§ Debate resumed on the Motion moved yesterday by the Lord Middleton—namely, That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament".
§ 3.2 p.m.
§ Baroness Young
My Lords, we debate today the Government's objectives in foreign policy and defence. My noble friend Lord Trefgarne will wind up the debate and will then cover some of the defence issues which I have no doubt will be of interest to your Lordships.
In looking ahead, as we shall, it is right that we should also remember the past. In 1985, we celebrate 40 years of peace in Europe and 40 years of work by the United Nations. These anniversaries remind us of past achievements, but also of past failures, to reach the goals of the UN founders, and to create a truly secure and prosperous world.
The challenges which remain preoccupy all governments. This Government will continue to meet those challenges with the persistence and determination we have shown throughout our office—firm in our objectives, true to our partners and allies. The most important question we face is whether, over the years to come, we can manage the differences between East and West and narrow the gap between them. This of course will be one of the main purposes of the first meeting between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev in two weeks' time.
As noble Lords will know, the Government have been and remain in close consultation with the United States Administration in preparation for this summit. We have offered our full support and advice. We welcome President Reagan's resolve that this meeting should mark a fresh start in East-West relations. We too hope that it will lead to real and lasting progress, particularly in arms control. We look to Mr. Gorbachev to play an equally constructive part.
We shall likewise continue to play a leading part in the search for improved East-West relations. In 1985, we have pursued contacts at all levels with the 23 countries of eastern Europe. The wide differences between East and West will not be reconciled overnight. But consistent and patient contacts over time can create that modicum of understanding and trust needed to make progress on the key security issues of our age. Your Lordships will note in this context that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is the only British Foreign Secretary to have visited not only the Soviet Union, but every country of eastern Europe during his term of office.
We do not pursue this course blindly. We are all too aware of the continuing human rights abuses by the Soviet and east European Governments in their own countries, and of their use of force and intimidation against other states, as in the brutal occupation of Afghanistan. These are not reasons for us to give up trying to improve Soviet behaviour. But they remind us of the kind of governments and political systems with which we are dealing.
On this realistic basis, the Government are committed to the development of better relations with the Soviet Union. But this can never be at the expense of national security. Following Mr. Gordievsky's revelations on Soviet intelligence activity, we were bound to take firm action. Soviet retaliation—though unfortunate and wholly unjustified—was a price we had to be prepared to accept. The gain to Britain, in effectively destroying the KGB's operations here, is considerable.
Now we must look to the future. We shall continue to protect our security but wish equally to develop our relations and increase our trade with the Soviet Union. It will be a slow process. The events of the past year have reminded us that there is no short-cut to the vital task of creating better understanding and trust between East and West.
Dialogue is not of course an end in itself. We urgently need concrete, reliable agreements in practical areas of co-operation. Nowhere is this more necessary than in arms control. Here too patience and a consistent policy over time are required.
The Government have warmly welcomed the resumption in Geneva of arms control talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. In recent weeks, the Soviet Union has taken a step in the right direction by tabling ideas of its own. These are unacceptably one-sided but contain elements on which we hope the negotiators at Geneva can build. Only the political will is necessary. President Reagan has shown this political will and has laid the foundations for real progress by putting forward further detailed proposals. We strongly support his initiative, and hope that the Soviet Union will now engage in serious negotiations at the conference table where they belong.
One area of the Geneva negotiations that has aroused particular interest is of course that relating to developments in space, including the United States strategic defence initiative. I shall not go into detail here but would make two points. First, existing Soviet research in this area provides ample justification for the United States programme. Second, the United States Administration has made clear that SDI research will be carried out in full conformity with the 24 ABM treaty and other treaty obligations. It has also committed itself to negotiations with the Soviet Union in advance of any moves beyond that treaty, and the United States Secretary of State, Mr Shultz, reaffirmed these points in his recent speech in San Francisco. These are important assurances which should not be overlooked in the public debate now under way.
More widely, we and our partners made a significant contribution to the recently concluded review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This conference was a particular success. Not only did we adopt a substantive document acceptable to all the parties but all nations present firmly restated their resolve to strengthen and enhance the treaty. For our part, the Government will continue to uphold the treaty's provisions and seek to persuade the remaining non-parties to adhere to it, particularly those with significant nuclear facilities not open to inspection. These examples of co-operation between the Government and their partners are mirrored in the growing sense of common purpose and cohesion within the European Community.
We have only recently debated aspects of the Community's work and policies following reports from Select Committees in your Lordships' House. I shall not therefore repeat these issues today. I would, however, make two general points. First, the past year has seen a remarkable number of important achievements: perhaps most fundamental has been agreement on the enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal. Their accession represents a strengthening of democracy in Europe; a boost for our combined voice in the world; and a major extension of the Community market. Your Lordships will shortly have an opportunity to debate the Bill giving effect to the accession treaty.
We have also succeeded in putting Community finances on a sound basis, controlling agricultural expenditure for the first time. Through the Fontainebleau mechanism we have guaranteed that Britain's financial contribution to the Community will be both fair and balanced. Finally, the Community has signed a Third Lomé Convention with 66 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries maintaining their preferential trade access and including a Sixth European Development Fund, of which the United Kingdom share is some £740 million—the largest single aid commitment made by any British Government.
The second point I would underline is the Government's commitment to improving the Community's functioning: to ensure more effective decision-taking and real steps towards a genuine internal market. This may involve amendments to the Treaty of Rome. But political will is at least as important as the mechanics of change. The position we take on the important inter-governmental conference will depend on how far its proposals can contribute to the practical improvements we seek—and to the true objectives of the treaty itself.
There is still much to do. Agricultural expenditure is still too high. The reality of a common market in goods and services still eludes us. But we have achieved major progress in Europe, with real benefits for Britain.
25 Before leaving the Community I would mention political co-operation. In June we submitted to the European Council proposals for a new treaty on foreign policy and security. Current discussions are based largely on that British text, and are making good progress.
I should now like to turn to some areas of the world in which I know your Lordships have a particular interest. First, Gibraltar. The year of Spain's accession to the Community has marked also important developments in Gibraltar and for our bilateral relations with Spain. The Lisbon agreement implemented earlier this year has been beneficial for both sides of the frontier. It has brought a welcome boost to the Gibraltar economy and enabled some 3 million people to cross the frontier. In both Gibraltar and Spain there is evidence of greater willingness to co-operate in practical fields. With this closer co-operation and trust, I believe that the people of Gibraltar can look forward to their future with confidence.
The Government will certainly work to ensure that this confidence is not misplaced. As agreed in the Brussels communiqué, my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary will meet his Spanish colleague soon to review developments over a wide range of issues. As envisaged in the Brussels communiqué we shall consider there the Spanish Government's recent proposals to us on sovereignty. We do so, however, in the context of our commitment to respect the free and democratically expressed wishes of the Gibraltar people.
Similarly, we shall continue to honour our obligations to the people of the Falkland Islands. The new airport, the programmes of the Falkland Islands Development Corporation and the new constitution are all, in their different ways, helping to build a secure and prosperous future for the Falklands.
The Government are conscious of the concern about the South West Atlantic fishery. As your Lordships know, we believe the best way to tackle the issue is to establish a multilateral regime for conservation and management. The FAO, with whom we are in touch, agree. They have proposed to interested governments an early technical meeting aimed at working out the details. In preparation for that we commissioned a study of the fishery from Dr Beddington, of Imperial College. It has been placed in the Library. The study shows that the situation gives cause for concern but is not critical. Some stocks are under greater pressure than others. Some are migratory and not confined to Falkland waters. It emerges that some estimates of the size of the catch and of the possible revenue that might be raised from a fisheries regime have been exaggerated. These findings are useful.
We must devise a scheme that is in the long-term interests of the islanders. It must be workable in practice, conserve and manage stocks effectively and allow the islands to benefit financially. Clearly it must also be a regime that respects our sovereignty. In the Government's view, the FAO initiative offers the best way forward. We have been very active in working in support of it, and have urged all the nations with a direct interest in the fishery to participate. There is among them, too, wide recognition that an 26 international effort would be desirable. It is encouraging to see reports that Argentina is favourably inclined to the FAO initiative. My right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary has been in direct contact with the director-general of the FAO. We greatly appreciate that organisation's efforts and hope that a technical meeting will be called soon.
We seek also better relations with Argentina. Sadly, as I have told the House on many occasions., our repeated efforts to achieve this have met with little response. But we hope that as democracy in Argentina strengthens—and last weekend's successfully completed elections give further evidence that that is happening—the prospects will improve. We, for our part, believe that work on practical matters, such as trade, to give only one example, provides the only realistic way forward. We shall continue the search for progress.
No less difficult are the problems of Central America. I am glad to inform your Lordships that on 11th and 12th November, with my right honourable and learned friend, I shall attend the ministerial meeting in Luxembourg at which Britain and its European partners will demonstrate our practical support for this region by signing a co-operation agreement and by establishing an annual political dialogue. It is a continuation of the process Which began with the meeting in San José in September 1984. We sincerely hope that these steps will encourage progress towards peace and democracy in this troubled area. The Government will continue to support the efforts of the Contadora group, which we regard as the best means of resolving the crisis in the region.
Turning now to the Commonwealth, the heads of government meeting in Nassau, at which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister represented the United Kingdom, achieved useful agreement on measures in areas as diverse as counter terrrorism and drug abuse, and on policy towards South Africa—to which I shall return. One subject to which Commonwealth leaders paid particular attention was the development of the world economy; in particular, the growing gap between the richer and poorer nations of the world, the crippling burdens of indebtedness, and the increasing threats of protectionism.
Not only for these reasons, but as a response to the tragic events in Africa, which continue, the Government fully recognise the vital role of aid. I should like to make it quite clear that we remain committed to a substantial aid programme. This is a vital part of our policy towards the third world, and indeed our foreign policy as a whole. Those who have criticised the Government's response to famine relief in Africa should look at the facts. In the year up to March 1985 we spent £95; million on famine relief operations. This year we expect to spend at least £80 million. These funds have made a significant impact.
Equally heartening have been the immense voluntary contributions from this country, and the widespread support—in Britain but also beyond—for the Live Aid concerts and other fund-raising activities. These efforts have brought short-term relief. But the problems of drought and famine in Africa remain severe. Continuing food aid will be required in 1986. Nevertheless, a consensus is emerging for a strategy for 27 long-term development. The countries themselves have to face up to important domestic policy reforms and tackle the crucial issues of population growth, food and agricultural development, environmental degradation and improved management and training. Both the IMF and the World Bank have important roles to play in encouraging countries to make sound policy choices.
Britain is matching these efforts by providing substantial long-term bilateral aid programmes—we spent almost a quarter of a billion pounds in Sub-Saharan Africa last year—seeking better co-ordination between aid donors and closer dialogue with the developing countries themselves. As part of this policy Britain has pledged £75 million of bilateral aid to be used alongside the World Bank special facility for Africa, and in contributing to substantial mutilateral and European Community aid funds flowing in the same direction.
But the fundamental aim of our aid policy must be to promote long-term solutions to the problems of poverty and famine; to build sustainable economic and social progress in the countries themselves. And we shall continue to respond quickly and generously to specific natural disasters, such as the Mexican earthquake.
I turn now to two subjects of particular concern to this House and to public opinion in the country. I have already drawn to your Lordships' attention the Commonwealth Accord on South Africa. This accord showed that the Commonwealth is united in its wish to see fundamental peaceful change in South Africa; and that we all wish to find practical ways in which the Commonwealth can help achieve this goal.
There is no disagreement over objectives. Western and Commonwealth leaders all wish to see the end to the system of apartheid and its replacement by a system of government acceptable to the people of South Africa as a whole. We are also agreed on the need for urgent dialogue between genuine black leaders and the South African Government.
The Commonwealth has called for this dialogue to be initiated in the context of the suspension of violence on all sides. The recently-announced restrictions on press freedom will do nothing to help this process, and are very disturbing. But we must continue to oppose violence and to urge the South African Government to begin a dialogue. It is a significant step forward that the 49 countries of the Commonwealth should have lent their weight to these important principles. The Commonwealth has also taken a positive step in agreeing to establish a group of eminent persons who will try to help facilitate the dialogue. As your Lordships will know, the noble Lord, Lord Barber, will be the British nominee. The Government will give this initiative every support.
In addition, together with our partners in the Community and the Commonwealth we have agreed on a number of restrictive and positive measures designed to send an important political signal to Pretoria. Some of these we were already implementing; others are new. The positive steps are designed especially to assist the black community in South Africa. In taking these steps, the Government 28 have made it clear that we do not intend to adopt a trade or economic boycott towards South Africa. Our reasons for this have been made very plain. We now hope that the South African authorities will respond to our appeal and translate their statements of good intention into concrete reforms. We must build on the small but real improvements that have occurred in South Africa and work constructively to hasten this process along.
Similarly, in Namibia, the Government will continue their efforts to bring about implementation of Security Council Resolution 435. The failure to bring Namibia to early independence is very disappointing. An internationally accepted Namibia settlement is vital to the peace and stability of southern Africa as a whole.
Increased peace and stability is also our aim for the troubled area of the Middle East. The recent escalation of violence in this region has only underlined the urgent need for a negotiated settlement of the Arab/Israel dispute.
I have already explained to the House why the planned meeting with a recent Jordanian/Palestinian delegation last month did not take place. King Hussein's initiative continues nonetheless to have our full support. We are also pleased that Mr Peres has acknowledged the need for an international framework for negotiations. It remains the responsibilty of the whole international community to encourage constructive moves by those directly involved. We shall play our full part.
Firm moves for peace are necessary also if we are to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Afghanistan. For six years the Soviet Union has flouted international law and occupied by brute force a sovereign and independent country. This Government are determined that the world shall not forget the plight of the Afghan people. Nor shall we let up on our efforts to persuade the Soviet Government to agree to the UN Secretary-General's peace proposals and bring this unnecessary suffering to an end.
I am conscious that I have covered a large number of subjects and yet omitted many which noble Lords will wish to raise. Such is the scope and scale of international issues that they will not readily fit into one speech. I hope therefore that you will allow my noble friend Lord Trefgarne to pick up these and other issues when he speaks at the close of our debate.
This Government have set clear objectives in foreign policy and defence. We are proud of our record so far but determined to achieve more. We shall pursue our objectives in close consultation with our partners and allies and with our friends in the Commonwealth. In foreign policy, as in other areas, it takes both vision and determination to have principles and to live up to them. This Government have shown, and will continue to show, that they have both.
§ 3.25 p.m.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Baroness for setting the scene for this first day of the debate on the Address. The noble Baroness has dealt with the main problems which face the world at this time, and there have been some significant, if predictable, developments since we had a similar 29 debate 12 months ago. I shall refer to these as I proceed and to as many of the points made by the noble Baroness as I can within a reasonable space of time.
I know that it is very much in our minds that our debate takes place between some great events: that is, the Commonwealth Conference, the 40th anniversary meetings of the United Nations, which were referred to by the noble Baroness, and, most important of all, the impending historic encounter between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev. Our profound hope is that this meeting will be successful; and in saying that I am quite sure I speak for the whole House. By success in Geneva I do not mean a detailed solution of all the problems which beset us or indeed an agreement on the complicated issues of arms control. These matters are for the experts and we accept that any agreement, if and when it comes, will take a long time. However, we could call it success if the leaders were seen to be discussing problems rationally and with a genuine will to find solutions; if they set aside propaganda for the time being; and also if they recognised the need for regular summit meetings.
Over the last few weeks we have had a deluge of comment on the prospects and a bombardment of propaganda from both sides, neither side, so we are told, wishing to lose the initiative. "Initiative" has been the great word. I suppose that is inevitable, but we must ask what "initiative" means in this context. It can only mean the propaganda initiative. But when it comes to talks round the table, that must be left outside the conference door if there is to be the start of mutual confidence. Personally, I am fed up with the sustained propaganda to which the world has been subjected by both sides of the argument.
Of course there are statements from Moscow and from Washington which must be taken very seriously indeed. We had a valuable debate on East-West relations fairly recently, which was initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, and I shall not traverse the same ground again. I shall merely say that, although it is necessary to be realistic in our dealings with the Soviet Union, we must not be so cynical as to brush off every one of its proposals as being insincere. Mr. Gorbachev is a communist; he is tough and he may be ruthless; but he no more wants a nuclear war which will destroy his country than we do. Furthermore, Mr. Gorbachev clearly wants to deal with his country's economic problems and to raise the standards of living in the Soviet Union. Like the rest of us, he knows that the Soviet's huge expenditure on armaments—which is much more that it can afford—is a major block in the way of social and economic progress there.
Mr. Gorbachev is also a "new" man on the scene, the first leader of the post-revolution generation. Therefore when he proposes that the nuclear burden should be halved he deserves a reasonable response. As one commentator said:We should set aside for a moment the scepticism ingrained by 40 years' experience of trying to do deals with the Russians and say simply that we welcome his proposals wholeheartedly and with sincerity.However, we also know that sincerity alone is not enough; that tough standards of fairness and equity of performance must be accepted by both sides; that cuts 30 must take effect across the whole range of nuclear weapons; and that there must be a clear understanding about the multi-warhead land-based systems and other complexities which up to now have bedevilled the negotiations which have taken place. The ebb and flow of propaganda has tended to confuse these issues, but there is still a hint that both sides might negotiate seriously when they get together in a few days' time.
There are other shortcomings in the Soviet proposals and no doubt there will be difficulties about the American counter proposals. The future of the strategic defence initiative referred to by the noble Baroness must be one of these. Nevertheless, I return to the basic facts, namely, that a new look at the possibility of arms control now exists for the first time for years, and this is something that we must welcome.
My noble friend Lord Boston hopes to deal with defence policy and the questions of arms control and SDI when he winds up, and I shall therefore end by welcoming the fact that President Reagan has suggested to Mr. Gorbachev that the current round of arms proposals should be extended so that he can make his own detailed proposals to the Soviet Union. These proposals, as the noble Baroness had indicated, have already been made known to Her Majesty's Government.
The aim therefore must be a substantial cut in nuclear arsenals on both sides, and it seems that both leaders have agreed to this in principle already. Progress towards this is the most important issue in world affairs at the present time, and we hope t hat the Government will do everything possible to help it forward. I doubt also whether the United States preoccupation with SDI should ultimately be allowed to stand in the way of a possible practical settlement. We must wait and see, but we should send our best wishes to President Reagan and to Mr. Gorbachev at this critical moment in history.
As the noble Baroness said, there are other matters which we hope will be discussed by the two leaders in Geneva. One of these—perhaps the most urgent—is the Middle East. It is plain that there will be no permanent settlement of this intractable problem without the joint agreement of the United Stales and the Soviet Union. This is one point which the noble Baroness failed to mention.
Following the failure of the initiative to hold talks with the two PLO representatives last month, the noble Baroness repeated that the Government were still committed to the Venice Declaration. At present the position is confused but we all hope that the peace initiative promoted with such courage by King Hussein is not dead, and that the Government will do anything in their power to sustain it. The dangerous volatility of several areas, not excluding Egypt, makes this more essential than ever before.
The speech of the Israeli Prime Minister—the noble Baroness referred to it—in New York was interesting. He called upon the United Nations to assist in arranging talks between Israel and the Arabs. This would only be possible if the United States and the Soviet Union supported such talks, and I think King Hussein has publicly recognised this. I hope therefore that the Prime Minister will strongly encourage President Reagan to open a discussion with Mr.
31 Gorbachev upon the possibility of talks about the Middle East which they themselves would back, if not sponsor.
The Russians are seen to be as vulnerable to terrorist attacks as other nationals, and the return of stability to the Middle East is as much in Russia's interests as it is in ours and other neighbouring countries. Our country is not in an easy position. We are not a party to the Geneva talks although we have a great interest in their results, and although Britain has great experience of the major subjects on the agenda at Geneva. In present circumstances the best we can do is to express our views plainly and bring all the influence we can to bear on President Reagan. Recent experience has shown that there is nothing to be gained by being subservient to the United States. Indeed France seems to have benefited by not being subservient.
There is, however, one subject of the utmost importance which may not be on the agenda at Geneva, and that is the developing tragedy in South Africa already referred to by the noble Baroness. It however occupied the centre of the stage in the Commonwealth conference in the Bahamas, and as the noble Baroness is well aware, we were not jumping for joy with the Prime Minister's performance there. The Prime Minister declared her abhorrence for apartheid, and I believe she means this as does the Foreign Secretary; but she does not want to become involved in any positive action which might help to bring apartheid to an end.
We know all the arguments: it would harm the black population more than the white; it would damage the economies of other neighbouring black countries; and it would create some unemployment in this country. Furthermore, it is stated, economic sanctions never work. And because Britain has more economic clout than the others in the Commonwealth she persuaded them to accept a list of mild measures with a six-month deadline at the end of which, presumably, more severe measures will be taken. I think that is a fair summary of the situation.
As the Prime Minister said with a smile on TV, using her two fingers, "just this teeny weeny action on krugerrands." I know that this is not a simple or easy matter, but we must not be seen to be less committed in our practical opposition to apartheid than our partners in the Community, our partners in the Commonwealth, and indeed the United States of America as well.
The troubles in South Africa, which have been going on for 15 months, involving the death of nearly 800 people and the arrest of more than 6,000 people, have appalled every one of us whatever our attitude to the regime. It is a tragedy of huge proportions, and unless Mr. Botha and his colleagues are prepared to do more than tinker with the system, we know that this will explode into chaos sooner or later; and who can tell what will emerge from that catastrophe? We know that the white people who run the financial institutions of South Africa, and who are mainly of British descent, are deeply worried about the consequences of the current violence for the rand and for the economy. That is why representatives of the financial institutions have met the African National Congress.
32 The South African Government have reimposed exchange controls to prevent foreign companies from repatriating their profits. American and British banks have begun, or are considering whether, to restrict their operations in South Africa; firms like Sainsbury and the Co-op are no longer selling produce from that country. Chief Buthelezi, who is often quoted as a black African out of sympathy with serious action, said on 22nd October that the Western world must not allow the private banks to reschedule South Africa's debts without insisting that the Government there start talking to the leaders of black opinion. We discussed some of these matters during our debate on Namibia a fortnight ago, and at that time the Dutch Reformed Church came in for some criticism. But now, even the Dutch Reformed Church are anxious to meet leaders of the ANC.
The ban on TV and radio journalists and on photographers, and the police control of press reporting of public unrest, are a further sinister development, and we support the Foreign Secretary's rebuke to the South African Government for taking these measures. This was repeated by the noble Baroness today.
I mentioned the explosion that will inevitably take place if the South African Government fail to act in time. This was referred to by President Kaunda in his letter to Mr. Neil Kinnock when he said:Yes, we will be hurt by these sanctions but we will suffer more if economic sanctions as a peaceful weapon for change are not applied. The result of the explosion will be far more destructive than the injury that economic sanctions can cause us".How right he will be if the situation is allowed to develop as it goes now. Many of us know and respect President Kaunda, and his conclusion must be taken seriously.
The Bahamas conference decided to reconsider the position in six months. As I understand it, all the countries who were party to the Accord will take more severe measures if Mr. Botha has not moved significantly. I asked the noble Viscount, when he repeated the Statement in this House, whether we would join in these measures, but he warded me off by saying that the question was hypothetical. I understand his difficulty, but it is a question the Prime Minister will have to grapple with in March if she is to keep the Commonwealth together. An extremely serious crisis will develop in the spring if the Government do not co-ordinate their action with the other members of the Commonwealth.
The initiative to be taken by the "group of eminent persons" is important and we wish them well. The noble Lord, Lord Barber, who is to represent Britain, is chairman of the Chartered Bank and he knows South Africa well. I am sure he will do his utmost to help towards a solution of this most difficult problem. We look forward to what he may have to say to us in the House in due course of time.
As the noble Baroness has said, it is always the case in these wide-ranging debates that we are unable to address ourselves to many issues of great importance. I will refer merely to one or two of them. We have noted with pleasure the success of President Alfonsin in his second election in Argentina, and also the fact that he and his Government have enabled the military junta which caused the Falklands conflict to be 33 brought to trial. The gracious Speech refers to the need for "more normal relations". The House will be interested to know if any real steps have been taken towards a resumption of diplomatic relations with Argentina. I recognise that the Government have made some gestures; for example, on imports, and, as the noble Baroness said, on fisheries. But the time must surely come very soon when bilateral talks should take place. We are now dealing with a more established democracy in the Argentine. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary recognise that and that they will act accordingly.
The gracious Speech also mentions the obligations of the Government to the people of Hong Kong. It would be of interest to hear about progress in Hong Kong following the numerous debates we had at the beginning of this year. The promised White Paper on Hong Kong will enable us to have a full debate, and perhaps we shall be told when this is likely to be published. It would also be of interest to know whether the Chinese Government have started consulting Hong Kong on the Basic Law.
We welcome the reference in the gracious Speech to the Government's support for the Contadora peace process in Central America. We would like to know whether these words mean that some new initiative has been taken by Her Majesty's Government. We support the paragraph which deals with famine relief and the aid programme, and, especially after the encouraging words of the noble Baroness, we hope that there will not be any real cuts in aid by Britain following the discussions which are now going on between the Foreign Office and the Treasury, under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House.
The essential aim should be a long-term project to help these areas of drought to produce food efficiently and effectively under the aegis of the United Nations. If the Soviet Union could be brought in to co-operate in this instead of exporting arms to selected countries, that would be good evidence of their bona fides and would reduce the temperature.
The international political scene at the present time is very unsettled. There are multifarious regional conflicts, as I have said—in the Middle East, in South Africa, in Afghanistan, and so on. Each of these needs resolution if we are to pre-empt an escalation of conflict. Therefore, our foremost concentration must be on the Geneva summit. Many incidents have occurred which could mar the success of the summit—the various spy defections, the confusing debate on the interpretations of the ABM treaty and the indeterminate talks between Mr. Shultz and Mr. Gorbachev and others: none of these should be allowed to mar success. The talks must be entered into with a spirit of optimism and co-operation.
The breakdown or failure of these talks, followed by another squalid propaganda war, would be an immense setback that would reveal a bankruptcy of the spirit and, indeed, of statesmanship. Let us therefore hope and pray for their success.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Lord Mayhew
My Lords, the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, against the crippling of the 34 negotiations by propaganda from both sides will, I am sure, find an echo in all parts of the House But I should like to begin by thanking the noble Baroness for her usual clear presentation of the policies of the Government. Understandably, with the summit coming up so soon, she laid emphasis particularly on the points of agreement inside the Atlantic alliance. She paid tribute to "the growing sense of common purpose". We respect her attitude at this time, and, no doubt, if we were in her position we would take the same line. Nevertheless, the result has been a statement which is a shade optimistic, which tends to dismiss the very real doubts of some of the European members of NATO—doubts which are shared as we all know by Her Majesty's Government as well. Opposition parties can speak with greater freedom about these things. Indeed, I think we have a duty to do so, and, with permission of the House, I propose to do so.
As our record shows, my noble friends and I are longstanding and loyal supporters of NATO and of the American alliance. We know how much we have in common with the Americans, and we know how vitally European security depends on them. We hold that Britain should be a full member of NATO. which means that for as long as a NATO nuclear deterrent is necessary we think that Britian should play a proper part in supporting it. We oppose any idea of sending back American nuclear bases in Britain. We were impressed by the acknowledgement of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in a recent defence debate that he personally and a number of his noble friends also oppose this policy. We wish them well in the efforts they are doubtless making to persuade their party, and their party leader, to abandon these dangerous ideas.
No more than the Government do we have any illusions about the Soviet Union, and we warmly endorse the remarks of the noble Baroness about the lack of human rights in Eastern Europe. We condemn the Soviet actions in Afghanistan, Angola, Kampuchea and elsewhere. We also condemn particularly their habit of appealing to the Western peoples through the Western media above the heads of the Western Governments, while at the same time concealing from their own people the peace policies of those Governments. This is a thoroughly undesirable feature of Soviet policy.
However, when all that is said, my noble friends and I are a great deal less satisfied with the state of the Atlantic alliance than the noble Baroness seemed to be. Like many European supporters of NATO we seriously question a number of the policies and actions of the Reagan Administration. I do not think we would welcome the results of a recent public opinion poll. This poll suggested that a narrow majority of British people hold that the United States is a greater danger to peace than the Soviet Union. There has never been a time when public opinion polls have been so erratic and unreliable.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of evidence of growing anxiety about the policies of the Reagan Administration and a growing tendency to equate the superpowers in their international conduct. It is only right to examine why, and to consider how this trend can be reversed. When President Truman and Mr. Attlee were confronting Stalin, no civilised and well- 35 informed person could have any doubts where his loyalties lay. The same was true in the eras of President Kennedy and President Carter. But the confrontation between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev is widely seen in a less black-and-white form. This is partly due, no doubt, to new and improved communist propaganda; and partly due to the clumsy presentation of the United States and its policies.
However, it also comes incontestably from policies and actions of the United States Government which are seriously mistaken. In his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Reagan attacked, with justice, Soviet actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but he did not mention his own support for armed insurrection in Nicaragua and he did not mention the money, arms and diplomatic protection which he lavishly provided for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It is possible for fair-minded people to see Nicaragua, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Angola in the same framework: as instances of abuse of power and disrespect for international law by rival superpowers.
Similar doubts are bound to be felt in the field of arms control and disarmament. It has been a feature of every Soviet disarmament proposal since the war that it has either been impractical and propagandist or else, if implemented, would tilt the balance of power in the Russians' favour. However, nowadays similar characteristics are seen to attach to a number of American proposals. On the one hand, the Soviet Union is ahead, as we know, in intermediate-range nuclear weapons. Therefore it calls for a freeze, which would maintain its lead. But then the United States is ahead in space-based anti-ballistic missiles and it calls for no negotiations about them at all, which would maintain its lead. The Soviet Union is ahead in land-based strategic missiles: it suggests, therefore, all-round cuts in strategic missiles, which would leave its lead intact. The Americans, on the other hand, have a lead in sea-launched and air-launched strategic missiles: they call for disproportionate cuts in land-based missiles.
