so since the United States would survive the shattering of the alliance into its component parts, but it is much less plain that Europe would. Expecting, therefore, deliberate attempts to damage the alliance, what should we be considering doing ourselves which would, on the contrary, help to strengthen it?

The Soviet Union's campaign to cause disarray in the alliance over the installation of cruise and Pershing missiles was not entirely fruitless. The German defence consensus was broken. Holland has still not deployed. Belgium has just distressed the United States by using the resumption of the super-power talks as a reason for once again postponing deployment. Much political aggravation has been caused and the number of missiles kept very low in relation to what the Soviet counterpart has grown to. Many further opportunities for dividing the allies will present themselves in the course of the new talks. It may even be that the possibility of causing disarray in the alliance is more attractive to the Soviets than any likely arms treaty. After all, the strategic defence to which the Soviets object is a distant and speculative target and arms control talks have produced very little in the way of arms control in the last 15 years.

I said earlier that there was bound to be antagonism between the liberal democratic West and the Soviet empire. The fact is that Communist societies can only be held together by repression. As an ideology Communism can carry out a revolution. However, once the masses have had their revolution, Communism loses its raison d'etre. The ideology attracts lip service but not adherence. On top of that, the Soviet empire contains many different nationalities and even countries, which fact exacerbates the internal tensions and pressures.

Added to that, it is an expanding empire, as Afghanistan proves. Indeed it has to expand where it can, if only to help protect what it has. Let no one doubt for one second that the Soviet Union would take the opportunity to quench the liberties of Western Europe. Is it not plain what beacons of hope these Western freedoms are to the subject people of the East, whenever they can be glimpsed flickering through the curtain with which the Soviet leadership tries to veil them from their sight? Would it not be much more convenient if they could be made to disappear over the Atlantic horizon?

What constructive countervailing energies should Europe dedicate to try to preserve this alliance? It has been well argued recently in a reprinted essay by a third former ambassador to the United States, Peter Jay, entitled "Europe's Ostrich and America's Eagle", that Europe is in a transition stage where she resents being an American protectorate, but refuses the responsibilities of becoming a partner even in her own defence, let alone in a more global defence of her interests, as, for example, in the Gulf.

We should therefore do something to shed the image of being America's constant ringside critic, someone who wants America to do everything for us—reach an accommodation with Russia on our behalf, for example—but who waits to criticise whatever arrangement America makes. The noble Lord, Lord Caccia, may be right. It may be politically impossible for European countries to make the effort required for them to become treated as equal partners with the United States. Undoubtedly we fear what may be asked of us—and this applies to Germany and to Japan also, who are tempted to hide behind arguments based on the past to avoid present realities. We fear the effort, we fear the impossible cost, of entering into a proper partnership.

Meanwhile, there is a danger that we slide into unreality. We have in the past been dilatory on civil defence, although civil defence would add credibility to our nuclear deterrent by indicating to any potential aggressor a willingness to live with the consequence of the failure of deterrence. Ostrich-like, we place excessive hopes on arms control talks, despite all the evidence of the past. There are some who put their faith in nuclear-free zones and corridors. We allow an absurd situation to build up in Europe over chemical weapons because everyone concerned knows that the Soviets would make massive use of chemicals in any conventional attack, at least if they need not fear the use of chemicals against them. Yet NATO has no credible chemical deterrent so that we put our own fighting forces at a great disadvantage and. incidentally, lower the nuclear threshold.

But do we have to leave the United States to decide this question on its own? Why could not a European country for once take an initiative in a matter relating to Europe's defence? We react with alarm when President Reagan attaches himself more determinedly and more publicly to his Strategic Defence Initiative even though the doctrine that it would display, or partially display—mutual assured destruction—appears to be attracting greater public censure. A doctrine based partially on defensive rather than exclusively on offensive nuclear weapons might prove less unpalatable to the general public, albeit as a long-term goal. Certainly, the American public welcomes President Reagan's initiative. Rather than assume that President Reagan is wrong and since no one knows the outcome of future research, might it not be better if we proposed instead to put some of our own scientific resources into such research?

In order to avoid leaving—and I think that this is a point similar to that which the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, made—the initiative to consultation, always on an ad hoc basis and usually with the United States, could we not propose regular meetings between Europeans and the United States, and perhaps Japan, at Foreign Minister and other ministerial levels? The point that I wish to make is that the alliance cannot be left to look after itself. To maintain it requires constant labour and attention. Incidentally, the goal of a strong and united Europe is not at all incompatible with the goal of a strong Atlantic alliance. On the contrary, it is a condition of it; provided always that it is an outward-looking and not a protectionist Europe that we help to build. That again is a policy for this country to pursue for the sake of the West as a whole.

