HL Deb 07 July 1986 vol 478 cc6-7

2.51 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have studied the "world policeman" role proposed by American Defence Secretary Weinberger for NATO and whether they will join other NATO members in rejecting such a notion.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Young)

My Lords, Article 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty of 4th April 1949, as modified by Article 2 of its protocol of 22nd October 1951, defines the geographical limits within which an armed attack on the territories, forces, vessels or aircraft of any of the parties to the treaty shall be considered an attack against them all. The national interests of various allies are not of course confined to the treaty area. They therefore have a legitimate interest in promoting stability in other parts of the world and their activities to this end contribute to the security interests of the Alliance.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that Mr. Weinberger's proposal is that NATO forces as such shall extend their activities outside the area which she has just defined? In effect, they would take upon themselves the role of world policemen prepared to put down whatever they see to be undesirable in any part of the world. Does she recognise that that is a development that has caused some concern among NATO members? Will she associate herself with that concern and say that we want NATO to continue to operate within the limit it has held for so many years, and not outside it?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the Government have no wish to see any change to the NATO area as defined in the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 and its protocol of 1951. No NATO country has commented on Mr. Weinberger's speech. Of course, individual NATO countries have out-of-area interests.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, is it not the case that the Weinberger proposal emerges from the so-called United States maritime strategy? What is Her Majesty's Government's attitude to the United States maritime strategy, and has it been discussed within NATO?

Baroness Young

My Lords, the speech to which this Question refers was made at a symposium at Annapolis in Maryland. We of course regularly discuss aspects of foreign and defence policy with the American Government. I think that the noble Lord is referring to the United States exercises in the Pacific—Rimpac—which took place earlier this month. We are unaware of any plans to create an alliance of that description in the Pacific.

Lord Molloy

My Lords, if, as the noble Baroness has said, our Government are in contact with the United States Government on such issues, will she tell the House whether for the forthcoming summit, which seems to be almost a certainty, one of the points which has been agreed by Mr. Gorbachev and President Reagan is that they will try not merely to find reductions in nuclear weapons but will genuinely seek a full examination by both sides to try to reduce what are sometimes called conventional arms?

Baroness Young

My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, will recognise that the question he asked is far wide of the Question on the Order Paper. If he cares to put down a Question on that subject, I shall of course answer it.

Lord Hatch of Lusby

My Lords, in her original Answer the noble Baroness spoke of the members of NATO having separate and individual interests in promoting stability in different parts of the world which contributed to the security of the Alliance. Does she include within that definition the action of the American Congress and Administration with regard to Nicaragua; and in the discussion about foreign and defence policy to which she also referred have Her Majesty's Government responded to that policy decision which was reached about 10 days ago?

Baroness Young

My Lords, any United States activity in Central America is of course a matter for the United States. The noble Lord will of course be aware of the comment that we have made on the recent ICJ ruling.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, in view of what the noble Baroness has said, she may regard this matter as no more than a floater by Secretary of State Weinberger and will perhaps leave it at that and hope that we shall hear no more of it.