Finally, on nuclear tests, to which the noble Baroness referred, the Soviet Union appears for the moment to have completed its series of nuclear tests. It therefore declares a moratorium. The United States, on the other hand, requires tests for some of its SDI equipment and for the Midgetman warhead, and the United Kingdom Government require tests for the warhead for the Trident. Thus these two Governments reject the moratorium and refuse to resume negotiations for a comprehensive test ban treaty.
In addition, neither superpower makes allowance for the peculiar feature of nuclear weapons; namely, that after a certain level of capacity further additions become meaningless. Nor do they balance the supposed risk of a cut in their overkill capacity against the very real dangers resulting from a failure to reach agreement with each other. For all these reasons, I think there is growing public scepticism about arms control negotiations generally and also about the West's claim to be approaching the negotiations with greater commitment and from higher moral ground.
It may be, of course, that the Americans are simply taking up negotiating positions; that they are ready to make concessions on SDI and on other matters in 36 order to reach an agreement. Certainly, no one can doubt that in the past Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Carter, among others, seriously tried to get these agreements. However, those who have studied carefully the internal struggles in Washington under the Reagan Administration are bound to feel some doubts.
A fortnight ago I attended a conference of the North Atlantic Assembly in San Francisco. As the noble Baroness said, we were addressed by, among others, Mr. Shultz. There it was possible to obtain a first-hand view of attitudes of the United States Congress and senior United States Administration officials. I did not find this reasssuring. The noble Baroness said that President Reagan had made his commitment to arms control agreement clear. However, there are powerful forces in the United States which are actually opposed to arms control and disarmament agreements. It is argued that past agreements have worked to the detriment of American security. We recall that it was President Reagan himself who campaigned against the ratification of the SALT II Treaty. It is argued that the Russians cannot stay the pace; that if they keep in the arms race, they will bankrupt themselves. It is argued that they are not complying with existing agreements; that they can never be trusted, and that they will not comply with future agreements. This is a particularly serious argument which casts a shadow over the whole concept of arms control and disarmament.
At San Francisco we delegates were given an hour-long illustrated presentaton of the United States evidence for Soviet non-compliance with treaties. My impression was that most of the audience remained unconvinced. The case rested mainly on the famous large phased-array radar at Krasnoyarsk. We were told that this is an early-warning installation for tracking incoming ballistic missiles. Therefore, since it is not on the perimeter of the Soviet Union, it constitutes a breach of the ABM Treaty. It may be so. It is very hard to prove that it does not have this capacity. At the same time, the Russians claim that it is for tracking satellites and no one doubts that it can do this, and that it is entitled to do it under the ABM Treaty. It is noteworthy that the installation is not hardened, and has no air defence, which is what one would expect if it was an ABM installation.
It seemed to me that the United States case was not proven and that the rest of the evidence for Soviet non-compliance was not impressive. It consisted mainly of controversial and complicated borderline cases resting on differing interpretations of the treaty, and often without any decisive military importance. Personally, I find it surprising that on this evidence Mr. Weinberger and Mr. Perle should raise the issue of non-compliance so publicly and so stridently at this precise moment.
We know that a number of these worries about which I am talking are shared by Her Majesty's Government. It is not to their discredit that they are not spelling them out frankly at a time like this. However, I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, when he said that there was nothing to be gained from subservience to the United States. To the extent that the Government express these anxieties forcefully to the United States, they will have the support of my noble friends and myself. It will also 37 have the support of a large section of opinion, including governmental opinion, among the other NATO European countries.
A major lesson to be drawn from all these difficulties is that the Europeans need and deserve more influence over NATO decisions. The Americans at present have a disproportionate influence over strategy, arms control, procurement and relations with the communist world. For the future we want to see a NATO effectively based on two pillars, Europe and the United States, with a clearly integrated top command structure. This calls for greater unity in Europe; for developing the habit of joint consultation and joint decision on issues of security. It calls for standarisation and joint procurement of European weapons to redress the balance of the arms trade across the Atlantic. Above all, it calls for clearer definitions of European interests and objectives, especially when these differ from those of the United States, followed by a dialogue between Europe and the United States within NATO on a continuing basis.
In conclusion, I should say that no country is better placed than Britain for giving a lead of this kind. It has to be said that neither the Government nor the Labour Party seems able or willing to attempt this. Both are still tempted to try to go it alone. The Conservatives keep a distance from Europe; the Labour Party keeps a distance from Europe and the United States. The Conservatives want to see Britain developing nuclear weapons on its own: the Labour Party wishes to see Britain renouncing weapons on its own.
The Alliance parties are the parties of Europe. We believe that that is where our future should rest. In Western Europe we have lived closer to Soviet communism, for a longer period of time, than the Americans. We have a more balanced and less simplistic assessment of the Soviet threat. Since the war we have crushed the internal communist challenge in Western Europe. Now, the example of Western Europe's freedom, its greater prosperity, its greater unity, is providing an increasing challenge to the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. In the view of the Alliance parties, it is time for the Western European countries to assert themselves, and to take their proper place as equal partners with the United States in the Atlantic alliance.
§ 4 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Leicester
My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships' House for the first time I crave the customary indulgence of the House to a maiden speaker. But my diffidence on this occasion is much tempered by the fact that I am able to speak about aid for foreign countries. My gratitude springs from 20 years of my ministry as priest and bishop, which began in a country which lived under the indignity of having to survive by foreign aid as well as with all the problems of the poverty which called for that aid's necessity. I lived in South Korea; and when I left it after 20 years not only was that country on the way to solving the problems of its poverty but it had gained or regained a sense of proper pride as a nation and a psychological poise which one had scarcely hoped that it might have.
Knowing what foreign aid can do, I greet with great enthusiasm the statement that our Government will 38 maintain a substantial aid programme, play their part in the relief of famine and other disasters and encourage investment in developing countries But I hope that that can be taken to imply also that there will be no diminution, which might yet be consistent with continuing a substantial aid programme, and that more and more the efforts of this country in aiding countries overseas will be concentrated on care for overseas food production, particularly by the poorest people in the poorest countries.
We have all welcomed the concern that our country has had for the relief of famine, but it is quite clear that the relief of famine is not enough and that although that has become an emotive question for the people of the United Kingdom, who have risen to it in a way which has surprised many of us, yet at the same time our people are educating themselves about the proper use of all our overseas aid and are quite clear that it is more than merely proper budgeting. The growth of concern about poverty outside this country has been first proved by the response to the television programmes on famine victims in Sub-Saharan Africa, by the launching not only by the usual overseas agencies (the familiar Christian Aid, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, Oxfam and others) of special funds, but by the inspiring work of people who appear to be more ordinary, people like Bob Geldof, resulting in Band Aid and Live Aid permeating concern about overseas needs to what were previously regarded as uneducated parts of our society.
This has led to a response to what our Government have done, not least I am sure in the sending of RAF Hercules planes, which have ensured that some of the problems of distribution have been solved or at least minimised. We are greatly encouraged, all of us. that these aeroplanes have remained as part of the operation and we trust that they will not be withdrawn until it has been ensured that ground transport is adequate and that those who live and work there are convinced that this is so.
There has recently been another sign of public concern for the administration of overseas aid It. had its clearest symbolism in the presence of 20,000 people in Westminster on 22nd October for the "Fight World Poverty" rally and lobby. Conversations in the most ordinary places, in buses and in parishes, indicate that what everyone is now talking about is how must aid be administered. And it is seen that financial aid alone is not enough. It is seen that aid programmes cannot be taken separately from other programmes administered by the Government. There is a particular abhorrence among ordinary people that while there is so much extreme hunger in many parts of the world the superabundance of food, the surpluses with poetic names that exist in the European Community, should be allowed to continue. The European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society has already brought the churches into discussions with the European Commission regarding the recent Green Paper, Perspectives for the Common Agricultural Policy. We are therefore the more encouraged to have heard that Her Majesty's Government are committed to the reform of the common agricultural policy The churches will be following these discussions with care.
Aid programmes, food programmes, education programmes and other programmes are all involved in 39 redressing the gross imbalance between the rich and the poor. At present, many developing countries are being crippled by an enormous burden of debt. In some cases the governments of these countries were not the original borrowers but are the inheritors of debts resulting from long histories of loan negotiations. One thinks most obviously of Argentina, because it was mentioned in the Address and because it has been put before us again this afternoon by the noble Baroness, Lady Young. It is a country where a democratically elected government are struggling to rebuild a country heavily burdened by crippling debts. We look to our Government to take a generous position when they are present in international forums where consideration is given to the right way to reschedule these debts and perhaps even to alleviate them.
It is a theological truism that self-interest and charity cannot be held in balance. They are mutually destructive. The temper of our nation at the moment gives the advantage to charity, the advantage to generosity. We have already shown that neither credal nor political ideologies or faiths can hinder us where we see that a need is to be fulfilled. It is our hope that under the leadership of our Government it will be charity and generosity which will be the hallmark of our approach to overseas aid.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, my first and most agreeable duty is to offer the congratulations of, I am sure, the whole House to the right reverend Prelate who has just addressed us on his very impressive and, if he will allow me to say so, very moving maiden speech. I am sure the House was immensely interested to hear that his views on the question of overseas aid go back to the days when he served in South Korea, then a recipient of that benefit. He must have a feeling of pride, when he sees South Korea today, to know that he played a part in the remarkable build-up and success of that country. The right reverend Prelate spoke with great authority and I know I express the views of all of us when, with very great sincerity, I express the hope that he will be able occasionally to spare time from the affairs of this extremely important diocese to come and give us the benefit of his advice in further speeches.
As we are debating an Address of thanks to Her Majesty, I do not think it would be inappropriate if one noble Lord, at any rate, expressed his enormous admiration and respect for the work which Her Majesty herself has put in in the Caribbean during the last month. It must have been a strenuous and at many times a very difficult mission which she undertook; and that it concluded with such success has perhaps concealed from us the very great effort, skill and experience in the handling of the difficult questions which arose there, which Her Majesty has shown. It is the fact that she is adding—and it is a most interesting constitutional development—very serious importance to her role of Head of the Commonwealth.
Before I pass to the two points on which I wish to detain your Lordships for a very for minutes, I should like to ask a question of my noble friend Lord Trefgarne which he may answer when, I am afraid 40 many hours from now, he replies to the debate. The noble Baroness was very encouraging about developments in Gibraltar since the opening of the border and the figures she gave of movements across the border were very impressive and very encouraging. But now that we are coming to the point of dealing with the Bill which will admit Spain and Portugal to the European Community, I think it is relevant to clear up all that remains of the disastrous quarrel of past years.
My question relates—and I address it with great confidence to the noble Lord in view of his own great experience in this area—to access to the airport. When I asked a Question during the summer I was told that Spain had withdrawn the hindrance she had imposed on access to Gibraltar Airport by civil aircraft but was still maintaining a restriction on its use by British military aircraft. Given that Spain is coming into the Community and given her support for NATO, it would seem wholly illogical for that restriction to continue, if indeed it has. I should be grateful therefore if my noble friend could tell us, as I hope he will be able to, that that final restriction has now been withdrawn.
I come to the two points I wish to lay before your Lordships. I was very glad indeed to hear the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, express his enthusiasm for the Atlantic Alliance, because it is an enthusiasm which I share and have felt, for special reasons, for slightly more than 30 years. I can recall, as I think one or two of your Lordships can still recall, a meeting at No. 10 Downing Street on the day that Sir Winston Churchill resigned, when he summoned a number of his Ministers to the Cabinet Room to give us what I think really amounted to his political testament.
I can remember the scene to this day: a rather stormy spring afternoon, with the light flickering through the windows of the Cabinet Room. He began by saying that he had stayed in office in the hope that he would be able to achieve a peaceful settlement with the Soviet Union but that clearly was not now to be attained. He then went on to impress us with his passionate belief that it was upon a close Anglo-American alliance that the future of peace in this world depended. I can almost paraphrase his words. He said that if these two countries worked together in friendship there would be no third world war but that if for one reason or another they were separated he would view the future with very considerable gloom. In view of his own vast experience, it seems to me—and I commend this to your Lordships—that that doctrine remains true to this day.
It is upon the close relationship between the United States and this country that the real hopes of a peaceful world very largely depend. Whether anybody else likes it or not, there is "a special relationship", to use the old phrase. A very interesting example of it was that in no other country in the world would we have seen what we saw the other day—the very moving tribute which President Reagan himself paid, in a contribution to The Times newspaper, to the late editor of that paper. That was a very remarkable tribute from the head of a great nation, and indicative, it seems to me, of the close interest and concern that exists between the two countries.
41 It is for that reason that I particularly deplore the policy of the Labour Party in certain aspects of defence. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn. who I am sorry to see is not in his place at the moment, did not touch on or refer in any way to the fact that it is the declared policy of the Labour Party to insist on the removal of the American cruise missiles from this country. It has been suggested the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, himself sees how wrong that would be; but it is the declared policy of the party which claims to be the alternative government in this country, and, as such, has either to be withdrawn or very firmly discussed.
If we were to have a government formed by the party opposite and if it were to carry out its own declared policy, for which it apparently intends to seek the approval of the electors, what would happen? Where are these cruise missiles to go? Are they simply to be moved into mainland Europe and other countries made to assume the responsibility and burden which we would have shown ourselves unwilling to carry, or are they to be taken back to the United States and the fabric of American/European defence under the alliance very seriously battered?
I ask your Lordships to reflect on what any country would think of an ally who behaved in that way, who declined to play his part in the common defence effort, and declined to accept that equipment of this kind had to be used, at any rate in the present state of development, as part of a general effort on behalf of NATO. As I say, I can well understand the personal grounds on which no doubt the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, found it difficult to deal with this issue; but it is an issue that will not go away and I hope very much that the noble Lord who some hours hence will reply, will deal with it fairly and deal in particular with the effect of such a step, if carried out, in the working of the alliance.
I also thought that the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, was a little unfair to the Americans when he referred to their—he used the word—"preoccupation" with SDI. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, did not appear to understand that SDI is a purely defensive scheme which is still many years, I am sorry to say, from completion. But surely in this day and age it should be a matter of satisfaction that a scheme of defence against nuclear missiles can be evolved. It is the experience of history, in fact, that every weapon in due course has an antidote found for it. That is the experience of history, and should we not welcome, support and co-operate with the provision of a defensive system which offers a reasonable hope of protecting populations from the horrors of nuclear bombardment?
Of course, one can understand that the Russians do not like it. If it is evolved and put into place, it diminishes at a stroke the efficacy of their threat. But, surely, from our point of view it would be a good thing for the United States to have this so that therefore no American President would ever have to be faced with the agonising decision, in the event of Russian action, whether to risk exposing his own people to nuclear bombardment or to abandon his allies. Therefore, so far from sneering—and I do not think that is too strong a word—at the preoccupation of the United States with this defensive instrument, may I express the hope 42 that it will go ahead and be successful and will offer, if not to us at any rate to our children, a feeling of security because there is indeed a defence against many of the horrors of nuclear bombardment.
The only other point that I want to deal with was also dealt with at some length by the noble Lord Lord Cledwyn. He was very critical of the Prime Minister's handling at the Nassau Conference of the question of sanctions against South Africa. I take the exactly contrary view. I thought the Prime Minister handled that immensely difficult situation with consummate skill and determination and succeeded in rescuing the Commonwealth from what looked like the making of a ghastly mistake.
The first reflection one has is that economic sanctions have never as a matter of history been successful. What would be the point of imposing them? I do not know whether any of your Lordships really think that imposing them would suddenly cause President Botha to abandon many of his foolish policies and to do the kind of thing that all of us in this House would like to see him do. Any of us who know anything about the South African Dutch know that they are a determined, sturdy people who, if put under pressure, go into laager and are prepared to fight things out. But, of course, one thing is quite certain: the great majority of the black South Africans would suffer quite severely in loss of jobs and loss of employment, tragically in a part of the world that offers better employment and better wages than almost anywhere else in black Africa.
Indeed, while nobody defends the follies and stupidities of apartheid—I have been a critic for years of the treatment by the South African Government of their Indian immigrants and of the Cape Coloureds from whom they took away a vote that they had; no one can conceivably defend that—nevertheless the fact that none of us likes this is no argument whatsoever for for pursuing a policy which is likely to make things worse.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, spoke impressively about an explosion: he said that there might be an explosion. There is indeed—he is right—a very considerable risk of that. But why does anybody think that the imposition of sanctions—a worsening, therefore, of economic conditions in South Africa—is likely to avoid such an explosion? Is it not more likely to precipitate it, by creating social and economic conditions which appear more and more intolerable and thereby produce a more explosive situation? It is because sanctions really would not work, because they are inappropriate, that it seems to me we have been sensible to avoid them.
Indeed, it is a curious idea that economic sanctions, which are, I suppose, a form of sanitised war, should be applied to a country not for anything it has done externally but in respect of its own internal policies; and if they are to be, South Africa is not the only candidate in the world today for such treatment. We disapprove of what their government does and of their policies but there are many other countries—Ethiopia, Uganda, Cuba and many of the South American countries—whose governments are performing all sorts of atrocities and yet nobody suggests that we should apply sanctions to them.
43 My noble friend Lady Young mentioned Russia and Afghanistan. At this very moment, the Russian armies are in their sixth year of hunting the unfortunate Afghans on their mountains and in their valleys, with all the apparatus of modern war, with aircraft and tanks, oppressing them and shooting them down. If you are to say that the policies of a government which you do not like are an appropriate reason for imposing sanctions, there will be just as strong a case—perhaps a stronger case—for imposing sanctions on Soviet Russia. Of course, we do not do it because Russia is large and powerful, because we want—and rightly want—to seek some agreement, some means of living alongside her. But because it is too small, too distant and too weak to offer any particular danger to us, is not really a very good reason for selecting another country for sanctions.
Therefore, I think that the country owes a great debt of gratitude—as do, perhaps, up to a quarter of a million people employed in this country on work in connection with exports to South Africa, whose jobs under sanctions would be at risk—to the Prime Minister for the determination and skill with which she dealt with what looked like a very awkward and very dangerous situation at Nassau.
I want to make only one other point in conclusion. It bears very much on what I have been trying to say about nuclear weapons and is very relevant to the Labour Party's desire to strip us of our nuclear defences. Surely the experience of the last 40 years has shown the truth of the old biblical advice that,When a strong man armed keepeth his house then will his goods be safe".Twice in my lifetime we have endangered the safety of our country by running down its defences to a dangerous, almost fatal, level. Really, my Lords, to do it for a third time would be a bit too much!
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Lord Forres
My Lords, as a working farmer in New South Wales, Australia, I have travelled nearly 13,000 miles to make my maiden speech in this House. Should I cross the normal boundaries of convention, I ask the indulgence of this House and beg that any such transgression be put down to my inexperience. Owing to my brief visit to the United Kingdom, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address this House during the Foreign Affairs section of the reply to Her Majesty the Queen's Speech at the opening of Parliament.
The reform of the common agricultural policy of the European Community has already received the close scrutiny of this House through the recently published 17th Report of its Select Committee on the European Communities. This report, while excellent in its handling of the common agricultural policy and its problems within the Community, does not fully recognise the effects that the CAP is having internationally. I wish, therefore, to draw the attention of this House to the very real economic and social hardships that the CAP is creating for rural Australia.
Australia is a young and vibrant nation and plays an important and stabilising role in the South-East Asia region. Despite these obvious area interests, Australia is still a loyal member of the Commonwealth and 44 remains a great ally of the United Kingdom. However, it must be said that Australia's economy, which earns nearly half its export income from the sale of agricultural produce, is under considerable pressure owing to the adverse effects of the European Community's common agricultural policy.
In a country where there are 170,000 farmers, during 1985 nearly 100,000 farmers and rural business people have marched in protest in various Australian cities to draw attention to their economic plight. These people are normally strongly independent and stoic in times of flood, fire and drought, but now are moved to action by anger, looming bank foreclosures and a bleak future. The average farmer in Australia earnt a net £3,500 during the past financial year; this figure being approximately one-third of the average male wage. In the famous Australian vernacular "things are crook".
The Community's agricultural policies have been shown in serveral studies to have depressed and destabilised world prices more than the protective policies of other countries. World prices for wheat, coarse grains, sugar and ruminant meats are estimated to have been depressed by between 9 per cent. and 17 per cent., and those for butter by 28 per cent. Since 1970, European Community support prices for milk and milk products have averaged 130 per cent. above world market prices. European Community exports, virtually all of which are marketed with the aid of restitutions, now constitute more than 50 per cent. of world trade in butter, 40 per cent. in cheese, 50 per cent. in skim milk powder and 70 per cent. in condensed milk. These figures, quoted from a recent Australian Bureau of Agricultural Economics report, clearly indicate that a large part of the responsibility for world dairy produce prices being so low lies with the Community's internal support prices.
Possibly the cruellest outcome of the CAP is its effect on developing countries through its sugar policies. European Community subsidies allow the Community to sell surplus sugar at 4 US cents per pound, about one-third of the production cost incurred by even the most efficient producers such as Australia. The Economist magazine recently pointed out that the European Community pays its farmers 20 US cents to grow each pound of sugar, five times its sale price on the world market.
Since the date that the United Kingdom joined the European Community, Australia has successfully opened up and developed alternative markets for her agricultural produce around the Pacific rim, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. But those very markets are now being seriously eroded by the European Community's dumping policies. This trend is accelerating in view of the slowing of the growth of world trade in the 1980s and the continuing rise of the Community's surpluses. For example, in late July of this year, the European Community extended export subsidies for live cattle, beef and veal to 10 new Asian markets. Australian exporters were no longer able to compete with the Community's dumping prices in those markets and had to withdraw,
The Community argues that its current beef surplus is a temporary, cyclical problem. Clearly, however, with increasing surplus stocks, the European Community is forced to extend the area to which it 45 subsidises exports. Until the Community recognises and addresses the fact that it has a structural problem, the world's beef trade will be increasingly corrupted by the European Community's trade policies. Countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada have a common interest with the European Community in reforming the CAP. All face substantial economic costs as a result of Community agricultural protection. Reform will not be easy to accomplish and real political courage will be needed to change entrenched agricultural policies.
I urge this House to allow the Select Committee on the European Communities wider powers to invite regular submissions from affected Commonwealth countries. This will allow greater understanding of the position of those countries. In the Address of Her Majesty The Queen to Parliament yesterday, it was made clear that Her Majesty's Government intend to press for reform of the European Community's CAP. A return to price policies, both internal and external, that are more closely attuned to realistic market opportunities will be welcomed, I feel certain, by all rural Australians.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Lord Caradon
My Lords, I wish first to express my respect and congratulations to the right reverend Prelate who spoke to us earlier on a matter of such supreme importance. I should like also to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Forres, on having spoken so effectively on a subject which to most of us is not within our personal knowledge. The noble Lord has a good right to come to us and speak of the problems of Australia. I am sure that we will all pay the closest attention to what he has said to us today and consider together what action should be taken upon it. At any rate, I am happy to be the first to be able to congratulate my noble friend on what he said to us today.
I decided that I should like to say some words to this House when I listened to the gracious Speech yesterday and came across the phrase so early on "freedom and justice". Then I went to my own experience of areas for which we have an important responsibility where freedom and justice are unknown. I believe that it is a very great responsibility on our country that we have not taken adequate steps to deal with these areas over a long period. I think of Namibia; I think of the Middle East; and I think of Cyprus. Here are areas in which for years there has been no freedom and no justice. In the international sphere, our Government have taken inadequate steps to deal with questions in which we have a very special responsibility. On the question of the Middle East, we know that for very many years—for some decades in fact—people have been dispersed and oppressed. This has been followed up by the oppression of those in the Lebanon, too. People who have been under our charge in the past are now suffering grave injustice. We have done inadequately in the world assembly to attempt to rectify that dreadful situation which continues now and is likely, one imagines, to continue for some time. It surely should be a responsibility of our country which exercised authority over the West Bank for so many years. I was involved at that time. It surely should be our responsibility to urge in the international organisations that an attempt at justice 46 for the people of Palestine should be undertaken now and no longer delayed.
We spoke the other day in this House about Namibia where they were promised their independence a long time ago. Nothing has yet been done to make that effective. We have a grave debt to the people of Namibia who suffer at the moment from a postponement of their independence which may be indefinite. We have taken inadequate action as a Government and as a country to come to their aid.
I mention also the case of Cyprus. I myself, authorised by the Government of this country at the time, signed a declaration that never would Cyprus be divided or the existing constitution be overthrown. We have not carried out our undertaking. We have left that beautiful island cut in two and have taken no specific steps, as we could have done in the international community, to come to its aid. How can we speak in this House of freedom and justice when there are examples which we know so well where we have utterly failed?
We are now in the habit of assuming that we no longer have responsibility for the territories which we administered years ago. I believe that we have a very special responsibility. If we are to talk about freedom and justice then it would be as well to turn to those peoples whom we administered years ago and who are now suffering from a lack of justice and freedom.
It could be said that all this is due at least in part to the activities, or lack of activities, of the United States. That may be so. There is indeed a dangerous tendency to turn away from the methods of the United Nations for dealing with evils in this world. We have seen examples of it lately which have been very disturbing indeed. We were debating in this House not so long ago the freedom of the seas and the treaty of the deep sea, which was almost unanimously supported by every nation in the world but which was rejected by the United States and over which the United Kingdom, to our shame, followed the United States action in abstaining.
We have seen failures to act by the United States. Time after time we have weakly and miserably followed her example—for instance, by abstaining over the deep sea question or on the attack on certain organisations of the United Nations coming from the United States. This is a very serious development and makes it all the more difficult for us to play our part in doing justice to those peoples who turn to us for relief from their suffering.
It is very necessary that we should take a different attitude and not accept what the United States says and then ourselves abstain or refuse to take further action. I believe that we have an obligation as a consequence of our imperial days. We talk about responsibilities to the Commonwealth. Certainly that is a very important aspect of the whole matter. I hope we shall come to realise that we have a direct responsibility and that we should see to it that justice is done and freedom is acquired. We have an obligation that has not been fulfilled and from which we have sought to escape. When we talk of freedom, we should think also of justice and of the occasions on which we have failed to provide freedom and justice for those who are under our responsibility.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, for reasons which I shall give, I am extremely grateful to my noble kinsman Lord Thomas of Swynnerton for allowing me to take his place on the list of speakers. The fact is that shortly after returning from my visit to New York, where I was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the United Nations, I was advised to go slow for a period and in any case to go to bed very early. I am not sure whether that is due to the journey or to the celebrations! However, I fear that I shall be prevented from hearing the noble Lord's winding up speech. If he considers it appropriate not to refer to my remarks then I shall entirely understand. However, in the circumstances he may be prepared to make an exception.
I also inquired whether I should in any case make a speech this afternoon. The reply was that I certainly could, provided that it did not inflict any strain on me. I replied that it certainly would not inflict any strain on me; the question was: would it inflict any strain on the audience? In the hope that it will not do so, I shall make some brief remarks on one aspect only of the vast subject under discussion; that is, the question of star wars and, notably, President Reagan's attitude towards this scheme as revealed in his recent talk with a BBC correspondent.
It is true that, since then, the prospects of arms limitation have become a little less gloomy, as a result of the President's expressed willingness, as part of a bargain, to reduce the United States' strategic missiles by 50 per cent. and even to call a halt, if I understood it rightly, on similar terms to the production on both sides of movable ICBMs. However, there has not been and nor is there now the slightest willingness on President Reagan's part to negotiate on star wars, notably by agreeing to some restriction on tests or to some limitation of funds. His administration has even called into question the long-standing interpretation of the famous anti-ABM treaty of 1972.
Failing some last minute change of heart, it seems therefore that Mr. Gorbachev will have to swallow the fact that SDI will go ahead at full blast whatever concessions he may make on other aspects of the projected East-West deal on arms limitation. It is therefore evident that the President's attitude may result—and I say only "may" although it seems very probable—in the eventual collapse of the whole great idea.
Let us in any case try to consider star wars in its latest interpretation from the Soviet point of view. It is no use just saying that the Russians are very cunning and deceitful people and that they have already been conducting experiments with lasers and directed energy that could be useful in any ABM defence. That is doubtless true. It is less use making the point that the Russians are about to initiate a colossal ABM system of which the so-called "phased array" at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia is the first evident signal. Krasnoyarsk is not yet operational and in any case the Russians deny that it has been erected in violation of the 1972 treaty. Its true function, they say, is to track satellites. In other words, there is no hard evidence that the Russians are preparing to spend the equivalent of 26 billion dollars on a research project about which many leading United States scientists remain deeply sceptical.
48 Nor is it as though even the most fervent advocates of star wars maintain that 100 per cent. immunity from nuclear bombardment, or anything like it, is possible. This, even if the adversary—as would seem quite likely—did not multiply by two or three the number of strategic missiles and decoys designed to penetrate the famous "shield" and also greatly increase the number of submarines with cruise missiles whose mission it would be to fly under the shield and thus destroy at least the coastal cities of the United States.
In addition to the true believers in star wars there are those who say—and perhaps they are not only the cynics—that, populist appeal to the imagination apart, the real object of the whole scheme is, in the first place, to make a lot of money for a lot of people; next, to promote a useful spin-off for American industry; and last but by no means least, to scupper the arms limitation talks, thus buying time for a large effective increase in the nuclear striking power of the United States.
If there is anything in this analysis why should Mr. Gorbachev be so disturbed by star wars, consistently taking the view that there can be no agreement on arms limitation generally unless the President at least modifies his proposals to some extent? If, as some seem to think, it is just an enormous waste of money, why worry? Why not allow the Americans to add to their already huge budgetary deficit in pursuit of an expensive will-o-the-wisp? That is a legitimate question.
Well, I cannot speak for Mr. Gorbachev or read his mind which, for all I know, may well be full of the most sinister intentions. Few would imagine that the Politburo is likely to have a change of heart in its relations with the West, which will remain the great rival and adversary of the whole communist system. But that does not mean that deals between great adversaries are impossible, especially when it would appear that the objective to be attained would seem to be in the interests of both. It is thus only reasonable to suppose that as regards star wars, although in principle he might be well advised to let the American Administration go ahead with it, Mr. Gorbachev will be obliged, politically speaking, to make one basic assumption; that is, that supported as it is by some very high level American scientists such as Dr. Teller, to say nothing of some great technological corporations, SDI must stand a chance of being successful, or at least very largely successful. That is the assumption that Mr. Gorbachev will be obliged to make.