Since 1941, the forces of isolationism in the United States have never been dominant. In 1941, the United States committed itself to the rescue of democracy in Europe from Nazi Germany and it has committed itself ever since to its defence against the threat of Soviet Russia. But woe betide the Europeans if its leaders allow its populations to feel that, come what may, the freedom of Western Europe is of such a vital interest to the United States that we need do nothing more ourselves to defend it. For America, impatient with the complacency and irresponsibility of Europe, could then indeed revert to isolationism—and Europe, as Peter Jay has said, would find itself free at last to choose to be "Red or dead". Surely that is a destiny that we should try to avoid.

6.44 p.m.

Lord Gladwyn

My Lords, our relationship with the United States is now necessarily a very close one. It was not always so. Right up to 1939 there was, I think, always a certain rivalry, if not jealousy, as between our two states if not between our two peoples. The Americans never liked the British Empire and they entirely failed to appreciate what would be likely to happen if it ever disappeared—as it duly did, with their help, after the last world war. Even now it is possible that they do not think that—in the famous words of Dean Acheson—we have really "found a role". As they see it, no doubt quite unfairly, the Head of the Commonwealth, to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, is "the ghost of the Empire sitting crowned upon the grave thereof".

To be frank, I feel that we are now regarded by the Americans—when they think of us at all, as the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, seemed to doubt—as a rather quaint, if lovable, old associate, happily sharing the same language and the same sort of democratic principles; useful, indeed essential, as part of the Western defensive system designed to put a check on Soviet ambitions (although Western Germany of course is more important still); not expected to pursue any very individual line in foreign policy, but rather in the long run to give effect to American policy, whatever, from time to time, that may turn out to be.

More particularly in NATO we are expected to be the chief associate of the United States, more conscious perhaps than most of the absolute necessity of not undermining the alliance on the maintenance of which, as so many noble Lords have pointed out this evening, our independence manifestly depends. We may not feel very comfortable in such a role, but I think that we tend to accept it, if a little grudgingly.

But, my Lords, what happens if the American Administration pursues a line which in the considered opinion of Her Majesty's Government—to say nothing of our European associates—is quite misguided? How far, if at all, can we resist such a line without endangering the alliance, on which our whole future rests? This is the question which presumably must underlie the whole of the debate this afternoon, for which we are so indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, for initiating. For let us not deceive ourselves, there are now—apart from economic issues and "aid", very properly referred to by my noble friend Lord Beaumont, in regard to which we may well agree to differ—at least three broad political areas in which the bulk of informed public opinion, in this country at any rate, does seem to diverge from the policy of the Reagan Administration, if not from that of the Democratic opposition in the United States.

I refer to Central America and the Caribbean; the Middle East and East-West relations, with which is associated the whole question of arms control, in regard to just one point about which I propose to refer in a moment's time—although perhaps I should more properly have intervened in the debate which preceded this one this afternoon, the first part of which, unfortunately, I was unable to attend.

I take Central America first because it is perhaps the least dangerous. For even though we might greatly dislike and deplore any action which the Americans might conceivably take—for example, the actual invasion of Nicaragua—we must at least consider that Central America is just as much the "back yard", so to speak, of the United States as Northern Ireland is ours. And we should surely resent any official American interference in the affairs of that distressful province. Whatever the United States may choose to do in their back yard—and, of course, American opinion itself is much divided on Central American issues—this is consequently something as regards which, although we may well criticise, we can hardly take a strong opposing line. In any case, whatever American policy may be, it is not as if the maintenance of the vital alliance would be likely to come into question as a result.

The Middle East is quite another thing. Here we have, politically speaking, an atmosphere in which a spark really might cause an explosion. The tension created by what many on this side of the ocean, at any rate, feel is perhaps excessive preoccupation with Israeli security, might one day produce such a spark. And the resulting explosion would presumably result in a clash between the super powers. Hence, United States policy in the Middle East directly affects the vital interests of ourselves and our European partners. That is undeniable.

What presumably we would like—and I am sure that the noble Baroness, when she comes to reply, will not contradict me on this—is for the Americans to get back to something like the old "Reagan plan" and stick to it. I see no reason why the European Community should not strongly urge this on our ally. But supposing the Americans take no notice? In the last resort they are the dominant partner and we cannot oblige them to change their policy, even if we would. Nor can it be proved to be disastrous until disaster occurs, in which case we shall just have to face the consequences.