Anyhow, once this assumption is made there would, if reason is any guide, appear to be three broad options in front of the Soviet Government. In the first place, they could at once start constructing their own equivalent to SDI. Indeed, there might in theory be an advantage in so doing if there was any chance of the projects coming into actual operation. According to the Americans, the Russians have already made great progress in ABM defence; although, of course, the installations round Moscow are permitted by the treaty of 1972. It is just conceivable, therefore, I suppose, that they might achieve some form of SDI before the Americans do so. Even if they achieve it more or less simultaneously, they would still have a 49 distinct advantage if only because, both super powers being immune from nuclear bombardment, the Russians, with a considerable superiority in conventional weapons, may well feel that, in the event of war, Western Europe would be at their mercy. However, while research will clearly not be abandoned, it seems almost certain that for financial and economic reasons the strain of actually preparing for star wars of the type envisaged by the Americans will rule this particular option out of court. I think we may assume that.
In the second place the Russians could do nothing much, relying on President Reagan's assurance that when star wars becomes operational the whole secret, as he says, will be handed over to them so that they can—apparently with American help—construct an ABM system in space so that the Soviet Union, too, can be rendered immune from nuclear bombardment. But at this point I can only recall what Andropov, I believe, said on a previous occasion: "We are not a naive people". If anybody really thinks that an American President, toward the end of the century, having invested—before the Russians have anything comparable—astronomical sums in a defensive shield that gives America sure first-strike capability (because that is what it would do) will then with the approval of Congress simply hand the technology over to the Soviet Union and wait until the latter, with United States help, has erected its own SDI, all I can say is that he must be joking. At any rate, Mr. Gorbachev cannot possibly believe anything of the kind. He will certainly not be unduly suspicious if he assumes that, once in a position to erect this gigantic apparatus in space, the Americans will erect it, whatever assurance may have been given years before or whatever the personal inclinations of Mr. Reagan's eventual successor may prove to be.
So what is the third course towards which Mr. Gorbachev may well, if reluctantly, be driven? However much he may be tempted to conclude a deal involving large reductions on both sides of strategic and even intermediate nuclear weapons—after all, any such deal would no doubt enable him to raise the Soviet standard of living to some extent—it may well be that this will be impossible owing to the necessary retention by Russia of sufficient strategic and, indeed, cruise missiles with which, as it were, to swamp or, additionally, to undermine any ABM space system eventually installed by the Americans.
There is thus—and I can only hope that I am wrong—strong reason to suppose that what I would call a relentless pursuit of star wars by the Americans will have only one result. The arms limitation talks in Geneva will not succeed, any more than those in Vienna. The so-called arms race will consequently not only go on but it will be intensified. Although we may be optimistic enough to believe that we will not have to endure a nuclear winter, the destabilising effects of such grim failures will be very great; to say nothing of the highly unfavourable effects on the whole world economy.
As we know, however, the President's noble vision of a world entirely liberated from the threat of nuclear extinction is not confined to some eventual United States/Soviet Union co-operation. Oh no; every country that wants it will eventually be given by 50 America the possibility of setting up its own strategic defence. Thus, vast platforms in space will one day presumably ring China, Japan, and India; and no doubt Israel, America's very special ally, will have a very special ring, too. The amount of resources involved in such stupendous operations defies the imagination. But, naturally, there is no need to worry. All this is just public relations put out to soften up any resistance to star wars that an unthinking public may possibly entertain.
§ Lord Soames
My Lords, will the noble Lord forgive me for a second? Doubtless he heard the point made by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter a few moments ago that the whole of military history consists of, first, offensive weapons being matched by defensive weapons and then new offensive weapons being introduced and new defensive weapons. Can the noble Lord explain to the House why, in his view, it should be that because we are living now in a nuclear age the desire to introduce an anti-nuclear missile system should not go forward?
§ Lord Gladwyn
My Lords, there is no reason, because we are living in a nuclear age, that we should indulge in any obviously absurd policy. I described the whole effort of President Reagan's initiative recently as the ultimate absurdity of the scientific imagination, and that is what I firmly believe it to be. Therefore we must still, if only faintly, hope that what I suppose might be the combined efforts of Mr. Shultz. Mr. Reagan and Mr. Paul Nitze will, when it comes to the point, prevail over what might be called the "Perleberger" school of thought; perhaps to the extent of letting it be known to Mr. Gorbachev that, in practice, star wars can only be pursued to the extent that funds provided by Congress allow and that if he is eminently reasonable on strategic—and, indeed, on intermediate—nuclear weapons, those in Congress who fundamentally favour some arms limitation deal will see to it that the President's vision vanishes with his term of office or even before he resigns his office. I say "faintly" because the very considerable amount of money already being spent on this fearful scheme may well imbue it with a momentum which Congress, many of whose constituents will greatly benefit from it financially, may find it impossible to stop.
There is something else which can hardly be dissociated from star wars: that is, ASAT, or anti-satellite action. Here the Americans, who have just shot down a satellite, have a present advantage. As always in the past in these matters, it is obvious that both sides will eventually achieve a broad equality and thus be able to shoot down all the adversary's satellites on which the whole conduct of modern warfare almost uniquely depends, leaving the contestants, as it were, to exterminate each other in the dark. It would seem therefore only reasonable for both sides to call off all experiments in this field—something which of course would be easily verifiable. But then it would be equally reasonable to impose something equally verifiable, namely, a ban on all nuclear testing; and we are informed that neither we nor the French can possibly agree to that.
Let me say a word in conclusion. I think that quite a number of noble Lords would be relieved if a discreet 51 hint by somebody speaking on behalf of the European Community were made to the United States negotiators at Geneva of "the dangers impending" should the arms limitation talks eventually break down because of some American refusal to negotiate on star wars and indeed on ASAT, too; for in such circumstances, aggravated perhaps by economic developments, it is surely not alarmist to contemplate in a few years from now the election in western Europe of governments who, however misguidedly, might prefer to be "Finlandised", as the saying goes, rather than, as they might think, to be involved in some inevitable East-West nuclear conflict. I sometimes feel that Mr. Shultz is aware of such possibilities, but I am not at all sure that other members of the American delegation are.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, the happy thing about the debate on the gracious Speech is that we often hear maiden speeches by Members of your Lordships' House. I should like to add my congratulations to the right reverend Prelate, who gave a formidable speech full of other-worldly advice, and to the noble Lord, Lord Forres, who gave a remarkable speech full of nether-worldly advice from the Antipodes. I greatly enjoyed both speeches.
During the war, when I represented the Army on the Joint Intelligence Staff in the War Cabinet offices and was taught, though I daresay I learned the wrong lessons, something about foreign affairs from the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the noble Duke, the Duke of Portland, the paragraphs which I remember that the Foreign Office submitted to papers that we were trying to draft always began:The attitude of France"—or of Spain or Turkey or whatever country whose policy we were trying to interpret—will be governed by her own interests".Now this is a hoary platitude but I think that in effect it meant this: sometimes—as the Prime Minister, to her immense credit, acted in the European Community—it means tough, bloody-minded determination to stand on our rights and a policy of no conciliation; at other times it means recognising the limitations of our power and not entering into commitments which we cannot afford or honour, and those are the times when we have to conciliate. At the moment, on some minor issues—not the great ones which we were discussing just a moment ago—I think we have a rather unenviable record of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I am very glad that in the gracious Speech the Government acknowledged that conciliation is necessary in Ireland. I do not expect the forthcoming agreement between Eire and ourselves to go as far as I should like it to go, but I hope that we recognise what an enormous step forward it is for the Taoiseach to renounce the ideal of a united Ireland governed from Dublin. He is in fact accepting, as Mr. Haughey is not, that Ulster will remain within the United Kingdom and under the Crown. There are many different shapes which that relationship can take, and in my view not all of them necessarily require a United Kingdom 52 presence in Ulster, but I hope that in this case the Prime Minister will not again tell the world on television how unacceptable are all Irish initiatives. We must not miss the opportunity to work with Eire and against the IRA terrorism which threatens Eire as much as ourselves.
Let me say at once that on numbers of occasions the Foreign Office was right and Parliament has been proved wrong. For years the Foreign Office tried to bring home to governments that our power is limited and that therefore we must limit our commitments overseas. I think such advice was disregarded by the Government of 1956–1963, and I think it was disregarded again by the Government of 1964–1970, when I remember that the Prime Minister had no sooner been elected Prime Minister and formed a Government than he was off to the Far East, making many commitments east of Suez which had to be repudiated only a few years later.
I sometimes wonder whether we have yet learnt that lesson. We showed no signs of having learnt it when in 1980 Mr. Nicholas Ridley's initiatives to get agreement with Argentina were thrown out in another place. Then, to meet the demand for cutting defence expenditure, the Government withdrew the few deterrents against Argentinian invasion which were deployed, and, encouraged by this, General Galtieri took a gamble and invaded. We threw him out in a brilliant campaign that reflected the greatest credit on the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and the iron nerve of the Prime Minister. She did not commit the error which the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, and the "Belgrano" lobby would have done and which Sir Anthony Eden commited at the time of Suez. She did not attempt to run the battle herself; after the junta foolishly refused to accept new proposals for negotiation she wisely told the chiefs of staff and her commanders to get on with it. But what happened next was that the democratic regime which was elected in Argentina was, and still is, threatened from Left and Right. Senor Alfonsin could not afford to appear to lose face over the Falklands issue, but what did we do? We refused to negotiate or even to discuss the issue of sovereignty.
To date we have alienated virtually all world support on this issue by our obduracy, and whether we like it or not the Government appear to the outside world to be narrowminded, blinkered and bedevilled by old-style imperialism. We irritate our main ally, the United States, and we alienate our partners in Europe, to whom our stand appears as yet another indication of how little we are a true European power. If it came to a vote in the United Nations on the desirability of entering into negotiations, it would overwhelmingly go against us and those who voted with us would be few and far between. We have fortified the islanders at prodigious expense. In my opinion that is money which would have been far better spent on the Highlands and Islands in Scotland; if it had been so spent perhaps the support for the Government would have been greater there. At a time when at last the Government are shaping up to tell the diehard leaders in Ulster that they do not have a power of veto over any settlement, are we in effect saying to the Falkland islanders that they have such a veto?
53 Dozens of compromises which we could offer to Argentina suggest themselves which would safeguard our rights and the future of the islanders. I hope that the reference in the gracious Speech means that the Government are prepared to explore such compromises. In the Falklands I think we have the power to conciliate and to improve our world standing. In the Middle East we have not. There seems to be one lesson to be learnt from the debacle of the invitation to the Jordanians and the PLO to come to London, which is: if humanly possible do not get embroiled in the Middle East. I recognise that the Government took this initiative to please King Hussein and that the King has for long been an ally of this country and, particularly in recent years, a force for moderation among the Arab countries; but surely the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, put his finger on the matter when the noble Baroness made the Government Statement on 15th October. The noble Lord then said, in effect, that if the Government really believed that the two members of the PLO could speak for all those who claimed to be members of the PLO, the Government were naive; and if the Government realised that these two men were not plenipotentiaries and could not commit the PLO, what then was the point of inviting them?
The truth is that Britain has virtually no influence in the Middle East these days. We are regarded by Israel as little better than an unfriendly power. Why? Because we stand by the United Nations resolution which demands that Israel return to its 1956 frontiers; and that is totally unrealistic. Israel will never go back to frontiers which are indefensible and will never agree to the partition of Jerusalem for a second time. Let us never forget that it was the Arab states that attacked the Israelis in 1948. They thought to drive them into the sea. Since then, Israel has been trying to ensure that any future attack of that kind will fail.
As for the Arabs, the most powerful Arab state in the Mediterranean, Syria, is in the Soviet camp and regards us as little better than an enemy. If the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, tells the House that part of the price we have to pay for profitable arms contracts in friendly Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, is to launch one of these so-called peace initiatives every so often, well, so be it. But let us be clear that there is a price to pay. That price, if not the humiliation, will at least be the frequent discomfiture of Britain that follows as peace initiative after peace initiative fails.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, does the noble Lord not agree that the United Nations resolution about the Middle East does not require Israel to return to its 1948 frontiers but to its 1967 frontiers, which is a very different matter and more reasonable?
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, I stand corrected. I wonder whether it is really understood by the United Nations what will be the effect on Israel's morale of that point. I was going to add simply this—that the initiatives will fail because, with the disintegration of Lebanon, there is no state that can control the terrorists, fundamentalists and extremists who operate from Iran to Libya. In an area where we can only get kicks and no ha'pence, the best thing, in my view, is to keep out.
54 Since I am being controversial, there is the issue of UNESCO. This is an issue on which we should not be bullied and we should not conciliate. The Foreign Office's policy appears to be not just conciliation but craven surrender. UNESCO is run—I must be careful about my words here and not use those which are opprobrious; but let me say it is run by a singular personage, Mr. M'Bow. Mr. M'Bow regards UNESCO as a machine for patronage for his family, retainers and third world diplomats at large; so that UNESCO's funds are spent on the bureaucracy in Paris rather than in the countries it is meant to help. This Emperor Jones also regards UNESCO as a fine base for damaging the West. And UNESCO has had the insolence to expel Israel as a racist country This comes ill from nations whose ruling tribes persecute or, in some cases, try to exterminate other tribes.
Finally the United States lost patience with Mr. M'Bow and, having failed to get satisfaction, took the grave step of leaving an international organisation. It left it because it had become the plaything of a faction and consistently hostile to the West. Her Majesty's Government very properly said that they would follow suit unless major reforms took place. No such major reforms have yet taken place. Mr. M'Bow, who would himself suffer financially if his regime were displaced, is determined not to see them take place. There are always sapient arguments for doing nothing. Why not stay in UNESCO and lead the Commonwealth, which is the only body that cuts across East-West and North-South? Do we not recognise the tremendous efforts being made to reform the organisation since America quit? The answer should be that we do not recognise them as anything except a smokescreen and that the Commonwealth argument is specious since our partners rarely support us. There is a far better area on which to spend our money. Give it to the BBC Overseas Service, which represents Britain to the world far better than UNESCO does.
At present, the omens are bad. Everyone in this country is, I think, confused as to what our policy is. A month ago it looked as if our Foreign Office officials had deliberately set out to flout ministerial policy. The executive board of UNESCO refused to consider the indictment drawn up by the general accounting office in Washington. The British delegation have even been jockeyed into publicly praising Mr. M'Bow. Nor did they challenge a resolution to take the United States to the International Court for failing to pay its dues.
I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, can give your Lordships a hint of what is going to happen. I ask this because recently, The Times exposed the lily-livered conduct of our delegation there. In reply, Mr. Timothy Raison signed a letter to The Times that purported to be a reply to The Times' allegations and the criticisms that it made. I know Mr. Raison's style very well. I used to read his articles in New Society for years with pleasure and with profit. That reply was never written by him. I can only assume that the thumbscrews were applied before he signed the letter. It must have been drafted by one of those pusillanimous officials with the spine of a jelly. The Times printed a devastating leader repudiating the argument in the letter, point by point.
What excuse can there be for Britain running away? The Minister may say, "Should we not consider the 55 careers of the British in UNESCO?" They could be re-employed in the British Council, unless they are so etiolated by the international salaries they receive that they are by now unemployable. Masses of executives as good as they are now without a job in Britain.
The second excuse no doubt is that Britain would lose lots of valuable contracts which UNESCO extravagance brings to us. If that had been the principle on which the Government run the country, the Government's efforts to curb public expenditure would have been discredited long ago and the Minister of Defence would have led a happier life. Why are there two standards employed—one for this wretched international organisation and one for executive action at home? The worst thing for the good name and prestige of this country is to threaten to withdraw from UNESCO unless reforms are made and, when they are not, not to do so.
To huff and to puff and then sneakingly to pretend that all is now well when palpably it is not, is really humiliating. It is also contrary to that spirit of tough reason, coupled with conciliation when conciliation will earn us dividends, that I said a few minutes ago should be the guidelines of our foreign policy. If the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, should think that I am too severe, let me praise the Foreign Secretary and say that since he took over he has often displayed just that spirit and therefore enhanced the standing of our country.
In concluding, I must apologise to the House. As I have explained to the noble Baroness, a long-standing engagement will prevent me from being in my place when her noble friend winds up. Of course I do not expect him to refer to my speech. If he sees fit to draw the attention of his right honourable friend to a few of my remarks, I should be more than grateful.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I say that I use this formula because I did not wish to interrupt his panageric of the Prime Minister when he referred personally to me. Was the noble Lord indicating—I would hate him to go on record as saying something that he did not mean—when praising the Prime Minister for handing over the campaign against Argentina to the commanders, that the Prime Minister handed over, without any control, to the commanders of the armed forces at a time when the Foreign Secretary was in Washington seeking a negotiated settlement?
§ Lord Annan
My Lords, the Prime Minister took the sensible line that, having given overall instructions to the chiefs of staff and the commanders, she left it to them to fight a military campaign which by then was inevitable. Had she interfered and intervened, as I fear Sir Anthony Eden did at the time of Suez, there would have been a military disaster.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, I think we were all fortunate this afternoon to hear two brilliant maiden speeches, one from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and the other from the noble Lord, Lord Forres. Both speeches were informative and 56 taught us things. I thought they were extraordinarily well delivered, and it will certainly be a pleasure for us to listen to the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord again. I wish very sincerely to congratulate them.
I also wish to join with the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, in his kind and generous remarks on the Queen's endeavours for Britain overseas. I think we can expand that to include many other members of the Royal Family. What a pity that we cannot say anything good like that about the dreadful performance of this dreadful Government. The name of Britain is sinking all over the world. We have had the Queen's Speech, half of which is concerned with matters overseas. I am not concerned so much with the banality and trivia or the dangerous proposals to continue to damage the British economy; but I find it a constitutional outrage that such an uninspiring, miserable document should be given to our Monarch to deliver in this House.
The facts are that in the past four or five years Great Britain has had little influence in world affairs. It is not so much that we do not have a British voice but that we do not seem to have a British spirit. Once the American say something we start genuflecting under this Tory Government; and that does not make us a good ally. As Lord Attlee used to say when he was Prime Minister, beware of the person who agrees with everything one does or says. I am bound to say that the Americans, with the recent contract given to France, who are not even members of NATO, have revealed the massive confidence they have in this old British ally, but only under this Tory Government.
I hope this House will understand that when one reads that the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee—an all-party committee which was unanimous in its attack on the Government—deplored the Foreign Office cuts, the BBC cuts, the British Council cuts and all the cuts in aid, the only thing that we could show to the world we were doing was not done by this Tory Government but by Bob Geldof, who has honoured our name and our country with a massive, wonderful endeavour which the Government ought officially to appreciate. Indeed, one thought at one time, when we were obsessed with the KGB chap who crossed sides and who was therefore betraying his country, that one would not be surprised if he featured in the New Year Honours List for a CBE. Why do we not honour Bob Geldof for what he has done and the magnificent efforts he has instigated? The fact of the matter is that the Foreign and Commonwealth overseas programmes have funds which have been reduced while the need for them has increased. We are doing precisely the wrong thing at the wrong time; and that is the hallmark, and has always seemed to me, of a Tory Government.
We need to create good relations on all continents. Good relations with the Russians are vital; and we have to accept that. We cannot blithely say that if they do not behave themselves we will wipe out all the Soviet Union, even if they are going to wipe out all of Great Britain. That is a most stupid, banal policy—nay, it is an insane policy. I do not believe that all the people in Greenpeace, all the women who march and campaign against nuclear weapons, are evil people. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, quoted the Old Testament. May I quote the New Testament 57 and say, "Blessed too are the peacemakers" and let us not forget that. Let us be generous and understanding. We may not agree with them but they are living in our free country and they are demonstrating their freedom. We can disagree, but I hope that we will not think that every time somebody marches or wishes to protest against any Government that the ultimate answer will be well-armed police forces.
This aspect frighténs many people in this country also. Mr. Yuri Andropov and now Mr. Gorbachev have expressed confidence in reaching some agreement. They have always said—Andropov has said it, it started a new line of approach with various American presidents, and now Mr. Gorbachev has also said it—that they have confidence in us, in America, in the Commonwealth, that together we can find a solution. Of course, the Soviets often declare that they will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Is that a bad thing? Which is the better thing to say: that we will never use thermonuclear weapons; or the British Government's point of view that if necessary (whatever that means) we will be the first to start slinging nuclear bombs around. That kind of attitude is what is disturbing people in this country.
I believe that we ought to drop this propaganda war on both our side and on the Soviet side and let it be replaced by verified examinations of the facts. If the Russians declare that they are abolishing this, or reducing that, then they want us in the West to have full rights to see that they are speaking the truth. We should have the same confidence when we say something in the West to allow them to make their examinations. I believe that we must steadfastly seek to abolish the doctrine on both sides that only nuclear superiority can maintain peace. Every weapon of war which has been invented has been used, from the bayonet to the bomb, from poison gas to nuclear weapons. Is it safe to say that because we have tens of thousands of nuclear warheads mankind is at peace and that happiness will be restored in the full Christian spirit? That is what we are trying to say and it is absolute, dangerous nonsense.
I believe what is necessary is that we should build with Gorbachev, we should build with President Reagan, we should build with Mr. Alfonsin in the Argentine, and we should stop genuflecting to Botha, and stop crucifying the British Commonwealth on the altar of apartheid. When the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was talking—as he has every right to do—of the magnificent support that he is always prepared to give the Americans, why does he not give support to that great American, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who was loved in the last Presidential election in the United States when he made the most bitter attack, in sadness and in sorrow, when he had to deplore the attitude of the British Prime Minister and reject totally the policy of the British Government.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, that was no Russian. That was no Bulgarian. That was a renowned American citizen.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, the noble Lord is good enough to refer to me and to suggest that I should support the Reverend Jesse Jackson because of my general pro-American sympathies. The noble Lord may be aware that when it came to an American election Mr. Jackson was very heavily defeated.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, what does that prove, that he was very heavily defeated? And where was he heavily defeated?
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, he was defeated only in the selection. He never stood to be President. The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter is, as usual, totally wrong. He was defeated in his selection but not defeated in any public election.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, if the noble Lord wants me to make a long intervention, in the course of his very audible speech, I will amplify the point. So unattractive as a candidate did Mr. Jackson appear to be that his Party eliminated him in their preliminary steps. I did not wish to be unkind to the reverend gentleman, but that is the fact and the noble Lord has compelled me to state it.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, does not seem to understand that you cannot even become a candidate in the United States of America without winning so many primaries. I am surprised that the noble Lord knows so very little about the great ally that he loves.
We must also understand that we must avoid hypocritical stances, which seem to be the normal posture of this Government. Quite rightly, we are all saying—particularly the Tory Government and the Tory Party—how dreadful it was that the Russians invaded Afghanistan. But no word was said about the invasion of Palestine, the occupation of the West Bank and the terrorism that took place there, and the occupation of parts of Syria. That apparently was quite all right. The rest of the world wonders what is happening to Great Britain when it talks like that and when it believes that terrorism by individuals, which is terrible, is awful but that a mass invasion without a declaration of war is not terrorism. Ask the Poles whether they agree with that; ask the Austrians whether they agree with that; ask the French whether they agree with that. In their eyes that invasion by the Nazis, without a declaration of war, was one of the most horrendous acts of terrorism in the whole history of mankind.
When countries are invaded without declarations of war—whether they are Arab countries or any other countries—how can it be quite all right for us to laud and praise the so-called "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan but very wrong for a Palestinian to love his country and to fight for the freedom of his country? That is what I mean by Tory hypocritical stances. If the Nazis had ever reached this country, there would have been broadcasts saying that their brave German 59 soldiers had suffered another savage attack by the wicked British terrorists, probably led by Winston Churchill and Ernie Bevin. Of course, they would have said that because we would have been doing it. We must learn that other people in other parts of the world have every right to love their countries just as all of us in this House love ours.
Perhaps I may turn briefly to an important item which has been only slightly touched on by Government Ministers, and that is the strategic defence initiative. I would be grateful if the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne—and I give him credit for never dodging anything—could give us some idea of our involvement with the United States of America and West Germany in some of the researches that are taking place and which are almost whispered about in The Times, the Guardian and other newspapers. Those newspapers seem to know something which we as politicians do not know. The probability is that they know more than the Government, but I hope later on the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will destroy that argument.
What exactly is the offer of "shared SDI technology" which has been proffered by the United States to the USSR? I believe that it is a very good idea, but we want to know what precisely is involved, and we have a right to know. Who runs the United States foreign and defence policy? Is it President Reagan or Mr. Weinberger, because Casper Weinberger does not agree with the President; and I would point out to the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, nor was he elected by anyone. We want to know the author of the policy and what the policy is. Is the official policy Mr. Weinberger's policy or is it President Reagan's policy?
I believe that the overriding question in East-West relations is: confrontation or co-operation for peace? Honest agreements are needed based on the principle of equality and equal security with verification, testing and proving—all of which are proposed. Let honesty in international relations be raised to the proper status so that all the great super powers involved, including ourselves and other nations, have an open policy and an open door in order to test what is said. If the Americans and the Russians give a lead on that, they will have made a massive contribution to the establishment of world peace.
I want to close with a plea. Our history and our record in Great Britain proves beyond all peradventure that we have much to offer the world. I ask the Government now to start demonstrating our British sanity, courage and goodwill, as I believe we can. We do not have to be saturated in nuclear weapons and we do not want millions of marching soldiers for the great wisdom of Great Britain to make a contribution towards seeking a lasting and genuine peace. I sincerely believe that we have a great rote to play. I hope that the Government will reflect the confidence of our people and make it a reality not only for the sake of Great Britain but indeed for all mankind.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ The Marquess of Salisbury
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, will not expect me to support his 60 criticism of the Conservative Government. I would simply say to him that I think that the stock of this country stands considerably higher than it did before the last Labour Government went out of office. The noble Lord criticised Tory hypocrisy, but I rather fear that when I have finished speaking he will be confirmed in his view by the standards that he has set. The noble Lord also mentioned his desire to see, as I understand it, the unilateral reduction of nuclear power. In my view (and I shall return to this matter later) that would be asking for a Russian attack. They already have enormous superiority in conventional weapons.
§ The Marquess of Salisbury
My Lords, at the moment I believe that the Americans have sufficient nuclear power to act as a very strong deterrent.
This afternoon I should like to comment on the proposals that were put forward at the Commonwealth Conference to impose sanctions on South Africa. I should like to congratulate my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on the stand that she took at the Commonwealth Conference and to support the view expressed by my noble friend Lady Young when she opened this debate. I do so for two reasons: first, because of the effect on Africans, especially the black Africans; and, secondly, because of the effect it could have on this country and the risk that it would pose to the security of the West.
However, first, I should like to draw a parallel between the current events and those that led to the imposition of sanctions against Rhodesia. In both cases the objective was to get rid of white domination. The campaign was supported by other black states in many ways, and also, I believe, by Russia. The aim in Rhodesia was somewhat blurred as a result of the constitutional issues that arose there. However, I have always thought that the final objective was South Africa but that because of Rhodesia's geographical position Rhodesia had to be dealt with first.
Similar methods have been adopted in both cases: violence, rioting, murder of both blacks and whites, burning and intimidation—but above all intimidation. There seems to have been some support for this cause from the Churches both inside and outside South Africa, and also from a number of Left-wing organisations. There has been criticism of the South African Government in their efforts to maintain law and order. They have been accused of being repressive, although we should remember that any government have a primary requirement to maintain law and order. I have no doubt that some of the methods used have been rightly criticised, but there has been little complaint about the behaviour of the blacks, which, from the reports that I have seen, appears to have been far worse. Those who criticise the police methods there seem totally to disregard the risk of a breakdown of law and order—a point that was made earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn. I thought, if I may say so, that much of his diagnosis of the problems was correct, but I fundamentally disagreed with the solutions he offered.
61 Let us just consider what could happen in the event of a breakdown. I believe that there are some 24 million blacks, and a situation in which complete chaos could arise. May I remind your Lordships of what has happened here in Brixton, Toxteth and Tottenham, although we have comparatively few blacks, and also the support which has been given to the violence there by one or two black leaders. There has also been similar criticism of the activities of the police.
What is the aim of this campaign against South Africa? Who will benefit? It used to be a drive for one man, one vote, but this slogan is not heard so often nowadays, perhaps because it clearly does not happen where black autonomy has been achieved. The cry now is more for democracy, but that does not happen either—at least as we understand it.
We should in considering this problem differentiate between democracy and apartheid. Apartheid has been, I think rightly, condemned everywhere but at the moment the South African Government is rapidly dismantling it, and surely to criticise it without taking note of this is a mistake. We ought to be saying, "This is a step in the right direction. Do go on with it, and go as quickly as possible".
Returning to what happens in other black countries, the democratic constitutions that we have set up have rapidly been either replaced by a Marxist régime or by a dictatorship. This has led to untold hardship, much the same as the conditions in the rioting that I have described. We only have to look at what has happened in Uganda, Tanzania and Angola.
Indeed, I would have said that in South Africa the blacks are much better off than elsewhere in Africa. They receive higher wages, and more money is spent on their welfare. They have better living conditions and they have better protection, so these cannot be the objectives. But this campaign, if it succeeds, will give power to some of the so-called leaders who do not necessarily represent all the people they claim to represent. Of course, where a Marxist state is established, as I suppose they wish to do in South Africa, it would extend the sphere of influence of that régime.
May I remind your Lordships that the British Empire was built on a two-tier system of citizenship, and all those of non-Anglo Saxon stock were better off under this system than they are now after independence. The truth surely is that a lot of these countries are not ready for democracy, and in some cases it is totally alien to what they know and understand.
I notice that the people who support the demands put forward by these black leaders seldom criticise the Soviet Union, its repressive system, and its two-tier citizenship)—those who are members of the Communist party and those who are not. Nor do they condemn its acts of atrocity in Afghanistan—something to which the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, referred—nor to those committed by its Cuban and North Korean allies in Africa. Perhaps they find such actions acceptable if carried out on behalf of Marxism or by the blacks.
I should like to say something on the effect of sanctions on countries north of South Africa, a matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, referred.
62 Their economies are not very sound, their standards of living are low, and they are dependent for much of such standards as they have on South Africa. Mention was made of aid programmes by the noble Baroness who opened the debate. I am sure that we all support her promise of further expenditure to help these backward countries, but in doing so I would suggest that we should try to ensure that the money is well spent. After all, it is our own taxpayers' money and in many cases, as we all know, such expenditure has not achieved the results intended.
So far as South Africa is concerned, one of the areas where it helps countries to the north is in transport of goods, both imports and exports, because other routes have largely broken down since they came under black control. So far as the effect of sanctions is concerned on these countries may I quote what Mr. Ian Smith has said. He rightly, I think, claims to know more about the impact of sanctions than anyone else. He is convinced that all these countries will suffer severely if sanctions are imposed, although he believes that South Africa will be able to withstand their impact.
I think the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, suggested that these countries were prepared to stand for this. It may be that that is all right in the short term, but from what has happened elsewhere there is no encouragement to think that, if this helps them to get their independence, the black people of South Africa will be better off than they are today.
I should like to say a word about something to which again the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, referred, and that is the effect of sanctions on the West as a whole and on this country. There are three points, and they are all self-evident, so I shall only mention them
First, there is the question of communications. One glance at the map is enough to show the key position held by South Africa and, from the strategic point of view, the effect of a power hostile to the West establishing control there. All sea routes in the area could be threatened.
The second point concerns raw materials. Many of these are largely obtainable only from the southern part of Africa, and in some cases the remainder is under the control of Russia. Chrome is a case in point. If the price of these materials was forced up it would be serious for the West. You have only to consider what happened when the Arabs pushed up the price of oil. I would suggest to your Lordships that a similar situation could arise over these minerals. If availability was denied to us the results would be far more serious.
Then there is the question of trade. We have a substantial trade with South Africa. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, suggested that we could afford to forgo this, but unlike the noble Lord I do not think that it would be desirable to do so because the effect on both our unemployment figures and our balance of payments would be serious.
May I now turn to the question of the legality of sanctions. I first refer to Chapter 1 of Article 7 of the United Nations Charter. This states:Nothing in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the Domestic Jurisdiction of any state or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter'.63 Could anything be clearer than that? Yet that is precisely what the United Nations has been asked to do. I suggest that the principle applies whether or not a state is a member of the United Nations.
It has always been accepted by jurists all over the world that the internal affairs of a nation are its own business and must not be interfered with by other countries. It is indeed a fundamental pillar on which international law itself depends. It has been stated by one authority, whom I have quoted to your Lordships once before, Mr. Stowell, that it is the most important role of international law. He concludes that:to deny it would be to remove from International Law the salutary system of Territorial Sovereignty and to deprive the principle of the independence of States of all meaning".I do not believe those who advocate sanctions care a rap for international law.
Meanwhile, world attention is focused on the forthcoming disarmament talks between the United States and Russia.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, before the noble Lord passes from the South African issue, from the point of view of clarification will he answer two questions? Can he say, first, whether he agrees that every citizen, irrespective of skin colour, has an equal right to participate fully in the determination of the future of their own community and their own nation? Secondly, is he aware that the percentage of school enrolments and health facilities are far greater in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania than they are in South Africa for the black population?
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
Yes, my Lords. The percentage of enrolments in schools and the health facilities are far higher in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, to take only three examples, than they are in South Africa.
§ The Marquess of Salisbury
My Lords, as far as the first point is concerned, I thought I made my position clear. I suggested that at this stage a two-tier system of government gave better security and ensured better treatment for the blacks than where there was complete so-called freedom to vote, because that does not seem to exist. However, that does not mean to say that they are not entitled to full protection under the law in every sense of the word. I do not have the comparable figures for education, about which the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, asked, but when I last saw them the level of money spent was higher. But I cannot answer for the figure of enrolments.
I was speaking about the forthcoming disarmament conference. I should like to support what has been said on all sides: that we all hope for its success, or, failing that, for some progress to be made. But unlike the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, I think that the best guarantee of peace is for some degree of parity between the two major powers in nuclear weapons, which I regard as a deterrent. I am confirmed in this view by 64 the protests that the Russians make, because I do not believe that anyone seriously believes that America is intent on war, least of all the Russians.
Meanwhile, another war is in progress a war in which Russia is steadily increasing its sphere of influence. The West appears to accept this with equanimity. We have seen the invasion of Afghanistan; and control or dominating influence, either directly of indirectly, in Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique, each with a Marxist Government. This represents a steady advance by Russia, and if nothing is done this advance will continue. I believe the next objective is South Africa, and if the West agrees to sanctions this will greatly facilitate the attainment of it. I suggest that this country has every reason to resist their imposition.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Lord Weidenfeld
My Lords, it is now my turn to pay tribute to the three maiden speakers and to congratulate them on speeches which were highly informative, distinguished and moving because of the presentation of passionately held, sincere views.
On the Arab-Israeli front there seems to be a new air of expectancy, and this in spite of such recent grave disturbances of the peace on land, sea and air as the Cyprus massacre, the reprisal raid on Tunis, the Mediterranean sea-jacking and the avenging interception in the skies. There are live stirrings in Jordan, Israel, even within the Communist bloc, not to speak of the nerve centre of all these efforts—Washington. Yet this air of expectancy is ethereal; it is thin air in need of a hefty dose of oxygen. I believe that, for once, some of this could be supplied from our own, from the European, comer. But if our interventions are to be truly fruitful and appreciated by the protagonists we have to re-examine and revise the policy encapsulated in the Venice Declaration; a policy which has done more harm than good. If Her Majesty's gracious Speech proclaims, as it were, in one breath the need for a vigorous effort to combat international terrorism and the need for a move to settle the Arab-Israeli dispute, the obvious conclusion must be to downgrade and not to enhance, to delegitimise and not to prop up the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and its leader, Yassir Arafat, since they stand in the way of any peace process and substantive negotiation, and indeed are among the main carriers of terrorism.
Equally I think that we should seize on new realities and positive pointers in the direction of peace and conciliation. It is very regrettable that King Hussein (whose condemnation of the recent PLO terrorist actions and whose disappointment with the tragicomic imbroglio of the abortive diplomatic talks in London was so manifest) should not have drawn the right conclusion and detached himself more tangibly from Arafat's movement. In Washington, from where I have just returned, the Administration is doing its utmost to persuade the King to start the peace process and not wait for the PLO. We should, and the European Community should, use our whole influence to give King Hussein the necessary backing and similar advice.
Much credit for these new and more positive vibrations is due to Israel's Prime Minister, Shimon 65 Peres. I was pleased to hear that both the noble Baroness, Lady Young, and the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, acknowledged this fact. The speeches of Mr. Peres at the United Nations, in Washington, New York and on his return in Jerusalem, have kindled fresh hope and broken new ground by meeting some of King Hussein's and other moderate Arab's psychological and indeed real political needs. He has done this in defiance not only of much of his own public opinion at home, but also, paradoxically, of much of his loyal support among American Jewish and non-Jewish well-wishers. I say "paradoxically" because Israel's supporters abroad habitually tend to goad Israel into forward thinking and risk-taking for peace, and invariably counsel moderation. Whereas today there are large sections of pro-Israeli opinion which, dismayed by the growth of Arab terror and what they consider devious diplomacy, have become very weary and, frankly, see as the only true distinction between moderates and radicals in the Arab camp the difference between an overt and covert desire to destabilise and ultimately to demolish the Jewish state.
Mr. Peres stands for direct negotiations without precondition, except the renunciation of violence and Arab recognition of United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338. On the question of Palestinian representation he would, I am quite sure, be very lenient in defining who would be a valid interlocutor. However, active membership of the PLO, until and unless that organisation changes its charter, must remain an insurmountable obstacle. Yet on the question of an international umbrella for King Hussein, he has proposed a degree of United Nations sponsorship, which of course implies a role for the Soviet Union, provided that the Soviet Union would resume normal relations with the State of Israel.
For Israel, the idea of UN involvement today means a signal concession and sacrifice, and an advanced view. Only the other day, Jews throughout the world gathered in protest meetings, on the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Resolution which equates Zionism with racism, a document which to most Jewish minds is a lineal descendant of those base libels against the Jews ranging from the mediaeval accusation of the desecration of the Host, infanticide and sorcery, down to the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The United Nations, in the eyes of many Jews, is in bad odour for its record of dual morality and hostile treatment of the State of Israel. The idea that the Soviet Union would enter, or re-enter, the Arab/Israeli scene is not only anathema to quite a few Israelis and friends of Israel but because of the plight of Soviet Jewry it is also a live, hotly-debated issue in the United States on rather weighty geopolitical grounds.
Since it is unarguably true that Israel's attitude and actions at this juncture are crucial, it is important to realise that we have in Mr. Peres a man who takes great chances and therefore deserves the greatest consideration from the European Community and from Her Majesty's Government. It is gratifying to know that he will be paying us an official visit next January.
London has already shown its great confidence in and, if I may say so, affection for the King of Jordan. The latest arms package negotiated by the 66 Government is eloquent proof. Unlike the United States Congress, which makes arms supplies to Jordan dependent upon the start of direct negotiations with Israel, the British Government have sanctioned a firm sale. Of course, any injection of adrenalin to our manufacturing industries must be welcome yet whether on political and long-term military grounds a further escalation of the arms race is such an excellent idea remains to be doubted.
In fact one wonders whether these arms are really needed by the Hashemite Kingdom. Largely thanks to the efforts of its new Prime Minister, Mr. Zaid Al-Rifai, Amman is mending its fences with Damascus. If the kingdom's security is to be threatened, I submit that it woud be mainly threatened from within. The source of intermittent yet consistent terror lies with one or the other faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. All Arab regimes, almost without exception, are threatened by terrorism, by fundamentalists, revolutionaries or, if you like, reactionaries and they would do well to equip themselves appropriately in every way to meet internal subversion and destabilisation.
If Britain and Europe were to show a new spirit of determined even-handedness at this grave juncture. it would acknowledge Israel's, and especially its Prime Minister's, manifest will for peace.
This country, in spite of a great improvement in tone and mood in her relations with Israel—an improvement which I think bears the personal imprint of the right honourable lady the Prime Minister and her Foreign Secretary—is still somewhat behind in the European league table as far as some substantive issues are concerned. On the question of the Arab trade boycott, we are way behind the practices of France and Germany. These are countries which carry considerable weight in the Arab and Islamic world, and yet they are largely immune from political blackmail.
While internationally well-known groups, such as Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and Volkswagen, trade freely throughout the Middle East, United Kingdom companies of similar renown subject themselves to the control of the Central Arab Boycott Office in Damascus. The British authorities officially deplore any restrictions on trade, yet they still refuse to intervene, and hold the view that companies must use their own commercial judgment. Bilateral trade between the United Kingdom and Israel will reach 1 billion pounds this year, and currently shows an increase rate of 18 per cent. Yet German investment in Israel is nearly seven times and French investment twice as large as that of Britain.
Another anomaly in our relations with Israel is our continued refusal to sell North Sea oil to that country. Of course, the third and by no means least important issue, and one that is most difficult to comprehend, is the continuing embargo on arms sales. While Britain supplies its customers from one end of the Arab world to the other, Israel is excluded. Yet her troops have left the Lebanon. She has given tangible proof of wishing to end the state of war on all fronts, and still she is out of bounds for British arms and sophisticated defence technology.
67 But I must briefly revert to the role of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as being the most crucial stumbling block to any hope for peace. There is massive evidence and compelling reason to conclude that the PLO is neither the sole nor the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, whose genuine craving for political self-expression is a very burning and live issue. How can the PLO be the sole spokesman when it is so deeply divided, riven by factions, feuding and fighting and reflecting every naunce of the power struggle within the Arab world? How can it be representative when neither a census, a plebiscite, nor other instrument of democratic identification confers on it a mandate to speak for the whole of the Palestinian people? The Palestinian revolution is constantly devouring its own children. I am not saying that it does not speak for many Palestinians, but it is equally obvious that there are, among Palestinian Arabs, men of goodwill who could be found to come forward and work for peace and who are deeply antagonistic to Arafat or any other PLO leader, deeply hostile to the policies and practices, to the principles and the whole record of the PLO, and I think that they reflect the views of many people on the ground. Have we explored the field sufficiently? It is my contention that there are such truly representative people, and indeed I have met quite a few of them.
I visit Israel several times a year and have done so for many years. I have met many Arabs in the West Bank and in the Israeli heartland—Arab patriots who have fought the Israelis in war and would still fight them again in the future. But they recognise the reality of Israel and either openly or grudgingly have admitted that in some spheres of everyday existence their lives are better than they were. They do not want to be annexed but they are also realistic enough to realise that a Palestinian state is totally inconsistent with the security and viability of Israel. They would go along with the tenets of the Reagan plan, or some form of far-reaching political autonomy. They represent some of the ablest and most distinguished West Bank Arabs or residents of Gaza. But when asked why they do not go public with these or similar views, they will tell you: "Why should we? The Arab Governments say we must work with the PLO; the King of Jordan says we must submit to the PLO, and the PLO itself through a network of terror and extortion, makes our lives unsafe. And, last but not least, the Israeli Government does not give us political encouragement."
I sincerely believe that we should take a new and hard look at the underlying realities in the West Bank and Gaza, and jettison the policy of received ideas which has largely lost its validity. We should encourage King Hussein and Prime Minister Shimon Peres to create the conditions for negotiation and distance themselves from the PLO, in whose leading counsel and in whose rank and file are the partisans of that very terrorism which we have vowed to contest and combat as one of our prime aims of foreign policy.
If we use every effort to reassure the King of Jordan and the Prime Minister of Israel in their arduous and indeed very dangerous task, we will have done a great deal to advance the cause of peace in an area prone to extremes. For let us not forget, my Lords, that according to the best available archaeological 68 testimony the presumed location of the Garden of Eden is little more than one hour's flying time from the sand dunes of Armageddon.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Lord Greenhill of Harrow
My Lords, I should like to join with others in congratulating the two maiden speakers this evening. It was a great privilege and pleasure to hear such authoritative voices from such widely different areas. I could not help reflecting that the presence of the noble Lord, Lord Forres, raises the point of how much better it could be if the Peers who live in the Commonwealth (I think it is an increasing number) could more frequently come to your Lordships' House.
I think that most of us would agree that one of the great frustrations of international affairs is the slow pace at which successful negotiations can usually be concluded. Witness the snail's pace at which progress is made in the EC, where the protagonists are nominally our friends and whose governments have broadly similar objectives. It looks to me as if more rapid progress in Europe is as far away as ever, but the opening remarks of the noble Baroness were more optimistic and I hope that she is correct and I am wrong.
It follows that Foreign Secretaries must have more than normal patience and strong determination. I do not believe that his severist critics would deny the present Foreign Secretary credit in both these areas. He has worked methodically on long-standing problems, and not least on the Irish question, on which I do not expect comment to be made this evening. The Foreign Secretary has had a notable success in Hong Kong, which at one time seemed hopeless, and has made progress in the unfinished business over Gibraltar. I myself wish that the Government would be more venturesome over the Falkland Islands, although one must admit that recent events in Argentina show that there is still need for some caution.
I am sorry that no mention has been made about Nigeria and the need for an improvement in our relations with that great African country. I wish that we could return to the state of affairs which existed when the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, was Foreign Secretary. But I realise that the difficulties arise from attitudes which are hard for us to understand, especially when we made such a substantial contribution to the unity of Nigeria at a time when it looked as if it was going to be permanently split by civil war.
The Foreign Secretary has also played a leading part in establishing contacts with Eastern Europe, and the value of these contacts may be recognised sooner than one thinks. The need for patience in diplomacy, which also demands discretion and secrecy, is unhappily so often in conflict with public demands constantly stimulated by present-day Western journalism. This journalism looks for sensation, conflict and quick solutions, and seems sometimes indifferent to whether these solutions are good or bad. But it is, I suppose, only human to be unwilling to allow the slow processes of confidential diplomacy to mature. An international impatience is, indeed, at the centre of two of the main problems which face us today: the question of the 69 subjects which are arising at the summit meeting and of South Africa.
As the date of the summit draws near, the negotiators in this supremely important meeting are tempted to throw their energies into rival propaganda ploys. This may be inevitable, but the more they do so the further they push agreement into the future. Mr. Gorbachev must be amazed at the sycophancy of some of the Western press, and he would not be human if he did not try to exploit it. The supreme example, which I am sure did not escape some of your Lordships, was the senior editor of a famous American weekly who gushed to Mr. Gorbachev: "Do you realise that all the West is in love with your wife?"
Would it not be better for the protagonists to try to find their way in privacy through the immensely complicated nuclear issues which are largely beyond the grasp of those not privy to the scientific secrets and capabilities of the rival forces? The President seems to me more ready than Mr. Gorbachev to see the merits of confidential exchanges. Of course, the level of nuclear armaments is not the only issue at stake in Geneva. The summit will be affected by long-standing political problems which do not directly involve either the United States or the USSR, and are certainly not capable of rapid resolution. We have simply got to be patient in the search for reconciliation, not in one but in several conflicts.
The military danger of the present situation between the super powers is frequently and deliberately exaggerated by both powers. More important than the supposed danger of apocalyptic conflict is, I suggest, the colossal waste of resources expended on armaments. Every country, not least our own and the USSR, has pressing human demands which are put aside in favour of military needs. We must therefore pray for significant agreements at the summit, but we should be satisfied if a genuine process is set in motion which may ultimately bring such agreements nearer. There is hope of this. I see no reason to doubt the President's sincerity; and there is a new regime in Moscow. We do not yet know what, if anything, it has learned from past failures or what are the objectives of these more modem men who turn more human faces to the TV cameras. Previously, elderly Russian leaders have been obsessed by the past. I do not believe that this obsession necessarily extends to the new generation.
What is the United Kingdom's role? I think that we must be more than just spectators shouting from the touchline. We are not without experience or ideas, and we must deploy these assets. As far as our own nuclear forces are concerned, the Foreign Secretary is well able to judge if and when they can play a part in the negotiations. In the meantime, I strongly support the logic of the noble Lord, Lord Home, who recently in this House said that we should be more certain of the future of the non-proliferation agreement before we lower our own guard.
May I now turn to Southern Africa, which must necessarily dominate any debate on foreign affairs. It is very difficult to expect the black population and international opinion to exercise greater patience than they have already done. Nevertheless, I believe the Government's policy on sanctions is the correct one for the time being, leaving aside our own commercial 70 interests and their relation to employment. I have e very much in mind my own experience of the fiasco of the sanctions against Rhodesia. Many of those who cried out for sanctions against Mr. Smith's regime were either in no way affected themselves or, as one found out subsequently, were among the most energetic in evading them. They struck poses in the United Nations but disregarded the resolutions for which they ostentatiously voted.
The same would happen, I fear, all over again; and the obstinate and wrong-headed policies of President Botha in any case cause potential investors to hold back without any prompting from their governments. That may in the long run have a practical effect on South African policy. I have studied in recent weeks statements made by Chief Buthelezi and Oliver Tambo of the ANC, and I have listened to them talk in public and in private. As I interpret what they say, neither believes that the transition from apartheid to some form of acceptable multi-racial democracy can take place other than by gradual steps if a total collapse and intolerable human suffering is to be avoided.
May I give just one example? I think that savage sanctions would hit the growing number of highly efficient black workers to be seen in the factories of South Africa today and on whom the country must eventually rely. But it must be admitted that there is no sign of a change of heart on the part of the South African Government. However, history has seen examples of surprising changes, and one has only to think of what happened between France and Algeria.
I can myself see no possible justification for Her Majesty's Government keeping Oliver Tambo at arm's length. They have constantly taken the public attitude that the PLO must eventually be involved in a Middle East settlement. Why should not the ANC be accorded comparable treatment? I think history shows that calls for violence to be renounced are very seldom successful. Violence is only renounced once negotiations have advanced a certain way towards a settlement.
Had time permitted, I should like to have spoken about the Middle East. The chances of reaching a settlement of the Palestine question are obviously slim, and one is tempted to follow the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and for the United Kingdom to wash its hands of the situation. But I do not think that is the right thing to do. It is surely right constantly to work away at the problem—Her Majesty's Government can, and do, do that—and to hope that one day the pieces, however surprisingly, will fall into place.
A new factor is surely the chastening experience, both militarily and economically, that Israel has had to undergo. These experiences, coupled with a new generation of leaders—just off stage—must give some expectation of a relaxation of the totally and often understandably rigid attitude that the Israeli Government has had to adopt. Furthermore, the self-destructive attitude of Arab factions and governments surely cannot continue for ever. If President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev can draw somewhat closer together, a way may be found, and I should like to hear what the noble Lord the Minister has to say about a future role for the USSR in a Middle East settlement.
71 May I now turn very briefly to a subject which is perhaps of lesser importance than the great questions that I have touched on: that is, the vexed question of the Foreign Office Vote, including the money for overseas aid, to which the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, referred. I had hoped that the penny-pinching was going to stop, but I am not sure that it has. However, I have detected a more favourable attitude both in this House and in the other place towards the work of the Foreign Office. I thought for a happy moment that even the noble Lord, Lord Annan, was going to praise the Foreign Office, but what he gave with one hand he took away with the other. I was tempted to point out that I thought most of our troubles in UNESCO, for example, derived from the fact that we always had too many academics in our delegations.
I should like to draw attention to the views expressed in the House of Lords Select Committee on Overseas Trade, and particularly to the recommendation which says:The Committee call for a greater awareness by everyone, including the Government, of the attitudes and policies of competitor industry and their governments.This is in part the work of our overseas missions and they should, I submit, have the resources to carry it out.
Another aspect of Foreign Office work which is often forgotten and to which I have drawn attention in the past is the administration of the few remaining territories of the British Empire. It is important work, and it is work which should be done well—for example, in St. Helena. Is the Minister satisfied that everything possible is being done?
Lastly, this debate is intended to cover defence matters, and I have only one point I should like to raise. That is: is the Ministry of Defence sure that the decline of our United Kingdom manufacturing base in some areas is not threatening our defence capability? It is not difficult to think of which industries previously made a great contribution to our defence and which are no longer able to do so. Fifteen years ago I would have been less hesitant about intervening in a foreign affairs debate, and I then had access to official papers and intelligence. I could have confidence in my own opinions. That is no longer so, and for this reason I should greatly like to have reassurance from Ministers on some of the points I have raised.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Lord Bauer
My Lords, I also should like to pay tribute to our two maiden speakers today, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and the noble Lord, Lord Forres. Both in substance and presentation they spoke very well, and it was most agreeable to listen to them.
I should like to concentrate on our membership of UNESCO, which straddles all three topics of our debate today—foreign affairs, overseas aid and also defence (because ideology now much affects defence). This matter was debated in your Lordships' House on 25th January 1984 in a debate introduced by the late and much lamented Lord Vaizey, when many of the arguments were rehearsed.
In the last year or two critics of UNESCO have made much of the alleged large-scale corruption and 72 nepotism under Mr. M'Bow, the Secretary-General, and also of his high-handed methods. This type of criticism diverts attention from a far more serious and fundamental matter. This is the deep-seated and longstanding hostility to the West in UNESCO. Moreover, corruption and favouritism, especially the former, can be constrained by effective financial control and other reforms. Hostility to the West cannot be so restrained in the face of the much greater ideological self-confidence of the Soviet bloc and the built-in great majority of third world countries. It is idle to suppose that membership of UNESCO improves our standing in the third world.
I shall instance only one example of this hostility and of our supine response to it—an instance which long antedates Mr. M'Bow's tenure. As I mentioned in this House before, on the centenary of Lenin's birth in April 1970 UNESCO resolved to invite all member governments to pay tribute to his memory as a great humanist. How did the United Kingdom delegate vote? He abstained. Lenin was indeed a towering figure. But to term a great humanist the founder and organiser of a ruthless totalitarian state reflects perversion of the language and also entrenched anti-Western sentiment. Both of these characteristics are endemic in UNESCO. The promised administrative and financial reforms will not even touch these characteristics, much less abate or remove them. The specific example which I instanced is particularly apposite today, as 7th November is the exact anniversary of the October revolution masterminded by Lenin.
We should withdraw from UNESCO and use the money saved to support the British Council and the BBC's external services. Our participation in UNESCO is anomalous. The longer an anomalous policy is pursued and the greater its political and financial costs, the more difficult it becomes to question the principles and methods in the names of which the sacrifices have been exacted.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Caradon referred to the words in the gracious Speech:My Government continues to attach the highest importance to the maintenance of national security and the preservation of peace with freedom and justice";and he laid special stress on those last four words "with freedom and justice". It is interesting to find, if noble Lords will look at the gracious Speeches of the last seven or eight years, that on each occasion there has been an assertion that the Government are going to work for peace, but it has been, as the Americans have put it, "peace period", without the addition of "freedom and justice". This year we have made the important conclusion that the object of policy is not merely the preservation of peace, but the preservation of peace with freedom and justice.
I think that that has a significance in two ways. One way is that if you allow injustice to go on long enough, you will not be able to preserve peace and that is what is happening in South Africa. It has been pointed out in the course of the debate that South Africa is not the only country where tyranny is practised. There are a great many tyrannies in the world and it would be hard 73 to say which are the more wicked or the more cruel. But I would say that, of all the kinds of tyranny there are, tyranny that is based on racial discrimination is the most dangerous to the peace of the world, because if you say to a man "Because of your skin colour, you and your descendants are to be permanently deprived"——
§ Lord Stewart of Fulham
Yes, my Lords, I think I do. The only trouble is that in South Africa it has been practised on so much larger a scale and with so many more instruments of destruction. The point I was making was that when you say to a man that, because of his race or his skin colour, he is to be permanently deprived of political rights, you do him an insult that nothing will wipe out and an insult that not only he resents, but that other people of his race, or similar races throughout the world, resent. That is why what is happening in South Africa has now become an issue of world importance.
I would simply say this to the Government. They have six months in which to decide what they are going to do. I merely suggest that if they are content with what the Prime Minister called "a teeny bit", it will not meet the needs of the situation in six months' time. Therefore, I hope that they will give the matter rather more serious consideration than the Prime Minister appears to be giving it at the present time.
But this connection between peace and freedom and justice works the other way as well. It would be quite easy for us all to say, "Yes, we have a policy of peace. We are not going to have any weapons, we are not going to fight anybody and then we shall be at peace". If we said that, we should not have either freedom or very much justice. I think it is our policy generally—and I trust that it is the policy in every quarter of the House—that we want to preserve the peace, but to do it consistently with the maintenance of freedom and justice. That is why we cannot accept in any form the doctrine that this country or its allies should, by themselves, deprive themselves of nuclear weapons, irrespective of what happens in the rest of the world because, whatever its effect on peace, that would be a sacrifice of freedom and justice.
Some months ago, when questions of armaments in East and West were being discussed, the main issue was: What ought to happen about cruise missiles? Should they be deployed in European countries? There was much argument one way and the other. One of the arguments adduced was: if we allow cruise missiles to be deployed in Western Europe, the Russians have said that they will not carry on any further disarmament negotiations; they will not come back to the conference table. Therefore, it was argued, we must abandon cruise missiles in order to get the Russians to the conference table.
If we had abandoned them, what would have happened? We would seriously have weakened the strength and the mutual credibility of the members of the Atlantic Alliance. We should have created a situation in which there were these weapons in Eastern Europe, but not in Western Europe; the balance would have been heavily against us and the Russians would 74 not have come to the conference table. Why should they do so? What would they have gained by coming to any conference table, when they had gained all they wanted without? By maintaining that we would have the deployment of cruise missiles, we have maintained, or at least put in better shape, the military balance between East and West, and we have apparently created a situation in which the Russians are willing to discuss disarmament matters with us.
However, I most earnestly hope—and here I think I have the agreement of a number of noble Lords who spoke earlier—that the approach to the Summit will not be marked by magnificent displays, the slamming down of cards on the table and impressive offers. I think that my Leader, my noble friend Lord Cledwyn, made this point at the very beginning of the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, said something similar as well and it has been generally echoed. What happens? If one side makes an impressive offer that involves, perhaps, some concession on what it had previously said, then, if later on it goes any further beyond that it will be accused of climbing down. It has nailed itself to a particular niche and there it is. This is what is in danger of happening if we have these series of highly publicised offers. It is significant that the first stages of the SALT agreements—the exercise in agreed disarmament which was probably most successful—were conducted in strict privacy; and that is why I believe they had the limited success they had. I hope that will be remembered in the future.
I was a little surprised also that President Reagan should have wanted to bring into the argument at this stage a number of regional disputes which we quite properly have with the Soviet Union and of which Afghanistan is perhaps the best known. I do not believe that in the course of one summit we are going to be able to set the framework for agreed disarmament and solve all these regional disputes as well. One must proceed more slowly and more carefully than that. But there is this at least that the Soviet Union should remember about Afghanistan. There are some genuine differences of opinion in Western Europe as to what are the intentions of the Soviet Government. They range from the blackest conclusions drawn by the more extreme right wing in the United States to the most facile optimism to be found in Western Europe. Between those two extremes there is a whole spectrum of judgments.
What the Soviet Union is doing in Afghanistan is quite clearly shifting the balance of public opinion towards those who believe that the Soviet Union is a danger, that its purposes are aggressive, that we must conduct our foreign policy accordingly, and that if the Soviet Union wants to get any improvement, either in the field of disarmanent or in any other, it had better reconsider its policy in Afghanistan, which personally I believe it could do now without any great loss.
We have all read of the young defector who turned up at the American Embassy and whose pronouncement on the matter was that he did not like Afghanistan and wanted to go home—an attitude which I think did not distinguish him from the other 105,000 Soviet citizens who find themselves serving in that country. The Soviet Government may very well ask themselves now whether any real purpose is being 75 served by this adventure. I am told—I do not know whether it is true—that, wherever else they are read or not read, the debates in this House are earnestly studied by the Soviet Government. Having said that, I leave them to make what they can of the suggestion I have just thrown out to them.