But there might possibly be means of persuasion other than mere pressure. This is the point that I really want to make, and I am sure that the noble Baroness will appreciate it. I will come to it in a moment after dwelling on the third and perhaps the most important area in which real disagreement may eventually emerge. I refer to East-West relations, more especially as they are reflected in nuclear matters and in arms control. Happily, I think I may take it that, pace the CND and possibly the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, most people in this country are solidly behind the maintenance of some Western defence system, both nuclear and non-nuclear, which, with the United States in the lead, may—pending disarmament of course—be regarded by the Soviet Union as "credible" and hence as a deterrent to any action on their part that might precipitate a war.

And it is in the light of what we may probably call a general consensus that I turn, not so much to ASAT (Anti-Satellite Action), in respect of which there is still some slight hope that the two super powers will eventually agree to scrap all further preparations, as to President Reagan's favourite plan—namely, the construction at colossal expense before the end of the century of some anti-ballistic space system that could shoot down all Soviet nuclear missiles shortly after they leave the ground.

We had originally imagined that any divergent ideas on "star wars" could be put on one side for the moment as a result of the Prime Minister's agreement, in her recent talks with President Reagan, not to object, as I understand it, to the expenditure by the United States on "research" for this project of no less than $26 billion over the next five years in return for an American assurance that no definite decision to go ahead with it would be taken pending its consideration, along with other nuclear matters, in negotiations with the Russians.

This was satisfactory in so far as it seemed at least to postpone any decision on a very contentious matter. However, the trouble still is that, if over so long a period such very large sums are to be devoted to research, the chances are that, whatever the Russians, the United States Congress or the Europeans may say or do, it will be very difficult in practice to abandon the project in 1990 or 1991.

However, immediately after this welcome agreement, various high United States authorities, including the Secretary for Defense himself, declared that "star wars" was simply not negotiable in any circumstances whatever. And although Mr. Shultz seems now in effect to have overruled Mr. Weinberger and thus in principle upheld the agreement, it remains to be seen whether in the coming negotiations the United States will ever agree to abandon, or even to modify, the SDI project, whatever concession the Russians may be prepared to offer in return. If so, it will mean that what might be called the Weinberger thesis will have prevailed and the whole future of arms control will thereby be gravely imperilled.

What is the Weinberger thesis? It has just been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Reay. Although I may be unduly suspicious, I feel that the real, if undeclared, purpose of SDI is to prevent any return to a much abused and distrusted "detente" resting on the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD), which has been at least tacitly accepted in all arms control negotiations up till now. The intention would rather be to replace this concept of MAD by some settlement based not so much on equality as on overwhelming American strength, and notably by an attempt to achieve virtual immunity against Soviet nuclear attack; thus either placing the Russians at the mercy of the Americans or, perhaps more probably, wrecking the Russian economy as a result of Soviet efforts to keep up in some space war race. However much we may dislike and distrust the Soviet Government, it is hard to imagine anything more inherently destabilising than that.

I have no time to dwell further on the dangers of this unfortunate and, according to many qualified scientists, unrealisable project, which I have good reason to suppose are well appreciated by the majority of informed persons in this country and across the Channel, if not in America. At one time there was good reason to suppose that they were also appreciated by our own Prime Minister.

So, in conclusion, my Lords, I would say only this. It may well be that, whatever our views, we shall eventually find it very difficult by simple opposition to persuade the Americans to abandon a scheme which, however impracticable and undesirable, at least promises enormous advantages to its promoters, if only from the financial point of view. But suppose—just suppose—that we and our friends were to hint that if there were ever a chance of its being abandoned during negotiations we should be prepared, in order to clinch a deal, to shoulder the financial obligations necessary for strengthening our conventional defences and to this end to cut down on our own expenditures on nuclear weapons. What then? At the very least, would not such an offer encourage those in Congress who are opposed to the whole "star wars" exercise?

I would not suggest that any démarche should be made at once or in so many words. But if in diplomacy one can see a possible means of reaching an end, there are surely more ways than one, however devious, of resorting to it. For the rest, I can only trust that we shall have an opportunity of discussing star wars at greater length in the light of any progress or absence of progress in the forthcoming negotiations with the Soviet Union. It is really not a question of being, as some suggest, beguiled on this issue by Mr. Gorbachev: it is a question of discovering where our true interests lie.

6.57 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, we have had a debate of great interest and importance, and we are indebted to my noble friend Lord Jenkins for initiating it. In his speech my noble friend drew attention to one aspect, as he sees it, of our relationship with the United States of America; namely, the relations between the two governments in the field of defence. I propose to go somewhat wider than that, and many of the excellent speeches we have heard have also ranged more widely.