There is only one other topic I should like to mention; that is, what is popularly called star wars. I put forward the view, which I have not heard expressed elsewhere, that this is not so important and will not prove to be so important or revolutionary a matter as is sometimes supposed. At one stage President Reagan was speaking as though this invention was going to give us permanent security, assured security, against having nuclear weapons dropped on us; that is to say, 100 per cent. reliability. I never believed that because I have never known of any human invention that has had that degree of reliability.
We all know of the splendid and magnificent operations which the United States has carried out in space—in satellites, in voyages to the moon, and so on—and we know that quite often there have been mistakes. Things did not happen when they were intended to happen and they had to be done all over again. I have not the slightest doubt that that happens in the Soviet Union too; only it does not tell us about it. The Americans always obligingly tell us when they get anything wrong, as well as when they get anything right. I do not believe therefore that anyone has invented or is likely to invent something that will make it permanently impossible for people to drop nuclear weapons on us.
What I think is possible is that they will make it very much more difficult, that the process of defence against nuclear bombardment will be stronger than it is at the present time, and that in due course this will be true on both sides—the Russians have already made some progress in this field and will make more—but I do not believe it will be more than that. We should make a mistake if we supposed that something has happened which completely revolutionises the whole problem of nuclear war. What has happened is that the defence against nuclear weapons is rather stronger than it was, but we have no certainty that it is 100 per cent. or that the degree of success so far achieved or likely to be achieved will be maintained. I hope therefore that the British Government will not be too eager in talking as though this invention was a gold mine to help the afflicted British economy. That is not a particularly wise way to behave.
One thing has always puzzled me. Perhaps somebody on the Government Front Bench will be able to help me about this. I think I may reasonably ask the House to believe that it has never been a habit of mine to decry the necessity for military expenditure or to argue that expenditure on social affairs was always necessarily to be preferred to defence expenditure. But I feel obliged to say this. If anyone recommends that you spend public money on building houses that are badly needed or on repairing derelict schools, you are told that these are not real jobs, that this does not really solve the unemployment problem, that there is something bogus about this and that it is 76 inflationary. I can see that it is inflationary if you do it with borrowed money. I have never seen it as inflationary if you have the nerve to collect the taxes to pay for it.
Exactly the same is true of expenditure on taking any part in the development of the star wars process. If it is reasonable, as the Government apparently think, to spend public money on taking some part in the production of the hardware of star wars, why is it unreasonable to spend public money on houses and schools? I cannot see why one should be more inflationary or less desirable than the other. Nothing I have ever heard from the Government Front Bench on this topic has convinced me to the contrary. When the noble Lord winds up tonight perhaps he will try again to explain this matter to me.
What I am saying is that both expenditure for the purposes of peace and expenditure for the purposes of war can be inflationary or can be very sensible, according to how you finance it. If you finance it properly—you do not do it by extravagant borrowing—you can go ahead with either. But now we find that the Government are saying, "We are going to be able to spend quite a lot of public money in the contracts we shall get arising from star wars; we are pursuing a policy on the Falklands which at any rate is bound to cost us a fair amount of money in the near future". I do not quarrel with that, because I believe it is necessary, at any rate for the near future. Yet the Government say at the same time that they are going to reduce taxes. I wonder whether they have worked out the sum and whether it really will work.
Nothing could be more dangerous than to engage in a defence and foreign policy which involved further expenditure on military matters without having considered where the money will come from to pay for it. I have raised this matter before with the Government and the Minister has always replied that after all he is only a Defence Minister and that these monetary matters are beyond him. I am paraphrasing a little what he said, but that was what it came to. Perhaps I shall get a more encouraging reply this evening.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, perhaps I may begin by echoing the tributes that have been paid by other noble Lords to the maiden speeches of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and the noble Lord, Lord Forres. As has been said, they were indeed distinguished maiden speeches. I should have liked to follow the noble Lord, Lord Bauer, in his inquiry into the affairs of UNESCO. I should have liked to support his view that this organisation is one for which our country can have very little use and from which the Government should—as they have given notice they will do—withdraw at the end of this year.
However, there are other matters with which I wish to deal. Before I come to my main remarks I will deal with the comment made by the noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, whose views on these matters I have always respected and still respect. However, it is not true that President Reagan ever said that the strategic defence initiative would or could produce 100 per cent. leakproof defence. If the noble Lord will accept that from me, and if he will also refer to 77 President Reagan's speech of 23rd March 1983, I believe he will find that such is a fallacy largely bred by inaccurate press reporting.
I should like to spend a few minutes drawing attention to what I believe to be a very serious weakness which has emerged in the arrangements for our national security. When we speak of defence we tend to think principally—sometimes exclusively—of defence in the physical sense: the provision of armed forces and their equipment, designed to deter a military attack by a potential enemy or to defend ourselves effectively if deterrence should fail.
It can be argued that a much more serious threat to the survival of this country and its free institutions comes not from the movement of armoured divisions across frontiers or even the possibility of a sudden nuclear attack. Of course, it is important that we should continue—as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, has just forcefully said—to provide ourselves with adequate defences against military threat. In this context, I confess to being considerably alarmed at reports and rumours which have been circulating recently about the possibility of substantial cuts in the defence budget.
I should like to recall the definitive comment on this matter made by a former Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Denis Healey, in another place. He said:Once we cut defence expenditure to the extent where our security is imperilled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools., We have a heap of cinders".—[Official Report. Commons, 5/3/69; col. 551.]That comment remains as true today as when Mr. Healey first made it.
Today I want to concentrate on a different aspect of the threat; the threat that exists in the world of intelligence, security, and counter-intelligence. It will profit us very little, however strong may be our physical defences, if we cannot take steps to ensure not only that our secrets remain secret but that the people of this country are able to resist the spread of totalitarianism without having their resolve undermined and weakened.
The scope of operations generally referred to nowadays as "intelligence" is no longer confined to the simple business of acquiring details of the armed forces and military defences of foreign countries. It has now spread into that area which embraces activities, known in phrases translated from the Russian, such as "active measures" and "disinformation". This is an area of operation in which the international department and the international information department working together in Moscow and collaborating with the KGB have mounted a massive and orchestrated programme designed expressly to destroy the will of the West to resist the expansion of Soviet power and influence.
Its targets, which have already been comprehensively and effectively penetrated, include all the institutions of a free democratic society; schools, universities, the press, the electronic media, the Civil Service and the political establishment itself. That operation employs front organisations and exploits the activities of so-called peace and protest movements.
It has been estimated by intelligence sources of the West that somewhere around 15,000 Soviet citizens 78 are employed full time in the implementation of Soviet active measures, and it has a budget very similar in size to that which we spend on the whole of our nuclear deterrent. Against this massive and organised effort the democracies of the West have no systematic defence.
§ Lord Molloy
My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for allowing me to intervene. He has given the House some vital information. Where is the leak in Russia from which all that information has come? The Russians do not appear to be very good at concealing such information if it can be revealed so easily.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord would not seriously expect me to reveal a whole list of sources of information in your Lordships' House. As a matter of fact, the figures I gave are in the public domain and were not received by me from any arcane sources
As I was saying, against all that massive effort the democracies of the West have no systematic defence. That is partly because they are democracies and are understandably reluctant to use the weapons of disruption and deception in peacetime. However, we must be careful not to allow a too punctilious regard for the proprieties of the diplomatic process to place us in a position where those very democratic processes which we seek to preserve are in danger of being weakened and destroyed.
There is considerable evidence that, as matters stand at the moment, the Soviet Union is winning the war of intelligence, security and counter-intelligence. Let us be in no doubt that it is a war. This is psychological warfare and, in common with international terrorism, which is another form of low intensity warfare against the West, it poses a threat as formidable and as immediate as the massive military apparatus of the Warsaw Pact.
As I have said, there is clear evidence that the Soviet Union is winning that war. We have learnt recently of the serious penetration of the United States Navy by Soviet agents. We had our own security disasters at the Government Communications Headquarters and elsewhere. The most recent episode involves a high-ranking KGB officer who first defected to the United States and has now returned to the Soviet Union. Whether that defection was genuine, and the Soviet Union subsequently found means of bringing pressure to bear on Mr. Yurchenko to persuade him to return to the Soviet Union, or whether the whole affair was a deliberately planned KGB operation from the beginning, is not yet clear. Certainly President Reagan, in his press conference yesterday, did not dismiss the latter possibility.
Whatever may be the truth of that latest bizarre incident, it has certainly turned out to be, in the final analysis, a clear tactical victory for the KGB. A short while ago we had a similar case in this country, when Mr. Oleg Bitov returned to the Soviet Union after defecting to Britain in 1983. Mr. Bitov is now back in his old job in Moscow—a circumstance which is scarcely consistent with his having been a genuine defector from the Soviet Union. There remains the possibility that he, too, was a KGB plant. Whatever 79 the truth of the matter in that case, Soviet intelligence probably got far more mileage out of the whole episode than we were able to get out of Mr. Bitov.
Where the KGB certainly scored a notable triumph was in the communications headquarters in Cyprus. I must say at once that I have no wish, in raising this matter, to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. I am fully aware of the implications, in the fields of both the law and security, of the present situation in this case. I recognise also that the whole affair is already undergoing investigation by two separate bodies; the Security Commission and the committee under Mr. Calcutt. It would, however, be irresponsible for anyone concerned with the security of the country and of the West not to recognise that serious damage has been done. Whatever discreet and non-commital a position the Government may take, it is clear beyond doubt to anyone with any knowledge of these matters that there were serious—gravely serious—breaches of security in Cyprus.
The Government would only say, in a recent exchange in your Lordships' House on this subject, that there appeared to be breaches of security at the time when the investigations began. May I, then, ask the Minister quite specifically to say, when he replies to the debate, whether anything has happened since the investigations began to cause the Government to alter their view? If, as I suspect, nothing has changed that view, then another question must be asked, although I would not expect the Minister to be able to answer this directly. If the breaches of security did take place, and if they were not committed by those who were acquitted of them, then by whom were they committed? Here I should like to pose a question to the Government which I believe is legitimate and to which I should like to hear an answer at the end of the debate. Is anyone else in Cyprus, or anywhere else, under suspicion or investigation relating to these breaches of security?
If the answer to both my questions is no, that there has been nothing to alter the Government's view that there were serious breaches of security and that no one else is either under suspicion or investigation, then we shall be in a position to draw certain conclusions—conclusions which, I must say, appear to me to be obvious already.
This matter is too important simply to be allowed to disappear from sight. It is important for two reasons. The first is that having succeeded in penetrating the communications base in Cyprus the KGB was then presented with an uncovenanted bonus in the form of an uproar in the British press directed not, as one might have supposed, at Soviet espionage but at the British Government, the security service, the Special Branch, the Royal Air Force police and indeed against anyone who seemed to be more concerned with defending our security than attacking it. The whole orchestrated campaign—much of it ill-considered and most of it ill-informed—bore all the hallmarks of minds conditioned by years of subtle and powerful disinformation and "active measures".
The second and most important reason, which many of those who attacked the Government and the security services seemed to ignore, is that the informa- 80 tion which the Russians obtained from Cyprus is not low-level, bread-and-butter, intelligence. This is not a question of the number of tanks in an armoured division or the number of warheads in a missile. This is information which goes to the very heart of the safety and security of the western world. It affects the ability of an enemy at some time in the future to calculate when a surprise move of some kind—military, diplomatic, terrorist or subversive—might be able to shift the balance of power substantially and irreversibly against the western world. It might be as well for some still small voice to go on repeating that fact in the uproar about the way in which the matter was investigated.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, the noble Lord told us that the conclusions to be drawn from what he has been saying about the Cyprus affair are obvious. Will he tell the House whether he is advocating the abolition of the jury system or the execution of these particular jurors, and, if not, what his practical recommendation would be?
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, I have no practical recommendation and nor did I suggest one. I merely said that if we are told that there were grave breaches of security in Cyprus and if they were not committed by those who were acquitted when accused, then by whom were they committed? Is anyone else under suspicion or investigation? I merely said that when we have the answers to those questions we can draw certain conclusions. I make no recommendations. Frankly, for the noble Lord to suggest that in asking those questions I am mounting an attack on the jury system is to go way over the top, and I hope that, on reflection, he will realise that.
In conclusion, I return to the more general issue. I repeat that we are the target of a ruthless and effective campaign of psychological warfare. Our enemies have already begun to succeed to an extent which the great majority of people in this country have so far failed to realise. I do not suggest that the record of the KGB is one of unbroken success; nor do I suggest for one moment that our intelligence and security services have not had their own successes. However, I do suggest that we do not have in this country, nor do we have in many other western countries, adequate machinery to contain and defeat this threat.
Last year President Reagan initiated in the United States a programme of improvements in the counterintelligence and security organisations of the United States to defend that country against Soviet intelligence and active measures. He suggested at the time that other democratic countries might like to follow suit but so far there seems to be no great urgency to do so. I should therefore like to put a specific proposal to Her Majesty's Government. It is that in addition to our existing intelligence, counterintelligence and security services there should be set up in this country a special agency specifically charged with our own psychological warfare programme and our own defences against the psychological warfare of our potential enemies. It would of course have to be in constant liaison with the existing intelligence and security services but its main function would be to ensure that the Soviet Union would have to work far 81 harder for its successes than it apparently needs to do at the moment. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will take this proposal seriously and not just as an odd idea thrown up in the course of the debate.
I am fully aware, and have been for many years, of the dangers of appearing to be a prophet of apocalyptic doom. I cannot, however, resist the observation that anyone surveying the contemporary scene might be forgiven for believing that the values of freedon and democracy are beginning to disintegrate. The appalling increase in political and criminal violence at home and the widespread contempt for law, order and authority are already cause for widespread and grave concern. To that we now have to add the sombre realisation that the forces of oppression and totalitarianism are beginning to win significant victories; not only in South-East Asia, Afghanistan and the Middle East, but also on the American continent and closer to home in Europe, and here in the United Kingdom. They are doing so against societies which appear, to me at any rate, to be corroded by apathy, cynicism and a high degree of political expediency. I believe that it is time for those of us who live in a free society, for the present at any rate, to go over to the attack.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Lord Beloff
My Lords, in joining in the congratulations to the right reverend Prelate and expressing the hope that he will address us again I have something specific in mind. It was I think unexpected for many noble Lords that after he spoke on the importance and efficacy of overseas aid he should have given, as his example, South Korea. Perhaps if I were a better student of Crockfords I might have guessed.
But the point I make is this: will the right reverend Prelate on some future occasion when we are discussing this grave and important issue of overseas aid tell us whether he thinks that it was the aid which made it possible for Korea to become no longer a developing country but one of the major industrial countries in the world, or was it something about the Koreans which other countries which have also received massive aid do not themselves possess? In other words, is this an exception to the general rule that prosperity and progress are the result of efforts of individual people and that foreign aid can do no more than occasionally remove an obstacle in their way?
I would also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Forres, but since he spoke he has apparently returned to the antipodes: no doubt his flocks demand attention. If he returns among us it will be useful to hear again how this European question is looked at, as it should be from time to time, from the other end of the world.
I spend a good deal of time as a professional historian trying to explain some of the weaknesses and failings of this country over the period of my lifetime, and gradually I have come to the conclusion that the party complexion of governments—which, of course, as politicians, we are concerned about, whether Conservative or Labour, and I was born under the last Liberal Government—matters less than the more durable institutions, notably the public service. I oscillate in thinking sometimes how much better we 82 would have done without the Treasury and at other times how much better we would have done without the Foreign Office. I vary. But when I find the Treasury and the Foreign Office on the same side, I begin to smell a rat.
I have in mind something which was the subject of a long and very informative article in the current issue of The Economist newpaper, dated 1st November, entitled "British Cultural Diplomacy". The Foreign Office and the Treasury appear to have played into each other's hands, not only over recent years but over recent decades, by downgrading the importance of the projection overseas of Britain and British culture, British learning and British education. The Foreign Office prefers diplomacy and the Treasury thinks it can save money, but among all our competitors-—for example, the United States, Japan, France or Germany—we seem to be the odd man out. We seem to attach less importance to the teaching overseas of our language, less importance to the attraction of students to our universities, and less importance to the commerce of ideas, which themselves, though the Treasury will never admit it, are ultimately productive of material as well as spiritual benefit.
The fact that once again no reference appears in the gracious Speech to the matter of cultural diplomacy, to use the phrase of The Economist (though I might think of a better one), and to the importance of projecting our ideas—I would not dissent from the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in believing that these basic ideas of our society are too little propagated at home and abroad—is to me a matter of regret. I am aware that the Government are chary about the matter of public expenditure, and therefore it seems to me that they ought to use the windfall of £6½million which we would save on our subscription to UNESCO in order to give more money to the British Council, more particularly, in the light of economic considerations among others, to increase the flow of persons coming to study in this country.
A good deal has been said about UNESCO by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and by my noble friend Lord Bauer, but I think that neither of them really put it in what seems to me to be the important context, which is how far it is in fact carrying out the basic functions which its founders intended for it. I would not disagree with either the description of the politics of it, as given by the noble Lord, Lord Bauer, or the administrative and personnel failings, upon which the noble Lord, Lord Annan, dwelt with his usual sharpness of comment; but what strikes me as important is that of all the family of the United Nations it is the only institution which does not seem to recognise that it was given a particular assignment, and it dabbles in other people's affairs.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation deals with some of the basic problems of our natural environment. It has done and is doing very important work. The World Health Organisation has had its weaknesses, no doubt, but it has helped to eradicate some major diseases and there are large areas of the surface of the globe which are healthier in consequence of its work. Education and science—the interchange of ideas, the preservation of the heritage of past civilisations, and the furthering of knowledge—were the objectives entrusted to UNESCO. They are not the 83 objectives which it has been seeking. On the contrary, it has overlapped its interests. I think it is now discussing football violence and the Iraq-Iran war, neither of which seems to me to be very directly concerned with scientific interchange. Moreover, it has neglected to tackle some of the major obstacles to scientific interchange—in particular, those difficulties, which any who have had dealings with the Soviet Union will know, about the freedom of access of their scholars to this country and of our scholars to theirs. One might think that that is an area on which an international organisation devoted to international science and international learning might have spent a little more time. Therefore, it seems to me that even if some minor administrative reforms are forthcoming this will still not be a justification for the United Kingdom Government going back on their notice.
I have received a document from the Keep Britain in UNESCO campaign, sponsored by the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, and other "eminences", so I am aware that not everyone takes the same view. They point to the fact that a report of a committee in the other place recommended that, provided there were certain reforms, which they specified, the notice should be withdrawn. I hope I shall not create a constitutional crisis when I say that this report does little credit to the other place and its committees. I have rarely seen so superficial an inquiry into so important a topic. No witnesses who were critical of UNESCO were called; the witnesses were exclusively either officials defending their own position (and in spite of what the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, said, we have been represented on the executive board by former civil servants and not by academics) or those whose general attitude was likely to be favourable.
It is true that there were representations from the Royal Society and from certain other professional bodies, but the interesting point is that, if one reads with care the evidence of those bodies, what it leads to is not the conclusion at which the committee arrived. It is clear from what they say that important and irreplaceable work on an international scale and size—particularly, for instance, in relation to oceanography and in relation to world geological features—is done by associations of scientists of the relevant competence, and that, at best, UNESCO is merely a somewhat clumsy way of funding the work of these bodies. There is no reason, therefore, to believe that our withdrawal from UNESCO would in any way hamper the pursuit of its legitimate objectives and that, on the contrary, because the bodies that run these affairs would not have to take into account, as a United Nations body has to do, the even representation of countries irrespective of their expertise, it might be done a great deal better.
At this late hour I would not wish to detain your Lordships further. I believe that the case has been made by speakers before me. I should, however, like to come back to where I began. It is vitally important that the British Government should appreciate that there is a strong feeling abroad that Britain, somehow or other—this links with what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, said—has got tired of itself, tired of its virtues and tired of its institutions. Otherwise, why, unlike the French, the Germans and the Japanese, do 84 we feel that making them known to the world is not an object worth spending money on?
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, in congratulating the two maiden speakers this afternoon, the noble Lord, Lord Forres, and the right reverend Prelate, I would like to make a particular plea that the right reverend Prelate speaks here often. We very much need the voices of compassion so far as overseas aid and our links with the third world are concerned. It is that theme on which I want to concentrate.
Before doing so, may I just say that my noble friend Lord Cledwyn has made it easy for me to pass briefly over the subject of South Africa on which I have spoken here so many times. I would simply say in answer to the noble Marquess who attacked the conclusions, if not the analysis, of my noble friend—the conclusions particularly regarding sanctions—that I would have thought that it was an established principle of Western democracy, and particularly of British democracy throughout its evolution, that where individuals are prevented from achieving constitutional reform they are entitled to violent revolution. So long as you cut off the channels of constitutional reform, surely you are inviting violent revolution.
Secondly, I would say to him that in his quoting of international law—it was a selective quoting—he appears to have ignored totally the fact that the South African regime is occupying Namibia against international law and has been invading and bombing her neighbours in Angola, in Botswana, in Lesotho and in Mozambique totally against international law.
However, I really want to concentrate on that part of the gracious Speech with which the right reverend Prelate dealt. I refer to the sentence:They will maintain"—that is, the Government will maintain—a substantial aid programme".In her opening speech the noble Baroness, Lady Young, referred to the Government believing in the vital role of aid and went on to suggest that the Government were going to maintain a substantial aid programme. The phrases, "A substantial aid programme" and "The vital role of aid" surely require some examination. If we take as a fair comparison the countries of the OECD and those members of the development association committee, total aid from those countries in 1984 increased in real terms by 6 per cent. The aid of the United Kingdom fell by 3 per cent. The contribution of the United Kingdom had come down in 1984 to a figure of 0.33 per cent. of our gross national product. In contrast, the OECD and the United Nations target is 0.7 per cent. to which we are supposed to subscribe. The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and France have all exceeded 0.7 per cent. How can they do it and not us?
Is this commensurate with the boasting that the Government have done about their generous aid programme and their generous assistance to Africa, assistance that has not added one penny to the aid budget over the past year, as the noble Baroness herself has had to admit in questioning? During the same time, that same year of 1984, when British aid was 85 reduced by 3 per cent., there were large increases in overseas aid from what countries? Not just the wealthiest countries, but Italy, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, and, perhaps most significant of all, Japan. How is it that British aid is falling at the same time as the aid of other countries, also suffering from world depression, according to the Government's own description, are able to increase their aid and increase it substantially? Why this contrast? I would suggest that it fits in very readily with what the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, have been saying. We seem, so far as the Government are concerned, to have forgotten our role and not to care about our role in the world.
This Government have shown that they are a grudging donor—and a grudging donor just at the time when this grudging attitude is so much in contrast to the wave of compassion and generosity shown by the British people. This Government are out of step with the feelings of the British people. Britain is one of only three countries to have reduced aid in real terms over the past six years since this Government came to office. From 1978–79 to 1983–84, only three countries reduced their aid. The other two reduced their aid by no more than 0.3 per cent. and 0.6 per cent. British aid went down, on average, 6 per cent. per annum. And as our gross national product was also falling and has only just reached the point at which this Government took it over in 1979, so the monetary effect of this has been so much greater.
§ Lord Bauer
My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Hatch, leaves this subject may I ask him this question. Does he equate giving more with doing better, regardless of the political and economic effects of aid?
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, if the noble Lord will wait for the rest of my speech I think he will see that I meet this point. But in any case what I am doing at the moment is contrasting the Government's pretentions of generosity in aid with the actuality of their constant reduction in aid.
I realise—and I should like this to be debated much more often and widely in this House—that there is a necessity for discussing the form that aid takes. There is a necessity for discussing the institutions in this country which control and organise overseas aid. But there seems to be a general attitude on the part of this Government, rather like that which we have seen today towards the black population of South Africa, that we in Britain, we in the British Government or we in 10 Downing Street know better than they do what they need.
I refer just to two institutions. The first is the aid trade provision which was introduced in 1977, which it is now suggested may go to the Department of Trade and Industry rather than to the Overseas Development Administration. I see a case for transferring the organisation of the aid and trade provision to the Department of Trade and Industry, but if it goes surely we must insist that that is not at the expense of a reduction in the aid budget. The other institution is the export credit guarantee department, which also has a part to play both in aid and in trade. It seems from its operations as though the Treasury was constantly in charge and that the Government were much more 86 concerned with the cash flow of the public service borrowing requirement rather than the long-term trading strategy for which this institution is designed.
I much prefer to quote from non-socialist sources—even from anti-socialist sources—than from socialists sources; they are so much more effective for our case. I should like to make one or two quotations from a document recently sent to me, not by any socialist or left-wing organisation but by a business group, the Export Group for Construction Industries. The first quotation comes from a comparison between the attitude of the British and the attitude of the French in the use of their aid budget. The quotation is simple:The English came and could not offer help to build a hospital, whereas the French came with a loan and a designer and a contractor all tied together".From my experience, particularly of the past year, that seems to sum up the contrast in attitude towards British and French aid and indeed between aid from other competitors of this country.
I want to link the sentence that I quoted from the gracious Speech to another sentence on the following page of the gracious Speech, because this is the nub of my argument and of my question to the Government. On the second page, the gracious Speech states:my Government will do all in their power to encourage the growth of new jobs".I suggest that there is a direct relationship between the degree of overseas aid provided by a Government and employment in this country. I want to ask this question of the noble Lord who is to reply. I have asked the noble Baroness, Lady Young. I have publicly examined the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the ex-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and I still have no answer. Do this Government regard overseas trade as charity or investment?
I should like a straight answer to that question in this context. I shall not weary your Lordships with quotations that I have given before of instances where aid and trade have been seen as directly related to the industry of this country and places like Bathgate. and the figures given by the Ministry of Overseas Development. What I can say, on the authority of the group that I quoted before, is that the British construction industry estimates that if it achieved only the same degree of overseas performance as the French construction industry this would add between 50 per cent. and 80 per cent. to the number of jobs it could offer in this country; and that does not include the suppliers of plant or the process of plant contractors or the various spin-offs.
The industry says in its report:Not only is the United Kingdom mean in the amount of benefit which it provides to developing countries with its aid but it fails to get adequate benefit to its own industries and services from the aid which it does give. This handicaps British industry and the economy grows more slowly, so that the ability to give aid is reduced yet again".That is the case I have been putting to the Government for six years, and I have not had an answer. Do the Government accept—as so many of their organs have accepted, and have accepted publicly—that overseas aid can assist overseas trade and thus can assist British industry, the British economy, and British employment?
87 The Labour Party is pledged to the restoration of the separate ministry of overseas development, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Oram to the noble Baroness during questioning just before prorogation. That ministry of overseas development would be a co-ordinating body within the Government through Government committees, with other departments dealing with overseas trade, such as the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury, and other such ministries. We believe that there is a mutual interest here. There is an enlightened self-interest. The developing world and the peoples who are now suffering under poverty are important to us, but so too are British employment and the British workers in this country. The link is clearly there and has been stated time without number by our own industrialists in this country.
So long as we have nation states, foreign policy must be designed to further the interests of the citizens of those countries. The Labour Party suggests that the interests of the people of this country are served by immediate increasing employment here and by the longer-term character of the world in which our children and grandchildren will live, by the effort to undermine the poverty of the world and to increase the employment of our own people in this country. I ask the Government to give me a specific answer to that case in their winding-up speech.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Lord Thomas of Swynnerton
My Lords, after congratulating, like other noble Lords, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester and the noble Lord, Lord Forres, on their eloquent maiden speeches, my first task is to establish beyond a peradventure that I am not the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn. The mere fact that I speak from these Benches, should not necessarily presume that that is the case, as of course we on this side of the House are always optimistic and we do not think it wholly unlikely that noble Lords from the Liberal Benches might cross over to this side, even in the middle of a debate on the Queen's Speech.
However, the chief way in which I can establish my independence is to say that I wholeheartedly agree with the remarks, put in the form of questions by my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, on the matter of the strategic defence initiative. I do not wish to spend much time on this matter, but I find it very difficult to understand how rational people in this country and abroad cannot see the breathtaking qualities of President Reagan's support for a defence policy which really switches the idea of defence towards defence in relation to a first or second strike of overwhelming dimensions. The lack of imagination shown by many, including many friends of mine, on this subject is a matter of constant wonderment to me.
However, the first substantial point that I want to make is to congratulate the Government and their partners on the successful negotiation which will result in the entry of Spain and Portugal into the European Community in January of next year. Her Majesty's Government might have succumbed—and I am very glad that they did not—to the persuasive and often quite rational arguments of those, including many friends of Europe, who thought that enlargement 88 would automatically slow or damage the process of European integration and therefore damage Europe itself. The Government did not succumb to that narrow point of view.
Now with, as I understand it, the likely confirmation of Spain's membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the process of integration of this nation, for so long outside the circle of European powers in this century and most of the last, should be complete. This represents a diplomatic revolution for Spain, and it certainly represents more than just a simple negotiation for ourselves. I believe that a few words of congratulation should also be directed at the Socialist Government of Spain which, given the long history of isolation and the long series of political problems which have affected Spain this century, might so easily have chosen the path of splendid or insipid isolation.
I also want to make one reference to the often forgotten fact that the entry of Spain into the Community at long last regularises the standing of the large number of Spanish workers who, in this country and in many countries of Western Europe, have done much of the dirty work of our sub-continent over the past generation. That is a highly satisfactory outcome and the Government certainly deserve to be warmly congratulated on it.
In the future we should be able to look forward to a great deal of collaboration with Spain. After all, our historic pasts are not quite dissimilar. Spain and Britain were among the first three nation states.
Like Portugal, we have both created vast cultural heritages abroad, beyond the seas, so that whatever happens to us we can be certain that our culture, customs, laws, religions, literatures and, above all, our languages will survive. The prospects are good for collaboration in the future. It is particularly good to see the recent statements and to have heard the speech of my noble friend the Minister of State about the forthcoming ministerial discussions on the one subject which could perhaps jeopardise collaboration between us in the future, which of course is Gibraltar. Naturally this House and another place will scrutinise with great care the recommendations which may arise from those ministerial meetings. They will wish to be certain that the noble Baroness fulfils her obligation to ensure a secure future for the Gibraltarians.
We should also be determined to ensure that, whatever is decided about this thorny matter, as it has been in the past, we all realise the continuing strategic importance—not only for ourselves but for our new Spanish allies, as I hope they will be confirmed to be, and for the West itself—of the Rock, with the same spirit of realism which characterised those negotiators in 1713 who achieved the Treaty of Utrecht which served this country so well for 250 years.
Spanish and Portuguese entry into the Community is a splendid and probably unrepeatable opportunity for all of us to think very carefully, deeply and openly about what exactly we want to emerge from our association with our European partners, not over the next three or four years or until the next election-but-one, but throughout the next generation. Perhaps the discussion to which we can look forward on what my noble friend the Minister has described as a treaty on European foreign policy will provide the occasion for that.
89 I find the notion of a treaty on European policy a little perplexing. After all, we have the main lines of our foreign policy already determined by a number of instruments. We have the United Nations Charter; we have the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Alliance. Therefore, our relations towards the Soviet Union are presumably already determined by our association with our North Atlantic Treaty partners. Of course, we all have other interests. We have interests in the South Atlantic. France has interests in Chad and other places throughout what used to be and still is French-speaking Africa. West Germany has interests in East Germany and throughout Eastern Europe
Therefore, what actually will be the purpose of the proposed treaty on European foreign policy? Surely it is not to be expected that this will be a treaty which will draw us into making declarations about areas of the world in which we do not have the power to affect the course of events.
In my concluding remarks I want to reflect about the kind of Europe which Spain and Portugal are now about to join on a permanent, integrated basis. I do not think that we have done as badly as my noble friend Lord Chalfont implied in his eloquent and interesting speech in resisting the blandishments of the Soviet Union which, over the past generation or so, has tried to drive a wedge between us Europeans and the Americans. We have also surely resisted a venomous campaign of terrorism in most of our countries with remarkable equanimity and courage; a campaign of terrorism which I am sure that the late President of Italy, President Pertini, was quite right in suggesting probably had much of its inspiration east of the Iron Curtain.
It may be thought that these suggestions that we can take pride in our resistance to Soviet policies over the past generation or so is a matter of history for, after all, these were policies associated with the age of Brezhnev, Andropov, or their predecessors, and the age of Gorbachev is a different matter. I am afraid though that no such optimism can really be sustained.
Let us look, for example, at the recent draft declaration of the communist party of the Soviet Union, which I have with me. That was published on 25th October; but for reasons which I cannot understand little attention was paid to it in the national press. Had the press been the main organ of information in our society, as it was in the past in the 19th century, it would certainly have been published in full. Here we have a draft programme of the communist party of the Soviet Union, the first since 1961, which makes it plain that all the underlying purposes and drives of Soviet policy in the international sphere are likely to be exactly the same in the age of Gorbachev as they were in the age of Brezhnev, Andropov, and their predecessors.
That is to say, we must continue to expect what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, described as squalid propaganda emanating from the Soviet Union; we must continue to expect assistance to terrorism, which as a matter of fact has happened even so far as Ireland is concerned almost continuously since the 1920s; we must continue to expect propaganda campaigns designed to divide us from the United States; and we must continue to expect the diplomacy of 90 intimidation, which is perhaps the first purpose, short of war, of the massive Soviet military build-up which has been the main military event of the last generation.
In these circumstances it is surely difficult to imagine that we can expect soon any form of real disarmament, or arms control agreement, which would substantially reduce the amount of arms spending and substantially lower the risks of the consequences of what a nuclear war would be So far as the possibilities of agreement are concerned. I must confess that I am an unrepentant Shinwellite in the sense that I do not think that very much has changed since 1917 in the character of the Soviet Union.
Furthermore, if there are any possibilities I must say—without wishing in any way to seem despondent or pessimistic just before a meeting to which the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, devoted a great deal of attention in his most interesting speech—that I cannot believe that an outcome of a really positive nature is likely to be expected from a summit meeting between a Secretary General of the communist party of the Soviet Union and the President of the United States.
We have had a lot of experience by this time of summit meetings (at least 10 since the war) and all the time we have had the same history of expectation followed by disillusion and accusation. The only ones which led to anything substantial being achieved were those under the auspices of President Nixon, whose name is that of the one President of the United States whom all liberal persons wish to forget as quickly as possible.
No, I am sure that if there are things to be achieved in this field they will be achieved by officials, diplomats, bantams—as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, put it in a slightly different connection—and not at the summit, and probably not by the shores of Lake Geneva, a lake which in history is associated with the most destructive political philosopher of all time, Rousseau, and the most virulent and intolerant, and also intolerable, religious fanatic, Calvin.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Lord Burton
My Lords, I, too, must hasten to add my sincere congratulations to the two maiden speakers. I should like to say something about Africa. It is a continent of which I have many happy memories. Much of it is lovely country. So far, fortunately, much of the population is not yet fully corrupted by our civilisation, but I think it is not unfair to say that many of the inhabitants of the African continent have been so ruined.
The fine Zulu race, led by Chaka, has sadly deteriorated, and many are now addicted to drugs as the weed grows prolificacy in Africa; and for all the efforts of the authorities it is impossible to stamp out this terrible habit. The Zulu also brews his own "hooch" from maize, and to give it a bit of a kick some battery acid is often added, although I know it seems unbelievable.
My wife was born in South Africa and spent much of her early childhood in Natal. She always liked animals and she wished to converse with the inhabitants looking after them, so she learned Zulu, which she speaks fluently. Therefore, now when we go out there is no difficulty as I have a good interpreter.
91 It is sad to say that this drunkenness to which I referred is not unusual. The farmers say that it is extremely difficult to run a dairy farm because you never know who will be available to milk the cows, particularly on a Sunday or Monday morning, as so many of the employees are liable to be drunk, particularly at the weekend.
In many ways Africa has now become a sad continent, with dictators, military regimes, starvation, and tribal differences. Where in Africa is there a free vote except possibly Botswana, and in South Africa (where, of course, only part of the population are allowed to vote)?
This brings me to the problem of South Africa. I do not know the answer. I do not imagine that anyone in this Chamber does if they are really realistic. Those who live in this part of the world have seen what has happened in other African countries. Most of the whites who have not already left Zimbabwe would now like to leave, but, of course, they cannot take any money out with them if they wish to do so. Others have had to abandon farms which they have built up, maybe through generations.
Having known Kenya in 1948 I find it sad to return there now to find what used to be beautiful farms now derelict. The last time I was there, there was even a shortage of dairy products in Nairobi. Electricity cuts were commonplace. The rhino, of course, has been poached almost to extinction. Uganda, another fine country, is now subjected to armed strife. Tanzania has been under a Left-wing dictatorship. Enough said.
Nigeria has constantly changed regimes, as have so many other West African countries. Incidentally, I do not know why we do not ban Nigeria from the Commonwealth Games. Apart from the socialist Edinburgh District Council, who might welcome these people, most of Scotland would be delighted to see them rejected so long as they treat our aircraft engineers in the manner they have done, using them as political pawns.
Mozambique is divided by civil strife, as is Angola, whose Government is kept in power merely by the Cubans. Then, in the Horn of Africa, the Cubans, again, and the Russians, are keeping the Marxist regime in power—a regime which prefers to buy weapons than to feed its population.
Is it fair to ask those who live in beautiful South Africa, who have built up a country that is now the most prosperous in Africa, with the African population more affluent than anywhere else, to throw away everything? Furthermore, is it right for us to do so when this is such a strategic part of the world and the inevitable result will be to change the area to one under Russian influence? Also, why do we have so little protest about Cubans occupying large expanses of Africa?
The attempt to settle the problem of South Africa by setting up homelands appears to have failed. This is a pity because presumably it would have provided the African with a vote in his own country. To provide everyone in South Africa with an equal vote would merely reduce the country to the shambles and strife which abounds in most of the rest of Africa. Most so-called emerging nations cannot survive without 92 outside aid. Many cannot even feed themselves, though this used to be practical under the old regimes. South Africa in the past has provided a lot of this aid. The black African countries taken as a whole do more trade with South Africa than with any other country except Germany and Japan. Why, therefore, should we stop trading with a country which has extensive trade with black Africa?
At this stage I should like to congratulate the Government on rejecting the proposals to impose total sanctions. After all, Chief Buthelezi, who has 1 million paid up party members and speaks for 5 million more, realises the dangers of such a policy. Why is the ANC with only 11,000 members so newsworthy? Am I not right in thinking that these current troubles, which started in Lange, arose following the closure of the Ford works in Port Elizabeth which inevitably threw many people out of work? It is only the strident voices of the Left—who presumably would like to see a Left-Wing régime in South Africa—who cry for a policy which would most certainly cause disaster.
Our media as a whole do not tell us what has been happening in South Africa in recent years. I can remember some years ago entering a small village post office which was quite empty except for the good lady behind the counter. I was greeted by a stream of invective in Afrikaans. Not knowing what she was saying and rather surprised I eventually discovered that I had entered by the "blacks only" entrance. That has all been changed for some time and now all queue together in the post offices. Most hotels are now open to all races. Sex and marriage between races is now legal and shortly the hated pass laws are to be abolished. Soon also it will be illegal to reserve jobs for whites only and there is to be a common citizenship.
The noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, whom I am sorry to see has left his place, asked my noble friend Lord Salisbury what was the rate of enrolment for South African children in the schools. I do not know whether he knows, but the current rate is extremely poor because no children are allowed to go to school by the ANC. Any child who does to school, or tries to go to school, is intimidated, so the South African schools are empty thanks to the ANC. Prior to this the enrolment in South African schools was 99 per cent. I do not know what are the percentages in any other African country, but I would imagine that that must be far in excess of any other African country.
The South African Government has been criticised for gagging the foreign press. It seems to me that the mistake which they made was in failing to do so some two or three months ago. Some of your Lordships may have seen Mrs. Mandela on our television sets a few nights ago, furious at the actions of President Botha in this respect.The foreign press has been our voice",she said. Is there anything wrong in gagging the voices of a lot of terrorists? Her husband could have been out of jail now had he renounced violence. Our own Government was quite rightly unhappy about the BBC film on that violent man Martin McGuinness, who was portrayed as a nice comfortable family man playing with his children on the sands of the seashore. Why should the BBC be the voice of the IRA or the ANC?
93 What is apartheid? It has become a dirty word in this country and I think many people do not really understand it. In the early days of Dutch settlement laws were passed to prevent the Dutch from breeding with the few natives living in the area, as it was felt that this cross was very bad breeding. I think it probably was. The word meant "separation" and though not enforced by law one finds the various ethnic minorities, even in London, forming their own communities and living separate from one another. These laws in South Africa gradually built up. Many people seem to think that apartheid means one man, one vote. This seems to me to be a totally different matter. Anyway, Mr. Botha has steadily worked for a reduction in these South African laws. There is a grave danger in proceeding too fast. It will not go unnoticed that in the recent by-elections there has already been a Right-wing backlash.
This week we have had two South Africans staying with us. One of them is a chartered accountant and he told me that they have a black African working with them in their office. He holds much the same qualifications as our friend. He is treated in the same way and is paid the same amount of money as others in the office. But this African cannot accept a lift home from any of the other people in the office for fear that when he gets back he will be attacked by his own people as a collaborator. Intimidation is rife. Kneecapping or a bullet in the head is possible in Northern Ireland, but in South Africa those who do not comply with the ANC and the terrorists are more likely to be burnt alive. Why should our Government talk to such people, as was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow?
The media never stop telling us that 800 people have been killed in the troubles in the last 20 months, but how many of these were blacks killed by blacks to intimidate others? What would the outlook be for South Africa if these terrorists were to come to power? Is it not extraordinary that some months ago 2,000 people were killed in Kenya in 24 hours and there was hardly a mention of this in our press. One of my sons was in Nairobi at the time and when he got home he asked why there was all the fuss about the killing of 150 people in Beirut when over 2,000 had died in one night in Kenya without a murmur from the media? I asked him how he knew that 2,000 had been killed. He told me for one thing that the mortuary in Nairobi had been closed early in the uprising because there were already 500 bodies in it and it was full. Lorries full of bodies could be seen being driven out into the bush. When my son ventured to look out the next morning he counted 25 bodies in the street. Some little time after that a doctor who worked in the hospital confirmed what my son had told me. Now the media blame South Africa for 800 deaths when in fact the ANC are responsible for many of them.
Will we never learn? Mozambique was seized by only 10,000 Frelimo and is now in a state of chaos and turmoil. There is an outcry because a comparatively small part of South Africa is put under a state of emergency, but what do we hear about Zimbabwe being in this state? The have been like this since about 1960, for many years, entirely to allow Mr. Mugabe to silence his political opponents. The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, has left the Chamber, but I asked 94 him whether he considered it to be racial to have tribe against tribe, because in Zimbabwe it is entirely a matter of Shona against Matebele.
I was interested to hear my noble friend Lord Salisbury confirm that part of the blame for the troubles in South Africa must lie at the hands of the churches. I have a little booklet which gave the life history of the terrorists at the end of the Rhodesian regime. Almost without exception they had been mission boys, trained by the different churches. I recently secured a coloured photograph which showed a bevy of clergy in South Africa marching under the hammer and sickle. I suppose it is possible that this photograph was faked or misleading, but I think this would have been difficult. It seems incongruous that Christian ministers should have been marching under the flag of a country which suppresses and denies their religion.
I have always understood that it was not British policy to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Why therefore do we interfere with South Africa? Having heard my noble friend Lord Salisbury I am sure that there is no one in this Chamber who can give a satisfactory solution to the problems of South Africa. It seems an insoluble problem. But I hope that even against all the odds, as happend on sanctions, the Government will stand firm and that we may have some more honest reporting from the media.
§ 8.10 p.m.
My Lords, I wish to take as my text the passages in the gracious Speech referring to Arab-Israel, Lebanon and aid, with particular reference to the Middle East. As many of your Lordships know, it has been customary over the years to include in the gracious Speech an undertaking to work for the restoration of peace in the Middle East. Re-reading these undertakings, I see in my mind's eye a pretty little girl going to an annual party. Each year she puts on a different party frock; each year she makes a pretty little speech. Basically, what she says is the same, year after year. But how necessary it is that this little girl should make her pretty little speech! How easily the words trip off her lips, but how desperately difficult it is, year after year, to translate those words into reality!
How should Her Majesty's Government attempt to achieve this? In my view their prescription is basically right. In other words, it is "the mixture as before". By this I mean that we should support the worthwhile initiatives for peace, particularly those of King Hussein and Shimon Peres, which have been referred to by various speakers. We should try to develop a meaningful dialogue with moderate elements in the Arab world. Then we should work to support the legitimate aims of the Palestinians. Above all, we should oppose, in the strongest possible terms, violence and terrorism wherever they occur.
My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt, but is the noble Viscount referring to Her Majesty the Queen as a pretty little girl changing her dress every year? Is that what I gather? I hope not, but that is what he referred to in his speech.
No, my Lords, indeed not—nothing of the kind. I was merely using that as an example; an image which crossed my mind.
Returning, if I may, to the party, the first game in which this little girl has to take part is one of snakes and ladders. Is that not particularly appropriate to the situation in the Middle East? Have we not had a series of games of snakes and ladders? In the past summer, for example, we have enjoyed a succession of ladders, which has meant that we have been gradually working towards the top of the board; many of our initiatives have been positive and helpful. Then there came a series of snakes—and very unfortunate they were! First, there was the murder of the three Israelis in Cyprus, followed by the "Achille Lauro" hijacking and the bombing of the PLO headquarters in Tunis. Then there was the rejection of the PLO group which came to London.
All that has perhaps put us back towards the bottom of the board. However, I can assure your Lordships that the overall situation is not all that black. There are many peaceful initiatives in the Middle East. Some of these have already been mentioned. Perhaps I may refer to a few others. There is of course the rapprochement between Syria and Jordan and the invitation of Shimon Peres to King Hussein to take part in talks. Then there are the talks now taking place between King Hussein and Arafat.
In Lebanon, there are the talks taking place in Damascus: the meeting between the three militias—the Christians, the Druze and the Shia'a Amal. That is very important, too. Unfortunately, these talks appear to be breaking down, as so many initiatives have foundered. The problem seems to be that the militias are not fully representative of all the many factions in Lebanon. For example, the Sunni Moslems are not represented, nor are the extremist Shia'as. However, there is one important point to make, and that is that the new leader of the Christian Phalange, Eli Hobeika, is a man of moderation and, I think, an apostle for peace.
A much greater apostle for peace is, of course, King Hussein himself. I should add my words of praise and support to those of other speakers. I think it is worth saying that King Hussein is opposed to partial solutions. He believes that there should be an international conference to settle the problems in the Middle East. He believes in the involvement of the PLO. Although he is anxious for talks with Israel, he has not so far agreed to face-to-face conversations with Shimon Peres. The tremendously important point is that, apart from these government attitudes, there is a growing crescendo of longing for peace throughout the Arab world and also in Israel, where it seems that the people are ahead of the government in this respect. This is also true of the Palestinians and the Lebanese.
All these developments seem to augur well for peace. However, I fear that there is a darker side. First, there is the ability of certain PLO groups—and I say particularly "certain PLO groups", not the PLO as a whole—to cause mayhem. This remains unrestrained.
I think that here it is important to give some kind of analysis of the PLO and its standing. The noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, has spoken with great force about the evil activities of the PLO. I am sure he has done his 96 homework. However, with great respect, I have also done mine. When I last spoke about the PLO, some two years ago, I identified eight different groups. It is impossible to say how many groups there are now. Many of them are no more than tiny little groups, headed by one or two men with charismatic powers of leadership. They appear and they disappear. However, it is important to note that the original group in the PLO, El Fatah, which has been consistently loyal to Arafat and, indeed, provides most of the members of the PLO Executive, has remained largely intact. While it is by no means wholly moderate, it is not extremist.
But I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, that the PLO is in a serious state of disarray. It is disorganised, disunited, dispersed among 30 different countries; and it holds so many divergent views that I am tempted to quote the Latin tag which I learned as a child, quot homines, tot sententiae. As a result of this, many of the Arab countries, particularly Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to control the PLO. The Saudis particularly would like to see the Palestinian hound brought to heel, if not put on a lead.
So much for the Arabs. I must now, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, say that there are three areas of Israeli policy which in my view cause grave concern. First, there is the Israeli Government's paranoiac hatred of the PLO and their refusal to see them as other than terrorists committed to the destruction of Israel. How wrong they are! Then there is the apparent determination of the Israeli Government to hang on to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and their policy of gradual encroachment in that area. I dealt with that in some detail when speaking in the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Chelwood, on 22nd May, and I have nothing further to say on that.
The third and most disturbing of all, in the context of the peace initiatives, is surely the Israelis' consistent over-reaction to Palestinian provocation. The worst examples of this were the attack on South Lebanon in 1982 and the recent bombings of Tunis, but I fear that the Israelis have always tended to take a whole mouthful of teeth for one tooth and a whole faceful of eyes for an eye. I can well remember how in Lebanon in 1971, when I was serving there, week after week Israeli bombers would come over and bomb the Palestinian camps, generally on the slenderest of pretexts, and what great destruction they caused! Then, later, in June 1982, there was that monstrous massacre masterminded by Sharon in which 1,400 innocent Lebanese and Palestinians were killed. Recently, of course, there was the Tunis bombing which I think deserves a word of mention; I do not think it has been referred to in your Lordships' House.
As far as one knows, six bombers took part in this attack. They were carrying 2,000-lb bombs and the whole of the PLO building was demolished. Eighty bodies were extracted of which some 50 were recognised as Tunisians. One could perhaps argue that this attack, the killing of so many innocent persons, was a graver violation of human rights than the killing of one elderly American invalid on the "Achille Lauro." The sad aspect is that the Israelis will not learn. Time after time they have tried to annihilate the PLO or, at least, to destroy its military capacity. They have failed; and they have failed because they will not 97 realise that the PLO is like the hydra; it has many heads and, like the mythical hydra, if you cut off one head, another springs up, more terrifying, more menacing, than the last.
So, my Lords, I turn now from politics to the calmer waters of aid. Here I must say that I was delighted to see in the gracious Speech a reference to substantial aid. I have the greatest admiration for Her Majesty's Government's aid policy in the Middle East; but I would never call it substantial. It is good because it is well thought out and well targeted and because the people who implement these programmes are of the highest calibre.
Hitherto we have given less in aid than the Americans and probably less than the West Germans and certain other countries. But most people would agree, I think—and most of my Middle East friends would agree—that our effort has been more effective. So I hope very much that that word "substantial" will be translated into reality.
Here perhaps I might mention that, apart from the major recipient countries in the Middle East—and I am thinking of Sudan, Jordan and the Yemen Arab Republic which I visited recently—during the Recess I also visited the People's Democratic Republic of the Yemen, P.DRY as it is sometimes called. This, as your Lordships probably know, is a wholly communist country. It was a very interesting experience because whereas certain Arab countries—Syria for example, and Libya—have toyed with communism, the Peoples Democratic Republic of South Yemen is the only one which has a wholly communist régime. One sees there all the trappings of communism. One sees the Politburo, and a Central Committee; and there are the same restrictions on travel. For example, no Yemeni is allowed to go to the British Embassy without a special permit. If a South Yemeni gets permission to travel abroad he is bound to return his passport to the Ministry of the Interior. I made a journey into the Hadhramaut in the steps of Freya Stark. It was with the greatest difficulty that I managed to achieve this, even with my diplomatic background, and I was accompanied by the equivalent of an Intourist guide.
But the point I want to make is that the people there would like to break out of that communist mould; they would like closer relations with us. I gathered that time and again; and our aid programme, which is very limited of course, and is confined largely to sewage works—not a very salubrious subject—is widely appreciated. Also, I must mention in this context the very satisfactory EC scheme run by a British official of great ability. That is a scheme for controlling floods in one of the wadis.
I shall conclude, if I may, by paraphrasing a piece which appeared in this week's Observer. The situation in the Middle East, we all agree, is extremely delicate. It is rather like a group of people trying to build a house of cards. There are a number of players. There are the Arab states, of course, and I need not mention their names; there are also ourselves, the Americans, the West Germans and others. There are even the Russians, too; because they are coming into the act in view of recent talks of a rapprochement between Israel and the Soviet Union. All these players are holding back; they are terrified of placing a card for fear of causing the structure to collapse. May I express 98 the hope and the prayer that Her Majesty's Government, taking advantage of their undoubted experience, expertise and wisdom buoyed up by the support which they enjoy in many Arab countries, and aided perhaps by a substantial measure of good luck, may be able to place their card at the right time in the right place, in this infinitely fragile but infinitely important structure.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Lord Ardwick
My Lords, the noble Viscount will forgive me if I do not follow his eloquent speech into the problems of the Middle East. I want instead to bring back the discussion to the forthcoming Summit. I do not believe that any of us thought that President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev would conclude their Summit talks with a warm embrace to celebrate the prospect of a new age of détente and arms control. So the news that Mr. Shultz has found no promising openings in his preparatory talks in Moscow—apart from the possibility of doing a deal on intermediate weapons—has come as no surprise and no disappointment; although we may hope, as the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill of Harrow, has said, that this, the Summit, may be the beginning of something which could lead to less resources being devoted to armaments.
It is, however, difficult to discern what exactly is going on. Confusing messages and contradictory speeches are coming out of Washington. The prospective Summit, as several noble Lords have pointed out, has become a media event, a propaganda battle; and one must struggle to recall that both sides have made what seem to be serious proposals for strategic arms cuts, for a reduction in the nuclear arsenals But Summits, as we all know from long observation, do not succeed unless successful preparations have been made; and it is the apparent failure of these preparations, or their very, very limited success, that Mr. Shultz now seems to be signalling.
Soviet policy has always been enigmatic but we have learned over the years that there are always hardliners there behind the moderate front men ready to put policies in reverse if they are not making sufficient progress. In recent times we have found America, our great ally, showing publicly, however, a similar kind of ambivalence. If there is one thing on which the European allies are unanimous it is the need for a policy of deterrence accompanied by arms control and detente; for we in Europe can never forget that we inhabit the same continent as do the Russians and that they might be tempted one day, if there was no nuclear defence, to assure their security by moving further to the West.
Of course, we in Europe are determined to defend ourselves against Soviet expansionism, with its threat to our free and kindly societies living under the rule of law. Yet we could not quite share the American perspective as voiced by Mr. Shultz that—and I quote—The rivalry between East and West is grounded in fundamental moral differences about justice and freedom".We share the sentiment, it is true, but I do not think we would give it quite the priority he gave to it because it could so easily make our cause into a crusade that 99 could lead to a new wholly cold war—which could be dangerous.
There are good Americans—some of them in the Reagan Administration—who indeed believe that détente, as a concept, is immoral and dangerous. It is immoral because it implies a degree of tolerance of the Soviet system and it is dangerous because it could blind people to Soviet aspirations. Some of them are against arms control too, because this entails making an agreement with the Russians which we would keep and they would break. And so they see America protected from Soviet ideology by its great free economy and from Soviet threat by the products of its magnificent technological strength. It is a form of intellectual isolationism but not of geographical isolationism. It is consistent with the alliance; and this mood of dependence upon national strength seems to be widely shared in America today.
In October several noble Lords and I, including the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, spent a week or more in the United States at the North Atlantic Assembly: that is the quasi-parliament which studies and discusses the political, economic and military problems of NATO. As we arrived, the Americans carried out their brilliant coup of intercepting the Egyptian aircraft and causing the hi-jackers to be apprehended in Italy. It is, of course, impossible to withhold admiration and reluctant acceptance of the deed, although it was in breach of law and although it humiliated Mr. Mubarak, who is one of the most helpful people in the Middle East; and it also embarrassed an ally.
But what was amazing to those of us who experienced it was the prolonged euphoria which was evoked in the United States. We had not realised the depth of frustration caused to this most powerful of nations by its inability to bring to book the terrorists who had murdered its fighting men in Beirut and those who had held its citizens hostage. One would have thought from the celebrations that a major victory in battle had been achieved or that terrorism had been brought to an end. There was at first no sign of recognition that perhaps there might be a political price to pay for the coup.
We were gathered at that meeting in San Francisco perhaps because the Americans wanted to remind us that they are the guardians of another great ocean as well as the Atlantic, and I must say that Europe and the Middle East seemed very far away from the West Coast. While we were there, a disturbing drama was being played out which for a moment threatened to make nonsense of Geneva. I am anxious not to be, and not even to appear to be, anti-American. America is the only super-power friend that we have or ever can have. So I will simply quote from that respected paper the Boston Globe, from an editorial it published on the day that we were leaving. They said—and I quote now:A common-sense reading of the ABM treaty bars any pursuit of President Reagan's space-weapons programme known officially as the Strategic Defence Initiative, except for basic research. Because it rules out the development, testing and deployment of 'star wars' hardware, the treaty has been a target for administration hawks who are trying to parley accelerated research into unstoppable development. Conversely, strengthening the treaty is an urgent objective for those hoping for US-Soviet progress in the talks at Geneva".100 I continue to quote:Last week, Reagan's national security adviser, Robert McFarlane, announced an alarming unilateral interpretation of the ABM treaty, defining its restrictions so narrowly that 'star wars' could go forward at full blast".The paper says that an uproar ensued in the United States arms control community and also in London and Bonn. It goes on to say that the White House backtracked and, getting together with his advisers, President Reagan signed a directive saying that the United States would continue to respect the commonsense language of the treaty. Mr. Shultz came to us in San Francisco and delivered the message in a weighty, closely-reasoned exposition of United States foreign policy; and then he flew to Brussels to repeat it to the NATO Foreign Ministers.
In a subsequent debate in San Francisco the doubts and apprehensions felt by the allies about star wars were voiced, but the heat has been taken out of the debate by Mr. Shultz's address. Mr. McFarlane was to have spoken the following day but he was replaced by Ambassador Nitze, who followed the Shultz line closely. It is this kind of open difference even within the administration, coupled with the Soviet enigma, which makes it difficult to predict even how the Summit will be conducted, let alone how it will end.
How seriously is the administration committed to arms control? How deep are the differences on the subject within the administration? I came away on a faint note of hope. A veteran American democrat said to me that perhaps only a conservative such as Mr. Reagan could have the self-confidence to do a deal with the Soviets, just as it took the conservative de Gaulle to let go of Algiers.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
My Lords, we have had a very far-ranging debate, which has covered East-West and North-South. It has been most instructive, and I am struck by the fact that many references have been made to the importance of our United States ally. But I am also struck by the fact that there seem to be a large number of people who apparently doubt the wisdom of staying very close to that ally; and that is surprising.
I want to take my cue from one line in the gracious Speech, which reads:my Government will continue to seek more normal relations with Argentina".In August this year I visited Buenos Aires and I had talks with parliamentarians, journalists, businessmen, taxi drivers and a wide range of other people. I did not meet any members of the government, but perhaps that was to be expected. The contacts were useful, I think, and I came away with the firm impression that Argentina would like to have closer relations with us. Since then I have read much about the meetings that have been held by the leaders of political parties in another place. I believe those are very important, but this leads me to ask: where are Her Majesty's Government? Why are we allowing the leaders of opposition parties to make all the running? I therefore hope we can move forward faster.
The Foreign Minister of Argentina, Signor Dante Caputo, in a recent speech expressed sentiments and 101 aspirations which I felt were not very dissimilar to those expressed in the opening speech this afternoon by my noble friend Lady Young.
It is very important that in seeking the way forward we are exceedingly flexible. It is also important that we differentiate between discussions and negotiations, because these words have very different meanings to the people on the other side of the Atlantic. I have suggested to my friends in Argentina that perhaps it is unrealistic to demand negotiations so soon, because these inevitably raise expectations of an early, finite solution. I naturally hope that a solution may emerge in due course, but we must start at the beginning. Surely that means that we must have meetings at ministerial level in order to establish an atmosphere of mutual respect and confidence.