In general, I have no doubt in my mind that we do have a special relationship. Geography and history have made that inevitable; and we have only to look at the list of signatories to the Declaration of Independence to appreciate that, whether we like it or not. There is an historic bond which it is impossible to deny. As the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, said, there have been great changes in 200 years; but I think a bond still remains, although there are arguments on both sides as to whether it still exists, and things are said (as they have been said in this debate) which cast doubt upon it. I think that Mark Twain summed it up when he said of Thomas Carlyle's view of Americans that, At bottom he was probably fond of them, but he was always able to conceal it". The mistake many people on both sides of the Atlantic make is to interpret the special relationship in purely political terms: that is to say, if we are close politically, then there is a special relationship; if not, there is no such relationship. But whatever the political climate, there are always close personal and cultural links, and these are not absent among the Americans who are not of British extraction. The political relationship is bound to vary as leaders and policies change in both countries. The fact that they do change is significant in itself for we are discussing relations between two democratic countries. But the other links remain.

I have the privilege of being the president of the Association of Welsh Societies Overseas, and the largest of these by far are the combined American Welsh societies. In August of every year they send representatives to the National Eisteddfod, and when we meet, there is no barrier between us. We are linked by the English language—and in most cases by the Welsh language as well! No doubt if we began to discuss political issues, we would find things to disagree about, but there is nothing odd about that, any more than there is about disagreement in this House. I think therefore that it is important to get this in the right perspective at the very outset.

Then there are other links of a more material kind which must be taken into careful account, notwithstanding what the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, said about trade. For example, our investment—these are perhaps not the very latest figures—in the United States is of the order of $23 billion and United States investment here is of the order of $30 billion. Our trade with the United States is worth some £16 billion. This is not only immensely valuable to us and to our economy but implies the constant interchange of views and personal relations on the commercial and industrial level.

This trading relationshp is not new. It has been going on for a very long time; and the more it thrives, the better it is for our economy, provided it is balanced and fair. I do not overlook the current economic problems or the serious disagreements which have occurred between our two countries, for example, about the Siberian pipeline two years ago, about trade restrictions which are of acute concern to this country, and about growing concern about a possible American shift towards protectionism. Disagreements on trade matters can have bitter repercussions, I agree, and this must be understood on both sides. The row over the Soviet gas pipeline showed how easily the United States and the EEC could fall out very seriously. The subsequent accommodation showed the strength of the relationship at the end of the day.

On the political side—here I include defence which has been extensively covered in the previous debate—there appear to be two schools of thought. One school takes the view that the political relationship between the United States of America and Britain has never been healthier, and that this is partly due to President Reagan's regard for the Prime Minister, a regard which is warmly reciprocated. On 22nd December, for example, the Economist said: Measured in personal terms, the partnerhip now seems to be at the kind of high point reached between Roosevelt and Churchill, the pair who launched it, and later between Kennedy and Harold Macmillan". Senator John Tower, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a few days ago: Most Americans regard Britain as our closest and most reliable ally". This view is also shared by Mr. Caspar Weinberger and others. The Economist finds evidence of affinity with Britain in travel statistics. It points out that, apart from Mexico, which is on the doorstep of the United States, Britain is by far the most popular destination for travelling Americans.

Three tangible advantages, it is argued, flow to Britain from the special relationship. The first is the one dealt with and sharply criticised by my noble friend Lord Jenkins; namely, nuclear defence cooperation. Trident missiles are, it is said, a natural offspring of Polaris, although the full price is being paid for Trident which was not the case with Polaris. Secondly, the navies of the two countries co-operate very closely at Northwood, as we know; and, thirdly, intelligence—a valuable advantage not shared with any other country. It is difficult of course to reconcile the latter advantage with the United States invasion of Grenada without any forewarning to the Government.

This therefore is one view: that the political relationship between Britain and the United States is sound and flourishing. There is, however, a contrary opinion that some fairly fundamental differences exist between our two countries. For example, on 6th May The Times referred to the dangerous threat of the, creeping anti-Americanism that is evident in Britain and Western Europe". This is of course true, and it is in my view unfortunate. It is due to many factors; to the fact that a generation has grown up which does not remember the war or the Marshall Plan and the immense efforts of the American people to help Europe on to its feet again; something no one in Western Europe should ever forget.