By the same token, Her Majesty's Government need to be flexible in their attitude to negotiations. It is frequently reiterated that sovereignty is not negotiable, but this is to confound history. In 1841, President Rosas offered the Foreign Secretary of that time, Lord Aberdeen, a clean title to the Falkland Islands in exchange for the cancellation of the current debt. That might be considered very impudent, but the fact is that there was no response whatsoever from Britain, which seems to me rather foolish. Like the noble Lord, Lord Annan, I wonder whether we are really learning from history, because surely the lesson and experience of history is that everything is negotiable. It is against this rather sombre background that I want to give a few indications of some encouraging signs that are emerging.
First, we have seen the unilateral lifting of trade embargoes by the United Kingdom, and I think that was excellent. It is a great pity that there was no reciprocation by Argentina, but this still may come. In the meantime, why do we not proceed to take more unilateral actions? For instance, it would be quite simple to remove the requirement for visas. Currently the United Kingdom does not have any delays in issuing visas, so it becomes a kind of bureaucratic obstacle. But if we were able to take action on that, I see no reason why Argentina should not reciprocate. This might lead to an increase in the flow of visitors between our countries, because in the absence of any official dialogue between our countries, unofficial and private meetings become essential.
In this context, during my visit I encouraged the Argentine politicians whom I met to visit the United Kingdom in the new year, so that they could understand our viewpoint. I appreciate that there are a number of people who are reluctant to entertain discussions with Argentina, and although I do not agree I accept that this is an attitude which is fairly widely held. It therefore seems important that Argentine politicians—and no Argentine politicians have visited Britain for three years—should come here and try to understand what is going on. I hope that this will happen.
I welcome the fact that we will participate in the proposed multilateral regime for fishing under the FAO. Obviously, this must include Argentina and will present opportunities for meetings. The point is that dialogue is important and will lead to the comprehension of our different attitudes.
102 Another very important piece of good news is that Argentina has just endorsed the present austerity programme of the Alfonsin Government. The recent election represents a major personal success for President Alfonsin and will consolidate his position ultimately in both Houses of Parliament. Argentina has extensive natural resources and with a small population is capable of very rapid recovery. if the political will exists. This new-found confidence gives increased hopes for changed attitudes in Argentine approaches to foreign affairs. Now is the time for action. We cannot afford to use up our international diplomatic goodwill by securing reluctant votes at the United Nations in support of unsound policies.
I am glad that we seek more normal relations with Argentina. This must lead to a resumption of official dialogue and thence to the reinstallation of diplomatic relations, with ultimately—and this may yet be some time hence—negotiations at some time in the future. But we need to start now. Let us always remember that when it comes to discussions and dialogue with somebody with whom we have had difficulties, it takes two to tango. I think that we should start now
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Earl Russell
My Lords, I do not think most people believe that either the CIA or the police exist, but so long as they do the time has come for Britain and the rest of Europe to fight for their lives and expel the CIA. Britain should support the Labour Party's policy of unilateral disarmament and support for CND, in support of the Prime Minister of Romania's suggestion to Sir Geoffrey Howe that NATO and the Warsaw Pact should be dissolved. Once out of NATO, Britain would have no legal obligation to receive the CIA on British shores. Fight for your lives, Britain and Europe, for the CIA are planning to flood Britain with heroin and destroy the younger generation in England, as they have in America! The CIA have joined with the police forces of western Europe to enslave the young and make money out of their suffering.
The right-wing reaction which has governed for so long ought to be put down. The Act on toleration states that British subjects are not to be persecuted for being either Protestant or Catholic, or for any other reason. Parliament has been an idiot to trust the police and the CIA for all these years. England and western Europe will have to wake up before it is too late. The remedy in England lies with Parliament, and in western Europe as a whole with the governments of western Europe. Parliament has only to abolish the police and the CIA, and the Labour Party and the British people are right to attack the police. They will stand no more of what they have suffered in the past 30 years or suffer under a Government passively pledged to genocide and acceptance of the atom bomb. The authorities are always asking for an end to violence. Let them be kind themselves; then they will obtain non-violence.
The police, the CIA and government itself should be abolished throughout western Europe. The young people should be put in charge and there should be no law, no prison, no punishment. Eurocommunism and the abolition of capitalism in western Europe can be a positive force—nothing but kindness, with no danger for anyone and with the Americans and the CIA a bad 103 dream in the past, put out of its mind by the human race for ever.
The modern American cannot prove he is loyal to Thomas Jefferson, or even an American citizen at all. Nobody anywhere in the world thinks that modern Americans are Americans at all. They just think that they are mad monsters. Besides, the establishment of tyranny is a two-edged sword. If the CIA tries to destabilise another nation, what is to prevent the Soviet Union from destabilising democracy in the United States? It is a matter of Soviet choice, of course, and it is up to the Russians, but they could do it. Many Labour Party supporters are now revising the policy of Attlee and Ernest Bevin, and correcting the mistakes of 1948. They now think, after finding out what Americans are like, that it would have been better if Europe had gone communist 40 years ago. And you can bet on it, they are right. Europe can go communist, with a kind form of Eurocommunism.
Nuclear disarmament is the hope of mankind, and when, at President Reagan's direction, the CIA and the State Department have gone left and supported communism, he will find it easy to reach agreement with Mr. Gorbachev, nuclear disarmament will proceed apace and mankind's future will be assured.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, I am not sure that I heard every word that the noble Earl has just said but I shall read his speech tomorrow in the Official Report with much interest. I also wish to express a word of apology to the two maiden speakers. I was unable to be in the Chamber when they made their maiden speeches but I am reliably informed that the congratulations customary were certainly not perfunctory on this occasion and that the expression of view at the time that they hope to be heard again was more than a simple form. As I did not hear them this time I hope to be among those who will hear them on one of those future occasions.
I should like to begin by expressing a word of appreciation because I found myself in agreement with my noble friends Lord Stewart and Lord Ardwick. This has not always been the case. My noble friends and I do not necessarily come from precisely the same area of the Labour Party but on this occasion I felt that, when both of them expressed serious doubts about star wars or SDI, they were speaking not only for themselves and not only for the Labour Party but for a wide body of opinion throughout the world. I believe that it is common sense to recognise that there is no absolute cure. The idea that a single means can give one side absolute security and solve all problems has only to be examined in relation to the past and in relation to the technical possibilities of the present to be seen to be no more than a dream.
The trouble with dreams of this kind is that they can turn out to be nightmares because, as my noble friend pointed out, the lethality of nuclear weapons today is so great that, even if only a small percentage get through, the damage they can do might well be fatal to the future of mankind. The damage caused by even a small percentage would certainly be very much greater, indeed many times greater, than the damage 104 which was done in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I therefore think that there is no future in star wars and, indeed, if it is persisted in there may be great harm.
In the last debate on the Defence Estimates the noble Viscount the Leader of the House said that he hoped I would not think him rude but he had written against my name, "Usual speech". Well of course it was rude, but the noble Viscount and I are old friends and both of us have been Members of another and rougher place. That did not and does not bother me, but I am concerned about accuracy and I can only think that the noble Viscount did not pay much attention to what I said on that occasion. I have warned him that I would be mentioning the matter this evening. I am sure he regrets that, because of his obligations elsewhere, he cannot be here himself.
What I was actually doing was examining the Defence Estimates themselves, quoting from them and commenting on the extracts which I read. What the noble Viscount threw aside as the "Usual speech" was one quite closely addressed to the Government's own proposals. It was a speech which tried to hack a path through the dense thicket of the Government's defence policy, and it reached a certain conclusion. It was that conclusion which the noble Viscount found familiar and caused him to brush my remarks aside.
This gracious Speech is not dense; on the contrary, it is flimsy. It is rather long on high-sounding clichés and short on specific commitments. The Government, I see,attach the highest importance to the maintenance of national security and the preservation of peace with freedom and justice".Well, don't we all? The differences between us arise out of the propositions in the defence White Paper which seem more likely to lead to the peace of what Attlee called "co-death" than to the peace of co-existence. We are told that the Government will play a constructive role at the United Nations. Well, that will certainly be a turn-up for the book. I wish the gracious Speech had spelt out exactly how this new role is to be fulfilled. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will tell us. The noble Lord is not here to hear me make this request but I trust it will be duly conveyed to him and that we shall have a response from him on this occasion which we have not always had.
Will he tell us whether the Government are going to accept the offer of the six political leaders from five continents to monitor a comprehensive nuclear testing moratorium? That seemed to me to be a most important offer from some of the most distinguished people on earth. It has not received the amount of publicity it ought to have. I do not believe we have heard the Government's response to it. May we hear it? Shall we hear it tonight? I am not at all sure that we shall, but I live in hope although so often I have been disappointed.
Will the Government give a lead on this and other peace initiatives or will they continue to sit like the dog on the old HMV label waiting for the sound of their master's voice—a voice, incidentally, which shouts aggressively one day, coos peacefully the next, perhaps according to whether the current ventriloquist is the ferocious Defence Department or the more rational State Department? Do the American Government really want peace to emerge from the summit? Do the 105 British Government want it? Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will reassure us. If he does not we shall have to fear the worst.
Following a recent NOP poll the Mail on Sunday buried unheadlined the extraordinary finding that, in spite of all the anti-Soviet propaganda, more people in this country seem to believe the Russians are sincerely looking for peace than think the Americans are doing so. I am bound to say that I was surprised. As has been pointed out by Mr. Harper of the United Nations Association, the Americans now claim that their seismic technology enables them to detect the smallest Soviet nuclear underground tests. In view of this, will the Government now drop their claim that they cannot initiate comprehensive test ban negotiations because of the difficulty of verification? Who is right? Are the Americans right in saying that they can verify or are we right in saying, "No, we cannot go ahead with this comprehensive test ban because we cannot verify it"? Will they change their minds or will they find some other excuse for not getting on with this vital development? Perhaps the noble Lord the Minister will tell us—but perhaps he will not.
The Government claim to be anxious to conclude a comprehensive test ban treaty; but on the other hand they are committed to testing for Trident. What is more important for the Government: that the world gets a test ban treaty before the Soviet moratorium runs out at the end of this year or that they continue to test for Trident? I suspect the latter, and that is why the Government's protestations carry no conviction. Not only do they fail to carry conviction over a wide spectrum in our own country but they carry very little conviction—in fact, none at all—among non-nuclear nations. If I am wrong, let us hope that the noble Lord will tell the House so.
I was among those who were on their way to Burma when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am not sure whether I have mentioned this before to your Lordships. If I have, then please accept my apologies for repeating it. After the initial rejoicing, an airman said to me, "I have a feeling that they may have saved our lives at the expense of our children's lives".
That man—and I do not even know his name—may have had a flash of prescience. Everything that has happened since seems to me to confirm the terrible likelihood of his words coming true. So although I have reached the same conclusion from many different routes over the years since then, and although the conclusion is as unwelcome to me as it must be to everyone else, I am convinced that we must face it if we are to be in a position to save ourselves from it.
If your Lordships will again forgive me, I shall repeat the conclusion which I believe was the reason why the noble Viscount was a little upset. I said on a previous occasion:The course of action advocated in this statement leads straight to disaster. If it is persisted in it must surely put in danger the continued existence of our civilisation, and perhaps even of humanity itself. On this course our generation might even be the last, and we should then have failed to carry out the first duty of mankind—to hand on the planet in a survivable form. It would be shocking to give our successors the precious gift of life only to snatch it away from them before they had tasted it. We should then have committed the ultimate crime of bringing the human experiment to a miserable, premature, self-inflicted and entirely unnecessary end."—[Official Report, 26/6/85; col. 783.]
§ 9.3 p.m.
The Earl of Dundee
My Lords, I should like to congratulate the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Forres, on their excellent speeches. In slightly different contexts both speakers referred to the anomalies caused by EC food surpluses. I am sure we would all wish to see early reforms connected with those surpluses which could benefit agriculture in Australia and in other Commonwealth countries, as indicated by the noble Lord, Lord Forres, as well as alleviate food shortages in the third world, as suggested by the right reverend Prelate. Although the noble Lord, Lord Forres, has travelled 13,000 miles from New South Wales, where he lives, in fact he hails from the braes of Angus in Scotland. It is therefore hardly surprising that, like everyone who comes from in and around Dundee, he should talk the good sense that he does.
In the run-up to the Geneva Summit, clearly it is to be welcomed that President Reagan emphasises the need for greater political stability in the third world and the role which the United States and the Soviet Union could play together in promoting that aim. Equally, if some such measure of genuine co-operation ever did occur then the current efforts by Western donor countries would become all the more effective in attempting to relieve poverty and raise living standards. As it is, those efforts are to be highly commended. Although—as the noble Lord, Lord Hatch of Lusby, has pointed out—the present level of official contributions falls short of that recommended by the United Nations, it is nevertheless no small achievement that the 17 member countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD are now contributing an annual world total of £25 billion and an average of 0.36 per cent. of their respective gross national products.
Given that distribution of aid is on the global scale that it is, it would be very surprising if there were no examples of inconsistencies or even of widespread and recurring anomalies connected with the administration of that aid. Obviously they can never all be completely resolved. At the same time the challenge to all the countries concerned must be to agree revised policies and methods to redress and minimise any harmful effects whenever they become evident.
One of the main premises accepted by both donors and recipients has been the idea that the conduct of recipients should not be examined to any great extent, since it is alleged that to do so would infringe national sovereignties. But adherence to that principle has revealed two disadvantages. First, it can be pointed out how Western aid is sometimes used to contribute to purposes directly opposed to what donors intend. Examples of that are the persecution of subjects and military aggression against other countries.
Less dramatically, but no less inconsistent with donors' intentions, there is the second disadvantage that recipient governments simply may not bother to use aid constructively for the relief of poverty. And since a low level of capital is a criterion of assistance in the first place, there is arguably a disincentive to governments to encourage the inflow and deployment of private capital altogether.
Recently, there have perhaps been signs that through structural lending agreements and similar 107 measures, more control is being exercised by the West. I wonder whether my noble friend the Minister can indicate what plans the Government may now have to improve the system, so that the contributions of British taxpayers and those of other countries are not diverted from the purposes for which they are intended.
There is then the question of the balance between multilateral and bilateral aid—the two types of official aid—and the question of the balance between voluntary aid and official aid itself. It is generally agreed that while certain functions of scale or negotiations through anonymity are better performed multilaterally, others will succeed better through more direct contacts between donors and recipients bilaterally. But clearly it does not follow that there needs to be a rigid balance between bilateral and multilateral disbursement; still less does it follow that donors should not be able to build up in practice and with efficiency an increasing proportion of direct disbursement. And equally, on the grounds that results from voluntary aid are better proportionately than those from official aid—whether bilateral or multilateral—and arguably more susceptible to measurement in the first place, there is a strong case to alter the balance, where possible, away from official and towards voluntary aid.
In view of these considerations, can my noble friend reveal what plans and forecasts the Government may have to increase the proportion of British bilateral aid, which is at present in the region of 60 per cent.? Regarding voluntary aid, the Government are spending £4.8 million in 1985–86 and have agreed to finance development projects by voluntary agencies on a fifty-fifty basis. What are the Government's proposals here for 1986–87?
Turning to the problem of famine and food shortage, there is the question of long-term measures to eliminate or minimise it and the separate question of contingency plans to deal with famines when they do arise. As regards the former, and with current advances in agricultural methods, there is good reason to believe that countries will overcome their present lack of subsistence production and reduce their present difficulties of crop failures. The problem is in persuading them to take proper action, and to do so soon enough. But that process can be greatly eased by consultative group meetings between donors and recipients—bilaterally and multilaterally—in the capitals of the countries concerned.
As regards contingency plans for famine, while the recent Ethiopian crisis, once evident, has produced a very efficient response from donors, at the same time it has reflected insufficient contingency plans in the first place. Does my noble friend agree that this course of action should be advocated to a far greater extent within the Development Assistance Committee and within the EC to ensure that there is relevant and strategic stockpiling of food supplies, among other practical expedients, which may be called for in advance?
Another aspect affecting the basis of British and international assistance is that of trade with the third world. Regarding access to Western markets by the third world, there are in existence, of course, preferen- 108 tial agreements, and recently at the Lomé Convention there has been the attempt to improve the position. But, to date, not enough changes have occurred to enable third world countries to earn sufficient foreign currency from their own exports so that they can then pay for their own foreign imports and thus help maintain proper price structures internally. Can my noble friend affirm that, with other countries which are also members of the Development Assistance Committee and the EC, the Government are pressing for such changes in trading arrangements in order to assist exports from third world countries?
On the other hand, in relation to the aid-trade provisions and British and other Western exports to the third world, it should be asked whether current arrangements are benefiting both the West and the third world as much as can be expected. It is contended that disproportionate attention has been given by the aid-trade provisions to the larger and more prosperous areas of the third world. Equally, it is objected that since contracts tend to go to large British firms instead of being distributed more widely among smaller ones, British employment and new business prospects have therefore not gained as much as they could have done. Does my noble friend agree that such imbalances do in fact exist, and, if so, what corrective measures are the Government prepared to take to effect a wider distribution through aid-trade provision to the third world and also to bring about a wider and more judicious distribution of contracts at home?
My noble friend Lord Beloff stressed the importance of British culture overseas. Finally, in connection with this interest does my noble friend the Minister agree that, in view of the particularly high regard in which the efforts of the BBC World Service, the British Council and other related facilities are held internationally, in plans for the coming years these ventures should be considered as vital components of British initiatives in the third world and not as lesser priorities of Foreign Office spending to be thus subject to Government cuts?
Certainly, both now and over the years the aims and endeavours of all Western donor countries are to be highly commended. But trade barriers should be reduced. Direct contacts between donors and recipients should be advanced through an increase in the proportion of both bilateral and voluntary aid; and direct contacts and dialogues should be emphasised so that recipients adopt necessary long-term action against famine and food shortage.
Those are some of the measures which, if carried out, can give the aid programme a much better chance, so that through time its effects can really match properly its intentions—which are to help conquer human deprivation and poverty, and to promote world harmony and peace.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, as usual we have had an excellent and constructive debate on the foreign affairs and defence aspect of the Queen's Speech. I hope that the House will forgive me if I briefly mention a subject which has hardly figured in the debate so far—the Contadora process.
In the Queen's Speech it is said that the Government favour the Contadora process. Indeed, so do all the
109 countries in the world, on the surface. It is on the agenda for the Geneva meeting, and that is obviously a very good idea. If the two super powers can reassure each other about their intentions, that can only help. I repeat: that is only on the surface. Let us now look at the reality.
Peace in Central America is something which President Reagan has, by his own actions in the last six years, made terribly remote. Here is a bunch of four countries, every one of which has an internal fight. In three of them, Left-wing rebels are in arms against a Right-wing Government. In one, Right-wing rebels are in arms against the Left-wing Government. The countries have territorial claims on each other, and it is only natural that the Right-wing Governments should support the rebels against the Left-wing Government and that the Left-wing Government should support the rebels against the Right-wing Governments. That is human nature. But things are at such a pitch, and have been for the last two or three years, that war among the Governments is now very possible.
In such a situation common sense suggests that there should be a settlement among the four countries concerned. Obviously they cannot settle unaided. If they could, they would already have done so. Who is best to help them? Obviously, it is the neighbouring countries which most resemble them in culture and most share their interests; and that is precisely what has happened in the process we call Contadora. Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Venezuela have clubbed together to help. After consulting the Central American countries they have produced a draft settlement and have offered it to them for signature.
Now let us look at the actions of the United States. Far from trying to isolate the conflict and to back the Contadora process, the Reagan Government is putting the boot in, not only publicly but also secretly. The American Administration has not reacted to the general fact of rebellion in the whole group of countries, and to the intergovernmental tensions, but to the situation in only one country—Nicaragua. There, President Reagan backs the rebels or terrorists to the hilt with arms, military training, bases lent to him by the right-wing Government in Honduras, diplomatic and political support, and economic sanctions.
He has mined the harbours of Nicaragua to wreck the economy. He has declared a trade embargo to wreck the economy. To get constitutional authority for these actions he had declared a state of national emergency, no less, in the United States. To avoid the world's blame he has withdrawn the United States from the jurisdiction of the world court. So much for the public actions.
Now let us look at the secret ones. When the first Contadora draft was presented to the Central American countries last year, Nicaragua signed it. So Mr. Reagan immediately found objections to it, mostly to the measures for the verification and control of disarmament, and he dished them out, two or three each, to El Savador, Honduras and Costa Rica. Those countries did as they were bidden. The Contadora countries therefore had to go back to work, reinforced this time by a group of four more Latin American countries, and a month or two ago they produced a 110 new draft regional settlement treaty—the 1985 Contadora draft. The 1984 draft was good. The 1985 one is excellent. It is a great pity that it is not being published in full in the world press. I believe that it is actually the fullest and most intelligent draft of a regional disarmament and peace treaty that has ever been proposed in the real world.
It is not possible this time for the United States Administration to find any complaints, so they have simply gone round buying up the signatures of the Central American governments. To Costa Rica they have merely stated that if Costa Rica signs, their aid totals will be revised. To Salvador and Honduras they have spoken in perfectly clear terms of a reduction or cancellation of bilateral aid. To rub salt in it, they have said something obviously untrue; namely, that the United States Congress itself would reduce aid if the military tension in Central America were relaxed. Of course, the relaxation of military tension is what Contadora is about, and what the United States ostensibly desires.
It also happens to be what West European governments, including our own, really do desire. The Queen has just said so. Next week there is to be a meeting in Luxembourg of the European foreign Ministers and the Central American Foreign Ministers, and also a meeting of the Contadora group itself with the Central American Foreign Ministers on European soil, almost as it were, under European auspices. This is a most unusual moment, and I hope that the Government will be able to seize it with both hands—to seize this opportunity to keep Contadora afloat. If we in Europe can succeed in this. many millions of the most wretched humans on earth will thank us. Let us not turn away from what is really happening in Central America simply because it is easier to pretend that we believe false statements about it.
Unfortunately, the Contadora story is not the only thing that we have to worry about in NATO. We must discuss this frankly. The fact is that the United States Administration at the moment is not a law-abiding one. We cannot forget Grenada. Even though it turned out well in the end and the people were glad that it happened, we cannot forget that the United States invaded that country without an invitation from the legitimate authority. That mere fact, however small the case, makes it difficult for them to criticise the Soviet Union in the great case of Afghanistan.
We cannot forget that President Reagan endorsed the Israeli bombing of Tunisia as a legitimate response to two murders committed in Cyprus. We cannot forget the story of the Sicilian air base, Sigonella, after the United States armed forces had forced that aircraft down. We cannot forget that the local American commander, claiming direct orders from the President of the United States, surrounded a unit of the Italian armed forces with his men and threatened coercion. To prevent even the possibility of a situation like that, we in the Alliance have said that a physical dual key system on United States nuclear weapons based on our soil is necessary. If we are to have a row with the Americans about whose word runs on British soil, it had better be sooner than later.
We cannot forget the matter of the small print on the ABM treaty, fully described by the noble Lord,
111 Lord Ardwick, in an excellent speech. I will not go over it again. We must, however, note that the wrong interpretation, as we think, of the ABM treaty has not been withdrawn. The President has only said that the United States will actually behave as if the right interpretation were the correct one.
The latest indication of American illegality is a leak, apparently from a member of Congress, of a United States Administration plot to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi. Much as we should all like to see him overthrown, we cannot condone an internationally illegal action to do it. Our view on these Benches, and perhaps wider, is that the defence of the law itself must be within the law, internationally as well as nationally. We, in Britain, the Europeans, and the Commonwealth, are faced with a difficult problem. An aged, truly incompetent President thinks, or appears to think, that life really resembles a film script. Certainly the bevy of script writers around him, from whom I exclude the ever admirable Paul Nitze, seem to believe that guns and money are really all that the script needs for the law-bruising sheriff to win in the last round.
The argument is not about presentation. It is not about Mr. Reagan losing the public relations battle with Mr. Gorbachev. It is about the actual policies followed. Mr. Reagan's policies are at the moment based on an inadequate grasp of reality and an inadequate respect for truth in too many of his advisers and their underlings. We cannot afford to go along with such policies. Once again, as in December 1984, it is probably our own Prime Minister who has the best chance of helping the President to understand that it is what is being done in his name that is losing him his own battle, which is, of course, our battle: the battle of wills and wits for freedom.
The Prime Minister did well in New York last month getting the President to realise the need for his Administration to produce something for Geneva. We might also claim some credit for my honourable friend Mr. John Cartwright in another place, who, together with that great power for good, Senator Charles Mathias, and with the help of my noble friend Lord Mayhew, induced the Atlantic Assembly to come up with some firm, useful and helpful wording on the future of SDI.
On SDI, it has long seemed that the President did not really understand that it could be part of an offensive posture, and that this is what the Russians are frightened of. Perhaps Mr. Gorbachev will ram this home. I think, however, that it would be better if our Prime Minister was to take an opportunity to do so. Perhaps she has. I do not think that our own Ministry of Defence—here I turn to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, with a special hope of comprehension—has understood in the least that it cannot be a British interest to encourage British industry and British expertise to plug in to an American research programme the results of which would not be in Britain's or Europe's interest. We do not have enough industry or expertise to waste it in that way. We Europeans have things of our own to do with our limited human and capital resources. All this could lead to a brain drain on the spot; a brain drain among scientists continuing to work here in this country. It is 112 always unwise, if one does not want the product, to spend money on gearing up to produce it. Moreover, what our scientists do work on today may be all that they can work on tomorrow.
Will the Government think about whether we are being sucked in by small steps to illegality in the SDI programme? This would mean, since SDI testing is illegal, and SDI deployment is illegal, thinking about what is happening at Fylingdales. Is star wars radar to be put in? If it were, we should be helping the United States to break its own treaty.
What about this new news from Cyprus? I do not mean the security matters that Lord Chalfont was speaking of, but statements that there are discussions about having SDI in Cyprus. That can only be SDI deployments, in the sovereign-based areas; under British sovereignty in that country.
What is happening in Diego Garcia? Is there a requirement that everything that the United States does under its lease there should be in accordance with international law? If not, I suggest that we should make one pretty soon. What is happening in Bermuda? Why is there discussion of the revision of the leases of the American bases in Bermuda? The same should apply there as in Diego Garcia.
The ABM treaty forbids the transfer of ABM technology from the United States to any other country. What about Patriot missiles? Are they going to have an ABM capacity, or not? Where is the line to be drawn on these things? I am not making any accusation that the law has been broken, but I fear that the Government may not have yet thought seriously enough about the possibility of our being dragged behind the United States chariot into infringements of international law.
Just in the last two or three days the situation on SDI has, for the umpteenth time, changed. "The ever-changing vision" was one of the week's headlines. The President now has a new vision: that is, that the strategic defence capacity should be deployed only after nuclear disarmament; that is to say, that the United States and other countries should be endowed with the defensive capacity against nuclear missiles only after all the nuclear missiles in the world have been abolished by agreement in Geneva.
The rationale for having a defence against something that does not exist is, in President Reagan's words, that "maybe a madman would make some", secretly—he is obviously thinking of somebody like Gaddafi—and then everybody would be glad if we had a defence. This is logical, this is optimistic, and if this could become fixed as United States policy we could all sleep a great deal more safely in our beds for the next 10 or 15 years.
It is good, and it should be known to all; it cannot be cancelled that President Reagan has said this. It has appeared in full in Izvestia, and I think that the remarks of an American President in the Russian press will be hard to cancel. Nevertheless, the brawling pygmies whom President Reagan chooses to serve him are already saying that he never said it or he did not mean it, or that it has been misreported. My point is this. The more divided the United States Administration is—and never has one been so divided as thi\s—the more must belief and trust be reserved for the President's own words alone. He has said this. I 113 have earlier urged on the House the view that we ought to be, and indeed that we are, players in the Washington game, not just observers. Let us seize on the wisest word the President has yet said about his own odd invention, and let us hold him to it.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is he seriously suggesting that he would take the word of an Izvestia reporter as printed in Izvestia against the word of the President of the United States of America?
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, no. Let me make it clear. The President gave an interview to four Soviet journalists in which he said the things that I have been commenting on; and that interview has been printed in full in the American press, and printed in part in the Soviet press. In Tuesday's New York Times the interview was printed in full, including the parts that had been omitted from Izvestia, I think the day before. The President has also given an interview to a BBC correspondent using exactly the same words. The noble Lord shakes his head. I assert that that is so. Clearly, he has not seen the New York Times. When he has had time to do so, perhaps he will agree with me.
§ Lord Chalfont
My Lords, perhaps I may crave the indulgence of the House to reply to that. I have not only seen the report in the New York Times; I have seen a transcript of the press conference. The President said that he would not wish to see star wars deployed before there had been a reduction in nuclear weapons; he did not say "nuclear disarmament".
§ Lord Kennet
My Lords, perhaps I may crave the patience of the House for a moment in this ping-pong battle. I read the President's words to mean after the abolition of strategic nuclear missiles, but we will not haggle over the small print. It is at an extraordinarily late stage in the game. Clearly, either after or immediately before the disappearance of the last nuclear missile was what he meant.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ Lord Boston of Faversham
My Lords, throughout this debate above all we have been conscious of one thing—the Summit in Geneva in 12 days' time. I join my noble friend Lord Cledwyn and the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in hoping for success. We are almost afraid to hope, yet we know that there is a deep desire—in fact, a yearning—among people throughout the world for something—a breakthrough—leading to real progress towards solving one of the world's greatest problems: the search for arms control and disarmament not only for its own sake but also because that would make us all the more able to deal with the world's other greatest problems: poverty, starvation and disease.
We welcome the commitment to arms control and disarmament in the gracious Speech. In the meantime, we must maintain defence forces strong enough for our own security and make the most effective contribution we can to the commitments that we share with our allies. I welcome the reference in the gracious Speech to NATO, which includes the need for a Western nuclear deterrent pending all-round disarmament. I appreciate the words of my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham in his speech.
114 I should like to join other noble Lords in congratulating our two maiden speakers. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester spoke of overseas aid in particular, and he spoke with great experience, compassion and realism; that is to say, he spoke in a very practical way. We are delighted that he is now taking part in our deliberations and that we are benefiting from his guidance. I should also like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Forres. He is a living example of the wide basis of the membership of your Lordships' House, which makes it such a broadly representative Chamber. The noble Lord spoke with deep knowledge of his subject and with some humour, and it is admirable that we can now draw on the experience of Members from the Antipodes, although he is not the only one in your Lordships' House. As one who is married to an Australian, I can say that with a special feeling of warmth. I hope that we can persuade the noble Lord to do the 26,000-mile round trip as often as he can.