Then there was the establishment of NATO (which this party supports as it has always done, as my noble friend Lord Longford has said) one of whose founders was the late Ernest Bevin. The doubt about the relationship is due to the matters graphically described by noble friend Lord Jenkins in his opening speech, the apprehension about the spread of nuclear weapons and the lively awareness that Western Europe is in the front line. It is due to the more aggressive posture of President Reagan in the first years of his Administration, especially compared with his predecessor, and his speeches over a period when he spoke in terms of the empire of evil, the powers of darkness and so on. The actions of the United States Government in Grenada and in Central America have also created an atmosphere of doubt. May I say in parentheses that the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, about my right honourable friend Mr. Neil Kinnock were exaggerated, in bad taste and not entirely accurate. There has of course been a welcome change over the past nine months or so and we warmly endorse the recent meetings between Mr. Shultz and Mr. Gromyko in Geneva, and of course President Reagan's positive reactions to them. But the anti-Americanism of which The Times wrote still remains a worrying aspect of our present relations.

I concede that our own position is not always an easy one. On the one hand, we are members of the European Community with interests, loyalties and a clear commitment to our partners there. On the other hand, we have the special relationship. After her meeting with President Reagan in Camp David the Prime Minister is reported as saying: She and the President saw matters in very much the same light". She was of course talking about armaments and defence and the United States' new proposals for the development of the so-called star wars system. Is this absolutely correct? I would value the comments of the noble Baroness on this matter. Does she confirm that the Government are at one with President Reagan on this issue of star wars. Is there not a deep strategic division between our two countries in that, beyond all our allies in NATO, we, Britain, hold that strategic defence is not worth the effort except in so far as it can be achieved by the possession of an ultimate retaliatory weapon, that is the nuclear weapon?

At some stage this has to be explained in full by our Government. The star wars system is of central interest. Is it for example the Government's view that to proceed with this would provoke an enormously costly and destabilising escalation of the race to develop both defensive and improved offensive weapons, thus frustrating once again the possibility of disarmament. It would be helpful if the Government made their position abundantly clear on this issue at this time. This is important in relation to the projected new arms negotiations. We are extremely grateful to the noble Baroness for the full explanation which she gave of the conduct of the talks when she wound up the last debate. But the extent to which the United States are prepared to put this great issue on the table in the forthcoming talks is of the utmost importance.

Finally, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, about the three areas of divergence to which he has just referred. But these are all negotiable between us, and I believe that they can be negotiated successfully. However, there is also a longer term aspect of our relationship. I was much impressed by a leading article in The Times on 22nd December. Discussing the development of international affairs, it stated: In 'second term' Washington, it is certainly possible to detect a feeling that the United States is opening up a gap between itself and the rest of the world, friends, potential friends, and potential enemies. The full implications of this gap in philosophy and achievement are only slowly dawning on American public opinion and will take some time to be absorbed elsewhere. The significance of the 'gap' should not he over-valued but its existence and its political implications should clearly not be ignored". Later the article states: Not since the days of Roosevelt has there been such a sense of a nation on the move, of a new strength in the United States, coming from all classes and all age groups making their own contribution to the country's emerging predominance in the world". Those are very significant words. The observer who wrote them obviously comments with great knowledge and intelligence, and note should be taken of what he said. There is a change, without question. President Reagan is a symptom of it—not its philosopher. There is a change here and in Western Europe as well. It is not taking place in America alone. Some people seem to believe that Europe is static and that it no longer counts. But Europe is still the greatest continent in the world and its potential for good is immense, if its resources and talents are properly organised.

There is therefore change here and in Western Europe generally and there will be a change in the Soviet Union—especially when younger leaders take over. We must anticipate the change there imaginatively. We are also extremely conscious of the fundamental changes taking place in China today, and these which will come in the sub-continent of India as well. We live in a world of immense changes and we are probably too close to them to appreciate their full implications.

My Lords, what is necessary is leadership well equipped with common sense, good judgment, and a commitment to liberty and the rule of law. These have been and must remain the basis of this special relationship.

7.12 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, for choosing to debate this important subject this evening. That said, the noble Lord will not be surprised to hear me say that there was no part of his speech with which I found myself in agreement. In the course of my remarks, I will of course try to answer some of the points he raised. I am bound to say to the noble Lord that his speech stood in marked contrast to that of his noble friend Lord Cledwyn, with whose remarks I agreed in very large part.

Many of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, were well answered by my noble friend Lord Beloff. However, this debate gives me an opportunity to place on record this Government's firm belief in the importance of our relationship with the Government of the United States for the future wellbeing and security of this country. I am told that a senior Foreign Office official once told his colleagues that he wanted to hear less of our relations with other countries and more of our interests. That is sound thinking, so I shall start by considering our relationship with the United States Government in the light of both English and American interests. What is in it for us, and what do we think is in it for them?

Security is the cornerstone of the relationship between the United States Government and ourselves. The United States continues to play a fundamental role in guaranteeing the security of Britain and our other NATO allies. United States servicemen stationed in Europe constitute the largest American force posted outside the United States. We acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the United States Government and the American people for their support. We are well aware that without this support we could not maintain the level of forces necessary to deter aggression.

It is important that the extent of the United States commitment to our defence is not taken for granted, particularly by the generations which have grown up with the Atlantic Alliance as an established institution. History in ancient times, as well as more recently, can point to many examples of a powerful country involving itself militarily in the affairs of another continent. However, it is without precedent that a preeminent military power should agree to undertake the defence of another continent in free association with countries of that continent. That is what the United States did at the foundation of NATO.

It is not a one-sided arrangement. The United States supports the alliance because it has learned from bitter experience that the defence of Europe and the defence of the United States is indivisible. The United States commitment to our defence is matched by Europe's own contribution to NATO. I listened with particular interest to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Caccia, in that respect. It is a common endeavour and an endeavour in which Britian plays a major role.

We spend more on defence in absolute and in per capita terms than any member of NATO apart from the United States. Out of our total defence budget the proportion devoted directly or indirectly to alliance tasks continues to amount to some 95 per cent. We are the only European power to contribute to the alliance's strategic nuclear, theatre nuclear, and conventional forces (the three legs of what is known as NATO's triad of forces) and we provide facilities which enable the United States to play her role in the alliance more effectively.

Whenever there are reasons to believe that the Soviet Union is genuinely interested in the reduction of tension in armaments, Britain works closely with the United States and our other allies to find common ground and to secure agreement. The alliance has proved itself over nearly 40 years as a remarkably adaptable and effective peace-keeping institution.

We have just concluded a debate on disarmament, and many of the issues which have been raised in this debate were raised in the preceding debate. However, there are some points I shall try to answer which were not raised in the first debate.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, asked once again whether we are not being subservient to the United State and had no control over United States nuclear weapons. It is as well to re-state the position of Her Majesty's Government as stated by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in answer to a parliamentary Question on 12th May, 1983: The existing understandings between the United Kingdom and the United States governing the use by the United States of nuclear weapons and bases in this country have been jointly reviewed in the light of the planned deployment of cruise missiles. We are satisfied that they are effective. The arrangements will apply to United States cruise missiles based in the United Kingdom whether on or off bases. The effect of the understandings and the arrangements for implementing them is that no nuclear weapon would be fired or launched from British territory without the agreement of the British Prime Minister".—[Official Report. Commons, col. 433.] Having mentioned that, I was very interested to hear the account of the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, of the relationship enjoyed by the late Mr. Attlee when he visited Washington and had discussions with President Truman over the use of nuclear weapons in the Korean war. And I am sure we were all very interested in the story told by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, concerning the discussions between Conservative Members—Sir Winston Churchill and Mr. Beaverbrook—about the American relationship. It does illustrate that, over a long period of time, it is very important that British Prime Ministers and British Governments should have a very close and intimate relationship with the American Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, raised the question of the Western European Union. The United States position is that they have supported publicly efforts to revitalise the WEU as an initiative aimed at enhancing European defence efforts and building public support for them, thus strengthening the Atlantic Alliance. Our own view is that we fully support the revitalisation of the WEU in order to promote increased European defence co-operation and to enhance the European contribution to the alliance.

My noble friend Lord Reay raised a number of points. I was most interested when he spoke of the importance of the cohesion of the relationship between the United States and Europe. He referred to East-West relations. I hope that 1985 will be remembered as the year of realism. There are signs that the Russians have recognised that their attempts to obtain concessions from the West by refusing to move on arms control and other issues were not succeeding. The West has made clear for some time its desire for a wide-ranging dialogue with the Soviet Union, and we hope that the process of contact, not just between the super-powers, will continue. We must temper this welcome with realistic expectations about progress. There are unlikely to be dramatic break-throughs, and we will need patience and persistence.

My noble friend Lord Reay also asked about chemical weapons, and I confirm to him that the United Kingdom has tabled at the Geneva negotiations a series of verification proposals. The recent ones include our proposals in 1983 for verifying the non-production of chemical weapons upon entry into force of the convention; a proposal in February 1984 for challenge inspection in cases of suspected non-compliance; and in July 1984 further proposals on non-production. We intend to table a further proposal on verification in March this year.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, raised a series of issues. The first was on American policy in Central America. I should like to say to him that the United States has repeatedly stated that it wishes to see political reform in Central America through peaceful means. We, too, support that objective. The United States support for the Contadora process was reiterated at the recent session of the United Nations General Assembly. We welcome the continuing discussions between the United States special representative, Mr. Schlaudeman, and the Nicaraguan Deputy Foreign Minister, Tinoco, and hope that these will assist the Contadora process.