I come at once to our capacity to make the most effective contribution we can to the Alliance. As my noble friend Lord Cledwyn said, I shall be concentrating on defence, so I hope that noble Lords who have dealt with other matters will forgive me. We look forward to what the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, has to say. As this is our first full debate including defence since his new appointment, I should like to record our congratulations on his well-deserved promotion to Minister of State for Defence Support.
We have seen reports of a great exercise to cut Government spending and even ominous warnings of plans to abandon the priority given to defence, The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has referred to this matter. We have seen reports that the Chancellor wants to cut the defence budget by £1,000 million, and other reports that the Secretary of State for Defence is making a last-ditch stand, and also some reports that he could live with a cut of £300 million. Some of these reports conjure up scenes of internecine warfare, violence and carnage on a scale to satisfy even the most voracious appetite of the addict of video nasties. But we do not believe that. I will not say that we would not like to, but we do not, if only because we know who has been presiding over these discussions, and we could not imagine anything so uncivilised under his avuncular auspices, although we know that he can be firm.
We are fortunate that the Minister in charge of that exercise is the Leader of the House, the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, for he is indeed chairman of the Public Expenditure Survey Committee. As a matter of fact I still cannot accept its popular name while he is chairman of it, for one could not possibly associate his benign benevolence with anything remotely resembling a Star Chamber. But there is a serious point here. Not tonight, I imagine, because of when I understand the announcement on those matters is due to be made, but when the noble Viscount winds up the debate next week perhaps he could give us some idea of the scale of the defence cuts, if any, and which parts of defence spending they will affect. Let us bear in mind that £1,000 million is 5.5 per cent. of the total on defence of £18,060 million, and even £300 million is 1.7 per cent.
115 It is important for us to know, for any cuts would come when a series of major pressures is building up on the defence budget. One of these is Trident, which has been referred to tonight, and there is a new development here. Since our last main defence debate we have had the promised report on Trident of the Select Committee on Defence of another place. I shall not repeat the detailed arguments against Trident—we had them last time—but the arguments remain.
There is the growing body of informed, expert, and indeed service opinion against it; the increased cost; the enormous increase in nuclear fire power compared with Polaris, when we are told that all we need is a minimum deterrent; the increase in the amount of money we shall have to spend in the United States, and the decrease in the amount to be spent here; the high proportion of the whole defence equipment budget taken up by Trident, especially in its peak spending years; the adverse effects on our conventional arms. These and the other weighty arguments against Trident still stand with, I think, even greater force.
What they come to is simply this: Trident actually distorts the whole defence budget. At one time the argument on conventional arms was that we would make a better conventional contribution if we scrapped Trident before it was too late, and now the argument is more disturbing. The danger now is that Trident does not just stop us making a better conventional contribution, it actually threatens the conventional commitments we have already.
The Select Committee presided over by Sir Humphrey Atkins points out that the,programme is only now moving into the period of substantial expenditure";and it says that one of the difficulties it had in assessing the impact on the defence budget has been a,lack of clarity on the part of the Ministry over its duration";and it is worried about,the programme's steadily increasing pressure on the defence budget".On managing the programme, it says:The Secretary of State remains confident that this can be done without adverse effects on defence capability.…We do not share his confidence".That is precisely the point that many of us have been making.
There are two other points on the report. The Government have made much of the jobs that the project will create, but they are now down from 45,000 in the late 1980s to 32,000 in the peak years. The other point is that the United States contracts for British firms have been, the committee says:rather less than official optimism might have suggested".By the beginning of July this year 104 contracts worth some 37 million dollars had been awarded to British companies. Just 37 million dollars! That is from our Trident costs overall of £9.285 billion, of which we shall spend £4.143 billion in the United States, and our firms were open to bid for the American's own Trident work as well costing immensely greater sums. Incidentally, that does not say much for our chances of a slice of the action on star wars contracts, if indeed that is what we want.
116 So what are the other pressures on the defence budget? From next year the Government are abandoning the NATO agreed target begun in 1979 of a real increase in defence spending of 3 per cent. a year. They plan level funding on defence, with increases only for inflation—no real increase. But, as has been pointed out, a big funding gap will develop in defence. Defence economist David Greenwood points out that it would be likely to be £4 billion by 1987–88. This is happening with other pressures. There is a need to re-equip and replace major conventional armaments. There is a need to replace, for example, our amphibious fleet, in particular "Fearless" and "Intrepid", which are the key elements in it. We gather that there will be no decision until well into next year and I wonder whether the Minister can say more on that and on the cost of those replacements.
Our amphibious capability is of great importance in defending NATO's northern flank. This was brought home to me particularly on a parliamentary visit in the Recess to defence establishments in Scandinavia, including Denmark, and, more extensively, Norway, arranged by the United States Embassy in London. There was high praise from the Norwegian forces for our services, notably those who train there regularly, including the combined United Kingdom-Netherlands amphibious force. The area is of growing importance. The Kola peninsula bordering northern Norway is now said to have, with the Soviet northern fleet, the largest single concentration of naval power in the world. The Norwegian coastline is not just NATO's northern flank; it is our own front line, as our Norwegian friends are keen to point out. They are indeed right.
I want to mention one problem. There are no non-Scandinavian forces based permanently on Norwegian or Danish soil in peacetime. There are therefore plans for reinforcements in time of tension, crisis and of course war. There is prestocking of supplies. The message we kept receiving throughout our tour was that more needs to be done, especially on reinforcements. I hope the Minister will reassure us and be able to say tonight that that is in hand.
Those are some specific practical ways of making a better conventional contribution. I have spelt out details before, so I shall not do so again now. I mention this because we have a duty to put forward constructive alternative proposals. There are other pressures on the defence budget and other problems facing the Secretary of State: the delay over Nimrod, the claims of the Tornado programme, the European fighter aircraft plan, the need for a major battle-tank replacement. Those problems underline the point made by the Select Committee on Defence of another place in its third report published in June—that a review of policy priorities is overdue. There is indeed an urgent need for a comprehensive review of defence priorities. It is disappointing that there is no mention of that in the gracious Speech. We hope the Government will say that they plan a new White Paper.
That same Select Committee report had other complaints in examining the defence budget. It said:Our purpose was frustrated by vague and evasive answers and elegant but unhelpful hypotheses".That is not the only case of the way Select Committees are being treated on defence matters. I do not blame 117 our Minister here in your Lordships' House, but I hope he will draw the attention of his right honourable friend to this. Since our last full defence debate we have also had reports published in July of the Public Accounts Committee and the Select Committee on Defence on the future of the royal dockyards. It seems that the Bill on the dockyards mentioned in the gracious Speech has failed to take those reports into account.
The Public Accounts Committee was driven to say at one point:we have misgivings about the thoroughness and accuracy of the Ministry's costings".It has not yetprovided enough evidence to enable Parliament to assess the financial aspects of the options".That is not all. It is worse, my Lords. These committees were examining the three options being considered by the Government for running the dockyards. Their preferred option—commercial management; or a trading fund; or full privatisation.
The Government have made much of consultation and put out another of their defence open Government documents. The committee said the time allowed for consultation was much too short—eleven weeks—and said that the Ministry'shandling of the consultation process has been inept and insensitive".And it said:There is strong reason to suspect that 'consultation period' is in any case a misnomer, and that the Government has already decided for its preferred option,and,What is not acceptable is for Ministers to suggest that options are open…when [they]…have, in reality, been closed".So much for consultation. What about the merits of the Government's preferred scheme? The Committee foundAlmost all the evidence…was critical of the concept".What were its own conclusions? After listing the main problems with the Government's preferred plan, it said that on the basis of the Ministry's own evidence,we are not convinced that the Ministry…has begun to tackle those potential difficulties. The sporadic issuing of hastily-written briefing papers … —many of which raise more questions than they answer—confirm the impression that much of the necessary information is not yet available within the Ministry…Neither Parliament nor the Trade Unions nor the public have been given enough information to reach a well-informed verdict on the options, or to contribute to a sensible solution".It added that its report was intended as a contribution to the consultation process and trusted that Ministers would feel obliged to meet those valid criticisms and objections.
What did the Secretary of State do? Within days of another place ordering those reports to be printed, he was on his feet announcing that he had chosen his preferred option and he had not even responded to the Select Committees. In our view, that is no way to treat Parliament and people or to make good decisions. It is no good pretending to have open Government when what one really has are closed minds. We really do urge the Minister to get his right honourable friend, for his own good and that of the country, to stop these hasty piecemeal decisons and have a real, thorough, comprehensive review.
118 We were disappointed to see no reference in the gracious Speech to the Merchant Navy. In our last main defence debate there was great concern in all parts of your Lordships' House over the huge decline in our merchant fleet and the implications for defence. There was quoted the recently published report of the Select Committee on Defence, The Use of Merchant Shipping for Defence Purposes, which said the position was "extremely disturbing". My noble friend Lord Cledwyn raised this matter in his speech and asked whether the study by the Department of Transport with the Ministry of Defence would be published The noble Viscount the Leader of the House undertook to make representations about that. I wonder whether the Minister has any further news of that.
It was suggested in a question from my noble friend Lord Hatch of Lusby, that a Select Committee of your Lordships' House should look into the problems of the Merchant Navy, and the noble Viscount the Leader of the House reacted positively and said that although there were no resources then available to service such a Committee, the Select Committee on Overseas Trade would soon complete its work. It has now done so, thus releasing facilities. I wonder whether there is news of the possible appointment of a Select Committee along those lines.
My noble friend Lord Cledwyn dealt, in his admirably comprehensive survey, with East-West relations and arms control and said that I hoped to mention the strategic defence initiative. This indeed is a subject which has occupied a great deal of your Lordships' attention during the course of today's debate. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn and I think the noble Lords, Lord Mayhew, and Lord Kennet, my noble friends Lord Ardwick, Lord Molloy and Lord Jenkins of Putney raised this, as indeed did the noble Lords Lord Thomas of Swynnerton and the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter. As we know, grave doubts have been raised, not least in debates in your Lordships' House, and nowhere more potently than in the speeches here of the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, with all his experience in scientific and technological matters. For he, like others, has concluded that the arms race will continue if the strategic defence initiative continues; that there can be no perfect anti-ballistic missile system anyway, for some warheads will get through; that no anti-ballistic missile umbrella could keep out cruise missiles or aircraft and that the anti-ballistic missile treaty must not be violated, something about which there have been doubts expressed in your Lordships' House today. His overall conclusion was that:mutual nuclear deterrence is infinitely safer than what would happen if we entrusted our security to an automatically-operating imperfect complex of artificial satellites, lasers and computers, in which there was neither place nor time for the exercise of human judgment".Some of these points were among those made by the right honourable and learned gentleman the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary in his admirable speech as long ago as last March to the Royal United Services Institution and I am bound to say that there has been precious little sign that account is being taken of Sir Geoffrey's pertinent and probing questions. We wonder whether account is being taken and whether the Minister might be able to tell us that. Then there is the warning by the noble Lord, Lord Zuckerman, of 119 the brain drain from Britain which would occur with the strategic defence initiative. I wonder what account the Government have taken of that. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, is among those who have been concerned about this very point.
Our scientists have considerable expertise, and according to what the Secretary of State for Defence is reported to have told Mr. Caspar Weinberger in Brussels last week, more than 20 British firms are specialising in lasers, optical computers and data technology. We hear that the Government hoped for contracts worth £1 billion for British firms for strategic defence initiative research, whatever view one takes about that particular matter. We wonder what is the position on that and what guarantees we have, if this is to take place, that there would be two-way traffic in exchanging information. Is there any precedent which gives us any confidence about that?
There was also the report on Monday in The Times that sharing of information is against the anti-ballistic missile treaty anyway, and we wonder whether we can be provided with any guidance on that point. Finally on the strategic defence initiative, it really is time that we had an answer to the fundamental question on research on this project. It is one which I raised in the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, as long ago as 27th March. We are told that research is not ruled out by the anti-ballistic missile treaty but the question which needs answering is where research ends and development begins; let alone where production, procurement or deployment begins. And what of the development of a prototype weapon and its testing! We need to know where research ends and something beyond it begins; because it is at that point that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty will be threatened or violated and it is at that point that stability, as we have known it, is also threatened. We need an answer to this question and if the answer is "We do not know", then the situation is even more dangerous than we thought. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some guidance on this.
On one final point, we were surprised to see that there was no mention in the gracious Speech of the Secretary of State's idea for Whitehall bonuses for top civil servants who come up with bright ideas to save money, bonuses we understand, of up to £2,800. We thought that they were paid to do that anyway. The Civil Service certainly served us splendidly when we were in office and without these bonuses so far as I know. I wonder what the difference is now. Are the Government in fact proposing privatising Whitehall itself now? What wonderful opportunities this idea provides for civil servants! All you have to do to save costs is to order some extra equipment that you do not need, suddenly find that you do not need it, cancel it and claim your bonus. Or perhaps create a few redundancies, take on the work that no longer needs doing yourself and get a continuing bonus. I would suggest that if there are any bonuses going, the people that perhaps they most ought to go to are the members of the armed forces themselves. That raises this serious point. The great thing about our armed services is that they have shown themselves consistently capable of overcoming whatever obstacles are put in their way, and the greatest of difficulties; and that after all is the 120 nature of their job. We can never ever express our gratitude enough for the way they face the dangers that confront them and the magnificent way they serve our nation and our security.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Defence Support (Lord Trefgarne)
My Lords, in rising to bring this debate to a close, I should first of all like to pay tribute to the interesting and informed maiden speeches from my noble friend Lord Forres and the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Leicester during our debate this afternoon. Like other noble Lords, I hope we shall hear both the noble Lord and the right reverend Prelate again, and soon.
I will come to as many points as I can in a few minutes' time; but in doing so I shall wish to have regard to the advice proffered by the late Lord Chesterfield, who wrote to his son and said:If you would convince others, seem open to conviction yourself.But, first, I should like to devote a few moments to some particular aspects of our defence policy. I am sure that I need not rehearse in detail the justification for vigilance in defence of peace and freedom. We had a very full discussion of this most important of issues earlier this year during our two-day debate on the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1985. The threat which faces us has not materially changed since then; and neither has the Government's resolve, acting in concert with our NATO allies, to deter the threat or use of force against us. Earlier this year I described to your Lordships the measures that the Government have taken to increase the resources devoted to defence, and the measures that we have been taking to enhance efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and thereby to maximise the output that we get from a given cash input. I summarised the Government's defence policies as "realistic, credible, affordable and prudent", and I stand by that analysis today.
In these introductory remarks I would like to concentrate, as I did during my closing speech in July, on our greatest and most valuable defence asset: the men and women of our armed forces. The noble Lord, Lord Boston, has referred to them, too, in his closing remarks just now. We rely—all of us—on their courage, skills and loyalty; and they deserve our loyalty and support in return. Indeed, as we approach Remembrance Sunday perhaps I can remind your Lordships that a party of some 230 widows and veterans, including my noble friend Lord Gridley, are even now in the Far East visiting war graves of those who gave their lives there for our freedom. I was privileged to be present at Brize Norton earlier this week when they left on their journey and I am glad to be able to tell your Lordships that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will be attending three out of the four remembrance ceremonies out there.
The Government are proud of their record on providing good pay and conditions of service for the armed forces. When we came to office in 1979 we honoured our pledge and brought service pay back up to a level comparable with the earnings of those in equivalent civilian occupations. The X factor, 10 per cent. for servicemen, is paid on top of that and takes account of the particular stresses and responsibilities 121 of service life. Since 1979 we have accepted the recommendations of each and every report of the independent Armed Forces Pay Review Body. In 1984 we had to stage the award, because of the need to show restraint in public expenditure generally; but we nevertheless introduced the full rates within seven months, and this year the recommended award was implemented in full from 1st April.
We are no less proud of our record in providing the best possible conditions of service for the armed forces. While there are, of course, limits of justifiable public expenditure, we have been keeping conditions under close review so as to identify and, as far as possible, eliminate particular grievances of service personnel. As a result, it has been possible to bring about a number of much-sought-after improvements. For example, in 1983 we introduced a discounted scheme for the sale to service personnel of surplus married quarters in England and Wales. I am pleased to say that legal and other difficulties have now been overcome and the scheme will shortly be extended to the whole of the United Kingdom on an improved freehold, rather than leasehold, basis.
We are no less proud of our record in providing the best possible conditions of service for the armed the Scottish islands and we have made other improvements such as the introduction of an air conditioning allowance for those serving in Hong Kong. A major grievance identified among service personnel is the present requirement for those serving abroad to contribute up to 3 per cent. of their salary towards the cost of the third visit each year by their children from a boarding school in the United Kingdom. I am pleased, therefore, to be able to announce tonight that the Government have decided to abolish this requirement for a parental contribution. This will allow Christmas visits at public expense this year and will, I know, be very welcome news to the armed forces. It demonstrates once again the Government's firm support for them. We are continuing to pay close attention to all conditions of service, and we shall introduce further changes when justified.
May I now turn to one of the highlights of 1985, which revealed once again the qualities of the men and women of the armed forces, both regular and reserve. I refer to the home defence exercise, Brave Defender, which we staged in various parts of the United Kingdom this autumn. Brave Defender was the largest conventional home defence exercise ever held in this country. Sixty-five thousand men and women from the regular and reserve forces took part, including the newly-formed Home Service Force. Some 1,000 members of the United States forces also took part in and around their own bases, and police forces from all the home defence regions also participated.
The aim of the exercise was to practise the ground defence of vital installations in the United Kingdom against attack by enemy special forces and conventional air attack. In particular, we sought to test our new plans for the ground defence of the United Kingdom. The exercise, which lasted in all from 2nd to 13th September, was a great success, and we have learnt many lessons. In particular, our revised concept for military home defence has been proven. There were some incidents during the exercise which showed 122 both the alertness of the defenders and the ingenuity of the attackers. In one case a staff sergeant, disguised in women's clothing to enable him to observe a key point without arousing suspicion, was finally identified by the defenders because he had forgotten to remove his army boots.
Inevitably, perhaps, it will take some little time before all the details of the exercise can be properly assessed and the points incorporated into future plans and training. However, following a Question from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Hill-Norton, on 22nd October, I placed a copy of the report of our first impressions of the exercise in the Library.
There were, indeed, a number of notable "firsts". It was the first time all three services, regular and reserves, had been brought together in a nationwide exercise. It was the first time that civilian police forces and United States forces had taken part in such an exercise. Integration of all these was excellent and the exercise should provide the basis for even better cooperation in future. Finally, I should like to mention, in particular, the tremendous response of the volunteer and reserve forces whose turn-out, approaching 90 per cent., was well up to expectation and whose enthusiasm and skills were manifest.
May I now turn to some of the points that have been made during the course of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in his opening remarks, asked me particularly about the Chinese Government consulting the people of Hong Kong upon the Basic Law The answer to that is yes, indeed. In addition to the 23 Hong Kong members of the Basic Law Drafting Committee all the 150 members of the Basic Law Consultative Committee are from Hong Kong and we expect our annual report on Hong Kong to be published in December.
Turning now to the restoration of diplomatic relations with Argentina, which the noble Lord raised and to which my noble friend Lord Montgomery also referred, may I say that we have taken several initiatives to restore more normal relations with Argentina, but we have so far lacked any sort of response at all. We look for an early response from the Argentinians on this matter and I dare say that my noble friend Lady Young will hasten to the House to tell your Lordships of that when it happens.
The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, asked me, too, about Her Majesty's Government's commitment to anti-apartheid measures as compared with our European Community or Commonwealth partners. The agreements reached at Luxembourg and Nassau show that we are in line with our partners in the Community and the Commonwealth on this matter. Indeed, our record of implementing previous measures stands comparison with that of any other country. As to the Soviet role in the Middle East, a matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, also referred, I note the noble Lord's concern that the possible role of the Soviet Union is helping to resolve the Arab-Israel problem should not be overlooked, but we take the view that any settlement of that problem should command the widest possible international support.
During the course of his remarks the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, referred to the need for greater co- 123 operation within Europe. I believe he was thinking particularly about defence matters. Strengthening European defence co-operation remains a major element in developing a stronger and more cohesive NATO alliance. Our objective is to maintain and develop an effective and coherent European contribution but this can never replace the transatlantic partnership with the United States. The Government's approach is explained in detail in chapter 3 of this year's White Paper. There are three main fora for European co-operation—the Euro group, IEPG and the WEU. All have a role to play but we shall ensure that there is no unnecessary duplication.
In his excellent maiden speech the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester made reference to the RAF aeroplanes presently operating in Ethiopia. As my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Overseas Development has made clear in another place, the RAF operations in Ethiopia will certainly continue until the latter part of December. The end of the rainy season will of course mean that the roads should be much easier to use at that time.
The noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, and several other noble Lords referred to our attitude over the United States Government's position on negotiations in respect of SDI. It is entirely consistent with these areas of agreement that the United States has committed itself to negotiating with the Soviet Union in Geneva on the whole question of the offensive/defensive relationship. It has made clear that it seeks to prevent an arms race in space as well as terminating the arms race on earth. We hope the Soviet Union will show a similar desire seriously to discuss these issues, taking into account the activities on both sides.
The noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, asked me about the arms embargo which we operate with regard to Israel. That was imposed in direct response to Israel's invasion of the Lebanon in 1982. Although the policy is kept under review I must say that Israel's withdrawal is not yet completed and therefore the embargo remains in place.
My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked me about the prohibited air space for military aircraft around RAF Gibraltar. I can tell him that we are in discussions with the Spanish authorities about changes to the prohibited air space for military aircraft, and I hope we shall have something to tell my noble friend before too long.
A number of noble Lords, including my noble friend Lord Beloff, the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and my noble friend Lord Bauer, referred to the problem of UNESCO. I can assure all noble Lords that the Government fully understand the value of Britain's cultural diplomacy overseas, as we have made clear in sending an extremely distinguished team to the Budapest CSCE cultural forum and by the active role that our delegation are playing there. We also appreciate highly the activities of the British Council and the BBC overseas services. This notwithstanding, neither the British Council nor any other Government-funded body can be exempted from the effects of public expenditure constraints.
I have been invited by several noble Lords to describe the Government's policy on UNESCO. We 124 have frequently made clear our concerns. These can be summarised under four main headings: better programmes, less political bias, a responsible attitude to money matters and improved management. On programmes, we believe the need is for clear priorities with resources concentrated on the most valuable activities. We think it necessary for the general conference now in progress to shift the emphasis still further towards those which are at the heart of UNESCO's activities. We also share the concern expressed by some noble Lords about the political bias which has crept into some of UNESCO's activities. The values and ideals for which UNESCO stands are those set out in its own constitution and in other international instruments.
On the financial side we and others have continued to work for zero growth in 1986–87 and no increased burden on member states as a consequence of the withdrawal of the United States. We have also insisted that UNESCO be better managed, and we shall expect the general conference to endorse the importance of prompt and effective implementation of management reforms already agreed.
The general conference of UNESCO now taking place in Sofia is scheduled to end on 12th November. It will not be until we have had an opportunity to assimilate all its results that we shall be in a position to take our decision on whether or not to rescind our notice of withdrawal from the organisation. In making that decision we shall certainly take into account the views of all interested parties, including those views expressed by your Lordships today.
Returning briefly to the subject of the SDI, the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, asked specifically about where research ends and development begins. The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, and others also had this point in mind. This is a complex question because the ABM treaty does not provide a definition of this distinction. It is one of the many questions which the United States will need to discuss with the Soviet Union once the Soviet Union are prepared to abandon their unrealistic insistence on a ban on SDI research—which is of course unverifiable and which ignores their own work in that area. In the meantime, the United States have published in a report by the Pentagon to the United States Congress a detailed account of the SDI programme and its relationship to the ABM treaty, where the point is discussed at some length.
The noble Lord, Lord Stewart of Fulham, referred to the funding of SDI work, particularly that which may take place in this country. I can tell the noble Lord that that is not a matter for the British Government because such work will be funded as part of the United States programme.
The noble Lord, Lord Forres, referred during the course of his maiden speech to the effect of the common agricultural policy on Australia. I understand the concern of the Australian Government and of Australian farmers. We believe it is wrong for agriculture to swallow more than 70 per cent. of the Community budget. We have been working to reduce the costs and the surpluses of the CAP. We are conscious of the fact that disposing of beef and other surpluses disturbs world markets and creates problems for countries such as Australia.
125 I will refer once more to the question of the SDI, and I apologise for dealing with it in a rather disjointed way. I will reply now to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, concerning United Kingdom participation. Detailed discussions have been taking place with the United States to seek to identify the scope and conditions which would have enabled the United Kingdom to participate in the SDI programme. Much progress has been made, especially when my right honourable friend met the United States Defence Secretary on 29th and 30th October. A decision on participation, which involves the interests of several ministerial colleagues and a wide range of British firms, will be taken shortly.
The noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, asked about the role of the United States in a Middle East peace settlement. The United States are of course indispensable in the peace process because of their close——
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, I shall come to that point in a moment, but I believe I was asked, too, about the role of the United States in a peace settlement.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, then it must have been another Member of your Lordships' House, and I apologise. Whoever it was who asked me that question, the answer is that the United States are indispensable to the peace process because of their close links to parties on both sides of the Arab-Israel dispute. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has discussed the situation with President Reagan, and they agree upon the need for early and urgent efforts to make progress.
I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill—and I hope that this point was one he raised—that the Government take seriously their obligations to our dependent territories. They continue to have the first call on our aid resources. In St. Helena, to which he referred, we are doing all we can to further the economic development and social wellbeing of the people there.
The noble Lord, Lord Weidenfeld, asked about the Israeli arms embargo as part of the Middle East problem. This was imposed in direct response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982. To be truthful, I think I have already dealt with that question.
The noble Lord, Lord Hatch, also referred to aid and asked whether it would be charity or investment. I know the views of the noble Lord on this matter. The fundamental purpose of British aid is to promote development and self-sustaining economic progress in the developing world. Eighty per cent. of our bilateral aid goes to the poorest countries, with an annual income of 800 dollars or less per head. There need be no inconsistency between providing aid to help develop the poorer countries and taking account of Britain's commercial interests. I remind the noble Lord that it was this Government, not a Labour Government, who introduced the aid and trade provisions.
§ Lord Hatch of Lusby
My Lords, will the noble Lord look that up again, because I think he is wrong? It was introduced in 1977 by Dame Judith Hart, then Minister for Overseas Development.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, I will indeed look that up again if the noble Lord asks me to do so, but I remember much talk about his matter very soon after we came into office in 1979.
The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, asked some direct questions about the recent Old Bailey case concerning alleged breaches of security in Cyprus. I hope the noble Lord will understand when I tell him that there is very little I can add to the announcement made by my noble friend Lord Glenarthur last week. However, I can tell the noble Lord that there appeared to have been serious breaches of security at the time the original investigation took place. I can go no further than that except to say that I am advised there is no basis on which to initiate proceedings against any other member of 9 Signal Regiment.
I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, for not being in my place when he spoke. He made some remarks about the Government's record in the United Nations. I think the Government have nothing to be ashamed of in this field. We have consistently supported resolutions and other work which make a genuine contribution to peace, but we see no purpose in supporting resolutions which do not meet this demanding but important criterion. I know the noble Lord is particularly concerned about the comprehensive test ban treaty, but as I think I have said to the noble Lord before, and as I think my noble friend Lady Young has also said, one of the major problems in that area is of course that of verifications.
Turning, finally, to the speech—
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, before the noble Lord comes to a conclusion, may I say that I understand he cannot be in the Chamber all the tune, but I did ask a number of specific questions and perhaps the noble Lord will be kind enough to read them tomorrow and possibly give me a written answer.
§ Lord Trefgarne
My Lords, yes, of course I give the noble Lord that assurance.
Finally, I turn to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Boston of Faversham, who raised a number of points. I deal first with the question of our future amphibious capability, which I think came very much into his mind during his recent visit to Scandinavia. We understand well the vital part that amphibious forces can play in reinforcement and intervention operations both in and out of area. Our present forces will continue to fulfil this role until the end of the useful lives of the current specialised ships in the mid-1990s.
We have referred frequently to the wide-ranging studies which we have in hand on the options for our capability beyond that date. These are proceeding satisfactorily and Ministers expect to take decisions on this about the middle of next year. Detailed design work involving industry would, on present plans, need to start shortly thereafter to allow us to replace the present ships, if we decide to do so, by the mid-1990s. To suggest, as the Select Committee has done, that our 127 decisions will depend primarily on whether or not the solutions are financially opportune is quite incorrect. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said recently in the other place, the purpose of our studies is to determine the military requirements and to assess their relative priorities in the overall balance of our defence needs. That amphibious capability will of course be part of our reinforcement capability with regard to northern Norway. Perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not go into it in detail but I could write to him on some thoughts that I have on it.
The noble Lord also referred to his concern about the merchant fleet. I do not think that I have anything very new to say about that. The noble Lord may like to refer to what I have said in the past; I shall certainly remind him of it. In particular the Department of Transport study to which he referred is now available in the Library of your Lordships' House. As to the question of a Select Committee of your Lordships' House on the merchant navy, I understand that this is being considered in the normal way through the usual channels.
Foreign policy and defence are inseparable. They are like two sides of the same coin, and national 128 security depends on them both. As President Kennedy one said:Diplomacy and defence are not substitutes for one another. Either alone would fail".The Government need no convincing of the paramount need for a credible and coherent foreign policy. Neither do we have to be reminded of the need for an adequate and believable defence posture to add to the weight and substance of our foreign policy. Our pledge, as expressed in the gracious Speech, is to continue the policies which have brought us security, and to build on them so as to enhance it further in the years to come. I commend them to your Lordships.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Glenarthur)
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.
§ Moved, That this debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.—(Lord Glenarthur.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to and debate adjourned accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty-two minutes past ten o'clock.