On the Middle East, I confirm to the noble Lord that we believe that the United States is indispensable to the peace process. We still believe that the Reagan plan of September 1982 is the best available starting point for negotiations. We welcome President Reagan's reaffirmation of this commitment to the plan which he gave at the United Nations General Assembly in 1984.

The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, referred to the whole issue of star wars. Indeed, it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and referred to by other noble Lords. I have no doubt that we shall have much discussion and debate on this matter over the coming months and years. Perhaps this evening I can confine myself to saying that the Government have made clear that an arms race in space would benefit no one. We are glad that post-Geneva talks will focus on preventing an arms race. Negotiation and mutual restraint will be needed to meet the urgent challenge posed by costly new space technologies.

The SDI, and parallel Soviet research, are permitted under existing agreements, but there is a clear need for the United States to match Soviet efforts. However, the implications for the future are far-reaching. As was agreed at Camp David, any deployments would have to be a matter for negotiations. The United Kingdom is concerned that neither side should misinterpret the other's intentions and that current activities should aim to strengthen peace and not increase tension; to enhance and not to undermine deterrence. President Reagan and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister agreed at Camp David that the United States and the Western aim is not to achieve superiority but to maintain a balance, taking account of Soviet deployment. Soviet strategic defence programmes are extensive and well established.

The concept of security goes wider, however, than purely military or defence considerations. It reflects the community of economic interest between America and Britain. The United States is our largest supplier and remains our largest export market, both for goods and invisibles. It is also the main overseas investor in this country and the main recipient of our own overseas investment. In 1982, the last year for which figures are available, the United States provided 35 per cent. of direct non-oil investment in the United Kingdom from overseas. In the same year the United States received nearly 60 per cent. of all United Kingdom direct non-oil investment overseas, or some £1.5 billion: the United Kingdom accounted for close to 40 per cent. of foreign investment in the United States.

Given this community of interest, and the size of the United States economy, American policies, of course, have an impact on us. For example, the exchange rate for sterling reflects concern about monetary conditions, the level of borrowing and public expenditure, and uncertainty over oil prices; but is influenced also by the strength of the dollar. To the extent that sterling has depreciated further against the dollar than against other major currencies, this is due in part to the demand for foreign capital to finance the continuing high American budget deficit. We welcome the recent lowering in United States interest rates, but renewed upward pressure in 1985 cannot be ruled out in the face of the deficit and a continued pick-up in activity.

The economic problems of Europe receive more than their fair share of coverage: the good news does not. Performance last year in Europe was the best for many years. In the United Kingdom, growth will continue this year and inflation is under 5 per cent. Exports were up in volume in 1984. The recovery here has been slower than in the United States. However, we are increasingly competitive. Europe is rising to the challenge of new technologies and structural adjustment. A new drive to liberalise further the internal Community market is under way.

The United States and Britain stand together in many important endeavours. We share a deep and abiding attachment to the fundamental values of our societies and to the democratic principles on which our systems and institutions of government are based. These points were made first by my noble friend Lord Beloff, particularly comparing them with the system of government in the Soviet Union, and were reiterated by the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield. Outlook, shared values and principles are enhanced by ties of language, history, common heritage and the rule of law.

We are both concerned and have a practical compassion for the less well-off countries in the world. For example, only recently we in this country contributed in full measure to relief of the Ethiopian famine, and the United States has announced that it will be providing l½ million tonnes of food aid for countries in need in Africa. This was reported to constitute half the continent's requirements in 1985. For many people there is also the memory of so many dangers and sacrifices faced together in the course of this century. It is this breadth of shared history and community of interest which gives the relationship between the British and American Governments its depth and particular character.

Winston Churchill told members of the United States Congress on 17th January 1952: Bismarck once said that the supreme fact of the 19th century was that Britain and the United States spoke the same language. Let us make sure that the supreme fact of the 20th century is that they tread the same path". I believe that we have successfully trodden the same path in the 30 years since then. It is indeed a special relationship. As the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, pointed out, this does not make it unique, but it undoubtedly does make it special.

Just before Christmas my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, at President Reagan's invitation, stopped in Washington on her way back from China and Hong Kong for a wide-ranging exchange of views with President Reagan, Vice-President Bush, Secretary of State Shultz and senior members of the United States Administration. Discussion focused on East-West relations and arms control talks. It also covered the Middle East, Lebanon, Central America, the United States economy, the Prime Minister's visit to China and her recent talks with Mr. Gorbachev and Dr. FitzGerald. The Prime Minister and President Reagan expressed their grave concern at the current famine in Africa, to which I have just referred.

On 9th January, at President Reagan's request, his National Security Adviser, Mr. McFarlane, reported to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on the outcome of the United States-Soviet talks in Geneva on 7th–8th January on arms control. The Prime Minister said that the British Government warmly welcomed the agreement which had been reached to hold negotiations on nuclear and space weapons. She assured Mr. McFarlane of Britain's continued support for the United States in the negotiations, and looked forward to maintaining the closest contacts during them.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in his opening speech asked whether we are not now subservient to the Americans and in a semi-colonial relationship with them. Of course we do not always see eye to eye on all issues with the United States Administration. A community of interest is not the same as an identity of interest. The United States has strategic, political and economic interests in areas where our concerns are less direct, or marginal. We are part of Europe and have European perceptions. We also play an important part in bringing European perceptions into the affairs of the alliance and the broader transatlantic relationship.

It is particularly important that we work together to resolve problems that have arisen in the area of trade. I am happy that agreement has been reached between the European Community and the United States over Community exports of steel pipes and tubes, which had been a source of friction: I hope that differences in other areas, especially agricultural trade, may be resolved by discussion and consultation. We have a common commitment to resisting protectionism, which is set out in the declaration of the Economic Summit at Williamsburg. Nothing is more important, as we make progress towards a new round of multilateral trade negotiations, than that we should continue this resistance. We are particularly concerned at United States efforts to enforce American jurisdiction beyond American shores and at the system of unitary taxation applied in certain American states (though no longer, I am happy to say, in Florida). There are thus differing perceptions of the global impact of United States economic management.

The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, raised the question of the World Bank and the IMF. Although he said that he did not insist on a reaction tonight, I should just like to say this to him. It is not at all the case that British policy merely follows American policy in the IMF and at the IBRD. Often there is a coincidence of American and British views on how matters should be handled in the bank and the fund. It would clearly be wrong to try to generate differences in our approach where none existed in reality in order to meet the noble Lord's point, but, where there are differences, we do not hesitate to make them clear. I need only remind him of the controversy over the replenishment of IDA 7.

The mark of a mature and stable relationship is to be able to acknowledge that there are differences of perception and, on occasion, differences of interest. It is the mark of a dynamic relationship that both sides put time and effort into finding ways of solving problems or minimising unavoidable differences. Thus, Ministers and officials from this Government and the United States Administration have devoted considerable resources to seeking to resolve our differences over certain aviation issues in a way compatible with both our interests. I am happy to say that we have made some progress and discussions continue.

I should like to end by reminding noble Lords of a statement by the Prime Minister in her speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet on 19th November 1983 which encapsulates this Government's views of our relationship with the United States: Friends, like families, differ at times, but nothing alters these basic principles—that the United States is our ultimate defensive shield, the guarantor of Western freedom and the best hope for the world's oppressed. To that conviction we hold. We are confident that any differences that may occur will always be infinitely less important than the purposes and loyalties which bind us together".

7.33 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply to this debate which has been an interesting one. I am also grateful to her for leaving me two or three minutes to clear up one or two points, though it is, of course, not our custom to reply to these short debates in any full sense of that word. On the question of clarification, the noble Baroness is, I think, aware that what she told us about the Prime Minister's response on cruise is not regarded by many of us as being a satisfactory answer to the question; but I shall not pursue the matter tonight. There will be other opportunities on another occasion.

I must raise one point. I think perhaps there was a misunderstanding by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, who seemed to take the view that a proposal that this country should consider a closer relationship with the United States constituted a statement of Soviet policy. As on another occasion the noble Lord was unable to distinguish between the letters CND and KGB, perhaps we may expect a certain myopia from that quarter. I should like to assure him that everything that I have said tonight has been said much more cogently in the United States. There are people there who are unhappy about the relationship between their great country and this one of ours.

Finally, I think that I must give the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, the opportunity to refer to the Cabinet minute that I mentioned. If I briefly read an extract, he will be able to pick it up from Hansard. What was said in the Cabinet minute of July 1954 was this: Some believed that the greatest threat to world peace came from Russians. He (Salisbury) himself believed that the greater risk was that the United States might decide to bring the East-West issue to a head while they still had overwhelming superiority in atomic weapons and were comparatively immune from atomic attack by Russia". That was Lord Salisbury's statement at that time. Whether it was in keeping with his general views, the noble Lord, Lord Sherfield, will know better than I.

I think that it has been a useful debate. I still take the view that our present relationship with the United States is a bad one, that it is too subservient, that it is getting worse and that it needs drastically to be improved. Having said that, I believe that this debate itself may conceivably contribute just a mite in that direction. I beg your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.